Friday, August 19, 2005

The World May Not Be Flat But Thomas Friedman Has A Bearded Butt

"Bettina," Thomas Friedman said in his usual pompous manner, "how do you feel about a seaside get away?"

I was up to my elbows in dirty dish water as I worked my way through Thomas Friedman's dirty silk shorts. A seaside get away? You think I was about to turn that down?

I'm picturing rest & relaxation, a summer resort but "a seaside get away" to Thomas Friedman means . . . Coney Island. Possibly this inability to conceptualize in real life is reflected in the limited thought that goes into his columns?

The only thing worse than learning that a vacation billed as "a seaside get away" is actually a day trip to Coney Island was seeing Thomas Friedman's outfit.

Huge, round, black sun glasses, light blue (he called it "sky blue") plastic flip-flops, the infamous shorty robe ("Bettina, it's a vacation!") and a tan, tiny thong.

"You are not going out in public dressed like that!" I insisted.

"It's a vacation!" he screamed again. "Geez Bettina, you're so square, this is what all the kids wear today!"

"Thomas Friedman, were that true, you are not a kid."

"I look like one with my new highlights," Thomas Friedman said sticking his tongue out at me.

The blonder he gets, the dumber he gets. I know, I know. I immediately thought, "How can he get any dumber?"

I don't know how it's possible but it has happened.

And there was no way to persuade him to change into a more suitable, and less nausea inducing outfit.

We arrived at 9:40 a.m. and had 20 minutes until the pool opened. As we waited, he bounced up and down causing his shorty robe to fly up and attracting even more stares.

Again, I know, I know, how could anything attract more stares than the outfit itself? It's hard to believe, but it is true.

When the pool opened, he flung his robe off, tossed it to me and ran to the pool.

All around him, people pointed to his hairy butt cheeks and laughed.

When he emerged from the pool, finally, he asked me if I'd noticed how much joy his "mere presence brings to the local yokels?"

Telling him I did notice, I attempted to get him into his shorty robe as quickly as possible.

"It's the excitement of seeing a celebrity," Thomas Friedman confided as I pulled a sleeve up his arm.

"Bettina!" Thomas Friedman snapped. "I can put it on myself."

"Sorry," I said trying to think of a way to get him back into the robe, "it's just that you . . . look so good in it."

His eyebrows shot up, his lips pursed, and he tilted his head sideways for a moment before breaking out into a wide grin, pulling on the robe and strutting back and forth in front of me.

"See, Bettina, there is hope for you. You're finally starting to appreciate high fashion. Must be the fitted sheet you're wearing."

Rolling my eyes, I followed him as he headed for the rides attracting stares from every angle.

The Scream Machine. He just had to try it. As difficult as the day had already been, I didn't grasp that with Thomas Friedman even crap can turn to something worse.

Going up fifty feet in the air was easy enough. But Thomas Friedman was feeling impatient and decided, against my advice and everyone else's yelling, to stand up. Just as he did, the ride dropped fifty feet with Thomas Friedman screeching the entire way and struggling to hang onto the ride. In the process, first his sunglasses went flying, then his shorty robe flew up, then snagged on something, and finally was ripped right from his body.

On the ground, I tried to comfort him by telling him what a miracle it was that he had even survived but Thomas Friedman was having none of that as he stomped his feet and sobbed.

"My shorty robe! My beautiful shorty robe!"

Some kids had gathered around to watch the sight of a grown man sobbing and throwing a hissy fit.

"Look at the titty baby!" one kid hollered, attracting even more stares.

Thomas Friedman spun around to see who had said that.

"Oh my God, Mama, the man with the mustache has a bearded butt!"

Well, his butt cheeks are hairy. I mean, there's nothing I can add to that.

"Bearded butt! Bearded butt! Bearded butt!" everyone began chanting.

The world may not be flat but Thomas Friedman has a bearded butt and there it was, both cheeks, hanging out from the thong like some freakshow attraction.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Found in the paper: 1 editorial, 1 TV review and 3 op-eds

Found in the paper: 1 editorial, 1 TV review and 3 op-eds.

Editorial: Cindy Sheehan remains in Crawford (continuing her vigil) as does the Bully Boy
Cindy Sheehan has the nation talking, finally, about Iraq in something other than bumper sticker slogans. At last, a debate on the topic seems possible. In the past, attacks and slurs have been enough to stop a discussion. But Cindy Sheehan's spoken moving from the heart and shown the determination that others seldom have in recent years.

To be sure, she hasn't had a great deal of support. Oh bloggers have rallied behind her, Laura Flanders, Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy and the entire Air America Radio staff have been there getting the word out. Amy Goodman's noted Sheehan's vigil regularly on Democracy Now! as well as interviewed her this week on Democracy Now!
But where, oh where, have our elected officials been? Should we phone them with directions to Crawford, Texas? Donald Rumsfeld and Condi Rice didn't seem to have any trouble getting there this Thursday so we're guessing that all flights have not been grounded.
Now not everyone's been silent, as Democracy Now! noted:
Cindy Sheehan Vigil Gains Support From Congress
Meanwhile, in Crawford, Texas Cindy Sheehan is continuing her vigil outside the ranch where President Bush is once again vacationing. And her campaign is gaining momentum and support. Sheehan, of course, grabbed headlines in recent days since she began camping near President Bush's ranch. She is the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. As more military families arrived from several states to join Sheehan, 38 members of Congress signed a letter asking Bush to meet with her. On Saturday, National Security Advisor Steven Hadley and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin met with Sheehan briefly, but she called the exchange "pointless" and has said she will stay in Crawford until the president meets with her.
But where, for instance, is Hillary Clinton? It takes a village . . . for somethings apparently and demonstrating her support for Cindy Sheehan, a mother who lost her son, isn't one of them. Where is no-two-Americas, John Edwards? Former presidential candidate John Kerry? Joe Biden? (Maybe he's waiting for another senator to compose their answer and then he'll borrow it?)
Joe Lieberman? Where are the Democrats who have made the Sunday Chat & Chew rounds in the last few years? You know, the ones who never seemed at a loss for words on those programs but have grown strangely silent on the topic of Cindy Sheehan.
Gone fishing? On vacation? From around the nation, people have managed to get Crawford, Texas to show their support. Among the many have included Bill Mitchell, whose son Mike died in Iraq the same day as Casey Sheehan, and the actor Viggo Mortenson.
We're waiting for one of our "nationally recognized" senators to show. But we're not holding our breath on that.
So Cindy Sheehan remains down in Crawford attempting to persuade the Bully Boy to take time from his vacation (over 320 days since first taking the oval office).
And strangely enough, Bully Boy remains in Crawford as well. The memo The Sunday Times of London has posted on their website, is that warning not genuine? Is that why the Bully Boy remains in Crawford despite a memo that states attacks may have been planned for sometime between now and September 19th here as well as in London?
Are we back to August 2001 when the Bully Boy couldn't stop his vacation despite the August 6th PDB that began "bin Laden determined to strike . . ."?As he occupies the oval office for not yet five full years, he's in the midst of yet another vacation, a vacation that, when added with the rest of his vacations, amounts to almost a year exactly. Five years of occupying the oval office. One year of vacation. Nice work if you can get it?
After 9/11 and the talk of "never again" why exactly is Bully Boy being allowed to remain in Crawford? Why aren't Americans demaning that the ever vacationing Bully Boy get off his butt and return to D.C. to address the reported threat?
Is the threat real? Does the Bully Boy know that it's not?
Bully Boy and his cronies fought like hell in the courts to grab the oval office in 2000 but it really seems as though the title was all he wanted. Between his early to bed and mid-day naps, his vacations, his refusal to meet with Sheehan and others, it's really hard to make the case that Bully Boy's very vested in representing the people as he does his job.
We hope the warning is alarmist and not to be taken seriously. But if it's on the up and up, can someone please explain why Bully Boy, faced with reports of another impending attack, remains in Crawford, as he did before, instead of getting his butt back to D.C. to deal with the reported threat?
posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @
Sunday, August 14, 2005

Anybody talking about John H. Johnson? Why not?
Wednesday night is a church night so if you get an entry on a Wednesday, you better know it means something to me. I'm tired and sleepy and just got back from church but there's something that's bothered me all week.

Did you know that Peter Jennings died? I guess you did. I guess you couldn't listen to the radio or the TV without knowing about it. I guess you think he's the only one who died in the last few days. There were actually quite a few people who died.

One of them was John H. Johnson.

He started and published Jet and Ebony. Now I'm guessing if you never heard of them you don't get that those were important magazines. They helped fight stereotypes and they also helped people see what blacks could be and were. Back in the day, you didn't have Dr. Huxtable and the Huxtable clan. You didn't have a Denzel or anyone like that. If you saw a black person on your TV set they were usually a criminal or a maid or some servent. Now maybe they were a guest star on a musical special. That's about the most that could be hoped for.

My grandparents can tell you about it, my mother can tell you about it. (My father could tell you about it if he were still alive.)

You know when you pick up People Magazine and all the people in the ads are white? That's pretty common. Ebony & Jet were important enough that Johnson could get advertisers to use black people in the ads.

And not only did they uplift a people and inspire by offering something other than the usual stereotypes, the magazines could also address politics and civil rights. All of this was dreamed up by John H. Johnson. He knew we could support a magazine, support more than one magazine. Nobody opened the doors and said, "Man, let me give you some money to start up." He had to take out a long using his mother's furniture. That's how he started out. How he ended up was as the owner of two important magazines. In my community, his death is a big topic. He was a major businessman. He was a success story. Having suffered through constant press of Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant, you might think we could get some good TV exposure for a man who wasn't accused of a crime, for a man who made something out of his life and inspired people.

But that's not what's happened.

I've been busy but my preacher's daughter told me tonight that she'd been all over the net and could find very little about John H. Johnson. He apparently doesn't matter in the white, white world of blogs.

I mentioned The Common Ills and how Johnson got mentioned Monday and Tuesday. She told me about an entry today and I hadn't read it yet. But she said, "That's about all I'm seeing." She also said she went to the Atlanta Journal Constitution online today thinking they would cover this because Atlanta has a large black population. All she found was his obiturary. She checked the columnists thinking for sure that Cynthia Tuker (aka Stab Cynthia McKinney) in the back would have written about him. No big surprise that Cynthia Tucker hasn't found the time. Today, Cynthia Tucker was wasting everyone's time with another column cobbled together, covering a lot of things, but not saying much of anything. (She's fond of "just last week" and "that was then" as she glides all over the surface and never lands anywhere. Unless she's attacking Cynthia McKinney.)

The mainstream's doing a lousy job of explaining why this man mattered and I guess the tokens in the mainstream don't want to shake things up or look "too black." So we're left with a lot of people ignoring the death of a man who did a lot and who had a life story that didn't involve charges of rape or child molestation.

At church I heard C.I. compared it to the way the little girls with blonde hair that turn up missing get a lot of press but when it's a child of color, the press just ain't interested. People thought that was pretty dead on right.

I think it's pretty dead on sick that John H. Johnson's death has been so little noted. I'm glad that The Common Ills could be counted on to note it. When our needs and issues are ignored and we complain, we're told "don't attack Democrats!" We're told "it's a big tent and everyone's welcome."When a man who accomplished a great deal and led a life that doesn't embarrass us dies and no one wants to take the time to note it, don't think we don't notice. Don't think we're not aware that once again the big tent doesn't include us.

I'm copying and pasting from C.I.'s entry today but just including the part about John H. Johnson.

Hopefully you already know about him. If you don't, hopefully you will learn something.

We'll now note Dawn Turner Trice's "Ebony, Jet are old school but still relevant" (Chicago Tribune):
Back when black folk were Colored, pretty was light skin and "good hair." Rarely was it dark skin and nappy hair. Pretty was thin lips and a keen nose. Rarely was it thick lips and a much more ample nose.

Pretty was a look so filtered through a white lens and sensibility that many black folk couldn't achieve it no matter how they hot-combed their hair trying to look like a Lena Horne or used Nadinola to bleach their skin to resemble a Dorothy Dandridge.
But, of course, pretty was by far not our only hang-up in terms of our identity. The negative mass media images of what it meant to be Negro, Colored and/or black in America seemed boundless and touched everything, not least the psyche.
John H. Johnson believed he could hold up a different mirror. And that became his mission years ago when he began publishing Ebony and Jet magazines, among others. Johnson, 87, who died Monday of heart failure, understood so deeply that black people needed to see the success stories within the black community if they were going to move beyond the stereotypes connected with second-class citizenry.
That didn't mean telling half-stories or half-truths. It did mean making sure that the positive segments of the community would be illuminated and given breadth. Within the pages of Ebony and Jet we saw black doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs. We saw marriages that spanned decades. Movie stars and athletes who were positive role models. Urban communities that were thriving.
Nolanda e-mails to note Julianne Malveaux's "
Johnson's vision in his legacy" (Chicago Defender):
The story of how Johnson started his magazine is now legend when African American entrepreneurs chafe about access to capital. A bank rejected his business plan, so he went back and asked for a loan to take a vacation. With his mother's furniture as collateral, Johnson took the $500 he was loaned and turned it into an empire. When Johnson started publishing in 1945, there were few Black athletes or actors, and even fewer visible entrepreneurs. Still, he gambled that the ones out there could inspire others, and he featured them on his pages. Many of us chafed at the rank materialism that seemed to ooze from Ebony, the photographs of this lush house and that high-rise office. Years later, I can see the logic in profiling the African American rich and famous. There was a message - if she can do it, so can you.
Black folks have come a long way since 1945. Then, more than two-thirds of us lived in poverty, but now just a quarter of us do (compared to 12 percent of whites). Then, most of us worked in menial jobs, and just 2 or 3 percent had college educations. Now, nearly half work in white-collar jobs, and more than 10 percent of us over age 25 have graduated from college. Despite all of that, we are barraged by negative images - of the thugs, hustlers and half-nude sisters that seem to grate their way through cable television videos. Ebony magazine often offers a respite from that swarm of swirling negative images, reporting, simply, on a promotion, a book published, a record produced, or the opulent lifestyle of someone successful. If a young Black man or woman can't get solace from the numbers - and who buries themselves in statistics - they can get solace from the notion that a little Black boy or girl who grew up without much managed to find some measure of success by making it into the pages of Ebony.

The latest edition of The Chicago Defender is dedicated to Mr. Johnson:
This issue dedicated to Mr. Johnson is important - and definitely a keepsake - because he was more than a Black publisher. He ranks alongside the names of media titans such as David Sarnoff, the founder of NBC; William Paley, the builder of CBS; Ted Turner, who brought us CNN; and Henry Luce, who established Time Inc. into a world power.
Included in The Chicago Defender is this August 10 notice, "
Funeral arrangements for John H. Johnson:"
The body of John H. Johnson will lie in state Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Johnson Publishing Company, 820 S. Michigan Ave.
His funeral will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 South Woodlawn.
Johnson's burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the John H. Johnson School of Communications, Howard University, 525 Bryant Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20059, (202) 806-7690, or the United Negro College Fund, 8260 Willow Corp. Dr., Fairfax, Va., 22031-4511, (703) 205-3400.

KeShawn asks a question that Roland S. Martin's "John H. Johnson deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T" also raises (Chicago Defender):
So with that being the case, why have our nation’s political leaders been so silent and slow on the draw in response to Johnson’s death?
We waited until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday before placing a call to the office of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to find out why he had not said anything publicly about the loss of a giant. After getting the run around on the phone, I called and emailed his press spokeswoman, Angela Benander, who said that it was coming shortly. One hour later, it arrived. I wonder if that statement would have been issued had we not placed a phone call asking why (keep in mind, Durbin has still yet to make a public statement on the racial profiling of state Sen. James Meeks (I-15th), who is also pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago).
Yet he isn't the only Democrat who has been silent.
Mr. Johnson was a favorite son of Arkansas, and his childhood home was recently converted into a museum. Yet with all of the wonderful things he has accomplished, the state's two Democratic senators – Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor – have not issued formal statements.
A spokeswoman told me Tuesday that Lincoln was aware of Johnson's death and made mention of it on a radio show, but that’s about it. Zip from Pryor's office. Normally, politicians are always looking to heap praises on those who hail from their state. I guess Mr. Johnson just didn't make the cut.

From Clarence Page's "Indispensable" (Chicago Tribune):
To black Americans of my generation, Johnson's publications Ebony, Jet and Negro Digest were indispensable reading matter, offering a brighter and more prosperous vision of black America than most of the mainstream--also known as "white-owned"--media provided.

To advertisers, Johnson's pioneering publications broke through the myth that the black consumer market was not worth targeting through black-owned media.
Today the newsstands are filled with magazines niche-marketed to blacks or Hispanics, but that really began with Johnson back in the 1940s.
And to journalists, particularly black journalists, Johnson's publications provided employment, a training ground and a model for how people of color might be covered in a more complete fashion than simply crime, sports or show business stories.
His 1989 autobiography "Succeeding Against the Odds" reads almost like a business-school series of case studies in how to solve whatever problems life throws at you.
When Arkansas refused to educate black children in his area past the 8th grade, his mother, Gertrude Johnson Williams, a cook and domestic worker, saved for two years to move her family to Chicago in the 1930s.
Young Johnnie was working days at a black-owned life insurance company and studying at night at Northwestern University when he started up Negro Digest in 1942 with $500 that his mother raised by borrowing against the family furniture.
When its circulation stalled at 50,000 a few months later, he persisted in requesting a guest column from Eleanor Roosevelt until she agreed, immediately boosting circulation to 100,000.In 1945, Johnson launched Ebony, a picture magazine for blacks. Its initial press run of 25,000 copies was completely sold out. Pocket-size Jet magazine began in 1951. Jet helped launch the modern civil rights movement in 1955 when it published open-casket funeral photos of the mangled body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Chicagoan who was savagely murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi.
We'll note Felicia R. Lee's "
He Created a Mirror for Black America" (New York Times):
For generations of black Americans, Ebony and Jet were much more than magazines. The publishing empire founded by John H. Johnson in 1942, which made him both rich and one of the most powerful black Americans, chronicled black possibilities, achievements and positive images. They fed a hunger for information and good feelings during the many decades when black people seldom saw themselves reflected in the larger culture except in the most stereotypical ways.
Mr. Johnson, who died two days ago in Chicago at 87, was an iconic figure among black Americans, not only because of his business success but also because of his ability to showcase the sweeping range of black America, said business executives, academics and journalists interviewed yesterday. Many recalled sitting down with an issue of Ebony and thumbing through the photographs of movie stars, sports figures and ordinary black Americans and being thrilled finally to see people who looked like themselves.
"John Johnson's genius was that he could define the collective unconscious of the African-American people and put it into print," said Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University.
Ellis Cose, a black former Chicagoan who is a contributing editor at Newsweek and the author of several books on social issues, said he was even thrilled when walking past the Ebony building on South Michigan Avenue, a high-rise emblem of black entrepreneurship. "The whole enterprise was astounding," he said. And years later, when he interviewed Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, Mr. Cose said that Mr. Tutu told him that he, too, had been inspired by Ebony during the dark years of apartheid.

We've noted Johnson twice this week already. But since it appears that there is a feeding frenzy over a "pretty, blond gone missing" (who knew Jennings was blond?) means Johnson gets overlooked. Now maybe there's not footage of Johnson yucking it up while fully dressed above the waist and just wearing boxers below, but Johnson did accomplish a great deal. So we'll take the time to again note his passing.
Posted at 03:42 pm by cedricsbigmix

TV Review: Peter Jennings Reporter leaves a bad taste
On Wednesday night, ABC aired a two-hour tribute to World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings. The special got great ratings. As Kate Aurthur noted in Friday's New York Times ("Arts, Briefly"), the special "drew 9.41 million viewers."

The special, which ran commercial free, was entitled Peter Jennings Reporter.
What did we learn? That Ted Koppel's entered the most annoying and terminal stage of celebrity (when one refers to one's self in the third person). That the glamor look Andrea Mitchell tried out a few weeks back is apparently one Barbara Walters is also attempting.
Does that seem trivial? So was the special that taught us that entertainment has trumped news. Two hours of prime time, commercial free, that they could have been used (they includes the news department, this was a news special) to convey what Peter Jennings, news person, accomplished. That didn't happen.
We got snippets throughout. Including a montage, in the first hour, of 2 minutes and 17 seconds of "reporting" by Jennings (while we were treated to tag lines of "I'm here at . . .").
We'll get back to what the purpose of a special entitled Peter Jennings Reporter should have been. But let's note that despite the "quick cuts," not a great deal of thought was put into what made it into the special.
Sound harsh? Jeff Gralnick (former ABC News vice-president) said this of Jennings: "He hated people who were down trodden or stepped on." Is that what he meant? No.
He meant Jennings hated that people were down trodden or stepped on. But that's indicative of this special. On the record, Gralnick says of Jennings, "He hated people who were down trodden or stepped on." That's not a slam at Gralnick who was speaking off the top of his head and mispoke. That is a slam at those responsible for viewing and selecting the footage. (In fairness, they were under pressures other than time constraints.)
What was the key to Jennings as a reporter? Various theories are offered but the special, in total, seems to point primarily to three factors. Two are that he valued news of the world and that he had an eye for the telling detail. Or for the detail.
Here's Charlie Gibson on Jenning's coverage of a funeral, "In the midst of the special he began talking about the cemetary . . . and the significance of the trees, how many surrounded the cemetary . . ."
We weren't really sure what Gibson was babbling on about. That's partly the fault of the special on the "Reporter" that didn't present much of Jennings' reporting. But it's also true that Gibson's wandering anecdote suggests that Jennings focus on detail detracted from the actual story. (Later anecdotes, from other people, reveal that not to be the case.)
So the special's underway and we're not getting any reporting from Jennings. We're getting a bunch of anecdotes, most of which wouldn't make a gag reel. Can it get worse? Of course it can. Ted Koppel is present, remember?
Ted Koppel weighs in on the, we're sure he's sure, very important topic of looks: "It wasn't just women who looked up when Peter walked into a room and by golly they did look up . . ."
This is followed by another person who states, "I think he impressed us as having all the physical attributes, he looks well, he speaks well . . ."
Apparently that is the third most important quality to his career as a reporter because it was rare throughout the special that someone didn't feel the need to weigh in on Jennings' looks.
Since the special is entitled Peter Jennings Reporter and not Zoolander, we were confused by the constant focus on Jennings' looks.
We were also confused by ill conceived voice overs. Take, for instance, when Jennings himself is heard discussing his own looks (24 seconds) while we see black and white footage of him being made up. A special so short on demonstrating that Peter Jennings was a reporter doesn't really have 24 seconds to waste on footage of Jennings in make up. But having made the editorial decision to include the footage, shouldn't a requirement be that the footage match the voice over? To avoid being too pretty, Jennings explains that he wouldn't let them put make up under his eyes (he was proud of his 27 year-old lines). The footage, however, shows -- you know this is coming -- Jennings getting made up including, yes, under his eyes.
Two hours, without commercials, is a lot of time to fill especially when the focus is not on Peter Jennings the reporter. But that doesn't excuse the badly matched voice overs and footage which happened repeatedly. (We'll leave it with those two examples.)
We now waste further time, 10 seconds, as money is discussed. ("I make 40,000 dollars more than I did in Canada.")
When you're about to lose all hope of anything resembling the reporter showing up in this special, you get a montage -- with commentary and testimonials -- of The Millenium Broadcast. What stands out? Judging from the commentary the marathon itself -- as Diane Sawyer puts it, "going all day long . . . without a common place phrase." Charlie Gibson praises Jennings for "registering the tone." Which, considering that Jennings was shown saying such things as "It is now midnight in Russia," made us think of the scene in Bringing Up Baby when Katharine Hepburn keeps repeating, "At the tone, the time will be . . ." We're not sure that's reporting. We're not sure it wasn't. What was displayed on the TV screen didn't allow anyone to judge. (Though commentators were allowed to weigh in on "tone" and "without a common place phrase" which, apparently, are the rage in journalism.)
From there we're treated to the same clips they showed Monday on World News Tonight. Twenty seconds of a montage on The Munich Olumpics. We're assured that this coverage "made him." That, "It was , in my opinion, the begging of Peter Jennings."
Take their word for it because at 20 seconds of fast cuts and voice overs, the viewer doesn't get to see the story Jennings was reporting on.
Where are we then? Back to beauty. Mike Lee (ABC News correspondent) gushes, "Peter was born to be a dashing foreign correspondent. He walked into my hotel room wearing . . ."
Followed by another testimonial offering, "He was handsome as a movie star . . ."
Had enough? They aren't done. A third person offers, "Peter, of course, was an extremely good looking man. I always thought he looked a bit like Errol Flynn and he's tall and he was well built . . ." Tall and well built? Are they describing (and honoring) a reporter or Julie Newmar?
When you think it can't get worse, a speaker begins with, "I think Peter, women found Peter, absolutely irresitable . . ." (Not ironically, one commentator compares him to James Bond in this segment. To Broadcast Journalism With Love?)
From there we get 20 seconds of Jennings reporting from Iran (that's four less than was used to show him being made up and discussing his looks) and then two 20 seconds bits of him reporting on Bosnia. This includes a damning interview, a rather famous one, with John Fox who states that the State Department encouraged him to stay silent on the topic of Bosnia. The segment might be more powerful if viewers were informed of whom Fox was referring to.
In the middle of the special, we get to Jennings' own specials and this allows for a little more of Jenning's reporting (or montages of it). We get 3 minutes and 39 seconds on Cambodia, 2 minutes and 31 seconds on Israel, and 3 minutes and 3 seconds from the special on India & Pakistan. So viewers may have felt hopeful that, in the second hour, we were at last going to get a look at Peter Jennings Reporter.
Those hopes are dashed quickly as we move to Jennings on the couch being interviewed by David Letterman. It had a funny opening, Letterman is a good host. We're just not sure why it was in the special. (Or maybe someone wondered, as Letterman did, if growing up in Canada meant you came of age "peeking over the border?") The segment lasts 47 seconds. Or about a third of the time devoted to Jennings reporting from Israel. Priorities?
They're in the trash can now. Any doubts of that are dismissed as 44 minutes of political bloopers (on air) are shown (including Jennings introducing Henry Kissenger on camera as someone who served in the Reagan administration; Kissenger corrects him that it was Nixon).
That might have been "cute" for a reel shown at a Christmas party, but it doesn't really fit the title of the program.
In two hours, four people of color manage to get a word in onscreen. Al Sharpton is given the most time, 42 seconds, but conservatives shouldn't get their knickers in a wad, Anton Scalia gets to pontificate for 47 seconds. Is any of this necessary? It's not even good cocktail chatter. Scalia, for instance, uses 47 seconds to tell that he teased Jennings about being Canadian and Jennings then informed him he was now American. (A point that the special had already established before bringing on Scalia.)
Remember how viewers were left hanging as to whom Fox was speaking of that silenced him? Well now it's time for Jennings' report on little league baseball and child abuse. The clips highlighted in the montage, 3 minutes and 31 seconds, focus on a father, Chris, and a son, Jeremy. There last name isn't provided in this special (it was in the original reporting that Jennings did). We see Chris threaten his son and we're told about abuse (Jennings confronts Chris on camera about his threats and Chris admits he beats his son). What does that segment call for?
If Jennings were around, from what all said on camera, we think it would call for an update. That was some time ago, the baseball special. But we're not given an update because not only do viewers not get to savor Jennings' reporting, they aren't treated to any real reporting from this special. (For the record, Jeremy just completed a season playing baseball for Hagerstown Community College and Chris has a listed phone number. We're having a hard time believing ABC News couldn't track down what we did and actually get one of them on camera for some sort of update.)
We think even the most optimistic viewer must have given up any hope of a "tribute" that honored what Jennings stood for (we're told constantly what he stood for -- interest in the world and in covering the news). Apparently no one left at ABC News is too concerned with what interested Jennings.
Which is why we now are firmly in the land of fluff with 1 minute and 14 seconds on Jennings' love of the Constitution and statements such as "Jazz was one of his thriving passions" and "He loved his kids."Let's be really clear that Jennings' work and his goals weren't honored. Think Disney is displeased by that? Think again.
Bob Iger, president of The Walt Disney Company, comes on camera to complain that too much coverage "in the last few days" has been about Jennings' career -- don't worry Iger, no one will accuse Peter Jennings Reporter of being about his career. Or of honoring it.
As the special winds down, we get Colin Powell, apparently one of our here to unknown media critics, weighing in that, unlike some, Jennings was an anchor who didn't try to hype the drama.
Take that Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw! Then Bill Clinton, a former president, is given ten seconds. (Maybe if he'd trashed the other networks' anchors, he could have had more face time?) And what would an ABC special be without Condi Rice? (Ten seconds -- making her time equivalent to that of Bill Clinton's -- is ABC suggesting she'll be the next president?)
Peter Jennings was a reporter. You don't really appreciate that by watching Peter Jennings Reporter. From Peter Jennings Reporter, you get Jennings "humanized" (or Disney-fied). You're never allowed to judge the quality or importance of Jennings' work because they only show snippets that they quickly cut away from and those are usually layered with voice overs from others. It's as though someone made a musical but every time there was a dance scene, the camera was trained elsewhere. ("Show the feet!" we'd scream at that. Here we just screamed, "Show the reporting!")
Bob Iger made it clear what he wanted -- the person, not the career. That's what he got. So why call it Peter Jennings Reporter? Why the testimonials of people who continually stressed how interested Jennings was with the world, how important what made it on to the newscasts he anchored was? Because the news department wanted one special and the bosses wanted another. The news department fought to work in what they could (they're especially proud of the sequence on tobacco -- which includes a tobacco exec raving over how fair Jennings was, showing "all sides"). Management wanted what they saw as a two hour Oprah special.
The special demonstrated the continued conflict between the news departments and the bosses who see it all as another form of entertainment. And in this round, news lost. (Though people in the news department fought very hard.) We heard grumbles about some of the news "stars" included in the special but the message came down that the network wanted their own highlighted. Some stress to us that it's a miracle that two hours of prime time television was turned over to news. We'd agree with that if w'ed actually seen any news.
We didn't. Where Jennings hit hard, the special went soft focus. Who was Fox speaking of? What happened to Chris and Jeremy? Why was big tobacco present to attest to Jennings' ability to see all sides? The answer to those questions go to why this wasn't a news special.
We assume that two hours (commerical free or not) of a news program would have excited and thrilled Peter Jennings. We doubt he'd look fondly at the results. As the testimonials (the good ones) noted, Jennings was able to tell a story in understandable terms. The special didn't do that. It existed in a world where a report from Iran was an important as announcing it's midnight in Moscow, a world where a story was turned into a tease without an ending. It wasn't journalism.
When they release it on DVD (yes, it's coming) we'd suggest that they change the title to A Peter Jennings Tribute. That's what it was (Kate Aurthur called it correctly). It wasn't Peter Jennings Reporter. And we'd suggest that people interested in news think long and hard on that special. Even with some strong people fighting to present a news special, they weren't able to win the battle against The Walt Disney Company. Jennings had power (which, as one testimonial acknowledged, he knew how to use). We're not sure anyone else in front of the camera at ABC does.
Cynthia McFadden spoke on camera of how Jennings really didn't want coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial on World News Tonight. In a few more months, we may wish that World News Tonight was covering topics as "important" as the O.J. Simpson trial.
posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @
Sunday, August 14, 2005

Are you "anti-war"?
Elaine here. One of the first things I did when I started filling in for Rebecca was begin cleaning up her blogroll. I'm still in the process of that.

But I get an e-mail copy and paste of someone claiming that Cindy Sheehan is not for bringing the troops home now. Mike calls about it. Asks me to call C.I. to be sure it's addressed tonight. (Which I do. It will be. It would have been addressed from Mike's call alone; however, Mike knows that C.I. and are friends from many, many years ago. We knew each other in the college years and, I'd have to check with my brother, but I believe we knew each other in high school.) (I first met C.I. through my brother.)
So are you "anti-war"? In quotes. I guess some people are "pro-war." In quotes. I find it sad that someone fixates on Cindy Sheehan and attempts to utilize her to get their pro-war message out of "fine tune" the war.
That is not Cindy Sheehan message and never has been.
But when someone writes "anti-war" you already know where they're coming from.
When I was cleaning up Rebecca's blogroll (and I'll be doing more of that) one thing I looked for was where did the person stand on the issues? Calling yourself "left," "progressive," "liberal" . . . doesn't make it so.
So one of the first that I pulled was someone who didn't know they stood on the war and floated back and forth.
Cindy Sheehan has not floated back and forth. Her message has always been "Bring the troops home now." The Bully Boy knows that. He knows her message so why some who are not Republicans feel the need to to distort her message or to claim that she's not for "Bring the troops home now" is a mystery to me. But when they type that the people around Cindy are not the usual "anti-war" types, I think you know where such people are coming from.
Here's Sherry, from her e-mail today, "Can you believe this nonsense? Wake up! America, more and more, is the face of anti-war."
The polls back Sherry up. The scales have tipped and hawks rushing in to prove how strong they are won't change that. Rebecca would call them New Republicans. I'd agree with that. Advocating the continuation of this occupation is the same as advocating the invasion.
Fixating on some concept that you'll look reasonable and not like one of those "anti-war" types may win you seat at the pundits table but it's not where the nation's at now.
Get out the road if you can't lend a hand time (to steal from Bob Dylan) for "The Times They Are A-Changing."
As Janeane Garofalo said tonight on The Majority Report:
It is time to withdraw and allow an international organization . . . allow them to do their good work and help them do the rebuilding. . . . Clearly, the American power cannot handle it and will not do it. . . . So it is now time for aid organizations.
You cannot impose democracy (as the missed deadline for the draft of the Iraqi constitution proves). Nor is it your right to impose something on another country.Self-determination is democracy. Occupation is not.
I've got an e-mail from Billie who was down in Crawford showing her support for Cindy Sheehan and Billie is one of those "anti-war" types. But then African-Americans, polls have shown, didn't have the repeated waffle moments that the white race did on this invasion."Anti-war" types?
Well put me down on the list. Certainly don't put me down on the list of "moderates" who can't quite figure out what to do from one day to the next but want to suggest that the plans don't require our input -- that it's not our place!
Maybe someone who truly believes that, believes that in a democracy we cede our authority and voice to elected officials, still believes democracy can be imposed?
It can't be. It won't be.
Photos and reports from Falluja, from non-embeds, speak to how well that "imposing" has gone.
I'm not okay with repeated "sweeps" through Falluja or any other city in Iraq. Nor do I support occupation.
People who do should try to come up with examples where occupation has worked because there are psychological dimensions to occupation that their "moderate" brains can't grasp. A culture breeds in an occupation and to deny that reality is to live in a fantasy world.
So by all means mark me down as "anti-war."
It really saddens me that someone wants to say that Cindy Sheehan isn't for bring the troops home now. It saddens me because if they're not misinformed, they're lying. When someone's willing to resort to lying about Cindy Sheehan, one wonders what they won't lie about?
The name of the organization she co-founded is Gold Star Families for Peace. That's not a Bully Boy-ism. The name means what it says. Cindy Sheehan means what she says.
posted by Sex And Politics and Screeds and Attitude @ 8/15/2005 09:54:00 PM

Cindy Sheehan Begins Day Nine of Her Protest in Crawford, TX (Democracy Now!)
In Crawford Texas, Cindy Sheehan has begun day nine of her vigil outside President Bush's vacation ranch. Sheehan has vowed to remain in Crawford until the president meets with her. Last year Sheehan's oldest son Casey died in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Hundreds of anti-war activists have now joined Sheehan in a protest that has received international attention. "You know, this is really hard. Not only am I, like, trying to stop the war, but I have to grieve my son every day," Cindy Sheehan said. "Every day I wake up, it's like April 4th all over again. I have to realize that I have to go for another day without my son, and it's really, really hard. And then I do this on top of that." On Saturday, Bush defended his decision not to meet with Sheehan. He said "I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But. I think it's also important for me to go on with my life." Bush's comments came before he went on a two-hour bike ride with journalists and aides. In addition, Bush spent Saturday attending a Little League baseball game, having lunch w/ Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, napping, fishing and reading. On Friday Bush attended a political fundraiser. Tensions are also rising in Crawford. One local farmer fired a gun on his property near the protest site. When asked if he was trying to send a message the farmer said, "Figure it out for yourself."
Did you read that? Cindy Sheehan says "Not only am I, like, trying to stop the war, but I have to grieve for my son every day."
Lying about what Cindy Sheehan stands for disgusts me. Let's hope that those who put words in her mouth and claim she's not for bringing the troops home now just don't know better. The alternative is too sad.
"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
The only thing that's been a worse flop than the organization of nonviolence has been the organization of violence.
Joan Baez
posted by Sex And Politics and Screeds and Attitude @
8/15/2005 09:54:00 PM

Cindy Sheehan, CounterRecruiter, Amber's questions and people who don't know the facts about Cindy Sheehan
Good evening, we'll start off with
Democracy Now!
Cindy Sheehan Begins Day Nine of Her Protest in Crawford, TX
In Crawford Texas, Cindy Sheehan has begun day nine of her vigil outside President Bush's vacation ranch. Sheehan has vowed to remain in Crawford until the president meets with her. Last year Sheehan's oldest son Casey died in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Hundreds of anti-war activists have now joined Sheehan in a protest that has received international attention. "You know, this is really hard. Not only am I, like, trying to stop the war, but I have to grieve my son every day," Cindy Sheehan said. "Every day I wake up, it's like April 4th all over again. I have to realize that I have to go for another day without my son, and it's really, really hard. And then I do this on top of that." On Saturday, Bush defended his decision not to meet with Sheehan. He said "I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But. I think it's also important for me to go on with my life." Bush's comments came before he went on a two-hour bike ride with journalists and aides. In addition, Bush spent Saturday attending a Little League baseball game, having lunch w/ Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, napping, fishing and reading. On Friday Bush attended a political fundraiser. Tensions are also rising in Crawford. One local farmer fired a gun on his property near the protest site. When asked if he was trying to send a message the farmer said, "Figure it out for yourself."
So now let's hop over to the e-mails. I've got one from Amber and she's got a problem. First, she's been talking about Cindy Sheehan every chance she gets. So good for Amber! Way to go! Second, she's got a friend who told her that she doesn't "support the troops" if she supports Cindy Sheehan and Amber's wondering what to tell that friend.
Amber says "I can't tell her to f--k off because she's one of my best friends and because I think if I work hard, I can reach her because she's just repeating stuff her dad told her."
Amber, I think it's great that you faced that and decided to work harder. So my advice is ask her what "support the troops" means? Make her define what it means.
I think she's probably not thought about it and just repeats it as a slogan.
So make her do some thinking and ask her to tell you what "support the troops" means or to make a list of things she thinks "supports the troops."
Then discuss the list with her calmly. And ask questions. Like ask if she thinks it supports the troops if you shut your mouth when you feel your country is making a huge mistake.
Amber says she keeps getting told by some right wingers that Cindy Sheehan wanted the war fought smarter. Amber, you got punked. Cindy Sheehan wants the troops home now. She's said that over and over. I read that and thought, "Call C.I." I did. C.I.'s going to try to address that nonsense tonight.
And see, here's the thing, The Common Ills knew who Cindy Sheehan was before Crawford. The Common Ills linked to Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out before Crawford. The Common Ills has quoted her from Stop The Next War Now, the CODEPINK book. Any right winger who says that crap is an idiot. I've read Stop The Next War Now and I've watched Cindy Sheehan on Democracy Now! so I think it's really sad that some people want to use her to push their own agenda of "fine tune the war!" ("Fine tune the war" is a phrase C.I. or Elaine came up with, I can't remember who right now.)
Cedric told me he saw a "liberal" blogger blogging on it too. L.B. needs to do some research before weighing in because L.B. doesn't know anything. I don't go to that site. I called Elaine because she pulled that site from Rebecca's list. Elaine said she's sick of permalinks from Rebecca to people who won't give Rebecca permalinks so she pulled that site 2 weeks ago. She also didn't care for L.B.'s playing Thomas Friedman while acting "liberal." That's why I don't go to L.B.'s site. C.I. mentioned L.B. when I was doing links and I said, "I don't want to link to that. Or to anyone that pushes Council for Foreign Relations. I may be only 19 but I'm not an idiot." And that's sad, real sad. Here I am 19, not knowing half of what to do and learning as I go and I know more than L.B.
From CounterRecruiter (a great site), I want to note Joshua Breitbart's "Selling the Parents" which about the new push-the-war front where they try to get parents up on the war:
The ads have been running since April on old-person cable channels, like Hallmark and the Game Show Network. One in Spanish is running on Spanish-language television and in Puerto Rico. The Army recently expanded their circulation and claims they will reach 58 percent of influencers of potential recruits by September. With Cindy Sheehan and the Gold Star Families for Peace in the news so much these days, the recruiters have a lot to compete with when it comes to reaching parents.
Read more: "Army ads encourage parents to let their children sign up"
posted by Mikey Likes It! @
7:31 PM