A VERY LARGE BOSTON NEWSPAPER. Two examples of an odd journalistic practice in today's edition of Boston's largest daily newspaper.
- Columnist Joan Vennochi writes about an exchange that took place on the radio between MassINC executive director Ian Bowles and Peter Blute. Bowles, Vennochi semi-informs us, was "on the radio yesterday morning" with Blute, a "radio host and former congressman." Why not just say that Bowles was a guest host on WRKO Radio (AM 680)? [Update: Whoops. Bowles was interviewed by 'RKO, but he was not a guest host.]
- In a feature on mixed martial arts, Jack Encarnacao writes, "A series of recent local media reports about the Roxy event lumped the sport together with 'Tough Man' contests and professional wrestling, two spectacles in which deaths have occurred, usually as a result of amateurs taking risks." Substitute "Boston Herald" for "local media," and you now know one more thing than Encarnacao told you.
Not to single out either writer. This is so ingrained that it's got to be some bizarre copy-desk rule. But I don't get it.
GET YOUR PHOENIX. And send the Tracksters a couple of T-shirts.
TOO EASY. Once or twice a month, I get a nasty e-mail from a Mark Steyn fan, which always leads me to wonder what the glib faker has been up to lately. The answer: taking utterly predictable shots at Senator Dick Durbin, and - of course! - stacking the deck besides.
God bless Steyn - he's always good for an item.
As I've said before, Durbin's remarks comparing American soldiers at Guantánamo to Nazis, Soviet guards, and the Khmer Rouge were stupid and offensive - every bit as stupid and offensive as Senator Rick Santorum's comparing the filibustering Democrats to Nazis.
But I want to draw attention to how Steyn sets up Durbin's remarks. Steyn writes:
Last Tuesday, Senator Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, quoted a report of U.S. "atrocities" at Guantanamo and then added:
"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings."
Er, well, your average low-wattage senator might. But I wouldn't. The "atrocities" he enumerated - "Not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room" - are not characteristic of the Nazis, the Soviets or Pol Pot, and, at the end, the body count in Gitmo was a lot lower. That's to say, it was zero, which would have been counted a poor day's work in Auschwitz or Siberia or the killing fields of Cambodia.
That's the extent of it in Steynworld: the prisoners had to listen to Snoop Dogg, and it was hot. But here is what Durbin actually said before making his unfortunate Nazi/Soviet/Pol Pot comparison:
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here - I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold.... On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
If Steyn wants to beat up on Durbin, that's fine. Frankly, Durbin deserves it. But by glossing over - and making fun of - what has actually happened at Guantánamo, as documented by US government officials, Steyn demonstrates once again that he's nothing but a Republican cheerleader with scant regard for the facts.