Wednesday, March 31, 2004

STREAMING O'FRANKEN. I've been listening to a bit of The O'Franken Factor on Air America Radio, which doesn't have an outlet in Boston but which is streaming live here. I can't judge it from 45 minutes of intermittent listening, obviously, but while I had it on Michael Moore dropped by, and then Al Gore called in to say hello.

Gore got off a funny, asking, "How's the drug-free thing working out?" Moore made a crack about OxyContin, and Al Franken chimed in, "We've been drug-free now for two hours and 40 minutes." Maybe they're taking the wrong drugs, because it seemed pretty low-energy. You'd think they'd be bouncing off the walls on Day One.

Franken and Gore couldn't get Moore to apologize for supporting Ralph Nader in 2000, but Moore did say he's backing John Kerry this time around.

Air America has got to pick up a Boston outlet before the conventions. You'd think this would be one the best markets for liberal radio in the country. But with just about every station with a decent signal locked down by a conglomerate, that may not be easy.

Anyway ... the streaming works just fine, and it's also on Channel 167 on XM Satellite Radio. As for the rest of the country, stay tuned.

MONKEYS MAUL KERRY. Kerry knew it was coming, but he hasn't been particularly effective in warding off the flying monkeys of the Bush-Cheney campaign.

That's the conclusion of the Washington Post's Dan Balz, who reports today that "attacks on John F. Kerry by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, backed by millions of dollars in negative ads, have wiped out the narrow lead Kerry enjoyed at the beginning of the month and damaged his public image."

MORE IRAQI HORROR. The images out of the Iraqi town of Fallujah today are horrifying and sickening - the burned bodies (and body parts) of four Americans being dragged through the streets, beaten with sticks, and hung up for public display.

The New York Times, which covers the story here, has also posted an AP video that you need an extraordinarily strong stomach to watch. If you read this AP story at Yahoo News, you'll also find a slideshow that is nothing short of appalling.

It will be interesting to see what the media ethicists say about showing these images. Two years ago, the Phoenix touched off a controversy when it published on its Web site a link to a propaganda video made by the Islamist terrorists who kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The video ends with an image of Pearl's severed head being held aloft. The paper also published two small images from the video, one of them post-decapitation. Click for what I wrote about it at the time.

The Phoenix got some support, but also received a lot of criticism. Publishing gruesome images is always controversial, and should never be done without a great deal of thought. The question is, are the pictures from Fallujah somehow newsworthy in a way that the Pearl images were not? And, if so, what is the standard?

And just in case you were wondering: I think they were both newsworthy. We shouldn't be forced to watch such images, but neither should we hide from them.

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