Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A GIFT TO THE RIGHT. The Phoenix has already posted my column on the Newsweek fiasco, which will appear in tomorrow's print edition. My fear is that conservatives will use Newsweek's sloppy reporting as an excuse to cover up what's really taking place in America's secret overseas prisons.

I open with an anecdote about a bizarre televised exchange between right-wing activist Brent Bozell and a University of Texas professor. For a fuller explication of that exchange, check out this item from Jonathan Miller.

CLASS WARFARE. An amazing front-page juxtaposition in today's Boston Globe.

In the lead position is this Alice Dembner piece reporting that the Romney administration is getting ready to go after poor people who can't afford to pay their medical bills.

Below the fold, Kimberly Blanton reports on the yet-to-be-built Mandarin Oriental condos in the Back Bay, which go for as much as $12 million a pop and are already just about sold out. Blanton writes:

Maids will turn off the vacuum cleaner when penthouse owners walks by. Residents will be able to order raw steaks, prepped for grilling, and have them delivered to their private, rooftop terraces. Upon arriving home from out-of-town trips, they will be greeted with fresh orchids, crisp sheets, and Perrier on the nightstand.

No doubt a few of those maids will be worried about the dunning letters they're getting telling them to cough up for their kid's last visit to the emergency room.

I'm sorry, but taxes on the rich obviously aren't high enough. Not even close.

SERVICE WITH A SNEER. The Boston Herald's Brett Arends reports today that about 40,000 Bank of America customers will be without electronic-banking services - including ATM access for five weeks this summer. Good grief.

One more reason why I stick with Bailey Building & Loan.


Anonymous said...

Covering up what Dan? Tell us what they're covering up in these evil secret prisons? If you can't, you're a fraud like Newsweek.

Anonymous said...

The Mandarin Oriental is an exhibit of how little value the dollar has more than the perceived value of the condos. Too bad government statistics lack credence at all levels.

Dan Kennedy said...

There is a wonderful flaw of logic in Anonymous's "Covering up what Dan?" comment. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

That comment was dissed from the jump. Sort of surprised you even responded. It is 10th grade tactic.

Anonymous said...

I suppose you'll keep the logical gaffe a secret too. Maybe Wes can fill us in or he can shoot from the hip like Isikoff.

Anonymous said...

Dan is too smart to have become such a true believing reactionary. He's like Sean Hannity with a better vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any long-term implications for Newsweek that weren't already present. Newsweek was already anathema to conservatives; the "oops" just reinforced their beliefs. The rest of us are smart enough to recognize that even the best media make mistakes, and that there's no way to correlate a sentence, wrong or right, in a magazine with the murder of one's countrymen.

It's the media's favorite story: talking about itself. Thus, all the practice's handwringing was predictable, but that's all it is. I suspect Newsweek's editors lose some sleep and maybe a pound or two, but Washington Post Co. won't lose any money over this.


Dan Kennedy said...

Okay ... I never took a course in logic, so I don't know exactly what logicians would call this particular flaw. But I would imagine it's pretty obvious to anyone except Anonymous, who says, "Tell us what they're covering up in these evil secret prisons." Uh, Anonymous, they're secret prisons. Other than the stuff that's leaked out - the sexual humiliation, the dogs, the murders documented by the Army - I don't know. As an American citizen, I have a right to know, but except in a few instances our government isn't telling us. That's because it's, you know, a secret. Got it?

Steve said...

One thing about your article, Dan, that has caused me to revise my thinking about this. I have heard reports that Newsweek had the Pentagon review the "article" (really just a paragraph or two I think) for accuracy, and the Pentagon approved it. (In other reports I've heard, it was the "White House" that reviewed and OKed the story.) Have you heard this detail and can you verify it?

If this is indeed the case, then I think Newsweek did at least some checking to verify the one-anonymous-source, at least second-hand story.

Dan Kennedy said...

Steve - The way Mark Whitaker has explained it, Newsweek showed the entire article (remember, it was only 300 words) to a second Pentagon source, and that source made a couple of corrections - but didn't touch the bit about the Koran going down the flush.

However, according to Whitaker, the source said nothing about the Koran, which Whitaker took as approval - but which I take as a sign that the source wasn't in a position to know one way or the other. Whitaker has gone out of his way to say that Source #1 was in a position to know. I think we have to take Whitaker's failure to make the same claim about Source #2 as an admission that he was not.

I've heard a few commentators say that it sounds like Newsweek had "one and a half" sources. Still sounds like one to me.