Friday, June 17, 2005

MEET THE NEW BOSS. It's hard to imagine a worse public-relations (or, frankly, substantive) move than this. Yesterday the Boston Globe's corporate owner, the New York Times Company, named James Kilts, the man who's trying to destroy Boston icon Gillette, to its board of directors.

From the press release:

"We are delighted to have Jim join our Board," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the Times Company. "He has 30 years of consumer products industry experience under his belt and is highly regarded as an innovator and industry leader. His skills, expertise and leadership will benefit us greatly."

The Boston Herald has the requisite amount of fun with this, headlining its story "Who's Your Daddy?" According to the article, by Jay Fitzgerald and Brett Arends, Globe editor Marty Baron was unavailable, and neither executive editor Helen Donovan nor Globe spokesman Al Larkin would comment.

I don't believe the Globe will go easy on Kilts just because he's on the Times Company board. In fact, Globe columnist Steve Bailey today has a pretty withering take on the Kilts appointment. But Kilts - who's lined his pockets with gold at the expense of Gillette's workers - has been bad for Boston. And it's an insult to this city that the Times Company would allow him to have any say whatsoever in the business operations of New England's largest media organization.

The Globe's story on the appointment, by Jenn Abelson, centers around the possibility that Kilts's main role will be to rustle up consumer-product advertising. Let's hope so. The last thing we need to find out is that Kilts is trying to convince his fellow board members that copy-editing jobs can be outsourced to Bangalore.

Here is a BusinessWeek story on Secretary of State Bill Galvin's investigation into the Gillette-Procter & Gamble merger - a deal that, if it goes through, will make Kilts and 16 other Gillette executives $450 million richer while costing thousands of people their jobs.

GOOSE-STEPPING RHETORIC. No, Democratic senator Dick Durbin should not have drawn a comparison between American guards at Guantánamo and the Nazis. But before we put him on trial for treason, let's not forget that Republican senator Rick Santorum recently compared Democrats to Nazis.

Kudos to Alan Colmes for showing the video of Santorum on last night's Hannity & Colmes. Even though I assume Sean knew it was coming, I do think he was momentarily flustered.

For the record, I think Durbin and Santorum have proven themselves to be a couple of boneheads.

PANDER MODE. How much damage does Governor Mitt Romney intend to do before his term as governor ends and he can finally start campaigning for president full-time? Now he's lending his full support to a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Massachusetts without even guaranteeing civil unions as an alternative. (Globe coverage here; Herald coverage here.)

MEDIA LOG ON THE AIR. In case you're interested in watching, listening to, or heckling me in the next week, here's where you'll be able to find me:

Today, 7 p.m. Greater Boston's "Beat the Press" media roundup, WGBH-TV (Channel 2).

Sunday, 9:30 p.m. Pundit Review Radio, WRKO (AM 680).

Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. Incoming Phoenix media critic Mark Jurkowitz and I will talk about the state of local media on The Point, on WGBH's Cape Cod radio stations.

Thursday, 7 to 9 a.m. I'll be filling in for the vacationing Scott Allen Miller on Blute & Scotto, on WRKO.

Friday, July 1, 7 p.m. Greater Boston, Channel 2.


Anonymous said...

I suppose he could have worded it slightly better, without directly mentioning American soldiers. But aren't we smart enough to realize that the point is that the conditions described sounded like they came from Hitler's Germany, or Stalin's Russia, or Vietnam?

But they weren't. It was the United States of America, being done in our name. He's right. It's wrong.

Anonymous said...

Why should we be surprised by the NY Times move. They are clueless and could not care less about "us". The significant decline of the metro region section and local political coverage is a testament to the fact that they don't care about this area as an indentity.
The Times will stab Boston in the back just like Kilts did to thousands of working people.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see what the condition of the "Chinese Wall" between advertising and news is at the Globe, check out today's business section. W.B. Mason, HUGE presence in local ads, delivery trucks on the road, (hell, Fenway Park wall!), was raided by the FBI yesterday. This doesn't happen without a (theoretically) prudent federal judge granting a warrant. White collar crime is alleged. Three column-inch piece is smaller than the adjacent one on Cingular telling us not to be rude with cellphones. Mr. Kilts won't have much trouble rolling these guys.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dan, we would never heckle you.

While I got ya here, could you get the Phoenix to provide us a way to make the on-screen typeface larger? Before the redesign, we could do that. Thanks.

Dan Kennedy said...

Re: On-screen typefaces. Yeah, I noticed that too. Can't you just use your browser command to increase the type size? That's what I'm doing.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kennedy,

What do you call it when interrogators beat suspects to death over a period of days, break their bones, tie bags over their heads, hang them from hooks, urinate on them, burn them with cigarettes, stip them naked and force them to simulate sex acts, have women pretend to wipe menstrual blood on them, chain them to floors in stifling heat with speakers blasting in their ears to the point where they deficate and urinate on themselves and pull out their own hair, simulate drowning by repeatedly submerging them in water, and intimidating them with snarling dogs?

It's called TORTURE, exactly what we would call these acts if anyone did them to Americans.

Go read the Amnesty International, Red Cross and FBI reports of what went on at Guantanamo and other US-run detention facilities; even our own FBI agents were horrified.

At least 26 "enemy combatants" at Gitmo were set free after suffering through such horrors because they were innocent. As of March, over 100 people had died in US custody and one quarter of the cases were being investigated as possible crimes.

There is no point in being politically correct about this: these torture techniques are straight out of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the Soviet Gulag. The Nazis had an evil rationale --they considered their victims to be sub-human.

What is the Bush Administration's excuse for using the same methods?

Michael Kanterman

Anonymous said...

Dan should use the "much sought after" qualifier when signing his name. I'm waiting for, "I'll be hosting Nightline tonight."

Dan Kennedy said...

It's always interesting to get attacked from my left.

American guards at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, and who knows where else have commmitted torture. Possibly even murder - 27 cases are being investigated, as I recall. I have written about this on a number of occasions, and do not need to be educated about it.

Can this be compared murdering six million Jews in the Nazi death camps? Uh, I don't think so.

Can this be compared with starving political prisoners to death in forced labor camps, as the Soviets did? Ditto.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Mr. Kennedy, you're smarter than that. Sen. Durbin never compared Guantanamo to the worst Nazi & Soviet mass-slaughters.

The type of torture and killing committed by US interrogators at Gitmo and elswhere --as a matter of policy under the approval of Secretary Rumsfeld-- is idential to torture and killing committed by the Nazis, Soviets and other totalitarian regimes, not the US military. That's just a plain fact.

Prohibiting any kind of torture is a NON-NEGOTIABLE standard for the United States government, because we believe that committing such acts under any circumstance is unacceptable morally and utimately self-defeating.

You don't get to do it just a little to a few dozen "Hajis."

The fact that US interrogators haven't tortured or killed six-million victims is a politically correct distinction without a difference. It is already far beyond the point of unacceptable.

Michael Kanterman

Chairman v. 2.2 said...

Mike, the problem is that too many people have come to view what has happened as mere "abuse" when it's really torture. They therefore see comparisons to totalitarian regimes as over the top. Partly, this is because of deliberate misiformation from the Right (like this Herald editorial which cites turning-up the AC as the only example of torture at Gitmo) and partly because Americans unconsciously don't much sympathize with Arabs.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean subconsciously, not unconsciously. Unconscious is what Congress and the media have been, as in asleep on the job, in letting the Bushies get away with (dare we say it?) murder.


Anonymous said...

Dan, with all due respect, those to your left are used to being ignored. Don't feel bad. Reality is that some ideologues are looking for a reason to bash the US and will never be satisfied. Witness the fact that cavalier treatment of the Quran (word directly from God)by US jailers is somehow worse than deliberate destruction by Muslims of Catholic churches and consecrated hosts, (Body & Blood of Jesus Christ, per Catholics). I suspect Mr. Kanterman spends a LOT of time being outraged. Don't let that door hit you on the way out, Mike.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, hold on a second Rick...

You said: "Reality is that some ideologues are looking for a reason to bash the US and will never be satisfied. "

This is just garbage. Some of us don't like some of the things being done in our collective name, and it's our right to make as much noise about it as we want and to try to get it to stop being done in our names. Will I ever be truly satisfied? I don't think utopia is likely any time soon, so life ends up being a compromise.

Further, complaining about these things does not mean we think any less of the evil of others against Christians, Americans, Israelis or anyone else. It is possible to believe that the torture of detainees in Guantanamo and elsewhere by the US is wrong, and simultaneously think that "deliberate destruction by Muslims of Catholic churches and consecrated hosts" is wrong too. It isn't all that difficult. This should go without saying, but sometimes you really have to spell it out for people.

If torture is wrong, then it is just as wrong when we do it as it is when [insert name of brutal authoritarian regime here] does it. THAT'S the point.

Going back to Dan's original point, sure, I'd agree that the Hitler/Nazi comparisons are overused (see the great Daily Show bit on this the other night?), so fine, let's come up with a list of relatively less evil regimes to which we can compare the conditions described.

As an aside: Dan - I, for one, don't mean to attack you. I'm sorry if I give that impression. I also doubt that I'm much further to the left than you... Anyway, thanks for the space for, and the engagement in, the debate! We'll miss you when you're gone.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Rick, criticizing the Bushies for over-subsidizing ethanol might constitute gratuitous "bashing."

Opposing Donald Rumsfled's policy of using fascistic torture techniques is fair game.

Unless, of course, you support torture...

Anonymous said...

Dan one of your readers ask:
"What do you call it when interrogators beat suspects to death over a period of days, break their bones, tie bags over their heads, hang them from hooks, urinate on them, burn them with cigarettes, stip them naked and force them to simulate sex acts, have women pretend to wipe menstrual blood on them, chain them to floors in stifling heat with speakers blasting in their ears to the point where they deficate and urinate on themselves and pull out their own hair, simulate drowning by repeatedly submerging them in water, and intimidating them with snarling dogs?

Answer: Any Motel 6

Chairman v. 2.2 said...

DK, you don't seriously believe that torture is a traditional, acceptable practice of the United States and other civilized nations, do you?

Senator Durbin is correct. Torture like that used at Guantanamo and other facilities is a method of the worst dictators and tyrants, not the US government.

Anonymous said...

Yo, Kanterman, you wrote:

"The fact that US interrogators haven't tortured or killed six-million victims is a politically correct distinction without a difference. It is already far beyond the point of unacceptable."

So your level of outrage wouldn't go up one notch if the Bush administration systematically killed 6 million Arab civilians?

Was that how you reacted to 9/11, too? "They'd already blown up two of our embassies, this is just the same thing, a distinction without a difference"?

There's a reason you NUTBAGS are the Entrenched Minority.

Anonymous said...

You're right. We're just not as good at stealing elections as the Bushie Youth.


Steve said...

Just to comment on the Romney part of the post...

I think Romney's strategy is to run for re-election and LOSE. Romney's image in the Republican party is way too liberal, and he has to show that he can get REJECTED by such a liberal state.

Anonymous said...

Well, Mr. Anonymous, if you believe brutally torturing prisoners is a traditioanlly American practice consistent with American values, by all means show some cajones and say so.

I believe brutally torturing prisoners is a traditionally Nazi and Soviet practice consistent with totalitarian values, not American values.

And please call me Mike, since I'm unafraid to put my name on my posts.

Michael Kanterman

Anonymous said...

Dan: Concerning Sen. Durbin's remarks, aren't you, like the Herald columnist criticizing the Globe's Iraq coverage, barking up the wrong tree? Durbin simply read verbatim from an FBI report; it seems your beef is with the FBI.

Nelson, Roslindale

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, Nelson, I think the bigger issue is that when US interrogators torture Iraqis it only helps the terrorists and puts our troops at greater risk. Insurgents cite US torture of Muslims to recruit suicide bombers and to foster distrust. The use of torture also nullifies US credibility when we criticize countries like China for human rights abuses. China recently cited Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib when the Bush administration opposed EU weapons sales to them.

Anonymous said...

Some of the same M.P.'s took a particular interest in an emotionally disturbed Afghan detainee who was known to eat his feces and mutilate himself with concertina wire. The soldiers kneed the man repeatedly in the legs and, at one point, chained him with his arms straight up in the air, Specialist Callaway told investigators. They also nicknamed him "Timmy," after a disabled child in the animated television series "South Park." One of the guards who beat the prisoner also taught him to screech like the cartoon character, Specialist Callaway said. Eventually, the man was sent home.


When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.


In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.


The findings of Mr. Dilawar's autopsy were succinct. He had had some coronary artery disease, the medical examiner reported, but what caused his heart to fail was "blunt force injuries to the lower extremities." Similar injuries contributed to Mr. Habibullah's death.

One of the coroners later translated the assessment at a pre-trial hearing for Specialist Brand, saying the tissue in the young man's legs "had basically been pulpified."

"I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus," added Lt. Col. Elizabeth Rouse, the coroner, and a major at that time.

Anonymous said...

Having Kilts on the board of directors reminds me of General Motor's new "employee discount" promotion. You, too, can have the same discount as the 25,000 employees we're laying off - yay!

Chairman v. 2.2 said...

Hey, Dan: Andrew Sullivan disputes your PC take on Dick Durbin's comments:

I've now read and re-read Senator Dick Durbin's comments on interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay. They are completely, perfectly respectable. The rank hysteria being perpetrated by some on the right is what is shameful. Hugh Hewitt should answer one single question: does he doubt the FBI interrogator who witnessed the appalling treatment of some detainees at Guantanamo? [...]

Is Hewitt arguing that the interrogator was lying? Does he believe that the kind of tactics used against this prisoner are worthy of the United States? Does he believe that this happened without authorization? If he were told this story and informed that it occurred in, say, Serbia under Milosevic, would he be surprised? Hewitt should then answer the same question about the 5 detainees which the U.S. government itself has acknowledged were tortured to death by U.S. interrogators, and the scores of others who died in detention during or after "interrogation". Does he deny that this happened? Does he honestly believe that removing the legal restrictions on cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees by our current president had nothing to do with this? Maybe he needs a little refresher on the extraordinary range and scale of the record of abuse that is still accumulating. I'm just amazed that some can view what has happened and their first instinct is to attack those who have criticized it, rather than those who have perpetrated it. It is this administration that has brought indelible shame on America, and it's people like Dick Durbin who prove that some can actually stand up against this stain on American honor and call it what it is. Good for him. Thank God for him.

Dan Kennedy said...

Oh, my! I certainly don't want to be out of step with the great Andrew Sullivan. I must change my mind immediately.

Chairman v. 2.2 said...

Hey, don't get defensive! I only cited Sullivan because you said you were being "attacked from your left." Sullivan isn't on the left, yet he makes the same logically-sound argument as Durbin and many of the posters here.

And he was intellectually honest enough not to pretend Durbin compared Gitmo torture to "murdering six million Jews in the Nazi death camps."