November 26, 2004


The New York Times reports:

A journalistic aphorism holds that bad news comes in threes. Now that Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather have announced their departures, how long does Peter Jennings have?

This is bad news? The Economist isn't upset:

Mr Rather's reputation has not recovered from a “60 Minutes” documentary which tried to raise questions about George Bush junior's service in the Texas National Guard. Mr Rather claimed to have documents proving that Mr Bush had violated a direct order to take a physical examination, and also that his superiors had been put under pressure to “sugarcoat” his evaluation. But within 14 hours internet sleuths had shown that the documents were forgeries. Mr Rather stood by his story for 12 excruciating days, while his supporters arrogantly contrasted the network's rigorous fact-checking with “a guy sitting in his living room in his pyjamas writing”. But the pyjama guy turned out to be right.

Read the whole thing. Right or wrong, Antonia Zerbisias thinks bloggers should quit attacking mainstream media before we all die:

Just like trigger happy celebrants in the Middle East, who have yet to figure out that what goes up must come down, they can't see that, by firing up at us, they will also kill themselves.

Firing up at a ground-dwelling hack like Zerbisias? Yeah. Right.

Posted by Tim Blair at November 26, 2004 09:45 AM

Good Lord, Zerb is a retard. First there's the disgusting condescension of the line "firing up at us", implying that she and her MSM brethren occupy some higher plane of fact-checking existence or supposed solid journalistic integrity (like the Reuters story today about windmills not killing birds, with a throwaway line about "every country except the US" (I paraphrase) having to look at clean technologies because of their Kyoto commitments ... when Russia, to name just one, has to do no such thing, and can continue polluting at an unabated rate for the length of their current Kyoto deal).

But I digress.

Back to Zerb's retardednessitivity - there is also the stupidity of the analogy - when the "bullets" hit their "target", they stay lodged in their target, hopefully taking some down although the fall of a massive object like the Zerb could indeed be a major disaster. The intent of course is that this will also have the effect of spurring others operating on the elite superior plateau of Great Journalism to actually be OBJECTIVE when reporting a NEWS story, for fuck's sake.

I can't believe I clicked on another link from the Star.

Posted by: Crispytoast at November 26, 2004 at 10:10 AM

In the linked article, Antonia Zerbisias never extorts journalists to provide a more credible, accurate and timely product. He just attacks bloggers for daring to mention that journalists put out a shoddy product and this might ruin the journalist’s payday.

This reminds me of the middle to late seventies, when American car makers refused to make a decent car while the Japanese car makers were kicking their tail with superior products. Rather than make a better product, American car makers sought Government protection from those mean Japanese for actually daring to make a better car.

Expect the MSM to seek government protection from the mean bloggers. The first step will likely be attacking bloggers for using copy righted material without compensation to the MSM that produced the materials.

Posted by: perfectsense at November 26, 2004 at 10:20 AM

Smug little feline isn't she? Try this

"Ironically, bloggers mostly feed off the work of professional journalists who do the legwork. But, like parasites too stupid to realize they are killing off their hosts, the pajamahadeen don't get it every time they dig more dirt for our mass grave."

Perhaps if the journalists worried more about factual balanced reporting of facts, there would be little need for the pajamahadeen.

Posted by: Fluent Idiot at November 26, 2004 at 10:29 AM

Antonia is the one not getting it. It's not about the blogosphere shooting down the msm, it's about making it accountable for what it presents as "unbiased" "facts."
It's about democratising a closed-shop.

Posted by: Romeo at November 26, 2004 at 10:36 AM

The MSM have to come to terms with the existence of a rapid and widely disseminated fact checking blogosphere.

The question has to be asked, why is there a market for so many sites on the web to be fact checking? My answer is that the MSM has always done a poor job before because fact checking, plaigirism checking and the other things the blogosphere does well could not be done in a timely fashion, nor could the results be published.

In the good ol' days that Zerbisias refers to if a newspaper ran a bad story you culd fire off a letter to the editor, but if they chose not to publish it the matter stayed buried, and the journo's arse was covered by the system.

My personal experience with journalists covering stories that I was involved with has been that the journos almost always got it wrong in important details. Most people I know who have had direct experience with the media have had the same experience.

Which is a long winded way of saying that Tim has a job for life as long as the MSM exists.

Posted by: Pauly at November 26, 2004 at 11:05 AM

Tim, Zerbisias and the other idiots in the MSM are scared. They are scared that they are losing control. They are scared that they might have to work for a living. They are scared that there world is all tumbling down. Soon they will be desperate. I can hardly wait to see it.

Posted by: Jesusland Joe at November 26, 2004 at 12:03 PM

The stupid thing-- well, one of them-- about her complaint is that the most obvious example of what she's whining about, the Rather case, IS an example of bloggers doing original reporting-- examining documents and providing the expert opinion that they were obviously forged using technology that was about 28 years away from existing 32 years ago. The only thing that's new is that it's the reporters who are under the spotlight, not some politician. Pardon me while I wipe the crocodile's tears for that.

Posted by: Mike G at November 26, 2004 at 12:29 PM

MikeG — And while we're at it, it was bloggers at Captains Quarters that dug up the proof of Kerry's appropriation of other officers' records, the false statements of the "band of brothers", the fake Cambodia stories and the dubious medal citations...

I guess the mainstream press does have a lot to be mad about. It's either that or admit that the blogoverse has access to a variety of human and information resources they can neither match nor censor.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at November 26, 2004 at 12:59 PM

The sole casualty of the blogging revolution is the bad journalist: the one who is biased, lazy, dishonest and complacent. What else do you expect when a well-informed, literate, public has direct access to data? They need fewer intermediaries to interpret events for them. Only those who are astute, learned and dispassionate survive. The original goal of most news organizations was to inform, not to interpret. Let the MSM go back to news gathering.

Posted by: ahem at November 26, 2004 at 01:07 PM

Zerbisias writes:
"One thing is clear from both studies: The shift from mainstream media to alternate sources such as the ethnic press, cable networks and the Internet, are threatening the future of the solid, stolid mainstream journalism."

Well, no. There's no threat to "solid, stolid mainstream journalism"; just to the biased, self serving, poorly done type of journalism practised be Rather, Zerbisias,etal.

Instead of reporting the facts, they often seem to be giving their opinion of what the facts should mean to us commoners.

Posted by: rinardman at November 26, 2004 at 01:10 PM

What these people fail to understand is - people like me read about 40 blogs in the morning and throughout the day and when there's nothing new we haven't read during our first 10 visits THEN we peruse the MSM to see how they've screwed up the stuff we've already seen reported on blogs (blogs which usually give more than one source as well as immediate corrections to false or wrong info). One day they'll get it. But by then THEY will be in their pajamas crying over their own stupidity.

Posted by: Kathleen A at November 26, 2004 at 01:29 PM

Who whatchers the whatchers?

Posted by: Le clerc at November 26, 2004 at 02:26 PM

Hooray for the pyjama people.

Posted by: Tony.T at November 26, 2004 at 02:32 PM

Who would have though B1 and B2 would make it so big in blogging...

Posted by: Hanyu at November 26, 2004 at 03:27 PM

Seems to me the issue is freedom of speach. Freedom of speach is a right for all Americans not just employed journalists.

Dan Rather had the right to lie to his viewers, tell them the truth or tell his story anyway he wanted. I don't see anyone trying to press charges against him or CBS for the news they present. Because of the internet consumers are just becoming more educated and have the ability to question what they are told. The days of selling snake oil as the cure for what ails you is quickly coming to an end.

This article leads us to believe this isn't good for young journalist vying for stardom or the media in general but its exactly the opposite. The free ride journalists have had is over...time for them to be graded by their readers based on the facts or lack of they present. "Rathergate 101" should become a required course subject for all students of journalism with the blogosphere regarded as one of the checks and balances for determining factual and fictional free speach. Can you teach an old dog news tricks...I guess we'll see.

I did laugh at the notion what goes up must come down as it relates to the blogosphere. As long as there is an internet this thing will grow leaps and bounds.

One interesting perspective is that some bloggers are journalists in a sense so they'll have to earn their own position of credibility or risk being exposed by their piers or even the msm.

My guess is that the msm will be careful because the more they slam the blogs the more they advertise them. I found the blogs when I read a print news story about Rathergate which mentioned Powerline. Just today over Thanksgiving dinner I was asked by my 75 year old father inlaw what this blogosphere thing was. It is spreading like wildfire and noone can put it out.

Posted by: tej at November 26, 2004 at 03:32 PM

I'm just glad the buggers are finally going, OK?

In the meantime, Peter Jennings has gone up a few ticks in my opinion lately; he stood up to Clinton last week instead of giving the usual puffy, stroke-laden interview, and a JFK assasination doc he did for History Channel last year was replayed, wherein they debunked just about every lib/lefty Oliver Stone line of bullshit there is.

Good on 'im, sez I.

Posted by: geezer at November 26, 2004 at 03:32 PM

As a blogger, I always figured I was firing DOWN upon people like Antonia.

Posted by: cicada at November 26, 2004 at 06:52 PM

>But, like parasites too stupid to realize they are killing off their hosts

It would be great if they could!

OT: Have you seen Fox News Eurabia series? Part two from my old very socialistic neighbour is here:,2933,139614,00.html - when do MSM make articles like these?

Posted by: jorgen at November 26, 2004 at 06:59 PM

"admit that the blogoverse has access to a variety of human and information resources they can neither match nor censor"

I disagree. Even as the mainline media are not temples staffed by white-robed (or gabardine-suited) priests of journalism serving up Absolute Truth™ to the awe-inspired masses, the blogosphere is not composed of technical wizards with access to esoteric information unavailable to mundanes.

They have the same access to information that we all do. They just find it easier to make things up than to do actual research.

Posted by: John "Akatsukami" Braue at November 26, 2004 at 07:08 PM

When Zerbie finally figures out that it is she and her ilk that shoot themselves in the foot she might start to understand what it is that the Pajamahadeen actually do. So far, CLUELESS.

Posted by: EddieP at November 26, 2004 at 07:20 PM

Zerbie, just another typical lefty. They can dish it out alright, but they sure as hell can't take it.

Can you imagine if a president, or a prime minister demanded that same restraint from the MSM, because questioning or critisizing the government may decrease its credibility? Shit, the Star and the NYT and the SMH and CBS (et al) would rise up in a fury. And, yet, they are demanding exactly that from the blogoshere.

What a goddamn hypocrite that woman is.

Posted by: David Crawford at November 26, 2004 at 08:04 PM

Mainstream media don't even do the research. They just make things up. Or if they do do the freakin' research - big deal, they spin it with like-minded academics and they spin it good.

Bloggers don't have a teledex with every liberal academic ready to sprout a soft opinion.

Mainstream - leftie - journalists have nothing left in the barrel except their arcane language. Some call it jargon. And nobody else cares for that any more.

Posted by: ilibcc at November 26, 2004 at 08:24 PM

Top bloggers have vastly greater access to expertise than MSM reporters. The gap will only grow and will inevitably threaten the existence of MSM as we know it.

News-bloggers with ten thousand readers have instant access to a wide range of highly literate news-junkies in a variety of professions. A network of fifty bloggers will have immediate access to - what? Hundreds of thousands? How many can the average newspaper reporter rely upon?

The blogosphere is in its infancy. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Posted by: lyle at November 26, 2004 at 10:06 PM

The professional news media is furious because they can't throw blogs into the shredder like they do to any letters to the editor that doesn't make its writer look like an anencephalic web-fingered idiot.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 26, 2004 at 11:26 PM

NBC went up a few ticks for me these past few months. Tom Brokaw was willing to call Ohio for Mr. Bush when the only other network to do so at that point was FoxNews.

And Lisa Meyers of NBC has been following the UN's oil-for-food scandal. She's only done a few stories, but that's better than the other MSM. OK, anything's better than CBS.

Posted by: Wethal at November 26, 2004 at 11:37 PM

A stopped clock is right twice a day, and Zerbisias is at least partly right. Very little actual reporting originates from the Blogosphere, and most of that is iffy, at best. It's simply not what we do well. If anything, blogs provide feedback and serve as a valuable feedback mechanism for an industry with serious quality control problems. Had Rather looked at the evidence and admitted “I’m wrong,” he’d have increased his credibility. Instead he stonewalled, lied and attacked his critics. And Free Republic, where the whole thing started, isn’t even a blog.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at November 26, 2004 at 11:45 PM

The blogosphere is a burgeoning new technology. Its limitations are temporary. Two current critiques are:

1) Money. The money will come. Advertisers demand eyeballs; high-traffic bloggers supply them. That's not blind faith. It's market economics.

2) Original reporting. New money will buy new resources. Most reporting today is rehashed reports and publicly available statements. In the near future everyone will have a camera phone and Internet access. The problem will be an overload of original first-hand accounts, rather than a dearth.

To a news consumer, the self-organizing Information Age structure of the blogosphere is immensely superior to Old Media's 19th century factory model. It is also much faster, and speed kills.

Posted by: lyle at November 27, 2004 at 12:18 AM

The pompous colonel never died with dignity when the Indians finally caught him, tethered him to a post, lit the kindling and started poking him with hot sticks.

Posted by: Jesushadatatoo at November 27, 2004 at 12:27 AM

Who whatchers the whatchers?

I dunno. Coast Guard?

Posted by: Damian P. at November 27, 2004 at 12:46 AM

Very little actual reporting originates from the Blogosphere, and most of that is iffy, at best.

Well, that assumes that the measure of the Blogosphere is sheer tonnage of words, in which case certainly there is far more commenting than reporting. (Not that that's very different from the MSM, where there's more recycling of what's already "known" than original reporting.) But if we weight for influence on events, then a Powerline and LGF taking apart the Rather documents count for far more than just 250 words each out of 10 million produced that day. I don't know how you measure that precisely but I would say that when you count all the on-the-spot reports coming from bloggers of every type (whether it's Marines reporting on Iraq or Jeff Jarvis reporting on the latest conference he's at), the total amount of original reporting emanating from the blogosphere gets closer to the total amount coming from the MSM all the time. That the iceberg below it is much larger is not really important, since the blogosphere is so efficient at shuffling the best stories to the top.

Posted by: Mike G at November 27, 2004 at 01:53 AM

By her logic, the police should not be pursuing criminals, lest they eliminate crime and thereby put themselves out of work.

Posted by: Jim at November 27, 2004 at 02:06 AM

Lexington's article in The Economist is the first time I remember that paper writing about the significance of bloggers in general (not just on the Dean campaign).

Posted by: Zach at November 27, 2004 at 02:30 AM

There is more original reporting on the blogsphere than some people actually realise. For instance quite a few of the UK bloggers (Samizdata, Harry's Place, Peter Cuthbertson and my blog for instance) actually attend events (of all types) and report on them on their blogs. I think the reason many blogs are getting stuff that MSM don't get right or don't care about is that most journalists are not necessarily news junkies. To them, they are doing a a blogger they are pursuing something they enjoy and that interests them.

Bloggers are thin searchlights on various aspects of what the MSM covers. The good ones will be able to provide pinpoint reporting on subjects that the MSM will not or cannot cover themselves.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at November 27, 2004 at 02:46 AM

Antonia definitely has a bug up her ass about bloggers: a few months ago, Charles Johnson linked a similarly snarky Zerbisias piece, and she actually lowered herself to post comments on that thread. It should surprise no-one that she came off as pretentious, pentulent and juvenile.

Posted by: Spiny Norman at November 27, 2004 at 03:25 AM

The three rules of journalism: make it juicy, make it brief, make it up.
-- Anonymous

Posted by: jorgen at November 27, 2004 at 04:11 AM

Spiny Norman — Of course Antonia has a bug up her ass about bloggers. We keep raiding her nest and stealing her eggs while she's out fighting the other dinosaurs for the best ferns...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at November 27, 2004 at 05:43 AM

Hey you never mentioned this guy(I think),5744,11498606%255E31501,00.html

Posted by: e m butler at November 27, 2004 at 05:54 AM

"There is more original reporting on the blogsphere than some people actually realise."

I think it is only a matter of time until more blogs start providing more fresh news rather than just re-hashing the msm stories. Isn't this how the msm got started back when they were chiseling their thoughts on rocks? One neanderthal found a rock that more people walked by than another. Then they progressed to taking the rocks to the peoples huts.

The internet does it just in reverse now. Instead of waiting for the paperboy we can either go get it online or write our own and post it for anyone to read. Already we can access most of the research information the media uses to edit and publish a news story so we're only lacking the reporters and photographers in the field...or are we?

Posted by: Tej at November 27, 2004 at 06:46 AM

I got this from a friend who has people in Iraq. If you think media coverage is good, tell it to the Army.

****Letter from an Army Chaplain in Iraq:
> Dear Friends and Family:
> I am addressing this letter to you to express a frustration that I know has
been voiced time and again, yet is met with little change. It concerns the media
coverage of this war and the effect of that coverage on the morale of our
troops. As a battalion chaplain I hear the comments and complaints of soldiers
who, while performing an incredibly difficult job under hostile and stressful
conditions, constantly see their efforts portrayed as futile. NBC's coverage
this morning (your Thursday evening, 16 September 2004) is a prime example that
I believe shows the gulf that exists between the truth of what is happening here
and the deceitful agenda of the mainstream media at home and abroad.
> Only 24 hours ago the NBC media crew arrived here and filmed hours of footage
with our unit. They were told of numerous projects in which our unit is
involved, not only in the area of force protection and Troop Medical Clinic
support, but also in humanitarian aide to a local village here in Baghdad. Here
is an example of some of the projects to which they were introduced:
> 1. The reconstruction and furnishing of a clinic
> 2. Miscellaneous enhancements for a local elementary school and a local day
care center
> 3. Reconstruction of the decimated electrical, sewer and water systems
> 4. Reparation of exterior walls and gates surrounding the village
> 5. Rubble and garbage removal projects to clean up the entire village
> 6. Construction of a protective chain link fence around the local Shi'a Mosque
> 7. Studies to examine the development of agricultural systems and a garment
industry to help the locals provide for themselves
> 8. The ever-growing clothing and school supplies drive for the children of the
> In the roughly one minute clip that they drew from their day of filming, what
did they show? The First Lieutenant who is the primary driver of these projects
was shown with one quote about never believing he would be in Iraq, being a
National Guard soldier. This was followed by their interview of another
soldier's wife, saying her husband was supposed to have retired this summer,
that his responsibility to the military should be over and that he should be
home. They showed NOTHING of the great humanitarian efforts that are going on
> It is coverage like this that is convincing more and more soldiers that the
consistent media agenda is to show you, the American people, the futility of our
current efforts and how everything is going wrong. There is no apparent attempt
to show all the good that is h> appening that, for those of us who are here, far
outweighs the very weak, though spectacular, moments of insurgency. And we see
it via satellite, just as you do. In a day of great violence across the country,
last Sunday, where the insurgency failed to take one American life, what one
film clip was shown over and over? They showed the lone burning Bradley fighting
vehicle, with Iraqis dancing on and around it, waving flags of the insurgency.
Out of the thousands of troops who made it safely around Baghdad and the country
that day, the media focused on one piece of impressive footage and repeated it
over and over until the viewer rec eives the message that this is all that went
on in Iraq today - an insurgent victory. I also remember how the body count, for
two days thereafter, > was printed in ever-increasing increments, never
mentioning who the casualties were - giving the impression that they were
American casualties.
> The despair and depression, as well as the thankfully limited anti-war
sentiment, over our country's efforts in Iraq are not based upon all of the
facts. They are rather based on what the media has chosen to show - and what
they have chosen NOT to show. The media knows that they can always find those
willing to complain, grouse, protest and disagree. And they splash those voices
all over their screens and pages, drowning out the voices that will tell you, as
I am, that there is good going on here.
> There are things going on here you would be proud of, things that would bring
tears to your eyes; like the looks of parents whose children are going to school
for the first time in years, equipped with pencils, pens and paper and clothed
with clean new clothes. There are essential services being provided to people to
whom they were denied under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein. There is a
trial going on for that man and at least eleven of his evil cronies who, let us
remember, killed over 300,000 people under the watchful eye of the United
Nations (pun intended) during the 12 years they had responsibility for the
health and welfare of this nation (yes, the same, inept organization that is
currently ignoring the Darfur, Sudan slaughter of Christians by Islamic
fundamentalists). This was the same time that the oil-for-food program monies
were being used to line the pockets of Saddam and his friends and build lu
xurious palaces like the ones our forces now occupy as headquarters all over
this nation. And Saddam all the while complained that it was "American
Sanctions" that were killing his people. I don't remember a sanction that
required a mass grave.
> Please know that the media is NOT giving you the right picture, much less the
WHOLE picture. They have an agenda, it is clear, and that agenda does not
include the current administration claiming success in this endeavor. It is
unclear if their sensationalist "reporting" will change if the administration
changes. The one thing I know as I watch the morale of the men who are here
doing the job is that every time the enemy's paltry attacks are made out by the
media to be marker events in Iraq, it becomes a little harder for soldiers to
see value in even the greatest things we are doing. Your care packages, your
letters and your constant prayers are the only things that remind us that the
majority of thoughtful Americans are truly behind this effort and that what we
are doing has great value. Don't let that go. Keep supporting your troops, not
just in word, but in action. Rem ember this: You cannot support the troops AND
denigrate the war effort. It is a logical and a practical inconsistency. While
the soldier fights the enemy, he needs those behind him to offer support to his
back, not daggers. The news media is one of the greatest threats to this war.
Just ask a terrorist. Every time he can do something desperate and spectacular
and have the effect with one man blowing himself up in a crowd that an entire
U.S. Brigade has in securing a city, the media has thrown terror the victory. It
is not the side that wins the most ground anymore that is victorious, but the
one that can satiate the blood-hungry media. We have given them the stories they
need to show how much we are truly doing. The question then must turn to why
they have a fascination with making the villain the victor. If we win this war,
it may not be much of a story for them, but if we lose it...
> Your troops are doing amazing things here - things many of them are not even
trained to do, like a medical platoon leader doing public works projects! I hope
that either the media start showing the REAL stories here or that you will show
your contempt of their deceitfulness with your complaints and, ultimately, with
your vote. Don't watch the news media that thrives on the death of American
soldiers to bump their ratings! And remember your troops. Supp> ort of victory
is support of your troops.
> Sincerely, CH (CPT) Chris Bassett Baghdad, Iraq,

Posted by: Gary in New Jersey at November 27, 2004 at 08:12 AM

Zerbisias doesn't understand, bloggers have been firing at each other continuously. Those that stand tall now have, for the most part, survived such assaults. No small number have been taken down, though. The revelation of the Rathergate affair, and others, has been that the old media cannot stand on the same level of openness and accountability that most blogs do as a routine matter of course.

Posted by: Robin Goodfellow at November 27, 2004 at 09:08 AM

blogs are the new journalism, whether the mainstream media likes it or not. Some blogs will survive to surpass the mainstream media in popularity.

Posted by: charlemagne at November 27, 2004 at 09:50 AM

I've noticed that ABC and Peter Jennings have been doing a bit of PR for him, with TV ads extolling his virtues as a journalist. Feeling the heat, I think, but it's too little too late. People don't trust the MSM Talking Heads anymore, and smarmy feel-good ads aren't going to change that.

Posted by: Rebecca at November 27, 2004 at 11:23 AM

one more comment on blogs: it's been rightfully pointed out that when the 20th centuary began, a significant percentage of the world's population was able to write - that percentage increased dramatically as the 20th century wore on.

As this century begins, a significant percentage of the population now has the ability to PUBLISH - project forward 20-30 years. The media monopoly is broken.

Posted by: charlemagne at November 27, 2004 at 11:27 AM

It all goes back to sense v sensibility.The Chardonnay suckers hate the troops but we the "ordinarypersons" have a massive respect for service personnel willing to literally put their lives on the line for an ungrateful minority.OBVIOUSLY our media are protected from harm in Iraq by their own ideology. ABC crews have several times been stopped by SO CALLED insurgents(sorry couldn't resist)so that they could be used as message boys or film a hostage to show the world. Look at that worm Martinkus. Maybe we should tell him he is WITH US OR AGAINST US.

Posted by: crash at November 27, 2004 at 02:13 PM

Another thing. Old media is hopelessly inefficient in todays real-time media alternatives. During the recent Aussie election I was blogging from my cab daily, and could have done so by the minute, on the election vibe from passengers.

Late in the campaign, I took part in an interview for the Bulletin, a weekly magazine who sought passenger sentiment, re the election. By the time it was published, 6 days later, the voter sentiment in my cab had moved 180 degrees. Yet the article would have the reader believe it was current news. Hopeless.

Posted by: jafa at November 27, 2004 at 03:02 PM

Letter in the Oz yesterday."Richard Gunton(Letters 24/11)--You state you have no respect for soldiers so this may come as a surprise to you.If called upon I being a serving soldier have the utmost respect for you. If called upon I will defend you, your family and friends and the way of life you currently enjoy with my life, if necessary." K Sullivan. Townsville.QLD.

Posted by: crash at November 27, 2004 at 03:35 PM

Victor Davis Hanson made a fine point in a recent essay "The Real Humanists" about soldiers, about war, and about the end of Carterism and UNism in the ME. About the shakeup of the old and deadly status quo in this region and the monstrous "peace" that preceded the Iraq war, the disgusting and filthy appeasement mentality of The Left over the past fifty years.

Just one sentence: "Who would have thought that a young Marine from the suburbs of Topeka battling the Dark Ages in Fallujah - the real humanist - was doing more to aid the planet than all the billions of the UN?"

I would add all the young soldiers from EVERY country doing this work; as PJ O'Rourke entitled an essay a long time ago "Give war a chance".

Posted by: Crazy Chester at November 28, 2004 at 01:08 AM
(yes, the same, inept organization that is currently ignoring the Darfur, Sudan slaughter of Christians by Islamic fundamentalists)

Well, the chaplain appears to have been misinformed here by the media. As I understood it, Darfur was arab muslims killing black muslims. The muslim on Christian genocide went on for 20 years with both the mainstream media and UN thinking it hardly worth mentioning.

Posted by: Clem Snide at November 28, 2004 at 10:52 AM

Sacking Rather provides a golden opportunity for the people at Viacom. If they want to revive CBS news, they should position it as the broadcast version of Fox News. If they managed to steal someone like Brit Hume or Chris Wallace for the anchor position, CBS would soon dominate the evening news.

Posted by: HA at November 28, 2004 at 11:30 PM

HA - Rather wasn't sacked. He left his position - earlier than he wanted to, perhaps - but with the blessing of the network where he'll remain as a venerated reporter and celebrated "living legend" in his profession. There's been altogether too much talk that "we" beat Rather and CBS on this. Far from it - partial victory at best, but nothing substantial has changed.

Posted by: rick mcginnis at November 29, 2004 at 09:17 AM

Rick McGinnis — Not at all. This is an old trick in the film and TV business. Rather has gone the TV-News equivalent of "Indie-Prod (Independent producer): sacked from his prestige position but given the face saving token of continued employment. but with no actual obligation to air his bewildered face ever again. It's significant that he was given his slot on 60 Mins II, which informed speculation has marked for cancellation.

The key will be seeing how many features Rather gets on the air, and whether they're anything more than Andy Rooney-ish
'a cranky old man remembers when' puff pieces.

Odds are he sits there till his retirement doing nothing of substance or note.

But Rather can no longer exercise his influence on the content of CBS Evening News, or on the News Division's hiring practices, both areas where he has been documented as intruding.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at November 29, 2004 at 12:52 PM

Richard - the test will be if anything really changes at CBS News. I tend to believe that Rather's policies were actually pretty much in line with his colleagues at the network, and that his only "crime" (parentheses to indicate how little in the wrong he's been judged by many of his peers) was that he was caught, and forced the network to accelerate his retirement without a clear successor in place - his position as Cronkite's replacement was announced a year before it was effective.

"Sacked" or "fired" is definitely too strong a word for what happened to Rather - I think that's obvious. I just think the gloating is premature, based on personal experience with network news.

Posted by: rick mcginnis at November 29, 2004 at 03:33 PM

rick mcginnis,

Rather wasn't sacked. He left his position

Oh, come one. Rather saw the writing on the wall. He "left his position" as in "you can't fire me, I quit!" This was a face saving move, and perhaps a mutual one between Rather and Viacom's management. Rather trashed the CBS News brand. He was doomed.

The question going forward is what Viacom will do to rebuild the brand. Will they continue to be one of the undifferentiated "me-to" left-wing "news" outlets? Or will they target the same market niche - half the country - that Fox News owns?

Posted by: HA at November 29, 2004 at 10:03 PM

From my experience in the one year I spent in J-school before quitting in disgust, the thing about journalists is that a great deal of them believe that they are exceptionally gifted writers who are better than other people because they are engaging in the most hallowed endeavor known to humankind. The fact that they're now seeing that a good number of people from other vocations can write just as well, if not better than they do is one of the things that's driving them nuts. That, added to the fact that they're pissed they can't peddle bull-apples without question anymore, is why so many of them detest blogs. True professionals dedicated to the idea of informing the public would otherwise welcome the technology.

Posted by: Emily at November 30, 2004 at 12:41 AM

HA wrote:

"The question going forward is what Viacom will do to rebuild the brand. Will they continue to be one of the undifferentiated "me-to" left-wing "news" outlets? Or will they target the same market niche - half the country - that Fox News owns?"

Sumner Redstone aside, I don't think that CBS is contemplating any kind of rightward shift - it would be unthinkable to most of their executives and editors, and an ideological wrench for most of their staff and viewers. I don't think they perceive of their brand has having been ruined by Rather - far from it; they hold the image of CBS News in high esteem (probably higher than their viewers) and doubt that there isn't anything that's happened that can't be remedied with a bit of spin.

If they wanted to wear the hair shirt, they'd have really fired Rather, instead of shuffing him aside with such routine ceremony. They'd have made serious noises about housecleaning on the news producer level, which hasn't happened. And they'd have removed more than just Rather from senior positions in the news division. They know they screwed up, but they haven't a clue that it was a serious as we consider it to be. Let's be honest with ourselves here, people - our perspective isn't shared as broadly as we sometimes assume, especially by people in the offices of big media.

Sorry, but as a working journalist, I'm just describing what I'm seeing in my own business.

Posted by: rick mcginnis at November 30, 2004 at 01:14 AM

Emily: yeah, just from reading the requirements for a Journalism degree at my local university, it's nothing but a tarted-up Liberal Arts degree, with a couple of extra writing classes. They make you take a smattering of this and a smidgen of that just so they can shove some halfway practical knowledge in you so the parents won't complain about the rise in tuition degrees, but any C-average (public school level) student could easily slide into a journalism degree without interrupting his partying schedule too much. The difference is they come out of J-school with a big head, only to find themselves relegated to the obit section of their neighborhood weekly because there are too many j-school graduates and not enough reporters. I love hearing fresh grads on the job-hunting circuit whine that they are forced to take "demeaning" jobs in retail to make ends meet.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 30, 2004 at 10:25 AM