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Forum Name Activism
Topic subjectMAD 3/19
Topic URLhttp://www.bartcopnation.com/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=11&topic_id=11392
11392, MAD 3/19
Posted by Antidolt on Fri Mar-19-04 07:57 AM
Here's my letter to the NYT ombudsman:

Dear Mr. Okrent,

Today's article by David Halbfinger about Weary Kerry is just another, in a
seemingly endless procession, of attempts by your paper to discredit any
Democratic leader. According to Mr. Halbfinger, Senator Kerry has had a very
bad week--he enumerates the horrors--all, by the way, constructed by his
And yet, in a week where we learn that 60% of the American Public thinks our
country is headed in the wrong direction, and where we learn that the
President of Poland thinks he was mislead into Iraq by Bush, and where the
Spanish populace rejected the Bush/Aznar alliance, and where we find that the
Bush Adm. faked the Medicare costs, and we discover that the Bush campaign was
sending out hired actors to pose as news reporters, we hear nothing from the
NYT about what a very bad week President Bush has had. Nay, we hear instead
from Elizabeth Bumiller about how very impressive Mr. Bush's punctuality is
(and this is her second such swooning article on this subject).
The pattern of the NYT of late seems to be to magnify the trivial and to
shroud the really vital issues of our day. It's no wonder that I'm reading
that NYT advertising revenues are sinking and that Pulitzer Prizes are
diminishing. Oh how I long for the days when I could count on your paper for
in-depth, serious and astute news coverage. Sadly, those days are only a
distant memory.
Oh, I forgot--send to public@nytimes.com
And here's the link to the article:

11394, Thanks - Here's mine
Posted by SDent on Fri Mar-19-04 08:38 AM
Dear Mr. Okrent,

The recent article by David Halbfinger is just plain pathetic. It's one thing to report on a month-long vacation by a sitting president. It's another to purposefully try to make a candidate look weak, thus playing into his opponent's hands, by criticizing how he just can't cut it on the campaign trail.

Most reasonable people understand how grueling campaign work is. Most reasonable people also understand the odds of falling off a snowboard.

Quit trying to frame the candidate's personality and focus on the issues. That is a reporter's job after all.

11395, My too long one
Posted by samela on Fri Mar-19-04 09:12 AM
He probably won't read past the first paragraph. But make him suffer.

Dear Mr. Okrent:

In lieu of the daily morning conversation in which my husband and I, alternately, threaten to cancel our decades-long subscription to the New York Times, I have decided to redirect my concerns about journalistic standards from our breakfast table to your office. Grab your coffee.

Today's article by David Halbfinger, "Amid Natural Splendor in Idaho, a Weary Kerry Gets Away from It All," which appears in the Boston edition of the Times on page A 14, is but one example of the sort of political reportage I no longer feel can go unremarked. The opening paragraphs alone are enough to cry foul: In them, the reporter attempts to reinforce administration claims about Kerry taking two sides of every position ("John Kerry ... often ridiculed as straddling both sides of political divides") by suggesting an imaginary conversation in the Senator's head about whether he should snowboard or ski. I see no such attempt at satire in the article directly above it on page 14 by Elisabeth Bumiller, who fails to inform us of the interior monologue going on in Mr. Bush's head as he addressed the troops in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It might have begun, in equal spirit, "President Bush, often decried for failing to be truthful with the American public ...." It didn't.

Mr. Halbfinger makes quite a point about Mr. Kerry looking weary and having had a bad week. Did he? I thought he'd gotten some rather good shots in and raised a fair amount of money last week. Indeed, I thought it was President Bush who had a rather bad week, what with a new poll indicating world opinion at an all time low against American policy, with his compatriot Mr. Aznar's political party having been taken out of office for its failure to be truthful with the Spanish people, with the President of Poland announcing he'd been taken for a ride by this administration, with the job-creation picture looking continually dire, and with the revelations about administration efforts to suppress the real figures about the cost of the Medicare "reform" bill. Funny, I didn't read the article about Mr. Bush's bad week in the Times.

I needn't go tit for tat through the two articles-- citing, for example, how the one describes that Mr. Kerry's plane "disgorged dozens of staff members and journalists" while the other makes no mention of such "disgorgement" in the Bush entourage, which certainly must have included equally many staff members and journalists.

Let it just be known that this sort of transparent character painting, littered with negative phrases like "rough time," "exhaustion," "weary," "sharply," "disgorged" --and which even goes so far to describe Mrs. Kerry's attire not simply as skiwear but as "tight black pants and a flaming red jacket," as if it were somehow inappropriate and possibly Communist-inspired--is not acceptable. The New York Times does not (and perhaps rightly so) append terms like "bumbling," "smirking," or "inarticulate" to Mr. Bush, nor does it in general make mention of Mrs. Bush's clothes as ill-fitting or inappropriately hued. I will call you out on every such flagrant journalistic attempt to paint Mr. Kerry's character.

As readers we want the significant issues of the day discussed (not Mrs. Kerry's "flaming" red jacket), we want equal standards applied to both parties, and, insorfar as possible, bias removed from political reporting.

I don't envy your job.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie,
deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth,
persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.
John F. Kennedy
11396, Heh heh--I think I caught something...
Posted by dedalus on Fri Mar-19-04 10:23 AM
That "Continental Divide" metaphor seemed fishy. I asked Mr Okrent about it:

Dear Mr. Okrent--

I realize reporters like to employ a little "literary license" at times, but I thought the opening of David Halbfinger's March 19 piece, " Amid Natural Splendor in Idaho, a Weary Kerry Gets Away From It All," was a bit of a stretch. It read:
"John Kerry was in the air, approaching the Continental Divide, and the candidate often ridiculed as straddling both sides of political divides was wrestling with the big matter at hand.

Should he ski, or snowboard? Or maybe both? He gave no clue where he stood. But that was Wednesday night."

Just how much of a stretch? Well, consulting my atlas I can quickly see that the Sun Valley resort that Kerry visited is almost 100 miles from the Continental Divide. So he can't "straddle" the Continental Divide there. Hence, it seems Mr. Halbfinger invents (at least I assume it's invented, as he gives no indication that this was based on an actual conversation) an interior monologue on the plane Wednesday night, just so he can get this point in? As I say, quite a stretch--around 100 miles worth.

Let's hope that the tendency to rely on easy caricature that marked much of the media coverage of the Gore campaign isn't repeated in 2004. I don't deny that Mr. Kerry's record deserves scrutiny, but let's not resort to putting him in a plane over the Rockies in order to try and reinforce what's quickly becoming another attempt to rely on caricature and not facts.


11400, Ha, did anyone else get a response from Dan Okrent like this?
Posted by samela on Fri Mar-19-04 01:18 PM
I wonder if it's robo mail or if he actually read my letter. And why TWO idiotic disclaimers at the bottom? He didn't even express a freaking opinion, so why is he insisting, twice yet, that his contentless little reply is merely is own.

Dear (name removed for privacy),

I assure you I will be writing about The Times's coverage of the candidates at some point before the election. I will keep your message on hand as reference material.

Yours sincerely,
Daniel Okrent
Public Editor

Daniel Okrent
Public Editor
N.B.: Any opinions expressed here, unless otherwise indicated, are solely my own

Daniel Okrent
Public Editor
N.B.: Any opinions expressed here, unless otherwise indicated, are solely my own

Here's what I'd like to write back, but won't.

Dear Mr. Okrent:

I appreciate the fact that you will be writing about the Times coverage of the candidates "at some point before the election." Gee, that's reassuring. And I'm glad to know that any opinions you expressed in your letter to me were your own. I regret to inform you, however, that you expressed no opinions, otherwise indicated or not.


(name removed for privacy)

P.S. Your three sign-offs as Daniel Okrent, Public Editor, have made it stunningly clear to me that you are, indeed, Daniel Okrent, the Public Editor. I doubt I'll ever be able to forget it now.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie,
deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth,
persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.
John F. Kennedy
11404, RE: MAD 3/19
Posted by Faun_Otter on Fri Mar-19-04 04:25 PM
He got a short jab from me.

May I suggest we try to get as many of the following into a MAD thread as possible?

Topic of the day
Link to the problem item
Email contacts
Snail mail addy - a hand written letter is worth its weight in gold since it must have taken some time and effort (and a stamp) to get it to the target.
Fax number if known
Suggested talking points and URLs for any back up material

Did anyone notice the GOP team leader talking points seem to have influenced this article? I have to pack for a trip but I think we best keep an eye on Ed Gillespie's bottles of venom on the RNC site.
Yuck I need to take a shower now..

Also -
Perhaps we shouldn't just hit the one hydra head as it pops up.

What if someone writes a brief slam for the days topic that can be reposted on mixed boards elsewhere?

How about posting a sharp daily email that can be cut'n'pasted in a reply all to any of those gross hate filled Freepemails that distant relations and half witted employers seem to enjoy forwarding.

Just thinking out loud here. BTW Sami, I didn't even notice that this room had changed over from being the primary season brawling room until I saw your main board post. That might explain why you got less response than you expected.

11411, Yeah, maybe we should rename this room ...
Posted by samela on Fri Mar-19-04 08:03 PM
The Kickass Room *&#!

Or, in a desperate attempt to get people to notice links to critical Congressional races, we could simply call it The Kinky Kinky Sex and Other Assorted Depravities You've Never Even Dared to Imagine Room. That could work. ;)

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie,
deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth,
persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.
John F. Kennedy