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January 18, 2003
You have questions? We have A.N.S.W.E.R.S.
Glenn "Big Media" Reynolds taunts a colleague at the Post: "THIS PIECE BY ANN MARCHAND IN THE WASHINGTON POST quotes a lot of people from A.N.S.W.E.R. but says nothing about the group's pro-Saddam, pro-North Korea, anti-American leanings."
It's great to see that Reynolds' new status as a contributor to MSNBC.com isn't inhibiting him in any way. (MSNBC.com runs Newsweek content, and Newsweek is owned by the Washington Post Company.) Nonetheless, his assertion is a little disingenuous, because it's not clear that any of the people quoted in the article are, as Reynolds puts it, "from A.N.S.W.E.R."
In other words, attending an anti-war rally organized by an organization doesn't constitute membership in the organization. So why didn't Reynolds simply stick to criticizing the Post for not including more information about International A.N.S.W.E.R. and its relationship to the World Workers Party and the International Action Center, instead of implying that everyone who attended the rally was a communist? Only he can answer that one.
Also worth noting: Reynolds links to a post at a blog called Power Line, which includes some useful information about International A.N.S.W.E.R., and also this:
Why is the ironic? Because two of the three people who publish Power Line are affiliated with the Claremont Institute. And the Claremont Institute has received over $5 million in funding over the last two decades from donors like The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (the "most influential right-wing foundation" in the U.S.) and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. Much of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation's money came from Rockwell International, "a leading defense and aerospace conglomerate." And much of the Sarah Scaife Foundation's money came from Gulf Oil.
So maybe, just maybe, Michael Moore is funding International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s San Francisco office, even though there's no real evidence to suggest it. But it's certainly clear who rewards the people at Power Line to float such theories.
(For the record, the San Francisco office of International A.N.S.W.E.R. is located on Mission Street between 20th and 21st Streets. I'm almost certain this block, which I remember as housing mostly small businesses and restaurants, doesn't really qualify as "the most expensive real estate in the U.S." But I haven't been there lately, so who knows...)
UPDATE: Reynolds now acknowledges that the Post article "the article talks a lot about A.N.S.W.E.R. but also quotes mostly people who aren't clearly actual members of A.N.S.W.E.R."
UPDATE 2: Power Line's Hindrocket writes that as an Adjunct Fellow of the Claremont Institute, he receives no money from the organization. I will admit this surprises me - but I'll also point out that I was careful not to say that the Claremont Institute "funds" Power Line, because I had no knowledge that that was the case. Instead, I chose a more open-ended word to convey a relationship in which some kind of currency was changing hands, and wrote that the Claremont Institute "rewards" the people who maintain Power Line. And while the reward may be meager, there is in fact a reward: Hindrocket writes for free, and in return he gets to call himself an Adjunct Fellow. If you ask me, this is a square deal, with both sides in the transaction getting exactly what they deserve.
Posted by Greg Beato at 04:14 PM
January 17, 2003
Let there be light-bulb jokes
Even though Disney controls the copyright on light-bulb jokes (I'm pretty sure...), Ted Barlow has been creating some very funny ones this week - enough to start thinking about publishing a short, glossy book version if you ask me, as the possibilities seem limitless and the end result would be a funny, informative take on American political discourse at the moment.
In any case, here's a few of my own attempts:
Q: How many Bill O'Reillys does it take to change a light bulb?
A: See, I don' t -- I don't do the incandescent thing. I mean, I think we're all Americans here - whether we're light bulbs, humans, lanterns, whatever. I see us all as Americans. And that's why when you've got these so-called leaders from the light-bulb community demanding change - playing the light-bulb card, basically - well, that's just baloney! It is un-American and insulting to you, the public, which deserves to know the truth.
Q: How many Michael Moores does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Why are we Americans so scared of the dark? And so crazy about our light bulbs? Our mentality as Americans is to turn on the lights first and ask questions later. We just go for the switch in a way that no other country does. And I don't mean that just on a personal level. I mean that on a political level and on a global level too - we are the world's biggest light-bulb maker. I mean, you can buy 5000-watt halogen bulbs at K-Mart! For what? Shooting deer? Even Stevie Wonder doesn't need a 5000-watt halogen bulb to shoot a deer...
Q: How many Ann Coulters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Change it? We need to execute light bulbs that go out, in order to physically intimidate all liberal illumination devices, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors.
Posted by Greg Beato at 08:03 AM
January 16, 2003
The O'Reilly Flacktor
How much did Mel Gibson's production company pay Bill O'Reilly anyway? Ever since Gibson's company bought the movie rights to O'Reilly's novel, Gibson has enjoyed ready access on O'Reilly's show to promote upcoming films, air grievances, etc. This week, O'Reilly has given him prime-time exposure two days in a row.
O'Reilly is usually careful to explain, "in the interest of full disclosure," that he and Gibson have "a working relationship."
But with Mel Gibson appearing on the show almost as much as pinch-hitter host John Gibson these days, isn't it time the disclosure got a little fuller? That is, exactly how much does it cost to get this kind of ready, sympathetic access?
If O'Reilly promoted this service better, he could probably option his non-fiction books to some more Hollywood types looking for hard-hitting PR opportunities.
Posted by Greg Beato at 03:15 PM
Paper of Broken Record
Add the NY Times to the legion of inadvertent Instapundit.com myth-makers:
Point 2: Instapundit.com is not exactly "not connected." As I've mentioned before, Instapundit.com benefited from numerous links in both Slate.com and the National Review Online in the first 90 days of its existence. At the NRO, Reynolds was co-writing a column, and each one included a link to Instapundit.com in its byline blurb. At Slate.com, Reynolds had been a frequent contributor to the Fray section; when he started Instapundit.com, Fray editor Moira Redmond linked to Instapundit.com several times. Finally, the same thing happened at the WSJ. Reynolds had previously contributed op-eds to the newspaper; when he started Instapundit.com, it linked to him quickly in its Best of the Web section. There's nothing underhanded about any of this, of course. It just reveals that the rapid growth of Instapundit.com was much less inexplicable than journalists make it out to be: the Times articles suggests that Reynolds' "omnivorous curiosity" is what attracted "50,000" daily readers, without mentioning anything about the role abundant publicity has played in the process. (Mickey Kaus' move to Slate.com was probably a substantial blessing for Instapundit.com as well. Thanks to Kaus' frequent links, Slate.com has now linked to Instapundit.com 46 times since its inception. Again, nothing underhanded there, but it does help explain, at least as much as "omnivorous curiosity," I think, why Instapundit.com's traffic is so much higher than most bloggers'.) And of course this latest New York Times story will help make Reynolds' "curiosity" even more "omnivorous," no doubt...
Point 3: Disappointingly, the modest New York Times makes no mention at all in the crucial role it played in the creation of Instapundit.com.
UPDATE: Why are those non-stop Kauslinks so valuable? According to this article about Slate.com, Slate.com now attracts 4 million unique visitors a month. When Kaus jumped to Slate in May 2002, Instapundit.com was getting approximately 43,000 page-views a day according to Reynolds. Now, after eight months or so of continuous Kaus linkage, Reynolds gets around 70,000 - 100,000 page views a day. (Note: I'm using page-views in this instance, rather than "visits" or "unique visitors," because page-views is what Reynolds was keeping track of in May 2002.) Obviously, Kaus links aren't the only factor responsible for that growth, but they sure can't hurt. (Slate.com article link via the invaluable TMFTML.)
Posted by Greg Beato at 09:06 AM
January 15, 2003
Not Necessarily the News Analysis
A common sentiment: liberal elites control the news media (broadcast news, NY Times, Washington Post). Conservatives control the news analysis media (cable news, talk-radio).
Because of this, many conservatives argue, it doesn't matter that some of those news analysis shows (especially Rush Limbaugh) reach huge audiences: the liberal elites still control the news unfairly. This is why someone like the Golden Geyser of Truth, who seems to appear on TV at least much as the Taco Bell dog did in his heyday, can complain that she has no access to news media.
But of course you can't really control how people use the media they consume. Some people use model glue to make models, and some people use it to get high.
The LA Times reports that a Gallup poll shows that "22% of those surveyed said they get their news every day from talk radio programs."
Is the survey/story really just a naked Times effort to convince people to read the good kind of news more often? Yeah, actually, that's pretty much what it looks like...
After running some quotes from local talk-radio hosts expressing concern over the fact that people shouldn't be depending on them as their only news source, the Times reveals, near the article's conclusion, that the survey didn't limit respondents to only one choice:
At the same time, the survey is useful because it suggests that people aren't necessarily thinking so much in terms of news vs. news analysis. Instead, they simply watch/read/listen to various sources - some of them objective or at least ostensibly objective, some of them explicitly partisan - and consider that "getting the news."
So it doesn't really seem like there's a special advantage in having access to one kind of news outlet versus another: as long as you're reaching millions of people, you're reaching millions of people. In other words, stop complaining, Coulter!
(I realize, of course, that that's like telling the sky to stop being blue.)
On a final, somewhat unrelated note: how does the Internet rank in the news-consumption hierarchy? Well, the Times article doesn't go into it, but the actual Gallup Poll did: 15% of the respondents use the Internet as a daily source of news, putting it above national newspapers (i.e., the WSJ, USA Today, and the NY Times, and below the eight other options on the survey.
Posted by Greg Beato at 09:16 AM
January 13, 2003
Unlike so many cultural janitors, James Lileks squirts his most potent disinfectant on only those putrid gum globs who deserve it most.
A few weeks ago, for example, he put the fear of Santa Claus into a couple of unAmerican Canadians who had the moral effrontery to censure Christmas. Yes, their tiny note of protest was played in a key of benign and predictable hissidence - but this is Christmas we're talking about, the time when we gather with our families, acknowledge our blessings, bask in the Rockwellesque aura of our bounty, and grimly deride, with shakily domesticated teeth-grinding rage, the existence of Women's Studies programs. Why? Because Christmas calumny is a kind of gateway activism, that's why! Let them tweak Santa unchallenged and next they start in on Cheney.
Last week, Lileks had the guts and moral clarity to elevate shamefully under-persecuted game-show producer Chuck Barris to genocidal madman: "Once, twice, maybe three times in your life you'll come across someone who just plain needs hatin'. Hitler. Bin Laden. Stalin. Barris."
Lileks is a big, rollicking SUV of a man, capable of steam-rolling an endangered tiger beetle, sure, but also with plenty of cargo space for tolerance and compassion. In short, it is exceedingly hard to fill him with loathing; you'd have better luck flooding the Grand Canyon with the sweat of a single dead lizard.
But Barris did fill Lileks with loathing, because it was Barris who gave us that televisual trinity of grassroots exhibitionism: The Dating Game, The Newlywed Show, and The Gong Show.
Without Eubanks, is there Oprah? Without the Popsicle Twins, are there cut-rate Friends facsimiles gobbling pig ass on NBC? In giving lumpen, vulgar, everyday Americans free run of the airwaves that had previously been Hollywood's domain, Barris initiated a great change in the nation's media, and thus, of course, in the nation's values.
Haven for decadent pinkos that it was (and is!), at least Hollywood had been fairly willing to present the average American citizen as a responsible, upstanding ward of suburban rectitude.
But once Barris gave the masses a greasy, salty taste of themselves, they wanted more: thus talk-TV, thus talk-radio, thus the Internet, thus reality-programming.
Has some good come out of this great uncorseting of public discourse? Absolutely! For all the damage a tornado can do, it's also God's way of cleaning up your shiftless neighbor's yard.
But let's face it: liberty is a powerful instrument, and that's exactly why not everyone should be allowed to play it. Some produce symphonies, some just make noise. Lileks isn't afraid to encourage the noise-makers to kindly cut off their hands and stick their unsightly stumps up their asses. For this, all decent Americans should be grateful.
Posted by Greg Beato at 11:16 AM
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