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April 19, 2003
"We are thrilled to welcome [Ari Fleischer] to Cooperstown and hear his perspective on life in the White House and the current political scene which, of course, includes the war on terrorism."
"Mr. Robbins and Ms. Sarandon have every right to express their opinions. But The Baseball Hall of Fame is not the proper venue for highly charged political expressions, whatever they may be."
Posted by Greg Beato at 10:11 PM
Maybe He's Angling For a Gig With CNN
Roger Ailes points out a puzzling contradiction from Glenn "I'm not a Professional Journalist" Reynolds. (Note: permalink to Roger's entry on this doesn't seem to work, so I'm just linking to his main site.)
The complete backstory on this one, in case you haven't been following, can be found at Tim Lambert's page on John Lott.
The quick synopsis: Glenn Reynolds and Dave Kopel published a piece in the National Review that included the following passage:
Given subsequent revelations about Lott's penchant for anonymous attacks on his ideological enemies, Tim Lambert raised the possibility that Lott was Reynolds' unnamed source. If this is true, of course, that means that Lott, in a sleazy shuffle of shadowy personas, has quoted himself anonymously, and that Reynolds is aware of this deception.
So far, neither Reynolds nor Kopel have denied that Lott was in fact their source. (I'm not sure if Lott has addressed this publicly yet.)
In addition, Roger Ailes has discovered another twist to this story. On August 29th, 2002, Reynolds insisted that he had little knowledge of Steven Levitt's views on guns: "I've read some of his work (which is good) but on topics other than guns..."
But on August 16th, Reynolds published this post on his site, which included this passage: "Most of the rest, on the other hand, are ardent supporters of gun control (especially Levitt and Civiletti)."
So which was it - did Reynolds know nothing of Levitt's gun control views, or did he know enough to authoritatively identify him an "ardent supporter of gun control" without citing any third party?
Reynolds has been pretty busy lately, but I'm sure when he gets a moment he'll offer some comments on these matters. After all, as he wrote in that post on Levitt cited above, "One of the nice things about Web journalism...is that you can respond so quickly to this kind of thing."
Posted by Greg Beato at 11:33 AM
April 18, 2003
Malibu's Most Wanted
Malibu's Most Wanted, Jamie Kennedy's new movie, opens today. I have a short interview with him in the May issue of SPIN. Here's an excerpt from the interview, including some stuff that didn't make it in the final piece:
JK: I haven't seen it yet, but it's just like one big long Jamie Kennedy Experiment, right? I guess they wanted a hunk.
GB: Do you have any plans for a big-screen version of JKX?
JK: We actually want to do a movie version of the show, where we could have the budget and the freedom to do whatever we wanted. And who knows, we've been trying to get Bill Clinton on the show forever - so maybe for the movie. If you did an X with Bill Clinton, you could get away with anything.
GB: Celebrities and naked women are a great way to keep people off-balance when you're pranking them...
JK: Exactly. Celebrities equal credibility. We're doing a piece right now with Lisa Loeb, a fake music contest in Texas called "Lone Star Search." And Lisa was there to be the celebrity judge, only she wasn't there for the sound check, when I did a song and this band did their song. But for the show, when she is there, I'm the first to go on, and I start singing their song. And they were going nuts, they wanted to kill me. But having Lisa there made it credible because they were like, "If she's there, it must be real."
GB: And the naked women?
JK: We have ideas like that for the movie. Like, we have one where there's an exorcism going on, and the girl who's possessed is extremely hot, like Jenna Jameson or someone. She's wearing a summer dress and demon make-up, and she ends up knocking everybody out, the priest, a couple cops, until it's just her and the mark left in the room. And that's when she rips off her dress, this horrible-looking demon with an incredible body, and she's like, "TAKE ME!" So, basically, the experiment is: "Would a guy fuck the Devil just to get laid?"
Posted by Greg Beato at 09:49 AM
April 16, 2003
The Case of the Vanishing Red Line
For a brief week and a half or so, the "red line," or as it was sometimes known, the "red zone," topped even SARS as the world's fastest-spreading virus.
The first appearance of it I was able to find via Google News is this brief report from Reuters, which credits David Martin, the National Security correspondent for CBS News, with breaking the story.
That same day, another Reuters story exclaimed that CNN and NBC were also reporting the existence of the red line. Reuters reported that "NBC said its information was coming from intelligence officials who based it on intercepts of Iraqi communications."
On the CBSNews.com site, I found this article mentioning Martin's report, along with a link to a video clip of Martin. In this clip, Martin says: "A sandstorm seems likely to delay the start of the battle of Baghdad, where for the first time American forces will cross what is known as the chemical red line. That's a line the Iraqis have drawn on the map around Baghdad, and once U.S. troops cross that, Iraqi forces are released and authorized to use chemical weapons. The first place the US could cross that line is Karbala, which is sixty miles south of Baghdad, where the Medina division of the Republican Guard is based."
As far as I've been able to tell, the existence of the red line was never sourced any more definitively than NBC's declaration that it was "coming from intelligence officials who based it on intercepts of Iraqi communications."
And while it made appearances in hundreds of news articles and TV reports, it remained even more unfathomable than, say, Joaquin Phoenix...
Few articles that mentioned it bothered to explain what its approximate coordinates were; I haven't been able to find any that offered any additional information about when the Iraqis decided to implement this "red line" policy, or who made the decision to do so, or how many interrupted communications the U.S. intelligence officers were basing their conclusions on, or whether or not Saddam Hussein was a fan of reclusive director Terence Malick's muddled epic, "The Thin Red Line."
U.S. troops did don chemical suits as they entered red-line territory, but ultimately nothing came to pass. Given that the putative purpose of the red line was to grant Iraqi forces the autonomy to use chemical weapons, this is pretty surprising: it basically means that every Iraqi soldier who had the potential to use chemical weapons unilaterally chose not to do so.
Or it could also mean that no red line ever existed, of course.
If this is the case, then the mystery deepens. Was it an Iraqi attempt at psy-ops? A misinterpretation by U.S. intelligence? A "propaganda construct" as Counterpunch's Paul di Rooij suggests, concocted by unnamed U.S. officials and enthusiastically disseminated by TV journalists eager to play up stories with a bold graphic hook? A little bit of some or all of these things?
Posted by Greg Beato at 10:26 PM
April 15, 2003
What's the cure for months of Code Orange anxiety? For months of contemplating the inevitability of worst-case terror scenarios? Why, a successful invasion, of course!
Or, as chipper kept thinker Max Boot might put it: "You see a little boy with no arms. I see a little boy with two Saddam-free legs!"
"Why is the media so glum?" Boot chirps in the Weekly Standard. "I was recently interviewed by a reporter for one of the major network affiliates in New York City. All his questions were about looting, suicide bombings, civilian casualties, Arab resentment of Christian military forces, the possibility of protracted guerrilla warfare, and even the specter of 'another Vietnam.'"
It's true of course that the reporter should have probably abandoned such questions and simply asked: "Why am I interviewing you about this stuff, when you have no first-hand knowledge of any of it?"
Beyond that, though, I can't quite understand Boot's concern over press pessimism and skepticism. Until the invasion started, pro-war pundits were attacking the "liberal media" for its complacency in the face of the grave danger of Saddam's regime, and for its credulity in the face of Saddam's lies about Iraq's purported disarmament.
In other words, the media wasn't pessimistic enough to understand that with Saddam at the helm of Iraq, we were always just an insane impulse away from Armageddon. And it wasn't skeptical enough to realize that inspections could never work.
But now that the media is finally displaying the sort of pessimism and skepticism that would have pleased Boot immensely six weeks ago? They're being too pessimistic and skeptical!
Of course, if Iraq really was such a volatile powderkeg under the brutally imposed order of Saddam's regime, it stands to reason that it remains one in the wake of that regime's collapse, when various factions are trying to fill a nation-wide power vacuum...
Even so, the media has taken a fairly optimistic view of things. There have been hundreds of stories celebrating our swift, relatively smooth victory in Iraq, and hundreds of stories about jubilant, liberated Iraqis, and hundreds of stories about brave and capable U.S. soldiers.
Alas, those aren't the only stories coming out of Iraq right now. Some of the stories are more troubling, and it's the media's job to report those stories too, even if they dampen Max Boot's perky outlook.
Posted by Greg Beato at 10:22 PM
April 14, 2003
Casualties of War
On March 19 on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly exclaimed the following: "The Orange County Register dropped my column because I was in favor of the war, and they dropped. And I thought that was a good example of a paper that, you know, really fears to freedom of speech."
("Really fears to freedom of speech"? Yes, that's how the O'Reilly Factor transcript on file at Elibrary.com reads.)
According to this article in OC Weekly, the Orange County Register "dumped him last year - eight months before the war started..."
Here is some of what Orange County Register editor Cathy Taylor wrote about when and why the newspaper decided to dump O'Reilly:
Taylor also wrote that the Register started running O'Reilly columns in October 2001. Based on the archive of O'Reilly columns at Townhall.com, it appears that from October 2001 through December 2022, when Taylor says the Register stopped paying for O'Reilly's column, the Sultan of Spin wrote two columns mentioning a possible war with Iraq:
In the first one, O'Reilly makes a passing reference to a war on Iraq. In the second, he berates Germany's Gerhardt Schroeder for having "doubts about the wisdom of America's Saddam policy."
I tried searching the Register's online archive to find out if the newspaper ran either of these two columns, but turned up no record of any O'Reilly's work at all. It looks like the Register probably doesn't include syndicated columns as part of its archive.
Ultimately, though, I find O'Reilly's contention that Register dropped him because of his pro-war views completely credible.
Sure, it may look as if he barely even mentioned Iraq during the time the Register was buying (if not always running) his column. And in his year-end round-up of the villains of 2002, he actually chose FBI Chief Robert Mueller, INS Director James Ziglar, Gerhardt Schroeder, and VH1 President Christina Norman over Saddam Hussein.
But the thing you have to remember about O'Reilly is that he writes in an extremely subtle style that often goes over the head of newspaper readers, but not over the head of more sophisticated newspaper editors.
For example, O'Reilly may write a column where the ostensible subject is, say, Elvis. But what O'Reilly is really writing about is the dangers of totalitarian regimes led by crazy, king-like despots, and the necessity of changing those regimes by military force.
In short, I believe that Bill O'Reilly was most assuredly dropped from the Orange County Register because of his strong pro-war views, and that he is in fact a bonafide casualty of war. While the courageous news personality skipped Vietnam for grad school in England, this time the battlefield has come to him and left him wounded. For speaking his mind even as the American news media has been viciously beating down assenting voices, O'Reilly deserves no less than a Purple Heart and the enduring gratitude of the American people, and possibly a Medal of Honor as well.
And the "editors" of the Orange County Register? I won't say they that they deserve to be fed to a herd of hungry camels for their brutal, almost treasonous crackdown on one of our nation's most vital voices, but that doesn't mean that you're not allowed to think it.
Posted by Greg Beato at 06:25 PM
A Tale of Two Celebrities
Last week, Drudge featured a story about Phil Hendrie speculating that his pro-war views might determine the fate of his TV pilot, and rationalizing his speculation thusly: "I am thinking out loud. Listen. Nobody at NBC has never said to me, don't express your political opinions. But if Janeane Garofalo is saying she is paying the price and not getting work [at ABC] for her anti-war views, it is just as valid for me to say what I am saying. And the anti-war point of view is much more popular in the entertainment industry."
Drudge also links to this Worldnetdaily.com story.
This story reports that "ABC television is being threatened with a boycott of the network and its advertisers if it airs a show starring outspoken war critic Janeane Garofalo...The network is said to be flooded with messages from supporters of the war in Iraq, who are complaining about a sitcom now in development."
Those who can read will also note that the story says "Garofalo had no comment on the potential boycott."
Question: did Janeane Garofalo ever say that "she is paying the price and not getting work [at ABC] for her anti-war views" as Hendrie contends, or did he just make that up?
If you have seen an article where Garofalo says what Hendrie says she said, can you please share it in the comments section? Thanks.
Meanwhile, here's an interesting article in the LA Weekly on Garofalo.
One interesting bit: "One enterprising misanthrope called a TV station, lied about his identity and obtained her home phone number - which then got posted online and brought in a flood of threatening calls."
Her final quote: "If my career suffers and people want to boycott me, that's absolutely fine. I will always be able to work in the theater, do standup and write. I can always work for my sister who owns an alarm-installing company. The anti-war movement has nothing to feel sorry for - time will bear that out."
In other words, instead of engaging in a bunch of showy, mewlingly Hendriesque histrionics about how her political views might hurt her career, and how this shouldn't be so, she simply addresses the issue in an honest, matter-of-fact way and deals with it.
Posted by Greg Beato at 10:52 AM
Greetings from Hollywood
While I didn't spot any liberal, America-hating celebrities on my weekend trip to Hollywood, my order of fries at a patriotic diner on Santa Monica Boulevard came with the following message inscribed on the placemat:
Posted by Greg Beato at 10:07 AM
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