• After weeks of dreary campaign coverage and
soul-destroying political ads, here’s a day brightener. Jian Ghomeshi’s
long-format interview radio show, Q, scored a rare interview with J. K. Rowling. She was in New York promoting her first adult-audience book, The Casual Vacancy.
Among other things, Ghomeshi asked why she courts news media criticism
by giving so few interviews. “Well, I just don’t think I have that much
to say.” And why do the news media make so much of her reluctance?
“That’s because the media is very interested in the media,” she said.
I laughed so hard I had to sit down in our northern Ontario cabin. Q is a morning program and evening repeat on Canada’s CBC Radio. Q is heard here at 9 p.m. weekdays on WVXU.
• Further proof that life as we know it revolves around Cincinnati: the Oct. 29 New Yorker’s
essay on the fraud of voting fraud begins with Hamilton County. We’re
the perfect example of GOP supporters trying to intimidate voters. A key
point made by reporter Jane Mayer’s sources: photo IDs might deter
someone impersonating a genuine voter but you don’t corrupt an election
that way. You need massive — if subtle — manipulation of the vote count.
• So, is anyone confident your vote will be counted
accurately? We don’t get a receipt showing how our votes were tallied.
Any retailer can give us a receipt showing what we’ve paid by charge or
debit card. So where are the reporters asking Boards of Elections why it
can’t give us a receipt and editorials demanding this accountability?
Receipts won’t prevent corrupt officials, employees or hackers from
going into voting-counting computers after we vote, but it might deter
• Hamilton County Board of Elections assures the Enquirer
that its voting machines are secure. No computer-based anything is
secure. Computers are more or less vulnerable to external hacking and
surreptitious insider reprogramming. Worrying about GOP ties to voting
machine companies doesn’t make me a conspiracy crank. It matters because
of Romney’s links to the current equipment provider. In 2004, the
then-provider of our voting machines was “committed to helping Ohio
deliver its electoral votes to the president (Bush) next year.” That was
Walden W. O'Dell’s promise. He was chief executive of Canton-based
Diebold Inc., which made voting machines Ohio used in 2004. W carried
Ohio that year.
• GOP efforts to restrict voting is second
only to the Republican commitment to ending a woman’s access to
abortion. It’s not new. In all of this year’s reporting about Republican
voter suppression — photo IDs, phony “official” mailings misdirecting
voters of color, etc. — didn’t find references to William Rehnquist
before he was Chief Justice of the U.S.
Google is rich with
Rehnquist’s dark history as a GOP operative. This came from a
files.nyu.edu post about John Dean’s book, The Rehnquist Choice.
The folks at New York University said “Dean was a member of Nixon's
cabinet, was Nixon's counsel in the Watergate affair and played a
prominent role in selecting Rehnquist as a Supreme Court nominee. He
writes that Rehnquist was part of roving ‘squads’ of Republican lawyers
who went from precinct to precinct, confronting and harassing black and
Latino voters.” Here’s what Dean wrote on pages 272-273 of The Rehnquist Choice:
“Collectively, these witnesses described 'squads,' or teams, that moved
quickly from precinct to precinct to disqualify voters, confronting
black and Hispanic voters standing in line at the polls by asking them
questions about their qualifications, or holding up a small card with a
passage from the U.S.
Constitution and demanding that the voter read it
aloud; also photographing people standing in line to vote."
"All told, the Democrats produced fourteen people who swore they had
witnessed Rehnquist challenging voters. In rebuttal, the Republicans
produced eight witnesses who claimed they had not seen or heard of
Rehnquist challenging voters — but none of them could testify that they
were actually with Rehnquist during any entire election day, nor did
their testimony cover all the elections involved in the charges . . .
The evidence is clear and convincing that Rehnquist was not truthful
about his activities in challenging voters."
• Most Americans
tell pollsters they rely on TV for their news. Next Tuesday, these
viewers will take their rich opinions and impoverished facts into the
voting booth. This recalls Mr. Whig, the fictional alter ego of a great
Enquirer editorial page editor, Thom Gephardt, who frequently muttered,
“I fear for the Republic.”
• Much as I have followed
campaign coverage, I have little or no idea of what Obama and Romney
will do to create jobs, ease immigration problems, provide and pay
medical professionals to care for millions to be covered by Obamacare,
wean us from deadly coal, cope with problems associated with fracking
for oil and natural gas, make the wind blow and sun shine, reduce or
slow global warming, bring Palestinians and Israelis closer to a
peaceful two-state resolution, deal with the Taliban when it returns to
power, etc. Despite what I hear from any liberals/progressives, Obama
hasn’t disappointed me; I wrote nothing on that blank slate in 2008. It
sufficed that he wasn’t McCain. In his way, Romney increasingly recalls
Nixon in 1972 with his “secret plan” to end the Vietnam war. He had no
plan. That was the secret. Deja vu all over again.
• Mark Curnutte’s Sunday Enquirer
post-mortem on the lethal street culture of revenge among some young
black Cincinnatians is as current as perps who became victims soon after
he interviewed them and Amanda Davidson took their photos.
CNN.com “unpublishes” reporter Elizabeth Landau’s story linking women’s
hormones to political choices. CNN says the story wasn’t edited
adequately. The study by a Texas academic concludes that ovulation makes
women feel sexier. Ovulating single women are likelier to vote for
Obama (liberal) and ovulating married women or women in other committed
relationships are likelier to vote for Romney (conservative.) I wonder
if CNN pulled the story because some subjects are beyond inquiry, like
women’s abilities for math and science or racial/ethnic differences in
various pursuits. Then there is the whole fantasy about “unpublishing”
an online post. You can get to the original story — replaced by an
editor’s note on CNN.com — at poynter.com or dailykos.com.
• The Seattle Times
seeks to restore readers’ trust after it published free ads for the
Republican candidate for governor and for supporters of a state gay
marriage referendum. The ads make the paper part of each group’s
propaganda machine. There is no other way to say it. Good luck to
reporters who have to cover those campaigns. Maybe someone should create
the “Almost Darwin Awards” for news media bent on self-destruction. You
don’t know Darwin Awards? Look it up. The awards are as funny as Seattle Times’ claims to virtue are cringe-worthy.
After the paper’s ethical pratfall and a newsroom rebellion, the Seattle Times
turned its fact-checkers loose on those free partisan ads and gave the
ads a rating of “half true.” (T)wo ads that were checked contained two
true claims, one mostly true, one half true and two that were false, the
paper and Poynter.com said.
• Newsroom rebellions rarely go public like that by Seattle Times journalists (above). Years ago, then-owners of the Minneapolis Tribune and Star
supported relocation of the Viking/Twins stadium from the ‘burbs to
downtown. Here’s what the New York Times said in its obit of the
publisher, John Cowles Jr.:
“Opponents, including staff members at The Minneapolis Tribune,
thought it was a clear conflict of interest for the owner of a
newspaper to take a public position on an important local issue it was
covering . . . (S)taff members placed an ad in their own paper
disassociating themselves from the company’s involvement.”
Fifty years ago, we almost had a nuclear war over missiles in Cuba and
en route on Soviet freighters. Regardless of where U.S. ships turned
back the freighters, it was the real thing, no Gulf of Tonkin or Weapons
of Mass Destruction fraud. I was at UPI in London and the Brits were
very, very frightened; in a nuclear war, both sides’ missiles could be
overhead and Soviets would attack Britain’s RAF and Royal Navy nuclear
strike forces. I went to the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square. The crowd
was hostile. Least threatening were those carrying or wearing what is
now known as the “peace symbol.” Then it was the much more potent and
timely totem of Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Half a century later, that British CND symbol is a meaningless design
for feathered earrings and leather-thong necklaces. But turn the symbol
upside down so that the “wings” tilt up. You have the Brits’ Vulcan
“V-bomber.” It was the heart of their Cold War airborne nuclear
deterrent during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vulcan bases would have
been targets in any nuclear exchange.
• Only a coverup is
juicier than the original scandal, especially in broadcasting. BBC is
tearing itself apart over the sex scandal. Arrests have begun: Convicted
pedophile and BBC TV entertainer Gary Glitter is the first. Hundreds
claim a leading children’s program presenter and colleagues molested
hundreds of girls at BBC studios, children's hospitals and other
locations. The focus of the probe, Jimmy Savile, is dead. His victims —
including women at BBC — offer explicit tales of his harassment and
abuse. BBC execs are accusing each other of lying or misleading
parliament; Scotland Yard is beginning to ask why police didn’t act
sooner on repeated reports and complaints about Savile and other abusers
• AP says New York Times
publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. last week reiterated his support for
the Times’ new CEO, Mark Thompson. Thompson, who was BBC’s director
general until last month, has been under scrutiny over the BBC’s
decision to cancel its major investigative program about Savile sexually
abusing youngsters. AP says Sulzberger told Times staff that he was
satisfied that Thompson had no role in canceling the explosive program.
As with all scandals and coverups, we will learn what BBC and Scotland
Yard knew and when they knew it. Lovely.