0 Comments · Wednesday, January 8, 2014
The media is far from perfect, and 2013 provided good evidence of that.
0 Comments · Thursday, December 26, 2013
Why 2013 was a lot of the same bullshit.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 18, 2013
For journalistically inclined folks like
Megyn Kelly of Fox News, the 12th month of the year is as good a time as
any to make it clear to young viewers that Santa Claus and Jesus were
good, hard-working Caucasians.
How a Cincinnati native went from 'O'Reilly Factor' producer to Gawker's "Fox Mole"
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 21, 2013
By April 2012, Joe Muto could no longer stand working at Fox News. As a producer of The O’Reilly Factor,
and in several previous positions with Fox, Muto had hidden his liberal
views while telling himself he wasn’t really contributing to the
channel’s conservative bias.
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
• Giovanna Chirri, the veteran Vaticanista who understood
the pope’s Latin, broke the news that he’d just announced his
resignation. She works for the Italian news agency, ANSA. Her skill
recalled Ernest Sackler at Rome’s UPI bureau when I was a
photojournalist stringer during John XXIII’s papacy. Ernest truly
understood Vatican Latin well enough to turn it into flowing English;
colleagues spoke of him with awe.
• I’m grateful to the Enquirer for running a story on Sen.
Rand Paul’s response to the State of the Union Message. It wasn’t on
NPR or any other network that I could find. His Washington office did
not respond to my question of whether the Kentucky Republican offered his
remarks to any broadcasters/cable networks.
• Tens of millions of Americans will become eligible for
subsidized medical care under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Who’s going
to treat them? I haven’t seen that in the news. And while reporters are
working out that story, ask how the required additional primary care
physicians will pay off college and medical school debts on the salaries
that will be paid to their specialties.
• And once journalists dig into the supply of physicians
to handle Medicaid expansion, I hope they’ll ask who’s going to staff
quality preschool education for every American child. Obama can be
aspirational, but we’re not talking about minimum wage diaper changers.
Early learning centers require trained pre-school educators. And while
they’re at it, reporters should ask where these new early childhood
educators will train and who’s going pick up the tab. After all, they’ll
never repay college loans on day care wages.
• Maybe I missed it in the admiring coverage of our
government killing American Islamists abroad with drone rocket attacks: What prevents Obama from killing Americans in this country with drone
strikes? None of the news stories or commentaries I’ve read or heard
addressed that point.
There would be no shortage of targets. Wouldn’t the
sheriff have loved a drone-launched missile to kill Christopher Dorner,
the rogue ex-LAPD cop? That might have spared the deputy whom Dorner
killed during the flaming finale in the San Bernardino mountains. And
what prevents our increasingly militarized police from using their own
Imagine what authorities could have done with armed drones during earlier, infamous encounters:
A missile fired at armed members of the American Indian
Movement at Wounded Knee, S.D., could have avenged inept, vain
and foolish George Armstrong Custer and FBI agents killed in the 1973
No feds would have died if a drone-launched missile
incinerated Randy Weaver’s family with during its deadly 1992
confrontation with feds at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
David Koresh and the Branch Davidian religious sect were
incinerated by the feds’ 1993 armored assault in Texas. That would have
been a perfect photo op for a domestic drone attack.
• Sometimes, “national security” is the rationale for requested or commanded self-censorship, even when secrets aren’t secret.
For instance, British editors held stories about Prince
Harry until he returned the first time from Afghanistan. However, an
Australian women’s magazine reported he was in combat. The non-secret
was a secret because no one paid attention.
More recently, the new U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia was
supposed to be a secret. Obama officials asked major news media to hold
the story and they agreed. National security, you know.
But it wasn’t a secret. Washington Post blogger Erik
Wemple said Fox News already had reported U.S. plans to build the
facility in Sept. 2011. Three months before that, the Times of
London reported construction of the Saudi drone base.
When the New York Times broke the agreement and reported
the Saudi drone base, everyone jumped on the story. Now, the Times, the
Post and AP are trying to explain why they kept the non-secret from us.
• Gone are the days when senior Israeli government
officials could call in top editors and broadcasters and tell them what
they could not report. Last week, a tsunami of technology overwhelmed
official Israeli efforts to censor the story of Prisoner X. Israeli
journalists were not to report his existence or mention the censorship
order. National security, you know. However, an Australian network named
an Aussie as Prisoner X and said he reportedly committed suicide three
years ago in an Israeli prison. Social media and the online world took
it from there: "Aussie recruited by Israeli spy agency dies in Israeli
prison." Israel dropped efforts to censor the Prisoner X story and is
issuing official statements about the case.
• San Bernardino’s sheriff asked journalists to quit
tweeting from the final gunfight with former LAPD cop Christopher
Dorner. Bizarre. If authorities feared Dorner would gain tactical
information, they misread his situation: Dorner was surrounded in a
mountain cabin, tear gas was being lobbed in and men outside were
trying to shoot him. He probably was too busy to read tweets. Moreover,
only one reporter was close enough to tweet anything remotely useful to
anyone. Most reporters initially or finally ignored the sheriff.
The tweet issue first arose during the 2008 Muslim
terrorist attack on Mumbai when invaded the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Some
authorities reportedly feared accomplices outside were reading news
media tweets and forwarding tactical information about police and army
movements to gunmen inside. I don’t remember if anyone asked reporters
to quit tweeting.
• A new poll says Fox hit an alltime low for the four
years Public Policy Polling has tracked trust/distrust among TV
networks: 41 percent trust Fox, 46 percent do not. The poll didn’t find anything for
other networks to brag about. Only PBS had more “trust” than “distrust”
among viewers: 52 percent trust, 29 percent don’t trust. The poll questioned 800
voters by telephone from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.
• Garry Wills’ new book, Why Priests, sets out to debunk
Catholicism’s dearest dogmas and doctrines concerning priests, bishops
and the papacy. NPR’s Diane Rehm gave him an hour last week to say why
Catholic ordained clergy are an unnecessary accretion. Then she asked an
outgunned parish priest from the Washington, D.C. area for a rebuttal.
If she really wanted a lively, informed argument, there is no shortage
of priest-scholars who could have matched Wills’ credentials and talents
as an historian. It was unfair and cringe-worthy.
• It’s touchy when an unpleasantry is brought up in an
obit: a long forgiven conviction, a “love child,” whatever. More often,
predictably awkward moments are omitted in the spirit of de mortuis nil
nisi bonum. Here’s HuffingtonPost on a full-blown omission in the recent
obit on former New York mayor and mensch Ed Koch:
“The New York Times revised its Friday obituary
. . . after several observers noticed that it lacked any mention of his
controversial record on AIDS. The paper's obituary, written by longtime
staffer Robert D. MacFadden, weighed in at 5,500 words. Yet, in the
first version of the piece, AIDS was mentioned exactly once, in a
passing reference to ‘the scandals and the scourges of crack cocaine,
homelessness and AIDS.’ The Times also prepared a 22-minute video on
Koch's life that did not mention AIDS. This struck many as odd; after
all, Koch presided over the earliest years of AIDS, and spent many years
by gay activists who thought he was not doing nearly enough to stop the
spread of the disease. Legendary writer and activist Larry Kramer called Koch ‘a murderer of his own people’ because the mayor was widely known as a closeted gay man.”
• New York’s Ed Koch admired Wall Street Journal reporter
Danny Pearl’s recorded last words before Muslim terrorists beheaded him.
Koch had Pearl’s affirmation of faith engraved on his own tombstone in
Manhattan’s Trinity Church graveyard: “My father is Jewish, my mother is
Jewish, I am Jewish.”
• A former student reporter rarely rates an obit in the
national media, but Annette Buchanan wasn’t ordinary. In the mid-1960s,
she refused a court order to name sources for her story about student
marijuana use on the University of Oregon campus. Her story ran in the
Oregon Daily Emerald, the campus paper. No shield law protected her
promise of confidentiality. The Emerald said she was fined the maximum
$300 and the state supreme court affirmed her contempt of court
conviction. That led to the creation of Oregon’s shield law for
journalists. She died recently.
• An unresolved First Amendment issue is whether bloggers
can be protected by state shield laws that allow journalists to keep
sources secret. The latest case is from New Jersey. Poynter.com
said blogger Tina Renna refused to identify government officials whom
she said misused county generators after Hurricane Sandy. Union County
prosecutors demanded the 16 names, saying Renna wasn’t a journalist
protected by New Jersey’s shield law because she’s been involved in
politics, her blog is biased and she’s often critical of county
The Newark Star-Ledger took her side. It said shield law protection “shouldn’t
hinge on whether someone is a professional, nonpartisan or even
reliable journalist. It’s a functional test: Does Renna gather
information that’s in the public interest and publish it? Yes.” Renna “can
be a little wild, she’s not the same as a professional reporter and she
drives local officials crazy. But part of democracy is putting up with
Tina Renna.” A court will probe whether Renna is a journalist as defined
by the state shield law; that is, whether bloggers can be included by
analogy under protected electronic news media.
• Few ledes — introductory sentences in news stories — are
as lame as those saying the subject “doesn’t look” like some
stereotype. For years, it usually referred to a woman in an
unconventional (read men’s) occupation or pastime. “She didn’t look
like a steelworker . . . “ or, “You wouldn’t think a tiny blonde bagged a
deadly wild boar with a huge .44 magnum revolver.” Male subjects aren’t
immune, as in this lede from a recent Washington Post story: “Farmer
Hugh Bowman hardly looks the part of a revolutionary who stands in the
way of promising new biotech discoveries and threatens Monsanto’s
pursuit of new products . . . ”
What do revolutionaries look like? Lenin was pictured in
suit and tie. Gandhi wore a white, draped sari or dhoti, Mandela and
fellow ANC rebels often wore suits and ties. Young 1960s American and
French student rebels never wore suits and ties and needed haircuts.
Today’s young North African activists dress the same for class or a
“Doesn’t look like” wouldn’t even fit an androgynous male
model in the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show. He’d be there
because he looks like a classic, young, leggy “angel.”
• Have you noticed how hurricanes, floods, blizzards and
tornadoes are morphing from evidence of climate change into photo ops?
News media see them as so common that little reporting is required
beyond images and stories of hardship: shoppers hoarding sliced white
bread, downed trees and shattered homes, marooned airline passengers and
days without power. Maybe there’s the throwaway quote from some
climatologist about change affecting weather, but for the most part,
that’s it. I’m betting this deliberate ignorance is a Republican Party
plot to show that increasingly frequent, dangerous weather reflects the
Intelligent Design that gave us dino-riding cavemen a few thousand years
• The Enquirer devoted Page 1 to a dramatic OMG! graphic
and story suggesting Cincinnati was terrible because it had no black
candidate for mayor. An accompanying list of movers and shakers had few
blacks. The presentation suggested the all-white mayoral contest meant
amiss in a city where whites are the largest minority. However, whites
and blacks told reporters that leadership rather than color was foremost
among attributes they sought in a mayor. Moreover, with so many African
Americans in visible leadership roles in the city, having a black mayor
succeed a black mayor was less of an issue than the paper suggested.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has revoked
operating permits from D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating after they
were both discovered to have illegally dumped thousands of gallons of
fracking waste into a storm drain in Youngstown, which eventually
emptied into the Mahoning River. CINCINNATI -2
0 Comments · Thursday, January 3, 2013
Two homeless people helped rescue a man brutally attacked
in Over-the-Rhine after using an ATM; they warded off his assailant
until the police arrived. CINCINNATI +2
1 Comment · Thursday, December 27, 2012
Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School once again demonstrate a troubling paradox: A news story can be accurate and wrong. The aftermath of the massacre quickly
provided reporters with opportunities to put out stories that accurately
reported wildly incorrect but seemingly authoritative information.
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings on Cincinnati and beyond
• I was in the Pacific Northwest and the three-hour time difference disrupted my already lousy sleep patterns. I dozed and listened to the BBC World Service on a local FM station when a familiar growl awakened me: WVXU’s Howard Wilkinson. You don’t work with a guy for a quarter century and not know his distinctive voice. BBC was in Cincinnati for an Obama visit and it wanted the best local politics reporter. Howard got up early. BBC got what it wanted. I eventually went back to sleep, lulled by BBC’s Humphrey Humphrey Humphreys reporting from some slum street in Dontunnastan. • Enquirer Publisher Margaret Buchanan quit the UC board last week. It was a conflict of interests from the day she took her seat in 2006. She told the Enquirer, “My news team is reporting aggressively on the departure of UC President Greg Williams and the search for the next president. The credibility that is so important to our news team’s work is my highest priority, and I did not want my involvement with UC to make it uncomfortable or confusing for them or for the community.”The conflict existed when she helped spend taxpayers’ and students’ money for six years or hired Greg Williams as president. Her Road to Damascus moment apparently came in the fallout from Williams’ surprise resignation without explanation and curious $1.3 million parting gift. Now, to avoid another conflict of interest, she should resign from the executive committee of 3CDC where she has more than a passing interest in how her paper covers the private redeveloper of the city’s urban core. These are the kinds of conflicts of interest that compromise the paper’s integrity and long have been unacceptable for reporters. Buchanan isn’t the first Enquirer publisher or editor to ignore a conflict of interest that raised questions about the integrity of related news stories. She probably won’t be the last. It would be ideal if everyone on the paper were bound by the same ethical standards. • Enquirer use of Freedom of Information Acts continues to pay off. Friday’s Cliff Peale story about the surprise resignation of UC President Greg Williams draws on information obtained through FOIA. Granted, there is no smoking gun; whatever Williams’ reasons for quitting, he was smart enough to keep them out of memos and emails subject to FOIA. What Peale is learning from documents and interviews suggests an irreparable breach between UC’s board and president on how each should do its job. • Sunday’s Enquirer devotes two pages in Local News to sell its various media services. Most Enquirer services look to newer ways it can provide news to readers (viewers?). Pay walls are there, too. Now, if the bean counters at Gannett would allow the Enquirer to open its archives to subscribers, the deal would be complete. • Sunday’s Enquirer also exhibited a rediscovered spine with a major editorial opposing the streetcar project for Cincinnati. The reasoning, as far as it goes, is sound: there is no coherent plan to finance construction and operations and Cincinnati has more pressing infrastructure needs. • For a related look into the Enquirer’s future, check the New York Times business page on Monday. It reports changes ordered by Enquirer owner Gannett at its Burlington, Vt., daily. They’re slightly ahead of our paper and reactions there are not as upbeat as those in memos to readers from the Enquirer’s editor and publisher. • Fox News should not have apologized for broadcasting the suicide of a fleeing police suspect last week. Fox blamed inept use of its delay on live coverage. Lisa Wells, on WLW 700 Saturday, argued that Fox let it run for ratings; Fox knew what it was doing and there was no mistake. I can buy that. Ratings are why TV follows police chases live. In the video shot from a helicopter that followed the chase through traffic and on foot, the guy stops running, puts a handgun to his head and fires. His arm jerks and he slumps forward, away from the camera. So why apologize to a country where violent games and films are top earners and homicides generally are treated as a cost of urban living? If TV doesn’t expect something dramatic, why the live coverage from helicopters following fugitives and cop cars? • Maybe vivid writing explains why Brits continue to buy daily papers. I culled this from the home page of London’s Telegraph: Chill wind blows for Mitt Romney in Ohio: As late September gales blew his dyed black fringe free from its gelled moorings, Romney's tanned face crumpled into a frown.• A friend found this on NPR’s website. It promotes a broadcast by Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR’s Africa-based correspondent. In part, the promo said, “She also describes the stories that have been exciting, including the U.S. presidential race of the Kenyan-born Sen. Barack Obama.” The promo was dated Oct. 9, 2008. Does that make NPR the most authoritative news medium to buy the “Birther” conspiracy? • It’s a dead horse, but I have to beat it. Why do local news media tie unrelated homicides to nearby institutions? Killings on Over-the-Rhine’s Green Street unfailingly are described as “near Findlay Market.” Last week, Local 12 repeatedly linked a Corryville street shooting to UC although no one except Local 12 made that connection. Why didn’t the TV folks link the shooting to the University Plaza Kroger store which probably was even closer, or to Walgreens and CVS? • Winston Churchill is one of the people credited with this or a similar aphorism: "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." Today, he’d probably say, “A lie gets around the world in seconds after it’s posted on YouTube and it can’t be recalled.” So much for Madonna’s onstage lie that went viral after an audience member posted her line, “We have a black Muslim in the White House.” Now, she says she was being ironic. I don’t know what’s scarier, listening to Madonna ranting on politics or True Believers hearing her as affirmation of their deeply held fears about Obama. • Recently, Fox and Friends showed Obama talking with an actor dressed as a pirate. Fox said “The White House doesn’t have the time to meet with the prime minister of Israel, but this pirate got a sit-down in the Oval Office yesterday.” Later, Fox used the image as its “Shot of the Morning,” according to the AP and jimromenesko.com. Fox host Steve Doocy said, “Here’a quick look at what President Obama is up to, making sure he didn’t forget to mark International Talk Like a Pirate Day.’Uh, no. As the AP explained. The photo “was taken as a punchline for a joke Obama delivered to the White House Correspondents Association dinner in 2009 about the administration talking to enemies as well as friends.” Fox & Friends admitted on a tweet that the photo was more than three years old but there was no evidence Fox told its cable audience about the partisan network fraud. • National Review, a long respected conservative magazine, proved it’s no better than Fox. It Photoshopped the Oct. 1 (Monday) cover photo to underline the wider GOP accusation that pro-choice Democrats are the pro-abortion party of death. Reuters/Newscom disowned the image, saying its original photo “was altered by National Review” in print and digital editions. Charlotte Observer photographer Todd Sumlin, who provided his shot from the same angle, told jimromenesko.com, “I was on the photo platform directly behind the President at the Democratic National Convention . . . (P)osters the North Carolina delegates are holding were changed from ‘Forward’ to ‘Abortion’.”• It’s not clear who promised what to whom but the family of murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens says CNN used his journal without permission. CNN found the journal in the ruined Benghazi consulate and relied on it for some reporting without saying it was Stevens’ private thoughts. My gut response: don’t promise anything and use it. His journal contained information relevant to the attack that killed him and three more Americans. The only reason I can see for State Department objections is that the journal might have been more revealing than officials wished. • I’m grateful to Eric Alterman, The Nation’s media columnist, who reported that when “asked about the film that seemingly inspired the riots and attacks, (Romney) echoed exactly the same sentiments contained in the Cairo embassy statement that he and his putative champions had previously found so contemptible. ‘I think the whole film is a terrible idea. I think [that] making it, promoting it, showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths . . . I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment — the good judgment — not to be, not to offend other peoples’ faiths’.”As Alterman put it, “There you have it: Mitt Romney, terrorist apologist.” And if you think Alterman’s indulging in partisan hyperbole, here is the embassy statement issued before riots:“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.” • Off-the-record always is tricky. Can you ever use what you learned? Can you use it if you disguise the source? Nothing is farther off the record than anything Britain’s reigning monarch says in private. Quoting her Just Isn’t Done. Now, Britain’s press is trying to assess the damage from the most tempest in a porcelain tea cup: a BBC reporter quoted Queen Elizabeth’s impatience with efforts to deport a radical imam to the United States to face terrorism charges. One does not say what, if anything, the Queen says to One. Talk about blowing access to a source. BBC and its reporter are new nominees for Golden Grovel Award. • Then there is Andrew Mitchell, the sneering conservative parliamentary official who dismissed London bobbies as “fucking plebs.” He was outraged when they asked him to ride his bicycle through a side gate rather than the front gate at the prime minister’s residence at No. 10 Downing Street. Damning police as his social inferiors is perfectly in tune with the traditional Conservative Party but it’s Bad Form for a guy whose governing party is trying to dump its elite and elitist history and image. Mitchell’s fiercely upper class insult resonates through British society. The minister is posh — the right family, schools and universities, if not a Guards regiment. Constables are not. “Fucking” isn’t the problem. “Pleb” is. The New York Times explained that Mitchell’s slur implies that the London Metropolitan Police — also known as Scotland Yard — are “worthless nobodies” in class-conscious Tory Britain.
by Jac Kern
Jac's favorite recent pop culture and Internet findings
White House Correspondents’ Dinner was Saturday, and while CityBeat’s invitation
must have gotten lost in the mail, the event brought journalists, celebrities
and famewhores from across the country to Washington, D.C. What began in the
1920s as an opportunity to recognize journalists is now more of a “Washington
goes Hollywood” event, usually hosted by comedians and attended by celebs who
have little (if anything) to do with politics or reporting. Although the event
gets criticism for becoming a schmooze-fest,
I’m a fan of what has become a Washington roast, where politicians stop taking
themselves too seriously, at least for one night.
Obama kicked off the night with a dig at his recent “hot mic” incident, and
continued by poking fun at other politicians, odd celebrity guests and other
evening was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, who took the stage like a true equal
of diminishing journalistic integrity, how ‘bout the rise and (immediate) fall
Gawker’s Fox News mole? Earlier this month, Gawker announced
a new column by a Fox News employee, who was prepared to share the deepest,
darkest secrets from everyone’s favorite conservative channel — or something.
Two days later, the “mole” (revealed as O’Reilly
Factor associate producer Joe Muto) was found out by the network and
subsequently fired. So that’s the end of that, right? Not quite. Muto
was served with a search warrant early Wednesday morning. New York’s District
Attorney’s office seized Muto’s laptop, cell phone and some notebooks as part
of an open investigation. Fox News is accusing Muto of conspiracy and grand
larceny, according to this warrant.
The best/worst part of the whole debacle is that Muto only managed four Gawker
posts, which included juicy Fox dirt like a photo of a bathroom Bill O’Reilly
uses and a clip of Mitt Romney talking about his horses to Sean Hannity. Yawn. UPDATE: Muto apparently grew up in Cincinnati. Represent!
Pizza Hut’s new pies with cheeseburgers instead of crusts to the Heart Attack Grill
living up to its name, junk food on ‘roids is all the rage right now! Las
Vegas’ Heart Attack Grill is known for its over-the-top diner grub, including a
“Quadruple Bypass Burger,” so should anyone be surprised that eating there
could potentially be harmful to one’s health? For the second time this year, a guest collapsed at the restaurant, which boasts the Guinness World Record for
highest calorie hamburger (9,983 — about five times the calories recommended
for one day).
People go to Vegas for the thrill of a gamble — the Heart Attack Grill just
offers a unique spin! Meanwhile,
in the Middle East, Pizza Hut is finally solving that boring pizza crust
problem (what are we supposed to do — just eat plain dough?!) by swapping it
for cheeseburgers and chicken sliders. This
came just weeks after we were introduced to The Hut’s hot dog-stuffed crust,
which is now available in the U.K. The most shocking part about these pizza monstrosities?
They aren’t served in the States (yet)! Are we becoming a healthier nation or
is our fatness just rubbing off on other countries? In
movie news, a 2007 viral comedy short is now becoming a
star-studded smorgasbord. Jay
and Seth vs. The Apocalypse starred Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogan as friends
confined to an apartment during the end of the world. Filmed in just four days
immediately following production on Knocked
Up, the short is only available as a trailer on YouTube:
the success of Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and other Rogen
comedies, the crew is remaking the short into a feature film, currently titled The
End of The World. In
the film, James Franco (playing himself) hosts a party at his apartment when
the world begins…to end. Party-goers will include Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and
Aziz Ansari, in addition to Rogen and Baruchel. It’s an Apatowpocalypse!
While these dudes are taking something scary (the apocalypse) and turning it into
something funny, this bitch is turning something from my youth (dolls) into
the stuff of nightmares. Meet Valeria Lukyanov, “human” Barbie!
this Craigslist ad: