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Archives: January 2006

Taking out the Trash, 01.31.06

  • A handful of Washington Post reporters talk with its readers about Oprah coverage, blogs and how “The Post wants to be a more aggressive local paper.”

  • Photogs Slam White House Use of Staged Pictures.”

  • Jack Shafer takes a look at “Ted Koppel’s embarrassing debut as a Times columnist.”

  • “Write Your Own ‘Washington Times’ Story — and Save!” (Wonkette)


  • Mediabistro Course

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    State of the Union Coverage

    sotu.jpgAh, State of the Union night. Or, as crooks and thugs in DC like to call it, “The best night of the year to cause ruckus because the streets will be empty.”

    ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS all begin coverage at 9pm for the speech. Both FOX and PBS cut out at 10:30 and ABC, CBS and NBC return to local news at 11pm.

    On cable:

    • CNN: Proving that cable news is nothing if not redundant, a quick look at CNN’s schedule tonight reveals that, in reality, their coverage begins at 4pm and goes until 1am (when they just replay the State of the Union address again). Anderson Cooper provides a 360 degree look at the SOTU following the address. And can Larry King really stay awake until midnight? But officially, CNN states that “Wolf Blitzer and Paula Zahn start CNN’s coverage of Bush’s State of the Union address at 7 p.m. ET in ‘The Situation Room.’”

    • Fox News: Bill O’Reilly leads into Fox News’ coverage of the SOTU, which will be hosted by Brit Hume. At 11pm, on come Hannity & Colmes to fairly and balancedly assess the President’s speech. At midnight, the SOTU–again!

    • MSNBC begins their SOTU coverage at 7pm with Chris Matthews, then Keith Olbermann at 8pm, the SOTU at 9, and then Matthews taking charge of the coverage following the speech, until midnight when–guess what?–a SOTU rebroadcast!

    • Oh, and naturally, C-SPAN will be there every step of the way.

    For even more details, go to the incomparable TVNewser.

    Is Moonie A Bigot?

    One man sure thinks so., “the award winning LGBT news site” reports: “A Connecticut man is suing the University of Bridgeport, claiming the school barred him from campus and ordered him to undergo psychiatric care because of his homosexuality, reports the Connecticut Post. Paul Lewis, 55, alleges that university officials held a disciplinary hearing last spring and charged him with making other students uncomfortable because he is gay.”

    Why does Lewis think the University is homophobic? “Lewis, who acknowledges being gay, said Wednesday that he believes the discrimination against him stems in part from the university’s alleged ties to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. ‘Reverend Moon still has a major influence on the University of Bridgeport, and his understanding of human sexuality is extremely limited,’ Lewis said.”

    Could it be that the only thing Moon hates more than blogs is “human sexuality”? And if Lewis is to be believed, does this same top-down chastising of homosexuality seep its way into the Washington Times newsroom?

    FLASH: AP Born Two Years Early

    Turns out everything you knew in life about the Associated Press was wrong. The world’s largest and oldest newsgathering organization is two years older than previously thought. Obviously everyone knows that it was long-thought to be born in 1848, but a newly released story today finds that it was actually founded in 1846!!

    “The documents were provided to the AP’s corporate archives by Brewster Yale Beach, a great-great-grandson of Moses Yale Beach, the second owner-publisher of the original New York Sun and the driving force in creating the alliance of newspapers sharing news dispatches that became known as The Associated Press,” the article reports.

    “The papers show that, in May 1846, Beach offered to share news from the U.S. war with Mexico with rival newspapers. The resulting agreement formed the basis for cooperative news gathering by telegraph just as Samuel F.B. Morse‘s revolutionary invention began a swift expansion throughout the country, linking New York to points north, west, and south.”

    Be still your beating heart.

    Memo and more after the jump.

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    Woodruff & Vogt En Route To D.C.

    ABC News President David Westin said this morning that the plane carrying injured anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt, as well as a number of injured American servicemen left Germany at about 6:45 a.m. ET today:

    “Both Bob and Doug continue on their upward progress. Doug was up and conversing this morning. Bob continues to be heavily sedated and may be for a time. But the doctors are encouraged by the continued progress he made overnight. It will still likely be some time before we have a complete sense of the injuries, but with each day there are promising signs. As before, we have a very long way to go. But, we appear to be headed in the right direction.

    “Bob and Doug will be arriving in Washington this evening and will be transported to Bethesda for further observation and treatment.”

    ABC News will continue to provide updates on their condition as they become available.

    Journalists: ‘Iraq is a black hole’

    Christiane_Amanpour_150.jpgThis week is looking more and more like a “Cronkite moment.”

    As President Bush prepares to address Congress and the nation tonight in his fifth State of the Union, the White House must be concerned that the news out of Iraq in the last week appears to have undermined what remaining support the media had for the ongoing war.

    Yesterday the two biggest stories out of Iraq were both about journalists: the horrible attack on Bob Woodruff‘s convoy and kidnapped hostage Jill Carroll‘s tearful new video plea. The war is hitting too close to home.

    Last night on CNN, Larry King hosted a variety of journalists to talk about the war, ranging from Peter Arnett to the Post’s own Rajiv Chandrasekaran. The somber discussion displayed not only that most reporters seem to have given up hope, but we also began to see some outright anger creep into the reporting.

    Lara Logan said, “This is a critical time as much as there ever has been. This is really a critical moment.”

    The heaviest words, though, were used by Christiane Amanpour, about as experienced a war correspondent as exists right now, who said, “The war in Iraq has basically turned out to be a disaster and journalists have paid for it, paid for the privilege of witnessing and reporting that and so have many, many other people who have been there.

    “And I think that’s terribly, terribly difficult for us and unfortunately for some reason, which I can’t fathom, the kind of awful thing that’s going on there now on a daily basis has almost become humdrum. So, when something happens to people that we identify, like Bob and like Doug, we wake up again and realize that, no, this is not acceptable what’s going on there and it’s a terrible situation.”

    She also said: “I just think it is so sad. I mean, by any indicator Iraq is a black hole.”

    And: “This is a big drama because hope is the only thing [the Iraqis] have in the middle of this spiralling security disaster. And by any indication whether you take the number of journalists killed or wounded, whether you take the number of American soldiers killed or wounded, whether you take the number of Iraqi soldiers killed and wounded, contractors, people working there, it just gets worse and worse.”

    The sad situation is that Woodruff was in harm’s way this weekend for ratings. ABC had decided that its franchise was goig to be on-the-road reporting which meant putting its front-line team on the front lines around the world. Now news organizations have some hard questions to ask themselves about their commitment to “being there” versus their not insignificant investments in their anchors and stars.

    There’s a looming danger that news organizations will give up front-line coverage as it gets more and more dangerous. CNN isn’t going to risk putting Anderson Cooper in a convoy, and NBC isn’t going to risk its investment in Brian Williams for a few stand-up shots on patrol.

    Meanwhile, ABC, which just launched its new anchor team this month finds itself with an ominous question: Will Bob Woodruff ever return to the evening news? The answer is weeks, probably months, away.

    Meet the Wonkettes

    After a schizophrenic (and certainly not always funny) week of rotating bloggers over at, the site entered its post-Cox period today, unveiling its new site design and two new authors today. David Lat and Alex Pareene (an adorable couple, really) entered the fray by warning readers “it could be some time before we remember which one is the Capitol and which one is the capital, stop asking people what happened to all the letters and numbers on the subway map, and learn to suppress our slack-jawed amazement when we actually see someone reading the Washington Times (in public!), but we’re quick studies.”

    It’s far too early to tell what direction they’ll take the site (although it should be noted that Ms. Cox seems to have made sure that the redesign didn’t include removing her cartoon caricature from the website’s header), but we will say this:

    Are we the only ones who think that Mr. Pareene sort of looks like Blossom?


    On their first day out of the gates, the boys made it abundantly clear that the low-blows aren’t just a thing of the past:

      It may not be the most appropriate time to make fun of ABC News, what with everyone who works there dying, being forced into retirement, or getting blown up, but when they stop and wonder why journalists are being targeted in Iraq, someone needs to remind them that they go around using phrases like “truth squad” and “electronic town square.”

    Aw, sweet, precious Wonkette. Always there to put the “ass” in “class.”

    Blogger feedback after the jump…

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    ‘His condition is good’

    The following is ABC’s 3 p.m. webcast and an interview Bob Woodruff‘s brother David Woodruff by ABC’s Jim Sciutto in Landstuhl, Germany:

    “Bob obviously arrived here in fairly serious condition but he stabilized very well here. According to doctors, he’s doing well. Every hour that’s gone by he has shown improvement or hasn’t gotten any worse and they say that’s good news. So his condition is good and the care here has been incredible at Landstuhl, they’ve done a wonderful job.

    “The doctors have been communicating with us all the time. The care he got in the field–he was taken into the Balad field hospital within just about 30 minutes, so he got there, got treated and the actions that they took saved his life, no question about it.

    “According to the doctors here they did great work down there, allowed him to get up here and he’s recovering well. I want to thank those guys, they did an incredible job and thank everybody here on the staff of the hospital.”

    The Who’s Who? Of Newspapers

    Oh, Washingtonians are just going to love this.

    Conceding that “People like to read about people,” The Wall Street Journal announced that they will begin featuring an index of people prominently mentioned in that day’s newspaper (World War III may burst out between the rich and powerful over what exactly defines “prominently”).

    Said WSJ Managing Editor Paul Stieger: “We’re going to go with more names and a device that will help people if they or their best friends or worst enemies are somewhere in the paper.”


    Here in DC, where there’s both an ‘i’ in Washington and a ‘me’ in government, where names are always boldfaced and where books are given the Washington Read, this kind of index will be greeted with near universal praise.

    Morning breakfasts will never be the same. We can just see it now:

    Over Cheerios, a man flips to WSJ’s Marketplace section, runs his finger down the name index and mutters “Blitzer, Blitzer, Blitzer…ah, there I am. Lovely.”

    Brokeback and Breaking Hardball’s Back

    Chris Matthews is coming under heat from some bloggers for his recent comments on Don Imus’ radio program.

      MATTHEWS: Well, the wonderful Michael Savage, who’s on [WTNT AM] 570 in D.C., who shares a station with you at least, he said — he calls it — what’s he call it? “Bareback Mounting.” That’s his name for the movie.”

      IMUS: Right. Of course, Bernard calls it “Fudgepack Mountain,” but that’s probably –

    Petty? Perhaps. But that’s not the only thing bloggers are upset about (trust us, it doesn’t take much).

    Others are on Matthews’ case. Consider, “a coalition of more than 20 of the top progressive and moderate political blogs, with a collective daily readership of over 1 million visitors, including DailyKos, Eschaton, AMERICAblog, MyDD, Annatopia, and more (for a full listing, see our home page)” that’s claiming “Chris Matthews has repeatedly compared Americans who are concerned about the war in Iraq to Osama bin Laden.”

    The coalition is targeting Hardball’s advertisers, including Toyota, Verizon and Turbo-Tax, although without any success thus far.

    Will Matthews capitulate to the blogosphere? Or would an apology–or clarification–make Hardball seem too soft?

    (Speaking of Matthews, it was hard to not to do a double take at this Matthews gem from Sunday’s “Chris Matthews Show”: “For me, the ’57 Chevy is like the old girlfriend — you know, the one that got away.”)

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