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Archives: February 2006

Taking Out The Trash, 2.28.06

Leftovers today:

  • Baltimore Sun reporter Carl Schoettler is attacked and left unconscious and badly injured.

  • Do bloggers have a better record of fixing their errors than MSM?

  • Two column moves at the Post: John Kelly’s column moves to the Metro section from Style. And Stephen Barr’s Federal Diary column moves to the Business section from News.

  • Stuart Taylor, Jr. examines “Leak Prosecutions: The Gathering Storm.”

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POTUS’ Vargas Sit-Down

Full interview with Elizabeth Vargas and President Bush after the jump.

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Vargas & POTUS

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ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas is in town today to interview President Bush at the White House (see below). An excerpt is after the jump. The interview will air later today on ABC World News Tonight and Nightline, as well as tomorrow’s Good Morning America.

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Dumb Numbers?

Seems like no one can quite figure out how many Iraqis have been killed following the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. The Post turned heads with its report today that put the number at 1,300 (according to Baghdad’s central morgue). But it’s becoming hard to corroborate that number.

  • “Later, however, Iraq Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called such high death totals “inaccurate and exaggerated,” without mentioning the Post.”

  • The New York Times has the number at “379 dead and 458 wounded, the nation’s Council of Ministers said today. At least 246 people in Baghdad alone were killed, the top two city morgue officials said.”

  • “The Associated Press carried this on Tuesday: ‘The Post cited figures from the Baghdad central morgue, but an official there told The Associated Press that as of Sunday night they had received only 249 bodies tied to the violence. The Post figure appeared high based on police and hospital reports from the major population centers at the time of the attacks.’”

  • “The Los Angeles Times, after noting the different figures today, added another, from Haidar Safar, a Ministry of Health official in charge of compiling data from hospitals and morgues across the country. He said 519 Iraqis have died from violence across the country since the blast occurred.”

Is this an example of excellent reporting by the Post? Or misleading?

>UPDATE: Over at CBS’ Public Eye Blog, Hillary Profita discusses how CBS is dealing with the sensitive number issue. It may be that slow and steady may win the race here; more confirmation is needed in order to verify the Post’s number.

The Post Still Hates Fox, MSNBC

Last week we alluded to the fact that the Post only includes CNN (and not Fox and MSNBC) in their TV listings.

What up with that?

Even Howard Kurtz admitted that they ought to include them. Howie, can’t you light a fire under somebody over there?

Post: You’ve been warned. Once the Fox News fans in the blogosphere get wind of this, Blog-gate may seem like child’s play.

Opening The FBI Vault

topsecret.jpgCQ’s Jeff Stein got a chance to do what everyone in Washington wants to do: Look up what dirt the FBI has on him. He tells the results in his latest article:

“I got access to a computer at FBI headquarters this week and took the opportunity to see what they had on me. A lot, as it turned out. Up popped my name in an investigation of Scott Ritter, the former top Iraq arms inspector turned administration critic. I’d interviewed him on the telephone several times in the late 1990s. Scrolling down, I also saw a note on my 1972 membership in a group of graduate students and faculty who wrote scholarly articles against the war in Vietnam, evidently related to an investigation of Jane Fonda. There were also excerpts of articles I’d written over the years that mentioned bombings and the FBI. And there were what looked like my bank transactions, past addresses and telephone numbers.

“This was a lot more information about me than the FBI said they had when I requested my files in the late 1990s. And from my cursory peek, I could tell my files went deep.”

So who in the D.C. media has the thickest FBI file? We vote Bob Woodward. We also vote that he probably knows the contents of his own FBI file better than the FBI.

Just Wondering

Why is it that the best Washington D.C. media scoops come from the New York Observer? Whether it’s the Atlantic, Nightline, or, in today’s case, The New Republic, Gabriel Sherman and Rebecca Dana seem to have better sources out there than the Post’s own Howard Kurtz when it comes to the Post’s own backyard.

Are we mistaken or has the Post really not even mentioned the Atlantic once since it moved to Washington in January?

>UPDATE: A former TNRer writes in and suggests that, even in the early 1990s, the Observer was obsessed with covering TNR’s internal politics and was on top of any internal TNR story.

Chuck Schumer, Media Whore

I hope everyone out there reading is sitting down, because TVWeek has come out with its annual listing of D.C. Talkers, who’s hardest to get, who’s the most likely to make news, and who’s the hardest to manage. There are some real shockers on this list.

Who would be most shocked to find out that Chuck Schumer is the easiest guest to book? “The most dangerous place to be in Washington–not to mention his home state of New York, where he has been known for holding press conferences on slow-news Sundays–is between him and any camera.” On the other side of the aisle, John McCain gets high marks.

And while Arlen Specter is most likely to make news, Condi is the least likely. “She’s gotten very cautious with the new job. She also has gotten into Foggy Bottom diplo-speak.”

Bill Frist gets the award for most over-exposed, meanwhile, and Hillary and John Kerry win points for being the hardest to handle. As we said, shocking news all around.

An interesting aside in the TVWeek list, though, is that they pull together the highest ratings for each of the Sunday shows–and that for three of the shows their highest numbers came in September during Hurricane Rita:

“Meet the Press”: 4.78 million (NSA wiretapping, Feb. 12, 2006)
“Face the Nation”: 3.62 million (Hurricane Rita, Sept. 25, 2005)
“This Week”: 2.98 million (Alito & Iraq, Nov. 6, 2005)
“Fox News Sunday”: 1.62 million (Rita, Sept. 25)
“Late Edition”: 1.34 million (Rita, Sept. 25)

Beinart Out, Foer In at TNR

foertnr.jpgbeinart-p.jpgThe New York Observer scooped yesterday that Peter Beinart (right) is out at The New Republic and soccer guru Franklin Foer (left) is taking over as editor. It’s a rare bloodless coup at a magazine well-known for its internal wars (See “Shattered Glass“).

As David Carr writes at the New York Times, “For a small outfit, The New Republic has always gone long on drama. Its changes in leadership have usually arrived in the form of rolling coups or lightning bolts from above. So it is refreshing, if a bit underwhelming, to report that Franklin Foer, a senior editor with the magazine, is quietly taking over the shop next week from the current editor, Peter Beinart, who has a book to promote and ambitions of returning to longer form writing.”

Carr paints a pretty dire picture for one of the nation’s most respected thought magazines: “The New Republic’s circulation has dropped by almost 40 percent in four years; it cut its circulation and staff salaries after aggressively spending on the Web in 2002. Meanwhile, its historical role as a maypole for middle-way Democrats is under challenge from countless Web sites and bloggers. And one of the magazine’s major preoccupations–a search for the soul of the Democratic Party–would seem to require a lot of patience and a miner’s helmet.”

Beinart’s book, The Good Fight, about John Kerry, Democrats, etc., is due out in June.

Foer now joins the elite crowd of one-time TNR chiefs, including Michael Kinsley, Andrew Sullivan, Michael Kelly, and Charles Lane. On the other hand, it’s hard to arrive at being the editor of TNR and still be the less successful writer in your family: Frankie’s brother is novelist wiz kid Jonathan Safran Foer.

>UPDATE: One has to wonder why the NYTimes got the scoop and not the Washington Post. Was it a consolation prize from Foer to the Times for his not accepting their long-standing offer to bring him on board as a reporter?

Taking Out The Trash, 02.27.06

  • Walter Cronkite wants CBS’ Bob Schieffer to stay in the anchor chair.

  • The Post (led by Susan Schmidt, James V. Grimaldi, and R. Jeffrey Smith) wins its second straight Selden Ring Award for Investigate Reporting “for their series exposing illegal activities and corruption surrounding Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.”

  • Art Buchwald discusses his kidney disease.

  • The Washington, D.C. Chapter of ED2010.com (“a group for young editors who are looking to reach their dream magazine jobs by the year 2010″) is “looking for peeps in the nation’s capital to keep his chapter alive. Email Emily@ed2010.com if you’re interested in coming to Ed events in D.C. — and especially if you want to be the one who organizes them! (Earn super career karma!)”

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