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Archives: January 2005

Well, compared to murder, fabricating stories isn’t so bad, now is it?

nytmag.jpgBefore there was Jayson Blair, there was Michael Finkel. From New York mag, in March 2002:

Michael Finkel knew how to tell a story, and he told some great ones for The New York Times Magazine—until last week, in an unprecedented editors’ note, the paper revealed that the title character of his November 18 story, ‘Is Youssouf Malé a Slave?,’ was actually a composite of several young men. Finkel, 33, was fired, leaving some to wonder if the Times had been too taken with his (too-hard-to-check) articles from such far-flung locales as the Ivory Coast, Gaza, and Haiti, where he famously had to be rescued from a refugee boat.

Finkel is back and is the author of the soon-to-be-released True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa. The plot description (from Library Journal): “This is some story: a harassed young contributing editor fakes part of a story and losses his job. Hiding away from the world, he discovers that a murderer had assumed his identity.” We can just imagine the thought process that went into that one: “I need a foil. What’s worse than making stuff up in a reputable national magazine?…Hmmm…”

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Yesterday’s news: still funny today

hatchet.jpgA reader points out a somewhat questionable use of anonymous sourcing in the New York Times’s story yesterday about James Stewart’s new book, Disney War: The Battle for the Magic Kingdom:

Mr. Stewart, along with executives for Simon & Schuster and Disney, declined to discuss the contents of “DisneyWar.” But two people who have read versions of the manuscript and are involved in its publication said the book described Disney under siege…Both people agreed to discuss the book’s contents with The New York Times, but requested anonymity, fearing reprisals from either top Disney executives or executives at Simon & Schuster.

Says the fishbowlNY reader, who requested anonymity, perhaps fearing reprisals from the anonymous New York Times sources who fear reprisals:

what would those “reprisals” look like? Dopey would show up with a hatchet? Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss and David McCullough would view you unfavorably in the context of American history?

We were going to Photoshop a pic of Dopey with a hatchet, but we feared reprisals from Disney’s intellectual property lawyers.

Much Ado About What’s in a Book [NYT]

“Or maybe we’ll just write them a strongly worded letter…”

un_building.jpgFishbowl must have heard this wrong, somehow. But the AP says that the UN will report tomorrow that the slaughter in the Sudanese region of Darfur wasn’t genocide. Kofi Annan said that while the tens of thousands of murders, ethnic cleansings and rapes don’t quite qualify, “there is no doubt that serious crimes have been committed.”

When Kofi fired his longtime second-in-command Syed Iqbal Riza (he who made his boss pay special attention to Rwanda, as well) last December, the GS promised to shake things up. And so, after exactly 11 days on the job as the UN’s new official voice to the press, former UNDP head Mark Malloch Brown is about to get his first facial egg sandwich. We don’t think the flacks in the Press & Public Affairs Section have been fired yet. But Mark: After letting your boss go this wrong before the official news is even out, you might want to think about it.

Fishbowl LA Presents: Therapist Reviews

frued.jpg Do you like your shrink? Do you not like your shrink? Does he or she have any annoying habits? How’s the waiting room? As a consumer service to media professionals, FishbowlLA will be compiling reviews of Southern California psychiatrists and publishing them, Zagat-style, on the blog. Email your review here or in the anonymous tip box.

Santa Barbara to the Media: Pay for Jacko Access!

The Los Angeles Times reports that Santa Barbara County is asking news organizations covering the Michael Jackson trial to come up with a total of around $800,000 to defray the expenses the county will incur through having all those journalists and camera crews to deal with. The costs break down to about $125/day for newspapers and about $300/day for national tv crews- much much more than the Peterson trial.


bwcover.gifWe hear that Steve Adler’s impending arrival at BusinessWeek has a few BW bureaucrats who may have been eyeing his job looking to jump ship (lest they get pushed, perhaps?) And if Adler cleans house, who stays and who goes? More info? Send to

Media Classifieds: Wiener Dog for Free. Froelich Not Included

karldog.gifPage Six’s Paula Froelich is giving away her wiener dog, Karl. Something about commitmentphobia. (Froelich: “I think I freaked out when someone looked at me and said, ‘You know, they live for like 17 years,’ and i thought, ‘What?! I’ll be 48 when this guy goes? Shit!…but I DO love the guy and am now committed. kind of.”) So if anyone wants a wiener dog, send inquiries to

Martha vs. Mini-Martha: The countdown

2b-lyne.jpgEver so subtly, New York Magazine just fired the starter’s pistol in the approaching race for control of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in the most recent issue…all without saying so directly, of course. But for you catfight addicts, mark your calendars for March 6th, which is the day when Martha once again can breathe Connecticut air, albeit in her own house, for a while yet. Do you all think that Susan Lyne, the company’s CEO-by-circumstance, will simply step aside?

Lyne was founding editor of Premiere, back when the magazine actually had teeth and was able to lead the (then far smaller) pack of similar books. As correcty referenced in NY Mag, she understands the value of being charming, rather than using the Martha brass knuckles. So who’s your money on, Dear Reader? A survivor from both the Disney-neutered ABC or the street fighter who’s already prepping her new Mark Burnett-produced reality show?

Advantage: Martha. Even if Alderson isn’t Andersonville, she’s still tougher than anybody. And she can’t wait to concentrate on her salad.

Purple fingers: the most precise matrix analyzing the cost

2.jpgWhether you’re cheering the new pictures of voters in the new wire-guided Iraqi democracy, or think they’ll soon be replaced by something far grislier and none of this was worth it, you can all stop arguing about the precise cost. tells Fishbowl that as of today, 1,606 soldiers have died there in 684 days, breaking that news down in as fragmented a piece as you can bear to read.

Incidentally, when will major NY papers and wire services stop waiting for official Pentagon excuses about why those helicopters keep crashing over there? You think a Sea Stallion plummets and kills over 30 people because the sand filters on the rotors break down? No, a shoulder-launched missile will do that. icasualties is the only open-source outlet that also cross-references all up-to-the-minute news about what network pundits present weeks later as “shocking new numbers.” Memo to Chris Matthews: They won’t be new by then.

The Movement to Repatriate Walter Isaacson