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Archives: April 2007

Christopher Hitchens: Va. Tech Shootings A ‘Non-Story’

hitchens_vatech.jpgVirginia Tech was a “non-story,” no more important than news of a “traffic accident.” Magazine editors should be ashamed of themselves for not publishing the Danish cartoons. Anna Nicole was a “fat slut.” Religion “poisons everything.”

Oh, and women? They still aren’t funny.

Some words of wisdom offered by Vanity Fair contributing editor, author, National Magazine Award finalist and newly-ordained American citizen Christopher Hitchens at the American Society of Magazine Editors’ annual board meeting/luncheon at the Princeton Club this afternoon in New York.

Hitchens, politely grilled by Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, sounded off on everything from Imus to Saddam to George Tenet in front of a roomful of magazine editors, but his comments about the slain Virginia Tech students seemed to be the most provocative.

“Virginia Tech is a non-story,” said the British-born Hitchens, who said he took his oath as a U.S. citizen earlier in the day. “There were no implications” of anything bigger, explained Hitchens, who compared the shootings to a “traffic accident.” When one editor suggested the massacre pushed gun control to the forefront of the American conversation, Hitchens argued that the laws in Virginia were adequate — shooting people is already illegal, Hitchens said.

Weisberg suggested Hitchens — whose latest book, god is not great: How Religion Poisons Everything is out tomorrow — was a provacateur; Hitchens bristled. As a journalist, your job is to “take nothing on faith,” he said.

When asked about his controversial piece in which Hitchens argued women are not funny, he pointed to male friends who “would not have a prayer of getting laid without being amusing.”

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Daily News Claims Victory Over Post


The latest newspaper circulation numbers are out, and the Daily News wasted little time in claiming victory over its arch-rival Post in New York-area circulation, which the News defines as “31 counties in the New York metropolitan area,” topping the Post by 60,000 copies. Despite the grim state of the industry, both the Post and Daily News posted overall circ gains.

The Wall Street Journal and (#2 nationwide) and USA Today (#1) were the only other two newspapers to post percentage gains in the top 10. The New York Times (#3) dropped roughly two percent.

The Post, though, still holds a razor-thin lead on the Daily News in overall circulation. The News‘ proclamation comes six months after the last circ report, when the Post blasted a historic headline after it surpassed the News for the first time.

Still, it’s a weird time to claiming any sort of victory, considering how grim the industry’s overall numbers appear. Circulation for the Star Ledger and Newsday, for instance, dropped plunged six percent.

The top 25:

1. USA TODAY 2,278,022; (+0.23%)
2. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2,062,312; (+0.61%)
3. NEW YORK TIMES, 1,120,420; (-1.93%)
4. LOS ANGELES TIMES, 815,723; (-4.24%)
5. NEW YORK POST, 724,748; (+7.63%)
6. NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 718,174; (+1.37%)
7. WASHINGTON POST, 699,130; (-3.47%)
8. CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 566,827; (-2.12%)
9. HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 503,114; (-2.00%)
10. ARIZONA REPUBLIC 433,731; (-1.14%)

Read more

Fox & Friends Reports Fake Story As News

The real story: Caucasian students at Lewiston High School in Lewiston, Maine left a ham steak on a cafeteria table to offend Somali teens.

The fake story: An article on Associated Content, a site of user-generated content, reported that L-town students put a ham sandwich on the table to anger the Somalis. The story included humorous made-up quotes from superintendent Leon Levesque and Stephen Wessler, the executive director of the Center for Prevention of Hate Violence.

Fox News then aired at least eight segments referencing Associated Content’s article.

On Tuesday, Fox & Friends reported these parody quotes and details as actual news. Poking fun at the students, hosts asked whether ham was “a hate crime… or lunch?” and showed screen shots of ham sandwiches, starving Somalians, belching, animal noises, and mock “reenactments” of the incident. Ironically, the hosts assured viewers several times, “We’re not making this up!”

“Fair and Balanced” for sure — even if it’s fake.

FBLA 20 Questions: Jim Mendiola

mendiola.jpg Writer/director Jim Mendiola has an impressive list of credentials, including awards for his film, Pretty Vacant, about a Sex Pistols obsessed Chicana punk rocker. He’s now working on other equally impressive projects — including the new, hilariously named blog, Ken Burns Hates Mexicans.

He took some time out of his travel schedule today to answer a few of our patently stupid questions:

1.What newspapers do you read? LAT, NYT, San Antonio Express News (online)

2.Which ones do you move your lips to while reading? Any George Will column.

3. Which Web sites (aside from Fishbowl LA, of course) are on your favorites bookmark?
thinkprogress, crooks and liars, john august screenwriting blog, hasta los gatos quieren zapatos, jeff chang’s can’t stop won’t stop, status ain’t hood, Daniel Hernandez,,

4. Where do you get your car washed? Outside on the street when it rains.

5. Do you know your dentist’s first name? I think it’s Jeff.

6. Do you believe newspapers are going to die? If so, when? I hope not. i like reading them at the Starbucks in the Lucy’s on sunset. And on planes. I like that they don’t need batteries.

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You’re Welcome


We don’t seek to right wrongs … we just seek to write wrongs. And so we wrote, ad naseum, about how wrong it was for NBC to cancel our favorite show. Well, looks like we effected change: Studio 60 will return for six episodes on May 24. (OK, so we had nothing to do with this, but we’re going to take credit for it, anyway.)

Radar: ‘If Phil Spector is Found Innocent, He’ll Be the New OJ’

01-phil-spector-73985940_10.jpgWant an unflinching peek into the wacko, gun-brandishing, cape-wearing past of Phil Spector? Sure ya do.

New York Times Building Sold: $525 Million


Tishman Speyer is selling the NYT‘s old building on 43rd street to Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev for about $525 million, almost three times what the former company paid for the spot in 2004.

Unrelated to the sale, the paper is moving down the street to a beautiful new skyscraper. Sounds like a pretty good trade to us.


  • Maybe It’s Time For The Times To Start Covering Leview [Room Eight]
  • Letter About The Editor: Mark Arax Vents

    aremenianflag.jpgMark Arax, who got into a bit of trouble with the top brass at the LAT last week for appearing to be biased in coverage about the Armenian genocide, sent this memo to colleagues today, demanding a public apology from Doug Frantz:

    [Update: We hear Arax is on the "short list" of reporters who will be "encouraged" to take the buyout. Sources say this memo -- and all the rest of the hubub -- is his way of protecting his job.]

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am not sure about the timing of writing you. In no way do I want my personal issue to add to the turmoil inside the Times. But as I’ve watched our newspaper respond to my issue over the past several days, I’ve come to conclude that it raises troubling questions that go right to the heart of what we do and how we do it. I know of no other way to explain the matter to you than to proceed straight with logic.

    I have been accused by Doug Frantz of having an opinion on the Armenian genocide. “Are you now or have you ever been a believer in the Armenian Genocide?” Of the numerous accusations that Frantz has thrown my way over the past month, this one I am happy to plead guilty to. Yes, I have a stance on the Armenian genocide. I believe it happened. And I am gratified to know that my newspaper believes it happened, as well. So here is the dilemma at hand: What is our obligation when this same newspaper, in stories from Istanbul in 2004 and 2005, begins to contradict its policy on the genocide? What is a reporter to do when members of the Armenian community — judges, politicians, civic leaders — start calling and demanding to know why the newspaper is suddenly throwing qualifiers in front of the word “genocide?”

    Read more

    Rosie’s Options | Why Bloomberg Can’t Be President | Zinczenko’s Bright Star | Howard Stern On Imus | Stealing From Radar


    • Where Will Rosie: Land? [NYP]
    • Bloomberg For President: Will “never happen.” [The Week]
    • The Z Man: Takes over New York media. [Marketwatch]
    • Shock Jock: Glad Imus is gone. [[Daily Intel]
    • Did A Chilean Mag: Steal Radar‘s “Toxic Bachelor” story? [NYT]

    Media Events: 04.30.07

    big_papi_book.jpgParties, panels and other notable media gatherings

    MONDAY 04.30.07

    WHO: Don Cheadle and John Prendergast
    WHAT: Not on Our Watch: A Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond
    WHEN: 7:00PM
    WHERE: Barnes & Noble, 33 E 17th St
    WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Co-written by A-list actor Cheadle and activist Prendergast, the book takes yet another long hard look at the crisis in the Sudan and gives ideas for how you can get involved. And yes, because Don Cheadle rules.

    WHO: David Ortiz
    WHAT: Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits, book signing
    WHEN: 12:00PM
    WHERE: Barnes & Noble, 555 Fifth Avenue
    WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Big Papi? Book-signing? In New York? Perfect.

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