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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gimme Shelter (Cat)

It's man/cat love but it's not wrong. Zoe, shelter cat--previously featured to wide popularity looking out window at deer and turkeys--turning 3 next month.

Paul Williams, 'Crawdaddy!' Founder, Dies

UPDATE   NYT tonight with full obit on Paul, including quotes from my friend Peter Knobler, who was editor at Crawdaddy for nearly all of the 1970s while I served as #2.

Earlier: After years of suffering from dementia, Paul Williams, who founded "the first magazine to take rock 'n roll seriously," Crawdaddy!, has died at the age of 64, his wife Cindy Lee Berryhill reports here.   As some know, I was senior editor at Crawdaddy! for nearly all of the 1970s.  Paul had founded the magazine in 1967, a year before Jann Wenner had the bright idea for Rolling Stone, while still a student at Swarthmore.   He wrote the earliest "modern" rock essays and reviews--perhaps the most famous on Brian Wilson and his aborted Smile project--and gave a start to many of the legendary names of the genre from the late-1960s.   Hence he was often called "The Father of Rock Criticism."

Not exactly a businessman, he sold the magazine within a few years, but we hired him to write a monthly column and some features (I especially recall a cover story on the Stones and a fantastic interview with my man Leonard Cohen) around 1973, and he often visited our office at 13th Street and Fifth Avenue in the Village.   Ray Mungo was his good friend then and Paul also wrote quite a bit for us on various ecology and travel adventures.  I edited Paul's pieces along with the monthly columns of his friend David G. Hartwell, Paul Krassner and Williams Burroughs.

Paul was a gentle, soft-spoken, not without ego, guy.  Our version of Crawdaddy! folded in 1979, and Paul later re-claimed the name and published it as a "zine."  Among many other projects, he started documenting every concert Dylan ever performed. He sold it again in 2003 and it lasted until 2011 as an online magazine.  He was, among other interesting things, executor of Philip K. Dick's estate.  He also sang on John and Yoko's "Give Peace a Chance. " A bicycle accident in the 1990s may had led to early onset dementia.  Many musicians played benefits to raise money for his care in recent years. 

His early essay on Procol Harum's first album from 1967 might not be his greatest piece but  at least it gives you an idea of why this form of writing--about, of all things,  rock 'n roll--was so new.  I also recall a piece on Neil Young that "blew my mind." Here's young Neil Young and rare Brian doing "Surf's Up" from original Smile.

Another White Supremacist Hit?

Disturbing and scary story out of Texas where D.A. and wife slain in their home--shortly after assistant murdered.  And possible link to another white supremacist assassination.   Also angle of how little guns protect you if someone really...gunning...for you: this guy boasted that he was fully armed and careful and former soldier.
The killings came less than two weeks after Colorado’s prison chief was gunned down at his front door by a white-supremacist ex-convict, and two months after Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was shot to death in a parking lot a block from his office Jan. 31. No arrests have been made in Hasse’s slaying.

Soul Stirring for Easter

A good day to recall that Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, 1951-1956, among five greatest contributions to American music of past decades.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

'NYT' Caves on 'Beef Stroganoff'

It was a Twitter firestorm all day--that NYT obit for a female rocket scientist that led with her cooking and motherly abilities.  Even Public Ed. Margaret Sullivan complained about it on Twitter.  Now it's been changed!  Where's the beef?  Gone.  Now that little rocket scientist detail is at top.  See it all here. Current Times obit online here, but the original did run in print. But why was that stroganoff so "mean"? And they didn't even publish a recipe.

UPDATE  Interesting mini-backlash, as some express unhappiness--again via Twitter--that the Times would give in so easy to readers' complaints when story was not in error.  Also, takes creativity away from writers--will fear that they can't try unusual approaches.  And more.   Typical tweet:  "I am conflicted here; I think the new lead is better, but admit the idea of writing by popular consent spooks me." Your thoughts?

Greg Mitchell's book "So Wrong For So Long," on media misconduct and the Iraq war, was published this month in an updated edition and for the first time as an e-book.

Another Music Legend Dies

Last night it was ace session guitarist Hugh McCracken.   Today it's producer Phil Ramone, age 79.  His work as an engineer went as far back as Lesley Gore and "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" in the 1960s but he rose to fame--and many interviews with Crawdaddy when I was there-- as producer of Paul Simon's classic Still Crazy After All These Years.  Also worked with everyone from Billy Joel and Aretha and jazz greats.  No relation to The Ramones.  Below, interview with Phil:

Beethoven's 'Single Breath'

Beth Levin's recent live performances of Beethoven's final three piano sonatas--the Everests of the form--were widely hailed.  Now a new CD, excerpts below.  I saw Mitsuko Uchida do them live at Carnegie about three years ago, playing them one after the other after asking for no applause or bows between them.  A single breath.

My 'Wash Post' Dispute, Re-Visited

"Listening Post" from AJE with a segment just posted, see below, on U.S. mea culpas (or lack of) and 10th anniversary of Iraq war, including a bit on Wash Post killing my article and running that "media didn't fail" piece last week.   Special guest appearance by yours truly.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hugh McCracken, Session Man, Dies

One of the legendary session guitarists of the past 45 years, Hugh McCracken has died.  He worked with a Who's Who on some of their best albums, including John and Paul, Steely Dan, Loudon, Dr. John and and on.   Credits are not quite clear but he might have provided one of the most famous guitar bits of the 1960s, for Van the Man's "Brown-Eyed Girl."  Below that, playing rhythm guitar on B.B.'s "The Thrill Is Gone."

Vincent's Birthday

Arrives tomorrow.  Born in 1853.  Below my photo of the church he painted in Auvers, shortly before his death--and just down the hill from where he is now buried (next to Theo).  I've colorized the sky in homage.  My photo blog here.

Hiroshima Truthers!

Now maybe the greatest conspiracy theory ever!  Of course, I say this as someone who has written two books and maybe 200 articles on the atomic bombings of 1945.  It seems The Bomb wasn't used--and still doesn't work! With photo proof! And reference to the bomb "allegedly:dropped on Nagasaki! "Hiroshima and Nagasaki were simply destroyed by US conventional napalm, carpet, morning 3 to 5 a.m., terror bombing raids by 300 - 400 B-29 planes."  Yet North Korea and even Oliver Stone have fallen for the hoax!

In contrast see my book Atomic Cover-Up.  Yes, there was truth suppressed--but it came after real atomic bombs were used. 

My Neighbor, a Baldwin, Pleads Guilty

Yes, the rightwing, uber-Christian, maybe not-so-talented Baldwin, Stephen, lives a block away as the crow flies--there goes the neighborhood!--and was once notorious locally for picketing a would-be sex video store.  Then he got arrested and faced felony charges--as an unusual suspect in these parts--for not paying his state taxes for several years.   Our local Patch reports a happy day,  sort of,  for Steve.  He pleads guilty but gets to avoid four years in prison. That's his mug shot left--one of classiest ever!

Another for Good Friday

Richard and Linda Thompson, very electric 1970s "Calvary Cross." 

Baseball, Photos, Books, Beethoven

Hey, what else really matters?  So for a slow Good Friday, here are links to some of my other pages here:  My collection of very arty, centuries-old baseball cards.  My photo blog with images I somehow captured around the world in recent years.  Links for about a dozen of my books.  And my Roll Over, Beethoven blog.

That Controversial WikiLeaks Doc

Just posted, first trailer for Alex Gibney doc, coming at end of May.  WikiLeaks, allies and Assange have already denounced it strongly, Gibney defended.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Adam Lanza's Gun Case

UPDATE:    Don't miss NYT graphic of what the ammo collection and other gun-related things looked like in the Lanza arsenal.

Earlier: We've known for months about the number of weapons and ammo that Adam Lanza took from the case in the home he shared with his mother (after shooting her dead)  to Sandy Hook Elementary School.   But contents of search warrants have just been released and here's a sheet below (larger view here)  showing the partial contents of the gun case he left behind--including boxes and boxes of ammo, plus protective gear.  There's so much it's "continued on next page" (see here) where we see listed a rifle, more ammo, and "Adam Lanza's National Rifle Association certificate."  That might not be a membership card but a certificate that he had attended an NRA class.

Also found: "NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting" book. Three samurai swords.  And: "Among the other items seized were a holiday card containing a check from his mother to buy a firearm, an article from The New York Times about a school shooting at Northern Illinois University and three photographs of what appeared to be a dead person covered with plastic and blood."

Good Morning, America

Today's image from my photo blog.  From my front yard.  If you haven't checked out my photo blog, go here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'Bungling' the Invasion

My new piece at The Nation:  How the U.S. media, 10 years ago, 'bungled" coverage of the early days of the Iraq war. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

At the Fifth Anniversary

Reader reminded me that I was on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman when my Iraq book (just out in edition updated to yesterday) first came out.  Might be interesting to judge commentary then vs. now.

And Then Along Came...Many

When he died recently, and a few obits appeared, most of us--even folks who worked at Crawdaddy (e.g. me)--had never heard his name for decades, if ever.  Tandyn Almer.  Who?  Seems that he wrote the classic early pot song "Along Comes Mary" for The Association around 1966, and then pretty much disappeared, first from the charts, then...in every way.  Interesting cat.  Also invented "the perfect bong." (James Franco, take notice.)  Now there's a New Yorker piece and a likely very uneven collection of his demos.   Didn't know he co-wrote two very good post-Brian Beach Boys songs, "Marcella" and "Sail on Sailor."

Hello, Marianne

Who knew? There's an entire book about one of the great love stories--Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen.  Also: a radio broadcast where both of them speak.  And: Marianne seems to have just joined Facebook.   Most importantly:  Leonard is still doing the classic song in concert.  I haven't seen him do it since the mid-1970s but will be there for it at Radio City in a few days.   Below, from 1979. Bonus: Leonard's son Adam does it recently in London.

Hysteria in Tennesse: Muslim 'Foot Bath' Discovered in Capitol!

Panic ensues until it is discovered as....a mop thingy.   I can't do better than quote from part of AP (not Onion) story.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Sometimes a mop sink is just a mop sink.  In Tennessee, legislative staffers and building managers have sought to reassure a few concerned lawmakers that recent state Capitol renovations didn't install special facilities for Muslims to wash their feet before praying. State officials say a new sink is instead meant to make it easier for custodial staff to fill buckets and clean mops.
Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey said he had been approached by two lawmakers to inquire about a new basin, which replaced a utility sink that had been mounted higher on the wall.
State Sen. Bill Ketron said he had asked about the change after being approached about it by a fellow Republican, Rep. Judd Matheny.

Iraq War Coverage by BBC: What Americans Missed

Ten years ago tomorrow, amid all of the flag-waving TV coverage of the Iraq invasion in the U.S., Howard Kurtz wrote a piece for The Washington Post on how one arm of the BBC was covering the war a lot more objectively, even with the Brits very much a part of it (and the network funded by the government), and drawing much criticism.   See the quotes re: Andrew Sullivan, who at least turned against the war and just last week apologized again for his hawkishness.   An excerpt below, after Kurtz noted that the tone of BBC World was "so different from that of the American networks that it sometimes seems to be examining a different
The key, BBC News Director Richard Sambrook says from London, is "not having a particular country's agenda or values at the forefront of what we're doing. We try to take an international approach to the news, to a greater extent than any of the U.S. nets. We try to build in a perspective from other Arab countries."
This cover-all-sides style, even as British troops are under fire, has brought the BBC a steady fusillade of criticism.
"The Beeb is a mandatory government-run service staffed with the usual people who go into government-run media, i.e. left-wing hacks," British expatriate Andrew Sullivan writes on his Web site. "The BBC is increasingly perceived, even by sympathetic parties, as the voice in part of the anti-war forces. . . . How the Beeb ceased to become an objective news source and became a broadcast version of The Nation is one of the great tragedies of modern journalism."
At the same time, says Sambrook, some British officials have fired off faxes, saying that "we need to point out more strongly than we are the history of human rights abuses under Saddam Hussein. They don't think we give enough emphasis to the wrongs of the enemy."
The stark contrast of the understated British tone makes the American broadcasts seem flag-waving and patriotic. The underlying assumption in these broadcasts seems to be that the U.S. of A. is fighting for a just cause, and the embedded correspondents, while providing unvarnished reports, are openly sympathetic to our fighting men and women...
 Katty Kay, a Washington correspondent for the BBC, says there's been no shortage of criticism in this country "that the American media has been trying to sell the war. Perhaps the BBC all along has been questioning both sides on whether the war was justified.
"British journalism has a culture of being quite critical and quite aggressive in our interviews of politicians and officials," Kay says. When Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush's closest ally on Iraq, took questions at the White House, "the toughest questions to President Bush all came from British journalists, not the White House press corps."
This attitude permeates the BBC's sober coverage, which does not feature a parade of retired generals or emotional interviews with families of injured soldiers. On "Breakfast News," a morning show seen only in Britain, anchor Natasha Kaplinsky began a discussion with her "defence correspondent" by saying: "Let's talk about the politicians and how they're manipulating public perceptions."

My Photo Blog

Haven't posted this link here in quite awhile.  Check it out--my fairly recent photos from around (some of) the world.  Today's pick below.

10 Years Ago: Poll Found Most Blacks Opposing Iraq Invasion

As I continue to look back on coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq  11 years ago, I came across this NYT report from this week in 2003 (a few days into the attack) on a new Times/CBS poll measuring public support for war just after it began.  There's a lot to chew on but here are two highlights:

--You've no doubt seen all the recent media reports on how "everyone" backed the war so-don't-blame-us.  The poll, for one thing, finds quite a racial gap:  only about 4 in 10 blacks backed the invasion.

--After we went to war, some Americans were shocked that the Iraqis were mounting much of a resistance at all.   The number who thought the war (which would drag on for, oh, eight years) would go very easily was already plunging.
''I think I was living in a pipe dream thinking no one would get killed,'' Shirley Johnson, 79, a registered Republican from Davenport, Iowa, said in a follow-up interview. ''But all of a sudden people were getting killed, and I was horrified.''  Pam Wallman, 60, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said, ''I think the American public was duped into believing that our troops could just go in there, clean everything up and come home in 10 days.''
Americans said Mr. Bush had failed to give them enough information about how long the war might last, how much it might cost and how many Americans might die in the effort. They also said Mr. Bush had failed to detail how the administration would manage a postwar Iraq. 
Greg Mitchell’s new edition of So Wrong for So Long includes a preface by Bruce Springsteen, a new introduction and a lengthy afterword.

Favorite Line Cut from 'Wash Post' Piece

As you may know, the Post rejected my piece on Iraq and the 10th anniversary a few days ago, and quite a flap has ensued, but even before that I had to cut some of the article for space.  This quote from Bob Simon, the veteran CBS correspondent, from the Bill Moyers special on the media and the war, always amazed me:
Bob Simon, who had strong doubts about evidence for war, was asked by Moyers if he pushed any of the top brass at CBS to "dig deeper," and he replied, "No, in all honesty, with a thousand mea culpas, I don't think we followed up on this." Instead he covered the marketing of the war in a "softer" way, explaining to Moyers: "I think we all felt from the beginning that to deal with a subject as explosive as this, we should keep it, in a way, almost light – if that doesn't seem ridiculous."
Moyers then repeated, "Going to war--almost light," as Simon nods.

Greg Mitchell’s new edition of So Wrong for So Long includes a preface by Bruce Springsteen, a new introduction and a lengthy afterword with updates right up to Bradley Manning’s hearing last month.  

New Edition of My Book on Iraq War (and Media Failures) Published This Week!

And it's expanded and updated--right up to this week--and in e-book form for the first time.  Still with the Bruce Springsteen preface.  The popular book, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits--and the President--Failed on Iraq, is now on sale at just $3.39 for next two days.   Covers the war, and the media misconduct, from the "run-up" to the "surge," plus a new Introduction and lengthy Afterword that traces the tragedy right up to last month's Bradley Manning hearing.  It's all here: from Judy Miller to Valerie Plame (plus Stephen Colbert's Bush roast).  E-book works with Kindle, iPads, phones, etc. with free apps.  Here are some blurbs.

"Greg Mitchell has given us a razor-sharp critique of how the media and the government connived in one of the great blunders of American foreign policy. Every aspiring journalist, every veteran, every pundit—and every citizen who cares about the difference between illusion and reality, propaganda and the truth, and looks to the press to help keep them separate—should read this book. Twice." — Bill Moyers

“The profound failure of the American press with regard to the Iraq War may very well be the most significant political story of this generation. Greg Mitchell has established himself as one of our country's most perceptive media critics, and here he provides invaluable insight into how massive journalistic failures enabled the greatest strategic disaster in the nation's history.” — Glenn GreenwaldGuardian writer and author of A Tragic Legacy.

“Worthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books.”-- Kirkus Reviews

"Anyone who cares about the integrity of the American media should read this book. Greg Mitchell asks tough questions about the Iraq war that should have been asked long ago, in a poignant, patriotic, and thoughtful dissection of our war in Iraq. Mitchell names names and places blame on those who’ve blundered. Examining the most complex issue of our time, he connects the dots like no one else has." — Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America

"Excellent book!" --  Bruce Springsteen

"A handy companion.  What he succeeds in doing is laying out a five-year, month-by-month chronicle of how correspondents and pundits were duped, while he intermingles their misplaced observations with those rare, shining moments of press prescience." -- David Friend, Vanity Fair

"What's so interesting about this book is it's almost a diary, a journal,  of how the false foundation was built for the war." --Amy Goodman

"Greg Mitchell makes it clear that Iraq is a case study in bad judgment, from the misguided moves of an administration blinded by its zealotry to a complacent media that too often acted as an extension of the White House press office. Read it and weep; read it and get enraged; read it and make sure it doesn't happen again." — Arianna Huffington

"In war truth is too often the first casualty, and it is not just a President or a Secretary of Defense or assorted official spokesmen who do the killing. Our brothers and sisters in the media also participate in the execution. Greg Mitchell has taken that as his lesson and in so doing has done a service to future generations in our business." --Joseph Galloway, military reporter and co-author, We Were Soldiers Once...and Proud

Monday, March 25, 2013

Update on 'Wash Post' vs. Mitchell vs. 'Wash Post'

Fun:  Charles P. Pierce covers uproar over the Post killing my piece and running media "didn't fail" on Iraq piece.  My new Nation piece.   Huff Post still has it atop its main Media page under banner headline, WRONG AGAIN.  I think they are referring to the Post.   Here's excerpt from Pierce:
Here's my broader analytical point -- everyone associated with The Washington Post editorial page -- and a lot of the executives on the news side, especially the ones that buried Walter Pincus's great work back on A13 -- are complicit in hundreds of thousands of deaths, and they should all have their heads shaved, the phrase "I fcked up the world" tattooed on their scalps, and sent off to work in the wards at Walter Reed until they collapse from exhaustion. My insights are fairly well summed up by the phrase, "Shut the fck up forever."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

We Should Have Known

If you've never heard:  Once-banned Phil Spector song, "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)." 

Apparently the 'Post' Did Not 'Fail' in Covering Powell's Fateful U.N. Speech

In the wake of the major flap today over the Washington Post killing my article and running Paul Farhi's piece claiming the media "didn't fail" on Iraq, I thought it might be amusing to re-visit the paper's coveage of Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations in February 2003.  This is drawn from my new book on media malpractice and the war.
The Washington Post echoed others who found Powell's evidence irrefutable.  An editorial in the paper judged that “it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. ... Mr. Powell's evidence, including satellite photographs, audio recordings and reports from detainees and other informants, was overwhelming."
Here’s the Post’s Jim Hoagland:  "Colin Powell did more than present the world with a convincing and detailed X-ray of Iraq's secret weapons and terrorism programs yesterday. He also exposed the enduring bad faith of several key members of the U.N. Security Council when it comes to Iraq and its 'web of lies,' in Powell's phrase. ... To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make, or was taken in by manufactured evidence. I don't believe that. Today, neither should you."
That paper's liberal columnist, Mary McGrory, wrote that Powell "persuaded me, and I was as tough as France to convince." She even likened the Powell report to the day John Dean "unloaded" on Nixon in the Watergate hearings.   Another liberal at that paper, Richard Cohen, declared that Powell's testimony "had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise.”

George Will suggested that Powell's speech would "change all minds open to evidence."

That Piece Killed by the 'Post'

Due to "popular demand," based on my post last night, I'm publishing below the assigned Outlook piece that I submitted to the Washington Post on  Thursday.   I see that the Post is now defending killing the piece because it didn't offer sufficient "broader analytical points or insights."  I'll let you decide if that's true and why they might have rejected it. 

The original appeared almost word-for-word at The Nation this weekend (there I added a reference to Bob Woodward and to Bob Simon).   I had absolutely no plans to even mention that the piece was killed until late last night when I saw that Paul Farhi of the Post had written for Outlook a piece claiming that the media "didn't fail" in the run-up to the Iraq war.   That inspired me to write the post last night which has proved quite popular.

Here's the original piece as submitted.  For much more, see my new e-book.

For awhile, back in 2003, Iraq meant never having to say you’re sorry.  The spring offensive had produced a victory in less than three weeks, with a relatively low American and Iraqi civilian death toll.  Saddam fled and George W. Bush and his team drew overwhelming praise, at least here at home.

But wait.  Where were the crowds greeting us as “liberators”?  Why were the Iraqis now shooting at each other--and blowing up our soldiers?  And where were those WMDs, bio-chem labs, and nuclear materials?  Most Americans still backed the invasion, so it still too early for mea culpas--it was more “my sad” than “my bad.”
By 2004 it was clear that Saddam’s WMDs would never be found, but with another election season at hand, sorry was still the hardest word.  But a few very limited glimmers of accountability began to appear.  So let’s begin our catalog of the art of mea culpa and Iraq here.

PLAUSIBLE  DENIABILITY   President Bush and many others--including scores of Democrats--who once claimed “slam dunk” evidence  on Iraq’s WMDs now admitted that this intelligence was more below-average than Mensa.  But don’t blame them!  They simply had been misled.  Judith Miller of The New York Times, perhaps the prime fabulist in the run-up to war, explained that she was only as good as her sources--her sources having names like “Curveball” and “Red Cap Guy.”

But the news media, which for the most part had swallowed whole the WMD claims, was not facing re-election, so some self-criticism, at least of the “mistakes-were-made” variety came easier. 

THE MINI-CULPA   This phrase was coined by Jack Shafer of Slate after The New York Times published an “editors’ note” in May 2004, admitting it had publishing a few “problematic articles” (it didn’t mention any authors) on Iraqi WMDs, but pointing out it was “taken in” like most in the Bush administration.  Unlike the Times, Washington Post editors three months later did not produce their own explanation but allowed chief media reporter Howard Kurtz to write a lengthy critique.  Editors and reporters admitted they had often performed poorly but offered one excuse after another, with phrases such as "always easy in hindsight," "editing difficulties," "communication problems"  and "there is limited space on Page 1."    One top reporter said, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power. “ 

STONEWALLING   As years passed, the carnage in Iraq intensified but accepting blame for this in America was still pretty much AWOL.   President Bush and Vice President Cheney said that even if the WMD threat was bogus, they’d still do it again.  Reason:  They’d deposed a “dictator”--and would you rather have Saddam still in power?

Now let’s flash forward to this past two weeks, when Iraq (remember Iraq?) re-emerged in the news and opinion sections. But anyone who expected that hair shirts would come into fashion must have been sadly disappointed.  The “mea culpas” would not be “maxima.”  First, those who accepted some blame.

LIMITED HANGOUT STRATEGY  David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, wrote well over a thousand words at the Daily Beast describing multiple reasons for promoting the war before very briefly concluding, “Those of us who were involved—in whatever way—bear the responsibility.”  While adding: “I could have set myself on fire in protest on the White House lawn and the war would have proceeded without me.”   Jonathan Chait at New York offered regrets for backing the war but defended believing in Saddam’s WMD and recalled that “supporting the war was cool and a sign of seriousness.”  And: “The people demanding apologies today will find themselves being asked to supply apologies of their own tomorrow.”

Ezra Klein apologized in a Bloomberg column, at great length,  for supporting the war--when he was eighteen, and “young and dumb.” Charles P. Pierce at Esquire replied, “It is encouraging that he no longer believes in fairy tales.”

   Stephen Hadley, Bush’s national security adviser, wrote at Foreign Policy: “It never occurred to me or anyone else I was working with, and no one from the intelligence community or anyplace else ever came in and said, ‘What if Saddam is doing all this deception because he actually got rid of the WMD and he doesn’t want the Iranians to know?’ Now, somebody should have asked that question. I should have asked that question. Nobody did.”

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK   Thomas Friedman, famous author and New York Times columnist, admitted that the U.S. had “paid too high a price” for the 2003 invasion (which he supported, but did not now mention)  but, hey, there was still a decent chance that good would come from it--if only those ungrateful Iraqis would stop blowing each other up and form a stable democracy.   David Ignatius at the Washington Post offered his regrets but observed that at least “the surge” worked and saved lives (although Rajiv Chandraskaran at the Post calls this a “myth”).

Now for those who accepted little or no blame:

WHO, MEA?   Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy Pentagon chief, in an interview fiercely denied he was the architect of the disaster.  Afterall, “I didn’t meet with him [Bush] very often.”  The New York Times in an editorial pointed fingers at the bad actors who helped get us into the war but somehow did not recognize any “me” in “mess.” (The Washington Post got around this by not publishing an editorial on the subject at all.)   Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast blamed the war on American “hubris” but did not reveal that he (hubristically?) backed the war himself.

THAT’S MY STORY AND I’M STICKING TO IT   Dick Cheney in a new Showtime documentary said he’d do it all again. “I feel very good about it.  If I had to do it over again, I’d do it in a minute.”   Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair concurred.  Donald Rumsfeld tweeted (yes) about “liberating” 25 million Iraqis.  He failed to recall when he said the war would last at most six months.  Richard Perle, former chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, said that asking if the war was worth it was “not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation.”  

George Will on ABC: “If in 2003 we’d known what we know now — the absence of weapons of mass destruction, the difficulty of governing and occupying a society in which, once you lop off the regime, you’re going to have a civil war in a sectarian tribal society — the answer I think is obviously no.” 

BLAME IT ON THE HANDLERS   Kenneth Pollack of Brookings, one of the most influential proponents of the war, now says that he had a different war in mind and the occupation was handled incompetently, asserting, “it didn't have to be this bad.”

Greg Mitchell’s “So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits--and the President--Failed on Iraq” has just been published in an updated e-book edition.  He is the former editor of Editor & Publisher.

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

My weekly feature.  This week:  the second movement of the revolutionary Eroica symphony.

Sullivan's Trevails

If you've missed: My new profile at The Nation (print and online) of NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan.  Note: Wash Post no longer has an ombud, as of this month.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Double Failure

The Washington Post killed my assigned piece for its Outlook section this weekend which mainly covered media failures re: Iraq and the current refusal to come to grips with that (the subject of my latest book)--yet they ran this misleading, cherry-picking, piece by Paul Farhi claiming the media "didn't fail."  I love the line about the Post in March 2003 carrying some skeptical pieces just days before the war started: "Perhaps it was too late by then. But this doesn’t sound like failure."

Here's my rejected piece.  I see that the Post is now defending killing the article because it didn't offer sufficient "broader analytical points or insights."  I'll let you consider if that's true and why they might have rejected it. 

Now let's revisit my recent posts here on when probe in the Post itself by Howard Kurtz in 2004 showed that it failed big time.  For one thing, Kurtz tallied more than 140 front-page Post stories "that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq"--with all but a few of those questioning the evidence buried inside.  Editors there killed, delayed or buried key pieces by Ricks, Walter Pincus, Dana Priest and others.  The Post's David Ignatius went so far as offering an apology to readers this week for his own failures.  Also consider Bob Woodward's reflections here and here.   He admitted he had become a willing part of the the "groupthink" that accepted faulty intelligence on the WMDs.

Woodward, shaming himself and his paper, once said it was risky for journalists to write anything that might look silly if WMD were ultimately found in Iraq.  Rather than look silly, they greased the path to war.   “There was an attitude among editors: Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all the contrary stuff?" admitted the Post's Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks in 2004.  And this classic from a top reporter, Karen DeYoung:  “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.“  See my review, at the time, of how the Post fell (hook, line, and sinker) for Colin Powell's fateful U.N. speech--and mocked critics.  Not a "fail"?

In Farhi's piece, Len Downie, the longtime Post editor, is still claiming, with a shrug, hey, we couldn't have slowed or halted the war anyway.  Farhi agrees with this.  Nothing to see here, move along.

Kurtz last week called the media failure on Iraq the most egregious in "modern times," which echoes my book.  This week neither the Post nor The New York Times published an editorial admitting any shortcomings in their Iraq coverage.   Back in 2003, the Times at least called for caution in invading Iraq, in editorials.  On the other hand, as Bill Moyers pointed out, in the six months leading up to the U.S. attack on the Iraq, the Post "editorialized in favor of the war at least 27 times."

Greg Mitchell's book "So Wrong For So Long," on media misconduct and the Iraq war, was published this month in an updated edition and for the first time as an e-book, with preface by Bruce Springsteen. 

The Real Phil

Amazingly bizarre Phil Spector appearance with Merv Griffin in 1965, complete with LSD reference, a shockingly young Richard Pryor (who sort of sings), Wally Cox, Eartha Kitt, some gun talk,  and more.  Audience boos.  Eartha lectures him, quoting Socrates.  Phil quotes Dylan, then says, "I'm not Walt Disney." BTW, yes I still have copy of angry nutty letter Phil sent me in '70s when I was at Crawdaddy--signed in crayon.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Amazing LBJ Tapes Revealed

At long last the final White House tapes from the Johnson years are released and they cover his final year in office, 1968--and as the BBC reports, there are several shockers. 

One key story is not really new--that Nixon sabotaged the Vietnam peace talks, although here we learned that LBJ considered this "treason" and that Nixon had "blood on his hands." But how about this new thing?  When Johnson saw the violence outside the Chicago convention in 1968 (yes, I was there) he called Mayor Daley, congratulated him on his crackdown--and said he wanted to get back in the race for President and would even fly to Chicago to claim the crown!  Daley told him he could swing the party to him, but LBJ finally pulled back when the Secret Service could not guarantee his safety.   Humphrey got the nod and then lost to the "treasonous" Tricky Dick.

50 Years Ago Today, Still: Who Killed Davey Moore?

Cool story from L.A. Review of Books, about death of boxer who inspired Dylan protest song.  The entire fight here.

What a Planet!

Amazing time-lapse video of Earth from Int'l Space Station.  See if you can pick out your continent or city.

Time-Lapse | Earth from Bruce W. Berry Jr on Vimeo.

Taking the 'Mea' Out of the 'Mea Culpa' on Iraq

My new piece at The Nation reviews the good, the bad and the ugly in this week's (b)lame game.

Obama, Ono and John

The president, appreciative of Yoko Ono's efforts to curb gun violence, RTed her message and photo of John Lennon's blood-stained glasses.   Harry Reid take note.  UPDATE: Yoko explains why she did it in NYT story.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pepper Spray Torture--in the USA

Amazing story today out of Maine, where the Portland daily paper has published an account of a prisoner being pepper-sprayed by prison staffers in June 2012--despite already being restrained in a chair.  And: They have the two-hour video to prove it.  And:  They have posted the entire video on their site.   Now the law wants to find out how they got the leak.  This goes way beyond "don't taze me, bro."  See key excerpt below.

Greg Mitchell’s new edition of his acclaimed book on Iraq and the media,  "So Wrong for So Long", includes a preface by Bruce Springsteen, a new introduction and a lengthy afterword with updates right up to this month.  

Back on the Beast Coast

Home from L.A. --only 30 degrees colder in NY.   Snow on the tround.  Favorite L.A. store name spotted on trip: "World of Leggings."  Light posting continues for a bit, though, as I have story due this afternoon.  My new Nation piece on Chris Hedges ten years ago predicting pretty much what would go wrong in Iraq--in the streets and with the media. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sandy Hook Outrage Comes to Nothing

And you probably heard about Michael Moore's rant vs. Harry Reid last night on Piers Morgan show.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

That 'NYT' Mini-Culpa On Iraq: Updated

UPDATE:  The 10th anniversary editorial from the Times points fingers at everyone--but the Times.  Read it and weep. Disgraceful.  To cite just one example: They rip Bush team for hyping "a nuclear arsenal that did not exist"--but do not mention that they did so in collaboration with NYT reporters.

Earlier: For the past few days I've been spotlighting the high media crimes and misdemeanors committed in the run-up to the attack on Iraq, almost exactly ten years ago, featuring "treasured" journos such as David Brooks and Bob Woodward or even newspapers as a whole (Washington Post).   But it's the NYT and Judith Miller, among others, who will truly live in infamy--partly because of the paper's outsized (perceived) influence.

It's instructive to review what happened when the paper belatedly owned up to (some) of its misdeeds, in May 2004, more than a year after its misconduct.  Jack Shafer famously called it a "mini-culpa."  Bill Keller had replaced Howell Raines as executive editor but Judy Miller (above) was still on board.  Jill Abramson now has the top job and Keller writes a column.  Michael Gordon is still a star reporter at the paper.   Miller, naturally, toils at Fox News.

The following is excerpted from my book, which was published this week in an updated, expanded e-book edition, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits--and the Media--Failed on Iraq.

After months of criticism of The New York Times' coverage of WMDS and the run-up to the war in Iraq -- mainly directed at star reporter Judith Miller -- the paper's editors, in an extraordinary note to readers this morning, finally tackled the subject, acknowledging it was "past time" they do so.     While it does not, in some ways, go nearly far enough, and is buried on Page A10, this low-key but scathing self-rebuke is nothing less than a primer on how not to do journalism, particularly if you are an enormously influential newspaper with a costly invasion of another nation at stake.

Today's critique is, in its own way, as devastating as last year's front-page corrective on Jayson Blair, though not nearly as long. Nowhere in it, however, does the name of Judith Miller appear. The editors claim that the "problematic articles varied in authorship" and point out that while critics have "focused blame on individual reporters ... the problem was more complicated."

Yet, even in the Times' own view, Miller was the main culprit, though they seem reluctant, or ashamed, to say so. This is clear in analyzing today's critique. The editors single out six articles as being especially unfortunate, and Judith Miller had a hand in four of them: writing two on her own, co-authoring the other two with Michael Gordon. The only two non-Miller pieces were the earliest in the chronology, and they barely receive mention.

While refusing to name Miller, the Times' critique plainly and persistently finds fault. In referring to one of the bogus Miller pieces, the editors explain, "it looks as if we, along with the administration, were taken in." Then, just as tellingly, they add: "And until now we have not reported that to our readers."  No kidding.

The editors observe that administration officials now acknowledge "they sometimes fell for misinformation" from exile sources.  So they note, did many news organizations, adding, "in particular, this one," an amazing admission.

Then consider this: "Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper. Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Saddam Hussein ousted. Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all."

Yet nowhere does the Times suggest that it is penalizing any editors or reporters in any way.

One of the false Miller and Gordon stories (touting the now-famous "aluminum tubes") did contain a few qualifiers, but they were "buried deep." When the pair followed up five days later they did report some misgivings by others, but these too "appeared deep in the article." When the Times finally gave "full voice" to skeptics the challenge was reported on Page A 10, but "it might well have belonged on Page A 1."

Of course, the same could be said of their note today --which also falls on Page A 10.

Another Miller article, from April 21, 2003, that featured an Iraqi scientist (who later turned out to be an intelligence officer), seemed to go out of its way to provide what the Times calls "the justification the Americans had been seeking for the invasion." But in hindsight there was just one problem: "The Times never followed up on the veracity of this source or the attempts to verify his claims."

Yet the critique ends on a hopeful note: "We consider the story of Iraq's weapons, and of the pattern of misinformation, to be unfinished business. And we fully intend to continue aggressive reporting aimed at setting the record straight."

But Executive Editor Bill Keller continued to defend the editors' note, and blamed "overwrought" critics for overreacting to the Times' WMD coverage. Asked why he finally published the editors' note, Keller (quoted in The Washington Post) replied: "Mainly because it was a distraction. This buzz about our coverage had become a kind of conventional wisdom, much of it overwrought and misinformed."

With his managing editor, Jill Abramson, he penned a memo to staffers explaining that the critique in the paper was “not an attempt to find a scapegoat or to blame reporters for not knowing then what we know now.”  So: Lesson learned?  Or not?

The problem of course was that certain reporters ignored, or only paid lip service to, evidence that “we know now” but was often (as the Knight Ridder reporters proved) also available then.

Welcome From L.A.

Still out on the left coast so light posting continues.  With 10th anniversary of launch of criminal war in Iraq, will re-post a few things and add some new ones.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

When WikiLeaks Released Iraq 'War Logs'

In this special posting, marking the 10th anniversary of launch of criminal Iraq war tomorrow, here is an excerpt from my book, The Age of WikiLeaks, covering the release of the "Iraq War Logs" more than two years ago and reaction.

The release of the Iraq documents, some 391,000 in number, was originally set for August.  But a week before that happened, Julian Assange told The Guardian’s David Leigh that he wanted a more diverse group of partners for this round, “and asked that Leigh delay publication to give the other outlets time to prepare programs,” Sarah Ellison would recount in Vanity Fair.
Leigh said he’d agree to a six-week delay if Assange handed over so-called “package three,” the biggest leak of all (which would become Cablegate). According to Leigh, Assange said, “You can have package three tonight, but you have to give me a letter signed by the Guardian editor saying you won’t publish package three until I say so.” Leigh agreed.   
On October 22, the Iraq War Logs arrived. As with the Afghan logs, WikiLeaks had obviously set a tight embargo time and coordinated the release with the news outlets carefully.   At a press conference in London, Assange said that this “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.” The 391,000 documents would set a new world record for leaks — the Afghanistan trove held a paltry 77,000 docs — but who was counting? 
These military incident and intelligence reports “are used by desk officers in the Pentagon and troops in the field when they make operational plans and prepare briefings on the situation in the war zone,” the New York Times explained. “Most of the reports are routine, even mundane, but many add insights, texture and context to a war that has been waged for nearly nine years.”
The Times posted its deep package of “War Logs” stories about 5 p.m. ET.  Arriving about the same time over in London, the Guardian’s coverage focused on shocking updates on civilian deaths in Iraq and the U.S. military’s role in allowing the torture of detainees by Iraqis.     The Times covered those subjects, too, but seemed equally interested in the role of other countries in that war, particularly Iran. 
Assange, in a CNN interview, again charged that the U.S. had committed “war crimes.”   Secretary of State Clinton quickly condemned the WikiLeaks move.
Getting in on the WikiLeaks action for the first time, Al Jazeera suggested that the real bombshell was the U.S. allowing Iraqis to torture detainees. Documents revealed that U.S. soldiers sent 1300 reports to headquarters with graphic accounts, including a few about detainees beaten to death.  Some U.S. generals wanted our troops to intervene, but Pentagon chiefs disagreed, saying these assaults should only be reported, not stopped.   At a time the U.S. was declaring that no torture was going on, there were 41 reports of such abuse still happening “and yet the U.S. chose to turn its back.”   
The New York Times report on the torture angle included this: “The six years of reports include references to the deaths of at least six prisoners in Iraqi custody, most of them in recent years. Beatings, burnings and lashings surfaced in hundreds of reports, giving the impression that such treatment was not an exception. In one case, Americans suspected Iraqi Army officers of cutting off a detainee’s fingers and burning him with acid. Two other cases produced accounts of the executions of bound detainees.

 “And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate….That policy was made official in a report dated May 16, 2005, saying that ‘if US forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted until directed by HHQ.’ In many cases, the order appeared to allow American soldiers to turn a blind eye to abuse of Iraqis on Iraqis.” 
Amnesty International quickly called on the U.S. to investigate how much our commanders knew about Iraqi torture.
A top story at the Guardian, meanwhile, opened: “Leaked Pentagon files obtained by the Guardian contain details of more than 100,000 people killed in Iraq following the US-led invasion, including more than 15,000 deaths that were previously unrecorded.
“British ministers have repeatedly refused to concede the existence of any official statistics on Iraqi deaths. U.S. General Tommy Franks claimed 'We don't do body counts.' The mass of leaked documents provides the first detailed tally by the U.S. military of Iraqi fatalities. Troops on the ground filed secret field reports over six years of the occupation, purporting to tote up every casualty, military and civilian.
“Iraq Body Count, a London-based group that monitors civilian casualties, told the Guardian:  'These logs contain a huge amount of entirely new information regarding casualties. Our analysis so far indicates that they will add 15,000 or more previously unrecorded deaths to the current IBC total. This data should never have been withheld from the public”’  The logs recorded a total of 109,032 violent deaths between 2004 and 2009.
Citing a new document,  the Times reported: “According to one particularly painful entry from 2006, an Iraqi wearing a tracksuit was killed by an American sniper who later discovered that the victim was the platoon’s interpreter….The documents...reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians—at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan.”

However, media interest in the Iraq docs was already fading, similar to what happened after the Collateral Murder and Afghan war releases.   The  editorial page of the hawkish Washington Post (a newspaper once again left out of the WikiLeaks media plan) thundered that “the mass leak, like a dump of documents on Afghanistan in the summer, mainly demonstrates that the truth about Iraq already has been told….. [T]he incidents were extensively reported by Western journalists and by the U.S. military when they occurred.”  This, of course, was true in some cases, nonsense regarding others.
Meanwhile, Assange returned to CNN for Larry King’s show, appearing with his new friend Dan Ellsberg.  King decided to bring up the Assange CNN “walk off.”  Assange replied, “We released 400,000 classified documents, the most extraordinary history of a war to have ever been released in our civilization.  Those documents cover 109,000 deaths. That's a serious matter, and it's extraordinarily disrespectful to those people to start conflating the first revelation of that material with any sort of tabloid journalism. And CNN should know better, and I believe does know better than to do that.”
Assange said that issues surrounding his personal life and the sex crime case were not proportionate to what had just been revealed in WikiLeaks' cache of Iraq war documents.  “And it is — I mean, CNN should be ashamed of doing that,” he added. “And you, Larry, you actually should be ashamed, as well.”

Go Get 'Em

More charges possible in wake of guilty verdicts in Steubenville rape trial, which I have covered since last December.  While focus has been on the two footballers, you may recall original claims about inaction of parents, coaches, maybe school officials.   The probe of the two teens brought forth plenty or other evidence about other possible wrongs and cover-ups.  And remember when coach threatened NYT reporter?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Let's Hope It's a Few Years Off

Steve Earle with Allman Brothers this week doing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

Two Footballers Guilty in Steubenville Case

Judge ruled this morning, sentencing to a juvenile facility coming (unless suspended).  If you missed, the victim did testify for two hours yesterday.   Two stories here.   "Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after an alcohol-fueled party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house. Mays was also found guilty on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material."

Friday, March 15, 2013

L.A. Means Zevon

Landed in L.A., and now looking up at Hollywood Hills from hotel window.  So, obviously, time for some Warren.


Travelin', Man

Light posting, as they say.  Enjoy your your own escape (from me).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just Another Day in Gun Nutty USA: 4 Shot Dead

Thursday update:  Police finally stormed the building this morning, exchanged gunfire, killed the man.  But not before he shot a dog sent in as part of the siege.  Still no word on his motivation.

Wednesday:  Breaking report from upstate New York, as man with "long gun" (and apparently many more such in his apartment) shoots and kills four at two different locations, seriously wounds two others, and then flees, still at large.   This is just west of Albany.  Schools in lockdown.  Police searching for white male, age 50 to 60.

Update:  Just IDed as Kurt Myers, 64, photo left.  Still on loose.  Update 4 p.m.   He's now in "standoff" with police and more shots fired.

Update 6 p.m.  Kind of a "Christopher Dorner" situation developing as alleged shooter has holed up in an abandoned bar building and police outside with battering ram vehicle and SWAT team.

Hot Chile Debate

My new piece at The Nation:  The controversy around film No and role of media spots in toppling Pinochet in Chile. 

New Pope and the Shame of Argentina

UPDATE #2  Andrew Sullivan, famed Catholic, still has questions about the Pope and torture, based on interview with author Verbitsky.  Even uses the word "Inquisition."

UPDATE #1:  The Guardian has deleted a key paragraph and run a major correction at bottom of very popular story from 2011 that it re-posted yesterday (see first link below).   Here's the correction:
The original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio's complicity in human right abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio's "holiday home". This has been corrected
Earlier:  Writer for The Guardian wrote angry piece couple of years back.  Hiding folks from visiting human rights commission?  I don't know yet full story or his (maybe) offsetting good deeds (see AP report for some of that).  But those of us of a certain age certainly recall "the disappeared" very well.  So just an excerpt:
What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentine hierarchy was any expression of regret for the church's collaboration and in these crimes. The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.
Another source here on how the Argentina bishops, unlike counterparts in Brazil, collaborated with instead of denouncing the dictators.

Greg Mitchell’s book So Wrong For So Long, on the media and the Iraq war, was published last week in an expanded edition for the first time as an e-book.   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Man Waterboards Four Kids

Fine fellow in Montana wanted to teach his two sons a lesson so he went all Cheney on them and...waterboarded them.  For good measure he did the same to two neighbor kids. What's the penalty?  Felony charges dropped and he basically got a suspended sentence. Yes, you read that right.  Also:  "Prosecutors said in court records that a witness had reported that the man had body armor, assault rifles and armor-piercing ammunition."  But walkin' free.

Don't miss this detail:   When girlfriend tried to stop him he broke her wrist.  Note to Kathryn Bigelow: Surely there's a movie in this!

 Greg Mitchell’s book So Wrong For So Long, on the media and the Iraq war, was published last week in an expanded edition for the first time as an e-book.  

Corn on Prouty

Old friend and colleague David Corn with new piece at Mother Jones explaining all you've wanted to know about his dealings with Scott Prouty, who at this moment is going public with Ed Schultz on MSNBC on why he shot and leaked the "47% video."  For example, David:
I respected his desire for privacy. He was about to commit a courageous and unprecedented act of whistle-blowing. But as we neared publication, I said I had to know his name. Do you really need it? he asked. Yes, I replied, explaining I could not publish the stories without knowing his identity. I vowed I would keep it a secret....
After the video went viral:
There was much speculation. One well-known journalist repeatedly informed me that he knew the source was a woman and requested that I put him in touch with her.

Archive of Interviews on Run-Up to Iraq War

Happy to hear today from Kent Bye, who interviewed me in 2004 for a film he was creating on how the media helped get us into the Iraq war with its "echo chamber" coverage.  He tells me that the film was never completed but he has posted transcripts of most the interviews, including one with me here.  (And video the interview here.)   He also talked with the stellar Knight Ridder reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay, Helen Thomas, Jay Rosen,  Grover Norquist, Amy Goodman, Van Jones, Michael O'Hanlon,  David Sirota, Hugh Hewitt, Steve Rendell, and on and on.  Videos here.  Obviously, a tremendous amount of insight there on what had just happened in the previous two years. 

Kent pulled out for me his exchange with longtime CBS correspondent Bill Plante:
PLANTE: [I]f you take it as a given, as I've already suggested to you that we did, that the administration was hell-bent on going to war, then you could only point out the steps that were being taken down that path. Despite the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction found, and despite the fact that the international community disagreed.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: From my perspective when I look back on it, after the vote was made on November 8th for the second resolution it seemed to be irrelevant whatever the weapons inspectors were reporting.... What would you have changed in looking back on this time period, if anything at all? Would it have been the same?
PLANTE: You're basically asking me to suggest that the news media could have done something in this case, and I don't really think that the way we operate we could have. The news media in the United States are not generally argumentative about the processes of government. They may be skeptical, and generally are, but not argumentative. It's a whole different discussion on how we see our role.
Greg Mitchell’s book So Wrong For So Long, on the media and the Iraq war, was published last week in an expanded edition for the first time as an e-book. 

Boy Shoots Parents With Dad's Gun

Same old same old, but amazing story.  Boy, 14, troubled, in state of Washington, admits he's obsessed with violent video games--and has thought about killing parents for years.  They finally take games away from him for two weeks.  Now he decides he really has to kill them.

Weapon at hand?  Of course.  He forces his dad's gun case open, takes out .22, and shoots both of folks at close range.  Cops arrive.  Though seriously wounded they tell cops they were shot by "intruder."  Only in checking house's security tape do they spot son carrying weapon.  Parents somehow survive. Bail set at $500,000.   Local TV site adds details and has video report.

Greg Mitchell’s book So Wrong For So Long, on media (and Bush) misconduct on the Iraq war, was published last week in an updated  edition for the first time as an e-book.  

Coverage of Steubenville Rape Trial

Live coverage of the Steubenville rape trial here via local TV.   Latest wrap-up here.   My summary here, as defense (surprise) blames victim. Also streaming below.  Victim in case has now said she will testify.   Apparently witnesses will be given option of not appeared in the TV feed.  UPDATE: Opening statements here.  Prosecutors accuse footballers of treating girl "like a toy," and repeatedly "degrading" her.  UPDATE #2: Local reporter with dozens of tweets re: testimony this afternoon. 

UPDATE #3  Full roundup on testimony from several teens today, establishing how impaired the victim was that fateful night.  All chose to not be covered by the live stream.   Also:  New DNA evidence presented.

Surprise: Many Top Newspapers Did Oppose Iraq War

My look back at The Nation

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Source of '47% Video' Going Public

Wow, guy who filmed (via his phone or whatever) Romney's "47% video"--then gave it to Carter and Corn--going public tomorrow on Ed Schultz's show.   Here's a brief preview, with a few words from the filmer, in which he says he did wrestle with the decision to release it.   UPDATE  Huff Post with more details, including the leaker being inspired by....Bill Clinton? At a party?  Also:  He had no health  insurance.

Greg Mitchell's book "So Wrong For So Long," on media misconduct and the Iraq war, was published today in an updated edition and for the first time as an e-book, with preface by Bruce Springsteen. 

No Pope

And the only song that fits today and until they send out the white signal, has to be The Kinks' from their mid-'60s classic album Face to Face, "Big Black Smoke."

Steubenville Rape Trial Finally Arrives

Wednesday:  Live TV of trial as it begins here.

Tuesday Update #2:  NYT tonight with its report on trial and how it's already been "heard" via social media.  And anti-sexual assault groups closely monitoring. 

Tuesday update #1:   Trial begins tomorrow. And what a shock: Defense attorney makes clear they will argue that the girl over and over "consented" to the sex acts and being carted around my young footballers.  Plus GMA and 20/20 file this report, video and text, clearly showing they are absorbing much of defense team's spin on the "consent" angle.

Earlier: I covered the case extensively in early winter, including the protests, but then it faded from view as the trial was delayed.  Meanwhile, more pressure was felt to bring charges against those who witnessed the alleged assaults and did nothing.  But they still have not been charged--possibly because prosecutors needs their testimony.  Here's a full AP report on trial (to be decided by one judge, not jury) of two alleged perps now set for this coming week.

So Now: Who Leaked the Leaker's Court Statement?

Early this morning I started covering the news of a leaked copy of Bradley Manning's recent one-hour court statement explaining why he leaked all those documents, and a key video, to WikiLeaks.  Now the guessing game begins:  Who leaked it?   One expert, Kevin Gosztola--co-author of my recent book on Manning Truth and Consequences--has now weighed in on Twitter.  Kevin has probably attended more days of Manning hearings at Ft Meade than anyone.  He tweets:  "Leaked audio couldn't have come from Ft. Meade media center. It wouldn't be clean. There'd be press noise/chatter."  So: Inside source?  Maybe another Army private?  Would be too rich.

The Telegraph now has a piece on this, excerpt:
Pfc Manning's voice sounds louder and closer than the military judge's, suggesting it was recorded in the public gallery at the back of the court. There is also no trace of the typing or discussion between journalists that usually takes place in the media centre. Members of the public are allowed to sit in on the court proceedings but must first pass through a military security checkpoint where they are checked for mobile phones or other recording devices.
Glenn Greenwald, a board member of FPF, said he had "purposefully remained completely ignorant of the identity of the source" and did not know where the recording was made.  The source approached FPF with the recording and that the group decided to release it after a discussion with its board members, Mr Greenwald told The Daily Telegraph. "We decided that it was squarely within the functions and goals of our organisation which was to bring transparency in whatever ways we can to excessive government secrecy," he said.
Watch Dan Ellsberg on Democracy Now! today talking about all this:

Watch live streaming video from democracynow at livestream.com

Audio of Bradley Manning's Statement in Court Leaked, Published

Got a wake-up call from old friend Dan Ellsberg this morning to alert me that an audio tape of Bradley Manning delivering his now famous statement in court two weeks ago, explaining his actions in leaking documents and a key video tape to WikiLeaks, had been "leaked."   Got to love that word coming from one legendary whistleblower about another.  He said the Today show would be airing it in a few minutes.  Well, Dan's sources, as we know, are usually pretty good, and sure enough, a few brief excerpts were just aired.

Turns out the tape had been recorded illegally in the courtroom and the Freedom of the Press Foundation ended up with it.  Here's the full hour-long  recording on their Web site along with their statement on why they are publishing and five-minute film mixing audio with footage.  (Huff Post also has the audio.)  The quotes used by Today were nothing we hadn't read  but as the Foundation notes, "While unofficial transcripts of this statement are available, this marks the first time the American public has heard the actual voice of Manning."   Trevor Timm of the Foundation was interviewed briefly, putting Manning in a positive light.  Ellsberg has written a full piece about it.

See my piece yesterday hitting NYT's Bill Keller for his very wrong column on Manning's motivations.  Link to transcript of Manning's statement.  My recent book on Manning  with Kevin Gosztola.

UPDATES  Glenn Greenwald with a report just up, going through Manning's statement issue-by-issue.

Ellsberg on Democracy Now! this morning slammed Keller's column this week as "ignorant, arrogant, condescending" and called him a "smart person" acting "stupid."  Also notes that importance of Manning audio is that now that the Army private has admitted his role in leaking the material he is now free to explain exactly why he did it, and put it in ethical and moral context.  Ellsberg said he did the same thing in Pentagon Papers case, admitting he did the leak and then being free to explain the need, and that fact that he had not delivered "espionage" to the enemy but facts to the American public.

Greg Mitchell's book "So Wrong For So Long," on media misconduct and the Iraq war, was published last week in an updated edition and for the first time as an e-book, with preface by Bruce Springsteen.