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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

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New Film on the Fall of Eliot Spitzer May Surprise You

Alex Gibney, who won an Academy Award for Taxi to the Dark Side and was nominiated for Enron, is really on a roll this year. In short order, he has completed a doc titled Casino Jack about Jack Abramoff,  filmed for HBO Lawrence Wright's My Trip to Al-Qaeda, and now is about to release Client 9The Rise and Fall of  Eliot Spitzer. I'll be interviewing him later today.

The surprise about the new film is that most of it focuses on his rise, not his fall—on his years of triumph as Sheriff of Wall Street, not his much shorter period as call girl client.

Those looking for sexual titillation may be disappointed, but those who love business-world muckraking will love the film (and it runs nearly two hours) for sure.

That's not to say the two aren't related. Gibney suggests that some of the financial or political enemies that Spitzer made may have dropped a dime on him, or even had him followed.

This may lead some to claim that Client 9 (that's how Spitzer was IDed in legal documents at first) shows too much sympathy for the ex-governor. But more likely it will lead viewers to get angry at Spitzer for throwing away his capacity for good. His new CNN show hardly makes up for that.

One revelation on the call girl front: Gibney suggests that Ashley Dupre may have only met the "luv gov" once. The director tracked down Spitzer's real favorite, and has an actress perform a transcription of what she said. It's nice to know Eliot didn't wear knee-high black socks to bed, after all.

Gibney is now directing a film about Lance Armstrong and naother about Ken Kesey. He is the son of the writer Frank Gibney and step-son of a man very familiar to long-time Nation readers, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin.

More later after the interview.

Tuesday DAYBOOK: Tea Party Backs Killer, More WikiLeaks Fallout, Jon Stewart Rally Gets Animated, Leonard Cohen, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

TUESDAY BUGLE CALL 

The Guardian: US veteran who killed and then "desecrated" two unarmed Iraqis wins Tea Party support in North Carolina race for the House.

Andrew Sullivan claims historians nearing "consensus" that we've already had a "gay president"—namely, Abe Lincoln... Colbert mocks GOP candidates for comparing gays to alcoholics, short people.

Ex-WaPo correspondent in Iraq, Ellen Knickmeyer, with terrific angry report on WikiLeaks... Julian Assange on Democracy Now! today... Most of media: Releasing WikiLeaks docs far worse than releasing captives to people you know will torture them... Juan Williams on Fox slams Wikileaks—says "nothing" in docs show any US person behaving badly at all. And Fox says WikiLeaks organizers should be declared 'enemy combatants."  

Maddow special last night on The Assassination of Dr. Tiller... Video of our own Jeremy Scahill on Countdown live from Kabul, Afghanistan... Sean Penn with Anderson Cooper on cholera outbreak in Haiti.

MoveOn supporter brutally stomped by Rand Paul backer last night. No arrests yet.

Just out: Vanity Fair profile of John Boehner by Todd Purdum: "The Audacity of Nope." Profile of Robert Gibbs coming at GQ site later today.

CREATURE FEATURE Need a last-minute Halloween mask? Here's a site where you can download and print Christine O'Donnell, Palin, Beck, the burning-the-Koran preacher. 

WELLSTONE & FBI The late Sen. Paul Wellstone's FBI file: A Vietnam protest arrest, death threats, and the plane crash. 

A BULGE TOO FAR Andy Borowitz: "None of Brett Favre's problems would be happening if his penis knew when to retire."

WIN ONE FOR THE GIPPER? A surprise from Pew: Enthusiasm for Obama Reelection Bid Greater Than for Reagan in 1982.”

BUNCH O' LOVE Will Bunch of Philly Daily News, Media Matters and fine Backlash book reviews my The Campaign of the Century with good links to today.

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL: Gender is not swaying women voters, despite the hype... Alan Grayson trails by seven points in FL-8... Study finds House candidates will spend over $1 billion on races this obscene year... A real "Aqua Buddha" on sale now for just $40. Buy one, send it to Rand Paul. And here's report on Paul-Conway debate last night... David Brooks naturally says Dems deserve everything bad they get.

FOOL ME ONCE, FOOL ME TWICE? Who will get first leak from Bush memoir next week? Your guess? Maybe Judy Miller. The book, after all, is a likely WMD.

TODAY's LAFF

Those wacky Taiwan animation geeks turn their attention to Jon Stewart's rally this weekend, with cameo by the Huff Post's ride-a-bus plan.

TODAY's MUSIC

One of the better uptempo Leonard Cohen covers, Concrete Blonde doing "Everybody Knows." And still "everybody know... the good guys lost." And "ole Black Joe is still pickin' cotton / for your ribbons and bows."

Monday DAYBOOK: Media Hit WikiLeaks Founder, President Palin, Why Dems Are Failing, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

MONDAY WAKE-UP CALLS

Slick operators, still oily: BP funding GOP candidates who attack Obama energy legislation and climate control.

In the wake of WikiLeaks release, Glenn Greenwald: the FBI went after Dan Ellsberg but now it's the media, including NYT, who are targeting Julian Assange... Howie Kurtz on CNN said Assange proved he had "delusions of grandeur"—because he walked out of CNN interview that focused on his personal life... Plus US coverage far more "government subservient" than in the rest of the world. More evidence from the Guardian on US knowingly handing over captives to Iraqi torturers...

Steve Coll at New Yorker with sad quote from WikiLeaks doc on "Unchecked Torture"... Ex-Nation intern Nick Clegg (now deputy leader in UK) says torture revelations in WikiLeaks must be probed. Waiting for US response. Waiting. 

Paul Krugman: If Democrats do badly next week pundits will say Obama went too far to the left. But real reason: his economic plans were weak and inadequate to the task from the outset. "Right now it looks as if the too-cautious attempt to jump across that economic chasm has fallen short—and we’re about to hit rock bottom.

Comical New York cover story just out: President Palin. John Heileman imagines Sarah as 2012 candidate with Mike Bloomberg as third-party candidate. Vote results in no winner that November, throwing the election to the House of Representatives, run by GOP, who then pick Palin as prez.

Former Fox correspondent confirms on Morning Joe that Fox's main goal is to keep media "polarized." ...Slate's Dave Weigel reports from a lefty academic conference on the Tea Party in Berkeley

James Fallows: NPR stumbled on Juan Williams but has done much right.

SORRY SITUATION What price does US put on a human life in Iraq? Sometimes $500. My piece on payoffs to victims' families in Iraq and more, post-WikiLeaks.

HOWIE'S MATH Howie Kurtz on CNN yesterday, in segment on Jon Stewart's rally, said flatly, that "half a million" turned out for Beck's rally in DC. When he was hit hard for accepting this wildly inflated figure via Twitter, he explained that he was just "throwing out a ballpark figure." So next time Kurtz charges anyone with numerical errors, I hope they reply, "oh come on, just throwing out ballpark figure."

ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM My check of FEC records found Texas Rangers co-owner Nolan Ryan funding all Repub candidates for years—Bush, McCain, Rudy G., even the hapless Rick Lazio—while Giants' lead owner, who hails from Seattle, all Dems.

UPPIE'S DOWNFALL If you've missed my unique daily reports at Huff Post on the final wild days of Upton Sinclair's wildly influential 1934 campaign (drawn from my book)  you can catch up.  

WHAT's BEST FOR AFGHAN WOMEN Nick Kristof column: "We do Afghan women no favors by keeping 100,000 troops in an unsustainable war." 

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL New poll finds independents spiking for GOP... Frank Rich slams Obama for not going after fat cats who caused economic crisis, making Dem voters apathetic... New poll in Calif finds Brown and Boxer widening leads... Alaska's Joe Miller reveals new details about ethics breach. http://huff.to/a4J6IH

TODAY's LAFF

Brett Favre has not lost any endorsement deals since his texting/sexting scandal broke, not even that ubiquitous jeans commercial. So SNL showed how it should at least be revised.

 


TODAY's MUSIC

I caught this in concert again last night and it remains my favorite piece of twentieth-century "classical" music, Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2, in honor of Holocaust victims. You like your rock music dynamic? Try this.

 

WikiLeaks Confirms Shocking Civilian Death Toll—But US Has Been Paying Off Victims' Families for Years

With the latest massive release of documents via WIkiLeaks, the media is abuzz with shocked reactions to the new revelations about the civilian death toll in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, now revised upward to over 115,000 (and that's just the documented number). But no one paying even casual attention to this long-running catastrophe should have been surprised, let alone shocked.

It's true that numbers and incident reports have been hard to get—and that's the value of that aspect of the latest from WikiLeaks—but details about tragic incidents have filtered out before, most notably in releases forced out by legal challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups. Many of the earlier reports only emerged out because of probes into the massive cash payments (some of it from sachels lugged around Iraq for just this purpose) to victims' families by the US military, a custom known as "solatia."

I've followed the solatia angle for years, and in wake of the WikiLeaks release on Friday, you may find my report for Editor & Publisher back in April, 2007, highly relevant. It addresses questions, based on incident reports, such as: What price do we place on the life of a 9-year-old boy, shot by one of our soldiers who mistook his book bag for a bomb satchel? Would you believe $500? And when we shoot an Iraqi journalist on a bridge we shell out $2500 to his widow—but why not the measly $5000 she had requested?

The WikiLeaks documents present an opportunity to fact-check some of the many solatia claims denied for lack of evidence or our claim that we were not at fault. For example, here's one case from the solatia papers that I previously  cited:  

"Claimant alleges that on or about 24 February 2005, he was riding in a mini-bus with his nine-year-old son on his lap when Coalition Forces fired a round into the bus. The round allegedly hit his son in the head, causing the son's death.   Xxxxx alleges that some Americans came to the hospital and apologized. He also states that one of the HMMWV's had "32" on the side. Claimant has enclosed an autopsy report.

"Allow me to express my sympathy for your loss, however, in accordance with the cited references and after investigating your claim, I find that your claim is not compensable for the following reason: In your claim you failed to provide suflicient evidence that US Forces and not someone else is responsible for your damages. Accordingly, your claim must be denied."

Now I've found this incident report in the new WikiLeaks report for that same date in Baghdad and listed as "friendly" fire (meaning in this case on civilians). It sounds something like the incident above, and if a match clearly gives lie to our claim to not be involved.

Here's my 2007 article with more.

*

The most revealing new information on Iraq—guaranteed to make readers sad or angry, or both—is found not in any press dispatch but in a collection of several hundred PDFs posted on the Web this week.

Here you will find, for example, that when the US drops a bomb that goes awry, lands in an orchard, and does not detonate —until after a couple of kids go out to take a look—our military does not feel any moral or legal reason to compensate the family of the dead child because this is, after all, broadly speaking, a "combat situation."

Last June, the Boston Globe and The New York Times revealed that a local custom in Iraq known as "solatia" had now been adapted by the US military—it means families receive financial compensation for physical damage or a loss of life. The Globe revealed that payoffs had "skyrocketed from just under $5 million in 2004 to almost $20 million last year, according to Pentagon financial data."

In a column at that time, I asked: How common is the practice? And how many unnecessary deaths do the numbers seem to suggest?  It's necessary to ask because the press generally has been denied information on civilian killings and, in recent years, it has become too dangerous in much of Iraq for reporters to go out and investigate shootings or alleged atrocities.

Now we have more evidence, thanks to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) request for files on payments by the military. The FOIA request produced 500 case studies, which deserve broad attention.

An Army spokesman told the New York Times that the total payments so far had reached at least $32 million. Yet this figure apparently includes only the payments made in this formal claim process that requires offiical approval. The many other "solatia" or "condolence payments" made informally at a unit commander's discretion are not always included.

The New York Times comments today: "There is no way to know immediately whether disciplinary action or prosecution has resulted from the cases. Soldiers hand out instruction cards after mistakes are made, so Iraqis know where to file claims. ..."

Exploring the case reports quickly turns disturbing. They often include the scrawled claims by a victim's family member detailing a horrific accidental or deliberate killing (all names blacked out) and then a ruling by a US Army captain or major with the Foreign Claims Commission.

Occasionally the officer orders a payment, although it can still make you scream, as for example: "Claimant alleges that her two brothers were returning home with groceries from their business, when US troops shot and killed them, thinking they were insurgents with bombs in the bags. I recommend approving this claim in the amount of $5,OOO."

More often the officer denies the claim due to alleged lack of evidence, or threatening behavior by the deceased (usually just failing to stop quickly enough while driving) or the death occurring in some sort of vague combat situation. Many of the denials seem arbitrary or unfair, particularly when the only reason cited is a "combat exemption"—as in the case of the dead kid in that orchard.

Then there's this example:

"Claimant's son and a friend were fishing, in a small boat, 15 kilometers north of Tikrit on the Tigres river at 2200 hours on 31 March 2005.... US Forces helicopters were flying overhead, like they usually did and there were no problems.

"A US Forces HMMWV patrol pulled up to the beach near where they were fishing. The patrol had spotted and destroyed a boat earlier in the evening that had an RPG in it. They set off an illumination round and then opened fre. The claimant's only son was shot and killed. His friend was injured, but managed to get the boat to the other side of the river. At the small village across the river they received medical help and were taken to the hospital. But it was too late for the claimant's son.

"The claimant and his son were huge supporters of democracy and up to this day held meetings and taught there friends about democracy. The claimant provided two witness statements, medical records, a death certificate, photographs and a scene sketch, all of which supported his claim.

"Opinion: There is sufficient evidence to indicate that US Forces intentionally killed the claimant's son. Unfortunately, those forces were involved in security operations at the time. Therefore, this case falls within the combat exception."

Sometimes the Army officer, perhaps feeling a bit guilty for his ruling – or the whole war – authorizes a small payment in "condolence" money, which does not require admitting any wrongdoing on our part. One of the PDFs notes that a US army memo states a maximum condolence payment scale: $2,500 for death, $500 for property, $1,000 for injury.

One payment noted in a report was a little more generous, but loss of property was compensated but not loss of life. The incident involved two fisherman in Tikrit. They tried to appear non-threatening to an American helicopter overhead, holding up their fish "to show they meant no harm,” said the report. One was killed anyway. The Army refused to pay for the killing, ruling that it was “combat activity,” but approved $3,500 for a boat, net and cellphone, which all drifted away and were stolen.

To give you more of the flavor, here are some excerpts (with a few typos corrected).
***

Claimant filed a claim for $5,500 on 3 Sept. 2005.

Facts: Claimant alleges that a CF [coalition force] dropped a bomb in his orchard. The bomb allegedly did not explode upon impact. Claimant's son went to investigate and was killed when the UXO detonated. Claimant's cousin was seriously injured in the explosion. A couple of hours later, CF allegedly took the body and Claimant to LSA Anaconda for medical treatment.   In support of their claims, the Claimants have offered witness statements, medical records from LSA Anaconda, and police and judicial reports.

Opinion: Under AR 27-20, paragraph 10-3, Claims arising "directly or indirectly" from combat activities of the US. Armed Forces are not payable. AR 27-20 defines combat activities as "Activities resulting directly or indirectly from action by the enemy, or by the US Armed Forces engaged in armed conflict, or in immediate preparation for impending armed conflict." Here, an airstrike clearly constitutes combat activity. While unfortunate, this claim is precluded from compensation under the combat exception.

Recommendation: The claim is denied.
***

On 11 April 2005, Claimant's father was allegedly killed by CF forces near the Samarra Museum.  Claimant says that his father was deaf and would not have heard danger nearby. The claimant did not personally witness the shooting and relies solely on eyewitnesses. Eye witnesses related that victim was shot by CF forces. The Claimant does not know if his father was shot by CF forces responding to an AIF attack, or whether CF fired directly on his father.

The claimant presented a claim in the amount of $4,000 on 21 November 2005.   RECOMMENDATION: this claim be denied

*.

Dec. 5 2005:

Claimant alleges that on the above date at the above mentioned location, the child was outside playing by their gate and a stray bullet from a US soldier hit their son in the head and killed him. The US soldiers went to the boy's funeral and apologized to the family and took their information to get to them, but never did. The child was nine years old and their only son.

I recommend approving this claim in the amount of $4,OOO.OO.
***

 Incident occurred Jan. 6, 2005 at a bridge near Haifa Street

Claimant alleges that her husband, who was working as a journalist, was walking across the bridge when he was shot and killed by US troops. She has documentation from CA confirming that US. troops were in the area at that time. Also, a medical report is attached stating that the round that killed the victim was a 5.56mm round. The claimant has submitted sufficient evidence.

I recommend approving this claim in the amount of $2,500.00.  (She had asked for $5000) 

***

 

On 11 April 2005, at about 11:30 am, Claimant's 8 year old sister, xxxx was allegedly killed by CF forces near the Al Khatib Secondary School, Samarra.    xxxx says that his sister was playing near the school and was shot by CF. Deceased's death certificate ... she was killed by gunfire. The claimant did not personally witness the shooting and relies solely on eye witnesses. Eye witnesses related that victim was shot by CF forces by a "random shot." During the interview, it was impossible to clarify what the claimant meant by a "random shot." A SIGACTS investigation revealed no activity or incidents in Samarra on that date.

RECOMMENDATION: Based upon the investigation by this FCC, it is reasonable to conclude that the CF activity can be characterized as combat activity. I recommend this claim be denied.

***

June 17, 2005

Claimant alleges that on the above date at the above mentioned location, his brother xxxxx was traveling in his car with rugs that he was taking to a rug store to sell. He was shot by US soldiers, and the rugs and cash on his possession were never recovered...and his body left there.

I recommend approving this claim in the amount of $3,000.00
**

April 23, 2006, Samarra

Claimant alleges that Coalition Forces fired upon his two sons as they were leaving the market. The claimants sons waived their shirts and their underwear as a sign of peace. The claimant provided death certificates, legal expert and witness statements to substantiate the claim.

Opinion: There is not enough evidence to prove the claim.  Recommendation: The claim is denied.

A new edition of Greg Mitchell's award-winning book "The Campaign of the Century: Upton SInclair RAce for Governor and the Birth of Media Politics" has just been published.

WikiLeaks' Release on Iraq Arrives—Highlights Torture & Civilian Deaths

It's been rumored, pondered, feared, denounced, and now it's here: The long-awaited massive "doc dump" from Wikileaks related to Iraq. Reporting has started, with The Guardian relating shocking numbers on civilian deaths (fifteen thousand more than ever reported) and Al-Jazeera covering torture, with The New York Times covering all that and more.

The Times put up its lengthy reports about 5 pm Friday. Its report includes many actual documents. On the Iraqi death toll issue, it relates: "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."

On torture: "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."

The Times' overview of the documents is here, along with the Pentagon's response condemning the release. The paper said it withheld some documents and added that the Pentagon to did not propose "any cuts." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the release of classified documents.

In a CNN interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged U.S. "war crimes."  The New York Times promises an Assange profile this weekend.

WikiLeaks keeps doing this kind of thing better, so now you can browse all the 400,000 docs yourself (have a nice weekend).  And a very valuable site from Great Britain called Iraq War Logs has organized subject matter in easy-to-find articles and chunks, which easily disprove any notion of nothing-new-here.

For the first time, Al-Jazeera was in on it, and already out with a kind of "trailer" video that suggests the biggest bombshell may be related to the US allowing Iraqi torture. They say US soldiers sent 1300 reports to headquarters with graphic accounts, including some beaten to death.   The other issue: Why Bush and Obama okayed turning over detainees to torturing Iraqis.

Al-Jazeera found a secret order that ruled out any US intervention on "Iraqi on Iraqi" torture. Some investigations were done but no evidence of Iraqis being punished. Some generals wanted troops to intervene. Pentagon chief disagreed, saying it should only be reported, not stopped. Also: At the time US was saying no torture going on, there were 41 reports of torture still happening "and that the US chose to turn its back."

Amnesty International quickly called on the US to investigate how much our commanders knew of Iraqi torture. 

Now The Guardian has its first report, which says the documents reveal at least 15,000 more deaths in Iraq than previously acknowledged. It opens: 

"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. US General Tommy Franks claimed in 2002:  'We don't do body counts.' The mass of leaked documents provides the first detailed tally by the US military of Iraqi fatalities. Troops on the ground filed secret field reports over six years of the occupation, purporting to tot 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 record a total of 109,032 violent deaths between 2004 and 2009. It is claimed that 66,081 of these were civilians. A further 23,984 deaths are classed as "enemy" and 15,196 as members of the Iraqi security forces."

The Guardian has an incredible data section with maps on every death in Iraq, updated with the new info.

The New York Times, citing a new document, reports: "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 Times reports includes one from Michael Gordon, who has pounded this drum for years, focusing on Iran's alleged aid for Iraq's militias.

Juan, But It's Not the Same: Debate Over NPR's Firing Williams Continues

Juan Williams appeared on Good Morning America this morning to hit NPR for finally firing him over his latest ethical breach, kicking off another round of controversy that sure will not die soon, what with Michelle Malkin denouncing the "lynch mob" that strung up Williams.  Yesterday our selection of opinions—my wrapup here—proved popular, so we're back for round two. More to be come.

First, one must note Williams' statement late yesterday  that he had been "sent to a gulag." Good word for Fox—but "gulag" will now pay him $2 milion a year .

 Williams on Good Morning America today: "I used to think the rightwing was inflexible, but if NPR represents left orthodoxy, then…" Then called for de-funding—if NPR is so good, let 'em raise bucks themselves.

As calls for defunding NPR grow, here's a chart showing what a small portion of NPR's funding comes from the government.

Good roundup up of NPR people defending decision, and their ombud says it was right but wrong.

Will Bunch with lengthy take that highlights NPR's "insane" focus on journalistic "purity."  James Poniewozik at Time with much the same take—better to have analyst's be honest than hide their "baggage."  

Free Press: "Tell Congress, Sarah Palin doesn't speak for me. Stand up for NPR."  

How Kurtz says NPR "blunder" will only hurt them and also complains about George Soros giving them $1.8 million to hire more reporters.

Absolute and shocking proof that NPR is totally in the tank for liberals.

FAIR hits Williams  for saying his case worse than what Nixon did vs. press—e.g., threatening to actually kill reporters, not merely fire them.

Glenn Greenwald mentions Helen Thomas and "others fired for their views while the Right cheered: Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Ashleigh Banfield, Phil Donahue, Ward Churchill." 

Numerous wags have pointed out that now Williams has escaped NPR ban and can happily attend the Jon Stewart rally next week.

John Nichols: Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)  says firing wrong.

MIchael Tomasky on Williams and the First Amendment claims… James Rainey of LA Times finds firing "hard to justify." 

Fox News with highly ironic hit on NPR's lack of balance.

A new edition of Greg Mitchell's book The Campaign of the Century: Upton SInclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize, has just been published.

Friday DAYBOOK: Clarence Thomas 'Obsessed With Porn,' Fat Cats vs. Dems, Clint Eastwood on Obama, Keith Richards, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

FRIDAYS I'VE GOT MONDAYS ON MY MIND 

Cholera outbreak feared in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, at least 135 dead.

Juan Williams on Good Morning America today: "I used to think the rightwing was inflexible, but if NPR represents left orthodoxy, then...."  See my wrapup here at Media Fix on reactions from left to right.... Love Juan's comment late yesterday that he had been "sent to a gulag." Good word for Fox—but "gulag" will now pay him $2 milion a year.... Here's a chart showing what a small portion of NPR's funding comes from the government .

Clint Eastwood tells Katie Couric Obama isn't governingObama cuts "It gets better" video.... Clint Eastwood tells Katie Couric Obama "isn't governing." 

Doubting Thomas: Wash Post with second piece on ex-girlfriend of Clarence Thomas backing up Anita Hill's take on him. She says, among other things, that he was, indeed, "obsessed with porn.".... Andy Borowitz: "Just downloaded the Ginni Thomas ringtone—it's her crazy voice and it rings 19 years after the call is made."

NYT front-pager: "Top Corporations Aid US Chamber of Commerce Campaign." Yes, our old friends Goldman Sachs among them. Almost 3/4s of cash has gone to fight Democrats. This suggests "that the recent allegations from President Obama and others that foreign money has ended up in the chamber’s coffers miss a larger point: The chamber has had little trouble finding American companies eager to enlist it, anonymously, to fight their political battles.

Absolute proof that NPR is totally in the tank for liberals.

It now looks like that big WikiLeaks leak on Iraq coming tomorrow.

MAHER LINE-UP Bill Maher's guests tonite on HBO: George Clooney, Rob Reiner, Jake Tapper, Nicolle Wallace & Levi "Call Me Mayor" Johnston.

FOX LOOSE Democracy Now: Former FOX News employee sues, says fired b/c he complained about "racist, sexist, and extremely offensive comments."

OBAMA WEAK IN REVIEW Roger Cohen on missed opportunities for Middle East peace: "Among the minor fiascoes of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, the rapid White House-to-wipe-out course of Middle Eastern diplomacy in recent weeks rates high." 

BIG MAC (FAIL) Dave Pogue rips Office 2011 for Mac, and new Outlook.

ONE TOKE OVER THE LINE? Polls: Pro-marijuana initiative in Calif may be going up in smoke. Once a clear favorite, not tossup. Bang the Bong Slowly?

ON THE CAN-PAIN TRAIL Nate Silver's latest election projections—still grim for Dems in House but Senate looking better. I predict:  Dems will only lose 5 seats in Senate and House will break even.... Nikki Haley's lead l in SC-Gov cut from 17 to 9 points... NYT on big GOP funder getting notice now, Bob Perry, giant American Crossroads booster.

 TODAY's LAFF

The crew from "The Office"—from The Mind of Ryan Howard—present a Halloween slasher film...here's the trailer.

 

TODAY's MUSIC

With all the attention the new Keith Richards is getting (don't miss upcoming NYT piece, now online), here's one of the most unlikely duos ever—Keith with Norah Jones at a Gram Parsons tribute concert doing "Love Hurts." Back story: Keith (it has been alleged) helped get or keep Gram on heroin.

 

 

Reactions to Juan Williams's Firing, From Left and Right

As you may have heard by now, NPR is cutting loose longtime commentator Juan Williams over remarks he made about Muslims over at his other home, Fox News, on the O'Reilly show. I thought it would be fun to take you to the early reactions, including right-wing defense of Williams and attacks on "PC." And now Mike Huckabee has called for Congress to cut NPR funding over this. 

The big question: Will NPR give Juan a tote bag or umbrella? In any case, he was back on Fox today.

Good selection here with Jeffrey Goldberg, Steve Benen, Andrew Sullivan, more. Sullivan: "The literal defense of anti-Muslim bigotry on Fox is becoming endemic. It's disgusting."

William Saletan at Slate claims left pulling a "Shirley Sherrod," alleging Wiliams video edited to give wrong impression. See Glenn Greenwald below for a rebuttal.

Glenn Greenwald: "Williams' trite attempt to glorify his bigotry as anti-PC Speaking of the Truth is inane, as his remarks were suffused with falsehoods, not facts.... Those who cheered on the firing of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas and Rick Sanchez—and that will include many, probably most, of the right-wing polemicists predictably rushing to transform Juan Williams into some sort of free speech martyr sacrificed on the altar of sharia censorship—have no ground for complaining here."

Bernie Goldberg at Fox: "So Juan Williams is fired for saying something the liberals at NPR find controversial? One more piece of evidence that liberals have forgotten how to be liberal. These are the kind of people who brag about how open-minded they are—as long as you agree with them. And here's the dirty little secret: lots and lots of liberals feel the same way Juan does when they get on an airplane. And a lot of those liberals work at NPR. Juan's 'crime' was saying it out loud." 

From Andrew Breitbart site: Hey, didn't someone on NPR once compare Bush to Hitler? 

Sarah Palin tweets in her inimitable style: "NPR defends 1st Amendment Right, but will fire u if u exercise it. Juan Williams: u got taste of Left's hypocrisy,they screwed up firing you."

Ha, Time calls Williams a "conservative pundit."

Media Matters weighs in. Peter Daou hits Williams, and O'Reilly, on "warped" priorities.

Mike Madden of Washington City Paper tweets: "I'm no bigot, but if I see a cable news pundit walking toward me on the street, I get nervous."

Bill Kristol: NPR is "unfair, unbalanced [and] afraid." Powerline concurs. Cliff May claims Williams schooled Fox audience on liberalism.

Harry Shearer tweets: "Censorship at NPR? I'm shocked... shocked. I'm going to have to sit down now. Uh oh, I'm already sitting down." Dan Kennedy tweets: "NPR should have fired Juan Williams a long time ago. But an apology should have been enough in this case." 

A new edition of Greg Mitchell's book "The Campaign of the Century: Upton SInclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics," winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize, has just been published.

Thursday DAYBOOK: NPR Axes Williams Over Remarks, More Ginni Thomas Fallout, Beck & Soros, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

THURSDAY WITH A CUPPA JOE 

NPR axes Juan Williams for remarks about Muslims on Fox, where he has long served as quasi-liberal. See my wrapup here at Media Fix on reactions from left to right. And here's link to some of his statements.

Who's sorry now? Ginni Thomas canceling all sorts of things after Anita Hill "apology phone call" ruckus.... Wash Post finds new source backing up Hill's portrait of bad Clarence Thomas.... Andy Borowitz: Three things to do when Clarence Thomas's wife calls you. Plus one final note: "if you get a call in the middle of the night and there is silence on the other end, that is not Virginia Thomas. That is Clarence Thomas."

Great op-ed by Timothy Egan, "John Roberts' America"—on hideous fallout of SCOTUS ruling on campaign funding in Colo.

Christine O'Donnell on TV this morning now says she regrets her "not a witch" ad and says on Halloween she may go as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz because "she killed a witch."

Watch Jon Stewart on Larry King talking about the big rally coming up. Also a Maddow highlight. Brian Stelter of NYT has good new feature called "Night Watch" with cable show video.

Democracy Now: Former FOX News employee sues, says fired b/c he complained about "racist, sexist, and extremely offensive comments." 

ISRAELI VERSION OF TALIBAN Juan Cole: Torching of  West Bank Girls’ School, Destroy Olive Trees  

MORE ON EPIC RACE   H.L. Mencken and Will Rogers poke fun at Upton Sinclair as 1934 race in California gets even wilder ....  How Irving Thalberg created the first "attack ads" for the screen to destroy SInclair.... Transcript for my recent  NPR "On the Media" segment just posted.

GIVING UP? Morning numbers: Fewer people apply for unemployment, but what does this mean?

THE REICH STUFF Terrific Robert Reich posting here on The Perfect Storm: "An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top; a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy; and a public becoming increasingly angry and cynical about a government that’s raising its taxes, reducing its services, and unable to get it back to work. We’re losing our democracy to a different system. It’s called plutocracy."

PALIN FASHION NYT naturally gets around to Sarah Palin as fashion icon piece.... Meanwhile Politico reveals that GOP campaigns complain about Palin's demands and how she causes "havoc" with her visits and attitude. 

SOROS WINNER Media Matters announced that after all these years it got first funding, one million bucks, from George Soros. Yes, that's the sound of Glenn Beck's head exploding that you heard yesterday afternoon. Glenn then devoted his whole TV show to George....After Beck gives US Chamber "largest day of fundraising," Chamber returns the favor by advertising on Beck's website.

I DREAMED I SAW JOE STIGLITZ Famed economist on Democracy Now! yesterday. While banks make profits, 1 in 6 cannot get full-time job.

PLAME TRUTH Joe Wilson calls Dick Cheney a "traitor." Fair Game movie on the CIA Leak saga opening in two weeks or so.

TODAY's LAFF

Christine O'Donnell's struggle this week to remember the Constitution she holds so dear—such as that part about the separation of church and state—has inspired TLC to give her a show following Sarah Palin's Alaska called No Way! 

 

 

TODAY's MUSIC 

We reported a couple weeks back that former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker had been spotted at a Tea Party rally. Now she's done a sad interview on same. Well, here she is in saner times—which is the first time anyone has ever said that about the 1960s. 

 

 

Wednesday DAYBOOK: Peace Talks in Afghanistan, Obama on 'Daily Show,' Christine O'Donnell, Anita Hill, More

WELCOME TO DAYBOOK, our daily collection of media and politics hits/misses from a wide variety of sources plus fun videos and (at the bottom) a music pick. Return for updates during the day. Keep up with fresh items via @gregmitch at Twitter. E-mail me at: epic1934@aol.com. To increase type size, hit middle "A" above right.

WEDNESDAY WAKE-UP

Major news on talks heating up to end Afghan war, with NATO troops even escorting Taliban out of sanctuaries to Kabul.  New country could be called Afghanistandown?.... US soldier in custody after death of Afghan prisoner.... NYT shocker: CIA warned about bombing at Afghan base, did nothing.

Clarence Thomas's wife leaves voice mail asking Anita Hill for an apology, then suggests she is only reaching out, trying to heal. At 7:30 am. Hill thought it was a prank, at first, alerted authorities.  Thomas still harassing Hill, all these years later.... Sparked by this, Wash Post  finds  new source backing up Hill's portrait of bad Clarence Thomas.  

Christine O'Donnell asks, Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state? The mind boggles.

President Obama to make surprise pre-rally appearance on The Daily Show next Wednesday, his first since taking office.  Warm-up act?... Stephen Colbert mocks Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg by storming off the set of The View (VIDEO). 

Terrific Robert Reich posting here on The Perfect Storm: "An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top; a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy; and a public becoming increasingly angry and cynical about a government that’s raising its taxes, reducing its services, and unable to get it back to work. We’re losing our democracy to a different system. It’s called plutocracy."

David Cameron: Great Britain will slash defense budget. Hint, hint.

Maureen Dowd on Marilyn Monroe vs. Sarah Palin: Guess which one was brighter? 

MORE ON EPIC RACE How Irving Thalberg created the first "attack ads" for the screen to destroy Upton SInclair in 1934.... Transcript for my recent  NPR "On the Media" segment just posted.

CABAL NEWS Secret confab for giant GOP donors revealed, coming in January, led by Koch Industries, the rightwing juggernaut. Invitation says they will "develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity."

I DREAMED I SAW JOE STIGLITZ Famed economist on Democracy Now! today. While banks make profits, 1 in 6 cannot get full-time job. 

RANDY MAN OUT Now it looks certain: Tribune CEO Randy "Show Me Your Boobs" Michaels to resign this week: 

LONG SHOT Chris Hayes tweets: "Barry Bonds being honored at SF stadium. Looking forward to John Edwards keynote at 2012 DNC."

BITS & PIECES The GuardianIn Rachel Corrie case Israeli soldier to testify anonymously.... Fun Jerry Brown ad uses Daily Show type video mashup.... Will Olbermann try to interview Dubya at Yankees playoffgame? And then declare "MIssion Accomplished."...  Michael Gerson in thinly veiled column on Obama the snob.

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, BILL MOYERS? Major FAIR Exposé of PBS: Taking the 'Public' Out of Public TV.

TODAY's LAFF

Read about Sharron Angle in Nevada mistaking Hispanic kids for Asians and the falsely claiming she is part Asian herself? Second City presents her new ad:

 

 

TODAY's MUSIC

John McCain's opponent in Senate race is so far back he is invoking Lynyrd Skynrd, in this spot. Well, a plane crash is far worse. 

 

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