A GIRL CAN DREAM, CAN’T SHE?
Thank you, William Greider, for “Pelosi’s Moment” [Oct. 30]. I was pleased to see there is a Democratic legislative and leadership agenda in the wings. There is also excitement out here in the hinterlands for a new agenda. But as far as Nancy Pelosi is concerned, I would like to remind readers that there is a scenario that isn’t being discussed in any of the media. Here it is in a nutshell: Nancy Pelosi becomes the Speaker of the House in January after Democrats take over the House; Democrats also take the Senate, by the smallest majority; Speaker Pelosi holds impeachment hearings for Cheney and Bush; the House impeaches both; the Senate upholds the impeachment and removes both from office. Now comes the Republicans’ worst fear. Who is third in line for the presidency? We now have our first woman President of the United States! President Pelosi! Some may laugh, but…
I like Quannah Santiago’s scenario for how Nancy Pelosi becomes President, but I’m afraid she has described exactly why Pelosi will not go down that impeachment road–it looks like a constitutional coup d’état to make herself President. Still, it is a neat idea.
KABUL’S PRO, DC’S AMATEURS
New York City
The context in which some of my statements appeared in David Corn’s “Who’s Running Afghan Policy?” [Oct. 30] may have given a wrong impression. When I referred to diplomats “with no regional experience,” I was not referring to US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann, although the context in which this quotation appeared gave that impression. The part of my discussion with Corn during which I made this statement dealt with officials in Washington rather than Kabul. Ambassador Neumann has worked extensively in the Middle East and South Asia region. With the limited tools at his disposal in a country that is not a high priority for the Bush Administration, Neumann has worked very hard to make this operation successful.
BARNETT R. RUBIN
BAD TIMES, BAD MEDIA, BAD POSTS
New York City
After nearly thirty-five years as an announcer, reporter, anchor, writer and producer in radio, television and with a wire service, I quit because I could not take the way the business was going. Going? Hell, it got there. I worked in small markets (a radio station in Sumter, South Carolina) and large (as a producer at NBC News, Chicago). At times I was proud of our coverage–of the deaths of President Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; of the cold war in all its machinations; the Vietnam War in all its soul-burning recklessness; and Watergate, where even Richard Nixon did not try to trash the Constitution. I also was ashamed of the media’s handling of the first Bush War; thank goodness I am not part of the media for Bush II, the man or the war.
As reporters, we acted within the law and helped make certain that the law, and the Constitution, were upheld. Now, however, the media allow George W. Bush to abrogate those laws and, above all, the Constitution. What happened to the likes of Edward R. Murrow questioning Joe McCarthy? To Walter Cronkite calling Chicago police “thugs”? To the Huntleys and Brinkleys? To the others who worked hard to bring the events, the emotions, the truth to Americans? What happened to the truth?
Long before the “Watergate rule” Eric Alterman cites [“The Liberal Media,” Oct. 30], the wire services required at least two sources before going with a story. I was with the Associated Press when an AP reporter could not report, say, a plane crash he or she witnessed (or even survived) unless someone corroborated it. Alterman asks whether it should be obvious that “anonymous [e-mail] posters on a public bulletin board do not represent anyone or anything but their own silly little minds?” Of course it should, and, not to sound like the old fogey I am becoming, back in my day we wouldn’t have done that–not even the worst of us at the worst of times. Thank goodness there were no blogs then for the weak of mind or the faint of gut.
Despite their claims, the mainstream media no longer “hold themselves to higher standards than the Drudge-driven political blogosphere.” Shame on them. Shame on all of us for letting them get away with it.
New York City
In relating the story behind the removal of anti-Semitic posts from the MoveOn.org website, Eric Alterman confuses the chronology and the eventual reportage of our concerns in the tabloid press. As is our common practice, after learning of the anti-Semitic posts our first course of action was to attempt to notify MoveOn officials of their existence and to request their removal. We did just that in an electronic message sent August 31. A copy of that message was later obtained by the New York Post–not from us–and was quoted in its story, which ran September 5. We did not “run to the media,” as Alterman suggests, nor was our letter motivated by a desire to “blame MoveOn” for the posts. In fact, in our public statements we were the first to acknowledge that MoveOn officials were not responsible for the anti-Semitic posts. And we commended them immediately after learning that the posts had been responsibly removed.
ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN
National director, Anti-Defamation League
New York City
What Abraham Foxman omits from his letter is that, as I reported, his organization made no effort to speak to anyone at MoveOn.org before publicizing the silly anonymous postings on the MoveOn message boards. Perhaps it did send an e-mail. So what? I rarely read the e-mails that come to me from unfamiliar sources and neither, I imagine, do most busy people. A simple phone call to Eli Pariser’s office as a follow-up would have solved the situation before it turned into a misleading media maelstrom, as the postings were taken down as soon as the MoveOn folks learned about them from the media. But the ADL preferred to publicize the meaningless meanderings of some still-unidentified people instead. That’s hardly responsible–or even serious behavior, when it comes to identifying significant incidents of “defamation.”
Foxman’s note that the New York Post did not receive the story from the ADL is true. That’s why I stated in the column that the item was fed to the Post by the Lieberman campaign, which in this case appears to have acted as a cut-out for the ADL. If Foxman can say for certain that no one at the ADL was involved in alerting the campaign–which he does not say in his letter–then Foxman has my apology on this extremely minor point. Overall, however, the story stands.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE DC TIMES
In his October 9 attack on the Washington Times, “Hell of a Times,” Max Blumenthal includes two accusations against me, both of which are totally false. First he repeats a charge he says was made by former Times employee George Archibald that “Human Events had planned to publish an article by him this September detailing instances of racism and sexism at the Times but that, under pressure from [Times editors] Pruden and Coombs, Human Events editor in chief Thomas Winter spiked the piece.”
This is a complete fabrication. We had no plans to run Archibald’s article, and I received no communication of any kind from anyone at the Washington Times prior to deciding that Human Events would not publish Archibald’s piece.
Further spreading falsehoods, Blumenthal writes, “Just how Marian Coombs obtained a copy of Archibald’s draft from Human Events remains unclear. (Reached by phone, Winter hung up when questioned about Archibald’s piece.)” Of course, just how Coombs got a copy of Archibald’s article from Human Events “remains unclear” because neither I nor anyone else at Human Events had anything to do with sending it to her.
Also, I did not hang up on Blumenthal. I don’t hang up on people. In all the weeks he was working on his article, Blumenthal never once called me on my office phone, through which I am readily accessible. When I did eventually get a call from him, it was on my cellphone. The connection was very fuzzy, and I barely made out who was calling before the connection was broken. He never called back on my cellphone or office phone. Possibly he was afraid that if he reached me, he would find out that the tales about me and Human Events he wanted to include in his story were not true.
THOMAS S. WINTER,
Editor in chief, Human Events
New York City
Thomas Winter’s contention–that my report on his spiking of George Archibald’s story on the Washington Times is a “fabrication”–is a naked exercise in projection. Possibly he was afraid that if he reached me he would have been forced to acknowledge his role in whitewashing reporting on racism and sexism at the Times. Archibald has provided me with a lengthy e-mail correspondence in which Winter gives his “guarantee” of running Archibald’s piece, then withdraws his promise after being pressured by Human Events editor Terry Jeffrey, a former editorial writer for the Times who, Archibald says, is a close friend of Wes Pruden and Fran Coombs, the Times‘s top two editors.
On September 4, after receiving Archibald’s pitch, Winter e-mailed him a promise to run his piece: “As I said,” Winter wrote, “you have my guarantee…. My prayers are with you.” Two days later, Winter changed his mind. “George–I just got back from Rehoboth and talked with Terry about this story,” Winter wrote Archibald. “There is too much potential libel in here for us to possibly run this.” According to Archibald, despite his claims of “libel,” Winter never showed Archibald’s story to Human Events‘ lawyers.
When I reached Winter on his cellphone, he verbally acknowledged my statement that I was a reporter from The Nation who had questions about his spiking of Archibald’s story. Then, after a long pause, the line went dead. I called back, and he did not answer. Had he wanted to comment, he could have–and should have– returned my calls.