From The Guardian:
Labour hit back at the Sun today after the paper caused Gordon Brown to apologise to the mother of a dead serviceman who took offence after he sent her a handwritten letter of condolence that misspelled her name.
Lord Mandelson said that, although Brown's handwriting was "not great", people should understand that the row was being orchestrated by a paper that was actively campaigning against Labour.
Jacqui Janes, the mother of Grenadier Guardsman Jamie Janes, who was killed in Afghanistan on 5 October, received the letter days after her son's death. But, according to today's Sun, Janes had only read the first few lines before she "threw it across the room in disgust".
Downing Street said that the prime minister called Janes last night after he learned that she had contacted the newspaper. "He apologised for the letter and the way she feels about the letter," the prime minister's spokesman said.
Brown, who writes a handwritten letter to the relatives of every serviceman killed in action, has notoriously bad handwriting. Some attribute this to his eyesight, which has been poor since a rugby accident in his teenage years left him blind in one eye.
The Sun is one of several media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., including Fox News Channel and the NY Post.
Newsbusters associate editor Noel Sheppard is outraged that CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs know what marijuana looks and smells like:
There were some potentially interesting and concerning admissions on CNN Monday night when Wolf Blitzer said he thought he could identify a marijuana plant by its smell, and Lou Dobbs followed by saying he could recognize it "rather readily" by sight.
Granted, this exchange might seem trivial.
However, there is a push towards illicit drug legalization in America. Many believe California will legalize marijuana in short order.
With this is mind, a couple of middle-aged, high-profile CNN anchors matter-of-factly discussing what marijuana plants look and smell like adds to the ongoing desensitization of the public towards "casual" drug use.
Those against legalization should find such casual discussions by prominent media figures concerning.
Notice that Sheppard's complaint isn't that Blitzer and Dobbs advocated the use of marijuana; they didn't. Nor is his complaint that they advocated the legalization of marijuana -- they didn't do that, either. His complaint isn't even that they acknowledged having used marijuana, for they didn't do that either. No, Noel Sheppard thinks it is "concerning" that Blitzer and Dobbs know what marijuana looks and smells like. Apparently he won't be happy unless reporters respond to mention of marijuana by claiming never to have heard of the plant.
From The Fox Nation, accessed on November 10:
When the News Corp CEO wasn't defending Glenn Beck and agreeing that Obama is a "racist," Murdoch also made this claim in the recent TV interview [emphasis added]:
REPORTER: Glenn Beck who you mentioned has called Barack Obama a racist, and he helped organize a protest against him and others on Fox have likened him (Obama) to Stalin is that…"
MURDOCH: No, no, no, not Stalin, I don't think, not one of our people.
Nobody at Fox News has ever likened Obama to Stalin. Murdoch appeared emphatic in making that point.
UPDATED: Here are even more examples of Fox News folks comparing Obama to Stalin.
Question: Is Murdoch just playing dumb, or does he really not know what's aired on Fox News?
UPDATED: And more.
Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports (emphasis added):
The New York Post editor fired after speaking out against a cartoon depicting the author of the president's stimulus package as a dead chimpanzee has sued the paper. And as part of her complaint, Sandra Guzman levels some remarkable, embarrassing, and potentially damaging allegations.
Guzman has filed a complaint against News Corporation, the New York Post and the paper's editor in chief Col Allan in the Southern District Court of New York, alleging harassment as well as "unlawful employment practices and retaliation."
As part of the 38-page complaint, Guzman paints the Post newsroom as a male-dominated frat house and Allan in particular as sexist, offensive and domineering. Guzman alleges that she and others were routinely subjugated to misogynistic behavior. She says that hiring practices at the paper -- as well as her firing -- were driven by racial prejudices rather than merit.
And she recounts the paper's D.C. bureau chief stating that the publication's goal was to "destroy [President] Barack Obama."
The most outrageous charges, however, involve Allan. According to the complaint:
"On one occasion when Ms. Guzman and three female employees of the Post were sharing drinks at an after-work function. Defendant Allan approached the group of women, pulled out his blackberry and asked them 'What do you think of this?' On his blackberry was a picture of a naked man lewdly and openly displaying his penis. When Ms. Guzman and the other female employees expressed their shock and disgust at being made to view the picture, Defendant Allan just smirked... [N]o investigation was ever conducted and the Company failed to take any steps to address her complaints."
Guzman's complaint goes on:
"On another occasion, upon information and belief, Defendant Allan approached a female employee during a party at the Post, rubbed his penis up against her and made sexually suggestive comments about her body, including her breasts, causing that female employee to feel extremely uncomfortable and fearing to be alone with him."
And finally: "... [W]hile serving as the top editor at the Post, Defendant Allan took two Australian political leaders to the strip club Scores in Manhattan..."
Guzman alleges that while at the paper, misogynistic and racist behavior was directed at her specifically. According to the complaint, she was called "sexy" and "beautiful" and referred to as "Cha Cha #1" by Les Goodstein, the senior vice president of NewsCorp. After doing an interview with Major League Baseball star Pedro Martinez, she says Allan asked her whether the pitcher "had been carrying a gun or a machete during the interview" -- a line Guzman said was racist and offensive.
When she would walk by certain offices at the paper, Guzman alleges, editors would routinely sing songs from West Side Story -- a nod to her Hispanic heritage -- including the tune: "I want to live in America."
Guzman also makes the following allegations to supplement her case that the Post harbored an environment that was offensive to women and minority employees.
"A White male senior editor sexually propositioned a young female Copy Assistant, telling her that 'If you give me a blowjob, I will give you a permanent reporter job.'"
"The last five employees who were recently terminated by Paul Carlucci, the Publisher of the Post.... Have all been black and/or women of color."
Read Stein's entire piece and the compliant in full here.
Politico's Ben Smith picks up an interesting angle to the story:
The New York Post and New York Daily News, for a time, complemented their fierce competition for circulation with bitter attacks on each other's staff and on their owners, Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman.
But Murdoch and Zuckerman, as has been reported, reached a truce of sorts, and they've been reported to be in sporadic talks about some sort of merger of -- at least -- the paper's back ends. And the clearest signal I've seen in a while of that rapprochement came this week, when a fired Post employee, Sandra Guzman, filed suit against the paper and its brawling Australian editor, Col Allan.
The Daily News offered a sanitized version of the story: "A New York Post editor sacked after complaining that a cartoon likened President Obama to a monkey sued the paper on Monday, claiming rampant racism and sexism in the newsroom," but detailed none of the actual allegations.
So now know that the CEO of News Corp thinks President Obama is racist. The rather shocking revelation came from a recent interview, where Murdoch was asked specifically about Fox News' Glenn Beck, who famously called Obama (or, "this guy") a "racist."
This was Murdoch's response [emphasis added]:
On the racist thing, that caused a grilling. But he [Obama] did make a very racist comment. Ahhh...about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, and which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And um, that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the President, but if you actually assess what he [Beck] was talking about, he was right.
Beck's "racist" attack was made in the wake of the Prof. Gates/Sgt. Crowley controversy in Cambridge, MA., in July. After Obama addressed the issue and made news with his comments during a July 22, press conference, Beck then called Obama a "racist." And today Murdoch claims that in that context, Obama made "a very racist comment."
I'll put this bluntly: What the hell is Rupert Murdoch talking about?
Because these were Obama's remarks, in full, from his July 22, press conference. Good luck finding the "very racist comment":
Well, I should say at the outset that "Skip" Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house, there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place -- so far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now so -- (laughter) -- it probably wouldn't happen. But let's say my old house in Chicago -- (laughter) -- here I'd get shot. (Laughter.)
But so far, so good. They're reporting -- the police are doing what they should. There's a call, they go investigate what happens. My understanding is at that point Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in, I'm sure there's some exchange of words, but my understanding is, is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house. And at that point, he gets arrested for disorderly conduct -- charges which are later dropped.
Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that, but I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge Police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.
As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in this society. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made.
And yet the fact of the matter is, is that this still haunts us. And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently and oftentime for no cause casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody is going to be.
The Washington Post reports today that "White House communications director Anita Dunn will step down from her post at the end of the month and Dan Pfeiffer, her deputy, will take over, according to sources familiar with the move." Dunn, as you may recall, found herself to be the subject of Glenn Beck's considerable ire, following her apt description of Fox News as an "opinion journalism masquerading as news." Beck repeatedly smeared Dunn and grossly distorted her words to claim, among other things, that she "worships" and "idolizes" "her hero" Mao Zedong. In smearing Dunn, Beck overlooked that numerous conservatives -- including Barry Goldwater's "alter ego" Stephen C. Shadegg, Newt Gingrich, and GOP strategist Ralph Reed -- have approvingly cited the tactics of Mao, Vladimir Lenin, and the Viet Cong, stated that they had used those tactics in their political work or have otherwise highlighted their philosophies.
But before Beck declares victory in purging the White House of a "radical" "revolutionary," he should probably be aware that Dunn's position as the White House communications director was always meant to be temporary. As the Politico reported on April 30, after Ellen Moran stepped down as White House Communications Director, Dunn agreed to take over on an interim basis. Politico reported: "Dunn will start working next week in an interim capacity until the president settles on a permanent replacement for Moran. Dunn had initially avoided entering the administration with her fellow campaign veterans. But she has continued to serve as a key outside adviser, regularly joining strategy sessions with other members of Obama's inner circle, and was an obvious choice for members of the close-knit West Wing." Also, I hate to break it to Beck, but Dunn's not going to be going far. According to the Washington Post, Dunn "will return to Squier Knapp Dunn, the consulting firm where she is a partner, but will remain as a consultant to the White House on the communications and strategic matters."
Meghan McCain writes about the sexist double-standards women in politics face:
The brutal criticism of Sarah Palin-which will only increase when her memoir comes out-is yet another example of the double standard and cruel treatment of women in politics. Sarah has been attacked for everything from her hair to her clothes to the number of children she gave birth to. Maureen Dowd even nicknamed her "Caribou Barbie." I can't even begin to think of what that kind of judgment-criticizing parts of your life that have nothing to do with what you stand for or want to accomplish politically-feels like.
Now, I'm not about to deny that women in politics often face double-standards and outright misogyny in the way the media treats them. They do, as I have often written. And that's something that should be addressed more frequently, so I'm glad McCain has done so.
But Maureen Dowd calling Sarah Palin "Caribou Barbie" isn't an example of a double-standard in which Dowd only makes such comments about women, it's an example of Dowd being a nasty and utterly pointless columnist who relentlessly mocks politicians -- male and female -- she dislikes, often focusing on their personal appearance or what she claims is their deviation from gender norms.
Dowd has called Barack Obama a "debutante" and a "pretty boy" and "effete" and compared him to Scarlett O'Hara. She repeatedly referred to John Edwards as "The Breck Girl" and a "Material Boy" and "Secretary of Hairdressing," and at least once dedicated an entire column to an Edwards hair cut. Dowd mocked Edwards for visiting "the Pink Sapphire spa in Manchester, which offers services for men that include the 'Touch of Youth' facial, as well as trips 'into the intriguing world of makeup.'" (Dowd remained silent about John McCain's own foray into the "intriguing world of makeup" at the Pink Sapphire.) And Dowd famously wrote that Al Gore was "so feminized ... he's practically lactating." (See, Gore wore a brown suit, and ... uh ... Well, actually, that was about it.)
Of course, all of these insults from Dowd are fundamentally sexist in nature. She belittles male politicians she doesn't like by, basically, calling them women. The obvious underlying assumption is that being feminine is a bad thing. So even when she obsesses over a male politician's personal characteristics, she often does so in a way that indirectly insults women.
But Dowd's reference to Sarah Palin as "Caribou Barbie" isn't an example of her singling out women for criticism over "parts of [their] life that have nothing to do with what [they] stand for or want to accomplish politically." It's an example of her behaving like a mean-spirited seventh-grader with little of substance to say.
And it's a reminder that it actually understates the misogyny in Dowd's columns to suggest that she critiques the physical appearance of only women in politics.
According to THR, Esq., "Fox News' Glenn Beck has lost a claim that a website... was registered in bad faith and in violation of his trademark rights."
The post further notes that the crudely-named website's creator, Isaac Eiland-Hall, "argued to WIPO that he registered the website as a satirical critique of Beck's conspiratorial politics."
WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, is "dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest."
More from THR, Esq.:
WIPO's arbitration panel agreed that the website appeared "to be engaged in a parody of the style or methodology that (Eiland-Hall) appears genuinely to believe is employed by (Beck) in the provision of political commentary, and for that reason (Eiland-Hall) can be said to be making a political statement."
The domain name dispute resolution body added Eiland-Hall's speech was "strongly protected" under the First Amendment. Here's the decision.
Having won the case, Eiland-Hall rejoiced by giving the website domain to Beck with a thumb-in-the-nose letter:It bears observing that by bringing the WIPO complaint, you took what was merely one small critique meme, in a seas of internet memes, and turned it into a super-meme. Then, in pressing forward (by not withdrawing the complaint and instead filing additional briefs), you turned the super-meme into an object lesson in First Amendment principles...
Rather than choosing to strive for excellence and civic contribution, you simply pander the fears and insecurities of your audience. And in the process, you do them, and us all, a great deal of harm.
Shame on you Mr. Beck...