I ain't no fortunate son ...

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

Eric A has a new "Think Again" column "Of Filibusters and Stunts: Then and Now," here, and a new Nation column, "All Rupert, All the Time," here.

Greetings, all. It's Boehlert substituting for Alterman today. And for the record, I have no beef with The New York Times' Yankees/Mets coverage.

I do, however, take issue with The Weekly Standard's latest cover story, "The 9/11 Generation: Better Than the Baby Boomers," about men and women who answered the call to military duty following the terrorist attacks on America. That topic is all well and good. (Here's a moving account of a dad recently dropping his 18-year-old-son off at West Point for Cadet Basic Training day.) This being Murdoch's Standard, though, the article has to assert liberals aren't patriotic and over the years haven't answered the nation's call to duty. The best way for the Standard to do that -- or so thinks author Dean Barnett, a blogger at HughHewitt.com -- is to look back at Vietnam when all those hippies tried to dodge the draft. This is how the dim-witted blogger opens his essay:

In the 1960s, history called the Baby Boomers. They didn't answer the phone.

Confronted with a generation-defining conflict, the cold war, the Boomers -- those, at any rate, who came to be emblematic of their generation -- took the opposite path from their parents during World War II. Sadly, the excesses of Woodstock became the face of the Boomers' response to their moment of challenge. War protests where agitated youths derided American soldiers as baby-killers added no luster to their image. Few of the leading lights of that generation joined the military. Most calculated how they could avoid military service, and their attitude rippled through the rest of the century.

Of course Barnett and the Standard don't have the guts to admit it, but who is the author actually referring to when he laments those no-good baby boomers who didn't have the guts to go to Vietnam? Bingo -- George Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuilaini, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly, Dan Quayle, and Brit Hume, to name just a few.

And as Max Blumenthal recently highlighted, the right wing's chickenhawk heartbeat is still pounding strong among pro-war College Republicans.

P.S. The Weekly Standard's journalistic standards appear to be nonexistent. Not only did the 9-11 cover story purposefully gloss over the Republican Party's shameful history of draft-dodgers, but the cover article itself, billed as a comprehensive overview of military men and women, quoted exactly two people by name. Just pathetic. I mean, college newspapers wouldn't publish stuff this thin and lazy.

Apparently, Bill Kristol was too busy lashing out at liberal bloggers and YearlyKos to edit his own magazine. Joining the latest anti-blogger jihad is Bill O'Reilly, whose own brand of hypocrisy on this issue is so expansive and revealing we're going to need another word just describe it. Nonetheless, I think we have the GOP bogeyman-in-the-making for the 2008 campaign: those crummy bloggers.

And speaking of, it's now official. In his infinite wisdom, Dominick Anfuso at Free Press says I can write another book. (Anfuso's Free Press published my Lapdogs last year.) This one will be about the press and the 2008 presidential campaign, with particular emphasis to events unfolding online. Book title suggestions are being accepted at eboehlert@mediamatters.org.

Swift Boat 2004 vs. 'Swift Boat' 2008: Newsweek, Time, MSNBC, the New York Daily News, and scores more all agreed that the union firefighters criticizing Rudy Giuliani were just like the Vietnam veterans who targeted the military service of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) during the 2004 presidential run. But that's the king of phony comparisons because the Swifties manufactured their allegations. By making that false analogy, the press, once again, is letting the lying Swift Boat Vets off easy. Read more here.

Norm Solomon has teamed up with Sean Penn for a new, fast-paced documentary called War Made Easy about how the American media, time after time, makes it so -- especially with Iraq. Click here to see if there's an upcoming screening near you. You won't be disappointed. Question: How do we get War Made Easy into as many classrooms as possible?

First Holsten's, now this. I'm bursting w/ Jersey. (Don't stop believin'.)

Did The Politico really suggest that poor TV ratings for Geena Davis and Katie Couric mean trouble for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign because "white women ... responded with a shrug to both Couric and 'Commander in Chief' "? Thankfully, voters, unlike journalists, don't see politics through the prism of the celebrity culture.

This misguided opinion piece in The New York Sun Monday morning about Rupert Murdoch made me chuckle. It argues that there's no way that Murdoch, if he purchased The Wall Street Journal, would meddle with the news side because that might hurt Journal sales. "Rupert Murdoch has always shown himself to be more interested in profits than politics. He will not want to jeopardize the Journal's standing as the nation's premier business paper," writes Edward Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard. Makes me wonder if Glaeser has ever heard of the New York Post, which Murdoch has owned for several decades and during which time Murdoch has lost, by some estimates, $250 million. If Murdoch were more interested in profits than politics, then why didn't he dump the money-losing, right-wing tabloid years ago? The answer, of course, is that Murdoch is willing to lose as much as it takes in order for him to have a political platform in the New York media market. Is that too hard for Harvard economic professors to figure out?

Three cheers for Sen. Harry Reid this morning.

Why does the Bush administration hate our troops?

From New York magazine's Approval Matrix: "The gagging sound as Posh-n-Becks is shoved down America's throat."

I guess I felt the same way about CNN's YouTube debate. I mean, honestly, was there some sort of company-wide contest at CNN to see who could mention "YouTube" most often on the air? According to Matthew Felling at CBS Public Eye, prior to Monday's debate, CNN previewed the event 92 times that day. And Felling stopped counting at 4:18 p.m., which means the final tally easily topped 100. In fact, according to TVeyes.com, between July 22 and July 24, anchors, reporters and guests on CNN, along with CNN Headline News, mentioned "YouTube" more than 400 times on the air. That's nearly six mentions each hour, for 72 hours straight.

And despite the onslaught of hype, the YouTube debate actually attracted fewer viewers than CNN's Democratic debate back on June 3.

To me, it's just more proof that the often irrelevant string of presidential debates remain, first and foremost, a creation of the mainstream media as a way to generate much-needed content to fill up this absurdly long campaign cycle.

As Bob Bateman noted yesterday, The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz was at it again recently, excitedly typing up as news the latest anti-press conspiracy theory hatched by right-wing bloggers, who this time around have decided The New Republic made up first-person columns about soldiers behaving very badly in Iraq? How could the warbloggers tell? Because the columns reported that some U.S. soldiers were behaving very badly in Iraq. (The "Baghdad Diarist" columns were written by a no-longer-anonymous U.S. soldier currently serving in Iraq.)

Kurtz quotes lots of warbloggers who swear up and down that the TNR columns are fabricated. And yes, by and large, they're the same warbloggers who last winter swore up and down that the Associated Press had fabricated an Iraqi police captain, and AP source, by the name of Jamil Hussein. The man simply did not exist. Whatever.

Are the TNR columns legit? I have no idea, and I'm not going to bat for TNR here (Update: The warbloggers, once again, were wrong about the diarist being a fake.) My point here is that based on the warbloggers hollow press allegations in the past (hollow allegations that Kurtz conveniently failed to mention in his weekend report), why does the Post pretend that their claims are newsworthy?

Bottom line: When warbloggers finally get around to proving one of their beloved, the-press-hates-America/the-press-hates-the-military/the-press-wants-the-insurgents-to-win-in-Iraq conspiracy theories, that will qualify as news. But please spare us with these endless updates about the latest half-baked anti-press schemes that overly excited warbloggers think they might sort of kind of be able to prove next week. In other words, the fact that warbloggers are "raising questions" about Iraq war reporting is utterly meaningless because that's all they've been doing for the last four years.

Oh yeah, over the weekend the WaPo published yet another feature about a right-wing blogger. Like I said in February, the Post has an incessant crush on them.

You'd think that Sunday's exchange on Meet the Press would have induced cringes for editors at The New York Times' op-ed page. I mean, normally if a high-profile newspaper columnist went on national television and got caught just making stuff up -- fabricating facts out of thin air -- about hugely important public policy issues, the columnist's employer would be mortified. That's what happened Sunday on Meet the Press when Bob Woodward got New York Times columnist and White House bat boy David Brooks to admit he simply made up the fact that 10,000 Iraqis would die each month if U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq.

I say normally the Times here would be humiliated. But the sad truth is I doubt the episode produced much soul-searching at the newspaper, simply because the Times has for years been publishing Brooks columns that are literally teeming with inaccuracies. It's obvious Times editors simply do not care whether he makes stuff up or not.

Speaking of MTP, Sunday's program was also notable for the inclusion in the roundtable discussion of The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes. Or, as I prefer, Stephen-turning-point-for-the-world-Hayes. His schoolyard nickname comes from a truly classic moment in right-wing pundit cheerleading. It was during the heady days of January 2005 when the White House faithful in the conservative press were sure Karl Rove was going to fashion a spectacular second term and formalize the Republican majority instead of, you know, ruining the party. But anyway, it was the morning of January 23, and Hayes was on MTP to review Bush's inauguration address when he uncorked one of the great, unintentionally hilarious sound bites of our time:

"[W]hat the president did the other day is significant and historic and could mark a significant turning point in the history of both this nation and in the world."

Free and Easy: Hearing this 3:20 piece of perfection blaring on a country radio station while cruising down Route 29 in upstate N.Y. over the Fourth of July break, thinking about the Farmer's Daughter's roadside ice cream stand and heading to a Saratoga Phillies ballgame, remains my summer musical highlight to date. (The song earns extra credit for name-checking Cross Canadian Ragweed, one gem-of-a-band.)

Tune into Letterman tomorrow night: I got an email from my old pal Bill Janovitz, letting me know his band, Buffalo Tom, is scheduled to be on Letterman this Friday night, so everybody tune in. After a long hiatus, the band's got a killer new album, Three Easy Pieces, out on Danny Goldberg's record label. I'm bummed I missed the band's recent gig in NYC, but here they are ripping it up back in Boston a couple of weeks ago.

I've been a fan since I first saw the band, almost 20 years ago, performing in the basement of an off-campus party in the Pioneer Valley. Buffalo Tom soon became part of a very cool mid-to-late '80s Western Mass. rock growth spurt, which also featured alt-rock pioneers Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh. And around the same time, pals Frank Black and Joey Santiago formed the Pixies while attending UMass. Because hey, it's educational.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: LTC Bob Bateman
Hometown:

A very short while ago, Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp identified himself as the "Baghdad Diarist" who has been writing for The New Republic under the name "Scott Thomas." He says he is a soldier assigned to Alpha Company, 1-18 Infantry, stationed in Baghdad. I know of no reason to disbelieve this statement.

I still think some parts of his tales sound fishy (and strange as it may sound to you, it's not the gross or obscene parts that don't ring true to my ears), but I am encouraged that this Private had the moral courage to step up and stand behind his words. That takes guts. When you consider his likely age, it takes a huge amount of guts to do on a national stage. Time and scrutiny will tell if Private Beauchamp was blowing smoke or telling the whole truth, but for me this case is mostly closed. It's just not that important. Pathetic, but not important.

I still wish that the editors had checked out his stories *before* they published them, instead of after. I kind of thought that was what editors are supposed to do, or have done.

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