"The horror, the horror ..."

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

We've got a new "Think Again" column here called "9/11-De-Commissioned."

So what does one learn, whether intentional or not, from a Howard Kurtz story on Chris Matthews?

When Matthews announced at a big celebration for his show that the Bush administration had "finally been caught in their criminality," nobody amongst the luminaries appeared to know what he was talking about. Howard doesn't seem to know, either. "What criminality was he talking about?" Howard asks, and I don't get the impression that he means there are too many choices from which to pick.

Kurtz apparently thinks Matthews is the "smartest-guy-in-the-studio," though perhaps he was being ironic.

Kurtz apparently does not feel he needs to credit Media Matters with the research upon for the examples regarding the things that Matthews has said about women.

Kurtz apparently thinks, like Matthews, that because he addressed the single instance of a single comment he made about Hillary Clinton, there is no reason for him to address the litany of comments listed in the article, which is itself a fraction of what was contained in the Media Matters research.

Kurtz writes: "Last spring, he was caught on the air using a curse word for excrement -- he didn't realize the show had come back from commercials -- about a taped segment he did not want his staff to run. But staffers say he also apologizes -- sometimes with a hug and a declaration of love -- after inappropriate remarks."

Amazingly, in the above paragraph, Kurtz does not mention that Matthews did not "hug" and declare his love for his producer, Tammy Haddad, after he was heard to curse on the air. He fired her.

Kurtz writes, "Matthews is proud of his scars. He says he has learned to be more careful but that bloggers are taking some of his language out of context." But the ace reporter Kurtz does not think to ask for, um, an example ... ?

And this guy is supposed to be the toughest media reporter in the MSM? Really, it's laughable ...

Oh, and by the way, nowhere does it mention in the online version that "Conflict of Interest" Kurtz hosts a program on a competing network, nor that he frequently writes books and enjoys being booked on shows like Matthews' to promote them.

Rick Hertzberg and I participated in a forum on Greg Anrig's book, The Conservatives Have No Clothes. You can watch it if you like, on Fora TV, here.

I'm not surprised Ken Silverstein responded in a nasty fashion to the post yesterday where I reminded people that not long ago, in his hit job on Obama, he had him pegged as a potential vice presidential candidate about 15 minutes before Obama announced for the presidency and when, contrary to Silverstein's claim, it was already under discussion in many, many places in print and elsewhere. It's a pity, however, that he had to respond so clumsily. Silverstein's dander is up because he thinks I called him "America's worst pundit." But the rest of the world understood pretty well that I was referring directly to William Kristol, whom I discussed in the previous paragraph. (I don't think Sliverstein is a pundit, which is hardly an insult.) He then goes to the trouble to find a bunch of things I said in a conversation which, ripped out of context, sound wrong today. But I'm guessing that if I went to the trouble of going back and looking directly at the quotes in question, I could find sufficient qualifiers purposely ignored by Silverstein to demonstrate that I was not saying what he pretends I am. (And don't forget, Silverstein is quoting something I said in conversation, not something I wrote in a monthly magazine. Ann Althouse did the same thing to me in both her blog and in a New York Times op-ed. This is one reason, aside from a lack of time, I stopped doing bloggingheads.tv. It's ridiculous to say something in conversation and to have people treat it as if, well, as if you wrote it in a fact-checked monthly magazine.)

This is par for Silverstein's course, of course. Uniquely famous to most of the world for being a proud, admitted liar, he once, shortly after he left Alexander Cockburn's employ -- and this nut certainly did not fall far from that tree -- wrote a lengthy hatchet job on me for The Village Voice that did not contain a single on-the-record quote from anyone. Had anyone asked me back then, I could have told them Silverstein was a liar long before he finally admitted it.

I'm sure I can expect yet another nasty post from Silverstein tomorrow, or whenever. I hope to be able to let it go. People may think I enjoy this, but truthfully, I find this crap extremely tiresome. It's part of my job as a media critic, and lord knows journalists are the world's most thin-skinned people, but really, all this upset because Silverstein misread a comment I made about Kristol and objected to being accurately quoted about Obama?

Come now...

This Week on Moyers:

Does America's $9 trillion federal debt mean we are mortgaging our future and jeopardizing individual savings, health care, and retirement for generations to come? Bill Moyers gets a reality check from Public Agenda's Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson, co-authors of Where Does the Money Go?: Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis. Also on the program, Sarah Chayes, author and former journalist who has been helping rebuild Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime, with a look at the front lines of America's war there. And photographer Lori Grinker takes viewers to Amman, Jordan, for a devastating look at the fate of Iraqi refugees displaced by the conflict.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: John B
Hometown: Des Moines, IA

Limbaugh, Hannity, and the other lions of right-wing talk radio like to claim that their ratings and market penetration prove the superiority of their ideas and ideology. Ignored in this argument is the reality that broadcasting is driven by advertisers, with listeners being a measure and not a driver of success. This wouldn't be an important distinction if it weren't for the fact that network upper management plays a key role in determining what gets on air. For proof look no further than the efforts by ABC Radio to hamstring Air America Radio.

When the talkers turn to this subject it is apparent that nothing scares them so much as the prospect of loss of advertising revenue. The firing of Don Imus brought them all to their microphones in righteous indignation that he could be held accountable for his speech "even though I don't agree with what he says." Even though they've been more than happy to back boycotts of Disney by the Southern Baptists and the like, they're apoplectic at the thought of a Michael Savage boycott. The talkers portray this as an attempt by liberals to take their freedom of speech, an astounding claim. These talkers continue to have the freedom to say anything they wish, but my reading of the Constitution doesn't turn up any inherent right to a paid radio microphone and an audience of millions for their rants. If they didn't agree with my take on this then they would have defended the right of the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines to publicly criticize President Bush.

Name: Ian
Hometown: Los Angeles

In all the subterfuge about the reason so many Dems voted for it (have to show ourselves as strong on national security, you know), the vote reveals that there are two sets of laws in this country. Rather, there's almost no law for the corporations and Mr. Bush and a lot of law keeping down the little people. One wonders why we don't think of taking to the streets? Oh, I know, we might miss the next episode of American Idol.

Name: Fran
Hometown: Hillsborough, NJ

There was another important story "this week on the administration's horrid treatment of our troops."

Limbo for U.S. Women Reporting Iraq Assaults

These women have no recourse because of Bush administration policies concerning military contractors.

Name: John Dearling
Hometown: Iowa

I wrote to all the Dem. Senators who have been siding with the Republicans asking them not to vote for Amnesty. I also included some Reps that have broken ranks a bit in the past.

Obviously it fell on deaf ears. I signed a petition from a link on the Greenwald site asking the House not to support the Senate's amnesty bill.

I just finished an email to Verizon wireless alerting them to the fact that I will drop their service the same day Bush signs any bill that allows amnesty for both his corrupt administration and those telecoms that not only gave away yours and my privacy, but also got paid big bucks to do so. Did you know that? It's not just a case of handing over records under coercion. They got paid big money to give away your privacy.

I don't know that I want any and everyone to be able to sue their telecom. I believe there is far and away too much of that occurring today. People have to learn to take responsibility for their actions and not try to find someone else to blame so they can also score financially. That practice is causing us all harm in price escalations. I think the Telecoms should have to give back the money they were paid and have it distributed in the tax refund we're suppose to get. I want this Administration held accountable for undermining, ignoring, and manipulating the law.

I do not want them to get off Scott Free and I definitely want this corrupt Administration punished so this modus operandus doesn't continue with the next admin., and the next. If we don't prosecute each and every one of these criminal acts until this trend stops, illegal acts in the government will continue and most likely grow exponentially.

What are you doing to protect your rights?

Name: Megan
Hometown: Seattle

Dr. A...you can LIKE Huck...just don't VOTE for him!

Name: John A. Hall
Hometown: Canoga Park

I would nominate Tom Russell to the Country Music Hall of Fame. With great songs that range from "Touch of Evil" to "The Hills of Old Juarez" to "Who's Going to Build Your Wall," he is a great example of quality that should be recognized.

Name: chris schell
Hometown: milton pa

Should-be country hall of fame inductees:
Charlie Poole
Gid Tanner (The Skillet Lickers)
Woody Guthrie (maybe Arlo for that matter)
Pete Seeger
Roscoe Holcomb

Name: Rob Tomshany
Hometown: Tulsa, OK

Among other people I'd nominate for the Country Music Hall of Fame would be Charlie Poole (purveyor of pre-bluegrass old-time string band music, amazing he isn't in yet), Al Dexter (not many hits, but when your big one is "Pistol Packin' Mama" you don't need that many others) and the Hoosier Hot Shots (fit company for Minnie Pearl, the Duke of Paducah and other country comedians).

I'd also cite several non-musicians: Syd Nathan (founder of King Records, encouraged his country artists to record R&B tunes and his R&B artists to record country tunes), Harry Smith (record collector extraordinaire, the original anthologist of American folk music) and Bill C. Malone (writer of Country Music U.S.A., still perhaps the best book ever about the music).

Malone may have hampered his chances of getting in by publicly defending the Dixie Chicks' right to speak out against George W. Bush's Iraq war, but for me this letter confirms Malone's love of country music. Not only is he justifiably ticked off over attempts to stereotype the country audience as narrowly conservative, he's also clearly opposed to attempts to define country music in the narrow terms set by the country music industry. Malone may not be elected to the official Country Music Hall of Fame while he's still alive, but he's earned a place in the Country Hall of Fame in our hearts.

Name: Adam Sirkin
Hometown: Phoenixville, PA

One reader was kind of enough to point out that Tom T. Hall is among several artists just elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame. That mention, along with all the recent praise of Joe Henry, reminded me of a connection between the two artists. Henry does an absolutely mesmerizing version of Tom T's song, "Homecoming," on a tribute album called "Real: The Tom T. Hall Project". There are many great songs on the album, but Henry's is the standout and demands a listening. Henry brings his unique "dark groove" to a great country song. Henry also wrote the liner notes.

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