Sunday, May 15, 2005

Journalists I Admire

Partisans on both sides of the political aisle spend a lot of time bashing journalists and reporters. And why not? When you have reporters like the snarks at ABC's The Note tell you they don't think the media thinks the Iraq carnage is important enough to cover in between runaway bride stories and breaking "news" in the Michael Jackson trial, why should journalists garner any respect from people?

That being said, there are reporters I admire very much for their talent and skill at cutting through the webs of p.r. spun by the political hacks, the journalistic inertia that quickly becomes "conventional wisdom" in the political world, and various others forms of bullshit that provide cover for greedy and/or self-righteous people to do bad things to the American electorate. Frank Rich is one of those journalists. Nobody in "legitimate" journalism calls the religious right on their hypocrisy better. Today's Rich piece on the religious right's obsession with homosexuality is brilliant, noting that "what adds a peculiar dynamic to this anti-gay juggernaut is the continued emergence of gay people in its ranks," like Arthur Finkelstein, the political operative behind Jesse Helms' campaigns who recently married his long-time gay lover and Spokane Mayor James West, an anti-gay politician who wanted to fire gay state employees during the day while trolling for gay men on the internet by night. Rich also exposes the "recurrent emergence of gay-baiting ideologues with openly gay children (Phyllis Schlafly, Randall Terry, Alan Keyes)" to show that what the religious right hates, the religious right is. Rich does this without outing the other obvious Republican Party and Administration closet case, like California Congressman David Dreier, who lives with his boyfriend/chief of staff, Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman, Bush Spokesman Scott McClellan (a frequent visitor to the Austin gay bar scene and apparently friend to Jeff"James Guckert" Gannon, the male prostitute/journalist for Talon News) and Ed Schrock (Virginia Congressman, co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment and staunch opponent for any rights for gay people, including anti-discrimination rights in the workplace.) Rich goes on to say that the gay-baiting is going to blow up on the religious right and the Republican Party soon, since so many of them are either gay or related to gay people. So far, the gay-bating has worked, harming John Kerry for noting that the Vice Preznit's daughter, mary Cheney, is a lesbian even though she has worked as Coors Beer's Gay and Lesbian Outreach Director and Liaison. But eventually, the Dreiers, McClellans and Mehlmans of the world are going to be called on their hypocrisy on camera, and the responses will be no prettier than James West's belief that he is a hetrosexual man who has "relations with adult men."

Times columnist Paul Krugman is another journalist who calls the liars and cheats on their deception. While Josh Marshall at has done much to keep wishy-washy Dems strong in the battle for Social Security privatization, Krugman has provided all of the statistical evidence one needs to prick the hot air out of all of the mathematical "bamboozling" the privatizers have used to fool people into thinking the preznit's private accounts proposal is a good idea. Krugman does this in 300 word easy-to-digest columns that can be shared around the water cooler or over lunch, a marked contrast to the confusion spread by such journalists as Tim Russert, who seems to delight in making a complex problem even more complex (and thus easy to fool the American people on). Thank you, professor Krugman.

Finally, New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica has been holding Mayor Moneybags' feet to the fire over the stadium deal since the beginning. Today he takes on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who can almost permanently derail Bloomberg's Jets stadium bamboozle with a "no" vote when the Public Utilities Control Board meets this week to decide the issue. Lupica writes:

Silver ought to stand up to Bloomberg on this stadium deal not because of promises Bloomberg makes about the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site, but because it is the right thing to do, because there can be no other real-estate priority in this city at this time than the true rebuilding of downtown Manhattan.

Except that while Bloomberg and Pataki have become obsessed with getting this stadium built, the reconstruction plans for Ground Zero have become a bigger joke than the NHL.

Silver has indicated in the past that he sees no reason to approve this $300 million subsidy and thereby approve the stadium plan - pending all the lawsuits, of course - until he finds out whether New York is going to get the Olympics. This is only common sense. If the Jets get their stadium and New York doesn't get the Olympics, an absolute fortune in taxpayer money will go to building a football stadium that the Jets will use 10 times a year.


These politicians can't get it right at Ground Zero. But they want to make things right for the Jets, who according to Richard Kaplan in the Sports Business Journal are prepared to borrow more than $1 billion to hold up their end of this stadium.

You're supposed to believe they're doing it for you.

Joe Bruno is upstate, not New York City. Silver is supposed to be New York City. He has the chance to stand and deliver this week. Or roll over for the mayor of big checks, and big money, like everybody else.

Bloomberg can't be shamed into doing what's right. That much is obvious. I hope Silver can be. As long as there are columnists brave enough and angry enough to call politicians on their bullshit, we've always got a chance to beat bastards like Bloomberg and Bush in the end. Remember, they got Nixon, and they can get these guys. It just will take some courage and guts that the snarks at The Note don't have and wouldn't buy if they could (though their all dying to get themselves a genuine nickname from the preznit!)

PS: Honorable Mention Roll: Bob Herbert, Molly Ivins, Keith Olbermann.

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