Saturday, July 30, 2011

I told you Rupert Murdoch wants the murderers to win

The End of America's Most Wanted: Good News for Criminals, Bad News for the FBI

The fugitives of the U.S. may be heaving a sigh of relief at the news that the television show America's Most Wanted is no more. After 23 years of profiling the dregs of the criminal underworld — directly leading to 1,154 arrests by law-enforcement agencies — the show was canceled in May by Fox, and its final episode aired last month. The close working relationships that host John Walsh cultivated with the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service over the years was an unprecedented collaboration between law enforcement and television. It was one of the very first reality shows that resulted in great TV and did a lot of good. Its cancellation leaves a hole both of those agencies will now need to fill.

"This is a big hit for us. The show is invaluable," says Geoff Shank, assistant director of investigative operations for the U.S. Marshals Service. "We have arrested so many heinous people and we've saved so many lives because of America's Most Wanted." Kevin Perkins, assistant director of the FBI's criminal-investigations division, echoes the sentiment. "I personally hate to see it go," Perkins tells TIME. "We had 17 of our most wanted fugitives captured because of them and over 550 different cases solved as a result of tips."

It is worth noting that AMW had ratings that dwarfed the freak shows hosted by Jane Velez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace on HLN. This puts the lie to the idea that networks put on trashy tabloid shoutfests because "that's what the viewers want." Nancy Grace prospers while AMW is canceled because her show is CHEAP (and here) More viewers "wanted" AMW than Grace. The bean counters get the final vote, not the audience.


Cable news, vox populi, and professional sleaze

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My vote is "Yes"

The threat of Nancy Grace

Here's a question to consider: Is Turner Broadcasting's abuse of its power as a news organization through the biased coverage of criminal trials really any less a betrayal of public trust than the Murdoch tabloid scandal now underway in Britain?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our generation's Long Telegram

Many historians and most pundits hate to credit Ronald Reagan with winning the Cold War. There is, in fact, a wide-spread loathing to even speak of a U.S. victory in the long, twilight struggle. Instead, the conventional wisdom runs something like this: "Ronald Reagan, an amiable dunce, happened to be president when Gorbachev decided to end the Cold War."

Historian Paul Kengor begs to differ and he has the newly declassified documents to back it up.

Predicting the Soviet Collapse

When we look back at the Cold War, we remember big names and big statements and documents. There’s nary a college course on the Cold War that excludes George Kennan’s seminal “Long Telegram,” sent from the U.S. embassy in Moscow in February 1946. Kennan’s memo prophetically captured what the free world faced from the USSR at the start of the Cold War, forecasting a long struggle ahead. Herb Meyer’s November 1983 memo likewise prophetically captured what the free world faced from the USSR, but this time nearing the end of the Cold War, uniquely forecasting a long struggle about to close — with victory.

George Kennan’s memo is remembered in our textbooks and our college lectures. Herb Meyer’s memo merits similar treatment.
Meyer worked for William Casey at CIA. He was an outsider and something of bombthrower. In addition to his memo on Cold War strategy, he and his boss had an acute sense of the weaknesses that beset the analytical branch of the Agency.

Meyer found his NIC [National Intelligence Council] colleagues unhurried, complacent, serene. '"hey had a phrase that drove me crazy," he recalled. "You'd raise a hypothesis and they'd answer, 'we have no evidence of that.' What do you mean, you have no evidence? Is there no evidence, or didn't you ask the right questions to get the evidence? Where did you look? 'We have no evidence' can mean you never looked at all, never asked....

"'We don't have any evidence' is a non-sequitur. Bill and I would go ballistic when they'd tell us that. Did they expect it to turn up in the mailbox?"

Joseph Persico, Casey
Sadly, this problem persisted even after Meyer, Casey, and Reagan were proven right about the Soviet unions problems.

Donald Rumsfeld wrote this in his recent memoirs:

I first heard a variant of the phrase 'known unknowns' in a discussion with former NASA administrator William R. Graham when we served together on the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission in the late 1990s. Members of our bipartisan commission were concerned that some briefers from the U. S. intelligence community treated the fact that they lacked information about a possible activity to infer that the activity had not happened and would not. In other words, if something could not be proven to be true, then it could be assumed not to be true.

The future of blogging

A couple of pessimistic posts

The Slow, Painful Coming Death Of The Independent, Conservative Blogosphere

The narrowing of the blogosphere

I don't disagree with the grim prognosis.

All in all, this is good news for the MSM. They may shrink in size and profitability, but they will still control the narrative. Both posts note that Twitter and Facebook have dented the growth in blog readership. Neither of these present the same challenge to the MSM as blogs. Snarky tweets about MoDo or Howard Kurtz are quick and easy but they don't change many minds. They are just background noise.

Blogs, especially the long-form blogging that Den Beste did or that Neo-neocon still does, has the potentially to break the MSM's monopoly on "explanation space". That's what KC Johnson did in the Duke lacrosse case, what Powerline did in Rathergate, and what 2d Amendment bloggers have been doing for years.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Did the Casey Anthony jury prevent a miscarriage of justice?

Software Designer Reports Error in Anthony Trial

Assertions by the prosecution that Casey Anthony conducted extensive computer searches on the word “chloroform” were based on inaccurate data, a software designer who testified at the trial said Monday.

The designer, John Bradley, said Ms. Anthony had visited what the prosecution said was a crucial Web site only once, not 84 times, as prosecutors had asserted. He came to that conclusion after redesigning his software, and immediately alerted prosecutors and the police about the mistake, he said.
If this story is true, then a key part of the case for premeditated murder was based on a faulty analysis. Furthermore, the police and prosecutors knew they were presenting misleading data to the jury in what was a death penalty case.

That's Mike Nifong territory.

As per usual, the spittle-spewing, self-appointed Furies at HLN have no interest in this possible crime that occurred right in front of their eyes. Instead, they are intent on determining the whereabouts of Casey Anthony and vilifying the jurors who dared to defy the cable lynch mob,


Atticus Finch doesn't work here

Always be suspicious when they try to blame the dead guy

Justice Department lawyers contradict FBI findings in anthrax case

Now, however, Justice Department lawyers have acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins' lab — the so-called hot suite — didn't contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jason Whitlock tells it like it is

Like James Harrison, Whitlock understands that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is an opportunistic fraud.

Harrison voices frustrations of many


Nancy Grace: Unifying left and right, bloggers and the MSM

How Nancy Grace has reinvented journalism’s ‘Sob Sister’

Professional vigilante and mawkish sentimentalist, Nancy is full of something, but it’s not grace. While accusing other lawyers of avarice and opportunism, she makes her own fortune by angry denunciations of defense efforts, almost always accompanied by lachrymose attention to the plight of the victim, especially if she is white, female, pretty — and missing.

A Sordid Cast Around Casey Anthony

She doesn’t serve the cause of victims with such histrionics. She serves the cause of Nancy Grace. And she succeeds only in trivializing everything — and getting ratings. A record 5.2 million viewers turned to HLN on the judgment day. Apparently many of us share her appetite for gross caricatures of good and evil, and come out of this as graceless as she.

What hath Murdoch wrought (for the Right)?

Mark Riebling suggests that what was good for News Corp. has been mostly bad for American conservatism.

The Case for Right-Wing Tennis Elbow

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Looks like Laura Ingraham is a metrocon

Why does a man even need a purse? A man should carry around exactly two items: a wallet and a phone. If you routinely tote anything more than that, you just might be a woman.

She forgot the flashlight and pocketknife.

Nancy Grace hates America and the Founding Fathers

How Democracy Crumbles: Implosion of the Jury System

First, in our system of criminal justice, the State must prove its case. This is such a fundamental concept for the American system that it is almost embarrassing to mention. Nonetheless, it seems that many people in the media and protesters outside of the courthouse have forgotten that all-important concept. But this idea that the State must prove the guilt of the accused, and prove it beyond a “reasonable doubt” to a jury of peers is the key stone that protects us from arbitrary oppression by the State. The Founding Fathers considered this an essential bulwark of liberty. So when the jurors in the Casey Anthony case explain that they could not convict Ms. Anthony because the State had not proven the allegations, that is an extremely serious charge and one that indicates that the system is working.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not to be missed

The dangerous spread of the Nancy Grace virus

Until you look into the shifty eyes of Nancy Grace, until you hear the poisonous accusations rolling smoothly off her tongue, you cannot understand what cable TV has done to American criminal justice. On 24-hour U.S. television “news,” the law has become a morality play narrated by media stars who believe they know what viewers should think.

In other Nancynews, Bill O'Reilly decided to defend the belle of the freakers ball on his show last night. He even had her on to spew her usual mixture of toxic bile and maudlin self-justification.

Seemed strange that Fox News would ride to the rescue of a competitor. Are they trying to recruit her? Or is it just a reflexive anti-MSM reaction: if Time magazine is against it, then FNC is for it?

My theory, Bill O'R doesn't see Nancy as a competitor and he relates to her as another pseudo-populist bully.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quote of the day

"Anybody who thinks he'll attend a trial in order to learn the facts of the case is a graven fool. It is a chess game, I tell you. Each side presents only the facts and opinions that serve their case, and they slant their facts to strengthen their position."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Casey Anthony: Strange priorities of cable news


Cable news, especially Nancy Grace and her flying monkeys at HLN, keeps beating the dead horse that is the Casey Anthony case. The jury is now in their crosshairs for the unforgivable act of rendering a verdict that was out of step with the wishes of the cable mob.

Some good posts that go against the grain:

Justice was done: Casey Anthony is not the new O.J. Simpson

Casey Anthony and the Law And Order Effect

The Casey Anthony verdict: the jury was right and Nasty Nancy (as always) is wrong

HLN's obsession with the verdict reveals what passes for justice in Nancy Grace's world. It is a perverted thing, twisted by a manipulative demagogue who is both dishonest and cowardly. HLN is delighted that she draws viewers by stoking their sense of outrage. It says something about the journalistic standards at CNN that they are happy to have her on their team. (I wonder what fearless media critic Howard Kurtz will say about Grace's ravings on "Reliable Sources"?)

Poor Paddy Chayefsky. He Pulled out all the stops when he wrote "Network". Yet, even his rich imagination could not conceive of the nightly freakers ball hosted by Jane Velez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace. Did he even suspect that the executives at CNN would look at his masterpiece and see a business model instead of a prophetic warning?

It says something about the ethos of cable news that they have spent many more hours discussing this single “not guilty” verdict than they devoted to the dozens and dozens of wrongful convictions and the innocent men who spent years on death row.

UPDATE (11 July):

"Reliable Sources" did a pretty decent job on the Anthony case. They, at least, acknowledged that Nancy Grace led the charge on this media circus and that the overkill was excessive. OTOH, Kurtz did not play up Grace's most outrageous statements (e.g. "Somewhere ou there, the Devil is dancing tonight" after the verdict came in). For a show and critic that always hammered Beck for his most extreme statements, HK was much such nicer to Nancy his fellow CNNer.


Attticus Finch doesn't work here

Duke lacrosse: how important is the Gang of 88?

Friday, July 08, 2011

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

David Zurawik really, really hates Glenn Beck

His column on Beck's exit from Fox news is heavy on emotion, light on facts, devoid of logic, and saturated with hypocrisy and an Orwellian urge to rewrite history.

Glenn Beck, Fox end dark, nasty cable era today
Controversial host leaves a legacy of reckless, divisive speech behind

One of the things that sets professional journalists apart from the unwashed masses is their appreciation of nuance and their rejection of of simplistic black and white thinking.

I am glad to see Beck leaving Fox News today, and I do not have one good thing to say about him -- or Fox for giving him this pulpit.


OK, maybe Zurawik is right that. Maybe Beck is way out there with Hitler, Stalin, and serial killers. Unadulterated evil with no redeeming characteristics. But i doubt it. Even if i knew nothing of Beck I'd still question Zurawik's conclusions because the case he presents is so laughably weak.

Our outraged critic leads off by blaming Beck for our climate of incivility even when Beck is the victim of boorish, intolerant behavior:

I wonder why he found it surprising that he and his family were not embraced by a crowd at Bryant Park when they attended an outdoor film showing there recently...

Of course, it is unfortunate if what he says happened did happen. But given his reckless on-air attacks on the president of the United States and others, I do not think he should be surprised by any hostility he encounters in his off-air life.

Our betters in the MSM love to lecture us about the necessity to tolerate unpopular speech. But Zurawik's comments makes one wonder about their sincerity. Apparently, some unpopular speech deserves to be met with open hostility; We show our tolerance by acting intolerant. Black is white, up is down.

That's nuance.

Our intrepid critic-- a made member of the MSM-- does not know what happened in Bryant Park. But he has his doubts.

what we mainly have is Beck's tearful on-air account during Tuesday's show of what happened to him and his family. And Beck is not exactly my idea of a reliable narrator.

An honest man might do a little digging before he accuses someone of lying. We naive amateurs assume that journalists are paid to 'get to the bottom of the story.' (Actually most of us no longer assume that, but the MSM keeps telling us that's what they do.)

It's not too hard to find evidence that supports Beck's account. It must be fairly easy because even bloggers could do it.

What we see here is the political utility of journalistic agnosticism. As long as Zurawik does not know what happened to Beck and his family then he can slyly suggest that Beck is lying.

The rest of his bill of particulars is equally dishonest. For instance, he trots out Van Jones as a victim of the insidious Beck.

He called one of Obama's senior aides, Van Jones, a communist, and he went after him day after day after day for one stretch on his show, using rhetoric straight out of the ugly McCarthy era of the 1950s.

Which just goes to prove that Barbara Olson was exactly right:
In our political culture, the incantation of "McCarthyism" serves as a kind of permanent restraining order on legitimate inquiries about the political past of people on the Left.

Before Beck called Van Jones a communist, Van Jones called himself a communist.

Jones had planned to move to Washington, DC, and had already landed a job and an apartment there. But in jail, he said, "I met all these young radical people of color -- I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.'" Although he already had a plane ticket, he decided to stay in San Francisco. "I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary." In the months that followed, he let go of any lingering thoughts that he might fit in with the status quo. "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th," he said. "By August, I was a communist."

If McCarthyism is bad because the Tailgunner accused innocent people of being communists, then it is absurd to invoke his name when it come to the Beck-Van Jones story.

Or is now an act of lese-majeste to tell the truth about Obama's czars?

In Z-world, calling Van Jones a communist was an act of unparallelled depravity. It is much worse calling the president a fascist war criminal.

Zurawik claims that Beck's reporting was "as nasty and dirty" as anything that took place during the 1950s blacklist. Yet, at the heart of the blacklist was the attempt to silence unpopular reporters and entertainers by pressuring their sponsors. Beck did not do that; the allies and associates of Van Jone tried to do that to Beck. In his sputtering, unthinking rage our esteemed critic hopes we won't remember that.

I've never been a big fan of Beck. I think even conservatives can find plenty to criticize about his show. Thoughtful criticism is essential to reasoned discourse. Zurawik wants us to believe that he is a defender of such discourse and that his attack on Beck was a necessary part of that defense. In the end, though, his column can best be described by the epithets he hurled at Beck: "ugly," "paranoid," "angry", "reckless", "hateful", "off-the-wall".

Maybe Pogo was right-- Zurawik has met the enemy and he is him.

Friday, July 01, 2011

MSNBC, Mark Halperin, and the question of hypocrisy


Flashback: MSNBC Hosts Called Bush a Murderous Fascist, Never Faced Suspensions

The real message our war on Libya sent to rogue states

Over at Verum Serum:

Gaddafi’s Son: Lesson of Libya is Don’t Disarm or Trust the West

The message of Iraq was, you can only mess with the US so much. The same with Afghanistan. But Libya made moves in our direction just a few years ago. Now we’re trying to kill the leader who made those moves. So why would we expect dictators in Iran or Syria to do anything similar, no matter what carrots we have to offer?