January 16, 2006

I Really, REALLY Don’t Want to Have to Do This
(Howard Kurtz, Again) …..

Filed under: General,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 3:22 pm

….. but Howard Kurtz, at nearly the end of his Media Notes column, which appeared on Page C01 of today’s Washington Post, wrote this regarding last week’s Ken Ward Jr. retraction:

Never Mind

Tom Blumer, who critiques the press on BizzyBlog, which is also carried by the conservative Media Research Center, ripped this columnist for last week’s piece on mine safety reporting — and particularly for spotlighting the aggressive efforts of Ken Ward of West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette.

“Kurtz Passes Off Activist as ‘Persistent Reporter,’ ” the headline said. “The most cursory of searches on Ken Ward,” wrote Blumer, an Ohio accountant, reveals that “he is a longtime environmental activist who just happens to have a job as a reporter,” having worked for the likes of Greenpeace USA and the National Environmental Law Center.

Pretty cursory indeed. Turns out that is another Ken Ward.

After a complaint from Ward the journalist, Blumer wrote that “I intensely regret, am mortified by” the error and apologized to Ward, this columnist and The Post. He said by e-mail: “In future situations, I will contact the person involved if I think there’s even the slightest chance that I might be inadvertently linking to the work of more than one person that happens to have an identical or near-identical name. As a less-than-one-year blogger, I’ve used up my allocation of rookie mistakes.”

Ward says his job covering the coal industry is “hard enough without having someone spread idiotic rumors like that.”

Responses and Corrections:

  • The complete e-mail exchange I had with Mr. Kurtz last week is reprinted at the end of the body of this post. Does anything in this exchange look like agreement on my part to anything less than the full publication I insisted on? I didn’t think so. Yet Kurtz and The Post disregarded it.
  • Talk about “cursory” — BizzyBlog is not “carried” by the “conservative Media Research Center.” Since December 9, I have submitted a total of 15 entries to NewsBusters.org, a site owned by the Media Research Center, which is partially a collection of posts produced by the site’s Contributing and Senior Editors, and partially a collection of in-site blogs from Contributing Writers. Each of my 15 NewsBusters posts have been cross-posted at BizzyBlog. My blogposts at NewsBusters are shown in my own in-site blog there, and may be promoted to the “Home” section, where the Contributing and Senior Editors appear.
  • Since December 9, besides the 15 entries just mentioned, I have posted more than 200 other entries at BizzyBlog, including many others that are partially or completely about Mainstream Media bias (i.e., NewsBusters doesn’t “carry” BizzyBlog on a single topic).
  • If Mr. Kurtz had bothered in the last 4-plus days to look at the bottom of the right frame on any NewsBusters page, he would have noticed that I’m listed as a “Contributing Writer.”
  • Kurtz’s failure to understand and/or explain the nature of the relationship between MRC, NewsBusters, and its contributors has the (perhaps intended?) effect of placing more blame for the entry I had to retract on MRC and NewsBusters than is deserved. Saying that I am “carried” by MRC would be like saying that a journalist who writes solely for The Boston Globe is “carried” by The New York Times, which happens to own The Globe, and whose copyright happens to appear at the bottom of Boston Globe web pages (free registration required).
  • A proper introduction would have been along the lines of “Tom Blumer, who critiques the press on BizzyBlog, and who also occasionally publishes blog entries at NewsBusters.org, a web site owned by the Media Research Center……”. That is accurate; Kurtz was not.

So, here we go again (ugh). My e-mail response to Mr. Kurtz’s column today follows:

Subject: The “Never Mind” section of your Jan. 16 “Media Notes” column

Mr. Kurtz,

I see that you and your paper, at the end of your “Media Notes” column today (Jan. 16), ignored and defied my insistence that the entire statement I sent to you in response to your e-mail relating to my retracted Ken Ward blog entry be published.

As promised, today I noted your failure to heed my request at this entry:


This entry also points out factual errors that you made today regarding my blog and my relationship with Media Research Center and NewsBusters.org. I would expect that after reading my entry, you and The Post will correct the record accordingly.

I would ask that you and The Post put correcting the aforementioned factual errors in the “Media Notes” column at least second in line behind a task that, as far as I can tell, still remains undone: the completion of the promised corrections to the late-December Post story on milblogger Bill Roggio (“Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War — U.S. Recruits Advocates to the Front, Pays Iraqi TV Stations for Coverage”).

As I have noted previously, my turnaround time for retraction was 18 hours at BizzyBlog and at my in-site blog at NewsBusters.org. If I am correct, and The Post’s promised corrections work on the Roggio story remains uncompleted, The Post is approximately 21 days behind my performance, and counting.

Tom Blumer


Blumer-Kurtz e-mail exchange of January 11

I received Mr. Kurtz’s first e-mail to me at roughly 3PM (there was a postscript to his e-mail, but he said he “doesn’t want to get into it” — so, again, I won’t):

Mr. Blumer,

I noted with interest your retraction and apology regarding Ken Ward.
Can I ask how you made this mistake, and if you felt any responsibility to check with Ward the reporter?

I was otherwise engaged, didn’t see the e-mail until around 7 PM. Here’s what I sent back to Mr. Kurtz at 9:35 PM (hyperlinked items were not hyperlinked in the e-mail):

Re: Your e-mail to me

Mr. Kurtz,

I insist that if The Post publishes any portion of this response to the body of your e-mail to me earlier today, that it be published in its entirety and without any editing. Whether or not The Post publishes this response, I have posted it at BizzyBlog along with the body of your original e-mail, so that readers can compare what I sent to what, if anything, The Post published.

My response to the body of your e-mail is this:
In future situations, I will contact the person involved if I think there’s even the slightest chance that I might be inadvertently linking to the work of more than one person that happens to have an identical or near-identical name. As a less-than-one-year blogger, I’ve used up my allocation of rookie mistakes.

My mistake was corrected and retracted within 18 hours of when the blog entry was originally published, and Mr. Ward accepted my apology roughly one hour later. I look forward to reading the 128 year-old Post’s completion of necessary substantive corrections to its story on milblogger Bill Roggio (“Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War”) that ran roughly 18 days ago. Please notify me when those corrections have indeed been completed.


Tom Blumer

COMEBACK: Seven minutes later (9:42), Mr. Kurtz responds:

I appreciate your response and will obviously note the correction. We do not promise to run complete statements in response to our inquiries. Thank you.

My response (9:53):

It’s obvious that you and The Post are just going to do what you want.

Your flaunting, if it indeed occurs, of what I insisted on, and had every right to insist on, will also be on the record here at BizzyBlog.


Kurtz (9:57):

Sir, I will give you a fair shot, as I do to everyone. You will notice, in fact, that I contacted you for a response, something you failed to do. Your comments will definitely be included.

Response (10:02):

Have a good night, Mr. Kurtz.


NOTE: Jan. 6 — Michelle Malkin’s entry, “The Washington Post: Bringing Bloggers Together,” states towards the end that WaPo acknowledges that more corrections are coming over and above those cited in the Jan. 8 Blackfive item below.

OTHER ROGGIO CATCHUP: for those who need it:

  • Jan. 3 — Bill Roggio: Embedded Bias?
  • Jan. 5 — BlackFive: Eleven Days: WashPo Dishonors Blogger
  • Jan. 8 — More Blackfive: Correcting a Fact and Not The Intent
  • Jan. 8 — Roggio himself: “The Easy Way – The Washington Post makes simple corrections but does not address the real issues”; scroll down this WaPo page (free registration required) for the corrections thus far
  • Dec, 26, 2005 — Original WaPo article on Roggio (free registration required), with the acknoweldged as incomplete (per the Malkin link above) Dec. 26 corrections noted at the top


UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt had a similar “WaPo moment” last July when Amy Goldstein asked to interview him (bold is mine):

I had my assistant call back and say fine. She could interview me. Only one condition: The interview had to be conducted on air, live, during my broadcast. Would she please call the show line at 3:06 Pacific?

I had a similar request from a New York Times reporter for a similar interview a couple of days back. I made the same offer. He didn’t respond.

Amy Goldstein did respond. She declined. My assistant relayed that Ms. Goldstein didn’t want her story “out there” before it ran.

Fine, I thought. But then I got to thinking: Isn’t journalism supposed to be in the public interest? If Goldstein wants information from me, and I am willing to give it to her, isn’t she putting her own interests in a “scoop” or an “angle” ahead of the public’s by refusing to conduct an interview she thought would be useful in the first place? And isn’t she going forward with a story she knows may well be unnecessarily incomplete because she doesn’t like the fact that her questions and my answers would have been on the record?

I of course want my listeners to get a chance if not to see the sausage that is MSM “news” being made, at least hear it being ground fine. I had hoped to compare whatever I was able to provide Ms. Goldstein with whatever it is that she publishes on the subject. Interesting all around, no?

But she declined to conduct the interview she requested. How interesting to note that the Post is willing to use sources that insist on anonymity, but not sources that demand transparency.

Exactly. That’s why I did what I did. They want to play with the words, the content, the meaning, and the order. They shouldn’t get to, not without being forced to leave tracks as to what they did.

Readers here were able to learn not only that Howard Kurtz and The Post will not follow their subjects’ reasonable stated wishes, but also were able to compare what I sent to what they used. This should happen more; in fact, it should happen always.

This Is Very Sad: The Martin Luther King Center Is Deteriorating and in Disarray

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:05 pm

This is one of those “read the whole thing” pieces that will leave you shaking your head.

These five paragraphs come near the end:

Public attention focused on the aging King Center almost a year ago, when The Atlanta Journal Constitution began a series of investigative articles about its finances. The articles revealed that the King Center needed repairs and ended most years with a deficit, yet paid Dexter King almost $180,000 and Martin King $150,000 in salaries and had given millions to a for-profit company run by Dexter King.

Center officials told the newspaper that the company, Intellectual Properties Management, was a contractor that provided many of the center’s employees. The articles prompted an investigation into the center’s finances by the Interior Department, which had recently increased the center’s annual stipend to $1 million from $500,000, and at about the same time the Education Department began investigating the center’s use of grant money given to develop a civil rights curriculum, Park Service officials said.

At the close of the last fiscal year, the board members voted to take the chairmanship from Dexter and give it to his brother Martin, who then had the King Center’s locks changed.

….. “To think that these folks have multimillion-dollar budgets – what do they do with them?” said Bob Holmes, a state representative and director of the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy at Clark-Atlanta University. “I ask my grad students, ‘Can you name any activity you’ve been involved in or you know about that the King Center does?’ And they can’t.”

There is talk of the whole King Center Complex being sold to The National Park Service. The article says that the property appraises for $11 million and needs $11 million in repairs. This greedy bunch should just relinquish it to the Park Service, call it a day, and spare Martin Luther King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, the sight of watching things deterioriate beyond saving. But that would make too much sense.

Re: Martin Luther King’s Legacy–I Don’t Think This Is a Coincidence

Filed under: General,Positivity — Tom @ 10:24 am

In the 2005 Annual Generosity Index compiled by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, all 10 Civil War Southern states below the Mason-Dixon Line rank in the top 20 states in the US for financial generosity (based on 2003 IRS data). The highest rankers are Mississippi (1), Arkansas (2), Tennessee (5), Alabama (6), Louisiana (7), and South Carolina (9).

I think it’s fair to ask if Martin Luther King’s message of non-violence, equality, Christian charity, and social justice may have a legacy in The South beyond race relations.

Worldwatch Institute to Developing World: It’s Your Duty to Stay Poor

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:01 am

More sky-is-falling environmentalism, as reported by BBC:

Booming nations threaten earth
Earth lacks the water, energy and agricultural land to allow China and India to attain Western living standards, a US think-tank has warned.

The Worldwatch Institute said the booming economies of China and India are “planetary powers that are shaping the global biosphere.”

Its State of the World 2006 report said the two countries’ high economic growth hid a reality of severe pollution.

It said the planet’s resources could not keep pace with such growth.

Important choices

“The world’s ecological capacity is simply insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of China, India, Japan, Europe and the United States as well as the aspirations of the rest of the world in a sustainable way,” the report added.

It said that if China and India were to consume as much resources per capita as Japan in 2030 “together they would require a full planet Earth to meet their needs”, it said.

Of course, this assumes no additional oil reserves found, no improvements in technologies, no innovation, no alternative fuels, etc. — Rubbish.

And, at least as far as the BBC piece is concerned, Worldwatch ignores what’s going on right under their noses:

The reports said the US – which continues to consume more of the Earth’s resources than any other country – needed to cooperate with China and India to help develop more environmentally friendly practices and technologies.

Uh, guy and gals, it’s happening already. It’s known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development. It includes China and India.

Ah, but enviros despise it. In the final analysis, they ridicule it because it doesn’t include alarmists like Worldwatch who would are perfectly content to let the poor stay poor — and these are people who claim a monopoly on “compassion.” Uh-huh.

I suggest the enviro poseurs head over to some quiet corner for a while, and let the adults do their jobs.

Positivity: Keshia Thomas and Martin Luther King’s Legacy

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:31 am

In 1996, Keshia Thomas went to protest a KKK rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Though there are reports that she had earlier been “yelling (protest slogans)” (the author implying that they perhaps advocated violence), what she did later counts for so much more:

Standing below on the street among 300 or so anti-Klan protesters, Keshia, an 18-year-old African American woman, caught sight of a white man watching the spectacle. He displayed Confederate flags on his vest and T-shirt. Overcome with emotion, Keshia joined a group of angry students, both black and white, who rushed the man. Keshia reported later, “I wanted to yell at him, ‘What did I ever do to you?’” Before she could engage the man, someone hit him with a sign and others began to beat him. Once on the ground the man received multiple punches and kicks to the body.

Keshia responded immediately. She threw her body over the victim to protect him from the blows. Police stepped in and led him to a squad car for a quick departure from the angry crowd. Keshia learned later the man was not a Klan member. When she came to his aid, she believed him to be a white supremacist like those leading the Klan rally above the street.

“He’s still somebody’s child…You don’t beat a man up because he doesn’t believe the same things you do,” Keshia noted after the incident. A bit surprised by all the attention she received, she said, “People don’t have to remember my name. I just want them to remember that I did the right thing” (People, July 8, 1996, page 86).

Living life based on a code of clearly defined values often produces surprising results…to everyone except the person with the values.

….. (Keshia’s value system led her to City Hall on the Saturday of the Klan rally. Keshia believes all people have a right to hold to their own beliefs even when they conflict with hers. She approached the man who would be beaten to challenge his ideas, not threaten his safety. Keshia believes no one should be abused physically for the convictions they express.

Martin Luther King would agree.