Thursday, January 12, 2006

“Potentially Delicious” Scandal Bias

by L. Brent Bozell III

You can just feel the media’s euphoria over lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleading guilty to fleecing clients and throwing goodies at legislators. Overnight, Rush Limbaugh could play an audio montage of various anchors and pundits proclaiming it was the biggest scandal to hit Washington in decades. Everywhere you turned, it was “huge,” of “historic proportions.” Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz called it “potentially delicious.” The joy was reminiscent of old Post editor Ben Bradlee’s line about Iran-Contra: “We haven’t had this much fun since Watergate.”

This scandal is big – no questions about that. But by what measure is this story so huge and historic? How does it compare to the House Bank scandal of 1992, which resulted in a number of congressional careers ended? How does Abramoff compare to the related mess at the House Post Office, which led to the eventual conviction of House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski?

There was no glee in the newsrooms then, when it was Democrats.

When Speaker Jim Wright was forced out in 1989 for dozens upon dozens of ethical violations? “Mindless cannibalism,” Wright called it, and they agreed. When Majority Whip Tony Coelho scooted away behind Wright, the media mourned America’s loss.

How does Casino-gate, or whatever we’re going to call this one, compare to the Asian fundraising scandal of 1996? No one mentioned that, either. Investor’s Business Daily published a very informative graphic showing that 22 foreign figures and Democrat activists plugging away for Clinton-Gore and Democratic candidates were convicted by the federal probe of that scandal. (And that figure does not include the people that fled the country rather than testify.) How is the Abramoff plea already bigger than that?

As expected, Democrats and their gaggle of supportive bloggers are claiming it’s outrageous for anyone to suggest that Jack Abramoff could be connected to Democrats.

They argue that because Abramoff was Republican and the majority of his funding went to Republicans, the discussion should end there. After all, the GOP is the Party of Corruption, is it not?

The very idea that Howard Dean & Co. think they can suggest to the public that it is Republicans who represent a “culture of corruption,” and not the party of the Clintons, Rosty, and Wright, is an exercise in self-delusion – or outright fabrication.

Last week, yet another old Democratic fundraising scandal emerged again, with barely a peep from the liberal media. The Associated Press sent out a squib of an article by reporter Devlin Barrett. The news? Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate committee agreed to pay a $35,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for under-reporting the cost of a Hollywood fundraiser by more than $720,000. This is no tiny boo-boo in oversight. In fact, understating the fundraiser’s budget was essential to enable Hillary to hoard more “hard money” dollars in the late months of the campaign. To an ethical midget, the game was clear: cheat now, win the seat, pay a tiny fine later, and watch the liberal media whisper right past it.

Hillary Clinton is constantly touted as our next president, and it’s going to be amusing watching this cattle-futures bribe-taker running against a “culture of corruption.”But just as her husband could look straight into a TV camera and lie through his teeth, so too will Hillary pounce on rhetoric that is one part disingenuous and two parts hypocritical. She’ll do it because no one in the Run Hillary Run media club will expose her.

How was Hillary’s Hollywood-party fine covered? On January 6, The Washington Post just carried the 325-word AP dispatch inside the paper. The New York Times gave it little more than 100 words on page B-4 in a “Metro Briefs” section. It was buried even further still as story number six in that column. Nothing emerged on ABC. Or CBS. Or NBC. Or NPR. (CNN mentioned it briefly on “American Morning,” right before its brief item on the “Bubble Gum Bandit.”) USA Today, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News? Nothing.

Dave Pierre at had some fun exploring the bias by omission at the Los Angeles Times. This paper had no Hillary story, but on the 6th, it did carry 2,315 words in two articles on NBC’s liberal “Book of Daniel” premiere, 1,431 words on liberal Jon Stewart hosting the Oscars, 182 words on Pat Robertson’s bizarre Ariel Sharon remarks, and another 1,477 words (starting on Page One) on the decline in the popularity of tennis. Pierre was especially wincing over this factoid: the offending Hillary fundraiser was held in Hollywood, smack-dab on the paper’s stomping grounds.

But let it not be said that the Los Angeles Times doesn’t cover corruption. The day before, the front page carried a big, long Abramoff story with a tiny mention of Hillary Clinton’s Abramoff connection.

Man sues chatroom pals: I was humiliated beyond what 'no man could endure'


An AOL chatroom named 'Romance — Older Men' was the scene of unbearable humiliation for one chatter, according to a new lawsuit.

By J.K. Dineen
Court TV

Mike Marlowe fully admits that he sometimes gave George Gillespie a hard time in that AOL chatroom.
But never in his wildest imagination did he expect to be sued in court for what he characterized as "razzing."
"We gave him crap," said Marlowe, a 33-year-old welder in Fayette, Ala. "I'm not going to deny it. I teased him and he teased me back. He gave it back better than he ever got it."
A generation ago, such petty personal beefs might have been settled with fists outside the corner bar, but now it's the Internet age — and Ohio resident George Gillespie instead filed a $25,000 lawsuit against two erstwhile cyber chums he met in the sprawling 900-room, mostly anonymous society that makes up AOL's chat universe.
Gillespie, 53, claims that Marlowe and Bob Charpentier, a 52-year-old Oregon resident, insulted him and harassed him in the AOL chatroom called "Romance — Older Men" to the point where it inflicted "severe emotional distress and physical injury that is of a nature no reasonable man could be expected to endure it."
The complaint, expected in court on Jan. 31 for a pretrial conference, also names AOL as a defendant for allowing the alleged harassment to take place.
Gillespie alleges that the duo intruded into his "private affairs." The complaint states that Marlowe actually drove from Alabama to Ohio to photograph the plaintiff's home, which he then posted on the Web. He also allegedly went to the courthouse in Medina to dig up personal dirt on Gillespie, which he then also disseminated over the Internet.
The case is not simply "someone conversing in a chatroom" but also involves "harassing someone in Ohio," which gives Ohio courts jurisdiction, according to Gillespie's lawyers.
"Had the defendants stayed in the chatrooms, there would be no jurisdiction here, case closed" Gillespie's attorney Theodore Lesiak stated in the complaint. "Defendant did not."
But Marlowe said he works 60 hours a week at an autobody shop and laughed at the notion that he would drive from Alabama to Ohio to take pictures of Gillespie's house.
"I have never been to Ohio and I have absolutely no desire to go to Ohio," Marlowe said. "There is nothing there — the Cincinnati Bengals are there, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame maybe, and that's about it."
Even if Marlowe did take a trip to Ohio, posting a picture of someone's house on the Internet does not violate privacy laws, according to Chris Hoofnagle, attorney with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
"Those norms require the aggressor to engage in behavior that is highly offensive to a reasonable person," he said. "Taking a picture of somebody's house and putting it up on the Web is not that."
Hoofnagle said Gillespie's emotional distress claim will also be tough to prove.

"We live in a rough society, as compared to Europe, where offending someone or directly cursing or attacking their dignity can give you a cause of action," he said.
Power Struggle in 'Romance — Older Men'
Charpentier said he first encountered Gillespie more than five years ago and at first, the two chatters were friendly. But Charpentier says he quickly became disenchanted by what he saw as Gillespie's mean streak.
Things really turned ugly four years ago when Charpentier traveled to Kentucky to meet another chatroom regular, a woman who was also a friend of Gillespie's. The blind date did not go particularly well, and when Charpentier returned to he discovered that Gillespie had gone on the attack.
"He just came in slamming on me, saying all kinds of derogatory crap: that I was a fat, bald, broke old man who sits around in a rusted wheelchair," said Charpentier, who has a chronic back injury. "I don't even own a wheelchair."
Charpentier, who has filed a response seeking to reserve the right to file a $125,000 countersuit against Gillespie, said Gillespie threatened to kill him and "made sick and disgusting remarks about the passing of my grandmother."
"He is an AOL computer thug, that is all he is," Charpentier said.
Marlowe characterized the dispute as a petty power struggle. He said Gillespie was the de facto leader of the "Romance — Older Men" chatroom, and didn't like it when he and Charpentier challenged his authority.
But Marlowe said he never took the chatroom antics personally — until he was served with a lawsuit.
"I don't know how four years of bantering back and forth led to this insane nonsense," he said. "It's just the Internet, for God's sake. It's nothing important."
Michael Gordon, an attorney for AOL, declined to comment, saying, "This is just the beginning stages of this thing."
Megan Gray, a Washington D.C.-based intellectual property attorney who specializes in cyber issues, called it "a loser of a case." She said the Communications Decency Act gives AOL immunity from chatroom misconduct.
"AOL cannot be held liable for the actions of people on the site," she said.
She also suggested the case against Marlowe and Charpentier was doomed.
"The Internet is such a vibrant, young medium, these types of cases are not taken seriously," she said.

Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy Had Racial Covenants

It's particularly ironic that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee would try to smear Samuel Alito as racist for his 1980s membership in a Princeton organization that was against affirmative action - especially given the backgrounds of Alito's leading critics on the Committee.
In fact, Senators Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden have some significant exposure of their own on the racial sensitivity front, given the fact that both their families owned homes that were restricted by "racial covenants" from being sold to blacks, Jews or other minorities.
The startling news emerged in 1986, during confirmation hearings for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Back then, Democrats were in the midst of skewering Rehnquist as a racist because a deed on a home he once owned had a racial covenant.
But the tables were turned when Republicans on the Committee learned that both Kennedy and Biden's families owned property with the same kind of racial restrictions.
United Press International picked up the story, reporting at the time: "The parents of Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., own a home in Wilmington, Del., that has an old deed prohibiting sale or occupancy by blacks."
Biden insisted that neither he nor his parents knew about the racist restriction. The Delaware Democrat announced that when his family found out they took immediate legal action to reverse what he called the "morally repugnant" agreement.
Sen. Kennedy's racial skeletons came tumbling out of the closet shortly thereafter, when news surfaced that his brother, the late President John F. Kennedy, had a racially restrictive covenant on the deed to his Georgetown home.
Kennedy, who was leading the charge against Justice Rehnquist, insisted his brother couldn't have possibly known about the racist agreement, which he called "deplorable."


I’m likely the only person in the world who does not have a freaken I Pod thingy, but this tis kinda interesting.....

iTunes Update: Apple's Looking Over Your Shoulder ·

From the blog Since 1968

As noted at TUAW, iTunes 6.0.2 contains a new feature: the MiniStore. It’s neat, at first. Sort of.
But not really.
Each time you play a different song, the MiniStore features information about the artist currently playing, as well as “Listeners Also Bought…” Here’s a full size capture of Apple marketing in action: as you can see, I’m playing Mary J. Blige covering U2’s “One”, and the MiniStore shows other albums from Mary J. Blige and U2.
This means, of course, that every single time I play a song the information is sent back to Apple. You can turn off the MiniStore at the click of a button, but it’s not clear whether turning off the MiniStore is the same as turning off the flow of data (one doubts it). And don’t bother looking for a way to turn this “feature” off in the Preference pane: it’s not there.
In fairness to Apple, I didn’t read the iTunes software license when I updated. So let’s have a look. I’ll be waiting here when you’re done.

Back so soon? Did you read the whole thing? OK, I didn’t either. But the music store receives scant mention:
This software enables access to Apple’s online music store which offers downloads of music for sale. This store is open in the United States and may be open in other select territories. Use of this store requires Internet access and requires you to accept additional terms of service which will be presented to you before you can use the store.

The iTunes software license doesn’t actually provide a link to the Music Store Terms of Service, but I do: read it here.
Here’s what Apple says about my information (emphasis mine):
Your Information. You agree to provide accurate, current, and complete information required to register with the Service and at other points as may be required in the course of using the Service (“Registration Data”). You further agree to maintain and update your Registration Data as required to keep it accurate, current, and complete. Apple may terminate your rights to any or all of the Service if any information you provide is false, inaccurate or incomplete. You agree that Apple may store and use the Registration Data you provide (including credit card and PayPal account information) for use in maintaining your accounts and billing fees to your credit card or PayPal account.
That’s it. Apple doesn’t say that it can transmit or store information about the songs I play back to the iTunes Store. In fact, the Music Store TOS expressly incorporates the Apple Customer Privacy Statement.

The Privacy Statement contains the following language:
We also collect information regarding customer activities on our website, .Mac, the iTunes Music Store, and on related websites. This helps us to determine how best to provide useful information to customers and to understand which parts of our websites and Internet services are of most interest to them.

But this caveat is cited specifically in the context of collecting billing information (such as address, phone number, and credit card).
Either the privacy statement means something, or it doesn’t. My sense is that it doesn’t: the general exceptions Apple carves out for itself in the Privacy Policy are large enough to drive a truck through, making the specific exceptions in the iTunes TOS meaningless.
What’s to be done? Probably not much, other than steal your music from file-sharing services and play it with open source players (presumably the sort of behavior Apple wishes to discourage). Either that or acquiesce as yet another corporation takes, without asking, just a bit more of your privacy.

Should race still matter to Generation Y?

By DAVID TARRANT / The Dallas Morning News

To the coming-of- age-generation known as the Millennials, the world has never seemed more diverse.

DAVE PLUNKERT / Special to the DMN Popular television shows such as The Real World and Grey's Anatomy show diverse casts mixing and mingling on-screen. Teens are exposed to the hottest R&B and hip-hop artists on VH1 and MTV. And in this Internet age, access to other cultures, trends and styles is only a few clicks away.
Pop culture serves up a "multiracial, multicultural nirvana," says Charles Gallagher, a Georgia State sociology professor, contributing to an impression of the younger generation as the first "post-race" generation – one where race doesn't matter.
"I don't know very many people who flat out have a problem with other races," says Andrew Moua, 17, a senior at Duncanville High School and a member of The Dallas Morning News Teen Advisory Board. "Everyone I know listens to some kind of hip-hop."
Generation Y's perception of diverse cultures and racial issues has been shaped by pop culture and mass media. But what they see on TV isn't necessarily reality, and that disconnect can lead to everything from personal misunderstandings to cultural collisions in classrooms or dorms.


Black sergeant was 'loyal Klansman'

By Deborah Bulkeley
Deseret Morning News

About 25 years ago, Ron Stallworth was asked to lead the Ku Klux Klan chapter in Colorado Springs.
Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning NewsRon Stallworth carries his KKK membership card as a memento. Problem was, the outgoing Klan leader didn't know that Stallworth is black.
"He asked me to take over the lead because I was a good, loyal Klansman," said Stallworth, who had been in constant phone contact with the Klan leader while leading a yearlong Colorado Springs police investigation into the Klan.
Stallworth later moved to Utah, where he recently retired after nearly 20 years as an investigator for the Utah Department of Public Safety. He says he's amazed that no one ever caught on to the investigation he led starting in 1979. After he was offered Klan leadership, he quietly disappeared.
As a memento Stallworth still carries his Klan membership card — signed by David Duke.