April 16, 2010

The fantastic state of American Journalism, pt. 4,521

Okay, so here's what I just learned in one article: CBS News hired- that is- started paying money- to Ben Domenech, who was last known for being fired as a Washington Post blogger after three days because he was a serial liar and plagiarist- to write for them.

And guess what he did? Lied, using a rumor he copied off the internet.

Just to recap, here's the statement the Washington Post made when they fired Domenech (in fact, it is still up on the cobwebbed remains of the stillborn C.H.U.D. baby that is "Red America," almost as if it was a cautionary tale or something):

When we hired Domenech, we were not aware of any allegations that he had plagiarized any of his past writings. In any cases where allegations such as these are made, we will continue to investigate those charges thoroughly in order to maintain our journalistic integrity.

Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. Washingtonpost.com will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

So, let's recap, CBS. You went ahead and:

1. Hired someone whom you were aware of (proven) allegations he was a liar,
2. Hired someone who was fired by another place to "maintain journalistic integrity,"
3. Hired someone who required another major news outlet to remind itself they have to "verify its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately."

And lo and behold, you got someone who offered a shoddy and pointless lie that pretty much places CBS's "journalistic integrity" on the level of TMZ.com.

Walter Cronkite. He used to work for you.

Just... you know, throwing that out there.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:08 AM

April 14, 2010

The continuing fear of someone with a 70% disapproval rating

I know this keeps coming up, but I still don't get the people who think that Sarah Palin is going to run for president. It's not even a matter of plausibility, which according to all polls for the last two years is insanely unlikely. It's also that there seems no reason why.

Look, clearly (incoming understatement of the century) being Leader of the Free World™ is pretty great. But so is being the chief executive of a state, and Palin got bored with that after two years, especially when there was money to be made. Bush became president with the help of Dick Cheney, and they both used their office to fulfill goals: one to help orchestrate a war that happened to increase his stock portfolios by tens of millions, and the other to satisfy some serious daddy issues. Palin appears to really want to be famous.

That really why I have this paradoxial belief about the 2012 primary: Palin's not going to run, becuase of the embarrassing and dangerous possibility that she might actually win the nomination. If she knew she wouldn't win she'd sign up in a heartbeat, enjoying tons of free publicity and easily another few million for another book she could get someone else to write for her.

My point is, Palin now enjoys being famous without having to do anything, and makes tons of money. Being president means you have to do stuff, and make significantly less than a private sector salary. And while I cannot believe I'm saying this, at least give George W. Bush some credit for having some business acumen. What think tank or policy group will want Palin? She's a spokesmodel, and she's making millions to be one right now. Why would she give that up?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:31 AM

Internet BS heads-up

In what I'm sure will be a complete shock to you, Rush Limbaugh just makes shit up.

Last Friday, Rush Limbaugh asked why a coal miner union didn't protect the 29 miners who were killed when Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, WV, exploded under unsafe conditions...

There's a simple reason the union didn't protect the miners: the Upper Big Branch Mine, like nearly all of the mines under Massey CEO Don Blankenship's control, is non-union. In fact, the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) "tried three times to organize the Upper Big Branch mine, but even with getting nearly 70 percent of workers to sign cards saying they wanted to vote for a union, Blankenship personally met with workers to threaten them with closing down the mine and losing their jobs if they voted for a union."

There will of course be no apologies or retractions, and no one in the news will note this, meaning this lie will be pasted on every internet message board in the next, oh, let's say three days.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:02 AM

April 12, 2010

"No Nukes is Good News"

Latest comic - click here!

I think it's great that the U.S. and Russia are agreeing to reduce their nuclear weapon stockpiles. I also think the bragging and complaining on respective sides about the move are hilarious. Yes, it's great we are going to have less nuclear weapons now. But having a thousand instead of two thousand means we are still a big red button smash away from ending all life on earth as we know it.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, two people with no foreign policy experience at all- at all- have led the charge to claim that President Obama has "endangered America" by wanting the same nuclear weapons policy that... umm... Ronald Reagan wanted. Kudos, at least, to Obama for just saying that you're an idiot for even asking Sarah Palin what she thinks about this. Because you are.

Buy some crap and join the mailing list. And come join the public Facebook page for the strip.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:21 AM

This is dumb

Look, there's no argument here that what's (yet again) happening in the Catholic Church is horrific. Those of a stronger faith and a devotion to this institution are going to have to start accepting, and strongly dealing, with the reality that the church, and what appears to be its head, are responsible for the systematic and repeated cover-up of... well, let's just call it what it is, shall we? Child rape. Priests are raping children and getting away with it. They should be in prison. There shouldn't even be discussions about this.

That said, this is incredibly dumb.

Richard Dawkins, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain "for crimes against humanity".

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

Okay, number one: they are "planning to have the Pope arrested" roughly the same way that I am "planning" to sprout wings and fly in a magical kingdom of wishes and rainbows. I didn't really peg Richard Dawkins as a guy who believed in miracles.

Number two: please find me a government that will go along with this. Really. Becuase I'm really sure that the British parliament is jus aching to try and arrest the Pope. Try and visualize that for a moment. Arrest the Pope. There are action movies with less ridiculous endings than that.

I'm not saying I think the Pope isn't guilty and should pay for his actions in this obscenity. He is and he should. But this is so many levels of a wrong way to do it because it turns this issue into a silly spectacle. Priests are raping children and Dawkins and Hitchens are pulling where's-the-birth-certificate stunts that are fodder for SNL sketches.

Update: An inordinate number of you have angrily e-mailed me- no seriously, some of you folks sound pissed- to inform me that Richard Dawkins says the story is exaggerated. Okay, here's the two things I observe from this.

One, it's kind of eerie how kneejerk some of you are, in that after Dawkins made a comment that "you can't trust a Murdoch paper," half of you said the exact same snipe in your e-mail.

Two, here's the "clarification" Dawkins made:

Needless to say, I did NOT say "I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI" or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.

What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope's proposed visit to Britain. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my 'Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope' article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341

Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson's subsequent 'Put the Pope in the Dock' article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal:
The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.

Even if the Pope doesn't end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn't cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope's visit, let alone pay for it.

Alright, fair enough. I wholeheartedly apologize for promoting the insidious (and Rupert Murdoch-backed) falsehood that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are "going to have the Pope arrested." They merely discussed extensively the idea of having the Pope arrested and published an article in a major English newspaper promoting it. This, of course, clearly makes it all less stupid. Happy now?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:06 AM