Archive for August, 2007

Remember that question (asked of Miss Teen USA South Carolina) about how American students were having trouble finding the United States on the map? 

(Via David Kurtz at TPM) Here’s President Bush talking about Southern Louisiana: 

“[T]he taxpayers and people from all around the country have got to understand the people of this part of the world really do appreciate the fact that the American citizens are supportive of the recovery effort.”

“I come telling the folks in this part of the world that we still understand there’s problems and we’re still engaged.”

“We care deeply about the folks in this part of the world.”

In other related news, Bush announces his plan to negotiate a free trade agreement with the state of Louisiana. 

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In yet another exercise in political suicide, the Republicans seem to be conceding the Hispanic vote to the Dems this election cycle.  With the exception of John McCain, all of the Republican candidates are encountering “scheduling” conflicts on the date of the Spanish language Univision debate. 

 Here’s Kos

What’s obviously happening is that they don’t want to piss off the xenophobic nativist Right, where “speaking Spanish” equals the collapse of Western civilization. But as Rove has always known, the Latino vote growing in size and influence, and if it becomes a reliable Democratic constituency (like African American and Jewish voters), the GOP is screwed for generations.

So as a partisan Latino Democrat, I say to the GOP — thanks! Your actions speak louder to my community than my words ever would.

I get the strategy of appealing to the “nativist” vote but seriously where else are the “nativists” going to go? 

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CBS13 Sacremento in covering the Larry Craig gay sex scandal actually roleplays how to solicit gay sex in a public bathroom.  Hilarious.  God bless local news. 

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I think I’m going to start a semi-regular feature here at Yellow is the Color.  Every time I watch an incredibly embarrassing YouTube video that makes me laugh and ashamed to be a human being, I’ll post it here as a part of the newly established Put the Video Camera Down! feature.  Because some people should never ever put themselves in front of a camera.  Ever. 

This week’s installment is a guy who takes it upon himself to respond to the Miss Teen USA South Carolina brain-freeze which has gone viral all over the internet.  Enjoy. 

(Found courtesy of The M Zone)

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There’s an interesting discussion over at Ezra Klein’s for anyone who’s ever been a reporter or been interested in reporting. The impetus was this post at Penquins on the Equator:

I was rather surprised to learn, for instance, that TNR’s fact-checkers don’t check quotes with subjects; they just check quotes against the writers’ notes, which strikes me as less than optimal, particularly given that Stephen Glass fabricated notes to deceive the checkers

Ezra explains that this is common practice for most media outlets that do fact-checking (which is not, of course, most media outlets):

Here’s why: Quite often, a subject will ramble on in an interview and say something they didn’t quite mean to say. These are, generally, the quotes most worth using. But if read back, the subject will deny it, or argue over context, or generally try to edit out whatever bit of illumination they actually let slip. So you don’t give them the second edit.

Some of Ezra’s commentors seem appaled by this, accusing Ezra of meaning that journalists are more interested in getting a salacious quote than getting the truth, and why do reporters still take notes these days anyways, instead of just recording everything?

I agree 100 percent with Ezra’s explanation of why you don’t call sources back to check quotes. I’ve done this a few times, and it can be a disaster. Best case scenario, they just want to “improve,” what they originally said, and you end up wasting time talking to them about the same subject again, risk offending them if you tell them you’re going to stick with the original quote, or appease them and end up with a shmaltzy press-release-esque revised quote from them. Worst case scenario, they said something interesting or revealing off-the-cuff that, when repeated to them, they’ll inevitably want to change and, again, you either go with the original quote anyway, thereby offending them and risking losing a source, or you lose the quotes that were interesting and revealing in your story. Not to mention that by the time fact-checking takes place, a story is usally done, and to change quotes around then would mean the writer has to go back and reconfigure the whole story.

As for the recording interviews thing … well, it’s kind of a pain in the ass. A lot of interviews are conducted by phone, and not all phones are set up to record conversations. When things are recorded (on the phone or in person), there is always the risk that something will happen to the recording, which means the reporter will have to take notes as well as record — in which case, the reporter is probably gonna go from his/her notes anyway. Listening back to the whole recorded transcript of an interview is time-consuming, especially if you’ve interviewed someone with a tendency to ramble. At daily newspapers with tight deadlines, you often just don’t have time to essentially do an interview twice. And I imagine it would probably be a strain on fact-checkers if they had to go back and listen to the entire recorded conversations of everyone every reporter talked to to make sure quotes were not only accurate in wording but in meaning and intent.

All of this to “solve” something which, you know, isn’t really that much of a problem. To paraprhase Ezra, everyone knows the name Stephen Glass because this kind of thing is so rare, not because it’s so common.

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Okay, I doubt the veracity of all of these stories, but Glenn Kessler has written a book about Condoleeza Rice, and this New York Daily News write-up of it is either hilarious or deeply disturbing; I’m still out on which.

One thing we learn? Bush apparently refers to Condi as “the most powerful woman in the history of the world.” Being the most powerful woman in the world, however, is still not enough to keep you from getting quarters thrown at your ass:

She does let her hair down. Once at a party Blacker threw, Condi kicked off her shoes and started dancing. Wanting to show his partner how firm Rice’s behind was, Blacker postulated that if he aimed a quarter at her butt, it would bounce right off like a rocket.

“He was right,” says Kessler. “[Rice] didn’t realize what he had done until everyone was laughing hysterically. She was flattered and proud.

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There’s been a ton of Katrina articles the past few days and I wanted to highlight without comment some of the best ones I’ve read. 

Doug Brinkley writes about the feckless rebuilding efforts in New Orleans and what it says about the priorities of the Bush Administration, the local politicians, and the future of the area

Newsweek interviews the doctor who was arrested and hauled before a grand jury (which declined to indict) for her palliative treatment of acutely ill patients at the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans

Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films has a video up about New Orleans two years later, along with a petition to support Senator Dodd’s Gulf Coast Recovery Bill of 2007

Rick Perlstein has numerous posts up looking back at Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath but here is one about Haley Barbour and his business partners who have sought to cash in on the devastation

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