Fat Steve's Blatherings

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Linda Foley: Coward


      Linda Foley has decided to explain and not explain her comments on the "targeting" of journalists.  The results are clear as crude oil.
  • Foley thinks non-Newspaper Guild members aren't important, especially if they are "right wing."  This means you, and the other people who read newspapers.

  • She won't make a plain statement about what she meant, but implies that yes, she thinks the U.S. military targets journalists.

  • Important people like her needn't answer questions about what they mean, or provide evidence for their charges.  Unimportant people like troops in Iraq should be more concerned with the well-being of journalists than accomplishing their mission or staying alive.

  • The Pentagon should get off its ass and do what's important, which is satisfy Foley and friends about their questions.

  • Fact based journalism is good, especially when she gets to make up the facts.

  • The only trustworthy reporters are those who can be counted on not to ask her inconvenient questions, like "What did you mean, and what is your evidence that it's so?"  Linda doesn't have to show you no stinkin' evidence.

  • Foley's hatred at we who dare question her is exceeded only by her fear of us.

      It's all very amusing, in a sad way.

At Length:

      Well, despite what I said in the last post, which fisked the Zipser piece, I won't be going to the movies.  I've been too busy kneeling before the porcelain god.  So, on to the main attack: Foley herself!

      While reading Zipser's article, I saw a link to Foley's "thoughts" on the controversy, right on the same page.  They're here:

The Guild Reporter
Commentary June 17, 2005

Confronting right-wing hysteria
Looking ahead

By Linda Foley, President

      Note to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (or whatever you’re calling yourselves these days): I was just re-elected president of The Newspaper Guild-CWA, and I’m not resigning.

      Frankly, I'm glad.  Eason Jordan resigned, and we lost a target.

      That said, let me address the rest of this column to the people who really matter: the members of The Newspaper Guild.

      Note the article, the date, the URL.  Please make a screen shot of it, just in case it's changed.  Linda Foley thinks that people who read the news, or watch TV, or listen to radio, are not important.  Never forget that, you're not important to Foley.  It explains so much of her behavior.

      In case you missed it, for about a month I have been subjected to what I would characterize as a right-wing screed over some comments I made at the National Media Reform Conference in St. Louis on May 13.  The comments (which I won’t repeat here) were about journalists getting killed in Iraq and criticized how the U.S. military has dealt with those deaths.

      Well, thank you, Foley, for admitting that your remarks were about the U.S. military.  Nice to finally clear that up.  In another month or two, maybe you'll explain why you couldn't bring yourself to say that when people tried to find out what you meant.

      Oh, who am I kidding?  You won't.

      The comments came at the end of a 15-20 minute panel presentation.  I emphasized that media reformers should not attack individual journalists and instead should focus on how a concentrated corporate media system is corrupting journalism.  I always make this point with media reformers and independent media journalists because, in my experience, calls for media reform sometimes degenerate into deriding individual journalists.

      Well, Linda, some of us think that individual journalists should be derided.  For instance, when they can't express themselves clearly, when they appear to allege important things without evidence, when they hide from interviewers when asked to clarify and support their position, yeah, we think that it isn't a "concentrated corporate media system," whatever that means, that is "corrupting journalism," whatever that means.  We think journalistic incompetents are the problem.  Incompetents like you.

      But then, I may be making an unwarranted assumption.  Do you actually think of yourself as a journalist?  If so, why?

      In other words, the essence of my message is: Don’t kill the messenger.  I should have said it that way in St. Louis.  Instead, I decided to draw a parallel between the assault on journalists for their work and the assault on journalists covering Iraq.  I used strong words and said it rather clumsily, but the St. Louis crowd got the point.

      Well, again, when the messenger can't deliver the message accurately, then the messenger indeed ought to be "killed."  But since you've brought this up again, would you care to give us some examples of journalists "assaulted" for "their work?"  No, I didn't think so.

      If I made a mistake, it was in trying to cover the issues surrounding safety for journalists in Iraq in an off-the-cuff way.  I regret that my in-artful phraseology, and the storm it incited on the right, may detract from a critically important issue for journalists, especially those who cover war.

      You said:
Journalists, by the way, are [sic not? -- St.O.] just being targeted, ah, verbally or, ah, or, ah, politically. They're also being targeted for real. Um…in places like Iraq.

      "Targeted for real" sounds like you mean, "selected as targets for killing, by people who know they'll be killing journalists."  We would really like to know if that's what you meant.  We would also like to know why you won't answer simple questions on this subject.  But we don't expect you to tell us.  Not being members of the Newspaper Guild, we aren't important enough to bother with.

Ahn and, ah, what outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal.

      Now, I read that, and the only thought I can reasonably see it trying to express is: 'the U.S. military is targeting journalists, knowing that they're journalists.'  But you don't seem to be a reasonable or articulate person, Linda, so why don't you try to explain what you meant.  Maybe you find a first-grade teacher to help you with the big words.  It would be OK if fewer journalists were targeted by the U.S. military?  It would be OK if the U.S. military killed them with less brutality?  It would be OK if the U.S. military were more broken up about the journalists they murder?

      Or maybe you think someone else was targeting the journalists, and the military, while not responsible in any way, didn't have the right attitude?

      Or maybe something else?  But again, you won't explain what you actually said.

      By the way, assuming you do think of yourself as a journalist, I'd think an inability to say anything remotely like what you mean is grounds for serious concern on whether you're in the right profession.

      So at the risk of repeating what we’ve reported for months in The Guild Reporter and elsewhere, here’s a better way of saying what I was trying to communicate in St. Louis: An unacceptable number of journalists are being killed in Iraq,

      And what number would be acceptable to you?

most of them by insurgents,

      Ah, that word "insurgents."  According to Dictionary.com, it means:

1)Rising in revolt against established authority, especially a government.
2)Rebelling against the leadership of a political party.

      Reading that phrase, you'd think the dead journos died in firefights, or by mortar round, or something.  If you go to the Committee to Protect Journalists' website, and look at their listings of media employee deaths, you find that they were mostly either deliberately murdered by terrorists, or caught in random car bombings by terrorists.  It would be fascinating to hear you say why you just can't bring yourself to use the t-word, and discuss this issue in plain language.

      Still, one point for admitting that most dead journalists are not that way because of anything the U.S. military did.

many of them brutally.

      Yes indeed, the non-terrorist "insurgents" do tend to brutality.  They also tend to be indiscriminate, killing hundreds of people along with the dead media employees.  That's another thing you don't mention.  But then, non-media employed Iraqis aren't important either, I gather.

Fourteen of those deaths, involving U.S. forces, have been inadequately explained or investigated by the U.S. military.

      Oh really?  What is your criterion of adequacy, Foley?  And what is your evidence for that charge?  But of course, you don't "do" evidence.

One, the April 8, 2003, bombing of the Al-Jazeera studios in Baghdad, never has been explained at all.

      The fact that al-Jazeera's studios weren't bombed might have something to do with that.

As a result, many journalists around the world wonder if the U.S. military is targeting journalists.

      As a result of your biased reporting, many citizens feel you are consciously working to help the enemy win in Iraq.  Somehow, I doubt that will be taken seriously by you, though.  They're only citizens, not important, journalistic people.

      And among journalists, some feel the idea that the U.S. military is targeting journalists is an outrageous lie, and known to be such by those who utter it.  Shall we ignore them too?

      By the way, many Jew haters throughout the world believe that the Jews kill gentile children, and use their blood to make matzohs.  Shall we take that seriously?

      Since April 2003, the Guild, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Reuters and others repeatedly have called upon the Pentagon to conduct independent investigations of these incidences. [my emphasis -- St.O.]

      Investigations independent of what?  What on earth are you talking about?  And how about some links to these "calls"?

So far we have received only redacted, whitewashed explanations which often raise more questions than they answer.

      You ask the Pentagon to investigate, it gives you a result, you don't like it.  Why not?  Do you think the Pentagon is lying?  If so, why did you ask them to do an investigation "independent" of something or another?

      Spanish journalist Jose Couso was killed when the Palestine Hotel, a known headquarters for many unembedded journalists covering the war prior to the occupation, was shelled by a U.S. tank on April 8, 2003.

      Yes, he was.  And the U.S. military investigated, said a mistake was made, and apologized.  The Army troops in question were taking Iraqi Army mortar fire, and they heard someone on the radio acting as a forward observer.  They saw themselves being watched by people in the Palesting Hotel.  They say they believed the people watching them were the Iraqis calling in the mortar rounds.  Therefore, by mistake they say, they fired, killing the journalists.

      This all seems perfectly reasonable to me, and easy to believe.  Why does this not satisfy you?  Do you have some evidence that what the Army troops said wasn't so?  If so, why do you refuse to share it with us?

      Personally, I suspect your problem is megalomania.  You knew there were journalists in the Palestine Hotel, and so just can't conceive of the idea that troops under fire might get lost, or not know where the journalists were staying, or be concentrating on staying alive.

His [Couso's -- St.O.] family and friends still hold a 24-hour vigil at the U.S. embassy in Madrid on the eighth of every month to protest the lack of accountability by our military for Jose’s death.

      Hold on here!  A minute ago, you were protesting the lack of an "independent investigation."  Now you're protesting the "lack of accountability."  Those phrases are not synonyms.

      Accountability: Liable to being called to account; answerable. See Synonyms at responsible.

      It sounds like you want someone punished for Couso's death.  Who?  Why?  What sort of punishment?  And what about the journalists and support people killed by the we-never-call-them-terrorists "insurgents?"  Should they be punished for spraying vehicles with automatic weapons fire, blowing people up with truck bombs, etc.?

Meeting Jose’s brother a few weeks before the May 13 conference added to my frustration and anger about the U.S. military’s non-responsiveness on this issue.

      Since the U.S. military did offer a response, which left you unsatisfied, perhaps you might explain what kind of response you'd like?  Just make it up, making clear it's hypothetical.  Show us what kind of response would satisfy you, and explain why the one the military issued doesn't cut it.

      Nevertheless, the St. Louis conference was about media reform, and the panel I was on focused on concentration of media ownership—and except for those few sentences about journalists dying in Iraq, that’s what I talked about.  So you can imagine how surprised I was when Sinclair Broadcasting, one of the largest broadcast owners in the U.S., called to film an interview with me about my comments.  (Truthfully, I had to listen to a webcast of my presentation before I actually recalled what I said.)

      My, that is rich.  'I, Linda Foley, got up in public and said something, and I thought about it so little, I didn't recall saying it.  What I said was something that sounded like "the U.S. military murders journalists in Iraq, deliberately, knowingly, just because they're journalists."  I can't see why anyone would thing that was important, or ask me to clarify my meaning, or want evidence that it's true.'

      You’ll remember Sinclair Broadcasting—the broadcaster that on the eve of the 2004 election tried to pass off an anti-John Kerry commercial as a “documentary” about his Vietnam War service.  You also may recall that Free Press, the group sponsoring the National Media Reform Conference, led the campaign to protest that broadcast. Ultimately, institutional stockholders—principally some large union pension funds— forced Sinclair to modify its plans.  I guess the prospect of piling on the president of a union representing journalists speaking out at a media reform conference sponsored by Free Press was just too tempting.

      Do you have any evidence that your guess is true?  Did you make any effort to verify it?  Have you asked the people at Sinclair why they thought this was important?  Can you offer a single reason for anyone to take you seriously?

      Sinclair aired its piece without me.  I was unavailable.  Likewise, I was unavailable to Fox News.  (Four different Fox shows called in and/or faxed requests for me to appear.)

      Translated into English: I lack the spine to be interviewed by someone who's going to play the tape of my remarks, ask me what they meant, and ask me for evidence.

And to Limbaugh, and several other talk-radio blabbers who peddle hate.  And to “Swift Boat Veterans” promoters.  And to the Moonies’ Washington Times,

      Let's see.  Foley et al ask questions of the Pentagon, the Pentagon won't answer to their satisfaction, the Pentagon is bad.  Sinclair, Fox, Limbaugh and others ask questions, Foley is proud she ignored them.

and to all those self-righteous bloggers who are so sure they have all the answers.

      Except that what we had was questions, and you were afraid to answer them, you poltroon.  But then, you're too important to talk with us.

      I gave one interview, to Editor & Publisher, figuring it was a credible publication that reached most Guild members in one way or another.

      Ah, Fox, Sinclair, Limbaugh, the Washington Times, and every blogger in the country aren't credible.  Remember that, too.  Credible news sources consist of those who pitch her softballs.  Gee, did Larry King have another heart attack?

      Of course, Foley doesn't tell us where to find the interview, but this seems to be it:
Guild Chief Under Fire for Comments About Attacks on Journalists in Iraq

By Joe Strupp

Published: May 20, 2005 4:40 PM ET

      Strupp's story shows the modern confusion between 'refute' and 'dispute,' and has a lot of unsourced material.  But since Foley brings them up as a reputable publication, and doesn't dispute what Strupp says, I'll assume for now she was quoted accurately.

      Strupp's article avers that Foley told him (or whoever did the interview) that her comments "have been distorted," and that:
that her words were taken out of context by critics and said her original intent was to discuss how journalists are often scapegoated for their coverage. "This was almost an aside," she said. "But it is true that hundreds of journalists are killed around the world, and many have been killed in Iraq."

      Now, if I had been interviewing Foley, I'd have said: "Pardon me, Ms. Foley, but I don't get it.  How does the fact that journalists are killed around the world connect, logically, with reporters being 'scapegoated' for their coverage.  Please give me some example of what you mean by reporters being scapegoated, and of some of these journalists being killed, and explain what you see as the connection.  For that matter, in the tape, which I listened to, you talk about the attitude of the U.S. military, and the lack of outrage about journalistic deaths in Iraq.  I don't see the connections of U.S. military attitude or lack of outrage to either of the first two subjects.  Could you try to elucidate?"  Then, I'd have reported her response.

      But that's me.  Stupp:
When asked if she believed U.S. troops had targeted journalists in Iraq, she said, "I was careful of not saying troops, I said U.S. military."

      Why, that clears up everything.  Somewhere in the "U.S. military" are people who aren't troops, and they run around Iraq armed, drive tanks, fly planes, and do this so that they can kill journalists.  That's what you meant, right Linda?

      Foley went on:
"Could I have said it differently? There are 100 different ways of saying this, but I'm not sure they would have appeased the right."

      Very interesting, Linda, that you can't see any difference between backing up a claim with evidence, and "appeasing" someone whose politics you don't share.  I believe the medical term for this is "deluded," according to my wife the pshych nurse.

      More Foley interview:
She did point out that those who bombed the Al Jazeera studios in Baghdad in 2003 had the coordinates of the television station, "because Al Jazeera had given it to them and they bombed the hell out of the station. They bombed it knowing it was the Al Jazeera station. Absent any independent inquiry that tells the world otherwise, that is what I believe."

      Yet again, the station did not have the hell bombed out of it.  It wasn't bombed at all, although an electrical generator next to the studio was destroyed.  As for the claim that "those" who "bombed" the station (it may have been a rocket attack) "had the coordinates," that implies she knows the name of the pilot responsible.  A nice scoop, it true.  Why not give us the pilot's name, and the proof he knew where the studio was?

      Oh wait, that's what a journalist would do.  We're discussing Linda Foley.

      Besides, Foley probably didn't mean that. She meant maybe that someone in al-Jazeera claims to have given the coordinates of its Bagdhad studio to someone in the U.S. government (evidence?), and that the someone saw to it that everyone authorized to do an air attack had those coordinates (evidence?), and someone with the coordinates decided "Let's attack al-Jazeera," (evidence) and ordered the pilot to attack a generator at such and such coordinates, right?

      Somehow, I still don't think this is what she meant.  I do think Foley will refuse to explain herself clearly, though.  But it's interesting that Foley managed to pick a publication that wouldn't ask her to explain herself in any meaningful way.  Now there's a story worth digging into.  How did she know she'd get away with not answering them?

      Leaving Editor & Publisher, and going back to Foley's opinion piece:
But my cold shoulder didn’t stop the right-wing media machine from blowing its whistle and barreling down the tracks anyway.  They had a video webcast clip of my remarks, and they could air them!

      Funny, I always heard that real journalists aren't supposed to let a refusal to do an interview stop the story.  If they won't talk, you report anyway.  But I guess that only applies to unimportant, non-journalist union story subjects.  You deserve a respect the rest of us are beneath.

      Fox’s Bill O’Reilly interviewed Sinclair hack Mark Hyman, who “broke” the story.  (Is this really a story?)

Yes, Linda, it is, despite you wishing it would go away.

O’Reilly announced I was hiding and giving no interviews, then proceeded to interview E&P reporter Joe Strupp, whom he identified as the only reporter to interview me.  (I was “hiding” from O’Reilly—all of Fox, actually—but not from E&P.)

      And of course, O'Reilly was right.  You were hiding from anyone who'd ask you tough questions.  You still are, yellow-belly.

I heard Rush Limbaugh had called me a “babe.”

      No comment till I see your picture.

      The Media Reform Conference panel that included me was described as the “left of the left.” The panelist who preceded me was the publisher of a metropolitan newspaper and had to leave the conference early for Washington, D.C., where he attended a meeting of business people who want to permanently repeal the estate tax.

      So what?  But why do I bother asking you for a logical argument? (Answer: it's fun pointing out that I won't get one.)

      It would all be amusing were it not for the vicious, mean-spirited—sometimes pornographic, sometimes threatening—e-mails and phone messages these hate-stokers from Fox & Co. generated.  The misogynistic language and name-calling don’t bother me so much, although if some of these e-mails were read on a network program like the David Letterman Show, Brent Bozell (another social commentator who has called for my resignation) undoubtedly would be clamoring to get the entire CBS network thrown off the air for good for violating obscenity standards.

      Such behavior is reprehensible, and should be condemned.  So are your lies about the U.S. military, though, you lily-livered apologist for terrorists.

      What does bother me about the e-mails is the number of them that prove the point I was trying to make in St. Louis.  Many echoed the sentiments of Charles Edwards who said in an e-mail to me, “We should have open season on journalists in Iraq.  Traitors.” If the sentiments expressed in these e-mails are any indication, at least some of these loyal “Americans” think journalists should be targeted by the U.S. military.

      I disagree, but when you do your best to see your country loses a war, I understand the strong reaction, without condoning it.  And I do believe you are a traitor, adhering to the enemy, giving him aid and comfort.

      That’s why I hope Americans who actually care about democratic discourse and public debate will support independent, fact-based journalism and professional journalists who strive to practice it.

      I hope the same.  It's just that I seem to have a different definition of 'fact-based' than you.  Mine involves answering questions when someone doesn't understand what you've said, and offering evidence to support charges.  Yours seems to be stabbing your country in the back with lies, and crying unfair when asked to back up the charges.

Please refrain from attacking reporters who are trying to get to the truth.

      Foley, you craven, please look up the definition of chutzpah.  We're still trying to get the truth about what you meant out of you, and you're still duckin' and dodgin'.

Focus instead on re-creating a media climate where a future Woodward & Bernstein can investigate abuse and speak truth to power without fear of government retribution or an orchestrated deluge of hate mail calling for their demise.

      In English: create a climate where anything I say will be believed, blindly, and I will never be called to answer for lies and baseless slanders.

      Hmm, let me think about that . . . NAH!  Beating up on you is too much fun to give up, especially when you leave yourself open to anyone with a 'Net connection and the brains to do a little research.

      Fear us, and tremble, you gutless wonders.



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