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Monday, March 29, 2004

SF Chronicle defended 

Ok, so taking on Atrios isn't exactly a sure ticket to bloggy fame and fortune, but I have to disagree with him (and many others with whom I usually agree) on the SF Chronicle's decision to bar a gay couple from covering the gay marriage issue.
Now, first off, I have to agree with Atrios when he says:

I would be sympathetic to those who thought it was right for Phil Bronstein of the SF Chronicle to forbid two journalists who had a same-sex marriage from covering that story if they ever thought it important to apply those standards across the board.

Clearly, any standard has to be applied uniformly. I don't know enough about the Chronicle to know whether they've been inconsistent on this. It certainly wouldn't surprise me. And if they have been inconsistent, then they need to figure out a policy and stick to it across the board.
But that said, I agree with the Chronicle's policy. My standard, not just on this issue but more generally, would be that anyone who is involved in a story, directly or indirectly, should not be able to cover it. Now that obviously leaves some wiggle room--what exactly does "indirectly involved" mean?--but that's unavoidable. So some examples: should a gay couple be able to cover gay marriage? Yes. The gay community has a range of opinions on this issue, and just being gay shouldn't be a disqualifier for anything--that would be like saying blacks shouldn't be able to cover the minority community.
Another test (raised by David Shaw in this LA Times article): should a journalist who's had an abortion be allowed to cover the abortion issue? Harder, but again, I would say yes, as long as she didn't have her abortion that is directly related to the story at hand (e.g. a reporter who walks past a protest outside a Planned Parenthood clinic one day to get an abortion shouldn't cover the same protest the next day).
Test number three: should a reporter who's a practicing Catholic be allowed to cover the church abuse scandal? Again, yes, as long as s/he wasn't personally abused, and doesn't go to the church in question.
Last one: should a reporter who gave money to the Bush campaign be allowed to cover Bush? This time, no. Such a reporter would have inserted him/herself into the story s/he was covering. That's over the line.

Ok, so now back to the Chronicle. I have no problem with a gay journalist covering gay marriage. I don't even have a problem with a married gay journalist covering gay marriage. But I do have a problem with a journalist who had just been married under controversial circumstances in San Francisco to cover those same contoversial circumstances (which is what happened here).
Look, the San Fransisco marriages were many things (wonderful and exciting come to mind), but one of those things was a protest. The city, along with those who got married, engaged in a noble act of civil disobedience, violating state law to force the issue. Good for them.
But one of the principals of objective journalism is that people who participate in protests don't cover those protests, which is essentially what the Chronicle would have been allowing here. As Dan kennedy has said (and go read it, because he's far more eloquent than I), if the couple in question had waited, flown to Massachusetts in May and gotten married there, none of this would have been an issue. But they chose to get married in San Francisco, with all the controversy that came with it.
The Chronicle's decision was the right one. I hope they, and every other newspaper, will be just as hard on conservatives with similar conflicts.
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Sunday, March 28, 2004

What if hell froze over? 

I haven't posted much on the Red Sox recently (honestly, until recently it was just too painful), but, well, it's less than two weeks until opening day.
That, and I can't help but respond to Bill Littlefield's article in today's Boston Globe Magazine. His thesis? Sox fans wouldn't know what to do with themselves if the Sox ever actually won the World Series. He writes:

But the point is that the list of teams that have won the World Series within anybody's memory is long, and the list of teams that have failed to win the World Series because of circumstances so bizarre that nobody could have invented them is very, very short.
Boston fans are not rooting for a team that's cursed. They are rooting for a team that's blessed, if they'd only see it — a team better than any other at generating the sort of tales the ancients used to tell one another around flickering fires — not easy tales of annual triumph but long, episodic, sustaining stories of struggle, promise and promise subverted, frailty, cowardice, terrible surprise, failure, and loss; in short, tales of each of us and of all of us.

Actually, I have some sympathy for this position. I was in New York when the Yankees won the series in 2000, and it was incredibly depressing. Not because the Yankees won (well, not only because the Yankees won), but because of the fans' reaction. It was something like, "Woohoo! Yay! Ok, back to the library" (I was in college at the time). Compare this to Boston, where we flip over cars and run wild through the streets when we win a Playoff game.
So yeah, maybe we are better for all those losses. Maybe they've made us tougher, more interesting. At the very least, they've given us some great stories.
But then I remember last October, and the feeling I got when Grady Little walked back to the dugout when you knew, just knew that Pedro had had it. And how I felt when he proved that, indeed, he'd had it, and how I felt when Aaron Boone walked up to the plate, with Wakefield on the mound, and somehow something just didn't feel right, and, more than any of that, the feeling the next morning when I woke up and it was over and we had lost.
You know what, Bill? I've felt losing. I'll take my chances with winning.
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Get over it 

Atrios posts the following transcript from Brit Hume regarding the president's "joke":

My own view of this is, the president's there poking fun at himself over what goes down, I think, as one of his failures. And I thought it was a good-natured performance, and it made him look good only in the sense that it showed he could poke fun at himself. But he certainly doesn't disguise the record on weapons of mass destruction.
And you have to feel like saying to people, "Just get over it."

Look, I didn't get that excited over Bush's joke when it first came out. Obviously it was in poor taste, remakably poor taste, but, well, these sorts of things often are. I'm not saying that excuses it, but I thought Kerry was better off steering clear because it's too easy to paint him as a humorless cry-baby. And frankly, if Brit Hume wants to run his mouth off about Kerry, fine. That's how this game is played.
But going after the families of soldiers killed in Iraq? Telling them to "just get over it"? That's sickening.
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Clarke 

Just a quick question for any Bushies out there: what more does Richard Clarke have to do to prove he's operating in good faith?
First, far from "blaming everybody in the administration but himself" as some have claimed, he tells the 9/11 commission and the victims' families, in public, on television, that "I failed you."
Then, when the Republicans say they want to compare his classified testimony to his public statements, he calls for his testimony to be made public.
But of course, this is just a bitter ex-official who wants to sell more books, right?

UPDATE: Add to the above that, guess what, Bush really did tell Clarke to look at Iraq after 9/11. Not that I ever doubted it, but even the White House is admitting it now.
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