Category: media

Tanna meets Magnum

I have written here before about the requirements for my TV-watching in my younger days — cool detective(s) who drives cool wheels and whose show has a cool theme song, preferably by the great Lalo Schifrin.

That cinematic cornucopia known as YouTube unearthed this …

… described by the Internet Movie Database as …

Tom Selleck is a member of the “Bunco” squad, the squad in charge of nabbing con men, cheats, and swindlers. Most of their time is spent dealing with penny-ante street-corner crooks. But their investigations start to reveal a larger con game in progress…

Odd that IMDB doesn’t mention “Bunco”‘s other star, Robert Urich, who first got attention on the TV series “SWAT” …

… a concept that became a movie …

… and a rebooted TV series …

… each with the same theme music (somewhat in the movie’s case) …

… which was the first 45 I purchased, for $1.03 at Walgreen’s in Madison. But I digress. (I know what you’re thinking. “You certainly do digress.”)

“Bunco” — produced by the producers of “Dallas” and “Knots Landing” — was one of five pilots Selleck did that didn’t get sold to one of the networks.

Selleck was also in the pilot to “Most Wanted,” but wasn’t cast for the series.

A year later, Tanna was cast in “Vega$.”

For those unfamiliar with this one of producer Aaron Spelling’s 17,343 TV series, Urich was cast as Dan Tanna, a Vietnam veteran turned private eye in Las Vegas, where he worked for a somewhat eccentric casino owner, where he lived and from which he got to drive a 1955 Ford Thunderbird.

Two years later, CBS came out with “Magnum P.I.” …

Selleck was cast as Thomas Magnum, a Vietnam veteran turned private eye in Hawaii, where he worked for an eccentric novelist and under the eye of a British World War II veteran. He lived in a house on the novelist’s Hawaii estate,  from which he got to drive the novelist’s Ferrari 308GTS.

And people complain about Hollywood’s lack of originality today.

A note about the music: The theme to “Bunco” was written by John Parker, possibly better known for …

The “Vega$” theme was written by Dominic Frontiere, who also did a lot of TV and movie work:

The first “Magnum” theme was written by Ian Fairbairn-Smith. The second, and much better known, theme was written by Mike Post, and his TV work would clog the Internet if I listed it here.

“Vega$” was created by Michael Mann, later better known for …

Tanna lasted four seasons in Vegas … or Vega$.

“Magnum” was created by Donald Bellasario, now known for …

… soon starting its 17th season.

Magnum lasted eight seasons and was a huge hit, one of the quintessential ’80s TV series, and it made Selleck an international star. And as always, Hollywood success will breed attempted imitators, with subtle changes, such as rich businessman-turned-PI …

… or beach bums-turned-PIs:

The imitators include the inevitable reboot:

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I see NOTH-ING!

I have noted in this space numerous examples about how Hollywood’s lack of creativity leads to lame remakes.

The latest example comes from Stephen Green:

Hours after news broke that NBCUniversal will re-reboot “Battlestar Galactica,” an idea colder than a Cylon’s heart, we learn that ’60s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes” is getting the sequel treatment from series co-creator Al Ruddy.

The original premise was fun, in a lighthearted ’60s way. Despite valid concerns of “Too soon!” and genuine Nazi atrocities committed mostly against Soviet prisoners, the show worked well enough to run for 168 primetime episodes — and win a bunch of awards in the process. I grew up watching the reruns almost endlessly. Colonel Robert Hogan (Bob Crane) and his heroes were, quickly described, a white guy (Hogan), a black guy (Ivan Dixon as Kinchloe), a nerdy guy (Larry Hovis as Carter), a British guy (Richard Dawson as Newkirk), and a French guy (Robert Clary as LeBeau). Together they derailed German munitions trains, snuck spies or vital information to safety, and generally aided the Allied cause from one of the least likely places imaginable.

The two main German characters, camp commander Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer, a German-born* Jewish actor!) and oafish guard Sergeant Schultz (John Banner), were played for laughs. They were presented as not-terribly-competent German soldiers trying to do their duty as best they could, but mostly trying not to get on the wrong side of any actual Nazis. The only regular Nazi character, Howard Caine’s Major Hochstetter, appeared in maybe a third of the shows, and was outsmarted by Hogan and his crew at every turn.

The ’60s being the ’60s, there was of course Klink’s improbably attractive secretary, Hilda (or was it Gretchen?), played by Sigrid Valdis.

Hilda was one of Klink’s secretaries.

Helga was the other. Bob Crane, who played Hogan, and Sigrid Valdis, who married Hilda, married during the series’ last season.

Like Mel Brooks’s “Get Smart,” which aired during the same years, “Hogan’s Heroes” was really a spy spoof — a genre which flourished in the years after Sean Connery made James Bond into a box office star.

So what about the new show? Well, we don’t know much yet. We do know not to call it a reboot, because it isn’t. In the new show the descendants of the original heroes are scattered all over the world in the present day, but somehow wind up together on a global treasure hunt.

Is this supposed to be “Hogan’s Heroes” or …?

Hell, you’re probably going to be disappointed no matter what. Because as near as I can tell, the new show is the flimsiest excuse for a sequel since “Return to the Blue Lagoon.” Other than featuring an international cast of various accents and colors (plus various sexualities, sexes, and at least three different genders, I’d wager), the new “Hogan’s” has about as much to do with the old “Hogan’s” as Long Island Iced Tea has in common with iced tea.

The new show isn’t a cynical attempt at rebooting a classic. It isn’t even a cynical attempt at making a sequel. The new “Hogan’s Heroes” seems more like a cynical attempt at stretching a beloved brand thin enough to cover something almost entirely unrelated. Boomers are probably getting too old now to care about this stuff, so I think what’s going on here is an attempt to tug at Gen X nostalgia for the reruns we watched as kids. Sheesh, we couldn’t even get a “Family Ties II: Family Tighter.”

But that’s what passes in Hollywood today for originality, so maybe I’ll give it a look when it comes out. Especially if Hilda’s great-granddaughter turns out to be even half as attractive as she was.

So much for those who thought a sitcom set in a German POW camp couldn’t possibly be redone … assuming it is redone.

I don’t remember watching when the series was originally on CBS. I did, however, watch it every chance I got when it was in reruns. “Hogan’s Heroes” was inspired by a black comedy movie, “Stalag 17,” also set in a German POW camp, but, as Green notes, with a few 007 touches.

The most notable thing about the series is its casting. Corporal LeBeau and every major Nazi role were played by Jewish actors. Robert Clary survived a concentration camp. The family of Werner Klemperer, who played Col. Klink, came to the U.S. in 1935. John Banner, who played Sgt. Schultz, was from what now is Ukraine; he was acting in Switzerland when Germany annexed Austria, and decided that would be a good time to head to the U.S. Leon Askin, who played Gen. Burkhalter, was from Austria. (Banner and Askin were both sergeants in the Army during World War II.) Howard Caine, who played Gestapo Major Hochstetter, was an American.

Klemperer said he would only take the role if the Nazis were portrayed as bumbling idiots. That was what the producers had in mind, except for the evil German characters, who usually ended up dead.

My two favorite episodes were when Sgt. Carter did a more-than-passable imitation of Adolf Hitler …

… and when Hogan’s Heroes, well, ended the war:

Presty the DJ for Sept. 9

Today in 1926, Radio Corporation of America created the National Broadcasting Co. …

… which later returned to RCA’s parent, General Electric Co. (from whose name came the famous NBC chimes), and now is part of what used to be Universal Studios …

… and is part of Comcast cable TV.

The number one single in Britain today in 1965:

Today in 1971, five years to the day after John Lennon met Yoko Ono, Lennon released his “Imagine” album:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Sept. 9”

Postgame schadenfreude, Da Bears Still Suck edition

Another NFL season gives us the opportunity to return to the Presteblog tradition of examining big sports wins from the perspective of the losing side.

This tradition started with the Chicago Bears because no sports media eviscerates the home teams quite like Chicago does, as proven by the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs:

Be careful. Don’t blame Matt Nagy for sitting his frontline players throughout nearly all of the preseason for the pitiful performance by his offense.

I’m positive that is what some folks are already doing, rationalizing a terrible showing by the offense on a little rust that wasn’t knocked off in preseason. The Bears were so bad on offense that it’s not something 40 or 50 snaps in preseason games would have cured.

It’s a best-case scenario that the reason the offense was disjointed and terribly ineffective on third down and suffered from communication breakdowns because the starters were observers throughout the preseason. But it’s really difficult to imagine how the Bears — who had since April to prepare for the rival Packers — could come out and look simply awful.

Nagy was the NFL’s Coach of the Year last season, an award he deserved. He didn’t forget what he was doing since then. But there’s no other way to describe it other than to say he was completely outclassed in this game. Never before had the Bears been held to three points or less in the season opener at home and this was in front of a national television audience with a huge crowd in Grant Park watching an offensive implosion.

Credit is due to the Packers, who reshaped their defense in the offseason with some bold moves in free agency, including a $36 million, four-year contract for former Bears safety Adrian Amos. Green Bay also made moves to bolster the front seven, signing outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. But the Packers don’t have the 1985 Bears defense. Heck, they don’t have the 2019 Bears defense.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky was as bad as he was in the playoff loss to the Eagles last January. He completed 26 of 45 passes for 228 yards and was sacked five times, a couple of them avoidable losses. Amos picked him off in the end zone with 1:58 remaining to just about end the game. A good chunk of his 228 yards came on check-down throws.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson, the intended target on the interception, had a nice game with seven catches for 102 yards. But that’s about it if you’re searching for offensive highlights. I told Robinson folks will be wondering if a preseason without any action would be an explanation for a poor showing.

“They can keep wondering that,” he said. “We can’t change that. I felt very prepared to go out here and make plays and I think everyone else did the same. But we just got behind the sticks, whether it was a penalty, no matter what it was. In a crucial situation, for whatever reason, we end up getting — what — first-and-40? You know what I am saying? We were down four points at that time. First-and-40? It’s hard like that. We’ve gotta do a better job on first and second down to give ourselves a shot on third down. And we also have to do a better job on first and second down to stay out of some third downs too.”

Said Trubisky: “I know you guys are going to try to draw comparisons like that, but really it had — I wish I could have said this before, the snaps in the preseason has nothing to do with the way we execute or the sloppiness of tonight because we weren’t doing that in practice. We were smooth in practice, it was crisp getting in and out of the huddle, getting calls in and just everyone doing their job and executing our plays. So it just seemed a little scattered tonight with all our personnel (groups) and just trying to find a rhythm and trying to find our identity on offense, and we just put ourselves in bad situations and shot ourselves in the foot.

“You could maybe attribute it to that, but I think it’s kind of a stretch. It’s just we were uncharacteristic of usually who we were tonight as an offense, and I think we just need to do our job. But we just couldn’t find a rhythm, and I don’t think it’s because we didn’t play in the preseason, because we were rolling in practice, and it just didn’t translate the week of practice we had to the game. We’re going to look at the film and try to find out why and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

None of the other wide receivers distinguished themselves. Taylor Gabriel has only been over 52 yards once in the last 13 games, including the playoff loss. Cordarrelle Patterson caught one pass for three yards and Anthony Miller and Javon Wims were held without catches.

Robinson is right — the Bears were abysmal on third down, converting only 3 of 15. They failed on third-and-1 on two occasions. On one of them, Patterson lined up as the only running back and took the handoff on what was essentially a dive play. That didn’t work and it might not be the best use for Patterson. Yes, he carried the ball some for the Patriots last season, but if New England’s coaches, who are genuinely regarded as pretty sharp, can’t get a ton out of him, maybe the Bears can’t. On another failed third-and-1, the Bears ran an RPO that turned into a sack.

“Just trying to do too much with the pull,” Trubisky said. “It should have just been an easy hand and ride the wave and convert on the one I pulled. It kind of looked like I was going to have a throw with the RPO, so I know that one was on me.”

One thing the Bears wanted to improve this summer was huddle efficiency. They wanted to get in the huddle and get out of it quickly, giving Trubisky more time at the line of scrimmage to survey the defense in order to get an edge in the pre-snap process. The Bears had two delay of game penalties; that’s not managing the huddle.

What’s done is done in terms of the preseason. The Bears have a healthy roster, so maybe Nagy tweaks his approach next summer. But this was so bad in so many ways that I refuse to believe preseason is the explanation.

“It was terrible, absolutely terrible,” Nagy said. “It’s unacceptable. There’s no excuses. Every fan that showed up from Chicago today, that was a Chicago Bears fan, they should be upset, because that’s not who we are. We’re better than that. And like I said, it starts with me. Again, I told the guys that. “We didn’t have that all year last year. So, is it a preseason thing? No, it’s not a preseason thing. Our defense, they played pretty well today not playing in the preseason. But what it comes down to is just us needing to be better. If there’s one thing that I feel like is one of my strengths, it’s being able to accept this kind of stuff and then try to do everything you can to fix it. You man up, you talk to your players, you get input, you talk to your coaches, and you demand better, and that’s what we need to do.”

I wrote last season and in the offseason that Matt Nagy has appeared bored with the running game at times.

That sure seemed to be the case once again as the Bears handed the ball off five times on the first two possessions and then just seven times the rest of the game when they never trailed by more than seven points. It was a four-point game most of the way, but Mitch Trubisky dropped back to pass 53 times and there were a total of 12 handoffs.

“I think it was the flow of the game,” Nagy said. “We just couldn’t get in a rhythm. It’s as simple as that. And then you have a big play — I think we had that play to (David) Montgomery down the seam and then it happened, and then we have the miscommunication, the personnel, and then it’s just like, here we go again. We had a third-and-40 at one point. I don’t have a play call for third-and-40. You know, now you’re just trying to flip the field and do whatever you can.”

It’s hard to see what they have in the rookie Montgomery when he gets a total of six carries and only one in the second half. His 27-yard reception on a seam route was nice, but he didn’t get the ball enough, especially when the passing game was backfiring. This has to be a point of emphasis for Nagy and his coaching staff over the weekend and into next week because Trubisky isn’t good enough for the Bears to win this way consistently and the defense is good enough to carry the team to victories if they are more balanced.

“When (Montgomery) had his touches, which I think there was six of them, he did well,” Nagy said. “He had that nice catch down the sideline. It’s hard for me because I want to watch the tape and truly see, again, all three of those (running backs). That part is new to us a little bit, so we’ve got to make sure that, again, we figure out how to get that thing right. And luckily it is the first game of the year.”

Perhaps in Nagy’s evaluation he will determine that the running game needs to be a bigger factor, even if the flow of the game is choppy or worse.

“We’ve got to get the run game going a lot more,” Trubisky said. “I think when this offense is at its best, it’s a balanced attack with the run game and the pass game, and we just didn’t do a good enough job to get in a rhythm, and we had to lean more on the pass, which made it easier on the defense because they know it’s coming. When this offense is at its best, it’s balanced, it’s running, it’s passing, and we’re definitely getting the run game going.

“So I think that’s something we’ll look at. I’ve still got to watch the film and see exactly what happened. But we’ve got three great running backs. We definitely need to get them going and get the ball in their hands, and we’ve just got a bunch of playmakers, and it’s frustrating when we have all these playmakers and you just feel like you left a lot of plays out there with not getting the ball in these guys’ hands.”

Adrian Amos had a pregame lunch with outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, another free-agent signing for Green Bay— and Smith told him he was going to make a big play to help the Packers win.

Amos did just that and the irony is that if there was a consistent knock on Amos’ game during four seasons with the Bears, it’s that he didn’t make enough plays on the ball. This wasn’t a particularly difficult play. Trailing by seven, the Bears were facing third-and-10 from the Packers’ 16-yard line just before the two-minute warning. Allen Robinson ran a corner route and was fronted by cornerback Tramon Williams. Amos bracketed him on the back side and it was an easy catch for what turned into a game-sealing interception.

“I had a real feeling that play was coming and I felt right,” Amos said. “I wanted to make a big play to help us win.”

Amos figured Robinson, lined up in the slot to the left, would try a corner route as he had earlier in the possession.

“He called it,” Williams said. “He came to the sideline and said it. He came up with the play. Big play for Amos, especially here in Chicago.

”We wanted to make Mitch play quarterback. We knew they had a lot of weapons. We knew they were dangerous. We knew all of those things. We knew if we could make Mitch play quarterback, we would have a chance. Plus we got some new toys up front. They did their thing today.”

The Packers did get good pressure on Trubisky and I think what Williams means is they wanted to keep the quarterback in the pocket and make him beat them that way. They brought only four rushers on a zone pressure on the interception.

“That was a frustrating one,” Trubisky said. “I wish I would have had that one back. It felt really good when it left my hand and I thought I put it in a good spot for A-Rob. Didn’t keep my eyes on the safety (Amos) long enough, and it looked like there was a little contact there, that maybe I should have went in a different spot.

“But we kind of were in our stuff rolling there, and that’s one where I’ve just got to protect the ball and try to find the completion, to allow us to stay on the field. That’s one of the tough ones that I’m just going to have to look at on film, see what actually what happened, and then see if it was what I saw on the field at the time and just make a better decision next time and come back and can’t put my team in a position like that. It’s very frustrating. You don’t want that stuff to happen.” …

The last time the Bears were held to three points in a season opener was in 2007, a 14-3 loss at San Diego.

This one ranks worse, in my opinion, for the simple reason that the Bears performed so poorly at home. They scuffled in San Diego that day and Rex Grossman was hammered by outside linebacker Shaun Phillips on one of the hardest hits I’ve ever seen a quarterback take.

There are some similarities, though, as that Bears team was coming off a Super Bowl appearance and expectations were sky high. Expectations for this Bears team are massive, but there’s a difference between laying an egg on the road and doing it at home. That Chargers team had Ron Rivera as an inside linebackers coach and he had a good idea what the Bears were doing on offense. In that regard, you better believe Broncos coach Vic Fangio has an idea of what to expect next week when the Bears travel to Denver.

“There’s humility there just for the fact that I know that our guys — we feel really good, we felt good going into it,” Matt Nagy said. “I don’t know what the exact word is for it other than that what you can’t do and what you can’t fall into the trap of is all of a sudden making this seem like it was the Super Bowl and we just lost the Super Bowl. We didn’t lose the Super Bowl, we lost the first game of the regular season. We just need to make sure that we pull back and understand, okay, we’re 0-1, we were 0-1 last year, let’s go ahead and figure out how we rally together.” …

The Packers were a runner-up in the Khalil Mack sweepstakes last September, making a strong bid to acquire him from the Raiders. The thinking is one of the reasons Oakland dealt with the Bears instead is that the Raiders figured draft picks they acquired in return would be better than those they’d potentially receive from Green Bay. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst was asked earlier this week about missing out on Mack.

“We kind of talk about, there’s deals every week, over the last week every day, that you’re talking about,” Gutekunst told Green Bay media. “I’ve always looked at it, you just keep moving forward. The one thing whether it was (former Packers GMs) Ron (Wolf) or Ted (Thompson) that I learned, there’s always opportunities coming your way so you don’t know what the next one is going to be. You can’t really worry about the ones that were behind you, you just worry about the ones that were coming.

“And so, whether it be the guys we acquired this offseason or this year’s draft or next year’s draft, you just keep moving forward looking at your team and seeing how you can make it better. For every kind of door that’s shut, there’s a window that’s open, you know what I mean? That’s kind of how I look at it. Where we are today, if we would have made a move, we might not be where we are today. And I kind of like where we are today.”

The Chicago Sun–Times:

It’s not good when the operative word of an enormously hyped football game is “boo.’’ It’s not good when the object of a crowd’s disgust is the quarterback of a team with Super Bowl aspirations and the head coach whose offensive creativity is supposed to make a team rise above.

It’s not good when boos are raining down on the Bears during and after a 10-3 loss to the hated Packers at home in the opening game of the NFL’s 100th season, which happens to be the Bears’ 100th season, too.

It’s not good when, afterward, coach Matt Nagy is talking about his “high character players’’ and the great week of practice the Bears had leading up to Thursday night’s opener.

It’s not good when the burning question of a year ago is still raging: Is Mitch Trubisky any good?

From beginning to end Thursday night, the quarterback was not good. Very not good.

“I definitely feel like I let my teammates down and the fans down with the way I played,’’ said Trubisky, who finished with 228 passing yards and a 62.1 passer rating.

If it’s hard to believe we’re still having this discussion about Mitch, you either haven’t been paying attention or you’re in denial.

“We knew if we could get Mitchell Trubisky to play quarterback, we could win,’’ Packers cornerback Tramon Williams told reporters after the game.

Very, very not good.

Nagy came up with a lot of wimpy play-calling against the Packers, but Trubisky didn’t ever look like he was capable of carrying the Bears to victory. That’s a massive red flag, even if it was the first game of the season.

“Three points is ridiculous,’’ Nagy said.

The start and the end of the game tell the story.

Before the Bears were forced to punt on their first series, Trubisky had a pass batted down, overthrew a receiver, had a run stuffed rudely by former teammate Adrian Amos and was sacked for a six-yard loss.

His last two series of the game ended in an interception in the end zone by Amos and a sack at his own 5-yard line. The interception was thrown into double coverage.

In between those ugly bookends was a lot of nothingness from the quarterback and a bizarre lack of energy from Nagy. It looked like a case of a coach trying to protect a quarterback in over his head. But that can’t be because Nagy has told us over and over again that Trubisky is on the verge of making big progress.

“I think he saw (the field) OK,’’ Nagy said after Thursday’s loss. “But I didn’t help him at all. I didn’t help him. I’ve got to help him.’’

Trubisky’s struggles in training camp were chalked up to the excellence of the Bears’ defense. The rationale for his unevenness in Bourbonnais was shouted from the rooftops by the team and by various analysts: You try being a good quarterback going against Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson every day!

Thursday’s opener against the Packers was supposed to be a chance for Trubisky to finally breathe without concerning himself with the loss of any more self-esteem. Even though he didn’t throw a pass in a preseason game, the Packers defense, though improved from last season, wasn’t nearly the Bears’ defense. That was the thinking, anyway.

By the first drive of the third quarter, Bears fans were booing the offense. They booed a Trubisky pass on third-and-10 that went for a two-yard gain. If you were a veteran boo reader, you sensed a good deal of frustration was with Trubisky, who, to that point, had almost been picked off twice.

If Trubisky had been overly amped, it would have been understandable. Just before kickoff, members of the ’85 Bears, waving white towels, walked out of one of the Soldier Field tunnels. You know, in case the crowd wasn’t at full froth already.

Maybe that’s why Nagy, having seen the ugly first “drive,’’ had Trubisky hand off four straight times to start the Bears’ second drive. Trubisky then completed his first pass of the night, for one yard to Tarik Cohen, but it fell short of a first down. That was OK because it allowed rookie Eddy Pineiro to make a 38-yard field goal and Chicago to forget about Cody Parkey for a moment.

You figured 3-0 would hold up for the victory. The Bears’ defense was that good.

When Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling with a 47-yard completion in the second quarter, there were shrieks of disbelief from the Soldier Field crowd, as if it had never occurred to fans that the Bears’ defense could be breached. And when Rodgers hit Jimmy Graham with an 8-yard touchdown pass on the drive, the crowd went into mourning. Black shawls. Keening. The works. It was 7-3 Packers.

Trubisky’s halftime stats – 11-for-16 for 73 yards – didn’t inspire music or literature. It wouldn’t get much better.

Rust could have been an issue. But some of his problems against the Packers looked suspiciously like some of his problems in the first two years of his Bears career. It was disconcerting.

So was the play of the offense, which managed just 46 rushing yards.

Boo.

Sean Wagner-McGough:

We spent so much time worrying about the Bears‘ kicker situation that we forgot they might have an even bigger problem at quarterback. It turns out the question isn’t, can Carli Lloyd be the unconventional solution to fix the Bears’ kicker problem? It really might be, can the U.S. women’s national soccer team legend play quarterback?

Against a revamped, hyped and young Packers defense, Trubisky went 26 for 45 (57.8 percent) for 228 yards (an ugly 5.1 yards per attempt), no touchdowns, a game-losing interception and a fitting 62.1 passer rating. It was as awful a performance as the numbers suggest.

Bears coach Matt Nagy deserves blame for his play-calling (a third-and-1 running play up the gut with Cordarrelle Patterson, to name one example), decision making (his decision to go for a fourth-and-10 instead of trying a long field goal, to name one example), and his eagerness to abandon the running game (the Bears ran the ball 12 times, not including Trubisky’s keepers). And the offensive line was overrun by the Packers’ defensive front. However, most coaches and O-lines wouldn’t have been able to win a game with that version of Trubisky.

There were missed openings that Trubisky didn’t see — just ask Allen Robinson, who was wide open on more than occasion, but didn’t always get the target his openness demanded. Below, in videos courtesy of NFL Game Pass (start your free trial today to rewatch Thursday’s game), Trubisky missed an uncovered Robinson and instead fired a late pass into traffic that very easily could’ve been picked.

There were wildly thrown passes sailing over the heads of his receivers — just like the missed passes that sailed over the heads of his receivers last year.

There were carelessly thrown passes that should’ve been intercepted. He was fortunate to finish with only one interception instead of three or four.

And there was a game-losing interception on a pass that never should’ve been thrown — into double coverage.

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NFL Game Pass

The angle from behind the play is particularly damning. You can see Trubisky lock in on his target, which allowed former Bears and current Packers safety Adrian Amos to follow his eyes, which created the double coverage. And you can see exactly how Trubisky struggles against the blitz, lofting up a softball without stepping into the throw. It was a lazy pass that deservedly resulted in an interception.

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NFL Game Pass

In fairness to Trubisky, he made a couple nice throws — mainly to Robinson, who was the lone bright spot on offense with seven catches for 102 yards. But it’s those moments of brilliance that make his inconsistencies that much more frustrating.

It felt a lot like last year, when Trubisky posted decent enough numbers, but lacked consistency on a play-to-play, game-to-game basis. Over the course of a 14-game regular season, Trubisky completed 66.6 percent of his passes, averaged 7.4 yards per attempt, threw 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and generated a 95.4 passer rating. Those numbers are fine — good even for a second-year quarterback in a brand new system. It’s how he posted those numbers that was concerning. In six starts, he posted a passer rating below 80.0. In six starts, he posted a passer rating above 100. Consistency was lacking.

The problems that plagued him a year ago were the exact same problems that plagued him Thursday night. Missing open targets with both his eyes and arm. Forcing passes into interceptable coverages. Not handling pressure with poise and composure. Making unforced errors.

Last year’s Bears managed to capture the NFC North crown with a 12-win season and would’ve been onto the divisional round of the playoffs if not for Cody Parkey‘s double-doink, which is why the Bears (and all of us) spent the offseason obsessing over their problem at kicker. But the Bears’ problem at kicker feels rather trivial after witnessing their problem at quarterback.

The problem is, if the Bears are going to take the next step, they’re going to need Trubisky to take the next step in his development and emerge as a consistently good quarterback, and based on what we saw Thursday night, Trubisky isn’t at that point — at least not yet.

Jeff Dickerson piles on:

Whatever growth the Chicago Bears expected from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in Year 2 under coach Matt Nagy never materialized in Thursday night’s season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

Chicago’s offense, captained by Trubisky, ruined a stellar effort by the defense, losing 10-3 to Green Bay in front of a capacity Soldier Field crowd that just before kickoff believed the home team had legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. Now, not so much. It’s early, but the offense — lowlighted by Trubisky — looked worse than last year when Nagy first took over. It’s not a good sign, either, that, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, no team has reached the Super Bowl after failing to score a touchdown in its season opener.

QB breakdown: Bad, bad, bad, bad. Outside of a couple of nice throws to Allen Robinson, Trubisky looked out of sync the entire game. A third-year quarterback can’t let the offense be called for two delay of game penalties on the same drive, as Trubisky allowed in the third quarter when Chicago appeared on the verge of scoring. The Bears praised Trubisky’s during preseason at every turn, but all the 25-year-old quarterback did in Week 1 was provide fodder to those who criticized the Bears’ refusal to play starters in preseason games and brought up familiar criticisms about Trubisky’s viability as a franchise quarterback. Trubisky capped off the evening by throwing an interception in the end zone into double coverage. It was a fitting end to such a lackluster game by Chicago’s starting quarterback.

Readers of this blog are familiar with Keith Olbermann (formerly of more media outlets than you can list) and his identification of “one of the NFL’s great unrecognized traditions” back in 2008 when Da Bears were about to change quarterbacks … again. “With brief interruptions of stability from the likes of Jim McMahon and Billy Wade, this job has been unsettled since Sid Luckman retired. There has always been a Rex Grossman, he has always underperformed, and they have always been about to replace him.”

I last quoted Olbermann when Trubisky was a rookie and about to replace Mike Glennon, for whom Da Bears ridiculously overpaid. Sure enough, out went Glennon and in came Trubisky. Two years later, there is not an apparent heir apparent, but when your home crowd boos you, that’s not a good harbinger of things to come.

Meanwhile, the Packers haven’t played defense like that since the 2010 season. That may be irrational exuberance, but starting 1–0 is better than starting 0–1 regardless of what kind of game it was. Offensive slow starts under new coaching staffs are not uncommon. (Recall that Mike Holmgren, Mike Sherman and Mike McCarthy lost their first two games each, and McCarthy got shut out in his first game by Da Bears.)

 

Back to the future of journalism

James Fallows:

This is another road report on the state of local journalism, which is more and more important, and more and more imperiled.

It is important because so much of the future of American economic, cultural, and civic life is now being devised and determined at the local or state level. Educational innovation, promotion of new industries and creation of fairer opportunities, absorption of new arrivals (in growing communities) and retaining existing talent (in shrinking ones), reform of policing and prison practices, equitable housing and transportation policies, offsets to addiction and homelessness and other widespread problems, environmental sustainability—these and just about every other issue you can think of are the subjects of countless simultaneous experiments going on across the country. Voters, residents, and taxpayers need to know what is happening (or not), and what is working (or not), in their school systems, and their city councils, and their state capitals.

Liberal laundry list put aside …

This brings us to The Quoddy Tides, the twice-monthly, family-owned and -run newspaper that has a print circulation several times larger than the population of the city where it is based.

The home city is Eastport, Maine, whose library Deb wrote about recently, and which we described in our book, Our TownsIn its heyday as a sardine-canning capital, Eastport had a population of more than 5,000. Now the canneries are gone, and the year-round population is about 1,300, and nearly everyone in town holds a combination of jobs—lobster fishing, seasonal tourist businesses, work at the commercial port or in forestry, small crafts or art studios—to make ends meet. But in this setting, The Quoddy Tides has a paid print circulation of just less than 5,000, and now has more than 50 years of continuous operation. Its editorial and business office is in a white clapboard structure that at various times was a fishing-company office and then a Christian Science church, along the bay front in Eastport’s small but architecturally distinguished downtown. It is run on a shoestring, but it has some 20 contributors and correspondents in the region, and it is full of both articles and ads, and it matters in its community.

Part of The QT’s circulation secret is similar to that of Seven Days, in Vermont: It is aimed at an audience, and market, beyond its immediate hometown base. In addition to news of Eastport, The QT covers that of other down-east Maine towns such as Lubec, Machias, and Calais (pronounced like callous), and adjoining maritime islands and towns in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. It also has a substantial mail circulation, reaching subscribers in 49 states who are originally from the area, or have visited, or feel some interest or connection to it. (South Dakota is the outlier. People of Sioux Falls and Rapid City, c’mon!)

Also, like The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi, the paper’s family ownership means that it can spend its modest resources as it chooses. It is not under external-ownership pressure to meet regular profitability targets, which has sent so many small papers into cycles of cutback and decline.

But when I spoke with the husband-and-wife couple who run the paper, Edward French and Lora Whelan, they emphasized that it was the kind of journalism they provide that has allowed them to survive.

The Quoddy Tides—named for the Passamaquoddy Bay on which Eastport sits, which feeds into the Bay of Fundy—was founded by Edward’s mother, Winifred, in 1968. She and her husband, Rowland, a doctor, had moved to Eastport from Arizona in the early 1950s, and stayed there to raise their family. (“My mother was looking for someplace not quite as hot,” Edward told me in The QT’s office earlier this month. “Coastal Maine qualified.”) Rowland became a leading local doctor, with a clinic now named in his honor. One of Edward’s brothers, Hugh, also lives now in Eastport, where with his wife, Kristin McKinlay, he runs a museum and arts organization called the Tides Institute.

In the late 1960s, as the family’s children were growing, Winifred decided that the community needed a newspaper. A previous one, from the town’s sardine-canning days, had gone out of business in the 1950s. “She had no newspaper experience,” Lora said of her mother-in-law. “But she thought these communities really needed a voice. So she talked to other small newspapers and had correspondence with people all around the country about how she should set this up.” After a year of research, she launched the paper in 1968.

Edward, then elementary-school age, grew up helping address papers for mail subscribers, and with the page layout. In those days, a fishing boat took article text across the water to a layout shop in Deer Island, Canada, and then another boat would carry the pasted-up pages back to the U.S. for printing.

Then and now, the striking characteristic of the paper is its density of local news. The most recent issue, when we visited, was 40 pages long, with many dozens of purely local, information-packed news stories.

For instance, the front page (at right) had five local stories: about the Passamaquoddy Tribal Council’s effort to defend water rights; about limits on sea-urchin fishing (a quickly growing market, mainly for export to Asia); about the impact of new tax preferences, for land conservation, on local tax revenues; a crime story; and one about an academic-freedom dispute at the local Maritime College of Forest Technology. Plus, a picture of a kayaker viewing a Minke whale—of which we saw large numbers in the bay.

In the rest of the paper you have: high-school sports. Commercial shipping schedules and tide tables. Gardening and cooking tips. Religious news. Birth and death notices. Puzzles. Local city-council roundups. A long editorial and letters-to-editors section. Everything.

“I think it’s important for newspapers not to keep cutting,” Edward told me at The QT’s office. “If you keep cutting, there’s less and less reason for people to buy the paper. If you want to keep a healthy circulation, you have to make the investment in reporters and providing the news that people can’t find anywhere else.” If there is a “secret” of the paper’s success, he said, it is “that you’re providing information that people can’t find any other place.”

Exactly. Broadcasters, even in small markets, aren’t interested in the minutiae of government. Nor are daily newspapers not covering their main markets.

One example of what can happen was when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel breathlessly reported that nearly every rural well in Southwest Wisconsin was contaminated. The percentage Bergquist reported was the percentage of wells that had already been tested and found contaminated; the resulting testing was to determine which contaminants could be found in the wells. I’ve said that journalism is the opposite of math, but there is a difference between 32 percent and 91 percent.

Both Lora and Edward emphasized that the paper’s twice-a-month publishing schedule—the second and fourth Friday of each month, with a built-in cushion for them in the months that have five Fridays—gives them an advantage, in forcing them away from the daily or breaking-news stories that their readers would already have learned about elsewhere.

“I believe that daily newspapers struggle because they’re so often repeating what’s already been presented, either in social media or on the television news,” Edward said. “But when you have a local newspaper that is presenting news people aren’t going to find anywhere else, I think there will always be a need for that. I think that will allow local newspapers to survive very well.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a twice-monthly newspaper. If you produce 40-page newspapers twice a month, one would think going weekly could make you more current, though not necessarily more profitable. It seems to work for them, anyway. And it is nice to see someone who has worked in big media acknowledge that there is something besides New York and Washington media.

Unlike her husband, Lora is not originally from Eastport. She grew up in New York; some of her relatives ran a small newspaper in Santa Barbara, California; and she originally came to Maine, before she met Edward, to work on an economic-development project. They met, and married, and she became involved with the newspaper. Now she is the assistant editor and publisher, and does much of the local-news coverage.

“I don’t know what journalism schools are doing these days, but I really wish they would focus more on local news,” she told me. “It can be boring, I mean really boring, to go to city-council meetings every month, and county-commissioner meetings every month. But at the same time, it’s incredibly important. And at least once a year, something will come out that’s incredibly important, and that you would not know if you hadn’t been there.”

“Those are the kinds of stories that local people need to know, and want to know, and that are getting lost with some of the papers that don’t have the resources, or don’t understand how important it is to cover those boring meetings month after month.”

“It’s not exciting most of the time,” she said—and Deb and I knew what she was talking about, since we’d been to an Eastport City Council meeting that she was covering. “But it’s critical. It’s like how most of us live our lives. Not terribly exciting most of the time—but, you know, we have these moments!”

One of my most valuable UW School of Journalism classes was a public-affairs reporting class taught by a New York Times correspondent, Raymond Anderson. He assigned us to cover government meetings, which I was doing in my first journalism job at the Monona Community Herald. So I asked him if I could submit my work for the class, and he said that would be fine. I was getting professional critiques of the work I was getting paid to do. I got an A in the class. (And thus my first career goal, to get paid twice for the same work.)

I too wonder what J-schools teach these days. I used to think that too many reporters wanted to become the next Woodward and/or Bernstein, breaking huge news that made the reporters famous. I also see that young journalists think they want to get into journalism so they can change the world. That’s wrong. The reason to get into journalism (other than the long and irregular hours, low pay and people who hate you) is to report on the world, including the world within your media outlet’s circulation, listenership or viewership area.

Edward had an aw-shucks, self-deprecating manner when talking about his newspaper’s influence and record. Maybe this is The Maine Way; maybe it’s just him. But he wasn’t afraid to seem earnest when talking about why he believed that local journalism mattered.

“I think we provide quite a bit of investigative reporting, and try to get into the meat of what’s happening so that people can make informed decisions. We really try to provide a voice for people in our communities that might otherwise not have a voice, so that people in power have to address their concerns and be held accountable.”

“I think that’s really the basis for a healthy democracy,” he said. “I think without community newspapers, democracy will really suffer.” It’s worth noting at this point that we’ve been following the Eastport and Quoddy Tides saga for more than six years now, and what Edward and Lora said about their paper matches what other people in the community have told us as well. It’s not unusual to overhear people saying, “Well, I saw in the Tides …”

Lora said that in a town as small as Eastport, she and her husband and their contributors knew that every day they would encounter people they were writing about, and people who read their paper. “It’s a delicate balance in a community this small,” she said. “We’d walk into the IGA”—the local grocery store—“and people would come up to us waving a story we’d written.” For a long time, she said, she and Edward didn’t have a phone-answering machine, because they didn’t want to deal with some messages.

But overall, she said, “actually it’s a blessing to feel that trust that people have in you. They come up to you and say, ‘This is what I’m worried about. Is there any way you can look into it?’ Sometimes we can. Sometimes we cannot. But it is a beautiful feeling to have someone trust you like that.”

The Quoddy Tides model may not work in other communities, and it may not work forever even in this one. But for now it’s a useful illustration of the way journalism, community, public discourse, and civic engagement can interact in a positive cycle, rather than in the destructive ways we’re all so familiar with.

That approach is in fact working all over the state, in markets too small for daily newspapers. I think it’s working all over the nation too, though evidence is hard to find since I don’t get out of the state much.

Of course, a newspaper is a business, and no business can spend more money than it brings in and stay in business. That is the current crisis in the media — dropping revenues (and advertising generally brings in twice as much revenue as sales of subscriptions and single copies) because of more competition for advertising dollars, partly due shrinkage of the local advertising base that has fueled newspapers for decades.

I would say the Quoddy Tides might want to update their look …

… though I suppose it would be prideful and self-promoting to suggest something that looks more like this award-winning weekly newspaper …

 

 

Things are so bad that …

James D. Agresti:

A groundbreaking study by Just Facts has discovered that after accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and food stamps, the poorest 20 percent of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries. This includes the majority of countries in the prestigious Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including its European members. In other words, if the US “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest.

Notably, this study was reviewed by Dr. Henrique Schneider, professor of economics at Nordakademie University in Germany and the chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. After examining the source data and Just Facts’ methodology, he concluded: “This study is sound and conforms with academic standards. I personally think it provides valuable insight into poverty measures and adds considerably to this field of research.”

In a July 1 New York Times video op-ed that decries “fake news” and calls for “a more truthful approach” to “the myth of America as the greatest nation on earth,” Times producers Taige Jensen and Nayeema Raza claim the US has “fallen well behind Europe” in many respects and has “more in common with ‘developing countries’ than we’d like to admit.”

“One good test” of this, they say, is how the US ranks in the OECD, a group of “36 countries, predominantly wealthy, Western, and Democratic.” While examining these rankings, they corrupt the truth in ways that violate the Times’ op-ed standards, which declare that “you can have any opinion you would like,” but “the facts in a piece must be supported and validated,” and “you can’t say that a certain battle began on a certain day if it did not.”

A prime example is their claim that “America is the richest country” in the OECD, “but we’re also the poorest, with a whopping 18% poverty rate—closer to Mexico than Western Europe.” That assertion prompted Just Facts to conduct a rigorous, original study of this issue with data from the OECD, the World Bank, and the US government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. It found that the Times is not merely wrong about this issue but is also reporting the polar opposite of reality.

The most glaring evidence against the Times’ rhetoric is a note located just above the OECD’s data for poverty rates. It explains that these rates measure relative poverty within nations, not between nations. As the note states, the figures represent portions of people with less than “half the median household income” in their own nations and thus “two countries with the same poverty rates may differ in terms of the relative income-level of the poor.”

The upshot is laid bare by the fact that this OECD measure assigns a higher poverty rate to the US (17.8 percent) than to Mexico (16.6 percent). Yet World Bank data show that 35 percent of Mexico’s population lives on less than $5.50 per day, compared to only 2 percent of people in the United States.

Hence, the OECD’s poverty rates say nothing about which nation is “the poorest.” Nonetheless, this is exactly how the Times misrepresented them.

The same point applies to broader discussions about poverty, which can be measured in two very different ways: (1) relative poverty or (2) absolute poverty. Relative measures of poverty, like the one cited by the Times, can be misleading if the presenter does not answer the question: Poor compared to who? Absolute measures, like the number of people with income below a certain level, are more straightforward and enlightening.

To accurately compare living standards across or within nations, it is necessary to account for all major aspects of material welfare. None of the data above does this.

The OECD data is particularly flawed because it is based on “income,” which excludes a host of non-cash government benefits and private charity that are abundant in the United States. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Health care provided by Medicaid, free clinics, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Nourishment provided by food stamps, school lunches, school breakfasts, soup kitchens, food pantries, and the Women’s, Infants’ & Children’s program
  • Housing and amenities provided through rent subsidies, utility assistance, and homeless shelters

The World Bank data includes those items but is still incomplete because it is based on government “household surveys,” and US low-income households greatly underreport both their income and non-cash benefits in such surveys. As documented in a 2015 paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives entitled “Household Surveys in Crisis”:

  • “In recent years, more than half of welfare dollars and nearly half of food stamp dollars have been missed in several major” government surveys.
  • There has been “a sharp rise” in the underreporting of government benefits received by low-income households in the United States.
  • This “understatement of incomes” masks “the poverty-reducing effects of government programs” and leads to “an overstatement of poverty and inequality.”

Likewise, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis explains that such surveys “have issues with recalling income and expenditures and are subject to deliberate underreporting of certain items.” The US Census Bureau says much the same, writing that “for many different reasons there is a tendency in household surveys for respondents to underreport their income.”

There is also a wider lesson here. When politicians and the media talk about income inequality, they often use statistics that fail to account for large amounts of income and benefits received by low- and middle-income households. This greatly overstates inequality and feeds deceptive narratives.

The World Bank’s “preferred” indicator of material well-being is “consumption” of goods and services. This is due to “practical reasons of reliability and because consumption is thought to better capture long-run welfare levels than current income.” Likewise, as a 2003 paper in the Journal of Human Resources explains:

  • “[R]esearch on poor households in the U.S. suggests that consumption is better reported than income” and is “a more direct measure of material well-being.”
  • “[C]onsumption standards were behind the original setting of the poverty line,” but governments now use income because of its “ease of reporting.”

The World Bank publishes a comprehensive dataset on consumption that isn’t dependent on the accuracy of household surveys and includes all goods and services, but it only provides the average consumption per person in each nation—not the poorest people in each nation.

However, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis published a study that provides exactly that for 2010. Combined with World Bank data for the same year, these datasets show that the poorest 20 percent of US households have higher average consumption per person than the averages for all people in most nations of the OECD and Europe:

The high consumption of America’s “poor” doesn’t mean they live better than average people in the nations they outpace, like Spain, Denmark, Japan, Greece, and New Zealand. This is because people’s quality of life also depends on their communities and personal choices, like the local politicians they elect, the violent crimes they commit, and the spending decisions they make.

For instance, a Department of Agriculture study found that US households receiving food stamps spend about 50 percent more on sweetened drinks, desserts, and candy than on fruits and vegetables. In comparison, households not receiving food stamps spend slightly more on fruits & vegetables than on sweets.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that the privilege of living in the US affords poor people more material resources than the averages for most of the world’s richest nations.

Another important strength of this data is that it is adjusted for purchasing power to measure tangible realities like square feet of living area, foods, smartphones, etc. This removes the confounding effects of factors like inflation and exchange rates. Thus, an apple in one nation is counted the same as an apple in another.

To spot-check the results for accuracy, Just Facts compared the World Bank consumption figure for the entire US with the one from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. They were within 2 percent of each other. All of the data, documentation, and calculations are available in this spreadsheet.

In light of these facts, the Times’ claim that the US has “more in common with ‘developing countries’ than we’d like to admit” is especially far-fetched. In 2010, even the poorest 20 percent of Americans consumed three to 30 times more goods and services than the averages for all people in a wide array of developing nations around the world.

These immense gaps in standards of living are a major reason why people from developing nations immigrate to the US instead of vice versa.

Instead of maligning the United States, the Times could have covered this issue in a way that would help people around the world improve their material well-being by replicating what makes the US so successful. However, that would require conveying the following facts, many of which the Times has previously misreported:

  • High energy prices, like those caused by ambitious “green energy” programs in Europe, depress living standards, especially for the poor.
  • High tax rates reduce incentives to work, save, and invest, and these can have widespread harmful effects.
  • Abundant social programs can reduce market income through multiple mechanisms—and as explained by President Obama’s former chief economist Lawrence Summers, “government assistance programs” provide people with “an incentive, and the means, not to work.”
  • The overall productivity of each nation trickles down to the poor, and this is partly why McDonald’s workers in the US have more real purchasing powerthan in Europe and six times more than in Latin America, even though these workers perform the same jobs with the same technology.
  • Family disintegration driven by changing attitudes toward sex, marital fidelity, and familial responsibility has strong, negative impacts on household income.
  • In direct contradiction to the Times, a wealth of data suggests that aggressive government regulations harm economies.

Many other factors correlate with the economic conditions of nations and individuals, but the above are some key ones that give the US an advantage over many European and other OECD countries.

The Times closes its video by claiming that “America may once have been the greatest, but today America, we’re just okay.” In reality, the US is so economically exceptional that the poorest 20 percent of Americans are richer than many of the world’s most affluent nations.

Last year, the Times adopted a new slogan: “The truth is worth it.” Yet, in this case, and others, it has twisted the truth in ways that can genuinely hurt people. The Times makes other spurious claims about the US in this same video, which will be deflated in future articles.

Comrade Sanders, savior of journalism

Jeff Jacoby disagrees with this headline (which hopefully readers realize was displayed in the sarcasm font):

When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail to be pounded. When you’re Bernie Sanders and your only tool is socialism, every problem looks like a capitalist to be bashed.

The septuagenarian senator from Vermont is an unabashed lifelong socialist, whose solutions to most problems involve more government, less freedom, and higher taxes. This week, in a 1,700-word essay published in the Columbia Journalism Review, he proposed a “plan for journalism” involving — can you guess? — more government, less freedom, and higher taxes. The capitalist-bashing begins in the second sentence: “Today’s assault on journalism by Wall Street, billionaire businessmen, Silicon Valley, and Donald Trump presents a crisis — and [is] why we must take concrete action.”

But Sanders, like Trump, is quick to impugn journalists’ motives. And much of the “action” he proposes would interfere with media companies that try to save themselves.

If elected, Sanders says, he would use the power of the federal government to crack down on media mergers that would lead to layoffs, consolidate news outlets under fewer owners, or “adversely affect” women and minorities. He would “reinstate and strengthen” the old cross-ownership rule that blocked TV and radio stations from owning newspapers in the same market. And he would require the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to “more stringently” pursue antitrust litigation against Facebook and Google, whose success has come in part at the expense of traditional media outlets.
Sanders also raises the prospect of taxing online ads and using the revenue to fund “nonprofit civic-minded media” and to “substantially increase” government subsidies for public journalism. That won’t do anything for struggling private newspapers and magazines, but it will certainly boost the power of PBS and NPR and their decidedly left-wing worldview.

Nothing in Sanders’ plan is fresh or novel. How and whether to rein in Big Tech, to expand racial and gender diversity in the media, to tax advertising and Internet services, to underwrite nonprofit media — all of these have been perennial topics of debate when the agenda turns to the ailments of the news business. In his essay, the senator vowed to impose an “immediate moratorium” on corporate media mergers like the proposed combination of Viacom and CBS. But media consolidation has been a left-wing bugbear forever. “Remember back in 2000 when the merger of AOL and Time Warner spelled the absolute doom of an independent press?” asks Reason magazine’s Nick Gillespie. “Better yet, can you even remember AOL or Time magazine, once massive presences in media that are now desiccated ruins of their former selves?”
Sanders acknowledges the ravaging of the news industry in recent decades. “Over the past 15 years, more than 1,400 communities across the country have lost newspapers, which are the outlets local television, radio, and digital news sites rely on for reporting,” he writes. “Since 2008, we have seen newsrooms lose 28,000 employees — and in the past year alone, 3,200 people in the media industry have been laid off.” But Sanders seems far less interested in the plight of journalists than in exploiting their excruciations to score ideological points.

Like so much of what America’s best-known socialist says and writes, his media plan drips with hostility for capitalists and capitalism. He repeatedly decries the lack of “real journalism” in America, and blames it on his standard villains: the “forces of greed that are pillaging our economy,” the “corporate conglomerates and hedge fund vultures,” the “oligarchic business models,” the “billionaires who … use their media empires to punish their critics and shield themselves from scrutiny.” Sanders is particularly hostile to Jeff Bezos, the billionaire who owns The Washington Post. He suggested recently that his criticism of Bezos is the reason the Post “doesn’t write particularly good articles about me.” At times, his attacks on the integrity of publishers and the motives of reporters have been almost indistinguishable from President Trump’s.

Lord knows the news business is in dire straits these days, but socialist nostrums aren’t going to stop the cataclysmic changes unleashed by the digital revolution. As someone who has worked in newsrooms for more than three decades, I mourn the lost era when nearly every home subscribed to a newspaper. I wince at every newspaper shutdown or round of layoffs. But the media aren’t in extremis because they weren’t regulated enough. If anything, some daily papers might yet be alive if, for example, the cross-ownership rule hadn’t deprived them of a potential lifeline.

Trashing the entrepreneurs and investors who are keeping some of the nation’s legacy news organizations alive may suit Sanders’ anti-capitalist shtick, but it will do nothing to save the business of journalism. “We cannot sit by and allow corporations, billionaires, and demagogues to destroy the Fourth Estate,” says Sanders. That’s the way he always talks — the tiresome rhetoric of a one-tool politician with the same scapegoat for everything.

One solution that would work better than the status quo is to allow, not ban, cross ownership of newspapers and broadcast properties. It worked great for Journal Communications (until the fateful decision to go public, and now Journal is no more).

In addition to the tiresome call for more taxes, the regulations Comrade Bernie suggests — preventing mergers he doesn’t like and creating new media outlets with federal money) would make the feds in charge of media companies. Maybe Sanders wants that. (Maybe Trump wants that too.) No one else should.

 

Pot, meet kettle, meet other kettle

Bruce Murphy:

Somebody high up at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel doesn’t like the Wisconsin Examiner, the new progressive publication covering the state Capitol. You can tell this because the newspaper keeps hammering the same misleading message.

First there was an August 20 JS story on the rise of liberal ‘news’ websites in the state, the use of quotes around news tipping readers off that maybe these groups don’t do real journalism. Then came an August 21 summary of the newspaper’s stories that week by reporter Sarah Hauer which described the Wisconsin Examiner as a “partisan political website.” And then there was JS editor George Stanley’s August 23 column warning to his readers to “Watch out for slanted political coverage” from publications like the Wisconsin Examiner.

So If the Examiner is a “slanted” and “partisan” operation whose claim to cover the news deserves to be questioned and put in quotes, it should be easy to find and report some examples of such journalism, right?

And yet the Journal Sentinel story on the Wisconsin Examiner, by Patrick Marley andMary Spicuzza offers not one example of a slanted or inaccurate story by the publication.As the reporters surely knew, the Examiner actually had one the biggest Capitol scoops in its first few weeks of launching. Its editor Ruth Conniffdid a story revealing that Republicans were discussing using a Joint Resolution to pass redistricting and thereby bypass Gov.Tony Eversand continue gerrymandered districts in Wisconsin.

The Journal Sentinel did a follow-up story that credited the Wisconsin Examiner, while quoting Republican leaders (who pointedly declined to respond to Conniff) denying any such plan.

Conniff also credits her reporterIsiah Holmes with being the first Wisconsin journalist to report on Pentagon spy balloons doing overhead surveillance of the state. This was based on an earlier story by The Guardian, but Holmes hit upon a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems, which sells a similarly sweeping surveillance system.

His story was published at 9:30 on August 8th and about 90 minutes later the Journal Sentinel published a similar story byBruce Vielmetti that also mentions Persistent Surveillance Systems in his story. Did he get that from the Examiner story? “I don’t think so,” Vielmetti says, adding that he remembers the company from some prior stories he read.

That’s a pretty squishy reply and it’s worth noting the Journal Sentinel has always been reluctant to credit other publications who are first to report a story. Indeed, back when Holmes was a free lance reporter for Urban Milwaukee, he did a remarkable investigative piece revealing that a transitional living center that is supposed to help drug addicts had seen five residents die of overdoses within eight months and that the center hadn’t been licensed by the city.Weeks later the Journal Sentinel did a story on the opioid deaths and the city review of the center’s license without crediting Holmes or Urban Milwaukee, whose reporting led to the city’s scrutiny.

The main thesis of the JS story on Wisconsin Examiner is that it is a “left-wing” response to right-wing sites like the MacIver Institute. But MacIver was started as a think tank, not a news site. And when it did do journalism, its methods could be questionable, as Sourcewatch has noted: In 2009 MacIver operative Bill Osmulski was charged with obtaining interviews with two elected Wisconsin officials under false pretenses. The MacIver Institute falsely claimed the state Government Accountability Board would deem recall signatures from “Mickey Mouse” or “Hitler” to be valid when counting signatures in the recall effort against then-governorScott Walker.

MacIver is first and foremost a political group whose staff works to support the Republican Party. Thus, it filed class action suits against the Government Accountability Board and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm for their role in the John Doe Probe of Walker. While MacIver has done more reporting in the last couple years, it does so sporadically: its site lists four new stories it did in the month of August and 13 in July. The Examiner did more than that in its first two weeks. One of MacIver’s main “reporters” is Chris Rochester, who is also the communications director for the group. The other is Matt Kittle, who previously wrote for the now defunct conservative site, Wisconsin Reporter, where he did hundreds of stories with Captain Ahab-like obsessiveness bashing the John Doe probe.

The Examiner has hired four experienced journalists, including Conniff, who worked for two decades for the Progressive Magazine while also doing columns for the Madison weekly Isthmus, Erik Gunn, a former Milwaukee Journal reporter of many years and longtime Milwaukee Magazine contributing editor, Melanie Conklin, who worked for years as a reporter for Isthmus and the Wisconsin State Journal, and Holmes, who free lanced for several years for Urban Milwaukee and other publications. The JS story only reports on Conklin’s background.

The Examiner is funded by the liberal Hopewell Fund, but as Conklin told the JS, the publication is “non-partisan,” and it has already proven itself with many solid news stories. Whereas the JS has already followed up on two Examiner stories, it rarely cites the MacIver Institute. I emailed Marley and Spicuzza for examples of some MacIver stories cited by the JS, and Marley, who responded, had to go all the way back to 2009 to come up with three stories. Versus two for the Examiner in two weeks.

Nice bit of weasel work on Cunniff’s and Murphy’s parts here. “Nonpartisan” and “nonideological” are not synonyms. I’ve been on the radio with Cunniff. Her politics are obvious, as are Isthmus’ for decades. And as I’ve stated here before, Murphy despises Republicans and conservatives, and he proves that here.

Their story has the feel of one assigned by an editor (to not one but two journalists) with a pre-ordained thesis. Most stories start that way, but a good reporter (and both Marley and Spicuzza are good ones) is first and foremost curious and driven to find the real story, even if it departs from the original thesis. In this case there is a huge one that was ignored: the decline of for-profit journalism and the rise of non-profit journalism.

Between 2008 and 2018, newspapers lost 47 percent of their newsroom jobs, as the Pew Research Center has reported. “These major cutbacks, according to the Institute for Nonprofit News… are fueling the growth of nonprofit news outlets,” as the Johnson Center, which tracks non-profits, has reported. “In late 2017, both the Guardian and The New York Times announced the establishment of nonprofit wings….philanthropy is pouring new money and emphasis into nonprofit journalism.”  According to another analysis, there are now some 270 U.S. nonprofit news sites, with most popping up in recent years.

You can see that in Wisconsin, where the for-profit Wisconsin Gazette went of business, the Journal Sentinel has suffered a massive loss of staff and the size of the Business Journal has steadily declined. Meanwhile non- profits like WUWM-FM and Wisconsin Public Radio have maintained or increased their news coverage. Even Radio Milwaukee does some news stories these days. Now add the Examiner to the list.

On an average day, a reader interested in coverage of the Capitol will find more stories by checking Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Examiner than from the Journal Sentinel. Urban Milwaukee republishes stories by both publications, along with stories by Neighborhood News Service, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Justice Initiative, all also non-profits. And as for-profit entities like the Journal Sentinel continue to decline, you’re likely to see more of its one-time coverage replaced by non-profit journalism.

That’s the big trend in journalism which the JS story on the Examiner pointedly ignores, because it’s bad news for the newspaper. Instead it publishes a sloppy story lumping the Examiner in with political entities like MacIver or the liberal super PAC American Bridge. Whatever nuance emerges in the story by Marley and Spicuzza (and it isn’t much) was quickly overwhelmed by Hauer and Stanley slamming the Examiner as partisan and slanted. It’s all part of an exercise to convince readers the JS is the only news source you can trust, and to do this the paper publishes an obviously misleading story.

I learned something decades ago. A publication should never, ever write about its competition. There is no way for you to look good in the process. Do good work, and let the readers and advertisers decide. And the market (which, as you know, liberals hate) will decide whether the Wisconsin Examiner survives or not.

 

The NFL’s voices

This is the 100th anniversary season of the National Football League, so the Associated Press decided to create a list of top NFL announcers.

I’m going to modify the AP’s list, because there are two that deserve a separate category, and this doesn’t mention an additional category that needs mention:

While fans of some sports all have their favorite local announcers, the NFL has been much more of a shared viewing experience.

With all games being shown on national networks rather than solely on local channels, the most memorable voices of football are universal.

There were the early voices of the game such as Curt Gowdy and Ray Scott; the unique combination of Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford in prime time; to years of Pat Summerall’s brevity punctuated by John Madden’s boisterous interjections.

Everyone has a style they prefer, from Tony Romo’s role as Nostradamus to the exuberance of Gus Johnson and Kevin Harlan to the understated style of men such as Summerall and Scott.

Here’s a look at some of the iconic voices of the NFL:

CURT GOWDY

A versatile announcer nicknamed the Cowboy who started off as Mel Allen’s partner on Yankees radio broadcasts, Gowdy was one of the original voices of the AFL on ABC when the league started in 1960. He moved on to NBC in 1965 and was in the booth for some of the most memorable games in pro football history. He called the first Super Bowl for NBC; the “Heidi” game in 1968; Joe Namath’s guarantee in Super Bowl 3; and the Immaculate Reception. ABC wanted to hire Gowdy as the original voice of “Monday Night Football,” but NBC wouldn’t let him out of his contract. His final Super Bowl broadcast came when Pittsburgh beat Dallas for the title following the 1978 season before he was traded to CBS to create an opening for Enberg to become the lead voice of the NFL on NBC. Gowdy had few catch phrases but was known for colorful descriptions.

MERLIN OLSEN

The Hall of Fame defensive tackle went on to have a long career as the top analyst at NBC, working alongside greats Gowdy and Enberg during the 1970s and ’80s and calling five Super Bowls. A physical presence on the Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line, Olsen was more soft spoken as an announcer. He never tried to overshadow the game and was a comfortable listen throughout his career.

The former defensive tackle for the New York Giants became perhaps the most respected analyst of the early Super Bowl era. Working for years alongside Gowdy on NBC’s top team, DeRogatis was known for his ability to describe what happened even before a replay and helped millions of fans better understand the game. He worked three Super Bowls, including Joe Namath’s guarantee game in January 1969.

The first place I differ from this list is that there are two who need to be in both analyst and play-by-play roles, because they did both.

PAT SUMMERALL

Summerall transitioned from a successful playing career to the booth in the 1960s and became the voice of the NFL. He started off as an analyst and was part of the first Super Bowl broadcast. He shifted to a play-by-play role in 1974 at CBS and that’s where he really shined. With an economy of words and understated persona, he helped analysts Madden and Tom Brookshier shine. A call of a big TD for Summerall could be as simple as “Montana … Rice … Touchdown.” He announced a record 16 Super Bowls on network television and contributed to 10 on the radio as well.

FRANK GIFFORD

The Hall of Fame running back went on to have a career as one of the most versatile announcers in football history. Gifford started broadcasting following his first retirement when he was knocked out on a hit by Chuck Bednarik. He retired for good following the 1964 season and returned to CBS as a broadcaster, where he was an analyst for the Ice Bowl and the first Super Bowl, and a sideline reporter on two more Super Bowls. He then moved to ABC in 1971 where he shifted to a play-by-play role on “Monday Night Football,” often playing the straight man to Cosell and Meredith. Gifford then moved back to the analyst chair in 1986 when Michaels took over and remained in that role for more than a decade. Gifford and Summerall are the only announcers to call a Super Bowl as both play-by-play man and analyst.

The broadcasts are not what they’ve been were it not for the pregame shows, headed by Brent Musburger when he was at CBS …

… and postgame, led by ESPN’s Chris Berman:

Dishing it out but not taking it

Michael Hoffman is, to say the least, not sympathetic about yesterday’s news that Donald Trump supporters are embarking on a campaign to make Trump’s media non-fans’ words reach public view:

On the front page of the August 25 edition of the New York Times, two reporters, Kenneth P. Vogel and Jeremy W. Peters, decry a new movement by Right wing researchers among Donald Trump’s base, aimed at sleuthing into the background and statements of journalists in the employ of the legacy media.

These investigations have been declared to be off-limits and “clearly not journalism.” So saith Washington Post’s Lord High Emeritus Executive Editor, Leonard Downie Jr.
He alleges that an “organized, wide-scale political effort to intentionally humiliate journalists and others who work for media outlets” is something new.
One wonders on what desert island he’s been sojourning. The censorship, doxing, boycotts and obstruction of revisionists, black nationalists and Conservative and Christian journalists don’t seem to register or even exist for media Brahmins of the upper crust.
Follow the money: the legacy media will brook no competition that harms its lucrative monopoly on news. Therefore, we dissident journalists are supposed to know our place and be content with our lot as virtually invisible. The many attempts to humiliate, libel, obstruct and remove us from Google, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and Instagram are of no concern to the High and Mighty in the legacy press.
“It’s one thing for Spiro Agnew to call everyone in the press ‘nattering nabobs of negativism,’ Mr. Downie said, referring to Agnew’s critique of how journalists covered President Nixon. “And another thing to investigate individuals in order to embarrass them publicly and jeopardize their employment.”
This is precisely what several corporate newspaper chains, cable television news, websites, blogs and podcasts have been doing for years, including the NY Times — calling for the dismissal and loss of employment of alternative reporters who have been smeared as anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, homophobic, and so on.

A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, said in a statement that exposure of shady biographical facts about Times reporters was a case of taking Trump’s “campaign against a free press to a new level. They are seeking to harass and embarrass anyone affiliated with the leading news organizations that are asking tough questions and bringing uncomfortable truths to light,” Mr. Sulzberger declared.

When such tactics are used against the “leading” news organizations they are immoral and wrong. However, when the Times, Washington Post and CNN smear, intimidate and prevent alternative journalists who work for smaller online operations from “asking tough questions and bringing uncomfortable truths to light,” then it’s not at all a matter for outrage. The news aristocrats have spoken. You may now kiss their designer shoes.

Mr. Sulzberger takes the moral high ground on behalf of his very profitable and powerful business behemoth:

“The goal of this campaign is clearly to intimidate journalists from doing their job, which includes serving as a check on power and exposing wrongdoing when it occurs. The Times will not be intimidated or silenced.”

What about journalists who seek a check on your monopoly power and wrong-doing Mr. Sulzberger? What of your newspaper’s endeavor to jeopardize our employment?

Mr. Sulzberger’s heresy-hunting NY Times has shown zero interest in defending conservative reporters who are not members of the legacy media from calumny and blacklisting.

Often the Times has been guilty of these odious tactics, which it now indignantly protests when its political rivals and business competitors employ them to deflate the reputation of the Times, and inform the public concerning the questionable character of some of its writers and editors.

In many cases Sulzberger’s newspaper has encouraged those attacks and covered up for thought police groups like Right Wing Watch and “Media Matters for America” that closely investigate and attack conservative journalists, and Sleeping Giants, which is sworn to threaten and shame any platform online that dares to host radical alternatives to politically correct dogma and revolutionary social change.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is a prominent thought police group campaigning for the censorship of history books at Amazon, the silencing of black leaders like Louis Farrakhan, and of activists who are outside the established boundary of permissible opinions about Israeli settler-colonialism and the racist creed of the Babylonian Talmud. Over the years, the New York Times has been a dependable mouthpiece for the ADL and complicit in its libel and intimidation—yet theTimes is horrified now that such tactics are being wielded against its own writers. Here we observe the grotesque hypocrisy of the entitled.

In June the heresy-hunters at Google’s YouTube removed several legitimate revisionist history videos, together with many white supremacist and hate speech videos. Having accepted without investigation Google’s deceitful description of all the videos it removed from YouTube as constituting “hate speech,” the New York Times mechanically reported the entire ban in terms of taking down hate speech. Our video exposing Deborah Lipstadt’s hate speech toward historian David Irving was one of the films banned from YouTube. Consequently, our video which fulfilled a public service by advancing knowledge about the hate speech of an Establishment-revered Zionist celebrity (Lipstadt), was banned in the name of combating hate speech. TheTimes cooperated and was party to the masquerade. Revisionist researchers and activists are barely human in the eyes of the Times, and unworthy of the anguish and hand-wringing now being expended to defend their own hired hands from suppression and removal. This corrosive double standard undercuts Mr. Sulzberger’s protestations and reveals the corruption at the heart of his newspaper’s reporting. …

I can’t abide Trump but I consider these exposures of privileged  members of the legacy media delightful, due to the fact that said media have acquiesced in massive censorship and denial of service on Facebook, YouTube, Google and in Amazon’s censorship of historians’ dissident books. In these instances involving alternative writers and journalists who compete with the NY Times and other legacy media, there has been little or no solidarity offered by your fellow reporters and editors.

In many cases where the harassed and interdicted alternative journalists are Conservatives, there have been expressions from members of the legacy media of satisfaction at the heresy-hunting, doxing and removals.

Now, when the shoe is on the other foot, we’re supposed to believe the process of sleuthing into journalists’ public and private foibles and failings is somehow an outrage against press freedom?

Freedom of the press does not begin at the gate of the legacy media. The Times, the Post, CNN etc. were the ones who first let the genie out of the bottle. You ought to deal with the karmic consequences without whining.

Better yet, work for the freedom of expression of your lumpen proletariat rivals online.

Nor is Streiff:

If you’ve ever watched CNN’s rainman, Andrew Kaczynski, aka @KFile, at work you know how this stupid gotcha game is played. You go back through the target’s writings, often delving into college newspaper columns, looking for untoward things that they may have said and then splash the findings across the internet as though they were particularly relevant. This is an example that is happening now where out of context and completely defensible statements are being manipulated by CNN to try to torpedo an appeals court nominee:

So today, the New York Times reported that what was sauce for the goose will be sauce for the gander in 2020. …

The group, so far, has been responsible for the firing of a CNN photo editor who liked to tweet anti-Semitic stuff in his free time and it unearthed racist and anti-Semitic writings by a New York Times politics editor named Tom Wright-Piersanti

There are more on the way:

The operation has compiled social media posts from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and stored images of the posts that can be publicized even if the user deletes them, said the people familiar with the effort. One claimed that the operation had unearthed potentially “fireable” information on “several hundred” people.

“I am sure there will be more scalps,” said Sam Nunberg, a former aide to Mr. Trump who is a friend of Mr. Schwartz.

Mr. Nunberg and others who are familiar with the campaign described it as meant to expose what they see as the hypocrisy of mainstream news outlets that have reported on the president’s inflammatory language regarding race.

“Two can play at this game,” he said. “The media has long targeted Republicans with deep dives into their social media, looking to caricature all conservatives and Trump voters as racists.”

They are also aggregating social media and other writings by spouses and associates of major media reporters. What I particularly like is that the group isn’t going after obviously hostile reporters, they are simply going after any employee of the organization. If nothing else, this should make some of the staff meetings in these outlets rather gothic.

Predictably, the media has been stopped by a bout of fecal incontinence:

But using journalistic techniques to target journalists and news organizations as retribution for — or as a warning not to pursue — coverage critical of the president is fundamentally different from the well-established role of the news media in scrutinizing people in positions of power.

“If it’s clearly retaliatory, it’s clearly an attack, it’s clearly not journalism,” said Leonard Downie Jr., who was the executive editor of The Post from 1991 to 2008. Tension between a president and the news media that covers him is nothing new, Mr. Downie added. But an organized, wide-scale political effort to intentionally humiliate journalists and others who work for media outlets is.

“It’s one thing for Spiro Agnew to call everyone in the press ‘nattering nabobs of negativism,’” he said, referring to the former vice president’s famous critique of how journalists covered President Richard M. Nixon. “And another thing to investigate individuals in order to embarrass them publicly and jeopardize their employment.”

A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The Times, said in a statement that such tactics were taking the president’s campaign against a free press to a new level.

“They are seeking to harass and embarrass anyone affiliated with the leading news organizations that are asking tough questions and bringing uncomfortable truths to light,” Mr. Sulzberger said. “The goal of this campaign is clearly to intimidate journalists from doing their job, which includes serving as a check on power and exposing wrongdoing when it occurs. The Times will not be intimidated or silenced.”

In a statement, a CNN spokesman said that when government officials, “and those working on their behalf, threaten and retaliate against reporters as a means of suppression, it’s a clear abandonment of democracy for something very dangerous.” …

This is just bullsh**. The media has long ago given up the pretense of being anything but an adjunct of the Democrat party. Their reporters a closely affiliated with far left outlets. The leaking of John Podesta’s emails showed that reporters, such as the incompetent lecher Glenn Thrush, sent their stories to Democrat operatives for approval. They are a combatant and they need to be treated as such.

Streiff then posted:

If the New York Times thought the Fourth Estate was going to rally to their defense, they were sadly disappointed. This is how the Washington Post’s media critic treated it Breitbart burned the New York Times. And the Times really doesn’t like it.

They are bad actors. They are driven to suppress legitimate inquiry. They are by no means journalists.

And they read Twitter very carefully!

Those are the contours of an alarm rung on Sunday by the New York Times. “A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists,” wrote Kenneth P. Vogel and Jeremy W. Peters.

And just what would this “damaging information” be? Illicitly obtained DMs? Gossip about their sexual habits? HIPAA-protected information?

Nope. “Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.” Bolding added to note that this “damaging information” is available not only to a “loose network of conservative operatives” but also to the loose network of everyone with access to the Internet.

I was on my second cigarette by the time I got this far. It gets better.

Yet at the same time, Sulzberger all but admitted that the information supplied by Schwartz and Co. can be relevant to the management of the New York Times: “No organization is above scrutiny, including The Times. We have high standards, own our mistakes and always strive to do better. If anyone — even those acting in bad faith — brings legitimate problems to our attention, we’ll look into them and respond appropriately.”

Good! There’s an incompatibility in the Times story and the Sulzberger memo: On one hand, there’s an attempt to tar the motivations of the “loose network of conservative operatives”; on the other, there’s a stubborn admission that they have brought actionable information to public attention. For decades now, representatives of the mainstream media have answered conservative critiques by imploring: Judge us by the work we produce, not by the fact that more than 90 percent of us are liberal/Democratic. Mainstreamers cannot have it both ways. Cut the idle and unverifiable talk about motivations. If the tweets presented by the “loose network of conservative operatives” are racist or anti-Semitic or otherwise problematic, take action. If they’re nonsensical distractions, ignore them.

In the meantime, the “loose network of conservative operatives” must be celebrating right about now, having triggered not only an extensive scolding in the Times, but also an eight-paragraph memo from its publisher.

He’s exactly right. All the frothing Sulzberger did on “bad faith” is just bullsh** and excuse-making. The allegations are either real or they aren’t. Their validity is not affected one whit whether they are brought to you privately to alert you to a problem or trumpeted across the internet to make you look hypocritical and rather stupid. Reporters having to live by the rules they have created, which is that a notation in a high school yearbook could result in a demand for your firing thirty years after the fact, is a very good thing.

The thing that struck me here was the rather gleeful tone. It’s almost as if reporters talk and they know which of their colleagues have posted stuff which would be, in the left’s vernacular, “problematic” if brought to light. The group working on this project claim “that the operation had unearthed potentially “fireable” information on “several hundred” people.” The subtext here, in my reading, is that there is some really bad stuff floating around that is common knowledge but that no one in the industry has done anything about because their first loyalty is to their group and ratting out a fellow journalist would get you blackballed. The whole “bring in on” attitude also makes it seem like that the writer thinks the New York Times is going to be uniquely stricken by the outbreak of truth that is about to happen. We can only hope.

It cannot be just the New York Times.