Time magazine gets rids of its two conservative columnists, & The NY Times hires one

January 04, 2008

* So much for lecturing us on global warming: NYT hires private jet for its reporters
* BBC “took terrorist trainers paintballing”
* Free Mark Steyn!

This dispatch contains items concerning the media in general, not specifically related to the Mideast.



1. BBC “took terrorist trainers paintballing”
2. Time magazine gets rids of its two conservative columnists
3. The NY Times hires a critic
4. NYT reporters finally fly the Sulzberger way
5. Journalist deaths total 171 in 2007
6. Free Mark Steyn!
7. (Ab)original sin: Gang-rapists of 10-year-old Australian Aboriginal girl go free, yet media coverage scarce
8. “Media must stop creating celebrities out of lunatics”
9. Harvard magazine exposes professors whose assistants do the writing
10. Harvey Weinstein gets hitched


[Note by Tom Gross]

At the present time I am giving an intensive round of interviews, lectures, and media workshops. I have, however, continued to regularly publish items on the National Review's Media Blog, and I attach a selection below, and in four accompanying dispatches this week. Some of these may be familiar to some of you by now, though I hope that most of them won't be. The items below relate to the media in general.


Friday, December 7, 2007


This is an extraordinary story, even by the BBC’s standards.

The BBC, it should be remembered, is using U.K. taxpayers’ money to fund such activities.

Incidentally, Phil Rees, who produced the show in question for the BBC, now works for the Arabic TV station al-Jazeera.

BBC ‘took terrorist trainers paintballing’
By Adam Sherwin, Media Correspondent
The Times (of London)
December 5, 2007

The BBC funded a paintballing trip for men later accused of Islamic terrorism and failed to pass on information about the 21/7 bombers to police, a court was told yesterday.

Mohammed Hamid, who is charged with overseeing a two-year radicalisation programme to prepare London-based Muslim youths for jihad, was described as a “cockney comic” by a BBC producer.

The BBC paid for Mr Hamid and fellow defendants Muhammad al-Figari and Mousa Brown to go on a paintballing trip at the Delta Force centre in Tonbridge, Kent, in February 2005. The men, accused of terrorism training, were filmed for a BBC programme called Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic, screened in June 2005.

The BBC paid Mr Hamid, an Islamic preacher who denies recruiting and grooming the men behind the failed July 2005 attack, a £300 fee to take part in the programme, Woolwich Crown Court was told.

It was alleged that Mr Hamid told a BBC reporter that he would use the corporation’s money to pay a fine imposed by magistrates for a public order offence.

Nasreen Suleaman, a researcher on the programme, told the court that Mr Hamid, 50, contacted her after the July 2005 attack and told her of his association with the bombers. But she said that she felt no obligation to contact the police with this information. Ms Suleaman said that she informed senior BBC managers but was not told to contact the police.

Ms Suleaman told the court that Mr Hamid was keen to appear in the programme. She said: “He was so up for it. We took the decision that paintballing would be a fun way of introducing him.”

… Ms Suleaman said she was not aware that Ramzi Mohammed and Hussein Osman, two of the July bombers, had joined Mr Hamid at the Tonbridge paintball centre on July 3, 2005.

… Mr Hamid is charged with Mr al-Figari, 42, Mr Brown, 41, Kader Ahmed, 20, and Kibley Da Costa, 24. Atilla Ahmet, 43, has admitted soliciting murder.

Mr Hamid denies providing weapons training, five charges of soliciting murder and three of providing training for terrorism.


Sunday, December 23, 2007


Last week, Time magazine rewarded Vladimir Putin for his increasingly dictatorial ways by anointing him “Person of the Year.” (There was never any chance, of course, of a pro-American European leader like Nicholas Sarkozy winning the award from a magazine whose owners also run CNN.)

Now America’s “leading news magazine” has apparently dropped its only two conservative-leaning columnists, Charles Krauthammer and William Kristol.

Asked by The New York Observer if he would have preferred to stay with the magazine, Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post, replied that he didn’t have a choice. “It’s a hypothetical that didn’t arise,” he said.


Sunday, December 30, 2007


I reported before Christmas (see item above) that Time Magazine was getting rid of its two conservative columnists. Now, in a surprise move, one of them, William Kristol, has been snapped up by The New York Times.

It seems that the Times is reacting to the serious threat Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is likely to make next year, by ever so slightly diversifying from its left-wing op-ed base.

For those who don’t know, Kristol is the editor and co-founder of The Weekly Standard, a Washington political magazine with a conservative viewpoint. He regularly appears on Fox News, and served as Vice President Dan Quayle’s chief of staff during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

Kristol will write his first weekly column for the January 7 issue of the Times.

The Washington newspaper, The Politico, reports that word of the hiring “caused a frenzy in the liberal blogosphere, with threats of canceling subscriptions and claims that the Gray Lady had been hijacked by neo-cons.”

But Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal told The Politico that he fails to understand “this weird fear of opposing views.”

“The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual – and somehow that’s a bad thing,” Rosenthal added. “How intolerant is that?”

Rosenthal may have finally discovered liberal intolerance but The Nation is still fuming: “What ever happened to meritocracy? For Kristol to get a Times column – after being fired from Time magazine no less – is as meritocratic as, um, George W. Bush becoming the leader of the free world… What this hire demonstrates is how successfully the right has intimidated the mainstream media. Their constant demonizing of The New York Times as the tool of the liberal elite worked.”

So the Times will have one conservative columnist alongside all the liberal ones (Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman and so on) and even this is too much diversity for the close-minded.


Friday, January 4, 2008


So much for their constant lecturing us about global warming and carbon emission.

The New York Times has hired corporate jets to fly their reporters from Iowa to New Hampshire at 6 am on Friday morning.

A spokesperson for the Times said it was “most cost-effective” and they wanted to avoid long delays expected Friday at the Des Moines International Airport, as thousands of journalists return rental cars and line up for security checks.

Politico’s first readers’ comment on the report was true to form from the nasty left:

That’s odd... I heard their jet was already booked this Friday picking up Bill Kristol from hell.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called 2007 a year of “unlimited human tragedy.” It said 171 journalists and media workers were killed in 2007 as a result of political unrest, war and attacks on press freedom around the world.

Though journalists working in Iraq were most at risk, where 65 were killed, unrest in Pakistan and Somalia contributed to 17 more deaths and five were killed in Afghanistan and three in Sri Lanka.

In Africa, two journalists were killed as part of a crackdown on press freedom and in Mexico, several were killed covering the drug trade. The IFJ said journalists most at risk are usually those working in their own countries.

2007 was the second worst year on record for press safety after 2006, when the number of journalists killed while working was 177. The previous year saw 150 deaths and in 2004, 129 journalists were killed at work.

The IFJ will release its full report in mid-January.


Monday, December 17, 2007


America may be “alone,” but Mark Steyn isn’t. He has millions of admirers and supporters around the world.

Canada’s Thought Police
New York Post (editorial)
December 16, 2007

Celebrated author Mark Steyn has been summoned to appear before two Canadian judicial panels on charges linked to his book “America Alone.”

The book, a No. 1 bestseller in Canada, argues that Western nations are succumbing to an Islamist imperialist threat. The fact that charges based on it are proceeding apace proves his point.

Steyn, who won the 2006 Eric Breindel Journalism Award (co-sponsored by The Post and its parent, News Corp), writes for dozens of publications on several continents. After the Canadian general-interest magazine Maclean’s reprinted a chapter from the book, five Muslim law-school students, acting through the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress, demanded that the magazine be punished for spreading “hatred and contempt” for Muslims.

The plaintiffs allege that Maclean’s advocated, among other things, the notion that Islamic culture is incompatible with Canada’s liberalized, Western civilization. They insist such a notion is untrue and, in effect, want opinions like that banned from publication.

Two separate panels, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, have agreed to hear the case. These bodies are empowered to hear and rule on cases of purported “hate speech.”

Of course, a ban on opinions – even disagreeable ones – is the very antithesis of the Western tradition of free speech and freedom of the press.

Indeed, this whole process of dragging Steyn and the magazine before two separate human-rights bodies for the “crime” of expressing an opinion is a good illustration of precisely what he was talking about…


Friday, December 14, 2007


This gang-rape case may not be as bad as the recent Saudi one in the sense that the victim hasn’t been sentenced to 200 lashes and a prison term.

But nevertheless, as was originally the case with the Saudi miscarriage of justice, it deserves a great deal more international media attention than it is getting.

Judge condemned over Aborigine child rape case
Barbara McMahon in Sydney
The Guardian

A judge in Australia was facing calls to step down today after she failed to jail a group of nine males who admitted gang-raping a 10-year-old girl in an Aboriginal community, saying the young victim “probably agreed” to have sex with them.

Instead of jailing the three adults, aged 17 to 26, one of whom was a repeat sex offender, and giving custodial sentences to the six juveniles aged 14 to 16, Queensland District Court judge Sarah Bradley handed out suspended sentences and probation orders.

The lenient sentencing was greeted with outrage and disbelief across Australia, which has been wrestling with the problem of child sex abuse in indigenous communities after a report, Little Children Are Sacred, released earlier this year, described the problem as widespread and endemic.

The newly elected prime minister, Kevin Rudd, said he was “appalled and disgusted” by the details of the case while Queensland’s attorney-general, Kerry Shine, said he would appeal the judge’s decision. Indigenous leaders said it sent a terrible message to vulnerable girls and women living in fear in Australia’s communities.

“If this was a white girl in white suburban Brisbane’ there’s no way the defendants would have walked out of court,” said child protection campaigner Hetty Johnston.

… Queensland’s premier, Anna Bligh, said that the girl, who had been returned to the community after being put in foster care, was once more back in foster care, receiving medical and other treatment, and is reportedly doing well.


Friday, December 07, 2007


Do journalists unwittingly enable the kind of gunmen who wrecked havoc in Omaha, at Virginia Tech, and elsewhere?

MarketWatch columnist Jon Friedman thinks so. Let’s hope news execs take Freidman’s point seriously before more innocent lives are pointlessly lost.

Jon Friedman: I want the media to stop the practice of identifying crazed fame-seekers, such as the gunman who killed eight people Wednesday in an Omaha mall before taking his own life. Don’t release their names or photos.

By taking such a bold step, television, print and Web executives could help society and maybe even save lives. Media do-gooders often point to the positive ways in which they help people to live better lives. Now, those in charge can accomplish something truly noteworthy by doing nothing at all, and it wouldn’t cost a dime.

Like everyone else, I winced when I heard that yet another troubled young man had gunned down innocent bystanders. This time, it happened in Omaha, but the script didn’t seem all that different from the tragedies at Virginia Tech and Columbine.

I’ll leave it to sociologists and psychiatrists to try to make sense of it. But I believe that media executives can help to minimize the possibilities of future incidents if they ceased to provide such high-profile publicity to these deranged gunmen.

The “gunman” in the Omaha episode was actually a teenager who desperately wanted the kind of publicity that the 24/7 media establishment could give him. He reportedly left behind a note proclaiming, “Now I’ll be famous.”

… It doesn’t have to be this way, though. What if the media covered all the nuances of the story but ceased naming the vicious and disturbed murderers who kill for the kicks of getting their names on the evening news and on the front pages of newspapers, magazines and Web sites?


Friday, December 14, 2007


The current issue of the magazine 02138 reveals how some of Harvard’s top professors actually produce their books: They do it “with the help of a small army of student assistants who research, edit, and sometimes even write material for which they are never credited.”

These ghost writers are paid $11.50 an hour, says the magazine, which points out that if Harvard students handed in term papers written by somebody else, they would be expelled. It appears this rule doesn’t apply to their professors.


Monday, December 17, 2007


A pretty impressive guest list:

Among those attending on Saturday night at Weinstein’s Westport estate were New York Post and Wall Street Journal owner Rupert Murdoch, New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Harper’s Bazaar’s Glenda Bailey, plenty of film stars (Cameron Diaz, Renée Zellweger, Jennifer Lopez, Quentin Tarantino, and many others), plenty of models (including Helena Christensen, Karolina Kurkova, Jacquetta Wheeler and Natalia Vodianova) and several politicians.

Robert De Niro gave the toast. “Chicago” director Rob Marshall surprised Weinstein with a choreographed revue in his honor to “He Had It Coming.”

Bill and Hillary Clinton couldn’t make it but sent a gushing video tribute.

Weinstein, 55, married fashion designer Georgina Chapman, 31. Miramax, the film company he co-founded with his brother Bob, is named after his parents Miriam and Max Weinstein. Instead of sending gifts, guests were invited to contribute to the Robin Hood Foundation’s education programs for underprivileged children in New York City and to Give2Asia’s program in support of the disadvantaged in India.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.