Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai: Don’t buy the “only 10 attackers” claim

The NYT Company owned International Herald Tribune self-describes as “The Global Edition of the New York Times.”

It’s much worse (read more leftist) than the NYT, but that’s for another post.

The IHT’s latest story on the Mumbai terror attacks got one thing right that many news orgs are getting wrong.

ITH reported, but didn’t swallow, the claim that only 10 (or in some stories only 12) men were responsible for all the killings, hostage-taking and other carnage.

The IHT reported:

…Perhaps the most troubling question to emerge Saturday for the Indian authorities was how, if official estimates are accurate, just 10 gunmen could have caused so much carnage and repelled Indian police officers, paramilitary forces and soldiers for more than three days in three different buildings. …
But then, in the following paragraph,the ITH let readers know it wasn’t swallowing the “just 10” claim:
As the investigation continued, it was unclear whether the attackers had collaborators already in the city, or whether others in their group had escaped. All told, the gunmen struck 10 sites in bustling south Mumbai (emphasis added)….
As we learn more about these attacks, we’ll learn there were many more than 10 terrorists directly involved in the Mumbai killings, hostage-taking and other carnage as well as many dozen more who supported them from the initial planning through the attacks and were no doubt ready to aide those terrorist who might survive the attacks.

The entire IHT story’s here.

More tomorrow.

Law prof’s requiem for his NY Times subscription

Kenneth Anderson’s a professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law. He also blogs at the Law of War and Just War Theory Blog.

Anderson recently asked himself: Why pay $600 a year for home delivery for a partisan opinion magazine available free on the web?

After decades of being subscribers, my wife and I are giving up our home delivery of the New York Times here in Washington, D.C. We’re going online for free, like everyone else we know.

Pajamas Media readers must be wondering how it could have occurred to anyone, especially outside of New York City, to subscribe in the first place, not why we would have decided to give it up. It’s expensive: $56 a month, which is over $600 a year in what are soon to be scarcer post-tax Obama dollars. And it’s biased, obviously; zero argument there.

If it falls financially for some reason I can’t yet foresee on account of the sheer mendacity of its front-page performance this election cycle, I’ll shed no tears and lift a glass to karma.

But cut us a break — my wife is a native New Yorker, I lived there forever, and even after a dozen years in D.C., the Times is still the hometown paper. And anyway, one of the asymmetries between right and left intellectuals (I’m a center-right law professor lost in a sea of left-wingers for whom Obama is savior but still scarcely radical enough) is that the right, being an intellectual counterculture, reads across the political spectrum.

It has to, merely to be part of the conversation. Whereas the left? I doubt most of my colleagues have heard, for example, of the Weekly Standard, let alone read it. Pajamas Media? Forget about it.

No, the fundamental question is not whether one should read the New York Times. The question is whether (forgetting about the incontrovertible fact that it’s expensive on paper and free online) one should ever pay for it.

And that is a question about the New York Times’ evolving business model — the question interacts with the politicization and deep partisanship of the paper, but is still separate from it. What exactly are subscribers paying for? …

Anderson goes on to provide a penetrating, informed synopsis of the Times’ development since the early 1990s. Most interesting to me was his explanation of how the Times’ readership has influenced the paper’s development into a magazine in which facts take second place to opinions that fit its readers views.

Anderson concludes - - -

Magazines are wonderful things. But there is a difference between them and daily newspapers.

The newspaper says “this happened today,” and frankly that’s enough to justify the paper’s existence.

The magazine, by definition, is an analysis and commentary on events — and for that reason, magazines are weekly or monthly events, not dailies. At their best, magazines are informed opinion — each of those a separate requirement.

But they are always a matter of opinion. And that’s what the Times showcased on its front pages. A magazine of opinion.

The problem, from a business model standpoint, is that the Times is not a magazine. It is a daily. In order to price its product as the daily news, however, the Times has very deliberately asserted that its opinions are actually facts.

We Pajamas Media reader/media critics tend to think of that as a political move, and it is. But it is also firmly located in the business model of a newspaper turning itself into a magazine — but trying to grapple with daily publication. It promotes itself as offering the facts, and charges for its front-page opinions as thought they were facts.

Anderson’s entire post’s here.

Be sure to read the comments at least as far down as the fellow who speaks up for the quality of the Times’ crossword puzzles.

Where, O Where’s Kyoto

Canwest News reporting, followed by my comments.

Canwest begins - - -

PARIS - There is both growing public reluctance to make personal sacrifices and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the major international efforts now underway to battle climate change, according to findings of a poll of 12,000 citizens in 11 countries, including Canada.

Results of the poll were released this week in advance of the start of a major international conference in Poland where delegates are considering steps toward a new international climate-change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

There already are reports emerging that some countries, such as coal-dependent Poland, are pushing for special treatment to avoid making major commitments to slash carbon emissions during a global economic downturn.

Less than half of those surveyed, or 47 per cent, said they were prepared to make personal lifestyle changes to reduce carbon emissions, down from 58 per cent last year.

Only 37 per cent said they were willing to spend "extra time" on the effort, an eight-point drop.

And only one in five respondents - or 20 per cent - said they'd spend extra money to reduce climate change. That's down from 28 per cent a year ago.

The Canadian results, from a poll of 1,000 respondents conducted in September, were virtually identical to the overall figures. ….

The entire article’s here.


My reaction to this story: Is anyone surprised?

If there had been any real interest in implementing Kyoto’s provisions and standards, nations could have gone ahead and implemented them.

The real Kyoto “implementation” these past eight years has been to beat President Bush and the U. S. over the head for “not agreeing to the treaty and taking the lead in implementing its provision.”

Foreign countries and most of the international and domestic MSM have had a jolly time playing Green Goodies while hammering President Bush and America.

But folks, did you hear much mention of Kyoto during the recent presidential election campaign?

Any NYT or WaPo editorial demanding Sen. Obama promise to begin the process of implementing Kyoto during his “first hundred days?”

And now we learn they’ll soon be a “major international conference” to consider “steps toward a new international climate-change treaty.”

World’s easiest predictions: 1) The conference will result in a new, “stronger” commitment to address climate change; 2) It will be as effective as Kyoto.

BTW - If some of you recall reading over the last eight years how some European nations were “making progress toward meeting reduced emissions” and the like, just about all those “reductions” happened at the time the nations were suffering severe economic growth problems – unemployment at 10% or higher; GDP at 1% or lower, etc.

Friday, November 28, 2008

India pressures Pakistan for terrorist intel

This from the Press Trust of India - - -

New Delhi/Islamabad, Nov 28 (PTI) Angered by the Mumbai terror strikes, India today forced Pakistan to send its ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] chief here to provide evidence about the role of Pakistan- based "elements" in the "outrageous" attacks as it made clear that the bilateral ties would be hurt if these don't stop.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that investigators had found involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the attacks in the commercial capital.He told Gilani that Pakistan should send its ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha to New Delhi "to cooperate in the investigations of the Mumbai attack and for sharing certain information".

Pakistan agreed to Singh's proposal and said Pasha would travel to New Delhi soon, for which modalities would be worked out by the two sides.During the telephonic conversation with Singh, Zardari assured him that Islamabad "will cooperate with India in exposing and apprehending the culprits and masterminds behind" the attacks in Mumbai.

The President told Singh "non-state actors wanted to force upon the governments their own agenda but they must not be allowed to succeed. We should not fall into the trap of the militants."

[Indian] External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee called up his counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is in New Delhi, and bluntly told him that if "outrages" like Mumbai attack don't stop, it would be "impossible" to ensure a "leap" in the bilateral relations that is desired.


What to make of Pakistan’s willingness to send to India its top intel chief, Lt. Gen. Shuria Pasha, rather than a high ranking subordinate?

For Pakistan, there’s a high degree of humiliation involved when the PM of a neighbor country with whom its often warred and now has a most uneasy “peace” issues what amounts to a public summons for it chief intel officer to come to New Delhi in connection with terrorists attacks India’s left no doubt it believes were planned and supported by people in Pakistan.

PM’s Singh’s summons has something of the feel of the school boy being called to the Principal’s office.

I take Pakistan’s agreement to send it top intel chief to New Delhi as a sign India has already let Pakistan know in a way Pakistan can verify, that India has irrefutable intel which incriminates in the Mumbai attacks members of Pakistan’s civil government, military and ISI.

India takes it as a given some authorities in Pakistan support terrorists bent on attacking India. Justice for those people may have to wait a while.

What the Indians wants to know right now from the Paha is who in India sheltered and abetted the terrorists and how the terrorists slipped into India.

The Indian’s will no doubt need to do some arm-twisting to get that information.

What can they hold over the Pakistanis?

India is a nuclear armed nation, but it surely won’t go that route or even threaten it.

Most likely the card India will play involves the U. S. as an intelligence ally and a force which, along with India, can do a lot to destabilize an already shaky Pakistani government.

In the present situation, Pakistan can’t look to China for much help.

The Chinese are already angry at the Pakistani government for not doing enough to reign in Muslim terrorists operating in Western China with their support bases in Pakistan.

What do you folks think?

Here's Wiki's entry on Pakistan's ISI.

Update @ 11/30/08 @ 9 AM ET: Pakistan now won't send intel chief to India

Here’s good news

From James Hibberd’s The Live Feed, a daily news site covering the television industry - - -

NBC's Rosie O’Donnell variety show disappoints

The network's attempt to revive the primetime variety show failed to draw an audience Wednesday night, tying for the evening's lowest-rated program.

A mere 5 million viewers tuned in for the 8 p.m. premiere of "Rosie Live," with the program earning a 1.2 preliminary adults 18-49 rating. The telecast matched ABC's recently canceled "Pushing Daisies" as the night's lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network.

NBC had high hopes for the special and planned to expand the program into a series should viewers re-embrace the decades-old variety format. Other networks, too, were watching closely since several are developing variety shows of their own.

"There's a notion that the climate is right for the genre to make a comeback," emailed one executive at a rival network. "I guess we now know what not to do, thanks to Rosie."

Segments included Kathy Griffin impersonating Nancy Grace, Alec Baldwin hitting Conan O'Brian with a pie, O'Donnell singing "City Lights" with Liza Minnelli and Jane Krakowski doing a product-placement-themed striptease for White Castle burgers and Crest Whitestrips.

Critics were not kind. The NY Times described it as "hokey comedy with an enemies list." TV Guide called it a "ghastly ego trip." And the LA Times asked, "Rosie, what on earth were you thinking?" ….

Hibberd’s entire report’s here.

As for what on earth Rosie was thinking, I’d guess it was that her basic cheap and nasty programming that’s worked for her in the past will work now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blogging will resume

tomorrow, Friday, at about Noon ET.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving wishes

I want to wish all the thoughtful, helpful, caring people who visit and comment at JinC a very Happy Thanksgiving and all God's blessings.

You add a great deal to this blog and I don't doubt to the well-being of many who pass your way.



In sympathy and solidarity with Mumbai and the Indian government

Readers Note: A link to this post with a covering email is being sent to the Indian Embassy in Washington.


Like all decent Americans, the decent people who visit this blog express to the people of Mumbai and the Indian government our deep sympathy for the victims and their families.

We are in solidarity with the government of India in its fight against terrorists who seek to destroy peace and democracy in India and the rest of the world.

They are the enemies of all good people. The world must rid itself of them.

We hold in admiration and gratitude the members of the Indian serving forces, police, rescue and medical personnel who are now combating the terrorists and ministering to the victims.

As news becomes available about how we in the States can aid the victims of this latest terrorist atrocity, I will post it.

Thank you to our military and their families

Without the U. S. military, we wouldn't have our freedoms and the plenty we'll share today.

Hundreds of thousands of our men and women are serving all of the world today, often in very dangerous circumstances, to protect us from the likes of the terrorists who've wrecked havoc in Mumbai.

Give thanks for their service and the sacrifices of their families.

Please consider ways you can directly express your thanks.

Operation Valor is one way to do that. It's site is here where you'll read:

Every cent raised for Project Valour-IT goes directly to the purchase and shipment of laptops and other technology for severely wounded service members. As of November 2008, Valour-IT has distributed over 2700 laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines across the country, and is now expanding its mission to include other technology that supports physical and psychological recovery.

Valour-IT accepts donations in any amount to support our mission, but also offers a sponsorship option for laptops. An individual or organization may sponsor a wounded soldier by completely funding the cost of a laptop and continuing to provide that soldier with personal support and encouragement throughout recovery. This has proved to be an excellent project for churches, groups of coworkers or friends, and members of community organizations such Boy Scouts.

Originally Valour-IT provided the voice-controlled software that accompanies the laptops, but now works closely with the Department of Defense Computer/electronic Accommodations Program (CAP): CAP supplies the adaptive software and Valour-IT provides the laptop.

In addition, DoD caseworkers serve as Valour-IT’s “eyes and ears” at several medical centers, identifying patients in need of laptops and other technological support for their recovery.

Wounded military personnel can also directly request a laptop through the sign-up form or through the Valour-IT/Soldiers' Angels representatives at the following medical centers:

* Balboa Naval Hospital

* Brooke Army Medical Center

* Madigan Regional Medical Center

* National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda Naval Hospital)

* Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton

* Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital (29 Palms)

* Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Project Valor is part of Soldiers' Angels whose Web site you can visit here.

Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ

Laughter at the Thanksgiving table

Do the adults in your family sit around the table after Thanksgiving dinner reminiscing and telling funny stories?

We do in mine. Here, clipped from JinC posts, are a few humorous anecdotes you might want to share with you family.

Whatever the case, I hope they leave you smiling.


Isaaac Stern was being interviewed by Bill Moyers or some other self-important MSM-type who kept mentioning his age, 72 at the time, and asking Stern questions like: "As you look back at your career, what do ..." and "Do you have a favorite concert you'd like to be remembered for?"

Stern finally had enough.

"Look, I may be 72 but I don't think my career is over. And I feel like I'm just in the middle of my life. Of course, it would help if I knew someone who was 144."

Four Bill Buckley stories - - -

From my memory:

Buckley once said given a choice between being governed by the Harvard faculty or the first 500 people listed in the Boston phone directory, he'd go with the phone directory.

He received a letter from an irate National Review reader telling him in great detail what a miserable editor he was. The letter ended with "cancel my subscription."

Buckley wrote back that he certainly had shortcomings and would try to do better. But as for canceling the subscription, he told the reader, "Dammit, cancel it yourself."

These from a Jeff Jacoby column:

When asked why Robert Kennedy was refusing to appear on his Firing Line interview program, Buckley asked "Why does baloney resist the meat grinder?"

A National Review editorial comment began: "The attempted assassination of Sukarno last week had all the earmarks of a CIA operation. Everyone in the room was killed except Sukarno."

Enjoy Thanksgiving.

"Being thus arived in a good harbor"

(I publish this post each Thanksgiving Day. -- John)

From the journal of William Bradford, Pilgrim leader and second Governor of Plymouth Colony (spellings as in the original):

"Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye periles & miseries therof, againe to set their feete on ye firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus joyefull, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on ye coast of his owne Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remaine twentie years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious & dreadfull was ye same unto him.

But hear I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amased at this poore peoples presente condition; and so I thinke will the reader too, when he well considered ye same. Being thus passed ye vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembred by yt which wente before), they had now no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure. ..

Let it also be considred what weake hopes of supply & succoure they left behinde them, yt might bear up their minds in this sade condition and trialls they were under; and they could not but be very smale. It is true, indeed, ye affections & love of their brethren at Leyden was cordiall & entire towards them, but they had litle power to help them, or them selves; and how ye case stode betweene them & ye marchants at their coming away, hath already been declared.

What could not sustaine them but ye spirite of God & his grace? May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say : Our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie…"

A Thanksgiving Lesson

(This post was first published last Thanksgiving Day.)

John Stossel at

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. "Isn't sharing wonderful?" say the teachers.

They miss the point.

Because of sharing, the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.

The failure of Soviet communism is only the latest demonstration that freedom and property rights, not sharing, are essential to prosperity. The earliest European settlers in America had a dramatic demonstration of that lesson, but few people today know it.

When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce.

They nearly all starved.


When people can get the same return with a small amount of effort as with a large amount, most people will make little effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions.

Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. Some ate rats, dogs, horses and cats. This went on for two years.

"So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented," wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, [I] (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. ... And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

The people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.

"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. ... By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. ... "

Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623
Near the end of his column Stossel says:
What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.
Now what about countries that don’t have free market economies?

Well, Cuba and North Korea are the two I’ve read the most about.

I often give thanks I don’t live in either of them.

Even Princeton professor and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, for all his advocacy of government solutions, doesn't want to live in either place.

Stossel’s entire column is here.

The Churchill Series - Nov. 26, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Churchill was always interested in mail from the public. Naturally he couldn't read it all, but staff did; and Churchill had staff keep a tally of the letters by categories he determined. The categories were a mix of "perennials" and subjects of current interest.

Here's the list he made and count for the week of April 2, 1955, when his retirement as Prime Minister was widely rumored:

Requests for autographs, photographs - 45

Foreign letters - 23

On the atom bomb and H-bomb - 21

Requests not to retire - 42

Congratualtion and good wishes - 30

"Lunatics" - 76

Martin Gilbert,
Winston S. Churchill: Never Despair. (p. 1117)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Latest on Coleman - Franken recount battle

Weekly Standard's blog reports - - -

Board Unanimously Rejects Franken Petition to Include Rejected Absentee Ballots in Recount

CNN reports:

Minnesota's Canvassing Board voted unanimously to reject Franken's request to include thousands of absentee ballots that are not included in the recount in the Minnesota senate race between the Democratic challenger and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

The Canvassing Board, which oversees the recount, stressed during a hearing today, that they weren't rejecting the merits made by Franken's attorneys. The panel also indicated that the fight over the exclusion of the absentee ballots from the recount will most likely land in court. ...

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's story just posted is here.

WSJ’s Fund warns “Minnesota nice” may change soon

Al Franken’s demanding to know the identity of every voter whose absentee ballot was rejected.

The WSJ’s John Fund, an expert in election law, judicial rulings on same and vote fraud is concerned about where the Minnesota Senate seat recount appears to be heading.

Fund reports - - -

… Intent on harvesting absentee ballots, the Franken campaign has presented affidavits from four voters who claim their ballots were improperly rejected. It hopes to find more, now that a Ramsey County judge has agreed to a Franken demand that it have access to data from that county on whose absentee ballots had been rejected.

After initially saying rejected absentee ballots shouldn't be part of the recount, the secretary of state's office now says the information should be made public.

If the absentee names are made public, a mad scramble will ensue to contact those voters and get them to demand their ballots be counted. That's just what happened in the 2004 governor's race in Washington State after King County Judge Dean Lum allowed local Democrats access to the list of provisional voters that hadn't been counted because either there was no signature or no match between the signature and the voter registration on file with officials.

Judge Lum's ruling was criticized by many election lawyers because, in the 2002 Help America Vote Act, Congress stipulated that provisional ballot votes remain private -- a provision mirrored by Washington State's constitution.

But Judge Lum ruled such arguments weren't as important as the need to make sure every vote counted -- an echo of the arguments Democrats made during Florida's 2000 recount.

His ruling set off a partisan hunt for votes. Ryan Bianchi, communications assistant for Ms. Gregoire, told the Seattle Times that Democratic volunteers asked voters if they had cast ballots for Ms. Gregoire. "If they say no, we just tell them to have a nice day," he said. Only if they said yes did Democrats ask if they wanted to make their ballots valid.

Margot Swanson, a voter in Redmond who forgot to sign her ballot, told me she was contacted by phone and asked whom she voted for. When she said Republican Dino Rossi, the caller quickly hung up. "I puzzled out there might be a problem with my ballot, and I found out there was," she said. "But I would never have known from the tricky call I got."

Republicans played catch-up by belatedly using their own phone banks to call voters. But Democrats turned in some 600 written oaths from people declaring how they had intended to vote, and Republicans about 200. Those ballots were all counted, and made the difference in the race. . . .

There’s more before Fund closes with - - -

If the strategy of adding previously rejected ballots to the Minnesota Senate recount is successful, a final outcome could be months away. In 1975, the U.S. Senate refused to accept New Hampshire's certification that Republican Louis Wyman had won by two votes.

The seat was vacant for seven months, with the Senate debate spanning 100 hours and six unsuccessful attempts to break a filibuster and vote on who should be seated. The impasse ended only when a special election was agreed to, which was won by Democrat John Durkin.

Given how critical Minnesota's election is for the outcome of filibusters, don't be surprised if this recount becomes "Washington mean" when the Senate convenes in January.

Fund’s entire column’s here.

N&O’s “smoke and mirrors” can’t hide circulation losses

I recently posted Raleigh N&O's print circulation drops.

One of the points I made was that the McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer doesn’t regularly report its print circulation numbers as provided by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Naturally, that makes it hard to systematically track and assess the N&O’s circulation, which in recent years has been declining both in actual numbers and as a percent of population in the N&O’s circulation area.

In this post, I want to give you a sample of the “smoke and mirrors” approach the N&O now takes to “reporting” its print circulation – the principal factor determining its revenue – followed by an example of how I try to get as accurate a picture as possible of what’s actually happening with N&O print circulation.

Let’s start with a portion of a March 30, 2008 post - N&O says it'll be "greater than ever - which began - -

A big part of the Raleigh News & Observer’s Q Section today is devoted to telling readers how great the N&O is now and how swiftly and smartly it’s moving to make the paper, in the words of executive editor for news John Drescher, even “greater than ever.”

N&O publisher Orage Quarles III, Drescher, editorial page editor Steve Ford, and other senior editors all have columns in the Q which beat the “better than ever” drum.


But instead of headlining the Q Section with the question:


the headline should have asked:


Let’s look at Drescher’s and Quarles’ columns. You already have links to them and I’ll provide links again at the post’s end. Now extracts from the columns in italics with my comments in plain.

First, from Drescher’s column titled “The N&O is winning new readers” - - -

More people are reading The N&O than ever.

In fact, depending on how you slice the numbers, our growth in readership is faster than the growth in population in the Triangle -- one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.


How can that be?

Aren't newspapers dying?

It's true that revenue is down for most of us.

But for many newspapers, including this one, readership is up.

When you add our paid print circulation to our online readership, more people than ever are reading The N&O. By far.

All Drescher has offered so far concerning circulation is “smoke and mirrors.”

He provides nothing that lets you compare N&O print circulation year-by-year, and nothing that lets you compare print circulation growth to population growth in the N&O’s circulation area.

Our future depends on our ability to sustain this growth -- and for advertisers to recognize that more people than ever are turning to The N&O for news, sports, business, features and commentary.

In the past decade, our Sunday print circulation has grown every year. Daily circulation has grown every year but one.

But that growth has been slow, especially since the rise of the Internet in the past five years. Our paid daily print circulation has plateaued at about 170,000.

Folks, you see what I mean about his not giving you figures which allow for meaningful assessment of print circulation growth itself and compared to population growth. …

End of portion of March 30, 2008 post.

Now in there amidst all the smoke and mirrors editor Drescher states the N&O’s “paid daily print circulation has plateaued at about 170,000.”

Since just before mentioning that he talked about the N&O’s Sunday print circulation which for some years has been above 200, 000, I think we’re safe to assume Drescher’s 170,000 number refers to what the Audit Bureau of Circulations refers to as daily (M-F) circulation.

In that case Drescher’s “about 170,000” print circulation number can be compared to the ABC report for the period Apr. 1 – Sept. 30, 2008 which reported a daily (M-F) print circulation for the N&O of 157,000. (See the ABC chart in this post. The ABC reports total numbers. I posted numbers rounded to the nearest thousand.)

Based on what editor Drescher reported on March 30 and what the ABC reported for the following six month period ending Sept. 30, 2008, the N&O’s daily (M-F) print circulation for that period fell about 13,000.

That’s a huge loss.

Who can’t understand why an editor might use “smoke and mirrors” to try to hide it?

N&O finally reports Gattis Street rape suspect’s latest arrest

On Nov. 17 Michael Burch was arrested and charged with rape and other crimes. His bail was set at $1.85 million.

At the time of his arrest, Burch was free on $50 thousand bail awaiting trial on charges growing out of a reported rape on Feb. 11, 2007 at a fraternity party near Duke’s East Campus. The alleged victim was a Duke freshman at the time. She’s since transferred to another school.

The Raleigh News & Observer did not initially report on Burch’s Nov. 17 arrest even after receiving phone calls from area residents.

This Monday, Nov. 24, Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, published a lengthy story on Burch’s most recent arrest. (See here)

The following day the N&O finally reported on the story.

Here’s the N&O story in its entirety, followed by my comments below the star line.

Beneath the lede - "Out on bail, man charged with rape" – the N&O’s story began - - -

A man who was out on bail awaiting trial for second-degree rape was arrested again this month and charged with second-degree rape again.

Michael Jermaine Burch, 23, of 1903 Cherrycrest Drive, Apt. B, was arrested during a traffic stop on Nov. 17, according to police reports. In addition to the rape charge, Burch was accused of first-degree sexual offense and aiding and abetting in a felony that police say occurred June 21 in the 1300 block of Cherrycrest Drive.

Burch was awaiting trial for an incident that investigators say happened Feb. 11, 2007. A court hearing on the case is set for January.

In that case, a Duke University freshman told police she was sexually assaulted at an off-campus fraternity party that drew more than 50 people to a rental property on Gattis Street and spilled outside the duplex.

The 18-year-old accuser told investigators she was sexually assaulted about 3 a.m. in a bathroom.

She went to Duke University Hospital afterward, according to police radio reports.

Burch was 21 at the time, and booked into the Durham County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. He was released on bond later that month.

Police have released few details about the arrest this month.

Burch was being held Monday in the Durham County jail with bail set at $1.85 million.



The N&O clearly wanted to ignore this story as long as it could.

When forced to report it, it gave the story as little “play” as possible.

The story’s buried in the “B” section under Triangle Briefs.

The lede is small font.

No reporter was bylined. Attribution was “Staff reports”

Staff reports are often nothing more than rewrites of a press release, public documents and even material “lifted” from other news orgs stories. (I’m sure the N&O would say it never lifts.)

Burch is black; the alleged victim at the Gattis Street fraternity party is white.

The N&O will no doubt say that has nothing to do with its treatment of the story.

I don’t believe that.

The entire Chronicle story's here

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Churchill Series - Nov. 25, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

While a young officer in India, Churchill was very critical of many of the Army's tactics and ranking officers. He put his criticisms into dispatches which he sent off to newspaper editors who were eager to publish them.

Churchill knew he was letting himself in for a great deal of criticism from powerful people with experience much greater than his. But he was prepared for that. He wrote a friend:

"There will not be wanting those who will remind that in this matter my opinion finds no support in age or experience. To such I shall reply that if what is written is false or foolish neither age nor experience should fortify it; and if it is true,it needs no such support."

When I read Churchill's remarks, I thought of something President Lincoln said concerning criticism he knew he was sure to get:

"If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

The words of each of the great men resonate with those of the other. ______________________________________________________________ For the Churchill quote and background see William Manchester, The Last Lion (p. 256-260) For the familiar Lincoln quote I used Google.

N&O reporter’s falsehoods undermine editors’ “police report” claim

The Raleigh News & Observer’s now discredited March 25, 2006 story headlined ---

Dancer gives details of ordeal

A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence ---

trashed the lacrosse players and provided the script for the bogus crime story used in the attempt to frame for gang rape and other felonies three transparently innocent Duke students.

Durham’s DA at the time, Mike Nifong, subsequently disbarred and jailed for some of his actions in the framing attempt, began publically shilling the N&O’s bogus story two days after its publication when he first spoke publicly about the case.

Just as the N&O had done, Nifong used the accuser’s false claim she was a victim of racial slurs barked at her inside the house where the party was held to inflame public sentiment against the players.

The N&O’s bogus “night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence” story began:

The woman who says she was raped last week by three members of the Duke University lacrosse team thought she would be dancing for five men at a bachelor party, she said Friday. But when she arrived that night, she found herself surrounded by more than 40.

Just moments after she and another exotic dancer started to perform, she said, men in the house started barking racial slurs.

The two women, both black, stopped dancing.

"We started to cry," she said. "We were so scared." ...
Many readers immediately challenged the accuracy and fairness of the N&O’s story, especially the interview with the accuser whom the N&O granted anonymity because of what it said was its policy of granting anonymity “to victims of sex crimes.”

Top N&O editors claimed then and now continue to claim the N&O only published material from the interview already in a police report (some editors have used the plural “police reports”).

This from N&O public editor Ted Vaden’s
Arp. 2, 2006 column

But let's talk more about the anonymous interview. [Editor Linda] Williams said editors and the reporter discussed the fairness issue at length before interviewing the woman and publishing the story.

The governing decision, she said, was to print only information from the interview that conformed with the police reports. "We limited for publication the statements from the woman that were in line with what she said in the police report," Williams said. (all emphases added) …

In this case, as Williams pointed out, the story used only information from the interview that corroborated the public record, so it didn't add new facts.

The added matter was the emotional content -- the crying mother of two -- that gave a human dimension to the police reports. …
Vaden’s claim that the accuser was allowed to repeat “only information from the interview that corroborated the public record ” was demonstrably false when he made it.

The N&O’s March 25 story, for example, quoted the accuser saying her father had come to visit her in the hospital and that his visit was a major part of the impetus for her reporting she’d been raped. But he never visited his daughter in the hospital. And no police report ever said he did.

The same goes for the N&O’s “barking racial slurs” report.

No one – not the N&O, Nifong, Durham Police or frame-up enablers at Duke - has ever produced a police report recounting the “barking racial slurs” claim.

When the NC Attorney General and members of his staff examined the entire case file, they found no such police report.

Even the reporter who conducted the interview, Samiha Khanna, hasn’t claimed the “barking racial slurs” portion of the interview was based on material contained in a police report.

As a matter of fact, on Apr. 4, 2006 she was quite clear it wasn’t.

On that day Khanna was the guest on’s On Live Q&A, the full text of which is

Only the first question and Khanna’s answer deal with the matter of whether interview material published by the N&O was restricted to what was already in a police report(s).

You’ll see Khanna’s answer makes clear that with regard to the “barking racial slurs” claim it was not.

Here the first question and Khanna’s answer in full - - -

Moderator: A reader writes: "Why was the alleged victim granted anonymity in your interview? I understand the policy of not identifying alleged victims of sexual assault, but that is different than letting them make their accusations publicly behind a veil of secrecy. Particularly absent any criminal charges. I doubt you would have let a lacrosse team member make accusations against the victim anonymously, as a protected source. Or would you have allowed that?"

SK: This is an issue that we discussed at length among the top editors of the newspaper. Being that we had given members of the lacrosse team, their parents, and leaders in the athletic department an opportunity to address these allegations, we had a responsibility to give the alleged victim the opportunity to tell her story as well.

In interviewing her anonymously, we were careful to weigh each statement she made on the position that it might allow her to speak more freely than if she used her name. Therefore, we were careful not to allow her to make wide-spread allegations of any kind.

The only part of her story that was different than what police had already released was the racial aspect. We were able to use the statements she made about racist terms being shouted at her because that was corroborated by other sources -- people who gave their names -- who heard the same thing. (emphasis added)

Khanna’s claim that “the only part of her story that was different than what police had already released was the racial aspect” is false.

The story, you’ll recall, reported her father visited her in the hospital. He didn’t and no police report contained language saying he did.

With regard to the false accuser, Crystal Mangum, being the victim of “men in the house … barking racial slurs” at her and the second dancer, Khanna makes another false claim when she asserts: “We were able to use the statements she made about racist terms being shouted at her because that was corroborated by other sources -- people who gave their names -- who heard the same thing.”

No one who was inside the house that night, including the second dancer, has ever corroborated Crystal Mangum’s false claim and the N&O’s report of men barking racial slurs at the two dancers.

Quite the contrary, those who were inside the house insist the barking of racial slurs did not happen.

When Khanna said “the barking racial slurs” claim had been “corroborated by other sources -- people who gave their names -- who heard the same thing,” she was either delusional or outright lying.

The only value I see in Khanna’s false statements is they further undermine the repeated claims of N&O editors that they restricted the interview portion of the March 25 story to statements/material that were/was already in police report(s), and therefore already part of the public record.

This weekend I’ll review as much of the pertinent record as I can including items such as this post: Did the Raleigh N&O fake "a police report?"

I want to be as diligent and as informed as I can be before I call the N&O out for what the paper appears to have done: falsely claimed to have relied on a police report the N&O knew didn’t exist.

Some of you may be thinking I should be fact checking with the N&O.

I’ve been doing that for over 2 years. I’ve contacted various reporters and editors many times on the matter. You’ll see in the post above an email I sent in October to Vaden. I sent that email again yesterday.

In neither case have I heard anything back from Vaden and in no case have I heard anything from anyone else at the N&O concerning "the police report."

As we go forward, keep this in mind : In North Carolina, as in most states, police crime investigation reports are public records.

That makes it a very easy matter for a reporter or editor claiming to have relied on a police report to cite the report.

The N&O’s failure to cite a police report(s) to corroborate the “barking racial slurs” portion of its Mar. 25, 2006 story is telling.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Churchill Series - Nov. 24, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

When using his initials Churchill commonly signed "WSC." But some political foes and others who considered themselves wits took delight in playing on the commom British expression for toilet, "WC."

Thus when Churchill was defeated in the 1925 general election, one newspaper said it was sure the members of the new parliament could manage "with one less WC." Churchill took it in stride.

On occasion he would even make a WC remark at his own expense, as he did in February, 1940 while on a destroyer returning to England from France.

There were some mines in the ship's path. Guns were fired to destroy them. The gunfire churned the water and set some debris from a sunken ship floating past the destroyer.

Among the debris was a lavatory door. Churchill looked at it and said with a grin to those beside him, "That door has my initials on it. They must have known I'd be aboard." ___________________________________________________ Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (p. 88-89)

Palin needs to learn from Reagan

I guess most of you have seen the video or at least heard about Gov. Sarah Palin and her turkey farm visit. For those who haven’t, here’s the video:

Before showing the video, the Democrats at MSNBC decided to advise parents they might not want their children to see it. They also fogged out the decapitations of the turkey’s which were going on in the background.

That from a cable network which for years has telecast with no parent advisories horrific scenes of human carnage in Iraq and other parts of the world.

Then we have the NY Times editorial board which now has its own blog, The Board, at which the editors opined: - - -

We’ve differed with Sarah Palin a great deal on substance. We don’t agree with her hardline approach to the Iraq War, her harsh anti-government rhetoric, and her style of negative campaigning.

But we also worry a bit about, how should we put it, the persona she has brought with her to national politics. We did not care at all for the swipe she took against community organizers at the Republican National Convention.

And then there’s this. You don’t have to be a huge animal lover to question why Governor Palin chose to be interviewed — while issuing a traditional seasonal pardon of a turkey — while turkeys were being executed in the background.

Folks, right after Palin made her impressive debut at the GOP convention, I said the overwhelmingly Dem MSM would set out to destroy her any way they could, lest she become a force in American politics.

What we’re seeing from the likes of MSNBC and the NYT’s editorial board is not concern for children and turkeys.

We’re seeing their “political death to Palin by a thousand cuts” strategy in action: attack Palin any time, any way.

I think Palin knew beforehand how the liberal/leftist MSM would “play” the interview. She even says during it she’ll probably be criticized “for doing this.” And she smiles when she says it.

I’m not ready to say Palin is “a future Reagan.”

But I’ll say this: Reagan understood he’d never get fair treatment from most of MSM.

Sure he was a very smart man, a skilled union leader, an extraordinarily gifted public speaker who wrote many of his own speeches, and a successful and popular two-term governor of the largest state in the Union.

But most MSM presented him as a lazy “B-movie actor” and “an amiable dunce.”

Reagan learned to laugh off the MSM politicking, smile and talk about what’s important.

I saw Palin do something like that in turkey farm video. She smiled and wasn’t at all defensive that she’d be the one in her family cooking the turkey. She seemed to relish telling the reporters that.

And as Reagan would have done in similar circumstances, Palin for the most part talked about things important to Americans – the economy, the safety of our troops in Iraq, the price of oil, and its impact on her state’s budget.

MSNBC, the NYT edit board and others overlooked all of that in order to inflict “a cut” on Palin.

In the future, when the turkey farm interview is brought up, I hope Palin reminds people of the important things she talked about during the interview and ever so gently, with a Reagan-like twinkle, adds that she doesn't remember much of what the turkeys said at the time.

Hat tip: Ed Morrissey

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Raleigh N&O’s print circulation drops

First, some background to this post - - -

The McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer has not in recent years consistently reported in the print edition (or as far as I know at its online site, either) the paper’s circulation numbers as provided by Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The ABC, considered the “gold standard” for determining newspaper’s circulations, reports twice yearly circulation numbers for a sixth month period. The two periods are Oct. – Mar and Apr. – Sept.

Using the N&O’s archives I couldn’t find, for example, any news story reporting ABC numbers for either of the two most recent ABC reporting periods (Oct. ’07- Mar ’08 and Apr. ’08- Sept. ’08).

A journalist friend helped me access and navigate the ABC site. The friend showed me how to call up a list of North Carolina newspapers with their circulations for the period Apr – Sept. 30, 2008. I’ve pasted that list at the end of this post.

I also located an N&O story from May 1, 2007 that reported ABC numbers for the period from Oct – Mar. 31, 2007. (See here. Circulation numbers I cite are found in the chart which accompanies the story.)

Using numbers from the two documents and rounding to the nearest thousand, I can report:

According to the ABC for the six-month period Oct-Mar, 31, 2007, the N&O had a daily circulation (M-F) of 177,000; for the six-month period Apr-Sept. 30, 2008, the N&O had a daily circulation (M-F) of 159,000.

Thus, during the year-and-a-half-year period (Mar. ’07 to Sept. ’08) reported on here, the ABC found the N&O’s daily circulation had declined by 18, 000, which represents a daily (M-F) circulation decline of just over 10%.

Also according to the ABC, during the same year-and-a-half-year period the N&O’s Sunday circulation declined from 213,000 to 206,000. The circulation loss of 7, 000 represents a percentage decline of just over 3%.

Some perspective on those circulation losses:

Keep in mind we commonly consider circulation in year-over-year terms, while these circulation numbers cover a year-and-a-half-year period.

That said, the circulation declines reported here have to be very, very troubling to anyone who wishes the N&O well.

During the same time period considered here, population growth in the N&O’s circulation area has been strong (statistical data on recent growth are not yet available. County planners and real estate people I spoke with for this post agreed a combined estimate of population growth per annum of 3% for Johnson, Wake, Durham and Orange Counties which include the N&O’s major circulation area is a reasonable estimate).

The N&O has no real newspaper competitor. The closest to one is the Durham Herald Sun.

During the same time period looked at here and again using ABC numbers, the H-S daily and Sunday circulations each dropped from 37, 000 both daily (M-F) and Sunday to 30,000 (daily) and 29,000 (Sunday).

Since few people here have ever subscribed simultaneously to the H-S and N&O, the H-S’s loss of readers presented the N&O with a splendid opportunity to pick up a good number of those 7,000 (daily) and 8,000 (Sunday) former H-S readers.

For almost four years as the H-S’s circulation has been both daily and Sunday more than 20,000 the N&O has made a major efforts to sign those former H-S readers up.

I’ll say more about how successful the N&O has been signing up those 20,000 or so former H-S readers in a future post. I mention them here only to add to the perspective you can bring to the N&O’s circulation declines.

Look for another post in a day or so on the N&O’s circulation situation.

In the meantime, those of you interested in Man’s capacity for self-deception may want to read this Mar. 30, 2008 post: N&O says it’ll be “greater than ever.”


Search Type: United States

Circulation averages for the six months ended:

State: North Carolina

Selection: No city submitted (Contains)

Sort By: Title ASC

Results Found: 61

Preliminary figures subject to audit as filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
* Total Circulation = Total Average Paid Circulation

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Circulation Type

Total Circulation*

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E (M-F)