Michael Wolff: Climate Change: How Come US Newspapers Don’t Like This Issue?

My friend Ian Katz, a senior editorial figure at the Guardian newspaper in London, and a prime mover of an initiative to create one editorial on climate change that a coalition of newspapers around the world publishes today, writes to ask my opinion of "why no major US newspapers would play."

The project has 56 newspapers in 45 countries (representing 20 different languages) publishing an editorial meant to firm up the moral ardor of the nations gathering this week in Copenhagen to work on a climate change treaty. But, except for the Miami Herald, nobody else has signed on in the US.

The editorial itself is not that controversial. True, it lambastes the US--"the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics"--as a stumbling block to the treaty. And it threatens on-rushing doom--"climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security"--but this is largely liberal-editorialist global-warming boilerplate.

The more interesting question is not about the sentiment, but why US newspapers are so reluctant to join a bandwagon.

Continue reading on newser.com

Bryan Monroe: Robert Gibbs vs. April Ryan: The Groan Heard ‘Round the Briefing Room

You've probably seen it by now.

Wednesday afternoon at the White House Daily Press Briefing, veteran radio correspondent April Ryan was hitting press secretary Robert Gibbs hard with a line of questioning about the uninvited gate-crashers at last month's state dinner.

Ryan, who reports for American Urban Radio Networks, was trying to get at whether the high-profile White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers was working the event that night or there as an invited guest at the dinner, or both -- and trying to get a better sense of how much responsibility the social office had in the fiasco -- when her questions struck a nerve with Gibbs.

RYAN: No, no, no, did she invite herself, or did the President ask her -- her name was on that list, and social secretaries are the ones who put the names on the list. Did she invite herself or did the President --

GIBBS: Was she at the dinner? April, April, calm down. Just take a deep breath for one second. See? This happens with my son, he does the same thing.


RYAN: Don't play with me, I'm being serious. Do not blow it off.

GIBBS: And I'm giving you a serious answer. Was she at the dinner? Yes.

RYAN: Was she an invited guest?

GIBBS: She's the social secretary. She had the primary --

RYAN: Social secretaries are not guests of the dinner.

GIBBS: She is the primary -- for running the dinner. I'm going to get back to weightier topics like 98,000 men and women in Afghanistan. Jonathan, take us away...

You could hear an audible groan -- and see other reporters wince -- when Gibbs, 38, compared Ryan, 42, to a petulant child throwing a fit.

No he didn't!

Ryan, a 23-year veteran reporter who has spent the past 13 of those years covering the White House, is not new to the briefing room or contentious exchanges with press secretaries. She has mixed it up with three presidents and at least seven of their media spokesmen (and one spokeswoman).

And Gibbs has had his share of dust-ups with other reporters in less than a year in the hot seat -- just ask Jake Tapper of ABC News. He, like all press secretaries, is only human, and it is easy to become frustrated day after day when reporters pummel him with questions he thinks he's answered, and answered and answered again.

But standing there, with the seal of the White House behind him, Gibbs' reaction was, frankly, smart-alecky, condescending and inappropriate, no matter how frustrated he felt with Ryan's line of questioning.

To be sure, April Ryan is nothing if not aggressive -- sometimes "in-your-face" -- when she pursues a story. She has been for most of her career. Would I have gone at him like she did? Not my style. But I admire her for it, anyway.

Still, it was certainly appropriate for Ryan, or any other reporter, to ask about the overall involvement of the White House social secretary and what, if any, impact that office's activities may have had on the breakdown in security that evening. And it was appropriate for her to keep asking even when she was being blown off.

That's what reporters do.

I know and respect social secretary Rogers, and have a pretty good idea she was likely working hard that night on every detail to make sure the first state dinner of the Obama administration went flawlessly. But she knows she is now in the big leagues, and tough questions come with the job.

Gibbs is also a seasoned pro in dealing with the press. He normally works hard not to let reporters get under his skin. He prides himself on his sense of humor, calm and a respectful, good-natured rapport with a normally, well, ornery press corps.

But this time, in defending Rogers, he lost it. To patronize Ryan like he did, talking down to her from the podium, was beneath him and his office.

One only hopes that on Monday morning, Ryan is greeted with a fresh cup of coffee and a warm, sincere apology. Then we can move on.

-- Bryan Monroe is a visiting professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He was the former president of The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines and assistant vice president/news at Knight Ridder. He has also been a regular contributor to CNN and helped lead the team in Biloxi, Miss. that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. He can be reached at www.bryanmonroe.com.

“Dwell Time” For Troops Largely Ignored By Media

I was a little surprised this Sunday when two interviews with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates failed to yield any serious questions on whether the Pentagon can send more troops to Afghanistan without a change in the administration's stated priority to allow our troops to have more "dwell time" -- time off between deployments. Then I remembered that I was watching Sunday morning political shows, and so had no right to expect a serious question.

But with General Stanley McChrystal and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry set to testify before Congress this week, one should anticipate that concerns over "dwell time" are going to be aired at some point. A cursory examination of the past week's television news indicates that the topic isn't getting a lot of play in advance of these hearings, which makes me wonder if the matter will pass through the media's ears, without comment.

The only media figure who seems to take this matter seriously is MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who has done at least two segments I know of on "dwell time," including this explainer:


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MADDOW: Full of the first casualties of the escalation of the war in Afghanistan is apparently the amount of time our fighting troops will get between deployments. It's called dwell time. And once upon a time the Obama administration's goal was to give our fighting men and women more of it. Currently, soldiers get about a year at home for every year of deployment. Marines get slightly more. Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Bob Gates testified that he hoped to lengthen that dwell time for soldiers to two years at home for every year out. That was before the president decided we needed to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. So now that hope for two years dwell time is apparently out the window.


SEN. MARK UDALL (C-DO), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: What effect do you see this additional deployment having on dwell time and the length of deployment cycles and reset?

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS: We want to get to a point where there home twice as long. With this deployment decision, we expect that it will probably take a couple more years to get to a point where he's out two-to-one.


MADDOW: That was yesterday. Then, today testifying before the house armed services committee, Admiral Mullen seemed to slightly back off that more pessimistic prediction.


MULLEN: We'll still be able to have on the Marine Corps side dwell time move out towards two-to-one fairly significantly, a little more slowly on the army side.


MADDOW: A little more slowly on the army side. John Soltz of the Progressive Veterans group votevets.org says, the dwell time change it's bad in itself and he says it raises the prospect of a whole lot of other potentially troubling consequences of the president's troop escalation for the military.

Quote--"What about ending stop loss, or not using the individual ready reserve, or mobilizations that are no longer than 12 months for the National Guard and Reserve? All of those could be in Jeopardy. This concerns are why votevets.org can't endorse this strategy. The math doesn't add, and Admiral Mullen's testimony raises more concerns and questions that answers."

For more on VoteVets' position on "dwell time," click here. As noted here, Maddow previously took up this issue on the November 18 broadcast of her eponymous show and, in an appearance on Charlie Rose on December 1, said, "I honestly feel like the issue of dwell time is being really underplayed."

Army Data Show Constraints on Troop Increase Potential [The Washington Independent]
VoteVets Blasts Obama on Dwell Time [Washington Independent]

Rachel Maddow, Spencer Ackerman Provide Rare Moment Of Clarity In The Afghanistan Escalation Debate

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to tv@huffingtonpost.com -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]

Irony du Jour

Without further comment, check out the name of the latest publication to make an impassioned and apparently earnest attempted takedown of citizen journalism:

#100: CNN Reaches Historic Low In Prime Time Demo

brown_12-7CNN has reached a historic ratings low during prime time in the A25-54 demographic, finishing as the fourth place cable news network in that category now 100 times during 2009. This means CNN finished behind Fox News, MSNBC and sister network HLN.

While CNN’s daytime line-up has seen far more success – generally finishing in 2nd place behind just FNC – their prime time line-up has not yet turned around.

This is by far the most times this has ever happened for CNN. The network has now finished in 4th place in that category 41% of 2009 weeknights. It’s a dramatic fall from 2008, when Anderson Cooper’s 10pmET hour actually won the prime time demo, even topping his FNC competition. 2008 of course was a very big year for CNN, as the presidential election dominated coverage. But while CNN’s prime time ratings have not dropped off significantly from 2007 and before, the competition is growing enormously, and leaving CNN behind in the category.

The 100th occurrence was Thursday night. As the year ends, CNN is finishing fourth more and more often. The network was 4th in the prime time demo 13 nights during November – more times than any other month.

Prime time demo is just one of the many categories CNN and other networks use to sell against, and CNN continues to push the fact that it is performing strongly during the day. And it should be noted that while CNN drops in prime time, their sister network HLN is doing well – which benefits CNN’s parent company as a whole. Still, as CNN pushes the line, “More people turn to CNN because journalism matters,” (have you seen that anywhere today?) it appears more and more clear that people are turning to opinion during prime time.

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New York Senator Diane Savino, Gay Marriage Supporter, Is New Viral Hero

Diane ScavinoNew York State Senator Diane Savino is the new viral hero of the gay and progressive world (at least), thanks to her impassioned, thoughtful, rational comments in support of New York’s Marriage-Equlity bill last week, which failed with a vote of 24-38. On YouTube a clip of her speech is up to 296,215 views (this is a floor speech in the New York State Legislature, people) and there are numerous other clips of her speech on the site, adding to that total. Why? Because she’s awesome.

Savino’s great speech has garnered appreciative posts from around the web, including a must-read interview with New York’s Daily Intel where she also reveals herself to be totally cool. (Savino represents Staten Island, and her eloquence, principle and the aforementioned coolness all made Staten Island a weird place to bash as low-class and racist on SNL this weekend). She is so great she deserves to be block-quoted:

Turn on the television. We have a wedding channel on cable TV devoted to the behavior of people on the way to the altar. They spend billions of dollars, behave in the most appalling way, all in an effort to be princess for a day. You don’t have cable television? Put on network TV. We’re giving away husbands on a game show. You can watch The Bachelor, where thirty desperate women will compete to marry a 40-year-old man who has never been able to maintain a decent relationship in his life…That’s what we’ve done to marriage in America, where young women are socialized from the time they’re five years old to think of being nothing but a bride. They plan every day what they’ll wear, how they’ll look, the invitations, the whole bit, they don’t spend five minutes thinking about what it means to be a wife. People stand up there before god and man even in Senator Diaz’s church, they swear to love honor and obey, they don’t mean a word of it. So if there’s anything wrong with the sanctity of marriage in America, it comes from those of us who have the privilege and the right and have abused it for decades.

Stick around, Senator Savino — I want to volunteer for your presidential campaign. Video below.


State Senator Diane Savino: Gay-Rights Defender, Karaoke Artist [Daily Intel]
Transcript: Diane Savino’s Speech on Marriage [courtneymandryk.com]

“A closed meeting on openness”

The AP has a hard-edged story bringing the news that a hall full of federal employees will be attending a Freedom of Information Act training meeting today put on in part by the Office of Government Information Services. But, the AP pointedly notes, the meeting will be closed to outsiders—presumably including their reporters. Seeing what’s...