aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, February 17, 2006
Sleep on it
To build a bathroom or not to build a bathroom? I’ll decide in the morning:
When it comes to making tough decisions - don’t sweat it, sleep on it - or so a team of scientists recommends.
A Dutch study suggests complex decisions like buying a car can be better made when the unconscious mind is left to churn through the options.
This is because people can only focus on a limited amount of information, the study in the journal Science suggests.
The conscious brain should be reserved for simple choices like picking between towels and shampoos, the team said.
Ari says it’s news
Cheney may be unrepentant on that score. But former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says he should have anticipated this week’s media furor and released the information publicly to all media at once.
“It’s news if the vice president of the United States accidentally shoots somebody on a hunting trip,” Fleischer says. “My sense is that the vice president felt this was part of his private life and therefore he didn’t feel that obligation to tell the White House press corps.”
Via Romenesko, who also has this:
Corpus Christi Caller-Times reporters Kathryn Garcia and Jaime Powell, who broke the Cheney hunting accident story, don’t believe facts are being withheld by law enforcement officials. Both say they’ve been able to get information on the incident with few problems. “I feel like they’ve been awfully helpful here,” Garcia tells Joe Strupp. She says of Washington reporters: “Sometimes it seems that they think we can’t handle it, but we can and we did everything right.”
Oprah & Justin
I believe Kurt Eichenwald’s article on the boy looking for friends who became an online porn star is of critical important for all of us to contemplate. So when I happened to see that Oprah had the “Exclusive” of “The Young Boy Lured Into Pornography Online” I made sure to catch it.
I’m glad this show was on and there is no doubt that it had an impact on its audience, but because it was an Oprah show it shared some aspects of the Frey programs. From the transcript:
WINFREY: Pedophiles don’t want you to hear what Justin Berry is brave enough to expose today. Despite death threats, he agreed to be here today because he wanted to give his first television interview to the OPRAH show.
And I honor you for doing that. Thank you very much for having the courage to step out when a lot of people didn’t want you to do it. We’re going to ask Justin about the death threats in a moment. We were also told that Justin was just offered a big book deal worth a lot of money on the condition that he does not appear on our show, because what they wanted to do was to have you sell the book, and you said what?
Mr. BERRY: Well, I thought about it. And I put the numbers together and, well, it was enough to purchase a Diablo Lamborghini. And you know, that’s not something that’s more important than children’s lives here in America. And I just--I couldn’t bring myself to--money over children’s lives. So we’re here.
WINFREY: That’s the kind of kid he is. True. Thank you for that.
Frey’s was a tale of redemption; Justin’s is that too and more: a victim, a hero and he turned down a book deal. (We can bet that one day he will write a book, and that book will be an Oprah Book Club selection.) To complete her narrative Oprah sets him up as “just an ordinary kid.” Justin’s “the boy next-door, class president, an honor student.”
I am not saying he may not have been, but there’s plenty to indicate trouble. We’re told that “at 14, Justin’s mother Karen began noticing a change in his personality.” Karen is depicted as an innocent who “had no idea” even as she tells us that “what I actually did for a living was work with kids that have been molested.”
So she’s a professional and she noticed something yet this went on for four more years? During those years, as any reader of the Times’ account already knew, “Justin had 1500 people who were paying him money.” And what of Justin’s father?
WINFREY: Justin says he was about to be betrayed by another adult after he arrived in Mexico. His father asked why he always had so much money. That’s when Justin confessed he had been running a Web cam cyber porn site.
Mr. BERRY: He offered to help. He said, `Well, how can we maximize the earning potential here?’ Kind of disappointing that my dad did that.
WINFREY: Justin says, with his father by his side, he created his most sophisticated Web site yet.
So mom’s oblivious and dad’s unspeakably evil but still, Oprah’s narrative lovingly mentions Justin’s “parents” 19 times. I gather their was a step-father; he had no place in the narrative.
Kurt Eichenwald of the Times says, “When I first saw Justin, he was emaciated. He was a drug addict. He looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks. He was probably in the worst shape of any teenager I’ve ever had a conversation with.” That and 1,500 cyber-Johns suggest that Justin is in need of some serious care. I don’t see how Oprah’s “exclusive” furthers that.
Justin’s story is a horrific one, and I don’t accept that it must be shaped in this way in order to wake up parents and save America’s children. Yes it should be told, it must be told. But I think a more honest telling, one shorn of television conventions, would be equally effective in getting America’s attention.
Those television conventions have an element of dishonesty to them. Not only that, they are their own kind of exploitation. I don’t see how they help Justin; I even wonder if they don’t compound his problems.
Oprah & Frey, epilogue
The best explanation of my gut reaction to Oprah’s apology in the Frey affair was articulated on the Newshour by cultural historian Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Center for the Study of Popular Television:
The fact was, she changed her mind about this. She did more than leave an impression.
And I think then she turned around and some people, myself included, kind of saw that she was kind of a sanctimonious bully on that show. [...]
If she would have come out as soon as this story broke loaded for bear and said, you know, you betrayed your readers, you betrayed us, we showed this, we talked all about how it was helping people, and now I find out this is “say it ain’t so James Frey, why did you do this,” I think that would have been—she would have been fine.
The fact that she made that impulsive call to Larry King first and, in fact, gave him a pass on this, was completely against everything that she seems to stand for in her program which is shedding the light of truth on things, getting people to confess and be open about their relationships, their child abuse, whatever.
By giving him a pass on that, she had to backtrack and that looked kind of bad. I mean this would be like if you crashed the car on Saturday night, and your parents say well, you’ve been a good kid, we’re going to let this one go. And then suddenly on Wednesday they say we’ve changed our minds; you’re grounded for the rest of the year and give us back all your Christmas presents.
That tends to make the person doing that seem like a bully and the person who did the original sin actually seem kind of pathetic.
And I got to admit, that guy on the stage with his homina, homina, homina, and everything, you had to kind of feel a little sympathy for him.
RELATED Oprah & Bill via Romenesko:
Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates visited San Diego High School on Wednesday, but reporters—even from the school’s paper—weren’t allowed to talk to them. A student journalist complains: “This is the biggest story that’s ever happened at San Diego High and they won’t let us do the interviews. We’re expected to keep people up to date on news and we can’t even get access.”
Hume & Cheney
I’m no fan of Hume but Frank says he did a good job:
To be sure, not all of Hume’s questions were winners. For example, the query “[A]nd I take it, you missed the bird,” while detail-oriented, didn’t get quite to the heart of Americans’ concerns about the incident. For the most part, however, Hume squeezed out an account of the accident for which local law enforcement officials will undoubtedly be grateful. Hume was persistent and specific: “You had pulled the trigger and you saw him?” “What was he wearing?” “How far away from you was he?” “What did you think when you saw the injuries? How serious did they appear to you to be?” “Did you get up and did you go with him, or did you go to the hospital?” “His eyes were open when you found him, then, right?”
Cheney took responsibity - “Well, ultimately, I’m the man who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry.” Riffs Frank, “I fired the round, which hit the man, who saved the quail, who’d managed to fly. I don’t know why it happened to fly. That’s my reply.” - but:
[T]he vice president made little sense. Hume questioned the overnight delay: “[T]he one thing that we’ve all kind of learned over the last several decades is that if something like this happens, as a rule sooner is better.” Cheney’s response: “Well, if it’s accurate. If it’s accurate. And this is a complicated story.” Hume seemed unsatisfied: “But there were some things you knew. I mean, you knew a man had been shot, you knew he was injured, you knew he was in the hospital, and you knew you’d shot him.” Well, yeah, Cheney conceded, but no reason to get all hasty: “[I]t was also important, I thought, to get the story out as accurately as possible.” But if Cheney wanted the story to be as authoritative as possible, why didn’t he put out a statement himself, instead of elevating a ranch owner to the position of impromptu vice presidential spokeswoman? “[S]he was the most credible one to do it,” Cheney said, “because she was a witness.” And why wouldn’t he go directly to the national media rather than relying on the Corpus Christi Caller-Times? Cheney’s response: “[A]s the media outlets have proliferated, speed has become sort of a driving force, lots of times at the expense of accuracy. And I wanted to make sure we got it as accurate as possible.”
Yes, that all makes sense. I think. Why do I feel a sudden urge to drill for oil?
If Cheney had explained the delay by saying, “You know, I was distressed at the time and didn’t really think things through,” it’s hard to imagine that anyone would have blamed him.
I feel sorry for the guy, but he and his gang bungled it.