By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Letter of the Week
I would like to thank Sloane Crosley for putting into words some of the things I have been feeling ever since the TomKat relationship started ["Compassion: Impossible," The Essay, July 6-12].I wasn't born the same year as Katie Holmes (as Crosley was), but a few years later. My friends and I weren't the same age as the Dawson's Creek actors, but we were just two years younger than the characters they played. The show was extremely impactful in defining the values, fashion sense, and activities many of my classmates and I shared. To see our little Joey Potter shamelessly insulted and abused and exploited in every magazine has been heartbreaking. It has signified the falling of one of my idols and the end of my blissful youth.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Re Sydney H. Schanberg's "Two-Timed byTime" [Press Clips, July 6-12]: Is freedom of the press really being weakened in this instance? Not only was the White House leak of a CIA operative's name, Valerie Plame, a crime, but the media were instrumental in the commission of the crime. If a confidential source came to a reporter and offered details of a murder, and then asked the reporter to hold, aim, and fire the gun, and if the reporter agreed, then should either the reporter or the confidential source be protected? The crime of treason was already committed by the White House source in just revealing Plame's identity, but even then, without the publicity that appearing in a newspaper gave this leak, the whole impact of the crime could have been reduced or eliminated had the journalists involved properly contacted the police in a timely fashion. When journalists become tools of corrupt politicians, it's not just freedom of the press that's compromised.
I'm in complete agreement with Schanberg that a journalist should be able to keep secret the names of sources. In the Valerie Plame affair, however, it appears that Time reporter Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller have shielded persons who may well have committed a felony rather than safe-guarding the identities of whistle-blowers. That being the case, Miller and Cooper don't have the right to be silent; except for the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, no one has the right to refuse to testify. Those who are crying foul would do well to remember that fact.
Silver Springs, Florida
Schanberg (full disclosure: We were colleagues at apbnews.com) concludes his article with the plea "The press has suffered another wound. Will anyone own up that the wound is partly self-inflicted from a failure to stand firm on core principles?"
On July 1, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal did exactly that: "[T]his is a debacle that some in the press corps have brought down upon themselves and the rest of us. They did so by demanding, in liberal unison like the Rockettes, that the Bush Administration name a 'special counsel' to find out who leaked the name of CIA analyst Valerie Plame."
I recall that several Democrats in the SenateTom Daschle, Carl Levin, Joseph Biden, Jay Rockefeller, Charles Schumer, John Kerry, and John Edwards (these last two presidential candidates at the time)sent letters to then attorney general John Ashcroft and President Bush demanding that a special counsel be appointed to investigate the Plame leak.
With all due respect to Schanberg, whose storied career demands respect from a whipper-snapper like me, the violation of journalistic principle occurred when the mainstream media decided to take up this clearly partisan cause and begin a relentless pressure campaign in favor of a special prosecutor.
It was widely believed then, and still is, that an investigation would reveal Karl Rove to be the source of the leak. Then the real objective of turning Plame into a federal offense would be realizedthe dismissal of Rove. What a coup that would have been during an election campaign. The press might have been instrumental in bringing down another president. Woo-hoo! That's even better than getting a Pulitzer.
But having reached this point, as I see it, a journalist has two choices: cooperate with an investigation (as the law requires) or go to jail to protect his source (as the ethics of the profession demand). Merely offering to go to jail isn't one of the options.
Thanks so much to Mark Holcomb for his very generous review of Murderball ["Quad Wrangle," July 6-12]. Alas, there is one thing he strangely misunderstood. When quadriplegic rugby player Mark Zupan decided to invite Chris Igoe, his best friend, who unknowingly paralyzed him in a car crash, to Greece, we thought it was a really cool gesture, so we filmed it. The reason the "confrontation" fell "flat," as Holcomb writes, is because it wasn't a confrontation at all. They were very happy to see each other. Holcomb is right that Zupan had forgiven Igoe years ago; it's Igoe who has had trouble forgiving himself. If anything, the making of this film has made them grow close again because it got these two old best friends talking again regularly.
Thank you, Tricia Romano, for your sweet, sweet words about my song ["Dance Fever," Fly Life, June 29-July 5]!My name is Otis von Darling. This was my first press thing I got. So I am awfully excited! I've been telling everyone to read it. Anyhoo, thank you again! You have no idea how excited I am!
Otis von Darling
Re Kristen Lombardi's "Dyke Hillary! Dyke Hillary!" [June 29-July 5]:Hillary lesbo-baited? Sure, why not? Look at it this way: Absolutely no political decision during the Clinton years was made without Hillary's stamp. That includes the ludicrous "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which gave the crappy end of the stick to all the gays and lesbians who helped put Bill in office, plus the vitriolic Defense of Marriage Act. This was supposed to be tasty red meat thrown to conservatives in the spirit of "triangulation," and to get them off Bill's case. Cut to Monica and impeachment. Sure worked, didn't it? It is a rare instance of poetic justice that the Clintons, who put the huge onus on our gay and lesbian military personnel to show the world they aren't having sex, now have to prove to the world, à la Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, that they are. So bait away. To paraphrase Nixon, sock it to her!
Treated him right
I've been haunted by Luther Vandross's passing, so it was especially gratifying to read Jason King's tribute to him on the Voice website ["So Amazing," villagevoice.com, July 5]. King's empathy and insight are refreshing, compared to the phobic remarks in The New York Times, for example, which called Vandross "a lifelong bachelor." King describes his extraordinary gifts and contribution eloquently, and more than that, he makes sense of some of the very complicated circumstances Vandross made for himself and found himself in as a result of being closeted. Even an open closet was too small and dark for Vandross, but the acoustics were great.
Left him a loan
Anya Kamenetz's article "Johnny Comes Marching Home to Loans" [Generation Debt, June 29-July 5] describes army recruiters misrepresenting the actual college loan repayment program. The exact thing happened to my son. Assured that all loans, even private ones, would be repaid, he enlisted only to find out that most of his loans will not be repaid.
Psycho II or III
It was refreshing to read James Ridgeway's comments on Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council ["Under the Revival Tent," Mondo Washington, June 29-July 5].Since Perkins has succeeded nutballs like Gary Bauer and Keith Connor, the FRC message has been indistinguishable from Karl Rove's. Attacks on increases in the minimum wage go hand in hand with exempting heirs of billionaires from ever paying a dime on the appreciation of assets in estate taxes. But the marshaling of support for wacko nominees like John Bolton, the Three Judicial Stooges (Priscilla Owen, William Myers, and Janice Rogers Brown), and W. David Hager at the FDA is astonishing. They've even attacked cable television, so that those watching only Fox News and pompadour-and-potted-palm preachers can pay minimally while the rest of us foot their bill.