Daily Flog: McCain’s speech; bikes and bloomers; three jeers for Giuliani


Running down the press:

I know I sound like a broken record by constantly flaying the New York Times for its political coverage, but it’s the paper of record that is broken. And because the Times has such influence — particularly in other newsrooms — one can’t help but parse the paper.

And nothing personal against Adam Nagourney (it’s strictly business), but he’s more of a recorder than a reporter, unlike the many fine front-line people on the Times staff. And his prose is amateur. I’m not the editor who chooses to rely on Nagourney for front-page political stories, so don’t shoot the messenger.

OK, go ahead and shoot me. But before you lock and load, see this morning’s coverage of John McCain‘s convention speech.

Nagourney’s lede:

Senator John McCain accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday with a pledge to move the nation beyond “partisan rancor” and narrow self-interest in a speech in which he markedly toned down the blistering attacks on Senator Barack Obama that had filled the first nights of his convention.

Standing in the center of an arena here, surrounded by thousands of Republican delegates, Mr. McCain firmly signaled that he intended to seize the mantle of change Mr. Obama claimed in his own unlikely bid for his party’s nomination.

Now here’s the Wall Street Journal‘s lede, proving that two heads (Jerry Seib and Laura Meckler) are less turgid than one:

Sen. John McCain claimed the Republican party nomination he has sought for almost a decade by pledging to rise above Washington’s acrimony as president and strike a new tone by reaching across partisan divides.

The pledge, in a speech delivered to the closing night of his party’s national convention here, was designed to help him launch the fall campaign by reclaiming the image of an agent of change in a year when voters are clamoring for one — and at a time when his image as a maverick has been questioned.

Similar, but at least Seib and Meckler chose to detach themselves from simply recording McCain’s comments by noting that the “pledge . . . was designed to help him launch the fall campaign.” And they threw in some perspective by noting that McCain’s “maverick” image is under fire.

Up high, in the fifth graf, they added this bit of interpretation:

To some extent, the success that Sen. McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has had in galvanizing the party’s base here this week liberated Sen. McCain to reach beyond those voters to Democrats and independents in his own speech. Despite Sen. McCain’s own calls for political peace, Gov. Palin and other speakers Wednesday night pressed a sustained attack against Democrats.

Yes, an explanation for McCain’s relatively conciliatory and bridge-building words.

Nagourney does some interpreting, but he submerges it under his predictable recounting. He waits until the 12th graf to note:

Mr. McCain faced the challenge on Thursday of pivoting from making an appeal to Republican base voters to reaching out to the larger general election audience watching him. Accordingly, there were relatively few mentions of divisive social issues as he returned to the way he has historically presented himself: as an iconoclast willing to challenge his own party. That image was shaken this year as he as appeared to adjust some positions in navigating the primaries.

No mention of how the other Republicans’ attacks freed McCain to sound like the Great Conciliator.

And on down in the story, Nagourney, as usual, gives McCain free publicity by saying straight out that his “strength as a candidate is his national-security experience and expertise.” A good reporter would say that McCain says or claims that those are his strengths, instead of stating as fact what the candidate claims.

I’m so pedantic.

A dose of the Post is indicated, so moving on . . .


Don’t you just love that terse, verb-less hed? The story is ominous:

A Harlem teacher has mysteriously disappeared – leaving behind her keys, wallet and ID – just days before the first day of school.

Hannah Upp, 23, a beautiful Bryn Mawr College graduate and a teaching fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Academy, has not been seen since Friday, according to worried friends and family who said she was eagerly awaiting the start of the new school year.


Not the usual blubber you’d find in staid papers, and so un-P.C. Picking a courtroom moment that other papers might not have even reported, let alone led with, Jennifer Fermino writes:

The lawyer for an MIT-educated terror suspect, describing herself as a “63-year-old fat woman,” yesterday made a judge an offer he found easy to refuse — a strip-search demonstration. . . .

[Lawyer Elizabeth] Fink described her client [Aafia Siddiqui] as “incredibly damaged” – before leaping off her seat and attempting to show how prisoners have to squat and cough during a strip search.

“I can’t really do this because I’m a 63-year-old fat woman,” she apologized.

The judge said, “I think I know what a strip search is.”

In addition to the search being uncomfortable, Fink claims the America-basher is too modest to strip for the guards because of her Muslim beliefs.

But the judge said the search, which is supposed to happen every time Siddiqui leaves her isolated cell, was the prison rule.

Daily News: ‘Bashed bicyclist beats rap’

Good piece, starting with:

All charges will be dropped Friday against a bicyclist who was body slammed by a Manhattan cop in a shocking incident caught on YouTube, sources close to the case said.

Biker Christopher Long, 29, also will announce plans to sue the city over the unprovoked bashing in Times Square during a Critical Mass bike ride July 25.

The NYPD and prosecutors are still investigating rookie cop Patrick Pogan, 22, who was stripped of his gun and placed on desk duty after the video surfaced.

Daily News: ‘Deutsche disgrace: Butts, beer found despite fire regulations’

Here’s a story that won’t make the cover of Cigar Aficionado:

A year after the deadly Deutsche Bank inferno – sparked by a tossed cigarette – inspectors have found evidence that workers are smoking and drinking inside the troubled tower.

New Yorker: ‘Party Faithful: Can the Democrats get a foothold on the religious vote?’

Oh, the perils of working on a weekly. The mag’s Philip Gourevitch talked with Palin a couple of weeks ago and now publishes his piece, which really is kind of a softball, but how was he to know back then that she would be chosen? And the mag’s Peter J. Boyer, meanwhile, was working on a story about how the GOP’s grip on evangelical voters might be slipping. How was he to know that the GOP would take care of that problem? At least Boyer managed to jam in the party’s heaven-sent veep pick, probably past the mag’s deadline, down low in his story:

McCain thrilled his conservative base further with the selection of the fervently Christian Governor Sarah Palin, of Alaska, as his Vice-Presidential nominee. (“A home run,” [Ralph] Reed declared to the Times, and [James] Dobson called the choice “outstanding.”)

Worth reading anyway.

Huffington Post: ‘Sebelius Accuses Palin Of Deceiving Voters’

Lame headline but good precursor by Seth Colter Walls of what the Democrats will do more and more of: release Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius to hound the much more lightweight Palin.

McClatchy: ‘Community organizers protest mocking by GOP speakers’

Always with the sharp angles, McClatchy nabs this one. William Douglas‘s story is datelined St. Paul, but it zooms in on New Yorkers:

New York resident Elana Shneyer said she watched with anger and anguish as her former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and Sarah Palin mocked Barack Obama’s experience as a community organizer, reducing the job to little more than a punch line in their convention speeches.

“I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities,” Palin said in her convention speech.

Giuliani took a jab at Obama earlier Wednesday evening, saying that his community organizing work might be “the first problem of his resume.” . . .

Other community organizers across the country bristled at Giuliani’s and Palin’s speeches, saying that they showed little respect for organizers and little knowledge of the contributions of community organizers in the civil rights and women’s movements.

And once again we see what kind of shameless hypocrite Rudy Giuliani is for now sneering at community activists — he’s even more of a lying hypocrite than most other pols:

“We’re the Rodney Dangerfields,” said Richard Green, the director of Brooklyn, N.Y., Crown Heights Youth Collective. “Crime goes down, drug use goes down, and we never get credit for our work. After all, community organizers don’t do real work, they don’t have any real expenses, and they’re not real people.”

Green, however, remembers getting a public pat on the back for his work from Giuliani.

In his book Leadership, Giuliani praised Green for working with City Hall and Jewish community organizers for keeping the 1994 Brooklyn West Indian-American Day Parade, which ran through a racially torn Crown Heights neighborhood.

This is a better story than the Daily News‘s version, ‘Community groups hammer Rudy Giuliani & slam Sarah Palin.’

But in attempting to get the other side of his story, Michael Saul does accidentally reveal the presence of one of the main gurus for “compassionate conservative” George W. Bush in the Empire State Building:

Marvin Olasky, a former informal adviser to President Bush and the provost at Christian-oriented King’s College, located in the Empire State Building, said community organizing is “somewhat of a euphemism for leftist change.” It’s different from faith-based groups, he said.

“If folks in the community organizing movement are astonished that a conservative criticizes that, then they don’t understand America,” he said. “Anyone who is indignant about it is either uniformed or faking indignation.”

Last I knew, Olasky — a former Commie Jew who crossed over to the other extreme and became a hardline conservative Christian (see my February 2005 item) — was a journalism professor in Texas. I didn’t realize that this fervent evangelical has returned to his East Coast roots to convert Godless New Yorkers from a perch in a skyscraper that reaches into Heaven.