Monday, July 30, 2007

Marvin Zindler Has Left The Building

The Wigged-Out Wonder of Houston Signs Off For The Last Time -- Who's Gonna Find the Slime in the Ice Machine Now?

One of the few times I got to see Marvin Zindler was when he appeared on a network morning show, or an occasional appearance with Leno.
But the fact that I saw him rarely yet still had that shocking white wig or his indelible sign-off seared into my brain says a lot.

Which is why his passing yesterday at age 85 is an especially big deal in Houston, where he was a star attraction at KTRK, the ABC affiliate, for 34 years.
"Maaarvin Zindler, Eyewitness News" is how he'd finish one of his consumer reports that made him a hero to Houston's middle- and working classes. Indeed, he was much more than a self-made caricacture.
The bombast, big wig and brash suits concealed a heart of gold that armed him to fight injustice, roaches in restaurants and Houston's last bordello, a campaign that inspired "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas."
In other words, a TV icon.
The station's Web site has quite the tribute to Zindler, with choice clips from his checkered career. Kudos to the Houston Chronicle for a great obit, which also includes an ample photo spread and a video tribute from ordinary Houstonians -- the ones Zindler cared about most --saying their goodbyes.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A BANG That Will Turn Into A Journalistic Whimper

Newsroom Consolidation Will Make East Bay Papers Irrelevant. But, Hey, At Least Dean Singleton Will Have Busted The Unions

In case you missed it, MediaNews Group announced last week it would attempt to suck what little life blood there is left out of the Bay Area News Group-East Bay by consolidating news rooms.
Most significantly, that means the Contra Costa Times, which MediaNews bought from McClatchy last year, will have its news operations merged with the Oakland Tribune. Five smaller newspapers in the East Bay, which have already seen their staffs desiccated since "Lean Dean" Singleton and the MediaNewsies took them over are also affected.
No shocker that one way the papers will be saving money is by reducing staff even further. Which is scary enough given current levels. Former San Mateo County Times managing editor John Bowman notes in his SpinDitties blog that when he came to the paper in 2002, he had 12 reporters. When he quit in disgust in May, he was down to eight.
And while Singleton's reducing staff, he'll also be trying to bust unions as well. The East Bay Express says it could well happen. Reporters at the Tribune and its sister papers are unionized, but not at the Contra Costa Times and its brethren.
By combining newsroom staffs, if MediaNews can show that among those left, there are more left from the Times side, it can conceivably push to decertify the union because it no longer represents the majority of employees.
Not a slam dunk, of course, but Singleton's got nothing but time, and apparently a lot of money to pay labor lawyers.
Actually, to say Singleton could "conceivably" make that move may benaive, at least in Bowman's view, which has been bitterly tinged by first-hand knowledge.

[E]verything in my experience as an ANG manager for nearly five years --including attending a couple of long meetings with the company's labor attorneys earlier this year -- tells me that's exactly what Singleton and his Bay Area waterboy, Kevin Keane, have in mind.

At those meetings, held in Pleasanton with all other ANG editors including Mr. Keane, the main topic of discussion was this: What could managers say, and how far could we go, to encourage Guild employees to demand a vote to decertify the Guild, while not breaking any labor laws.

The writing may not be on the wall, but the pens are being procured forthwith.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bancrofts Could Be Looking To Uphold Integrity of Wall Street Journal By Trying To Squeeze More Bucks Out of Murdoch

Which Ol' Rupe Says Is A Non-Starter; Could Be A Case of Seller's Remorse

Wall Street Journal says a bunch of the Bancrofts are turning thumbs-down, for now, on the News Corp. attempted $5 billion grab of Dow Jones and the WSJ.
Could be beginning of a way to weasel out of deal without ticking off too many DJ shareholders, and mollify cousins who want to keep the franchise in family hands.
Then again, it could just be a game of financial chicken, now that Murdoch has been salivating over getting his hands on the Journal.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Paula Zahn Makes It Official; Campbell Brown To Take Up Residence in the 8 p.m. Lion's Den

After rampant speculation fueled by poorly kept secrets, Paula Zahn has resigned from her 8 p.m. ET show on CNN, and will depart the airwaves next week, though her contract with the net runs through the end of the year.
New arrival Campbell Brown will take over Zahn's slot. CNN is trying something, anything, to buck up its fourth-place showing among the cable newsers in that hour. As we've opined in some of the posts just below, putting Brown there once she finally settles in post-maternity leave, is not the best place for her.

As Zahn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, people watching at 8 p.m. are "drawn to opinion, and that's not what I do."
And good for her, given that Nancy Grace, Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann were picking up that slack. Still, however noble counter-programming might be, the Nielesens didn't give Zahn -- a kind soul in TV land whom I met during my days at CBS -- her proper due.
A shoutfest will also undoubtedly not be in Brown's cards, as that's not where her strengths lie. But the dilemma remains: if people don't want a more-traditional news and analysis program at 8, why prime her for another fourth-place finish for CNN?
Why not put her on earlier, say 4 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET and let Lou Dobbs bark up a storm at 8, while rearranging the slot for "The Situation Room?"
That could still happen, of course, but at the expense of what are likely to be arduous attempts by Brown to first build an audience, only to hope they move with her if Dobbs changes slots.
For the conspiracy theorists out there, it sounds like this was actually a mutual decision for a change, rather than "resign" being a euphemism for "don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Zahn was asked by the New York Daily News if she could have stayed. Her reply:
"The truth is, [CNN President Jonathan Klein] and I have been talking about this for many, many months, and when we started discussions on what the options would be, I'd done them all in a 30-year career," Zahn said. "It was best for both of us to move on."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Campbell Brown Departure Could Slide Natalie Morales Closer to Lester Holt

"Today" Everywoman Should Be Big Favorite to Become New "Weekend Today" Co-Host

Natalie Morales has spent a lot of time sitting in different chairs on "Today" without having enough time to get fully comfortable.

Campbell Brown's departure from "Weekend Today" to CNN should change that.

Morales has filled in for Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira, done time as a news reader for Ann Curry and now pops up a lot hosting in the fluffier 9 a.m. hour, when Vieira is not allowed to appear because of her "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" contract.

But Morales has shown herself to be about more than cooking and fashion segments, and has helped cover such stories as the tsunami, Katrina and the 2004 election.

That and the fact that she's dutifully done her time on the dawn patrol for The Peacock merits a shot next to Lester Holt for "Weekend Today."

Should be a no-brainer, but then again I said that about Brown replacing Couric on "Today." Because that didn't happen is why Brown will next be seen on CNN in November.

Still, I like her chances, with Amy Robach sliding over to take over Morales' duties during the week.

Longer shots: Dateline's Hoda Kotb and Darlene Rodriguez, morning anchor on WNBC-TV.

Mmm, Good-Bye Campbell, Says NBC

Handicapping Where Brown Will Wind Up On CNN Sked

Now that Campbell Brown has finally made it official that she's bolting from NBC News this week to host her own program on CNN come November, this could be an opportunity for the House That Turner Built to shake up its schedule and bolster its Nielsens without trying to necessarily outfox Fox.
But first things first. November is a month before she's due to deliver her first baby. Does CNN really want to introduce one of its franchise players only to see her disappear for three months? Instead, look for Brown to have her coming-out party sometime next spring, although she told the A.P. she hopes to be back for the big presidential primaries in February.
Whenever she takes up residence in the Time Warner Center, the larger question is where she's parked in the lineup.
CNN could put her on at 4 p.m. and let "The Situation Room" run two hours instead of three, which would mean a lot less padding, punditry and Jack Cafferty.
Or, they could stick Brown at 7 p.m., and have "Situation Room" run continuously 4-7 p.m., while "Lou Dobbs Tonight" goes to 8 p.m., booting Paula Zahn and giving CNN perhaps its best chance to take a run at Bill O'Reilly, while making Nancy Grace and Keith Olbermann chase tail.
Tempting as that may seem, Dobbs is a formidable player at 6 p.m. and has seen his audience continue to grow. CNN may not want to disturb that tentpole and risk losing a chunk of that audience, especially during election season.
Still, merely replacing Brown -- appealing as she might be -- with Zahn is unlikely to be the kick in the ratings butt CNN so badly needs in primetime. "LDT" may be ready for its closeup, and O'Reilly may already be getting a bad case of flopsweat.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New York Times Shows How To Do Less With More With Steam Pipe Explosion Coverage

A Time To Put the New York Back Into The Times

Thankfully, it was only an explosion of an ancient steam pipe near Grand Central Terminal and not a blast that would have led us to call yesterday 7/18, or something like that.
Still, when a massive pipe bursts in midtown Manhattan during the height of rush hour, sending plumes of brown steam containing who knows what as high as the nearby Chrysler Building, it's a big deal.
The New York Times metro staff realized that -- up to a point.
A large photo ran above the fold, along with a story that jumped to the Metro section, which was entirely fronted with some graphic photos from the scene.
Inside, there was a full inside page and half of another. All told, 20 reporters and photographers were credited with working on the coverage.
So, how come then, there were only three stories on the blast?
Yes, it was an explosion. No, terrorism was not to blame. Still, one person died and at least 30 were injured. Not only that, but subway service was disrupted for hundreds of thousands of riders, while midtown streets and avenues were put in a "frozen zone" that made already-lousy traffic a miasma to unnerve even the most grizzled of city drivers.
The three articles are decent enough, but with so many people on the story, you can't help but wonder if they could have fleshed out more stories instead of combining so many snippets.
It is for times like these that the Times needs to remember the New York in its title is not just a holdover from some bygone era when the paper actually sold more copies inside the city limits.
Three articles also mean that's one less piece than was devoted to preview coverage of the British Open.
Priorities, anyone?

New York Times Economics Coverage Gets More Economical

Using "Change" As A Euphemism

Tucked into today's Business Day section of The New York Times is a note that there are "some changes" in the paper's economics coverage. Translation: there'll be less of it.
The Economic Scene column, a bastion on Thursdays, is now moving to Wednesday, where it'll be written by the always-interesting-to-read David Leonhardt (above) who penned the Economix column.
The rotating panel of columnists who were doing Economic Scene will write the already-existing Economic View column that appears in the Sunday business section.
So, if my math is correct, that means one less economics column in a paper that for decades, going back to Leonard Silk, has a long and impressive legacy in guiding economics coverage.
Then again, the paper itself is getting more economical. The Times will shrink to a now-industry-standard 12-inch width on Aug. 6, which will also trim the newshole by 5 percent, maybe more once you factor in the ads that are now being sold on some section fronts, including the business section.

Muggle Michiko Kakutani Conjures Up An Early Review of "Deathly Hallows"

Everyone's Wild About Harry, But Real Mystery is Who Sold N.Y. Times Book Critic A Copy of "Potter" Yesterday

Notoriously picky New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani has proven herself to be an ardent fan of the "Harry Potter" series , no more so than with her thumbs-up review of 2005's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

So, it would have been a safe assumption that the Times would have her evaluating "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," presumably on Saturday when the book, which has an initial printing of 40 quadrillion copies, will be officially released at 12:01 a.m.

Except Kakutani had a few tricks up her sleeves. Her review of "Deathly Hallows is in today's paper, not because Scholastic wanted to do a favor for an important critic who had been kind to Harry.

Rather, she admits, a copy was purchased at a "New York City store," even though Scholastic has been pulling out all the stops, with middling success, to keep the book under wraps until Saturday.

Those pesky Muggle book-store people, always spoiling the magic for everyone else. But Kakutani was not through.

Somehow, she not only procured the book, but was able to get through its 759 pages in time to write a review, which apparently took long enough to write because it appeared in the A section rather than the earlier-to-bed arts pages.

Somewhere, Evelyn Wood must be smiling.

Or, maybe the dirty secret of book critics -- that they don't actually read every word between the covers -- just got a little filthier.
UPDATE: J.K. Rowling and her publisher are big-time P.O.'ed at Kakutani for being a Potter party-pooper. Also, the Baltimore Sun gets its paws on a copy too, through which it calls "legal and ordinary means," which The Guardian elaborates was reporter Mary Carole McCauley "getting a a copy from a relative ... who had received it prematurely."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just In Time for Heat Wave, New York Times Gives Readers The Big Chill

Sure, Features Are Supposed to Be Evergreen, But.....

It's standard practice for reporters, especially at larger newspapers, to write features that don't have any time element, which allows them to be used when needed --- say on a slow news day when you need to fill space.
Which means that some worthy stories can get lost in the shuffle or forgotten. Case in point today: The New York Times published on A4 a story about the legion of "replacement drivers" in Seoul, those who drive inebriated people and their cars home. Then they use public transportation or hitch a ride to get back to the city and start over again.
It was an intriguing slice of life from Choe Sang-Hun, who followed one Hur Rak as he worked a shift. Only thing: in the two photos that accompany the story, Hur and others are huddled wearing heavy jackets and hats.
A quick weather check reveals Seoul is enjoying summer temperatures in the mid-80s, so Choe's story has been on ice for quite a while. It's nice to be wanted -- even if it takes a while -- but you'd think the Times could have cranked this one out a few months ago.

A Mighty Pen Is Stilled: Remembering Doug Marlette

Doug Marlette was one of the finest of one of the misunderstood and endangered newsroom species, the editorial cartoonist.
Now comes word that Marlette was killed today in a one-car crash on a rain-slicked road in Mississippi. He was 57.
Beyond being consistently funny, what made him a must-read was that he was an equal-opportunity offender, as he was happy to define himself.
"Cartoons are windows into the human condition," he told the Tulsa World, when he joined that newspaper last year. "It's about life."
Marlette also drew the syndicated comic strip Kudzu, collaborated on a musical version of the strip, and wrote two well-received novels. But it will be the political cartoons, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, that will best define his legacy (the cartoon above is from his Pulitzer portfolio).
Given the turmoil that has roiled the newspaper industry, Marlette felt lucky there were still newspapers around who would put up with someone like him. After all, only about 80 papers have cartoonists, down from 200 as recently as the 1980s.
As he wrote in the Tulsa World last year: "There's something about cartoons, by definition unruly, tasteless and immature, that brings out the ayatollah in even the most permissive of adults."
And Marlette was as unruly as they come.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Oldies Aren't Moldy After All, at WCBS-FM

Hit the Road "Jack," Or At Least Take Up Residence on HD2, as Solid Gold Sounds Get Polished Up To Return Thursday

For 33 years, WCBS-FM was New York's oldies station. Despite various tweaks in its format, a few changes to the airstaff and a gradually graying audience, the station was a reliable engine of profits for CBS Radio, with estimated billings of $35 million a year.
But back on June 3, 2005, that wasn't enough. And even though the station enjoyed healthy ratings, the brass decided those over-40 listeners just weren't going to bring in enough advertisers over the longer haul. So, out went the oldies and in came "Jack," the format that's meant to be more of a radio jukebox, playing everything from Gloria Gaynor to Led Zeppelin.
It was a miserable failure.
What had succeded in other markets died a horrible Arbitron death in New York, with a format that attempted to be a "Jack" of all trades, but master of none. Listeners didn't know what to expect at any given moment, and most didn't bother to find out.
So, with enlightened radio executive Dan Mason returning to helm CBS Radio, he decided not to stand pat with the festering "Jack" and bought himself and his bosses mountains of goodwill and, maybe, more money, with word that CBS-FM will go back to oldies on Thursday at 1:01 p.m. (the station is at 101.1 on the FM dial).
The rumors and speculation of the format flip had been running rampant in the radio trades, and the New York Radio Message Board, where posters have been fulminating about Jack for the last two years (full disclosure: I participate in discussisons there now and then). Then the New York Daily News bannered the news on its front page Saturday, a combination of a slow days and a semi-seismic event on the New York airwaves.
How did it happen that oldies is suddenly back in vogue? Well, first thing, it's not really oldies anymore. Now, it's called "Classic Hits." But that's more than just a semantic thing. The new station will skew more heavily toward 70s and 80s music, with flecks of the 60s a la Motown, the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
As for the likes of Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and anyone else from the 50s, there's always satellite radio and your CD collection. Bottom line: the station doesn't want to play music that's older than the listeners it wants.
And for the three of you who will truly miss Jack-FM, fear not. The format will still be available online at the station's HD2 channel and here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Forget "Lean Dean": Singleton Might As Well Be A Skeleton If He Gets His Way at the Pioneer-Press

And You Thought Things Were Bad at the Mercury-News

Sometimes you have to wonder why William Dean Singleton even bothers. He buys up newspapers large and small as head of MediaNews Group, then proceeds to suck the lifeblood out of them, presumably thinking there's a motherlode of profits to be unearthed after he clears out the deadwood the rest of us call reporters, editors and photographers.
As we've said repeatedly, no one begrudges the guy a right to make a profit. It's just sickening how he attempts to go about doing it, sacrificing the product and hoping readers won't notice or care.
The latest assault from "Lean Dean" was lobbed at the employees represented by the Newspaper Guild at the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. The Rake blog enumerates all the givebacks Singleton desperately craves, which would essentially reduce the staff to the ranks of indentured servants rather than seasoned professionals.
Everything from benefits, to vacation pay, severance, and overtime are on the table. Other papers' unions recently, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Toledo Blade and Singleton's San Jose Mercury-News, have approved contracts that were markedly worse than the one they had. But none of them were confronted with a proposal that was as brazenly draconian as the one Singleton has put forth in Minnesota.
If the bottom truly is falling out of the newspaper business, you'll know the real reason why by looking at Singleton's demands.
For those of you who have been following Singleton's slash-and-burn approach to the Mercury-News staffing levels, John Bowman offers some keen insights into just how fervently Singleton has pinched pennies at his other Bay Area properties and what that could mean for the Merc.
Bowman should know, having worked for Singleton five years before "quitting in disgust."
Yesterday, Bowman noted that Singleton had one editor in charge of the news report for five newspapers for the Fourth of July.

That's one editor to oversee the staffs at five spread-out newspapers, assign stories if news breaks and guarantee the accuracy of stories written by reporters at all five papers. That might sound like a reckless -- even dangerous -- way to operate newspapers in an area that sits on a couple of America's most notorious earthquake faults, and where a flash fire can destroy a neighborhood of hundreds of homes in the time it takes the A's to get to the seventh-inning stretch. But it is standard operating procedure on every holiday -- and every Saturday and Sunday, for that matter -- at Dean Singleton's ANG papers.

Scary stuff, even if for Singleton it's SOP.

For newsroom managers complacent about thin holiday staffing, I think back 10 years ago to what was shaping up to be a very quiet Labor Day weekend. I had finished a Saturday shift at CBS Radio, when I had done an occasional interview but not much else. It was how it was supposed to be. A few hours later, Princess Diana would change that.
We were fortunate in that it was late in Europe, where it was not a holiday weekend. Our London correspondent, the late Adam Raphael and Paris reporter Elaine Cobbe hit the airwaves soon after word broke. Raphael, a well-connected veteran, was among the first to confirm her death.
Alas, over on the TV side, they were caught flat-footed as there was no correspondent in the building late on a Saturday night. While other networks were going wall-to-wall, the CBS station in New York was showing pro wrestling until a reporter from WCBS-TV came on the network to read wire copy.
It took more than an hour for the TV network to cover the story on its own. The result: "reassignments" of senior executives in the news division -- particulary Lane Venardos -- who was in charge of hard news and was shifted to special events.
End result: There is always a correspondent or anchor in the CBS Broadcast Center to go on the air 24/7 to prevent another fiasco like the Diana crash.
Singleton's California papers are one earthquake or freeway collapse away from meeting a similar fate.

AAA Radio Gets Downgraded By XM

"Enhancements" Mean XM Cafe and Starbucks Hear Music Channels Are Being Combined

Buried in a press release earlier this week about channel "enhancements," XM Radio jolted listeners like me who turn to it largely for its AAA (Adult Album Alternative) programming, which is spread over three channels that have each succeded quite well on their own merits. At least I thought so.

XM says it will launch the Starbucks XM Cafe channel on Aug. 1 to create the "highest-quality coffeehouse music experience ."

Fine and dandy. Only thing: What that actually means is XM is combining two of the AAA channels, XM Cafe (ch. 45) and Starbucks Hear Music (ch. 75) into one.

Enhancements don't usually come from subtraction, but there you go.

At first listen, both channels cater to essentially the same audience -- 25-54 adults who have been disenfranchised by the stultifying programming on commercial terrestrial radio. They feature an eclectic, expansive playlist, everything from Norah Jones and Lyle Lovett, to REM, Snow Patrol and Bonnie Raitt.

One nice thing about both channels -- slightly more so at XM Cafe -- is that they feature a lot of new artists who would otherwisie go unheard on the radio. I know iTunes has gotten some business from me after I heard a song on one of the channels that I wanted to keep.

To be sure, there's enough out there for both channels to be complementary to each other, even if some artists and songs were duplicated. That's certainly not unique on XM, which has enough formats floating around its channels for songs to span several genres for different audiences.

By consolidating XM Cafe and Starbucks, many promising artists may be iced out of the playlists, especially if there's a greater emphasis on artists whose CDs you can buy at Starbucks.

Either way, it's a shame that XM has diminished one of its reasons for being. You pay your $12.95 to choose what you listen to, rather than let someone else who may be more focused on what music moves more macchiatos choose for you.

A Study of African Contrasts In The New York Times

In Age of Shrinking Foreign Bureaus, Gray Lady's Presence A Welcome Sight

Say what you will about The New York Times, and we often do, but at a time when the nips and tucks in its newsroom budget have become evident, the same, thankfully, cannot be said for its foreign coverage.
Case in point: A front-page dispatch yesterday from Sharon LaFraniere in Mauritania, where the men like their wives fat. The fatter, the sexier. And they're dead serious about that, to the point where thousands of women and teenagers are deliberately overfed, so they become more desirable to suitors -- themselves usually thin -- in the Muslim nation.

For decades, the Mauritanian version of a Western teenager’s crash diet was a crash feeding program, devised to create girls obese enough to display family wealth and epitomize the Mauritanian ideal. Centuries-old poems glorified women immobilized by fat, moving so slowly they seemed to stand still, unable to hoist themselves onto camels without the aid of men’s willing hands.

It's a brilliant slice of life from a place most Americans would have trouble finding a map, assuming they could find the continent in the first place. But the Times' Africa hands have often shown the ability to ferret out stories from remote locales and convey the essence of places we've never known.
That there is a part of Africa where binge eating is encouraged, when so many other nations on the continent struggle with malnutrition and starvation is itself remarkable, which made Michael Wines' piece from Johannesburg yesterday about the turmoil in Zimbabwe even more troubling.
Even when people there are in a position to feed themselves, an inflation rate that may be as high as 10,000 percent often precludes the purchase of staple foods. And government efforts to curb prices are only making matters worse.
Wines' previous reporting from Zimbabwe has kept him off Robert Mugabe's Christmas card list, which is why Harare may be but a memory for him for the short term.
That Mugabe has managed to hang on in the face of internal chaos and stiff international pressure is nothing short of remarkable, not to mention tragic.
Having reporters, rather than relying on wire services for such an explosive story, is the stuff that makes papers great. It may not show up in newsstand sales, but a paper that doesn't stray from its core journalistic mission can finesse that -- something the Bancrofts should continue thinking long and hard about before turning over Dow Jones' keys to Rupert Murdoch.

P.S. Covering Africa may be the most rewarding assignment in a reporter's career as well as the most challenging and frustrating. Wines wrote cogently last year about the particular dilemmas he faces.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Times and Journal Editorial Pages Actually Agree on the Libby Sentence? Well, Sort Of

Bush Plays the Get Out of Jail (Not Free) Card For Scooter and Editorials Are Apoplectic for Different Reasons
It was safe to assume The New York Times would rip President Bush to shreds for commuting Scooter Libby's sentence. But you wouldn't have expected The Wall Street Journal to essentially do the same.
Of course, they reached that conclusion by taking entirely different routes. Noted the Times:

Mr. Bush’s assertion that he respected the verdict but considered the sentence excessive only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk. As governor of Texas, he was infamous for joking about the impending execution of Karla Faye Tucker, a killer who became a born-again Christian on death row. As president, he has repeatedly put himself and those on his team, especially Mr. Cheney, above the law.

So, no great surprise, then, from Andy Rosenthal & Co. about what transpired yesterday.

To call the Journal's editorials right-wing is to severely understate the case on most days. The early betting had been that Paul Gigot and his gang would be singing the sweetest of hosannas to Bush for keeping one of their main men out of the pokey. But a lot of dissonance emerged instead.

[B]y failing to issue a full pardon, Mr. Bush is evading responsibility for the role his Administration played in letting the Plame affair build into fiasco and, ultimately, this personal tragedy.

The Journal is miffed because Libby was taking the fall for something that was most likely not of his own making, at least in their view. Mr. Libby deserved better from the President whose policies he tried to defend when others were running for cover.

Whether he should have followed their lead is something the Journal doesn't address because it would mean actually criticizing Bush administration policy, something it has been loathe to do even in the most obvious and odious of circumstances.
Gigot has been blindingly loyal to Bush, even to the point of risking the Journal's credibility in the process. The editorial conveys the bitterness upon learning that Bush could not muster the guts to respond in kind.
For the Journal, committing a felony takes a backseat to fealty. He's one of us. Leave him be. Even Dubya found that hard to stomach.

Mercury-News Poisoned By New Round of Layoffs

From The Dot Bomb To Craig Running Wild With His List, End Result Is A Shriveled Newsroom
"The bloodletting has to stop."
That pronouncement from SaveTheMerc, a Web site run by the San Jose Newspaper Guild, which lost 31 members Monday in the latest round of layoffs at the Mercury-News.
That means the size of the newsroom staff has now been cut in half to 200 since the dot-com heyday faded.
The usual suspects are to blame, fewer classifieds, free online ads and more people willing to read the paper online for free than to plunk down a few coins for the print version.
So while nobody begrudges the need for owner William "Lean Dean" Singleton to make a profit, slashing and burning what makes the Merc an indispensable read is not the way to go about that. As the SaveTheMerc notes:

San Jose deserves a great newspaper. Silicon Valley deserves a great newspaper. There are hundreds of stories to be told about changing communities, cutting edge technologies, pop culture and high art, school boards and government. Who will tell these stories?

An excellent question.

One story they may be telling a year from now is the latest version of what happened Monday, if management can't find a way to right the ship.
The Guild was told there would not be any more layoffs for this fiscal year, which fortunately just began Sunday.