20 July 2007

NAFTA, The New Republic and a fishy story from Iraq

A series of writers, bloggers and interested citizens have started to question a story out of The New Republic ("Shock Troops" sub. req.) from an individual purported to have been a US Soldier in Iraq. The first to raise question on this is Michael Goldfarb's blog at The Weekly Standard with his article on Fact or Fiction? about such things as rooting through a Saddam era mass grave to do grisly things with the remains of children, run over stray dogs with a Bradley armored vehicle and make fun of an individual wounded from an IED attack. Needless to say others have jumped on this story, notably Confederate Yankee (first post, second post), Ace of Spades HQ, and Blackfive responding to Mr. Goldfarb's request for soldiers who have actually been to the Forward Operating Base in question, and on any other details of the story that they would have experience with.

The details one can get for oneself, but I will turn attention to another aspect of the media: the ethical problems of cross-National ownership of organizations.

Totally out of the blue? Not really, as CanWest MediaWorks bought out The New Republic on 27 FEB 2007 and replaced its editor earlier this year:

Attention Business Editors:
New Publisher for The New Republic
NEW YORK, April 23 /CNW/ - Tom Strike, President of CanWest MediaWorks
International, a division of CanWest Global Communications Corp., announced
that Elizabeth W. Sheldon has been named the Publisher of The New Republic
effective immediately.

For the past ten years, Elizabeth has enjoyed a very successful career
with Congressional Quarterly. Most recently, she was the Advocacy Advertising
Manager. During her tenure with CQ, Elizabeth established herself as a highly
respected figure in the Washington publishing sector.

"Elizabeth's knowledge of the Washington market and the opinion journal
publishing space will serve as a tremendous catalyst in achieving the business
objectives of The New Republic," said Strike. "We are very pleased to welcome
her to the team."

About CanWest Global Communications Corp.

CanWest Global Communications Corp. (www.canwestglobal.com), (TSX: CGS
and CGS.A, NYSE: CWG) an international media company, is the owner of The New
Republic and is Canada's largest media company. CanWest is Canada's largest
publisher of daily newspapers and also owns, operates and/or holds substantial
interests in conventional television, out-of-home advertising, specialty cable
channels, web sites and radio stations and networks in Canada, New Zealand,
Australia, Turkey, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

For further information: Deb Hutton, Senior Vice President, Corporate
Communications, Tel: (416) 383-2442, dhutton@canwest.com

E-mail in the original and, if Ms. Hutton places herself in public capacity for Corporate Communication, then she can very well take any problems that arise from the new editor at TNR. Well, just a normal and every-day happening in the new, lovely North American Union, I guess.... what? NAFTA does allow for this thing to go, basically, unnoticed so as to remove all the lovely trade restrictions and hoopla over cross-border ownership and investment. Can't stop 'free trade'!

So if a lovely bunch of folks from Canada want to buy the moderate left TNR, what's the worry? I mean, just because they are trying to hold a large segment of the Canadian media market and folks get a but upset about that up North... holding a bit more than most lefties in the US would want, percentage-wise, than in the US market, why that's fine, isn't it? Just a couple of years ago CanWest was looking to change the outlook of traditional Canadian media, and start to change the way media ownership crafted news. From the Canadian Democratic Movement comes this view on 31 MAY 2005:
Swift, decisive action is necessary to preserve this country's independent, bilingual news service and to protect the free flow of print and broadcast news, says TNG Canada/CWA.

The federal government must restore a ban on cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets, impose market-share caps on media companies and ensure the survival of The Canadian Press (CP), TNG Canada says in an authoritative brief submitted to a Senate committee that is at a crucial point in its study of media concentration.

CP's existence is threatened by CanWest Global Communications, which has already pulled the National Post out of the national news co-operative and appears to be preparing to withdraw its other metro dailies.

"Presentations to this committee have reaffirmed our long-held conviction that a healthy, coast-to-coast, bilingual news gathering and news disseminating co-operative, operating for the mutual benefit of its members but independently of its corporate masters, is a key element of the open discourse and free flow of information that Canadians have a right to demand of their media," says the brief.

TNG Canada represents employees at several CanWest newspapers and is the parent union of the largest media Local in North America, the Canadian Media Guild. The CMG, with 6,000 members, is the largest union at the CBC and also represents employees at The Canadian Press/la Presse Canadienne as well as its allied services Broadcast News/Nouvelles Télé-Radio, which gives it a unique insight into Canada's only national news service.
While most Americans would not understand the gist of bilingual service, in Canada that has been hallowed ground for the left to trod upon for years. I am sure that North America will soon 'harmonize' to become a trilingual entity where even more years are going to be spent teaching children to learn three languages... poorly. But this all does relate to international fraud, as the Conrad Black scandal is *also* tied into this, with Mr. Black having recent guilty verdicts on fraud charges handed down to him in Illinois. Mind you it was only on three counts of mail fraud and one of obstruction of justice... the racketeering and other charges not panning out against him.

Yes, the shift in the media due to CanWest is to the *right* as CanWest has been called on suppressing *criticism* of Israel and Conrad Black has been criticized for knocking leftist war historian Gwynn Dyer out of the newspaper commentary line-up. I do have some personal problems with Mr. Dyer's perspective on the future of Nation States and warfare, but he does, once in awhile, get some actual history through, so it is not all horrific slop like seen in the US as in the above TNR article problem. But, Conrad Black didn't much care for Mr. Dyer's articles and so out they went. I am sure he can find all sorts of lovely places to get his articles printed elsewhere.

Catching the drift, here?

Canadians on the Left, like the individual cited in the CDM article, above, are getting their socialist media ox gored by corporate ownership, shifting of attitudes away from 'group reporting', a shift of emphasis away from bilingual 'special communities' and from the old fashioned programming and monobloc control of the Left over the media there in Canada. Of course there have been media outlets, before the loosening of the laws, that have been heard, but not widely and not clearly. That has been the effect of government 'oversight' of press holdings in Canada: bland group reporting that adheres to the ideologies of the majority party which had been in power for decades.

Flip that around, however, and the US is seeing TNR shift because, lets face it, CanWest is still based in Canada no matter what its international holdings are, and stories like the one from TNR starts to point at a direction that they tried to step away from after Stephen Glass' fraudulent reporting. All of this while Lord Black runs criminal operations across the borders to his own benefit while he got a large profit from his newspapers being absorbed by CanWest.

Why, that's more than a two-fer, its a three-fer! Probably more as I'm sure that spurring international crime to more places was *not* the dream of the NAFTA enthusiasts, but it is what you get with this deal.

Because the problems about 'media concentration' that would 'limit outlook' in Canada were more about having to actually compete for getting a leftist message out about 'progressive' Canadian outlook against the bland homogenization being presented from cross-border investment in the media. That being said the 'traditional' cultural and ethnic tags applied to bilingualism and the general leftist outlook of the Canadian media allow that to be utilized to ensure that 'special treatment' is always insured to such no matter how bland the actual culture becomes.

The flip side of this, however, is interesting as, while Mr. Black has been a bit busy, TNR has shifted its ownership and editorial board and comes out with a story that belongs more in a fictional account out of film rendition of a third-rate war novel than out of a real-life episode of the goings-on in Iraq. While pro-American Conrad Black was caught accepting fraudulent deals, something else was going on with that outlook on its recent acquisition. That is worrying because of the individual involved in this who has not been mentioned: Leonard Asper.

To get a feel for this part of it, we will actually go to the CBC and get their take on the TNR takeover and changes there in this report of 26 FEB 2007:
While some liberal U.S. publications saw a rebound in circulation after the election of a Democrat majority in Congress, The New Republic, with circulation of about 60,000, did not rebound.

CanWest also owns Global Television, Alliance Atlantis film and the CanWest newspaper chain that includes the National Post.

CanWest is controlled by the Asper family, which is well known for its support of the Liberals in Canada and of various political causes in Israel.

The magazine's editor in chief, Martin Peretz, said he hoped the takeover would secure The New Republic's financial future.

"It just seemed to me, given my own intellectual and moral synergies with Leonard J. Asper, a very good partnership," he said.
Yes, 'synergy' with the 'progressives' in Canada and TNR. Even more interesting is that such fast changes are something that has happened before with the Asper family, as seen by this Tom Gross Mideast Media archive of a Globes article on the editorial board of *another* Asper acquisition, this back in early 2005:

Azur, Asper family disagree over "Jerusalem Post" deal

Eli Azur apparently wants to acquire full control of the newspaper, instead of owning equal shares with CanWest.

By Yael Gaoni
January 25, 2005


The sale of "The Jerusalem Post" by Hollinger International Inc. (NYSE:HLR) to Eli Azur and CanWest Global Communications Corp (NYSE:CWG; TSX:CGS), controlled by the Asper family of Canada, for $13.2 million, has run into trouble. Azur apparently wants to acquire full control of the English-language newspaper, rather than the two parties owning equal shares.

CanWest has a market cap of $5 billion. The buyers of "The Jerusalem Post" intend to sell the site the newspaper occupies in the Romema neighborhood of Jerusalem for $7 million, and move the paper's offices and printing works to new premises. The newspaper's 9.5-dunam (2.375-acre) site is considered desirable.

The sale of the newspaper was concluded two months ago, and Hollinger International notified the New York Stock Exchange to this effect. Sources close to Azur said today that the deal had not broken down, but that unexpected difficulties had arisen. Azur was unavailable for comment.
This is a bit more of the old-fashioned deal that happened with the old pulp magazine business back in the 1930's. In that day and age, publishers started to acquire extra businesses to ensure that magazines got published: paper mills, office buildings for staff, distributing companies, ink processing plants, and so on. With each of those came the bits and pieces of those companies and their land holdings, which made them large concerns even though they had relatively low monetary throughput. In fact, the distribution warehouses for some of the publishing concerns, once started at the outskirts of cities, were now inside the city limits and that property had high value as industrial, urban property. Suddenly a take-over of publishers began in which magazines were liquidated to get the *land* they were on as the land was now worth far more than the throughput of the magazines, cash-wise. Buy a publisher, slice it to pieces and sell it off and make a huge profit... then repeat with another publisher. The great die-off of pulp magazines was not due to the Depression, but due to undervalued businesses on highly valued land. That sounds a bit like the J-Post deal, but the change in editorship is, again, something that is similar to TNR in concept, even if different in final outcome.

So now we have the problem of just what *is it* that Leonard Asper sees as a 'synergy' between Canadian, Australian (yes, CanWest is global), Israeli and, no doubt, other firms held in other Nations? For that we go to *how* the Jerusalem Post got into his hands in the first place: via Conrad Black and Hollinger Investments. This take us back to 2003 and this set of connections is very, very clear as seen by this Wall Street Journal article:
Hollinger Investments Are Linked To Board's Perle and Kissinger
December 3, 2003 12:44 a.m.

Hollinger International Inc. invested in a venture-capital fund and a conservative magazine linked to outside directors Richard N. Perle and Henry A. Kissinger, raising new questions about the board's independence in the wake of a widening financial scandal.

According to company filings and people familiar with the situation, Hollinger invested $2.5 million in a venture-capital firm that was co-managed by Mr. Perle and listed Mr. Kissinger as a board member.

Hollinger, a Chicago-based media company that owns the U.K.'s Telegraph Group, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, also invested $14 million in a British technology company that includes Mr. Perle and his business partner as shareholders. In addition, Hollinger gave $200,000 a year to the National Interest, a conservative publication that includes Mr. Perle, Mr. Kissinger and Hollinger's former chief executive, Conrad Black, as advisers.

There isn't any indication that any of the directors, including Messrs. Perle and Kissinger, did anything illegal. And neither Mr. Perle nor Mr. Kissinger served on Hollinger's audit or compensation committees. But the payments highlight the subtle financial relationships between companies and otherwise independent directors. And the payments take on a starker light in the wake of investor accusations that the board stood by while Hollinger made large payments to Lord Black, who resigned as CEO last month, despite the company's flagging share price.
And there you have the connection between 'progressive' TNR, Leonard Asper and the Jerusalem Post - via Conrad Black's association with Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle. I do wonder how the readers of TNR would feel that their magazine is owned by someone who hobnobs with the 'rich and realist' sort. Not very 'progressive' are Kissinger and Perle. But this should be of real interest to the TNR crowd about just how close they are to some things they just detest:
Along with the financial investments, Hollinger also made contributions to political causes linked to directors. Hollinger contributed $200,000 annually for an undisclosed number of years to National Interest, a foreign affairs quarterly that's produced jointly by Hollinger and the Nixon Center, a think tank that's a division of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation. The Nixon Center lists Mr. Kissinger as its honorary chairman and Lord Black as a board member. Lord Black and Mr. Kissinger are co-chairmen of the editorial board of the National Interest, which is described on its masthead as a "nonprofit partnership between Hollinger International Inc. and the Nixon Center." Hollinger has never disclosed its role in publishing the National Interest or its annual funding of the periodical.

In addition to supporting the National Interest, Hollinger also gave up to $375,000 a year to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank of which Lord Black is a member. Hollinger also sponsored a library at Arundel House, where the Institute's offices are housed, called the Hollinger-Telegraph Library.

Hollinger is no longer donating annually to the institute. The company is reviewing its support for the National Interest as part of a review of all corporate costs to "ensure that all expenditures have an appropriate and valid business purpose," Mr. Paris said through a spokeswoman.
Yes, the Nixon Center and the Nixon Library! Isn't it wonderful how these rich businessmen just pick up these interests as they go along. Like TNR?

Well, enough of the tweaking of sensibilities across the spectrum, and time for the actual Code of Ethics of TNR... they do *have* one... somewhere. Finding it, however, is another matter.

So now it is time for my personal gripe against the MSM. We hear so much about 'objectivity' and 'fairness' and such things and how good the MSM is at doing its job, what with so many layers of editors and how there is just so much 'professionalism' involved that one can just feel the pressure of it, which must be somewhere in the region of that of the ocean above the Marianas Trench. But do ANY of them put a public link in the 'About Us' or 'FAQ' or 'Masthead' or some such to their actual Code of Ethics that they swear they will adhere to?

You know, like professionals? Hippocratic Oath for journalists? When I had to dig out the one to the Associated Press for its 'Jamil Hussein' which caused the Investor's Business Daily to wonder why *anyone* should trust AP based on its response to public inquiry, or Mr. Froomkin's outright adversarial and advocacy viewpoints as an editor that *breaks* the Washington Post's Standards and Ethics, I could at least *find* those after a simple hour's search. And I can even find the Code of Ethics for CanWest's Directors, Supervisors and such for accounting purposes... but TNR?

You would think that for such a liberal oriented publication that they would be *proud* of their Code of Ethics and place it highly *somewhere* so the reading public could know what standards they hold themselves to with respect to the public. Or even just put on the Society of Professional Journalist's Code of Ethics link and say: yeah, we follow these. If they have, then I have been unable to find it.


For such a 'progressive' organization they seem to have 'progressed' beyond internal accountability. I am sure they had one for the Stephen Glass episode of fabricated stories printed by their magazine... really! The guy was held to *some* standard. Although I am starting to suspect it is the bare minimal one of: don't get caught lying.

So I would normally be giving you a nice and didactic run-down of The New Republic's Code of Ethics here and doing a compare/contrast deal. Instead you are getting this - a grouse and a warning.

I hold myself accountable to the best interpretation of the facts that make sense to *me* as I can give you. I do my damnedest to let my reader know that I am, indeed, biased, unbalanced, unedited and one of the hardest people to read that you will ever run across. Once in awhile I try to entertain, but that is very rare.

And when I say something I back it up with links and lengthy excerpts or I do attempt to step the poor reader through my twisted reasoning which seems so very straight to me, but appears so twisted to many. Fair is fair! That is not a Code of Ethics, but trying to be open, honest and transparent with you, the poor individual who finds this blather of some interest, so that you can judge for yourself my fairness and ability to reason with you. And when I think I am being unfair I tell you WHY. Of sugarcoating and sweetness you will find very little, although a bit of humor does help now and again. I do advocate a position which should be clear from my statements, my writing and my outlook on things.

As I will never be a journalist I cannot tell you of interviews and 'secret sources' to protect, but I will shield those in my private life that I have not asked if I may share the details of our times together in my life. That I see as highly ethical and a good way to live one's life and does not hurt nor help others without their ok as one man's help is another's hurt and those in my life deserve that from me if nothing else. My code of conduct for myself must leave me with clear conscience so I can be troubled by the actual goings-on around me, not by the attempts to hide them from others or myself. I hold myself accountable for what I put out and, when an article is backed by multiple sources I have had to dig to find, then I expect there to be some validity to that or expanded knowledge on an ill found basis as I am merely human and unable to know everything.

I do, indeed, know the difference between ignorance and stupidity: the first is curable. I can be cured of stupidity by knowledge and reason. And I know unreason and rose-colored views of the world as they are unsustainable in either fact or outlook because they have no basis in this world we share between us. We are in hard times and only hard facts and reason will see us through this time... or we will become stupid and repeat the exact, same mistakes that got us into such deadly peril and that will set us free... in the graveyard.

I did not enjoy putting together the 'Volunteer Fifth Column' part of my sidebar, and all the articles it contains. I do not like the activities of those involved as they are by action or inaction trying to bring my Nation to harm and end liberty and freedom as we know it. And almost all of those on it end up because they hold themselves to a standard of self-service and not giving a damn to anyone else. That is stupid adherence to ideology that fails and has failed.

It looks like The New Republic will soon be put onto that list.

Because, if they can come up with *no* reliable second sources willing to go on record, then they are damned by their own professional standards as known in the industry. For extraordinary claims must come extraordinary evidence.

But to go out on a more humorous note, Dominion Weblog posts this very fun piece about CanWest and its view towards freelancers in journalism:
The CanWest Global Contract for freelancers has some curious language.
Freelancer hereby irrevocably grants and assigns to CanWest all rights of every kind in and to the Content (including copyright), and agrees that CanWest shall have the right to exclusively use and exploit the Content in any manner and in any and all media, whether now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity. For greater certainty, Freelancer shall have no right to re-sell or re-publish the Content without CanWest's express written permission.
CanWest: not just "global" anymore.
Now what was that about an all-encompassing vision of North America? It looks like Mr. Asper already has some views on 'grand designs'. That is what one gets when hanging around with Kissinger and company.

Courtesy: USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications


Coach Mark said...

Nice roundup. Please email me. I have something I'd like to ask you.


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

The story was, quite frankly, a fallacious piece of shit.


A Jacksonian said...

Ikez - Left you a note at last known address...

Mr. Z - It stunk from the start... but look at the folks behind it. It stunk by degree, not kind, compared to the regular output going on.