Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Karl Rove, the New York Times ...and the BULGE. --UPDATE!!!

THE OFFICIAL BUSH WIRED PHOTO GALLERY View The Evidence! (Recent News and other links are at the end of this post)
• Site contact: c.shaw@mac.com

As the Bulge again begins to breathe life, controversy continues regarding the New York Times' "killing" or "spiking" of a Bulge story. While I still have some serious issues with the Times' account of the incident, I can't say that I fully believe that the killing of their story was responsible for the re-election of President Bush. That's a big "What If..." in my opinion.

Nevertheless, I felt it important to write a letter to the Times' Public Editor, Daniel Okrent, commenting on what the Times DID cover on the Bulge INSTEAD of the "spiked" story. My letter was a shorter version of my previous post (below) and can be read at: Daniel Okrent's Web Journal (it is also posted in the comments section below). To his credit, Mr. Okrent has responded to my letter in a very straightforward manner, which I'm sure readers will appreciate.

"I've said most of what I have to say about this matter. But if I haven't made it clear before, I should make it clear here: having now had the opportunity to read the story that was spiked, I believe it should have been published. It probably wouldn't have satisfied those who are convinced the bulge was evidence of a communications device, but it would have gone some ways toward clarifying a matter of public controversy.
Yours sincerely,
Dan Okrent"

Fair enough.

There is a second facet to the Times' "spiked" story which also received feedback from Mr. Okrent... the report that Karl Rove placed a call to the Times. Allegedly, this was the real reason this story was "killed". The Newsrack Blog covered this report and received the following comment from Mr. Okrent:

"If this is true, it's because "Bushwired" has much better sources than I do. I have never heard this, nor do I believe it.
Yours sincerely,
Daniel Okrent"

Because Bush Wired is the source of this information, perhaps I should clarify what I know of this Rove angle again. In late October 2004, after the Times' report was "spiked", I received several reports of the incident at Bush Wired. The reports ranged from simple information on the "spiked" story, to a laundry list of complaints against the Times' editors. One report mentioned a "near mutiny" in the Times newsroom and that people at the Times were "aghast" over the Bulge story's untimely death. All reports correctly identified both the authors of the story and the date the story was killed, several weeks before this information was otherwise made public. As these reports turned out to be correct, I feel these sources are somewhat credible. Because of the timing and accuracy of these sources, I can only ASSUME that they are within the Times itself. I promised NOT to reprint or post the original e-mails from these sources, and I will keep my word. Additionally, I have not heard anything more from these sources since early November.

Three of these reports mentioned that Karl Rove called the Times, and subsequently the story was killed. I have no way to independently verify this information, but I decided to simply post what I was told, based on the previous accuracy of the sources. Its very possible that my sources have an "axe to grind" with the Times, and the Rove angle should be taken with a grain of salt. Thats ALL I know. To be fair. lets say that the Rove call is a REPORT from several unnamed sources, and at this point, NOT 100% fact... but quite interesting nonetheless. I should also remind readers of the Brad Menfil saga early on in this twisted story.

As always, make up your own mind!

Bush wired

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The New York Times and the BULGE... update!!!

THE OFFICIAL BUSH WIRED PHOTO GALLERY View The Evidence! (Recent News and other links are at the end of this post)
• Site contact: c.shaw@mac.com

Since adding the post following up on the New York Times fiasco, I've had a literal deluge of e-mail. GREAT!!... but I also encourage readers to post a comment and share your thoughts... that's how these blogs work, y'know!

So, that being said, the New York Times' treatment (or killing) of the Bulge story is still making a bit of news itself and the entire Bulge debate appears to be coming back to life somewhat. There are several links to new news at the end of this post.

Obviously, the Times can absolutely choose what they will or will not print... its their paper! But there are a few things that bother me about the Times' account, specifically, what they published INSTEAD of the killed story. Before jumping into Rovian Conspiracies and digging out our tin-foil hats, lets look at the Times' record on the story (or visit the BULGE ARCHIVES ).

First, lets forget about what the Bulge COULD HAVE BEEN, and stick with what's known in this instance. The New York Times was one of the first major media outlets to publish a story on the Bulge (Oct. 9, 2004) picking up the topic after Salon.com carried it's first Bulge story by Dave Lindorff on Oct. 9th.

The first Times article was written by Elisabeth Bumiller. (NY TIMES ARCHIVES). Bumiller again covered the story on Oct. 18th, (International Herald Tribune), and then published one last Bulge piece after the election on Nov. 8th (NY TIMES ARCHIVES). The Times mentioned the Bulge briefly and without substance in several other articles, but Bumiller seemed to be the "lead" on the story. Bumiller's coverage of the Bulge tended to be a light-hearted look at the issue in a somewhat humorous fashion (...it was kind of funny after all), she basically re-reported the story from Salon.com and The Hill. She also reported on the ridiculous "official" statements made by White House officials. Her coverage was not seriously investigative, as her reporting was mainly based on quotes and information from other published/media sources. Nothing wrong with that, although most Bulge-watchers wished the Times (or anyone else) in the major-media would start to take the story seriously and get some real answers.

And this is what troubles me... the Times WAS INVESTIGATING! They WROTE a serious story on the Bulge that focused on the enhanced debate photos of NASA's Dr. Robert Nelson. Without going into the details of the photos (see the BULGE PHOTO GALLERY) or Dr. Nelsons analysis, lets just say that nobody has questioned the authenticity of these images, or refuted Dr. Nelsons credentials as an expert. The thing these photos show conclusively is that the Bulge is an OBJECT and NOT A WRINKLE. What is newsworthy about that? The photos PROVE that the White House and President Bush himself made numerous false statements on-record about this OBJECT (whatever it is). Why was this object on Bush's back during the debates? Why did Bush lie and call it a wrinkle? That's what everyone wanted to know! Nevertheless, the story was "killed" and these questions were never asked by the Times.

Perhaps the Times thought it best not to run this story before the election. Perhaps they thought they did not have enough information for a good story... who knows... the story was killed and we probably won't ever know exactly what it said. However, we do know the Times still thought the Bulge was worth covering.

Also odd to me is that while the Times had a story in-hand discussing new and unreported developments (in the mainstream media) on the Bulge story AND the enhanced photos, they published a very different story. The final Times Bulge article (by Bumiller, 11/8) simply proclaimed that the presidential tailor, Georges de Paris, was "off the hook" as the source of the Bulge "wrinkle", and that de Paris THOUGHT it was a bulletproof vest... hardly a "scoop", especially when you consider what wasn't reported. There was no mention of photos or the other developments (although the Times reported again that the White House denied that the Bulge was a bulletproof vest).

Stranger still, Bumiller's story was basically re-reported from a piece in The Hill that ran on Nov. 4th ( 11/4 Story ). Surprisingly, the Hill story refuted its own own earlier reporting ( 10/20 Story ) that the Bulge was a simple wrinkle... of course, by citing Dr. Nelson's enhanced photos. That's how Georges de Paris got "off the hook". I guess Bumiller (or the Times) decided to leave that juicy tidbit out of the story.

"All the News That's Fit to Print" ??? ...Well, I guess not... just some of the news, and as long as the topic isn't too touchy, even after the election. Thanks, NY Times... honestly, as a reader, I'm disappointed.

Now that the story on the Times' killing of the Bulge story ( Lindorff's story from FAIR. ) is circulating freely, Daniel Okrent (Public Editor for the Times) has issued a new statement and charged Lindorff with "distortion". Lindorff then reponds strongly to Okrent. Check it out at the FAIR website . Read the previous post (below) for further information on the Times' admission.

• What is all this about??? See the THE BULGE HISTORY.
• Tell the Times what you think!!!
---> Daniel Okrent (Public Editor): public@nytimes.com
---> Bill Keller (Editor): bkeller@nytimes.com
• Other Media: TAKE ACTION/Press Contacts

Other developments and previous links on the Times killed story:
• --> Editor & Publisher covers the Times' killing of the Bulge story.
•--> Daniel Okrent's Web Journal Times readers respond to Okrent and the Times.
•--> Lindorff's story from COUNTERPUNCH.
•--> Lindorff's story from FAIR.
•--> Lindorff's story from the ILCA site.
•--> Newsrack Blog discusses the Bulge and the Times story.
•--> Murky Thoughts Blog on the Bulge and the Times story.
•--> A Bulge Theories site ...excellent.
•--> New York Times covers the new power of blogs vs. mainstream media.

Bush Wired

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

BUSH WIRED UPDATE - The New York Times... "All the News That's Fit to Kill"

THE OFFICIAL BUSH WIRED PHOTO GALLERY View The Evidence! (Recent News and other links are at the end of this post)
• Site contact: c.shaw@mac.com

Perhaps its about time to do a BULGE update.

Surprisingly (again), in the past months since I discontinued updating this blog regularly, the BULGE topic continues to live. Around the New Year, the Bulge topic repeatedly popped up here and there in the press... people are still wondering what the Bulge could have been. There certainly have been no conclusive answers or smoking guns. Bush Wired continues to receive a fair amount of traffic and numerous BULGE e-mails everyday... the Bulge is still with us, like it or not.

The Bulge was mentioned repeatedly in several 'years end" articles... The bulge appeared in many forms... as an example of what's wrong with politics today or listed near the top of many "stupidest stories of 2004", to the serious discussion of how blogs affected the political process. Additionally, Salon.com named the Bulge as 2004's SECOND most popular story... only after the election story as a whole. The BOSTON PHOENIX even published a new story about the Bulge Medical Theory, which was quite interesting, but not anything new or startling. Also, Karl Rove reportedly stated that the Bulge was his favorite election topic, and Bush Wired was his favorite web-site... Ha! Thanks for the traffic Karl!

But let's step back a bit to the last strange and serious twist in this story, the follow-up on the New York Times' "killing" of the Bulge story before the election. My last post to this site contained a letter from Daniel Okrent (the Public Editor for the Times) who seemed not to know about the Bulge story (or the story's untimely death). Later, the Times denied working on the Bulge story altogether, even after the naming of the authors. By December19th, the truth finally came out... the Times DID kill the story. (Full text of the NY Times admission is at the end of this post)

Three sources have told Bush Wired (independently) that Karl Rove put in a call to the NY Times editors on Wednesday, Oct. 27 (the day before the story was scheduled to run), and that this was the REAL reason for the story being "killed". While I have no concrete confirmation on this "scoop", previously my sources named the writers of the killed NYT story correctly immediately after story was "killed" and several weeks before the writers' names were made public. I'll go so far as to say that I believe these sources are within the NY Times itself... but make up your own mind.

I'll reserve my comments on this for later... however, if true, it makes me sick.

This week Dave Lindorff has again done some wonderful investigative reporting on the "incident" and adds some new revelations to the twisted saga of the Bulge, the Media, and the Times. Its a good read, Cheers to D. Lindorff!!

•--> Lindorff's story from COUNTERPUNCH.
•--> Lindorff's story from FAIR.
•--> Lindorff's story from the ILCA site.

Many Bulge-Watchers are still tuning in to President Bush's televised appearances looking for that odd "hump", and it should be noted that the Bulge has not been seen conclusively since the debates. I guess the Presidential Tailor has improved his handiwork, or something...?

So, again we wait to see what develops next... nothing about this story shocks me anymore, but I hope that some explanation for all the Bulge Hoopla will come out someday... I'm not holding my breath.


Full Text of the NY Times admission that it killed the Bulge story:

From: Daniel Okrent, Ny Times
The Public Editor's blog:
dokrent - 10:54 PM ET December 19, 2004 (#38 of 38)

President Bush and The Jacket Bulge

Online discussion of the famous bulge on President Bush’s back at the first presidential debate hasn’t stopped. One reporter (Dave Lindorff of Salon.com) asserted that The Times had a story in the works about a NASA scientist who had done a careful study of the graphic evidence, but it was spiked by the paper’s top editors sometime during the week before the election. Many readers have asked me for an explanation.

I checked into Lindorff’s assertion, and he’s right. The story’s life at The Times began with a tip from the NASA scientist, Robert Nelson, to reporter Bill Broad. Soon his colleagues on the science desk, John Schwartz and Andrew Revkin, took on the bulk of the reporting. Science editor Laura Chang presented the story at the daily news meeting but, like many other stories, it did not make the cut. According to executive editor Bill Keller, “In the end, nobody, including the scientist who brought it up, could take the story beyond speculation. In the crush of election-finale stories, it died a quiet, unlamented death.”

Revkin, for one, wished it had run. Here’s what he told me in an e-mail message:

“I can appreciate the broader factors weighing on the paper's top editors, particularly that close to the election. But personally, I think that Nelson's assertions did rise above the level of garden-variety speculation, mainly because of who he is. Here was a veteran government scientist, whose decades-long career revolves around interpreting imagery like features of Mars, who decided to say very publicly that, without reservation, he was convinced there was something under a president's jacket when the White House said there was nothing.

“He essentially put his hard-won reputation utterly on the line (not to mention his job) in doing so and certainly with little prospect that he might gain something as a result -- except, as he put it, his preserved integrity.”

Revkin also told me that before Nelson called Broad, he had approached other media outlets as well. None — until Salon — published anything on Nelson’s analysis. “I'd certainly choose [Nelson’s] opinion over that of a tailor,” Revkin concluded, referring to news reports that cited the man who makes the president’s suits. “Hard to believe that so many in the media chose the tailor, even in coverage after the election.”