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August 29, 2004 - Journalism New York style has evolved from the Pentagon Papers to spin lackeys...

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World’s Laziest Journalist
By Bob Patterson

[This week’s column will be in the form of an open letter to the folks who are staffing the Columbia School of Journalism’s website that is assessing the coverage of the presidential elections.]

This Just Above Sunset columnist does not have the funds nor the resources necessary to extensively examine some questions that deserve attention during the election season. We can ask why some of the news outlets, which do have the time, staff, and money, can’t be bothered to show some effort.

If, at some point in the future, an industrious biographer comes up with facts that should have been unearthed for the voters making an informed decision in the fall of 2004 and if the only place the public was being alerted to the danger was an obscure online magazine, then the professional journalists will look like the lap dogs of the perpetrators of a major deception and, during George W. Bush’s second term in offices, those news people will have plenty of time to look up the definition of “accessory after the fact.”

If it was just one topic being ignored, then it might be a case of misplaced enthusiasm on our part to mention it, but there are a lot of questions that need the attention of the campaigndesk.org fact checkers and/or the big media.

Journalists say “check it before you print it.” They are expected to make sure they have the facts before they print a story. Isn’t going to war a serious topic? If someone came to the newspapers and said there were (for instance) atom bombs in Shangri-La, then wouldn’t a good city editor try to verify the fact before printing it? If all the diverse variations of the information were ultimately traced back to only one source that had a stake in the events being reported (say a disgruntle exile with aspirations of becoming the prime minister of the newly freed Shangri-La) then wouldn’t a good managing editor hesitate and try to get some other independent conformation? If an editor would be that industrious then should intelligence agencies also be similarly suspicious and vigilant?

Let’s start at the beginning. Did Prescott Bush consort with the enemy? (No, not the Saudi Royal Family, before that.) Some newspapers covered some curious details (see the story headlined “Thyssen Has $3,000,000 Cash in New York Vaults” in the July 31, 1941 Herald Tribune [see the sidebar story]) in the Bush family history. Details of Vesting Order 248 will also be relevant to fact checking this potential story. Where did that money go?

An online article with references to a book of possible interest.

An excerpt from a 1943 book available online is worth reading.

While checking for information on the Thyssen link some other information was found that might be of interest to voters this fall. An article on Prescott Bush with a reference to Dresser Industries is part of the dossier. (Follow that link over to the history of Dresser Industries.  Maybe Dick Cheney isn’t the only member of the Bush administration rooting for bigger profits at Halliburton.)

Did Prescott Bush have a bit of fun spoofing war heroes?

Isn’t there an old axiom that says: Where there’s smoke; there might be a native Americans sending smoke signals? (Let’s not go into the Geronimo’s skull incident. Keep that hush-hush, eh?)

Moving on to a new topic - George H. W. Bush flew a TBF Avenger. Did he abandon his crew when he bailed out during WWII, as some critics allege? Now – while some folks who actually flew that model aircraft are still alive – is the time to check and see if the turret gunner needed help when the order to bail out was given. Did “poppy” make a hasty exit leaving the gunner stranded in the classic “What do you mean ‘we’ kemosabe?” mode of saying “You’re on your own, suckka”? If, poppy took off like the proverbial bat outta hell, then perhaps it’s a case of “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” If the future president helped his crewmate get out of the turret and into a parachute and the winds of fortune carried the three crew members in different directions, well at least it can then be said that poppy tried to help and that fact should be verified. For the fact checkers: http://www.usvetdsp.com/story46.htm

This item also brings up the question and cites an August 12, 1988, New York Post article.  A recent New Yorker magazine book review made reference to exorcising old demons. ( Notice how nicely the New Yorker review glosses over some sticky points that are disturbing.)

[Web information on the TBF-1 model aircraft itself.]

That brings us to another new topic: Did George W. get training for flying the F-102 or is his certificate for completion of that particular bit of training (most likely labeled F102ANG1125D) like the mythological “Iraqi WMD’s?” If George W. did complete that training, then why doesn’t he get his classmates to verify this sore point and bone of contention (as Kerry did with his boat crew). If George W. did not get that particular bit of training (or something similar) then why hasn’t the media made it a point of honor to establish that? The guy whose record is under a cloud of suspicion for the Alabama phase of his military history is apparently adept at obscuring his paper trail, but can’t Time and/or Newsweek hire some folks who specialize in the art of biography to at least look into the matter? (It would be similar to an expert Apache tracker following a faint desert trail that has been obscured.) Are the major leaguers actually just functioning as a modern reincarnation of the Voelkisher Beobachter staff. Don’t the folks at the media with Pulitzer Prizes in their lobby (or board room) wonder: Did George W. get four weeks of basic training, a year of basic flight training, five weeks of jet training, and then 16 weeks of specialized learning to handle the F102 just so that he would have a skill to display at the weekend meetings for the next several years? Does that even sound logical?

Copies of some of George W. Bush’s records have been released, but instead of clearing things up they produce confusion and more questions.

A copy of one bit of the paper work indicates George W. Bush did have training for the use of an F102 style aircraft.  Yet his military biography doesn’t.

An anonymously run website gives George W. Bush a thumbs up verdict. Could it be run by folks who aren’t that objective? You have to find out who funded this site before you can answer that question.

Was George W.’s handling of the Harken stock a road map for “Kenny boy” to help him extricate himself from the imploding of Enron?

Did George W. use his father’s political connections for the benefit of the Texas Rangers? Did George W’s emissaries use eminent domain to gain valuable real estate that helped increase the value of the president’s son’s stock in the team? Did he use his connection with local politicians (while his dad was president) to get a taxpayer-subsidized stadium for his team? The Heinz Company is a major donor to the Republican party, perhaps the concession stands were required to use one particular brand of condiment? Or not?

If Prescott consorted with Fritz Thyssen, then dealings with the bin Laden family may not be outrageously implausible. Who supplied the cash for Jim Bath to help president George H. W.’s son with the financing of Arbusto Energy? Was Michael Moore severely castigated for a “spot on” conjecture?

It was only one share in Union Banking Corporation out of 4,000 shares. A mere bagatelle. How much was that one share worth? These days half of a million dollars is (in some circle – not mine) considered “chump change.” What was that sum worth back then? What percentage of the population back then were millionaires? One website maintains that the one share became worth a half a million dollars.

Journalists from around the world will cover the Republican convention in New York City this week. No doubt some of them will be making a cursory effort to come up with something new and exclusive as they make an extensive effort to participate in the most exclusive parties. Perhaps one of them will find that the spirit of the publication that took the risks of publishing the Pentagon Papers inspires them to at least take a peek into some topics that appear to be “out of bounds.”

If the folks at Columbia School of Journalism and the media with international reputations for journalism do not consider these bones of contention worth investigation, then I will accept their collective editorial judgment and will call my own into question. If they can ignore these troubling questions, then I not only will (eventually) drop them. I will do a full 180 degree change and, in the column for October 31, 2004, and endorse George W. for re-election. If he is re-elected, I will immediately begin campaigning for a Constitutional Amendment that will permit folks to run for more than two terms as president. (The way it used to be.) The carrot on the stick that will get the Democrats to agree will be the prospect that if George W is permitted to run for a third term in 2008, his opponent will be Bill Clinton.

Since this column is a copyrighted feature of Just Above Sunset magazine, I can mention that if the big news organizations want to let subjects like these slide, then, I’ll get started trademarking the “3rd for W” phrase so that I can have the T-shirts ready for sale on November 3.

The conservative commentators love to focus on one item and react with horror! “This is only one piece of a jigsaw puzzle and you are asking us to imagine it fitting into a hypothetical picture you conjure up!” Perhaps, the corporate media can think of it as a scavenger hunt for various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.

It’s common to find that various and sundry sources say that Americans did not know about the concentration camps until the American Army liberated them in 1945. (You know the famous scene in Casablanca where Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) is shocked to learn that there is gambling in Ricky’s Café.) In early 1939, there was a story about concentration camps in the January 29, edition of the New York Times. (It’s amazing what kind of information a journalist might find if he/she only makes a rudimentary effort at looking.) Didn’t politicians read the New York Times back then or was the story about the 1945 discovery of their existence, a bit of the old CYA song and dance?

Here are some articles from the New York Times that are germane, if someone wants to write a book about facts that are relevant to the 2004 election:

Since the conservative radio talk show hosts seem to be on the same page and verse as far as spontaneously responding to the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth is concerned, one can only wonder if, during George W. Bush’s second term in office, the liberal media will lament the proceedings in a synchronized chorus or if they will still be out of touch and not show the slightest trace of being aware of their collective submissive groupthink.

Complex issues bring up one further difficulty. Clever folks who come up with schemes to circumvent “the system” are also crafty enough to know that certain agreements have to be done with a wink and a nod; without a paper trail. Investigators who expect to find documentation are going to be fooled. Some, conservative talk show hosts, for instance, insist that strong evidence such as signed contracts with notarized signatures are the only acceptable “proof” yet they continually state that Saddam Hussein killed thousands and thousand of Iraqis. Do they hold those accusations up to the same standards? Did anyone ever see Saddam pull the trigger, release the gas, or drop a bomb? Perhaps he was the victim of some “bad apples” in his own Army. There’s a lot of that going around lately. Two separate (but equal?) standards of proof, smacks of “elitism,” which they must (however reluctantly) admit is un-American.

While the journalists party hardy in the Big Apple this week, maybe they will take a few minutes to go to the New York Public Library and look up one particular article. (Where do you find the New York Herald Tribune files when you live in LA?)

Veteran journalists are those who can remember that when closing time at Hurley’s came, they would inform the clientele: “You have to leave. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” Skal!

Now, if the disk jockey will play Frank’s rendition of “New York, New York” we’ll saunter on out of here (with a trench coat slung over our shoulder). Come back next week, we’ll try to avoid politics. Until then, have a “do be do be do” week and beware of strangers (in the night) and always cross at the light.


Copyright © 2004 – Robert Patterson


We asked veteran journalist Bob Patterson for a bio and he sent this along: 


Bob was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


Graduated from the University of Scranton in . . . make that "way back when."


He has worked as a reporter and photographer for daily newspapers in California, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.  During the "way back when" phase of his life.


Did photo stringing for the AP’s Los Angeles bureau in the seventies.


Has done some freelance work.


Held other jobs to pay the rent and provide meals money.


Has written book and movie reviews, and columns for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine for the last four years.


Recently the DOA management reportedly traded him to the Just Above Sunset online magazine team for an undisclosed sum and two future draft choices.


He is known to be in the LA area and is considered dangerous.  If you see him, call for backup before attempting to get his autograph or some such fanboy nonsense. 



Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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