Xark began as a group blog in June 2005 but continues today as founder Dan Conover's primary blog-home. Posts by longtime Xark authors Janet Edens and John Sloop may also appear alongside Dan's here from time to time, depending on whatever.
Lewis was a Smoky Mountain newspaper guy who was too wild and woolly for newspapers... and that was back in the days when newspaper work was wild and woolly by definition. He was a combat Marine from the Korean War -- one of the Chosin Few -- and a mountain-mean, ass-kicking hell-raiser. He was a libertarian / Republican who was connected to white supremacists and knew all the guys who were training right-wing militias in the camps around Western North Carolina in the early 1990s, but he was also an FBI informant (or so he told me), and a poet, and I've got a signed copy of his sensitive Korean War novel Spirit Bells on a shelf upstairs.
Lewis was a gratuitously ornery, rude motherfucker, and as a rookie reporter I liked the man as much out of self-preservation as sincere admiration. He ran his own little newspaper, The Independent Torch, and if the man set his sights on you, he'd gleefully set your ass on fire in its pages. The Torch wasn't fair or balanced (it was, in fact, often demonstrably deranged), but the flip side to that was that once Lewis put his mind to something he'd root out every secret, expose every flaw, damn every hint of hypocrisy. The Reporter From Hell. Few of us can stand up to that kind of treatment.
Here's my favorite Lewis Green story: When he was a reporter for the Asheville Citizen-Times (which in later years he took to calling "The Gray Whore" or, sometimes, just "The Whore"), Lewis got so mad at his editor that he punched the man in the nose. The editor foolishly filed an assault charge, and the case went to court. Apparently the judge didn't like the editor much either and let Lewis off with a $100 fine. Green's famous response: "Your honor, if I give you another hundred dollars, can I punch the sunuvabitch again?"
I'm on the record as believing a pretty simple premise: Fox News is the TV propaganda wing of the Republican Party. I don't put it in the same category as the other TV news outlets.
I know others believe that innate liberalism among the press in general makes all news organizations except Fox de facto organs of the Democratic Party, and after years of arguing about that premise, I just don't bother anymore. If you believe that, go ahead and believe it.
Anyway, having been a vocal critic of Fox, I feel some responsibility to post clips that argue against my belief that the channel is purely right-wing propaganda. Here's a clip of Shep Smith committing actual, responsible journalism in an interview with the bizarre political figure "Joe the Plumber."
This could go several ways. I could be fundamentally wrong (it's happened before -- more times than I'd like to admit). This could be a rogue act by a journalist who is fed up with the pretend journalism at his network. This could be an ideological division within Fox. Or maybe it represents pushback within the conservative movement, which is having some fascinating internal debates about identity, direction and responsibility right now.
Put another way, a data mashup shouldn't be a visual data dump. It should be a tool for understanding, and that means your interface has to effectively explain what the tool does, how it's useful and how to interpret it. This tool from The TakeAway drips with visual mashup awesomeness and might make sense if I invested some time in trying to interpret the intent of the designers. But that's like saying that a story would be good if I invested a lot of time trying to decipher a bunch of grammatical gibberish.
If you want to succeed, make sense right away. You've got less than 10 seconds.
And here's another clue: If you want someone to embed your widget, give them choices other than 630 px and 190 px... or at least the ability to customize the code.
There's yet another kabuki-theater discussion about yet another dumb newspaper editorial endorsement going on over at Brad Warthen's blog, one that's generating enough heat and smoke to attract the attention of Romanesko.
But let's move past all that and call a thing what it is: A sham. Warthen's summary of the two-hour editorial board meeting that led up the endorsement is a rationalization for what remains a closed process. Transparency in government? Hell, newspapers give themselves awards for championing the cause. But transparency on the editorial board? Heaven forbid! They start taking vapors the moment you suggest such heresy.
Did the fact that The State is in business in a state (South Carolina) that's likely to go Republican have anything to do with the decision? All those unhappy readers? Cancellations? Boycotts? Angry letters? Bueller? Bueller?
Not according to Warthen. "Trust us," the editorial board members say, at newspaper after newspaper. Well folks, here's the unvarnished truth: We don't. We don't trust your sorry asses as far as we could throw them, and for good goddamn reason.
Enough. I've been saying this for two years, and it's more true now than it was then: Stop publishing unsigned editorial endorsements. Just stop it. In today's media ecosystem, opaque editorial boards are not just some relic of a not-so-glorious past, they're nigh on evil.
So, seriously: Y'all stop it. Get with the now. Thank you. (And yes, for the record, this is equally true of newspaper endorsements for Obama)
The problems of the mainstream media are one thing. The problems with FOX News? That's a special case.
Like a lot of phony conservative institutions, FOX is experiencing a multifaceted meltdown. It's all on screechy, self-righteous display in this clip.
I've been thinking an awful lot lately about the future of the conservative movement in America. Maybe conservatism needs this tower to fall just as much as the rest of us do. Maybe they've been trapped by this weird "right-wing freak machine" too.
Editor's note: The following is an e-mail from retired U.S. Forest Service Agent Lt. Jack Gregory that showed up in my inbox Saturday. It's a follow-up to a story that I wrote about last month, and was inspired by this open-letter from U.S. Rep. Henry Brown that dismissed Gregory as "a disgruntled employee." Note to Congressman Brown: There's more than one way to start a brushfire, and you appear to have discovered at least two of them. -- dc
Folks: I wanted to take a moment of your time about Congressman Henry Brown's (R, SC 1st District) "Open Letter" dated 10/20/2008
that appears on his Website. After I read it, I contacted the Linda
Ketner for Congress Campaign and asked for their media contacts, which
way of introduction, I served for over 36 years in various U.S. Forest
Service law enforcement positions (Law Enforcement Officer, Special
Agent, and Washington Office leadership law enforcement assignments), before retiring in December, 2006. In my last 10 years of service, I managed
the agency's largest law enforcement program as the Special Agent in
Charge for the Southern Region of the Forest Service (approximately 200
employees and an 18 million dollar budget), where enforcement problems
occurring on National Forest lands are substantial.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm posting this on behalf of Xark author Nancy Watterson, who lost everything when a fire burned her and her teenage son out of their home in Greensboro, NC, one week ago. -- dc
Noah and I had a fire in our house last Sunday night and since then I've learned some interesting stuff probably not many other people know.
First, here's the stuff you already know, but put off or
thought could never happen to you. Take it from us -- we lost a
brand-new 32" flat panel hdtv, an Xbox 360, a PS2, a Wii and countless other irreplaceable items, some going on Ebay for incredible amounts of money. Plus we are homeless. So listen up: