The week (August 4th): Nobody asked me, but…

To borrow from the late, great Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

CHASE UTLEY’S PURSUIT of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak record ended Friday night (at 35 games) when the Phillies’ second baseman went 0-5 against the Mets. As I noted when Utley’s teammate Jimmy Rollins had his streak ended at 38 in April, the Yankee Clipper’s record, set in 1941, may last for a long time (a century, perhaps?).

I still maintain that the Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki is the only contemporary major leaguer with a shot at DiMaggio’s mark. Utley does share some of Ichiro’s qualities: they are both left handed (a step closer to first), very fast, and hit for a high average. But Ichiro is more consistent, he can manufacture hits, and he is used to being under the media microscope.

The end of yet another streak does highlight DiMaggio’s accomplishments. I don’t think the streak was the Yankee great’s finest moment, though. That might be his performance on the last Saturday of September 1949 when he hit a single and a double and helped the Yankees to a must-win 5-4 victory against the Red Sox on Joe DiMaggio Day at Yankee Stadium–returning to the line-up after missing more than a week with viral pneumonia, dropping twenty pounds during his illness. The Yanks went on the win the pennant the next day and defeated the Dodgers in a Subway Series.

IT’S JUNIOR VS. FELIX in Virginia, as the U.S. Senate race between Democrat James Webb and incumbent Republican George Allen has become nasty and personal. Allen’s forces are calling Webb “Junior” and trying to link the former Marine (and Reagan Administration Secretary of the Navy) to Hollywood elitism; Webb’s supporters like to use Allen’s French middle name, “Felix,” and characterize the Senator as a faux cowboy.

If the campaign stays ugly it will favor Allen; Webb will make head way if he can focus on the war in Iraq and Allen’s lackluster Senate record. Watch for the Allen camp to stick to mud wrestling, with advice from G.O.P hardballers Dick Wadhams and Chris LaCivita (who helped create the Swiftboat ads in the 2004 presidential election).

BLAMING THE MEDIA MESSENGER for America’s lack of enthusiasm for their politics, and making ad hominem attacks on journalists’ integrity and objectivity is the latest tactic of press bashers on the Left. A disturbing example surfaced on Friday’s “Democracy Now!” as radio host Amy Goodman suggested that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer’s one-time association with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) made him suspect on Middle East coverage; ironically she was rebuked by her guest, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole (no friend of Israel). Here’s the excerpt from her show:

AMY GOODMAN: … I wanted to ask about media coverage here. We did a whole panel on it yesterday — you’re reading media all over the world as you put together your column, “Informed Comment” — about overall media coverage, how people are coming to understand this conflict in the United States. And, for example, one of CNN’S chief anchors, Wolf Blitzer, has just returned from Jerusalem, who in the 1970s was an AIPAC lobbyist. What effect do you think that has on the coverage?

JUAN COLE: Well, I have to defend Wolf Blitzer. I mean, everybody has a past somewhere, but he is one of the very few powerful news people in the United States that actually puts Middle Easterners on the screen and lets them speak for themselves. Almost nobody else does that, and so I am sure he has his own point of view on things, but I think he generally plays a positive role in allowing a greater variety of voices to be heard from the region, precisely because he does know the region well.

With regard to general coverage, of course, you know, there is something peculiar about the United States. Its media, its corporate media are very rightwing, and the American public seems to put up with what is, generally speaking, pretty poor news coverage. There are relatively few bureaus left around the world. Most American news reporting from the Middle East is done from Israel, and so it’s very skewed. It’s pro-Israeli, of course, in a way that the news gathering in virtually any other country in the world besides Israel is not.

Does Cole read any American newspapers? If he is even glancing at the New York Times or the Washington Post, he would see that their coverage of the crisis in the Middle East has been even-handed, if not “skewed” slightly against Israel. The same can be said for CNN (by Cole’s own admission). Is he basing his claims solely on his perception of FOX News?

Cole, at least, tries to make a factual argument (even if he doesn’t offer much in the way of facts); Goodman, on the other hand, apparently prefers to attack the person rather than the coverage. She didn’t bother to give any examples of Wolf Blitzer’s alleged pro-Israeli reporting, that he had worked for AIPAC once made him, in her view, automatically biased. In fact, (as Cole suggested), you would expect Blitzer to bend over backwards to air anti-Israeli viewpoints because of his prior affiliation with AIPAC.

Meanwhile, David Sirota of Huffington Post has gone after New York Times columnist Tom Friedman for being a propagandist for Big Money (which, for Sirota, is the force behind globalization). His evidence? To quote Sirota:

He “married into one of the 100 richest families in the country” – the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.

Sirota continues on to suggest that Friedman’s background has been deliberately hidden.

Far from the objective, regular-guy interpreter of globalization that the D.C. media portrays him to be, Friedman is a member of the elite of the economic elite on the planet Earth. In fact, he’s married into such a giant fortune, it’s probably more relevant to refer to him as Billionaire Scion Tom Friedman than columnist Tom Friedman, both because that’s more descriptive of what he represents, and more important for readers of his work to know so that they know a bit about where he’s coming from.

Again there is the presumption that a journalist or commentator’s personal background dictates their coverage or viewpoint. But I don’t think it works that way, in journalism or politics.

How would Sirota explain left-wing billionaires like Armand Hammer or George Soros or Herb and Marion Sandler or Peter Lewis? (Or how about even the moderately wealthy, like Ned Lamont?). Class traitors?

IT WOULD FIGURE THAT THE FRENCH would prove to be the exception that proves the rule: just as Internet-watchers were settling on the The One Percent Rule (one of every 100 Web users will create content), it turns out that the French are blog-crazy.

The International Herald Tribune reports: “More than three million Internet users, or more than 12 percent of those online in France, have created a blog, according a study released in June by the ratings agency Médiamétrie.” The estimates for bloggers in the U.S. (according to Pew Research): eight percent. The IHT also quotes Laurent Florès, chief executive of CRM Metrix, who says that Gallic blogs are “noticeably longer, more critical, more negative, more egocentric and more provocative than their U.S. counterparts.”

This should come as a surprise? That the French are more opinionated?

COUNTRY MUSIC’S TAYLOR SWIFT, 16-years old, has a catchy new single moving up the charts entitled “Tim McGraw.” The hook:

But when you think Tim McGraw,
I hope you think my favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
The moon like a spotlight on the lake

According to her bio, Swift, who grew up on a farm in Wyomissing, Pa. (which is near Reading) writes her own songs. The real Tim McGraw (who may run for political office as a Democrat one day) apparently likes the song, as does his wife, Faith Hill.


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