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White Noise: News and information

by YES! Weekly staff

Leaks qualified

When I covered education for the Rio Grande Sun in Española, NM, I received a phone call from a highly placed official with Española Public Schools summoning me to the parking lot of a local hardware store. He waved me into his pickup truck and we went for a ride. Into my lap plopped a memo written by the school system’s attorney ordering school board members to keep quiet about a sexual harassment complaint filed against the superintendent by an employee at central office. Where the public schools and local governing institutions are concerned, Española is a roiling nest of vipers, and the kaleidoscope of shifting alliances and metastasizing factions can be counted on to drive a steady stream of leaks. Now, Ryan Grim has filed a fascinating dissection of the phenomenon of leaking for Politico.com (politico.com/news/stories/1107/6895.html). Some categories of leaks are less than savory, like the “drive-the-cycle leak,” the “trial-balloon leak,” the “slowly-letting-the-air-out-of-the-balloon leak,” the “pre-emptive leak,” the “I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine/relationship leak” and the “flip leak” – which often benefit the leaker more than the reporter. My little gambit up in Española most definitely qualified as an “agenda leak,” which was a fair exchange since it involved a coincidence of interests – a scoop for me, perceived advantage as a result of the humiliation of a political rival for my unnamed source. The best from the perspective of the press is what Grim calls the “sucker’s-bet leak.” Chris Lehane, onetime Clinton White House spokesman, describes it thusly: “An individual provides information that really does not promote either his or her agenda or the organization but which makes them feel self-important, as they are providing information to the august Fourth Estate; often not done in an especially sophisticated way and where the leaker derives no benefit other than whatever solipsistic enjoyment they may get from seeing the coverage they helped create.” That kind of purity is rare in our business. – JG

On safari

Welcome to a brand new regular feature we’ve added to White Noise wherein we scour the pages of the Rhinoceros Times for factual errors or faulty analysis of the particularly preposterous kind. This week, we discuss the Nov. 15 article “Wray Write-In Vote Sends Message to City Council.” In it, Editor John Hammer notes that former police chief and Rhino endorsee David Wray received 458 votes for mayor.

“Wray didn’t win the mayor’s race,” Hammer wrote, “but considering the number of votes he received, he might have been able to do it.”

Reality check: The real winner, and our endorsee, Yvonne Johnson, received almost 19,000 votes. Now, I’m not saying we’re responsible for her domination of the ballot box, I’m just trying to add a little context to Wray’s astounding electoral juggernaut.

Oh yeah: Joel Landau, who we endorsed as a write-in candidate for an at-large seat, received 503 votes. And fewer voters misspelled his name. I only mention it because if you’re going to “send a message,” you might want to proofread it first. – AK

Blogfight of the week

This is another new feature here at White Noise wherein we select but a single virtual beef from among the dozens generated in the chatty Triad blogosphere over the course of a week. Our first item goes to longtime contender Sam Spagnola, AKA the Conservative Alternative (theconalt.wordpress.com) who chooses as his main venue the blog of Ed “the Blogfather” Cone (edcone.typepad.com/wordup) to take on congressional candidate Joe Ovittore’s fondness for Karl Marx and in the process engages Greensboro blogger and filmmaker Sean Coon (dotmatrixproject.com) and earnest News & Record reporter Joe Killian, among others. Spags is clearly outnumbered and outgunned in this one. But that, my friends, is just how he likes it. Some highlights:

Sean Coon: “Hey, let’s make sure that all of our candidates have ‘approved’ favorite books, movies, music, etc. before they can decide to help run this capitalist nation, which supports free… markets… and… free… speech….”

Joe Killian : “Combing someone’s blog for an objectionable book, deciding independent of their input that a book’s placement on that list is an indication of their politics and then stating as much on at least two blogs without so much as ringing them up or dropping an e-mail to ask about it isn’t expressing a healthy curiosity as a concerned citizen. It’s opposition research.”

Sam Spagnola: “Here’s a clue, Sean, just because you’re from New Jersey and cuss at people, that doesn’t make you a badass. Grow up, man. Stick to being a tech geek, because you know absolutely nothing about politics.”

Sean Coon: “I’m not trying to get you to cower in my presence, asshole, I’m trying to get you to understand that what you consider to be ‘politically’ relevant, simply isn’t. I just happen to think you’re a douche as well, so the language just seems to flow. My bad.”

Hooray for citizen journalism! – BC

Rove and Kos join Newsweek

Karl Rove, also known as the Architect, “Bush’s Brain” and, to the president himself, “Turdblossom,” joined the staff of Newsweek magazine as an opinion columnist, according to the Washington Post. Rove’s first piece, unsurprisingly, was an open letter of strategy on how to beat Hillary Clinton when she gets the nomination, which opened with an anecdote describing her as, again unsurprisingly, cold and calculating. His addition to the opinion staff was apparently an attempt to balance out the hiring of Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal blogging community DailyKos.com, whose first column argued that anything less than a case of national amnesia spells victory in 2008 for the Democrats. It’s too soon to speculate which columnist is being prescient and which is engaging in desperate propaganda, as both Bush, whom the Republicans candidates continue to support publicly, and Clinton inspire a tremendous amount of vitriol on the respective opposing sides. That said, one of the columnists is a veteran and a former Republican who left the party in disgust; the other narrowly escaped indictment for blowing a CIA agent’s cover. We’ll leave it to the reader to decide who’s more trustworthy. – DR

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