White Noise

by YES! Weekly staff

Tony Snow (1955-2008) RIP

Althoughwe didn’t really believe much of what came out of his mouth while hewas President Bush’s press secretary, we always had a soft spot in ourink-stained heart for Tony Snow, who succumbed last week to coloncancer. He came from print, for one, beginning right here in the Triadat the Greensboro Record before signing on as a speechwriterfor Bush 41, and eventually becoming a columnist for Creators Syndicateand hitching up with Fox News. And we’ll say this: He was clearly thebest press secretary Bush ever had — less prone to stress-relatedsweating than Ari Fleischer, a better secret-keeper than ScottMcClellan and prettier than Dana Perino. He took the job in the midstof the Scooter Libby flap and kept the house of cards intact until hislast press conference in September. He did his job, that’s for sure,and he leaves behind a body of commentary and interview as well as awife and three children. — BC

We really don’t brutalize students

Scott Shane and Michael R. Gordon’s extraordinary story in the Sunday New York Times aboutIranian dissident Ahmad Batebi’s harrowing escape from torturers in hishomeland illustrated the perverse power of the media. Batebi

becamea human-rights activist instantly when he stumbled into a studentprotest in Tehran in 1999. Another student got hit by a police bullet,Shane and Gordon report, and Batebi pulled off the young man’s shirt tostanch the blood flow, and then held the shirt aloft to warn otherstudents against marching outside. A photograph of the image ended upon the cover of The Economist magazine. The Iranian authorities were not happy about the publicity. According to the Times article,so hell-bent were his jailers on forcing him to falsely state that theshirt was covered in paint or animal blood, Batebi said, that they“thrashed him with a metal cable, beat his testicles and kicked in histeeth. They held his face down in a pool of excrement. They tied hisarms behind his back and hung him from the ceiling. At other times,strapping him to a chair, they kept him awake night after night,cutting him and rubbing salt into the wounds.” — JG

Breach of contract

Durham lawyer Keith Hempstead re upped his subscription to the Raleigh News & Observer justa few days before the paper announced layoffs and a related decrease incontent and size on June 16. So Hempstead did what lawyers do: He sued.“I wanted to get the newspaper’s attention and the news industry’sattention,” Hempstead, a former reporter at the Fayetteville Observer, toldthe Raleigh paper. “I hate to see what companies that run newspapersare doing to the product. The idea that taking the most importantproduct and reducing the amount of news and getting rid of staff to meseems pointless to how you should run a newspaper business.” JohnDrescher, executive editor of the News & Observer, answeredby saying that his paper is still worth a good deal more than the 36cents per issue Hempstead signed on for, and that perhaps Hempsteadactually owes him money, “[W]hen he gets a lawyer, he can workwith my lawyer and figure out how much he’s going to pay me for theexcellent coverage he’s been getting recently,” Drescher said. — BC