Hard News by Russell Brown



I spent six hours in meetings yesterday, and I am not normally a meetings person. Worse, they were meetings in which I had to pay attention and contribute. I got home just in time to feed the kids, change my shirt and head off for drinks with, among others, a photographer, a costume designer, a novelist, a talent agent and an old friend who is looking forward to his sexual reassignment surgery. I drank slightly too much.

In just over an hour, I have to go and be funny for the radio. The coffee machine is playing up. And I wish it was just Christmas already. So forgive me for not having a clever, nuanced and fully-referenced rhetorical argument this morning.

But anyway, reader Gordon McLauchlan sent the following:

"Dear Russell: You may be interested for your blog in the following flyer sent recently (dated 13 December) under People Publishing letterhead to some businesses in Auckland … Seems a strange commercial decision to alienate a substantial number of potential readers with such a bad-taste flyer. Or would Auckland's middle class think this funny?

Latest issue of "weekend" (sic) magazine

Over the last five days 45,000* of Auckland's wealthiest homes received a copy of Weekend Magazine.

Weekend suits advertisers that have products or services that are enjoyed by "rich pricks" and "scumbags" who travel, eat out, shop and enjoy their weekends more than the poor bastards who votes for Michael Cullen.

Yours sincerely


Mike Taillie

Mr Taillie has a blog, where he expresses "random" views.

Also, Alison Broad was in touch with "a note of clarification":

Tokanui in Southland District is NOT the same place as Tokanui in Waipa District (which the single mum link takes you to). Southland's Tokanui is a great wee hub of a fabulous rural community, but your article muddles it with the Waipa version (with which i am unfamiliar). I profoundly hope we Southerners are spared the horrors of rapid population growth - cheap housing notwithstanding.
Happy Christmas to you!

And yourself, Alison.

I try not to go in for evil-MSM ranting, but I really have to agree with the bloggers venting about the Washington Post's awful front-page story about Barack Obama -- and about big media's own self-serving response to the subsequent furore.

In the story, headed Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him, WaPo staff writer Perry Bacon reels off a list of nutjob talking points about the Democratic candidate -- all revolving around the idea that he's a secret Muslim sleeper agent -- but neglects to say that they have not merely been denied by the candidate, but debunked by journalists doing actual reporting. The phrase "Muslim ties" in the headline reads as fact.

Yes, of course, it shouldn't matter that amid the armies of God-botherers in American politics, a believer in Allah might appear. But Bacon's story, as Paul McLeary of the Columbia Journalism Review points out, "may be the single worst campaign ‘08 piece to appear in any American newspaper so far this election cycle."

The WaPo's own Ombudsman wasn't too happy with the story either, pointing out that there was no new or credible information that justified the story even being written, let alone run front-page, and "that Obama's connections to Islam are slender at best; that the rumors were old; and that convincing evidence of their falsity wasn't included in the story."

So the New York Times writes it up -- and its big angle was: a journalism professor blogger guy was a bit mean and implied the 27 year-old reporter lacked the experience to be writing that kind of story. Um, really?

I'm with this guy: it's a "circle the wagons" scenario.

In other news, Hilary Swank swallows 45 food supplements every day while Amy Winehouse prefers cocaine (mildly NSFW celebrity site).

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