Just Above Sunset
January 15, 2006 - Picking The "What?" Out Of The Salad?

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

WLJ logo

World's Laziest Journalist

January 16, 2006

By Bob Patterson


Suppose that one of these Saturdays, when the evening news does a report from the White House, the video showed the President in the background washing the limousine.  Would you believe your eyes? 


How is it then that folks believe pictures of the President clearing brush on his ranch during vacation time?


Do you think that the ranch is abandoned while Dubya is in Washington?  Isn't it logical to suppose that there are all kinds of communications and security folks there polishing the equipment and doing various checks to make sure stuff is working?  Can't they do some/all of the clearing of that pesky brush that crops up?  Don't self-help books advise that enterprising employees always seek to find ways to gain points by doing more than is expected?  Shouldn't some of the security folks read those books and clear the brush while the commander-in-chief is up in DC? 


Some time ago, a columnist for the New York Times wrote about attending a press bash for the White House Press corps and told about the President winking at her.  As metaphors go, that was perfect.  Bush winks at reporters and they, in turn, do him the favor of keeping a straight face when they cover him doing things like clearing the brush at the ranch.  (What comedy team frequently used the phrase "and no one will be the wiser"?)


When someone is questioned about their qualifications to be a member of the US Supreme Court they can repeatedly spout things like "keep an open mind" and the journalists rely on columnists on the Internet to make references to the dialogue in some obscure Western movie where a member of a mob that seems to have lynching on its mind says - "Sure, we'll give you a trial.  Judge, jury, everything.  Then, we'll hang you."  Where's the wink on that one?


When Kitty Kelley's book about the Bush family, The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty ($29.95 Doubleday), was published the conservative talk show cabal quickly cast aspersions on the quality of reporting in the book and glibly dismissed it as not worth the time it would take to read it.


On page 61 of The Family, the author makes reference to a story on the front page of the New York Herald Tribune that was printed on July 31, 1941.  "The headline 'Thyssen Has $3,000,000 Cash in New York Vaults.' The subhead: 'Union Banking Corp. May Hide Nest Egg for High Nazis He Once Backed.'"


If you check around online you might wind up with references to the story running on July 31 of 1942.  You might wind up with references to "Hitler's Angel."


Ms. Kelley says one thing and others say it somewhat differently.  The conservative talk show hosts rush into the gap and castigate Ms. Kelley's accuracy.  How the heck is a fellow living in the Mar Vista section of Los Angeles supposed to verify just exactly what was on the front page of the July 31, 1941, New York Herald Tribune?  It's a long bus ride to get to the New York Public Library. 


So there are (reportedly) eighteen different libraries on the campus of UCLA, maybe one of them could be of help?


Santa Monica' famous Blue Bus takes the columnist to the home of the Bruins and quickly the search leads to one of the libraries where there is a microfilm with the July 31, 1941 Late City Edition of the New York Herald Tribune.  (The first attempt was cut short because the existence of the microfilm copy was discovered just about five minutes before closing time.  So more than one trip to UCLA was necessary.)


The top headline informed readers - "Roosevelt Asks Control Over Prices and Rents To Bar Inflation 'Disaster.'"


Readers that day also learned that District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey "announced that he would not run for reelection."


There was also a picture of Fritz Thyssen and the headline and subhead matched those described in the Kelley book.


It took a fair amount of work to track down that fact.  How will folks know that the columnist actually went to UCLA and looked it up?  Xerox copies can be made from the microfilm, so a picture of that might help but would that convince the aforementioned conservative talk show hosts? 


It's much easier for the average American to make up their minds about important issues based on the pictures of a guy clearing brush on a ranch in Texas. 


Is it worth the effort to verify such minute details?  It's similar to seeing a pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces.  Some of them are very big and very complex and it takes quite some time to assemble the picture.  Some folks just enjoy the process.  Others are satisfied to look at the picture of the final product that usually is on the box that contains the puzzle pieces.  Voters can take the word of the folks who get the winks or they can tune in to the conservative talk show hosts who grow rich spinning themselves as rugged individuals who don't spin. 


Some people are advancing the concept of citizen journalists.  Do any of them tell you where to go to verify what exactly it says in the July 31, 1941 (Late City Edition) of the New York Herald Tribune?  (Try the Young Research Library at UCLA if you live in LA.  Folks in Concordia Kansas might have a tougher time.)


(By the way, there's a sidebar story with the headline "Thyssen's Role In World Affairs Still a Mystery," on page 22 of the July 31, 1941 issue of the New York Herald Tribune.  If you don't believe me; you could look it up.)


Will Rogers has been quoted (Bartlett's 16th edition, page 637) as saying "All I know is just what I read in the papers."


Now, the disk jockey will play Waylon Jennings' version of the  song "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys."  (Have you seen Brokeback Mountain yet?)  We'll ride on out of here for this week.  Have a "Yippie I-O Kay Aye" type week.

New York Herald Tribune, 31 July 1941
Who cares about the July 31, 1941 New York Herald Tribune?




Copyright (including logo) 2005 - Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com







Editor's Note: There's also this- Digby at Hullabaloo on Bush's obsessions (clearing brush on the ranch). 



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....