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The [Monday] Papers

The Sun-Times began a six-part series on its front page on Sunday called Counter Culture.

The series is about "what's cooking in Chicago's changing kitchens."




War Stories
"The naive complicity of the press and the government was never more pronounced than in the prelude to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq," legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas writes in her new book, Watchdogs of Democracy?. "The media became an echo chamber for White House pronouncements. Sadly, too, many statements were misleading and false on both sides. Reporters became stenographers instead of interrogators."

Sun-Times Washington correspondent Lynn Sweet includes that passage in her review of Thomas's book on Sunday, as well as Thomas's statement that "My concern is why the nation's media were so gullible."'

Sweet writes that Thomas describes White House reporters as being too timid to question the Bush Administration, "asleep at the switch" and in a "coma."

Sweet thinks she's being more kind to her colleagues in her own assessment, but I don't think Sweet's defense does anything but make the media look even more pathetic: "I think the tough questions were asked. The problem was few journalists were able to dig at the answers . . . Getting the facts was not easy. The difficulty in determining whether a key Bush claim - that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - was [true was] so formidable that even former Secretary of State Colin Powell was duped. Remember his testimony at the United Nations?"

I do. But just what about it does Sweet remember? Six months after Powell's testimony, the Associated Press published a report, "Powell's Case For Iraq War Falls Apart 6 Months Later."

Where was the six-part, front-page Sun-Times series on that?

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Sun-Times published a wire story "50% Still Think Saddam Had WMD."

It wasn't on the front page, where important kitchen news goes, but hey, why force truths about the war on your readers.

Kitchen Itchin'
Maybe the Sun-Times has agreements with certain advertisers to write about kitchen remodeling, because the alternative - that they do it because they think it's good and interesting work - is just too awful to contemplate.

After all, we suffered through Neil Steinberg's "Hammered and Nailed" (no pun intended) series in 2002 and 2003 about his home renovation, including his kitchen, with such memorable installments as "Bathroom Tile Causes Near Panic Attack," "Missing Safety Strip Could Tip Sanity Scale," and "Eventually, The Buried Treasure In Basement Will Be A Sump Pump."

And already earlier this year, Debra Pickett regaled us with hilarious and charming tales of her kitchen project, including "Kitchen Chronicles, Take 27," which included this priceless passage:

"In theory, we'll have a working kitchen (including sink!) by the end of the day on Wednesday.

"I considered this Sunday afternoon, as I was washing dishes in the bathroom sink, and realized that this whole remodeling exercise has been our version of one of those we-were-so-poor-in-our-younger-days stories that older folks often tell about their newlywed days."

Will Sneed tittle-tattle about her kitchen next?

Crime Sells
With the real war news safely tucked inside the paper, the Sun-Times runs a war-sized headline on its front page on Monday asserting "CTA: More Riders, Less Crime." The statistics comparing the first six months of this year to the first six months of last year, however, are remarkably similar in every category except robbery, in which reported incidents dropped from 96 to 63, a 34 percent drop.

"Statistics from the Chicago Police Department show a similar trend in reports of aggravated battery," Monifa Thomas reports.

The graph accompanying the story, however, shows 38 aggravated batteries in the first half of 2005 and 37 in 2006.

"[T]he number of criminal sexual assaults and burglaries remained the same," she writes.

So, in other words, same-old same-old.

Pundit Patrol
* In the Sun-Times, Mary Laney wonders why everyone is piling on Mel Gibson. "Was it because of the success of his movie Braveheart?" she wonders. No, really. She wonders that. She also argues against the evidence that the things people say when they are drunk bear no connection to their real feelings. After all, how can you mean what you don't remember?

I guess Gibson must have been drunk when he called the Holocaust a "numbers game," supported a Holocaust-denial group's political candidate in Australia, and made The Passion of the Christ.

* In the Tribune, playwright David Mamet places the Gibson incident amidst the anti-Semitism that often gets lost in debates like those over the latest warfare in the Middle East. In other words, one inescapable fact is that one side wants to destroy Jews, and not just for land, while the other side would like to live in peace.

* Local PR maven Kathy Posner calls Neil Steinberg on the carpet for his misogynist blond jokes (second letter). Posner fails, however, to indict Steinberg on the worst part of the stupid, lazy, column-ending jokes he uses as filler: They aren't funny.

[CORRECTION 11:30 a.m.: Posner is no longer in public relations; she retired four years ago to focus on philanthropic work.]

* Carol Marin writes that the increase in the minimum wage in Santa Fe, N.M., "has stimulated the economy" there. Perhaps the Chicago City Council should have raised the minimum wage for everybody, not just big-box workers.

Marin also writes that, "Unlike New York, where they just broke ground on a huge and affordable housing complex that will offer more than 2,000 new homes, part of a long-range plan to create 165,000 new affordable units, Chicago is lagging far behind when it comes to stopping the hemorrhage of the middle class out of the city. We are becoming a city of extremes. Extreme wealth. Extreme poverty. And extreme arguments about the perils of a 'living wage.'"

House of Daley
The mayor is on the case. He has appointed a fashion director.

House of Cards
"No Doubt, Aldermanic Clout Is Out."

Teen Scream
"Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found."

Or, perhaps the type of teens who start having sex earlier are more likely to load their iPods with music filled with raunchy lyrics.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Countering the culture daily.


Posted on August 7, 2006

MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
TV - Exclusive! Rahm's New TV Gig.
POLITICS - The Political Odds UPDATED.
SPORTS - NHL: CTE Not Our Fault.

BOOKS - Stan Lee, Flawed Hero.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: I Am Iron Man.

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