The Great Disconcerting Wipeout
October 05, 2009

Arthur Miller By Christopher Bigsby (Harvard University Press, 739 pp., $35) I. Arthur Miller could hardly have hoped for a more sympathetic biographer than Christopher Bigsby. He is the director of the Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies at the University of East Anglia, and the author of a long commentary on Miller’s work and a book-length interview with the playwright.

The Israeli Prime Minister
September 26, 2009

The New York Times gave about six inches to Bibi Netanyahu's speech at the General Assembly, and this in an article he shared with Hugo Chavez who spoke for four times the duration allowed by the rules. This is a habit among tyrants, and Chavez is no exception. The same Times page carried a 24-inch piece about Gadhafi, not on his filibuster at the U.N. (which it covered more than amply on Thursday), but dealing with the dictator's appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Obama's U.N. Exhortations
September 23, 2009

I spent a decent chunk of my morning navigating the U.N.'s press credential system and, after filling out the same computerized form for the fourth or fifth time in the past three days (which I fear sheds some light on U.N. peacekeeping operations), and later seeing a Japanese reporter rush out of a bathroom stall with his pants at his knees, for reasons unclear, I made it inside to hear Barack Obama speak. It was an elegant speech, as always, if not a terribly profound or historic-seeming one.

Sometimes the Good Guys Do Win
September 22, 2009

Jerry Mitchell, an investigative reporter for Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger newsppaper, is the recipient of one of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants." If you're not familiar with Mitchell or his work, this 2005 American Journalism Review article about him is a good place to start. Long story short, if it weren't for Mithcell--and his articles that eventually led to the trials and convictions of four Klansmen for their crimes against civil rights workers back in the 1960s--the world would be a less just place.

Tea'd Off
September 13, 2009

On Saturday, September 12, America threw a gigantic temper tantrum in Washington D.C. Organizers called it the “largest gathering of fiscal conservatives in history,” and they’re probably right. But for an angry, anti-government fit, the march was remarkably civil. They had come in large bands--14 buses from Morristown, New Jersey; 12 from Harford County, Maryland--prepared with picnic baskets and lawn chairs. They festooned their hats with teabags and dressed in Revolutionary-era finery.

With friends like these...
September 08, 2009

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. Have you ever been in an alley fight with three muggers while your sanctimonious non-helping cousin berates your poor fighting skills from a nearby window? Me neither. I feel like I have, though, listening to the shadenfreude coming from some single-payer advocates on the sidelines of the current health reform debate. This morning’s New York Times provides a prime example, in a short interview with Dr.

Chris Matthews Isn't Over It
August 27, 2009

On MSNBC's Morning Joe today, Joe Scarborough hosted a panel that included Chris Matthews and New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson. As the discussion was coming to a close, the subject of this morning's (excellent) New York Times story about Ted Kennedy's final days came up. The comprehensive piece was written by Mark Leibovich, the same Times reporter who wrote a much-discussed and extremely enjoyable profile of Matthews last year. Here is the amusing transcript: Chris M.: [To Abramson] By the way, congratultions on Mark Leibovich’s piece.

"More Important Than Getting It Right"
August 24, 2009

Rendon Group, a P.R. firm that has been running the government's propaganda efforts abroad for years, will dig into the backgrounds of would-be embedded journalists, according to a Stars and Stripes article today.

A Very Good Question
August 14, 2009

Ten-year-old student reporter Damon Weaver asks it in his interview with Obama: Can you dunk? Obama's answer: Not anymore. I used to when I was young, but I'm almost 50 now, so, your legs are the first thing to go. It definitely beats the question about whether he smokes. P.S. Weaver's follow-up is also good: Would Obama be willing to play Dwyane Wade one-on-one? Obama kind of ducked that one. --Jason Zengerle

August 05, 2009

On Tuesday afternoon I attended a health reform rally at Chicago’s Federal Plaza.  (Readers should know that I attended in the capacity of a supporter/observer, and am not a fully detached reporter covering this one.)  The event included impressive headliners: Representative Jan Schakowsky, Governor Pat Quinn, County Board President Todd Stroger, and many others. Wendell Potter, the former Cigna publicity executive, also spoke. It is surprisingly hard for an amateur to gauge crowd size. The Chicago Tribune reported that hundreds of people were there.