- Fall 2017 -

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Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
Fall - 2017

Everyone Has One

Once and for all,

* I graduated - was graduated - from journalism school. Took that major because it had no language requirement.
From the first day they taught us to write facts only.

Accusations were not substantive. They were hot air till they were proven: only then they got printed.

Now details of claims - should they be spicy - emerge or are invented, and the newspapers blare them.

* May 27 NYT Eli Rosenberg. The howl over a conservative woman’s speech at CUNY is pegged “the latest dispute in the heated national dialogue over free speech.”

Who’s against it? A national dialogue may be two people on the phone from NY to LA.

* 7-1 Women. One’s suit failed - “but it sparked a debate about bla bla bla.”

This technique, inventing a worldwide movement, is a journo-disease. Each reporter knows a dozen others who share their perceptions, so each proffers a notion of nationwide, nay, worldwide chatter.

These Are The Times of LA

5-3 Kate Mather opines that “for many” the May Day demonstration was somehow more important now that Trump was in office. “How many?” was what my hard-nosed J-school teacher would ask her.

5-4 There are rules, and there are rules. Veronica Rocha not only supplies the name of a woman who alleges she was raped, but also the name of a student she accuses.

Why name a to-date innocent person? (I wrote this before the November 'J'accuse' hurricane.)

5-7 I didn’t read the whole article, because Ryan Faughnder’s references to “Industry insiders,” “some executives” and “audiences” suggested that the rest of the story was as unspecific.

5-19 Lorrain Ali pours it on the late “disgraced” Roger Ailes, ignoring - or ignorant of - the fact that accusations, alone, got him ejected from Fox. (Ibid 5-4)

But she is an entertainment writer, not a reporter.

* “Motorcycle thefts climb 2% in 2016.” Climb? How about trickle. Peep.

5-25 Letters bemoan a reviewer’s slam of a Moody Blues concert. Mikael Wood, fearful of his peers, toes the crit-world line that they’re corny.

Fans of such corn had a swell time. Someone should have pointed him out, so fans could kick and pelt him in advance of his pre-written slam.

* No date. August Brown, about rock fests, cites “the misogyny and coercion underlying much of the ‘free love’ culture of the ‘60s rock scene.” Say what?

5-31 August Brown heads-ups us that a band’s upcoming appearance will supply joy “For any NY-to-LA transplants nostalgic for the vanished Zebulon music venue in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.” That a big wedge of LAT readership?

* No date on page: Snot Mikael Wood describes a former boy-band singer’s solo shot as an attempt “to lift himself out of the realm of branded lunch boxes, and touch down among the real rock artistes.” This twit should be on Twitter.

6-1 Mary McNamara “Essay” claims that “Virtually everyone in America was horrified” at Kathy Griffin’s severed Trump-head. For chrissake.

* Guy gets big obit. He wrote publicity for Warner Bros., to hype his employer’s movies. Judging by this salute, the Times ran them.

6-3 Makeda Easter’s lede graph about an Uber kerfuffle: “To err is Uber.” Ugh.

6-4 Tracey Lien: “Uber was the ‘bad boy’ of” - NEXT!

6-5 Rosanna Xia, on about USC, humorously asides the “University of Spoiled Children.” Newbies have loved that for eons.

6-7 “California Journal” features Robin Abcarian musing about her car-scrape with a bicyclist, with plenty of insights and reminiscences about herself. File navel-gazing in Health..

* Steve Zeitchek’s account of this day’s Cosby trial dutifully details lines and lines of allegations. (In the absence of facts, write what’s said?)

6-13 Columnist Michael Hiltzik, Business section, decries Delta Airlines ceasing funding for New York’s Public Theater. No LA news today?

6-14 Love the kerfuffle about right-wing nag Meg Kelly’s switch to liberalism. News readers are performers! File in Entertainment!

6-18 “Anger erupts after London fire.” News would be joy abounds.

* Someone was probed, but not charged, so D. Cloud and J. Tanfani REPEAT THE ACCUSATION, and reveal that no one at the office would comment, AND that no one answered the door or the phone at a “three story home in a gated community in Huntington Beach." Renting? Co-op? Fill-thy.

6-19 The Nation. A nut slammed his car into a Ten Commandments display in Arkansas. Full color photos of slab, scene, crazy guy. Half page. Useful …

6-22 Airport cop stabbed in Flint, Michigan. Half-page-plus, with photo of cop, his dog. Mayor says her thoughts and prayers are with him. Our sister city?

* Steven Zeitchik “Old studio hands like Ron Howard quickly were thrown around into the rumor mill.” Try to imagine something less substantial.

6-24 “This just in” to Podunk Press: Gaga Mikael Wood recounts an “only-in-Hollywood moment” seeing two members of Fleetwood Mac rehearsing.
On a soundstage. In LA! Where people rehearse!

6-26 Three reporters file a story from Pakistan about a fiery oil truck accident, according to information phoned from “a man who did not give his name.” Well, they verify someone called them.

* Music snot Mikael Wood observes that music at a fest “avoided the Top 40 pop and hip-hop, regarded by many as the musical equivalent of ‘The Bachelor.’”

Clumsiness aside, who? How many? Get over yourself.

* Randall Roberts, at a kiddie-rock fest with his wife and kid, tells us about his fair-skin family’s (he married within the race) struggle with all-day sun. Apparently their first exposure.

Both their reviews shared the banner hed “Off to a bland start.” The music, or the reportage?

6-29 Egyptian comic is in LA, paid-by-word Jefferey Fleishman avers, “Out near La Brea (?? AF), drizzle blows through jacaranda, a gardener hurries past a pool.”

Constantly? That gardener must be exhausted. (You don’t have to paint me a picture.)

7-3 Three reporters in Illinois covering a Chinese student’s abduction wrote “In the midday heat, the campus was mostly quiet Sunday.”

Mostly? What noise, then? Why noon?
Was it cloudy at 3:15? Did it get noisy later?
Isn’t space precious?

7-9 “Russian media praise Putin.” From our Moscow correspondent.

* Goddam “Grim Sleeper” monicker for a killer. Clumsy 'honor' shames the namer and the journalism business.

7-11 Half-page obit for Greta Garbo’s niece. We'll miss her.

7-15 "Everybody wants to be an art director, everybody wants to call the shots."

Andy McCullough, in Miami for a Dodger game, opens with a critique of the stadium’s visual garnish. “It is a Day-Glo daydream, an Art Deco acid trip.”

Misuse of Art Deco aside, why this flim-flam in a sports piece? Make it MORE trivial?

7-16 Three reporters ponder parents’ ‘suspicion’ that their dead son was coerced by others to take the drugs that killed him at a party.

Really? Could such ponderation lead to a suit against the wealthy host of the party? Ya think?

7-17 Tre’vell Anderson coerces a movie studio’s distribution chief to admit that its hit movie is “epic episodic storytelling.”

7-26 Alene Tchekmedyian reports ad infinitum neighbors’ distrust of a natural gas plant’s reopening. The company - and govt’s - denial gets no shrift.

* Wasn’t Robin Abcarian’s rambling piece on Dublin, California scattershot with ‘tude? I should talk.

* Shashank Bengali and Parh M.N.’s half page about ‘art’ being mishandled by Air India was a sure cure for insomnia.

7-28 Deborah Vankin, re OJ’s release: “Many, of course, believe” yada yada.

As my J-school prof said, “HOW many?”
As I say, “Shaddup!”

7-29 Sub-hed, Business section car review: XXX car “is a shameless bad boy.” There’s shame, alright...

7-30 Thomas Curwen reveals a gold prospector’s mantra (…) is “Buy low, sell high.” Remarkable. Not.

8-1 French actress “fearlessly played complex women” says hed. The opposition was intense!

NO DATE ON PAGE “Special correspondent” half page that a school's name, Lynch, disturbs some cranks — in Oregon. Big color photo of school parking lot.

8-4 Though the race for nicknaming is paramount at the paper, couldn’t they have done better than “Suge” as short for sugar?

8-8 “Sexist memo a new blemish on diversity in tech.” Memo reporting is big news.

8-10 Mike Wood, again, ponders Lady Gaga’s quiet passage in a concert, cheering that “in the past” such moments were her “phoniest, as though she’d entered a kind of stage-school zombie state,” but now it’s grown, in her new show, to a position of respect. Maybe Wood is the growth.

8-13 Lauren Rosenblatt, half page Nation think-piece on Educ Secy DeVos’s move to give equal consideration to the accused and accuser in campus rape allegations, dares to cite “alleged survivors” of attacks, out of step with today’s accusation = fact atmosphere, nay, mandate.

8-16 Stephen Battnaglio cites “people familiar with the talks who were not authorized to comment” to back up a point. Makes it true, or deniable?

8-17 Steven Zeitchek’s ponderation about a film’s failure is clustered beneath a small banner of “Analysis.” Better would be “Monday Morning Quarterback.”

8-18 Fancy pants Cindy Chang cites a “scrum” of reporters (Don’t forget the “r”!) gathering to hear a woman’s claim that she was victimized by Polanski 44 years ago. Accusation, fact, the same.

NO DATE ON PAGE Cathleen Decker’s opening salvo spits “testosterone” in rant against - oh, those bleeders always shreying. (Is this wrong?)

8-24 A guy is fired by a theater group, claims ageism. Deborah Vankin cites various Times critics' opinions of the guy. Not exactly outreach.

8-25 Reporters’ astonishment (disapproval) of a Fairfax Avenue deli’s “C” rating smacks of favoritism. They like the place, so question the report.

8-26 Backward-bending Robert Lloyd, and the LAT, cheerily think brackish bullshit brayer Megan Kelly’s turn to bubbly liberalism is swell. "I’m a political whore” must have fallen off the paste-up.

* The single page allotted to the STATE gives big play to a cheery story about a hot dog vendor in Berkeley who ignores health laws. Supporters respect his “vision.”

9-14 Smug Charles Bagli gloats about the cancellation of a rich guy’s plan to develop an entertainment center on the Hudson River -

“Some critics (!!!! AF) called the plan a monument to a billionaire’s ego (Like the Rockefeller Center, twit AF) and it was quickly renamed (It? Was? You mean you and your bottom-feeders?) 'Diller Island.'”

9-21 “Business” section goes morning-tv with Samantha Masunaga piece on Kathy Griffin’s feud with a big-shot neighbor in some swank area. Masunaga cites Huffpost AND a Suze Orman. We stoop to please.

9-27 The Times is obedient. Each time Graumann’s Chinese Theater is re-bought it honors the buyer.

This day, four reporters joked, I hope, citing “the famous TCL Chinese Theater.”


Scandal at Fox! Fresh Allegations (Meg James) including a quotation-marked remark from “a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to publicly discuss it.” \

Does that sound like authentication to you?

Same gal, diff story: “according to two people who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.” Give names, not fancy dodging to back up the breast-beating.

Richard Winton & Matt Hamilton hedge some apparently dodgy fact with “according to a law enforcement source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the source (a person!) was not authorized to speak publicly.” If you trust his word, print it. Don’t back-pedal.

* Lorraine Ali, 7-1 entertainment section think-piece on prez Tweets: “‘Has the president gone too far?’ people ask after each incident.”

Here again - “People.”
Animals, insects are silent.

New Yawk, New YAWK Times

5-3 “Efforts to reach Mr. Oliver on Tuesday night were unsuccessful” is blather from Manny Fernandez, Dana Goldstein or Christine Hauser. They failed, drop it.

5-19 Rachel Abrams avers that Walmart is - picture this - “getting its head around” going online. Groovy.

5-27 Trump at NATO “behaved like the unpopular rich kid whose idea of making small talk is telling people how much his shoes cost.”

Hats off to Gail Collins, Op-Ed page!

5-28 Gina Bellafante writes that many people are hungry in San Francisco “though it is the birthplace of the modern culinary revolution.” Effete don’t fail me now.

5-30 Health. Using the swell, really unusual word “quintessential,” Jane E Brody writes of a fix-it man who can repair “everything from bicycles to bathtubs.”

What is that range, exactly?

6-19 Two writers quote a law expert who says that lawyers at the next Cosby trial will study the first trial. They could have asked me.

6-30 John Koblin, re Greta Van Sustern, recounts her being fired last year when “a messenger arrived at her home and handed her a pair of letters informing her that she was out.”

Why the color? Word-count?

7-5 Charles Bagli finds a developer who wants to buy old bldgs and fix them for a profit. “He’s really revved up about it” says the seller's agent. This is 'news'?

7-20 Sewell Chan reports of gender, racial gaps at the BBC, which responds it is closing them.

“Critics were not satisfied,” Chan writes. Of course. If they were, they’d be out of a job .

* A John Wayne Gacy victim was ID’d after decades. That Gacy “was labeled the killer clown by the news media” is presented with seeming glee, not shame, by reporter Liam Stack.

7-21 Just like LA Times reporters (hell, any reporter) John Eligon and Mitch Smith bray impersonally that "efforts to reach” someone “have been unsuccessful,” depersonalizing their failure.

* Obit for rock band singer, Joe Coscarelli gives album review, cites critics. Don’t put no horse shit on my grave.

8-7 Scott Shane and Vindu Goel, re election-ad influence, state that allegations and the “possibility” of voter fraud cast a shadow on the results.

Thin air casts no shadow.

8-11 Grope-allegation witness’s testimony in Denver trial bespoke “confidence, irritation and flashes of humor” writes Donna Bryson. Veracity not noted.

8-13 The plod continues. Hed calls Trump a “wild card,” meaning nobody knows his next move.

A wild card is valuable, period. Not an unknown commodity.

8-22 Stephanie Clifford and Colin Moynihan pack their Monday Morning quarterbacking with a juror who “asked to remain anonymous because one of the lawyers in the case lives near him on Long Island.” Wha?

9-16 Not Necessarily The News. Julie Decaro “Essay” criticizes critics who criticize female broadcasters.
She got a lot of knocks when she was one so certainly she's neutral on the subject.

9-20 Words are what we say they are? Sapna Maheshwari (where are the Joneses? Smiths?) writes a ‘color’ piece in Business about …

well, I didn’t finish it, offput by her (?) citing someone’s reputation “careening” out of control.

We in LA accept inexactitude in our daily sandwich-wrapper, but this common mistake - careen meaning atilt, as a ship's mast at dock - is upsetting to we who face East and worship. (Something bouncing side to side is “careering.”)

9-21 News tyro Lillian Ross got a neat sendoff, more’n a half page.

- 57 -


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