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Twins of Hate
Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding.
Lost Column Hate
The Scripps Howard News Service in January 2006 canned my column and the bad guys jumped for joy. That’s how it had been planned.
About a month earlier, two far-left activist organizations – from what I had heard Fenton Communications and the Environmental Working Group – had come up with a plan to eliminate columnists who frequently wrote unfavorably about the causes for which they received money to propagate and whom they knew they could never defeat on the basis of facts. I have locked horns with these groups for the past 15 years and thus earned a spot pretty much on the top of that list. And I do mean list.
They sent out a list of names of columnists to The New York Times and BusinessWeek, two publications they felt would be sympathetic to them, claiming that all those on the list had written specific columns for money. They got quite specific, attaching certain names to certain columns. In my case, they claimed I had written a piece defending the artificial sweetener Splenda against Big Sugar on behalf of Splenda’s distributor Johnson & Johnson. First The New York Times called me and grilled me for over an hour.
I explained first that not only had I not written that specific column for pay, but in fact all of my columns were done gratis in that the cheap bastards at Scripps never paid me a cent. Further, I said, of all the columns I’d written for Scripps, perhaps about 130, few would be less likely to have been written for pay insofar as I had written a whole book on the obesity epidemic and it contained a full chapter blaming Big Sugar as a major contributor. That was enough for the Times; they gave up on me.
But a few weeks later Eamon Javers from BusinessWeek called and the grilling began anew. I gave him the same explanation I did the Times. Then he asked what my latest column was about. I said it was based on a report just issued by Monsanto on its biotech pipeline. Again, this was hardly suspicious insofar as I had recently published a whole book on biotechnology, that the plurality was about crop biotech, and Monsanto was easily the leader in the area.
Then Javers asked if I’d ever received money from Monsanto. Yes, I volunteered. He’d have now way of knowing if I hadn’t told him, but I so no harm in it. Back in 1999 I solicited a $60,000 grant from them to work on the book. I told them one way or another they’d come out looking good but the way think tanks generally work is that you’re paid out of your own account and my account was pretty much dry, hence it would be in their interest to support the project. The grant went to my employer and was passed along to me in salary. I received no more salary that year than the year before or the year after.
But Javers wanted blood and knew how to suck it. All he had to do was call Scripps Howard and tell them he was doing a hit piece on me concerning them. That’s all they needed to know. Scripps really ought to be known as Scripps Coward. Back in 1990 they ordered my firing at the Rocky Mountain News the very day my AIDS book came out. Obviously they feared possible bad publicity – and as it happens they would have gotten it! Now they were faced again with the possibility of bad publicity again. Since my employer stuck by me, if Scripps had done so Javers would have had no story. By not doing so they gave Javers a story. As Javers himself later wrote in a "news analysis," while I claimed "The money didn't influence his [my] writing . . . . His syndicate, Scripps Howard, felt differently. On Jan. 13 it canceled Fumento's weekly column." Scripps never bothered to consult me; I found the column was canceled only when they didn’t run my latest submission.
Then Javers titled his piece “A Columnist in Pay of Monsanto.” That was false. The grant was received in 1999 and spent that year. The column began in 2003. It certainly was prescient of Monsanto to know I’d get that column four years later. Further, among perhaps 130 columns I wrote for Scripps Coward, only two were about Monsanto with a third mentioning the company in a single sentence. Obviously I’m a pretty powerful writer if I can pull in $60,000 for two 700-word columns! Finally, if one simply assumes that gentlest possible accusation, that the grant subconsciously my attitude to and therefore my writing about Monsanto, shortly after I received it I ripped the company for being “chicken-hearted” and caving into environmentalist demands.
Finally, it turns out Javers was doing what he accused me of. He was accepting high-priced favors from the lobbying firm Patton-Boggs which, by great coincidence, represented companies Javers wrote about. BusinessWeek was aware of this and did nothing. This helps explain why so many people hate the mainstream media.
No matter, the bad guys prevailed and the column was gone. And as you can guess, some people were pretty darned happy about that. Many also predicted my career in journalism was over. On that they were just a bit premature.
Looks like any claim that your are [sic] a journalist is gone. The ‘monsanto [sic] annual report just landed in my lap’ part is especially funny. Sorry about the new asshole Wolcott [James Wolcott, über-snob writer for the über-snob magazine Vanity Fair] just ripped you, you cunt [sic]
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Dear Mr. Muntle:
I suspect if you thought I were so down in the dirt you wouldn’t feel the need to be so defensive and swear and call names. People like you define “journalist” as a writer you agree with, so I don’t think I ever qualified in your eyes. Finally, I’m sorry your IQ measures in minus figures but since there are geniuses out there we need somebody to make the population as a whole qualify as average.
P.S., I’d just as soon not punch your vagina.
How Do You Put a Price on Stupidity?
Dear Mr. Fumento
I have some facts which are powerful and original. I can’t attest to the iconoclastic, because I’m not sure you even believe that.
But I would like you to tout my powerful and original facts in one of your columns. Please reply with a price quote. Note also that I would not like to have to verify these ‘facts’ [sic], so feel free to quote the premium rates.
Dear Mr. Holtz:
Insofar as we’ve never found evidence of an adult human with a brain as small as yours, we’d like to offer you $1.50 for it and put it on display. We will have to extract it while you’re still alive but we’re certain you won’t mind as it’s obvious you’re making no use of it.
His Brains Are in His Peter
Actually, I’d suggest a book on idiot left-wing hate mailers who haven’t a clue about what they write. You’ll find much richer and more humorous subject matter.
Nobody spews more hate than you, Michael. You're a misguided soul whose [sic] destined to lead a bitter and lonely life. I feel so sorry for you. I'm sure you never wanted your life to turn out like this. Open your heart to the Lord and you'll find love and happiness.
Really, so I guess now I’m going to be accused of writing to myself all that horrible hate mail I post. Many of the greatest and holiest people in history led lonely lives – not that I claim to be either. The point is that you do pay a price for thinking and acting differently from society, even if your intentions are merely to help other people. I know of this one guy who made his contemporaries so angry that he and later almost all of 12 of followers were horribly executed. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?
“Subject: whore, whore, whore, whore”
You are a whore. If I give you $100, will you write a column calling yourself a whore?
Snore, snore, snore, snore. If I give you a dime will you repeat that trick where you balance the dog turd on the tip of your tongue?
That's about the sort of comeback I expect from someone of your character.
And that’s just the sort of comeback deserved by someone of your character.
“Subject: Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls”
Ask not for whom the attack smells.
Even by the usual low standards of my hate mailers, you’re pretty darned ignorant. In 1999 my employer think tank, not me, received a grant (look it up) from Monsanto for a book I was writing and it paid me salary and benefits. It actually didn’t even pay me from the grant, insofar as money is fungible (look it up). It just paid me from reserves. You can go online and look up Hudson’s tax returns and find that grant, publicly available for any moron including those named Glenn. Seeking grants for policy books, which generally pay no advance and take many years to write (in my case four) is pro forma (look it up.) Think tanks are supported entirely by grants, so that too is pro forma.
So just where does that leave you except for calling names (Which presumably you wouldn’t feel necessary if you felt your position were so strong) and accusing others of having venereal diseases? (By the way, I hope your anal gonorrhea has cleared up.)
I did, in fact, write an explanatory column which has gotten a lot of play but again you’re ignorant of that.
Finally, you accuse me of being a chicken hawk when I spent four years in the Army as a paratrooper during the Cold War. I was too old to join for Operation Iraqi Freedom, but did the next best thing and risked and almost lost my life as an embedded reporter in Anbar Province with the Marines. I shall be going back again shortly. (I went back to Anbar twice, and then later to Afghanistan.)
Please tell me what unit you have served in Glenn? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
So Where’s the Artful Dodger?
It has come to my attention that you often lease your column to the highest bidder. I used to read a lot of what you write but not anymore. I don't feel that I can trust what you are writing.
Dear Mr. Fagan:
I’m fascinated. Just where did you read that I often lease my column to the highest bidder? And did they provide the least bit of evidence? Or is that a Fagan Fabrication?
And why do I get the feeling you were never a reader of mine and I was never a “favorite” on your browser? As to the photo, which was on an obscure page and there to prove a point, namely that a hate mailer who wrote to me accusing me of being fat was quite mistaken, what’s so “creepy” about a man in a swimsuit? Is this something you’ve never seen before? Are you unaware that men wear swimsuits on the beach as well as on the cover each month of about a dozen “men’s health” magazines? Or did the photo stir some primal urge in you? I know that when Catherine Seipp posted it on her blog, there were repeated comments on my nipples, which are quite normal. What kind of man comments on another man’s nipples? Could it be that your last name is related to a slang term for one who practices or fantasizes practicing a certain type of – how shall we say? – alternative lifestyle?
[His response was to go crying to my bosses at Hudson. Like so many hatemailers, he can dish it out but not take it.]
Dear Mr. Fumento:
Honest, I believe you. I just want you to tell me where you saw that I “often lease my column to the highest bidder.” Of course, if you can't come up with that then maybe I'll have to stop believing you. Sniff.
Another Person with Nothing to Say Who Has to Say it Anyway
You are as big a hypocrite as you are a hack in science. Good riddance for Scripps!
Dear Mr. Freedman:
Very thoughtful, well-constructed, well-supported e-mail.
More from the Peanut Butter Gallery
You mean Reese’s Pieces? I’m trying to cut down, thanks. Just lots of empty calories.
You Have No Class, You Dipshit Asshole!
Insofar as you've posted my response to Cathy Seipp's piece in NRO, you know that I received a book grant in 1999 that ran out in 2000 and my column began in 2004. Could you please explain to your readers how that makes me a "columnist for hire?” Or are you just resentful that you never received a book grant because you never wrote a book? In the event, your statement is false and libelous and I would like to see it corrected.
Are you just a congenital asshole or do you have some basis for making this leap:
Mea culpa. I should have said a real book, not two picture books published by a local outfit called Angel City Press that specializes in gift books. (Definition of a gift book: One you’d give to others but wouldn’t read yourself.) Meanwhile, you completely avoided my question. Why did you write something that, from your own posting, you knew to be untrue? You also accuse me of sounding “wholly without substance or class,” yet you’re the one who feels he’s so without other recourse that he must accuse me of being a “congenital asshole” and a “dipshit.” I admit, I haven’t lived in LA for over a decade now, but last I heard that wasn’t considered particularly classy. More like the squeals of an East LA rat trapped in a corner.
And you wonder why your original question was ignored. You must get that a lot.
It was ignored because you were caught in a lie. Yes, I do get a lot of that.
It Appears a Lobotomy Is in Order
Dear Michael -
Right. I get a book grant in 1999, do a column in 2004, and the two are somehow related. Or at least in your BB-sized brain. Somehow I don't think you'd apply that rule to writers you agree with. You know, like the author of Mein Kampf.
From a Patron of the Midnight Cowboy
You had to whore for Monsanto? And now you're all weepy about Scripps Howard dumping your sorry ass? Puh-leeze. You betrayed your employers and your readers. Nothing more needs to be said, you fucking hack.
If you're going to suck corporate dick, just do it and swallow, okay? A good whore never plays the victim.
And you, sir, are a whore.
Good luck with all your future (non-journalism) endeavors. Please stay the fuck away from anything purporting to be a news outlet.
I trust you are extremely familiar with whores; do you like it most when they get out the strap-on dildo?
Dear Mr. Fumento,
Geez. Dumbass. At least get my name correct. Otherwise, you'll not only be a whore but an inept one.
[100 words omitted.]
Yours in better proofreading,
That was no misspelling. As you must well know, the clients of prostitutes are called “johns.” Squeal like a pig, boy!
It’s Not Black and White – Except that it Is
I'd phrase this more artfully, but I don't think you deserve the effort or the decorum: you're a complete and utter dipshit, man. This is obviously not a black and white issue. At the very least, there's an argument to be made that you should have disclosed all this Monsanto nonsense at the time, and any intelligent...no, wait, honest man would acknowledge that argument's potential strength, even if he thought that on balance he was in the right. So maybe you're not an idiot (though I have my suspicions). At the very least, though, you're a dishonest jackass. Thanks for the memories,
You seem to be blaming me for nature having given you undersized testicles. I just don’t think that’s fair. It was as an honest man that I volunteered to the BusinessWeek reporter that I had received a book grant six years ago that only went to pay my salary for that year. I could have lied to him and there’s absolutely no way he’d have known. I told the truth because I did nothing wrong and I don’t lie; something I suspect doesn’t apply to you. BusinessWeek, hot for another Abramoff-Bandow story, decided to invent a whole new set of journalistic rules including that once a scholar has received money for any purpose he must keep disclosing it until the end of eternity. That rule never existed until that moment. It won’t exist a few weeks from now. Rationale people understand that and have told me so. But then there are people like you…
Try to Weasel Out of This!
Ya heard wrong. I got a book grant in 1999 and the column began in 2004. Or maybe they just paid me five years in advance, huh wizard? As for being a chicken hawk, I was a paratrooper in the Cold War for four years and last year went to the most dangerous region of Iraq as an embedded reporter. It rather seems like you’re the one with the learning to do. I think that creek has crippled your brain.
[He actually wrote back that I made him “laugh out loud.”]
Squeal Like a Pig, Boy!
You [sic] pigged-headedness and arrogance knows no bounds.
Sure they do; they’re hemmed in on all four sides by your ignorance and stupidity!
Subject: From Kristopher Stone to Micheal [sic] Fumento
I am no more going to bother EPA with your claim than I am going to ask NASA if it’s really true that a North American is abducted and impregnated by aliens on a UFO every 45 seconds. I am quite familiar with the toxicology status of the chemicals you discuss (Although interestingly you find yourself unable to name a single one). I also know how to access the EPA’s toxicology database. You, assuredly, do not. “You state that in a court of law, it is easily proven with an EPA chemical breakdown that today’s perfumes are as deadly as Black Flag.” Yet no court of law has ever done so. Why not? A shortage of money-hungry lawyers? Oh, surely not! I will grant that among your myriad misspellings, that of “whatsoever” is one of the most creative I have ever seen. Add to this that you’ve misspelled my name and I assume that you’ve misspelled your own as well Christopher.
Please rest your mouth as well as your case.
The general tone of your response is meanness. My older brother has a chronic tendency to be mean, because my father wasn't there for him when I was born, thus taking his mother's full attention away from him. He's never forgiven me or the world for that. I, on the other hand, have a tendency to be understanding and to respect other people's comfort and health regardless of any law or fact that argues against my necessity to respect them.
No, let’s not take chemicals out of the equation. This is a scientific issue and if you wish to argue it you will do so scientifically. It is not an issue of compassion, of your older brother’s mental problems, or the proverbial price of tea in China. (But thank you for the intimate look into your family history.) Either these chemicals do or do not cause illness. I threw down the gauntlet asking you to name some of them and their supposed proven harm and you threw the gauntlet away. You lost; now shoo!
Hey Michael, I could barely make it through some of your writings on MCS. You must be a complete dumb shit. And being an attorney is no excuse. Maybe you need to go back to school. Your pal, Common Sense
You’re saying that because you can barely read something that’s intended for a sixth-grade reading level I’m stupid. I’d ask you to think about that a moment but it’s clear that your lack of capacity to do so is exactly what it is at issue.
Hey , [sic] If a science paper is written for a 6th grade level but intended for adult reading I would question the author's reasoning ability. As for the statement that I am barely to able [sic] get through this [sic]. It has more to do with the content of the paper. Also, I don't like reading something from an unreliable source. If you had researched this subject you may have written a more intelligent paper. Also, being ignorant is just being uninformed. Being stupid is not recognizing the information that is available. I never said you were stupid. Maybe dumb for writing an unscientific paper. Your pal the commoner
I have never written a scientific paper on MCS. All my writings on the subject have been for lay audiences. And no, for your edification that does not refer to the deceased former head of Enron Kenneth Lay. Most people know that newspapers are written for a fifth-grade reading level, so it should hardly be surprising that I aim for a level slightly above that. That it obviously surprised you is telling. As for the meaning of being stupid, I will trust your personal experience on that one.
If Think Tanks Can be Political, Why Not Medical and Science Journals?
Talk about hypocrisy, you're accusing someone of having a political motivation ? that's [sic] rich. Who [sic] do you work for ? who [sic] pays your bills ? every [sic] article you submit, every statement you make has a political motive. You're nothing but a politicl [sic] hack and you try to sit in judgement [sic] of others, You [sic] guys make me laugh. You'd strangle a baby to death if it would help George Bush's poll numbers [sic]
Every article and statement, huh Joe? You mean like all of my writing on obesity and nutrition? Is all the work I’ve done regarding the obesity epidemic designed to help bolster the chances of GOP candidates? And when I write about new medical devices and promising drugs, that’s all part of a plot to keep Hillary from running for president in 2008, right? On the other hand, as someone whose material goes onto the op-ed pages I am supposed to be pushing political views. Likewise my employer, like all think tanks, is supposed to be political. But until now I hadn’t heard anybody say that medical and science journals were also supposed to be political. Thanks for the edification.
Subject: Its [sic] Not Because We Hate You, We Loathe You.
[Note: This is a response to an article I wrote 17 years ago, about the lack of deaths and disease (despite reports to the contrary) at the Rocky Flats Plutonium-Processing Plant near Boulder, Colorado.]
You are full of shit,
I do believe you have five birth defects, and all of them affect your brain. If there’s anything physically wrong with you, let me just say it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy. Regarding half your family being dead, I suggest it was probably suicide out of shame for being related to you. In the event, I predict that someday everybody in your family will be dead and it will have nothing to do with Rocky Flats. And by the way, the Republic of Ireland, established in 1949, is just a tad younger than the U.S.
Where in “Argumentative Ass” Is the Constructive Criticism?
You're trained as a lawyer, but you are a medical journalist, whatever that is. Are you a human physiology minor? biology minor? biochemistry minor? Because frankly, having just glanced at the titles of your book, a gross simplification and false grasp of biology is close to the surface.
A medical journalist is a journalist who writes about medicine. Get somebody to explain that to you. It’s no wonder you don’t ask what degrees I might have to support my chosen trade and instead concentrate on “minors.” You admit below your signature that you have no degree in anything, yet you criticize my credentials.
“Because frankly, having just glanced at the titles of your book, a gross simplification and false grasp of biology is close to the surface.” Really? Which titles? “Science Under Siege?” “The Fat of the Land?” “BioEvolution: How Biotechnology Is Changing our World?” Which of those indicates a “false grasp?” And more than that, who the heck are you to judge with your high school GRD hanging on the wall?
I notice that for all your bluff and bluster, you don’t challenge a single thing I have ever written. Think there might be a reason for that, Witless?
Dear Argumentative Ass,
I understand what a medical journalist is, but do you have any background in medicine/health/biology other than your own opinion? As a lawyer I would think that perhaps you'd be able to read between the lines, but apparently I was mistaken. Your book that is so very wrong and reeking of eugenics is "The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS." Others may well be equally wrong, which is more likely than not considering that you had no problem already publishing a book twisting science to suit your moral outlook.
You’re absolutely right. How can 20 years of on-the-job training and a flawless track record possibly compare to a few undergraduate courses spread out between visits to the female dorm and numerous keg parties? This at a school which, guessing from your not having named it, probably isn’t exactly in league with the Ivies. Pray tell, what was wrong in my AIDS book? (Hint: You’re going to have to look at it first.) “Reeking of eugenics?” That’s a first. What does the word even mean to you: repeated references to guys named “Eugene?” If it had any kind of a eugenic bent at all, why would I, a white person, devote a whole chapter to the plight of non-whites and conclude it: “But to the extent they failed to give minorities much-circulated extra attention, they left them in the back of the bus – or the back of a hearse.” Not very eugenic of me.
Congratulations on earning an undergraduate degree! Wow! How many Crackerjack boxes did you have to rip open to find it?
Subject: RE: Your Subjects, Your "expertise"
Keep up the good work as part of the media and the "expert commentary" side of it.
Dear Mr. Marcotte:
Actually it would be quite inaccurate of you to judge 20 years of reporting by one wrong fact. But in any case, you never bothered to mention what that “wrong statement of fact” was. I Wonder why?Sincerely,
Erin Brockovich Hate
[Insert your own sics]
This is Rohit Reddy from the indian city of HYDERABAD.
It might be rather late for me to write to you about the ERIN BROCKOVICH stuff at this time of the century but it's not foolish to know some things.
What I didn't understand in all your articles about ERIN BROCKOVICH is that were you intact with her work or are you just trying to save your mouth,talking something that makes some sense.ERIN BROCKOVICH,as explained by you is not a heroine,but a role model....not a perfect human being but not a culprit either.Dark side of ERIN BROCKOVICH?...I hope you have a mirror.Well,can you just kindly tell what do you think about ERIN BROCKOVICH case(which i think is still pending) and more importantly...what do you think about ERIN BROCKOVICH?
I think I’m wondering why her name is always spelled in the uppercase.
What are your thoughts on the subtype E that has come about. [sic] "Experts" believe that this type of hiv [sic] is more dangerous among heterosexuals...i [sic] guess primarily in Asia. They specifically mention this as a problem in Thailand. Any thoughts on this would be interesting. Thanks.
I said 8 years ago that the fuss over subtype E was nonsense. I do believe my case has been made.
I think that what you are saying is very interesting. I am just trying to educate myself on the matter. Could you tell me what you think the cause might be for the increase in HIV in males in Thailand. [sic] If I am not mistaken, I think that there has been a dramatic increase in males contracting HIV as opposed to females. This infers that men are contracting it from females but females are not contracting it from males. If it is not the subtype e [sic] that is causing this, what do you think the cause is? Thanks for your time.
I understand. If you do have a few moments I am curious to hear your thoughts. In fact just a few sentences would probably suffice. I am assuming its [sic] drug use or homosexual activity...?
There are 6.3 billion of you and one of me. What part of that don’t you understand?
A bit of an exaggeration, but I get your point. I would really appreciate it if you could just spend a few minutes telling me your thoughts. It would really help.
Sorry if my emails carried a negative tone - I certainly did not intend for that. Anyhow, I am a student and can't afford $200 an hour. That being said, if you know of any place i [sic] can get the info i [sic] am looking for please point me in that direction. Sorry for wasting any of your time
Try the direction of Google.
Anthrax Vaccine Hate
Something is Needling Him
I think you should volunteer for a bionic implant, since you truly need it. Better yet, volunteer for a lobotomy.
Really? Just because poor little Mark is afraid of a big bad needle? I don’t think I’ll let his problems become mine.
Subject: What is Your Point, Exactly?
Come on now. A hero like you “don’t need no stinkin’ Rhino bus.” Leave the safety of those armored vehicles and show us all the “good stuff” going on over there. While you’re at it, why bother being imbedded [sic]? Just take a cab out to one of those many “safe” areas that constitute the bulk of Iraq and interview the shiny, happy people there. If your point in going there is to show that the press is exaggerating the danger and chaos then the best remedy is to show that life is normal by doing normal journalism, without the benefit of all that unnecessary security that the soldiers provide.
Dear Mr. Faul:
Since you read my first blog about arriving in Baghdad, my guess is you read the subsequent ones. In that case, you know that I went on countless foot patrols, got shelled twice by mortars, and was in two firefights. Why no apologies after reading those? The armored Rhino bus is the only way for a reporter who doesn’t work for a news service to go from Baghdad International to the International Zone unless he’s lucky enough to catch a helicopter. Try walking the route and you’ll be arrested or shot by coalition forces who think you’re planting an IED. As to being embedded, as an article in the April 6 New York Review of Books on non-embeds in Baghdad noted, they pretty much no longer will even leave their hotels but rather leave news collecting to Iraqi stringers. Embedding is the best way to get around the country, yet hardly safe as ABC’s Bob Woodruff or CBS’s Kimberly Dozier might tell you.
Meanwhile, while I was over there your mommy was tucking you into bed and singing you lullabies. So what is your point, exactly?
I MUST Find a Way of Criticizing You, No Matter How Idiotic!
This was posted to Townhall.com after a blog of mine on the dangers of Ramadi and of an embedded reporter being shot in the legs:
Hope you’re safe. But, all that fear must be clouding your judgement [sic]. The above attempt at journalism failed somewhere around the point you wrote “During our in-briefing I also learned that an imbed journalist was shot twice, albeit both times in the legs and because he acted stupidly and left his protective cover to try to try to take a group photo. I might get shot, but not for some idiot reason like that.” Do you believe everything you hear? Ever question the veracity of a source? Ever qualify a statement of fact you are putting into print? You’re [sic] article [sic] illustrates that you’ve confused your position as a journalist with that of a combat stenographer. But before you got to that, you libelled (sic) someone who is ostensibly a colleague. Talk about warrior’s honor. Hope you had fun in Ramadi. But your lack of professionalism zeroed out your effort. Those soldiers deserve a journalist who practiced the fundamentals of his profession and honored the role journalists serve in a free and democratic society.
I didn’t have to question the veracity of the “source,” insofar as several soldiers who saw the shooting told me the exact story. It was probably partly their way of having fun by trying to make me anxious and assuredly partly meant to keep me on my toes. But if that’s not enough for you, would an interview with the injured journalist satisfy you? Try: http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/newswire/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002200239. Morris says he felt protected because he even though he stepped far enough back from the Humvee to be sniper bait, he thought a wall behind him would provide ample protection. Obviously he was wrong, wasn’t he?
If even that is not enough for you, I suggest you go to Camp Corregidor (It’s a real hopping place) and interview the eyewitnesses for yourself, rather than calling into question the reporting of somebody who went through the trouble, expense, and danger of doing just that.
Sometimes It’s Best Just to Keep Your Mouth Shut
Dear Editors [of the Weekly Standard],
I found Mr. Fumento's article on Ramadi to be an accurate and detailed portrayal of the situation there (“The New Band of Brothers,” 06/19/2006). But I do not understand how he can rely on second hand sources to pummel the press in Baghdad, and continue to propagate the myth of the hotel room bound Baghdad Press [sic] Corps [sic]. He quotes a New York Review of Books article to base his judgment of the Baghdad Press. He says Iraq is covered “mostly by reporters who hole up in Baghdad hotels and send out Iraqi stringers to collect what the reporters deem news.” He says they might as well be writing from "podunk [Sic, “Podunk” is a real place and should be upper case as I indeed wrote it.”]
In the past six months alone, two western journalists in Baghdad were killed, one kidnapped, and three seriously wounded.
I don’t think these journalists were hit by random mortar shells in their hotel rooms. They were ABC and CBS News crews hit by roadside bombs, and Jill Carroll.
Where is this press corps that “doesn't go out?”
I just returned from a ten week reporting trip to Iraq. It was my seventh trip to Iraq in 18 months. I spent two weeks in Ramadi, embedded with the Pennsylvania National Guard and the 3/8 Marines. I also spent eight weeks unembedded in Baghdad. And the vast majority of the press goes out every day in the capitol. Perhaps before basing his erroneous information on an interpretation of someone else's reporting, Mr. Fumento could have used his excellent play-by-play story telling skills to visit and write about these Baghdad based journalists to see for himself how they operate.
I invite Mr. Fumento to accompany me (perhaps we could dub this a "civilian" embed) on my next reporting trip to Iraq in the fall. We will NOT live in the Green Zone. We WILL travel in civilian cars -- not armored SUV's or humvees [sic]. We will dress like Iraqis. We will slip into the city without western security contractors to protect us. And we will do some reporting.
Michael Fumento replies:
I think Mr. Gilbert needs to reread my article. Although the New York Review of Books article is compelling and was actually extremely sympathetic to the reporters who rarely if ever leave their Baghdad hotels, I have first-hand sources right in my piece. “Like every officer I spoke with, [Lt. Col.] Clark bemoaned the lack of coverage for the tremendous job his men were doing,” I wrote. That’s because Ramadi isn’t right outside the Al Rashid. I quoted a woman who told me her son is in Camp Corregidor "and these are the first really decent pictures of the area I have seen.” Why? It’s hard to photograph Ramadi from the Palastine Hotel Baghdad. From a wife: "I couldn't figure out why if it was so dangerous there, where was the news?" Lots more letters where those came from.
Plug the name of Iraqi cities other than Baghdad into Google News and see where the reporters are. For example, as I write this (May 12), yesterday’s Los Angeles Times has an entire article on Ramadi, “Fear of Big Battle Panics Iraqi City.” It’s co-authored by two writers in, yes, Baghdad. It says three other reporters “contributed to this report.” Two were in Baghdad and one was in Washington!
I appreciate Mr. Gilbert’s courage and dedication to actually go where the news is, but add in the other reporters he mentions and we get seven individuals. Compare that to the size of the entire Iraq press corps plus the huge number of reporters who, like Mr. Gilbert himself and me, just make occasional forays into the country.
Finally, I accept his offer to accompany him and will contribute reporting and photos. I only insist that he pay my expenses. My last two trips cost me out-of-pocket $14,000 and counting, with medical bills still coming in. I will not personally underwrite his operations.
[A few weeks later I got an e-mail from a G. Henry that said, “Would you consider going again without a military escort? I didn't think so.” I don’t doubt that the only time he can win a debate is when he puts words into others’ mouths.
A Failure to Communicate
[He begins with a quote from my article, “The New Band of Brothers.”]
"But otherwise they seem genetically incapable of aiming weapons".
I know it's supposed to be in jest but please tell me that you see something terribly wrong with this sentence. It is a stain on an article I otherwise enjoyed and it will have indermined [sic] your reputation in many people's eyes.
Dear Mr. Findlay:
As of this moment, I’ve received about 70 emails on the article in question. Aside from yours, only one was negative and that was only concerning my characterization of lazy and cowardly reporters. Now, it could be that you are right and the rest of the world is wrong; but such thinking has long been associated with insanity. In any event, please tell me you’ll never try to get a job in anything involving communications. Oops! Just noticed your title!
[These next emails came after an appearance on the Al Franken Show, where apparently guests are encouraged to lie because those I appeared with sure did!]
Fancy that; a Lamp that Sheds Darkness
You sounded like a complete idiot – while you’re obviously biased and misinformed, you did yourself no favors with your out-of-control behavior. Maybe you should hire an image consultant if you plan on continued media appearances. Or save us all the trouble and just limit yourself to rightwing nutjob howdowns [sic].
I’d suggest that if you enjoy hoedowns so much you learn to spell the word. And assuming everything you write is true, at least I’m not one of the 25 Americans who are so lacking a life as to not only tune in to Al Franken but to actually writes nasty e-mails to the guests.
He’s Tough; He Once Watched “Blackhawk Down”
I trust you mean that in the vaginal sense and that you would like penetrate me. I respectively decline the offer.
His Therapist Told Him to Write This
Heard You [sic] on The Al Franken Show Today [sic]. I recorded it and listened to it twice. I feel that you have some sort of pent up anger. I hope that you find a way to deal with it. I do have a good therapist if you want to give her a call you can reply to me I will give you the info.
Just read your email twice. I feel that you have some sort of pent up belief that it's okay to dump on our brave soldiers while making heroes out of our cowardly and often prevaricating press corps. I'd like to say that while I disagree with your beliefs I nevertheless respect them but the fact is I don't respect them, you, or your therapist.
Subject: SKEWED FUMENTO Know-It-All-Knows Nothing
Read the important information sent out today. It must be difficult for you to understand how it feels when you suffer with electro-sensitivity or cancer, but I can sadly assure you the effects are real.
Dear Ms. O’Connor:
Insofar as nobody suffers from “electro-sensitivity,” it is indeed difficult for me to understand how it feels.