Eavesdropping on the Chronicle

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It would be fun to see what goes on in the daily editorial board meetings at the Chronicle. You know, having to go over current events and decide what matters are of such importance that the Chronicle must give its devastating, can’t-miss analysis.

Big 1: Well, there is this Rather thing.

Big 2: The President gave a speech at the United Nations.

Big 3: John Kerry gave his fourteenth position speech on Iraq.

Big 4: DeLay wasn’t indicted, but all his closest friends were.

Big 3: It’s not as good without DeLay’s indictment.

Big 5: Metro isn’t checking boarding passes.

Unison: No, no, no. Can’t do that.

Big 1: Johnny Ramone died. The Ramones were awesome. Oh, but he was a conservative.

Big 4: No problem – we can just bury that part about his being a conservative. No one actually reads all the way to the end.

Unison: Great, good! We’ll go with that.

Big 2: MeMo showed me a Kansas City Star editorial on the swinging pendulum of fashion.

Big 4: Terrific! We’ll do Another Voice for that one.

Big 1: OK. Rather, Ramone and the swinging pendulum of fashion it is. Good meeting folks. Thanks. See you tomorrow.

And, lo and behold, here’s the Johnny Ramone obituary/editorial with that pesky part about his being a conservative added at the very end:

Fifty-five years old when he died of cancer last week, guitarist Johnny Ramone remains in fans’ imaginations just as he’d looked in youth — pallid, scrawny, peering dyspeptically through a bizarre bowl-cut hairdo. No one ever accused the Ramones of being glamorous. That might be why, almost 30 years after their seminal, first album inaugurated punk rock, the Ramones remain far less dated than the many more successful bands they influenced.

A quartet of deadbeat youths from Forest Hills, N.Y., the Ramones assembled in 1974 to create a simplistic, frenzied, yet oddly tuneful sound. Its signature was unheard-of speed. Unlike their contemporaries, the Ramones cared nothing for the extravagant music of the 1960s, preferring the straightforward sounds of ’50s pop. They had no use for art, lyrical sophistication or fancy guitar solos. But the import of Johnny Ramone’s guitar-playing should not be doubted: No one before the Ramones sounded like him; many sound like him today.

Though unrelated, all the band members adopted Ramone as their surname (it was a favored Beatles’ hotel alias). Throughout their 20-year career, they revealed little in the way of personality. Instead, persona came out in the product. They worked like dogs, touring almost unceasingly. Their often-moronic lyrics, sung — famously — to configurations of the same four chords, mixed a bleak world view with irresistible exuberance.

Mingled with such works as Gimme gimme shock treatment and Blitzkrieg Bop were surf and girl-group covers such as Do You Wanna Dance and Baby I Love You. There was nothing ironic in these covers: To the Ramones they reflected the same unpretentious values.

Johnny Ramone, the guitarist, embodied the Ramones’ old-fashioned work ethic. He battled for higher wages during the band’s incessant touring. That they never became rich for all their labors — as some studio bands did — vexed him to the end. Despite his musical repertoire concerning lobotomy, glue sniffing and skipping school, Johnny Ramone was conservative: He loved Ronald Reagan, baseball and the NRA. He died surrounded by his wife, to whom he was devoted, and numerous old friends.

(emphasis added, of course)

And the swinging pendulum of fashion editorial, borrowed from the Kansas City Star, is in the Another Voice category:

When it comes to fashion, you have to love that swinging pendulum.

Who knows when it finally went too far. Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl show, perhaps. One too many shots of Britney Spears prancing around in stripper’s garb. Or maybe it was all those flabby midriffs flowing over low-cut jeans.

In any case, fashion connoisseurs have drawn a curtain on front cleavage, rear cleavage, bellies and underwear that isn’t under anything. Show’s over, folks.

Coming to a store near you are knee-length skirts, suit jackets, ponchos and higher-cut jeans.

The fashion magazine Bazaar pictured low-slung jeans and a midriff-baring top in its August issue and warned: “Don’t even try to fit into these for fall.”

One problem has been that too many people wore those items even when they didn’t fit into them.

Still seeing a lot of skin? Be patient. Real fashion takes a while to catch up with runway fashion, and the Midwest tends to follow the coasts. Besides, we’re probably not done with all of this year’s hot days yet.

But all signs bode well for weary parents and teachers, who have worked overtime as fashion police the last few years. Teenagers, always quick to spot a trend, are pulling on tops with sleeves and moving toward more preppy styles. With any luck, thong sightings may soon be just a bad memory.

No doubt the pendulum will continue to swing. But let’s hope for a long, slow sweep in the direction of the covered torso.

And here’s the Dan Rather/CBS scolding:

If curiosity and a sense of competition are the basic food groups of the news business, skepticism is an essential nutrient. At CBS News, people forgot to take their vitamin pills.

The lapses in judgment at CBS were manifold, each aggravating the others:

First, veteran producer Mary Mapes, wanting to get the goods on President Bush and his sojourn in the Texas Air National Guard, sought out a former Guard officer known for his obsessive animosity toward the Guard and Bush. The former officer, Bill Burkett, was an unlikely source of truth and fact, and CBS should have viewed him accordingly.

Then, CBS accepted as real documents that had been faxed to them from a copying shop in Texas. The papers, purporting to be memos from Bush’s Guard commander, were questioned by some of the document experts CBS retained. They were quickly called into question by Internet bloggers familiar with computer typefaces.

Perhaps the most egregious error in judgment came when the CBS News team agreed to act as a go-between linking Burkett and the campaign of Sen. John Kerry. Getting involved with the Kerry campaign for any purpose other than gleaning information from it violated the most basic tenets of objective news reporting.

CBS News Managing Editor Dan Rather apologized for the network’s faulty judgment, but said the error was made “in good faith.” That might reveal more than Rather intended. CBS accepted the documents despite experts’ reservations and Burkett’s inability to specify where the documents had come from. This happened at least in part because the CBS news team wanted so badly for the documents to be real and took them on faith.

Conservative critics of the mainstream news media will attempt to tar the daily press, as well as ABC and NBC, with CBS’s sins. The network’s unprofessional behavior draws attention to the three broadcast networks’ loss of audience and prestige, but CBS blundered on its own.

Another day of cutting-edge journalism from the Chronicle.

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About Anne Linehan 2323 Articles
Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.