Julie Brown needn’t be modest. She did a helluva job nailing Epstein!

Getty Images

❝ Julie K. Brown, an investigative journalist for the Miami Herald, just reminded us why Trump’s attempts to intimidate and delegitimize the press are so dangerous. Brown broke the behind-the-scenes story of the disgraceful plea deal that Alexander Acosta, then the U.S. attorney in Miami, secretly negotiated with attorneys for sex-ring trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Brown started a firestorm that re-opened the Epstein case and…forced Acosta to resign as secretary of Labor.

❝ Journalists were once defined by the chain-smoking, wisecracking, crime-beat reporters in the play “The Front Page,” and later by the clean-cut, dedicated types played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in the movie “All The President’s Men” about Watergate. (Okay, in the movie Carl Bernstein smoked a lot, too).

Now the image of an investigative journalist is a woman in her late 50s who was raised by a single parent, left home at age 16 to earn enough money to attend college, and scrapped her way up the journalistic ladder at the Miami Herald.

❝ Brown had no subpoena power, commanded no FBI agents and had no ability to offer leniency in return for testimony. Yet, she did the job that Acosta and his prosecutorial team — who had all those tools at their disposal — should have done, but didn’t. Her articles reported that, as often as three times a day, Epstein sexually abused underage girls and even paid some of his victims — one was 14 and had braces at the time — to recruit other victims.

Brown turned over a giant rock with some very slimy things underneath, and not just Epstein.

The tradition of Woodward and Bernstein is still alive and well in the best newspapers in this land.

One of the Three Writers Who Taught Me About War

❝ What everybody knows about John Hersey is that he wrote “Hiroshima,” the one widely read book about the effects of nuclear war. Its place in the canon is assured, not only because it was a major literary achievement but also because reporters haven’t had another chance to produce an on-the-scene account of a city recently blasted by a nuclear weapon. Yet Hersey was more of a figure than that one megaton-weighted fact about him would indicate. Born in 1914, he had an astonishingly rapid ascent as a young man. Because he was a quiet, sober person who lived an unusually unflamboyant life by the standards of celebrated American writers, it’s easy to miss how much he achieved.

❝ By the time Hersey reached his mid-thirties, he had worked as an assistant to Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and as a reporter for Henry Luce, the founder of Time-Life. He had published five books about the Second World War—two works of nonfiction and three heavily researched novels. One of these novels, “A Bell for Adano,” which he wrote in a month, won a Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a long-running Broadway play and then a Hollywood movie. Another, “The Wall,” set in the Warsaw ghetto, was the first major book about the Holocaust. Meanwhile, Hersey, as a magazine writer, had reported from all over the world. For The New Yorker, he wrote the original version of “Hiroshima,” along with the first, mythmaking account of John F. Kennedy’s heroics as the skipper of PT-109 in the Pacific theatre, and a five-part Profile of Harry Truman, based on what must be the most copious access a sitting President has ever given to a journalist…

❝ “Hiroshima” is still probably the best-known piece The New Yorker has ever published. When it appeared, in August, 1946, it took up an entire issue, a signal the magazine has chosen to send only that once. Its publication marked the end of the magazine’s founding era and the beginning of its maturity…

I read “Hiroshima” the year it came out. I have carried that first edition with me everywhere I have lived. Some other time I may write about the other two works in the title of this post. All were about World War 2. All were about war, more powerfully, more thorough, more introspective than you would have expected so close to a war filled with as much death and destruction as that one. I reread it every few years. The others as well.

I was eight years old when it was published. I was not an ordinary eight-year-old, I guess. The understanding of war, so many aspects of war I gleaned from those pages, has stayed with me all my life. That has grown and changed in some ways over time. The same is true of the others.

Please read the article. You will learn more about this author. And please read “Hiroshima”.

Did our Fake President keep our snoops from warning Jamal Khashoggi?

Ozan Kose/AFP

❝ Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi counsulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he divorced his ex-wife – never to be seen since.

Turkish sources have told media outlets they believe the Saudi writer and critic was killed inside the consulate in what they describe as “premeditated murder”.

❝ Saudi officials have countered that claim, insisting Khashoggi left the building before vanishing.

The Latest

❝ The Washington Post reports Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself ordered an operation targeting Jamal Khashoggi.

Based on US intelligence intercepts, Saudi officials were heard discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi from the US state of Virginia, where he resides, back to Saudi Arabia where he would be detained, the newspaper said, citing unnamed US officials…

A team of 15 Saudis flew into Istanbul last week, drove to the Saudi consulate and then departed that same day on private planes headed for Cairo and Dubai. This is according to The Washington Post, which has been tracking the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

SHANE HARRIS: I don’t think we fully know the intent. And I think you’re right. Fifteen people is a lot to kill one individual. And a former U.S. official I spoke to about this said it actually bears a lot of the hallmarks of a rendition or a kidnapping operation. But we still don’t know. But what we are understanding is that the U.S. government was picking up intelligence that the Saudis wanted for some time to capture Khashoggi – not clear whether they wanted to capture and prosecute him or whether they want to interrogate him or kill him but that there was some high-level interest on the part of the government of getting him in some way.

No mention of any attempt by anyone in the White House or Trumpo to warn Khashoggi. Something required by US law and convention – even for non-citizens.


Om Malik

In the first episode of the second season of British television show, The Hour, its protagonist, Freddie Lyon upon returning from America explains why he was intoxicated by the new world:

“Being nobody in a country where everybody thinks they can be somebody…”

That one utterance by a fictional character sums up why every immigrant wants to come to America and that does include me. This is the country where Albert Einstein and Nicola Tesla were somebody. This is the place where Kim Kardashian and Alex Rodriguez are somebody. Kanye West and Steve Jobs, they are somebody. At one point they were nobodies. This quirky, burger munching, frappuccino swigging, football loving, gas-guzzling cross between utopia and Disney Land is a nation of nobodies who are on their way to be somebody.

And that is the beauty of America…

Today, in a ceremony at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California, I was sworn in along with 1224 others and we became Americans. I am still memorizing the Star Spangled Banner and trying to imprint the oath of allegiance on my heart, but I have always known that I was an American.

Long before I left my parents home, in those hot summer nights when I read American magazines and dreamed of New York, I knew where I belonged. That America was brought alive by pulp fiction and noir writers. America was Michael Jackson. America was Wall Street. America was Tom Wolfe’s Electric Acid Kool Aid Test and his Bonfire of Vanities. America was Bell Labs. It was Bruce Springsteen.

The America I found was a kaleidoscope of all those fictions and many more realities. Random acts of kindness from absolute strangers, failures that taught more than successes, disappointments that taught the meaning of joy, but most importantly the America I found was a place where my mind could finally roam free. It was a place where I learned that tomorrow is another opportunity…

In most places in the world, outsiders like me don’t have that chance. That simple truth is what makes America so special. A chance – to be somebody even if you are nobody. America is a state of mind and I have opted-in!

Congratulations, Om.

The Higgs boson: What’s God got to do with it?

Josef Kristofoletti’s painting of what a Higgs boson may look like
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

“We don’t call it the ‘God particle’, it’s just the media that do that,” a senior U.S. scientist politely told an interviewer on a major European radio station on Tuesday.

“Well, I am the from the media and I’m going to continue calling it that,” said the journalist – and continued to do so.

The exchange, as physicists at the CERN research centre near Geneva were preparing to announce the latest news from their long and frustrating search for the Higgs boson, illustrated sharply how science and the popular media are not always a good mix.

“I hate that ‘God particle’ term,” said Pauline Gagnon, a Canadian member of CERN’s ATLAS team of so-called “Higgs hunters” – an epithet they do not reject.

“The Higgs is not endowed with any religious meaning. It is ridiculous to call it that,” she told Reuters at a news conference after her colleagues revealed growing evidence, albeit not yet proof, of the particle’s existence…

The Higgs boson is being hunted so determinedly because it would be the manifestation of an invisible field – the Higgs field – thought to permeate the entire universe.

The field was posited in the 1960s by British scientist Peter Higgs as the way that matter obtained mass after the universe was created in the Big Bang. As such, according to the theory, it was the agent that made the stars, planets – and life – possible by giving mass to most elementary particles, the building blocks of the universe; hence the nickname “God particle…”

According to people who have investigated the subject, the term originated with a 1993 history of particle physics by U.S. Nobel prize winner Leon M Lederman.

The book was titled: “The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question?”

Physicists say Lederman, who over the years has been the target of much opprobrium from his scientific colleagues, tells friends he wanted to call the book “The Goddamned Particle” to reflect frustration at the failure to find it.

But, according to that account, his publisher rejected the epithet – possibly because of its potential to upset a strongly religious U.S. public – and convinced Lederman to accept the alternative he proposed.

No surprise at any level. The absurd enthusiasm for religious excuses for any sort of behavior are part and parcel of life in these United States – including the bigots who still would split the nation to reform the Confederacy, “God’s Country” for many of them.

Still, the old established denominations diminish at a steady pace. Losers remaining, thrashing about for explanations to justify their idealized loyalty to superstition move those remnants further into fundamentalism, trying to justify allegiance to failed explanations – when reality and science are simple enough, easy enough.

Associated Press reporters smacked by the boss for tweeting

Karen Matthews, AP reporter, arrested by NYC coppers
Photo by AP photographer Seth Wenig, also arrested

Associated Press has reprimanded some of its journalists for breaking news on Twitter before posting it on the wires.

The news agency issued the warning after some staff members tweeted that AP journalists had been arrested at the Occupy Wall Street camp in Manhattan. An email from bosses followed reminding staff about AP’s social media policies…

While Twitter is an invaluable tool in newsrooms around the world, it has also forced news organisations, including AP, to draw up strict rules.

“If you have a piece of information, a photo or a video that is compelling, exclusive and/or urgent enough to be considered breaking news, you should file it to the wire, and photo and video points before you consider putting it out on social media,” the AP policy reads.

After the recent incident in New York, AP’s managing editor Lou Ferrara wrote an email to employees explaining that their first duty was to the agency not Twitter.

And executive editor Kathleen Carroll issued a memo saying much of the resulting “chatter” had missed the point.

“When we lose contact with a journalist, our main focus is making sure they are safe, no matter where they are. Sometimes, talking about it while things are still uncertain can endanger them,” she said.

“It’s not outlandish to think that a tweet that’s taken by someone in authority to be opinionated or sarcastic could lead to one of our staffers being held longer than necessary…”

But Anthony de Rosa, social media editor at Reuters, thinks that such policies may need to be overhauled. He tweeted: “News agencies must evolve or face extinction.”

He expanded the point in his official Reuters blog.

The wire is still a huge part of our business and always will be. However, acting in a way that handcuffs us from doing our best work on Reuters.com and on social networks, which help drive traffic and extend our brand, is writing a death sentence for us as a future media company.

“To bury our head in the sand and act like Twitter (and who knows what else comes into existence next month or five years from now?) isn’t increasingly becoming the source of what informs people in real-time is ridiculous,” he wrote.

RTFA – the discussion moves in a few directions not the least of which is hoax tweets – which are generally reprehensible.

Black journalist arrested because he “looked like drug dealer”

New Zealand police arrested and strip searched a black South African rugby journalist drinking with white colleagues in a pub because he “fitted the profile of a drug dealer”.

Vata Ngobeni, who works for the Pretoria News newspaper and acts as an analyst for South Africa’s national broadcaster SABC, was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning and taken to a police station where he was strip searched.

When he tried to explain that he was a journalist on tour covering the Springboks’s performance in the Rugby World Cup, which New Zealand is hosting, he was told they were following standard procedure when they spot someone who fits “the profile of a drug dealer”.

Colleagues in the bar with him confirmed he was the only black person present.

“I have never been so embarrassed in my life,” he told a South African newspaper after being released. “I have never experienced this kind of treatment in all my travels around the world, so to be singled out as a common criminal in front of so many people is something I will never forget.”

Here in the United States we have so many politicians and populist pimps rationalizing away the possible effects of police profiling – we tend to forget that other nations from Israel to New Zealand have already established such foolishness as standard operating procedures.

Some are on their way out of official racism – which I hope would be the case in New Zealand – while others like Israel are baking institutionalized bigotry into daily life.

Mark Haines — He will be missed

Veteran journalist Mark Haines, a fixture on CNBC for 22 years, died unexpectedly Tuesday evening. He was 65 years old.

Haines, founding anchor of CNBC’s morning show “Squawk Box,” was co-anchor of the network’s “Squawk on the Street” program, providing insight and commentary sometimes humorous and occasionally acerbic.

CNBC President Mark Hoffman called Haines a “building block” of the financial network’s programming. Hoffman said Haines died at his home. “With his searing wit, profound insight and piercing interview style, he was a constant and trusted presence in business news for more than 20 years,” Hoffman said in a statement to CNBC employees. “From the dotcom bubble to the tragic events of 9/11 to the depths of the financial crisis, Mark was always the unflappable pro.

“Mark loved CNBC and we loved him back. He will be deeply missed.”

Haines may be best remembered for his calming and commanding presence during the 9/11 tragedy when he reacted unflappably to the furious stream of incoming rumor and even more astonishing truth with a professionalism that rivaled any television anchor, said CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman…

Haines served as a news anchor for KYW-TV in Philadelphia, WABC-TV in New York, and WPRI-TV in Providence, before joining CNBC.

Haines held a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was a member of the New Jersey State Bar. In 2000, he was named to Brill’s Content’s “Influence List.”

His death quickly reverberated through the financial community…

Traders at the normally bustling New York Stock Exchange paused for a moment of silence…

Haines was known for a lawyer-like determination to get at the truth, pressing guests for answers if they tried to avoid his pointed questions. CNBC reporters and anchors remembered Haines holding them up to the same standard…

I’m an old fart who didn’t get serious about investing till this last Great Recession pissed me off. Between incompetent mutual fund managers and the ever-increasing blather of “news” channels – I found myself watching the two professional financial channels to see what was going on in the real world.

In this new viewing world, there were five people I enjoyed watching and listening to – 3 on CNBC, 2 on Bloomberg. Mark Haines was one of those. A retiree, I always had the time to watch Squawk on the Street. And this week, my wife is home on vacation – so, both of us were watching the sad news come over the air, today.

Tears fill our eyes, sadness our hearts. He will be missed.