- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

Breaking the rules

"[A] recent Newsweek cover story on Bill Clinton contained the following gem: 'One night last year he called about 1 a.m. ranting and raving about something,' says Julia Payne, his spokesperson. 'And I said, "Sir, are you watching Fox again?"'

"Any network than can get Bill Clinton agitated is worth watching. But there are better reasons for appreciating Fox News. On the day of the California primary election in early March, Bill O'Reilly led his Fox News "O'Reilly Factor" show, as usual, with his 'Talking Points Memo' directed to the voters of Modesto, Calif., and was simple, direct, and loud: 'DON'T VOTE FOR GARY CONDIT!'

"Can anyone imagine Larry King saying this? Or Jeff Greenfield, or Ted Koppel, or Tim Russert, or Charlie Rose, or anyone on the other TV networks? Therein lies the difference between Fox News and nearly everyone else in the TV news business.

"It is not simply that Fox breaks all the unstated rules of the news business that makes it better viewing than its peers. It does so with a twinkle in its eye, not taking itself as seriously as Dan Rather or Peter Jennings, which is itself a subtle rebuke to the self-congratulatory competition."

Steven Hayward, writing on "Out-Foxing the Media," in the June issue of On Principle<br>

Convict culture

"One black inmate after the next told me that the only whites they respected were the Nazis. Initially I was totally shocked seeing these guys with 'White' on one tricep and 'Pride' on the other sitting at tables playing cards with the blackest of the black inmates. But the truth is, in prison non-racists don't get respect from anybody. They're considered nerds or weaklings. It's considered a virtue to have esteem for your heritage in prison. I mean, you have so very little else in there, you focus on those sort of tribal identities.

"You know, rare is the true sociopath. People laugh about honor among thieves. But the convict code to me is an incredibly moral thing. Why are rats and snitches hated in prison? 'Cause every one of them is guilty of something. They're trying to get out of whatever they're charged with by pinning it on someone else. And to me, that's the ultimate act of immorality."

Author Jim Goad, released last year after serving 2 1/2 years in an Oregon prison for punching a girlfriend, interviewed by John Strausbaugh in the June 26 issue of New York Press

Boycott backlash?

"Freelance writer Nicole Holland complains in the Columbia (S.C.) State that not enough people came to hear Princeton prof, poseur and provocateur Cornel West speak in South Carolina last month:

"'As a writer, I stand in awe of his work. As a woman, I champion his profound regard for black women and the depth of relationship. And as an African-American, I am grateful for his insight and ability to keenly capture the essence of our existence. If you can identify with his issues, his book "Race Matters" will change your entire perspective.

"'Undoubtedly, Dr. West is one of the greatest minds of this century. A noted scholar, he has been labeled as both poet and philosopher. I believe the more apt title is prophet. If the world does not wake up to the essence of his message, if black America does not heed his voice, we will miss a prolific part of our history.

"'There should not have been an empty seat in the Coliseum on May 18! Last month, one of the most respected scholars of our day came to Columbia. And most of us stayed home. In a state, in a county, in a city, where race so obviously continues to matter, why did we not sit at the feet of this great orator?'

"Could it be that the people who didn't show up were honoring the NAACP's boycott of South Carolina over the display of the Confederate Flag on the state capitol grounds? Come to think of it, what was West doing in the Palmetto State while there's a boycott on?"

James Taranto, writing on "West Goes South," Wednesday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

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