"Unsubstantiated Accusations" by Swift Boat Vets?

Plus: Times still sliming Duke lacrosse players and Wal-Mart employees are fat, poor and sick.
Times At It Again: "Unsubstantiated Accusations" by Swift Boat Vets
"The [Belgian] ambassadorship will be filled by Sam Fox, a major Republican donor who had withdrawn his name for the job in late March when it became clear that Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee were lining up against him. Mr. Fox donated $50,000 to the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that opposed Senator John Kerry during his 2004 presidential campaign. The group attacked Mr. Kerry's record in the Vietnam War with advertising that included unsubstantiated accusations that he had not earned his war medals." - Jim Rutenberg, April 5. The Times used the term "unsubstantiated" over 20 times in relation to the Swift Boat allegations. The paper has never described Democratic accusations that Bush was AWOL from the Texas National Guard as "unsubstantiated."

Wal-Mart Employees: Fat, Poor & Sick
"The challenges for Wal-Mart are significant. Its workers earn, on average, less than $20,000 a year, which means that fitness and ecology are, by necessity, relatively low priorities. Wal-Mart attracts a transient work force, with frequent turnover making it difficult to train people over time. And a disproportionate number of its employees suffer from chronic diseases that stem in part from poor eating habits." - Business reporter Michael Barbaro, April 5.

Al Gore, "Science Guru"
"Clearly. I mean, he is a very, very unique hybrid of sort of pop culture icon and science 'guru.' And, you know, he's very compelling in a lot of the more compelling narratives of the American culture, whether it's Silicon Valley or Hollywood or Washington, Wall Street. And he has certainly developed a piece of all that." - Reporter Mark Leibovich, speaking of Al Gore on PBS's Charlie Rose show, March 21.

Editor: Can We Fit One More "Hardscrabble" into This Sentence?
"The story of Sam Ross has the makings of a ballad, with its heart-rending arc from hardscrabble childhood to decorated war hero to hardscrabble adulthood." - From Deborah Sontag's profile of a disabled Iraq War vet, April 5.

Selena Roberts Slams Innocent Duke Players
"Don't mess with Duke, though. To shine a light on its integrity has been treated by the irrational mighty as a threat to white privilege. Feel free to excoriate the African-American basketball stars and football behemoths for the misdeeds of all athletes, but lay off the lacrosse pipeline to Wall Street, excuse the khaki-pants crowd of SAT wonder kids." - Sports columnist Selena Roberts, still attacking the Duke lacrosse players even after the "rape" case against them came apart, March 25.

Gee, Who Might He Be Referring To?
"Even for the Greek gods, what goes around comes around. If Zeus has the upper hand in Aeschylus' 'Prometheus Bound,' it is a sure bet that Prometheus, the Olympian rebel who defied authority and saved the human race, will have the last laugh. In a smart revival directed by James Kerr for the Aquila Theater Company, enhanced by David Oyelowo's splendid performance as Prometheus, the fifth-century B.C. lessons about the abuse of power by an autocratic ruler who runs roughshod over anyone who disagrees with him are not lost on a 21st-century audience. Just plug in names from today's headlines for any of the characters." - Theatre critic William Hampton, March 27.

Makes Sense To Us
"The high viewer turnout for 'Idol,' which is on tonight, cannot solely be explained by technological advances or a regression in human nature. It cannot be a coincidence that television voting rights arose so soon after the 2000 election left slightly more than half the voting population feeling cheated. Those who didn't go to the polls and fear that their abstention inadvertently made possible the invasion of Iraq may feel even worse. 'Idol' could be a displacement ritual: a psychological release that allows people to vote - and even vote often - in a contest that has no dangerous or even lasting consequences. (Even losers win out in the end: both Mr. Gore and Jennifer Hudson ended up on the Oscar stage.) Maybe the reason that more people didn't turn out for the 2004 presidential race, despite the closeness of the tally four years earlier, is that they were still in denial and distracted by 'American Idol.'" - Television critic Alessandra Stanley, April 4.

Al Qaeda Detainee Just "Another Westerner in Search of Meaning"?
"Mr. Hicks, now a plump 31-year-old, has been described as another Westerner in search of meaning in his days in Afghanistan in 2001. The prosecutors say Mr. Hicks once complained to Osama bin Laden about the lack of Qaeda training materials in English." - William Glaberson on Australian Al Qaeda detainee David Hicks, March 28.