The Pompous Eric Lichtblau

Plus the "Very Dangerous Trends" of Rupert Murdoch
How Pompous

"By 2004, I had gained a reputation, deservedly or not, as one of the administration's toughest critics in the Justice Department press corps; the department even confiscated my press pass briefly after I wrote an unpopular story about the FBI's interest in collecting intelligence on anti-Iraq war demonstrations in the United States. To John Ashcroft and his aides, my coverage reflected a bias. To me, it reflected a healthy, essential skepticism - the kind that was missing from much of the media's early reporting after 9/11, both at home in the administration's war on terror and abroad in the run-up to the war in Iraq....All these assertions, as my partner Jim Risen and I would learn in our reporting, turned out to be largely untrue....The image of a united front we'd been presented a year earlier in meetings with the administration - with unflinching support for the program and its legality - was largely a façade. The administration, it seemed clear to me, had lied to us." - Justice Department reporter Eric Lichtblau in an excerpt adapted from his new book, "Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice," posted March 26 on

"Very Dangerous Trends" of Rupert Murdoch

"As Murdoch becomes more and more successful with stocks, in politicizing the kind of journalism that is considered normal in this country - I think both of those are very dangerous trends."- NYT former Executive Editor Howell Raines in an undated interview with Lloyd Grove at Raines writes a monthly column for the business magazine Portfolio.

Obama: Second Coming of LBJ, JFK and Honest Abe
"In a speech whose frankness about race many historians said could be likened only to speeches by Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln , Senator Barack Obama, speaking across the street from where the Constitution was written, traced the country's race problem back to not simply the country's "original sin of slavery" but the protections for it embedded in the Constitution. Yet the speech was also hopeful, patriotic, quintessentially American - delivered against a blue backdrop and a phalanx of stars and stripes ." - From Janny Scott's March 19 "news analysis" of Barack Obama's heralded "race speech" in Philadelphia.

"Honesty feels heady right now. For seven years, we have lived with the arid, us-against-them formulas of Bush's menial mind, with the result that the nuanced exploration of America's hardest subject is almost giddying. Can it be that a human being, like Wright, or like Obama's grandmother, is actually inhabited by ambiguities? Can an inquiring mind actually explore the half-shades of truth?
"Yes. It. Can." - International edition columnist and frequent NYT contributor Roger Cohen on Obama's race speech, from Cohen's web-only column of March 20.

Reagan's Racist Code Words
"Race did not disappear entirely from presidential campaigns; it went under cover. It lay buried in code phrases like "crime in the streets," "states' rights," and "welfare mothers."....In 1980, Ronald Reagan, campaigning on a platform that included "states' rights," opened his general election campaign in Philadelphia, Miss. - a decision criticized because it was where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964." - From Janny Scott's March 23 Week in Review piece.

Life Expectancy Increasing for All? Bummer

"New government research has found "large and growing" disparities in life expectancy for richer and poorer Americans, paralleling the growth of income inequality in the last two decades. Life expectancy for the nation as a whole has increased, the researchers said, but affluent people have experienced greater gains, and this, in turn, has caused a widening gap." - Health reporter Robert Pear, in the March 23 edition.

Snide About Supply Side
"When Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980, he promised to cut taxes in what seemed, at the time, a magical way. Tax revenue would go up, not down, he said, as the economy boomed in response to lower rates." - Beginning of economics reporter Louis Uchitelle's March 26 story.

See a Pattern?

"A grim milestone: 1000 U.S. Dead." - September 9, 2004 headline, from the Times' letters section.
"2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tours Stretch On, a Grim Mark" -October 26, 2005 headline.
"A Grim Milestone in Iraq: 3000 American Deaths."- January 1, 2007 front-page headline.

"Another Grim Milestone for the Military." - March 25, 2008 caption over a graphic.