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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


LowerManhattanite: "On the Libby Verdict"

Love that transparency in Photoshop - if only in real life

Thanks to LowerManhattanite for yet another fantastic look at our upside-down world - THANKS LM!

I decided to stay home on Tuesday to work on a project I’d been neglecting, and usually, I run MSNBC in the background as white noise. I’m a life-long news junkie, and the drone of anchors delivering the day’s events is an aural comfort for me.

But that day, because of the nature of my project—a film one—I wanted a little bit of inspiration nudging me along, so I flipped around and stumbled across a documentary on IFC entitled “A Decade Under The Influence”, a movie about the second golden age of American Cinema—namely the 70’s. Listening to the likes of Scorcese, Coppola and Billy Friedkin go on about their landmark films, I was enervated and blasting along with my work, when in the movie at around noontime, they ran a clip from 1976’s “All The President’s Men.

BRADLEE. He nods again, starts walking the two reporters from the lawn back toward WOODWARD's car.

BRADLEE: He's wrong on that last, we're not in the least danger, because nobody gives a shit--what was that Gallup Poll result? Half the country's never even heard the word Watergate.


THE RED KARMANN GHIA as the three approach.

BRADLEE: Look, you're both probably a little tired, right? (They nod) You should be, you've been under a lot of pressure. So go home, have a nice hot bath, rest up fifteen minutes if you want before you get your asses back in gear-- (louder now)--because we're under a lot of pressure, too, and you put us there--not that I want it to worry you-nothing's riding on you except the First Amendment of the Constitution plus the freedom of the press plus the reputation of a hundred-year-old paper plus the jobs of the two thousand people who work there.

And then my brain—a weirdly wired, herky-jerky erector set of a thing, faintly screamed “Turn the TV to the news.” Punched in channel 23. MSNBC.

Holy sh*t. Bulletin and Breaking News and as we say ‘round the way, Bust This! Libby convicted on four of five counts.

My mind went back to the movie I had just been watching—them running that “All The President’s Men” clip, and me turning to catch the announcement of that political earthquake shaking the dandruff outta the pubes of D.C.’s “Big Willies”, and damned if I didn’t laugh my natural, Black *ss off.

Irony…you can be a bitch, this I know--but I can’t front—you can be a funny *ss bitch at the same damn time.

So at that point, I was like “f*ck the project, let’s dig into this sundae of schadenfreude, shall we?

And kiddies, it was indeed a smorgasbord. The stand-up reports from outside the courthouse, from Fitzgerald, Wells, Juror Collins and the various made-up talking heads who’d been staking the joint out was something to see. The reports in-studio from more made-up talking heads were equally intriguing…but what started to take hold on the air as the pundits began to weigh in—an early day for them I might add—was the deeper implications of what went down. Buchanan, Howard Dean, Matthews, Bill Schneider—one and all, began to start digging through the wreckage of the verdict for “the black box” if you will.—the key to what brought us all to the awful crash. And what the “black box” is beginning to reveal is all the twists and turns, the accelerations and climbs, and yes, the f*cked up flight plan that was put in place initially. The focus is going back to the people who put the whole thing in motion. Grave words about the future of the Vice President and Rove. Lovely people the jury apparently deciphered were at the nexus of the bullsh*t, deception, and skullduggery.

That ain’t the discussion the White House wanted to see coming out of this. Compartmentalization was the desired game here. “Plan A.: Focus on Scooter.” “Plan B. : Wilson’s a liar.” “Plan C.: Plame wasn’t covert.” “Plan D. : Fitzgerald’s was on a witch hunt.” That obfuscation ain’t quite taking hold—save for on Fox where the collective lower lips were snagging dust bunnies in the studio basement--no, the tale now is of how badly this judicial cock-punch will double over the administration, and whether the administration even keeps its nuts post-cock-punch. Aaaamd, how they can survive a pardon, which the shrillest of the wingnuts cried for immediately. Again, not the discussion this bunch was craving.

It’s a game—a deadly serious f*cking game of Jenga that seems to be ensuing. When you yank Libby away, do you upset a delicately balanced Cheney? Do the underpinnings supporting Rove tremble? And do the Hummels in Bush’s breakfront up top, rattle around and possibly even…chip or break? That’s the discussion that’s unfolding over all of this. But, this game of Jenga is as wide as it is high, because it encompasses the media narrative about this administration. This one story—the CIA Leak Case, is but one of a tall, wide and perilously assembled jumble of stories. When this administration was riding high, post-’04 elections, the media was loathe to consider tugging at the various Jenga blocks that stuck out of this White House’s construct of criminality. But with the unraveling of the war in Iraq, the president’s raging unpopularity, the turning out of the GOP this November past—and now, now, the conviction of Libby in this CIA Leak Case, the media narrative has changed. Bush’s lame duck-ishness contributes to this newfound willingness to challenge his and the GOP’s bullsh*t, too. So, note if you will, the ramped up interest in things like the fired prosecutor case, the hearings on Walter Reed hospital, and the now-open speculation about Cheney’s involvement in the leak case (that post-trial juror statement about Cheney & Rove’s obvious involvement put brass knucks on the aforementioned cock-punch).

That’s a whole lotta Jenga blocks getting’ picked at right about now. And sh*t’s a trembin’ all over. What could bring the whole balsa-wood contraption down is something we as people are directly responsible for—namely, electing a Democratic congress this past year. Josh Marshall summed it up nicely in saying, ”Lesson of the day: running the administration as a criminal enterprise is much harder when the opposition controls Congress..

Hearings, kiddies. The power of the gavel. The can of worms this case opened up allows for congress to come in with a dustpan and pick up those nasty worms and chuck ‘em into the trash. Remember when congress investigated Bill Clinton over the Vince Foster suicide, replete with Rep. Dan Burton busting open melons in lame C.S.I.-lite attempts to hang the President for involvement? Well, that could only have happened with the GOP in charge of congress. Now, the Dems run things…and with pit-fighters like Henry Waxman and Charlie Rangel heading up committees with subpoena powers, the specter of investigations of the run-up to war and the obfuscations that it entailed are very much on the horizon. Which enables the Jenga game to be played that much quicker, and out of doors—with the wind blowing and close to the curb, where vibrations from passing trucks can further shake that f*cker--possibly, all the way down.

It’s kind of remiscent of that summer some 20-odd years ago. The summer of C.R.E.E.P., The Pentagon Papers, Agnew, and the “Saturday Night Massacre”. A great big bunch of Jenga blocks—some at the bottom, some at the middle, some at the edges—but yanking at ‘em all eventually brought the whole thing down. Fun and games, Washington D.C. style. So let’s break out the ice cream and cake, shall we? And settle in for a few rounds of Twister, Trouble, Mr. Mouth and yeah…Jenga.

- posted by LowerManhattanite