By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Special backscratching edition

The Friends of Media Nation are all over the place, as I struggle to get back up to speed after a week in electronic oblivion:

  • There are few journalists whose work I respect more than that of Seth Gitell, a former Phoenix colleague who recently wrapped up a stint as Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s spokesman. Writing in the New York Sun, Gitell reports on what one can only hope will be the beginning of a backlash against Episcopal Bishop Thomas Shaw’s knee-jerk Israel-bashing.
  • My editor at CommonWealth Magazine, Bob Keough, offers an analysis in today’s Boston Globe on several decades’ worth of political wrangling over the Big Dig. Keough: “[A] series of governors found themselves with little direct authority over the mammoth project as costs escalated and problems surfaced. Instead, they tried to mold it, from afar, by board and chair appointments that repeatedly came back to haunt their successors.”
  • As the Globe acknowledged in its Friday report, news of Julie and Hillary Goodridge’s separation was broken by Bay Windows two days earlier. Written by the paper’s editor, Susan Ryan-Vollmar, a former Phoenix news editor, the article shows that, in the end, this pioneering lesbian couple’s two-decade-long relationship turned out to be just like most people’s: fragile.
  • With veteran media critic Mark Jurkowitz having departed for Washington, Phoenix political columnist Adam Reilly steps up with a sharp analysis of how the Globe and the Herald covered the opening days of the Big Dig disaster.
  • In the scratching-my-own-back category, Boston Magazine’s John Gonzalez quotes me in his profile of the Herald’s gossip columnists, Laura Raposa and Gayle Fee. Gonzalez also manages to place Media Nation in a love triangle with Chet Curtis and Ted Kennedy. Go figure.

And, oh yeah: Comments are back. So fire away.

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Santa Barbarism


  1. Anonymous

    Dan – “Knee-jerk Israel-bashing”? Maybe you missed it – they’re bombing civilians. I despise the Islamofascists, but this is not exactly the way for Israel to take the high road.And anyway, just as big a story is the absence of any meaningful diplomacy from the good ‘ol USA. It’s fairly obvious the Bush administration is going to let Israel hammer southern Lebanon for a few more days, because God knows, bombing civilians earns friends in that part of the world.

  2. Don

    I am anxious to hear your take on the doings at the Santa Barbara News-Press. I think this could be something really significant. Little Iodine

  3. Charles Foster Kane

    Gitell writes: “The story of the Episcopal Church is an important one because it will signal whether the mainline Protestant churches can stem rampant anti-Israelism within their ranks.” It would seem in Gitell’s world that any protest against any Israeli action is evidence of “rampant anti-Israelism”–I don’t get the sense from any of his sources that anti-Israelism is rampant, nor have I seen rampant anti-Israelism in my personal experience. To accept Gitell’s statement, “There’s no nuance in images. Bishop Shaw’s presence at the protest with Israel in harm’s way overshadows any diplomatic objective that he and his supporters say was the goal of the protest” effectively means that no protest is acceptable because, as we are constantly reminded, Israel is forever in harm’s way. I would hazard a guess to say that even if Israel weren’t in harms way, Gitell would find fault with Shaw’s protest. I realize that Israel has a fine line to walk between self-defense and unacceptable aggression. The number of innocent people killed in Lebanon in the past couple of weeks can’t be chalked up to self-defense. If Isreal destroys a hospital, people have a right to ask questions especially since the United States has so kindly agreed to rush a shipment of precision guided bombs to Israel.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    But Charles … is Bishop Shaw on record as having ever protested Palestinian aggression against Israel?

  5. Bill Baar

    …they’re bombing civilians……they’re using civilians as shields, as hostages; to stock pile rockets to launch at all depends on who you think they are…

  6. Anonymous

    Dan, Dan, Dan. In a civil society, it goes *without saying* that we condemn terrorist attacks against Israel. You’re being like the people who attack Murtha because he doesn’t explicitly condemn al Qaeda every time he calls for redeployment of US troops in Iraq.

  7. Charles Foster Kane

    Dan:I have met Shaw several times and have found him to be a thoughtful individual on a variety of issues. Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorism never came up in the discussion so I don’t know if Shaw is on record as having protested Palestinian aggression against Israel. If he is on record, does that make his protest acceptable and Gitell’s argument b.s.? Furthermore, protesting the plight of a particular Anglican hospital seems like exactly the sort of thing and Episcopal bishop should be doing and his position on Palestinian terrorism is irrelevant.Gitell should be ashamed of his “you’re either with Israel or you support terrorism” argument as well as his slur against liberal Christian denominations. Here is Shaw from 2002: “The situation in Israel and Palestine is worse than I thought,” said Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of Massachusetts on his return from a 10-day ecumenical peace pilgrimage to the region with 23 people from his diocese and the Diocese of Olympia. “I saw the fear in the eyes and faces of Israelis because of the awful suicide bombings. At the same time, the Palestinians have suffered enormously from the occupation and the military actions of the Israeli government against the infrastructure of the Palestinian governmental authority,” he said. “The Palestinian people I met seem to have lost hope and they are angry with what the Israelis have done,” he said. “On both sides it seems to me that there is a sense of hopelessness and little idea of how to move forward.”In a statement prepared for a May 23 press conference, Shaw said that it was clear that the situation wouldn’t change “unless the United States government becomes more directly involved with the faith community. We have to intervene directly because the mistrust between the Palestinians and Israelis is so deep that I do not see a way for them to live together without our support.”On the other hand, Bill Baar apparently thinks bombing hospitals, water purification plants, and the Lebanese power grid is acceptable.

  8. Anonymous

    So what if they are using civilians as human shields? Do you play right into their hands by killing those civilians, destroying their homes, knocking out their power and water? Is that an approach a prominent *Christian* leader should advocate?I don’t get this at all. If Shaw says, “I deplore the tactics of Hezbollah,” will that change your position? *Should* he have to explicitly say that every time he addresses this humanitarian crisis?As a parent, I look at it this way: Regardless of how atrociously the kids behave, the grownups in the room (Israel, the US, the UN, the EU), have to behave like grownups. It’s supposed to be a given that we are all on the same page.

  9. Brian

    I find it interesting that Bishop Shaw is so politically active when just last month he lambasted Cardinal O’Malley and the Catholic Church for lobbying for the amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. He said that the Church should not impose its beliefs on others. It’s a two-way street, Bishop Shaw.

  10. Anonymous

    Um, we’re talking about immense human suffering here, Brian?

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