May 16, 2002


WHAT DID THE PRESIDENT KNOW? Shocking news tonight that President Bush was told by intelligence sources prior to 9/11 of a plot by Osama Bin Laden to hijack planes, yet did nothing. While it's true that the FBI and CIA get countless tips every week about terrorist activity, most of which come to nothing (the reason we get all those bogus "terror alerts"), the potential for political tumult for the president and even further erosion of faith in government resulting from this story is staggering- more on this as it develops. I guess Cynthia McKinney was right after all...

DISRESPECTING PEARL: They can make excuses and rationalizations until they're blue in the face, but there's absolutely no justification whatsoever for CBS News' decision to air parts of the videotape of Daniel Pearl's murder. As the statement by Pearl's family stated, this act played directly into the hands of the terrorists who murdered the heroic journalist, and the decision showed an alarming disrespect for the reporter's family. I didn't think anyone in journalism could do anything as disgusting in relation to the Pearl case as Ted Rall's cartoon, but Dan Rather has somehow managed it. Speaking of the Middle East, Thomas Friedman weighs in with another outstanding column.

TEARING DOWN "BIAS": Speaking of CBS News, I'm about two-thirds of the way through Bernard Goldberg's media expose "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News," and I agree 100% with the Boston Phoenix's Dan Kennedy: Goldberg is right about the prevalence in big-time media of elitist liberals, but the book is so poorly written (and clearly motivated by Goldberg's vindictive hatred of his former boss Dan Rather) that the point is largely lost. Kennedy recently left his staff position at the Phoenix, but he maintains a blog here; here's another great piece he recently wrote about the untold story of Stern figure Hank the Drunken Angry Dwarf.

POLITICAL BOSS? According to a published report, the same political consultant who masterminded Jesse Ventura's election as governor of Minnesota is trying to get Bruce Springsteen to run for the Senate from New Jersey. The story doesn't make it clear whether The Boss would be running this year or in four years against Jon Corzine (one of the few men in NJ with more money than Springsteen); the idea is that he'd run as an independent. While I find the story more than a tad implausible (given the singer's long-standing Democratic ties), Bruce would certainly have my vote, although if the choice is between the Senate bid and another tour with the E Street Band, I'd opt for the latter.

FOR PETE'S SAKE: Yesterday I shared my thoughts on what I see as the unsuitability of Jose Canseco for the Baseball Hall of Fame; that said, I'd much rather see Jose make it to Cooperstown than Pete Rose. There's once again a movement afoot to get Pete's lifetime ban from baseball lifted, primarily so he can be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Yes, most baseball fans support Rose's reinstatement, but that's because most fans don't understand Rose's crime: he bet on baseball. And not only did the all-time hits leader bet on his sport, he bet on his team. Which means that he had money on games in which he was the manager- over the course of several years, he put himself in position to make managerial decisions based on pointspreads, thus throwing the integrity of every one of those games into question.
Opposing Rose makes strange bedfellows: it's certainly the only major issue on which I agree with Commissioner Bud Selig, and I was one of the few defenders of the usually unwatchable NBC announcer Jim Gray when he grilled Pete the night of the All-Century Team introductions in 1999. Some have advocated allowing Rose into the Hall of Fame posthumously, once he passes away, thus negating his "lifetime" ban. But "Shoeless Joe" Jackson was also banned from baseball, he died 50 years ago, and he's still banned- he must've made himself ineligible when he showed up in that cornfield in Iowa in 1989.

FREE AL: And just like that, Al Goldstein is a free man.. The portly pornographer has been released on bail, pending the outcome of his appeal. However, Goldstein will be confined to his home in Florida, meaning it's not likely he'll be producing any new episodes of "Midnight Blue" anytime soon.

...IN DIFFERENT AREA CODES: Restaurant I noticed for the first time today, at 793 6th Ave. in Manhattan: Ho's Wok.

MY NBA CONFERENCE FINALS PICKS: Celtics in six; Lakers in seven. Yes, we're once again living in 1986.

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