U.S. Finally Captures the Benghazi ‘Ringleader’ who CNN Interviewed Last Year

by Greg Pollowitz

It is good news that we’ve finally apprehended somebody in the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. NPR reports:

The United States says it has captured a militant suspected of leading the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured by American troops after coordinating with law enforcement. Kirby said Khattala was captured on Sunday and all U.S. personnel involved in the operation are safe.

Khattala, said Kirby, is now “in a secure location outside of Libya.”

But let’s not pretend this is some sort of intelligence coup. 

NRP writes that he was living out “in the open” and CNN interviewed him last summer, angering many Republicans in Congress who asked how CNN could find him but the U.S. military could not:

A Republican lawmaker demanded Wednesday to know why investigators have not captured or killed any of the suspects in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, pointing out that CNN was able to find a man who some say was the ringleader in the assault that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

Eight GOP lawmakers are asking that incoming FBI Director James Comey brief Congress within 30 days about the investigation. They say the administration’s inquiry into the September 11, 2012, attacks in Libya has been “simply unacceptable,” according to a draft letter obtained by CNN.

“One of the pertinent questions today is why we have not captured or killed the terrorist who committed these attacks?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told reporters. “News out today that CNN was able to go in and talk to one of the suspected terrorists, how come the military hasn’t been able to get after them and capture or kill the people? How come the FBI isn’t doing this and yet CNN is?”

Chaffetz was referring to CNN’s recent interview with Ahmed Abu Khattala, who Libyan and U.S. officials have described as the Benghazi leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated militia group Ansar al-Sharia — one of many groups that filled the vacuum of authority following the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

The early report states that Khattala was captured by SOF troops as well as an agent from the FBI and that he’s currently en route to the U.S. on a Navy ship. 

Exit questions: Has the FBI read Khattala his Miranda rights yet?

Not Dead Broke: NBC Paid Chelsea $600K/Year

by Greg Pollowitz


Chelsea Clinton earned an annual salary of $600,000 at NBC News before switching to a month-to-month contract earlier this year, sources with knowledge of the agreement told POLITICO.

Clinton, who joined NBC News as a “special correspondent” in November 2011, was up for renewal or non-renewal this year. Instead, the sources said, the network decided to keep her on the payroll on a month-to-month basis so that the two parties could sever ties if Clinton’s mother, Hillary, runs for president.

Another example of why nepotism is the best-paying of the isms. 

Out: Innocent Until Proven Guilty; In: Bergdahl’s Crazy

by Greg Pollowitz

Via Sally Kohn:

Weird. We can’t rely on the eyewitness testimony of soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon, but anonymous sources in the Washington Post can diagnosis Bergdahl’s psychological state at the time of his disappearance?

The Dignity of Office

by Greg Pollowitz

President Obama, leader of the free world, answered questions yesterday on the social-media platform Tumblr. He started off the Q&A by fist-bumping Tumblr’s founder, David Karp:

Note: this isn’t a photshopped joke, but an actual item posted on WhiteHouse.gov



Miss USA 2014: Learn Self-Defense to Help Prevent Rape at College

by Greg Pollowitz

Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez won the 2014 Miss USA pageant last night, but it was her answer to a question from celebrity judge Rumer Willis that generated a little controversy:

“Recently, Time magazine revealed that 19% of U.S. undergraduate  women are victims of sexual assault in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug so long, and what can colleges do to combat this?”

Sanchez, who is a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo, answered thus:

“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”

Makes sense, no?

Well, not to feminists who expressed their displeasure of Miss Nevada’s answer on Twitter, but to most sane people it makes sense.




Next Big Issue: Obama Should Release the ‘Cleared’ Guantanamo Detainees

CNN’s Don Lemon Tells Soldiers in Bergdahl’s Platoon to ‘Wait for the Facts’

Question for Media Matters, NYT: Are You Calling These Soldiers Liars?

Underreported News: FLOTUS Bemoans Money in Politics at High-Dollar Fundraiser

Susan Rice from Sunday: Bergdahl Served with ‘Honor and Distinction’

Media Matters and Fox News: The War Goes On?

SCOTUS Sides with Government and Rejects James Risen Appeal

Chris Matthews Has Lost the Leg-Tingle Over the VA Scandal

Joe Biden Talks About His Sons at Air Force Academy Commencement

Ed Schultz Ends His Talk Radio Show

by Greg Pollowitz

I’m a little late to this, but Ed Schultz has delivered his last radio show. 

Jack Coleman at Newsbusters has the details.

Of note, Randi Rhodes has ended her talk radio show, too. And I thought this was amusing. Her replacement in Santa Fe, New Mexico sounds like a real gem:

When Rhodes left the airwaves, KTRC did some reshuffling of its schedule, moving Thom Hartmann’s show up to Rhodes’ 1-4 p.m. time slot and replacing Hartmann’s 4-7 p.m. slot with a guy named Norman Goldman.

If every place had Santa Fe’s political leanings, Hutton observed, liberal talkers probably wouldn’t be dropping so rapidly.

Hartmann has a following here. Hutton said several listeners were glad that his show is now live on KTRC (which means you’ll probably hear more people from Santa Fe calling in).

This Goldman guy lost me, though. I tuned in a few nights ago, and the first thing I heard was Goldman not comparing the Republican Party to Hitler, but saying the Republican Party is Hitler. Perhaps a lot of profound political dialogue followed that, but I wasn’t listening.

Liberal talk radio is dying, if not dead already. 

Amazon to WaPo: No Comment

by Greg Pollowitz

Do they draw straws to see who gets to ask the guy who signs their paychecks the tough questions? Politico:

Jeff Bezos’s Amazon did not respond to requests for comment from the Washington Post, the paper he owns, regarding a dispute between the bookseller and a major publishing house.

Amazon, the country’s largest bookseller, and Hachette, which publishes best-selling authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Colbert, have been locked in a public war over costs. As a result, Hachette has accused Amazon of hiking book prices and delaying deliveries of its books in order to discourage buyers.

Since The New York Times reported on the dispute earlier this month, media critics had been encouraging the Post to follow up with its own coverage of its owner’s company. It did so onMay 16 and again on May 23, noting that the feud had escalated to the point where Amazon had halted pre-sales on Hachette titles.

Yet when the Post’s Steven Mufson reached out to his boss’s company for comment for the first article, Amazon “would not comment,” according to the report. When he reached out for the second article, the company did not even respond.

The rest here.

One solution might be for media companies to print/air pieces from rivals when there is a conflict of interest. 

WaPost Critic Blames Hollywood For Santa Barbara Killings

by Greg Pollowitz

Movie critic Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post thinks movies like Seth Rogen’s Neighbors and Judd Apatow “comedies” are connected to the mass killing in Santa Barbara. She writes:

As Rodger bemoaned his life of “loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire” and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as “the true alpha male,” he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA. For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny). Rodger’s rampage may be a function of his own profound distress, but it also shows how a sexist movie monoculture can be toxic for women and men alike.

How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like “Neighbors” and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of “sex and fun and pleasure”? How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, “It’s not fair”?

Movies may not reflect reality, but they powerfully condition what we desire, expect and feel we deserve from it. The myths that movies have been selling us become even more palpable at a time when spectators become their own auteurs and stars on YouTube, Instagram and Vine. If our cinematic grammar is one of violence, sexual conquest and macho swagger — thanks to male studio executives who green-light projects according to their own pathetic predilections — no one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large.

As you might expect, Rogen and Apatow are none too pleased

Rogen called the criticism “horribly insulting and misinformed,” while Apatow accused Hornaday of using “tragedy to promote herself with idiotic thoughts.” Oh, and Judd Apatow does have a keen eye for how online journalism works: “They say something shocking and uninformed & get you to click on it to profit.”

You know who else does “something shocking” for “profit?” Hollywood. 

I doubt Rogen or Apatow read the entire piece, however. Hornaday went on to write:

Every year, San Diego State University researcher Martha Lauzen releases a “Celluloid Ceiling” report in which she delivers distressing statistics regarding the state of women in Hollywood. This year, she found that women made up just 16 percent of directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 movies of 2013; similarly, women accounted for just 15 percent of protagonists in those films.

Weird how this didn’t come up when President Obama was recently in California raising money. How can the president take campaign contributions from such a misogynistic industry? What would Lilly Ledbetter say?

As for Hornaday’s thesis, I don’t buy it and it’s no better than the knee-jerk reactions blaming the tragedy on the NRA. For example, here’s Albert Brooks:

Brooks won’t admit this, but it’s the NRA that has been pushing states to put more Americans with mental health issues into the system that would prevent them from buying a gun. 

When confronted on Twitter, Brooks dismissed the facts from Santa Barbara that three of the victims were killed by a knife and the plan was to kill many more with a car. He then went on to make a joke about AAA lobbying Congress to legalize ”assault towing.” This might be funny if the last movie I saw starring Albert Brooks wasn’t Drive, where characters were killed on screen with guns, knives, and cars. Maybe Hornaday can add Brooks to her list of Hollywood culprits? 

There is a pattern emerging with these incidents, however, and it’s not related to Hollywood culture or the NRA. It’s that killers like the ones in Sandy Hook, Aurora, and now Santa Barbara were under mental-health treatment of some sort and the treatment providers — as well as the killers’ families – missed what was going to happen. And in the case of Santa Barbara, not only did the the mental health-experts miss the warning signs, so did law enforcement officers sent to check on the killer after a request for a “wellness check“ from the killer’s family. 

As much as Hornaday or Brooks want easy answers to assign blame, they’re just not there. 




Ezra Klein Explains ‘The Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency’

The NYT, Game of Thrones, and Spock

by Greg Pollowitz

What was it like in the newsroom when the New York Times fired its editor Jill Abramson? Thankfully we have David Carr of the New York Times to shed some light on the palace intrigue. An excerpt from his piece yesterday:

I have witnessed some fraught moments at The New York Times. Jayson Blair was a friend of mine. I watched Howell Raines fly into a mountain from a very close distance. I saw the newspaper almost tip over when the print business plunged and the company had to borrow money at exorbitant rates from a Mexican billionaire.

But none of that was as surreal as what happened last week. When The Times’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., stood up at a hastily called meeting in the soaring open newsroom where we usually gather to celebrate the Pulitzers and said that Jill was out, we all just looked at one another. How did our workplace suddenly become a particularly bloody episode of “Game of Thrones”?

To expand on Carr’s Game of Thrones reference, this would make Sulzberger Jr. the cruel and dim-witted King Joffrey who only attained his title because of his name. 

Carr continues:

The current mayhem aside, Mr. Sulzberger’s real failing has been picking two editors who ended up not being right for the job.

I was standing there when Howell Raines, taken down by the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal, handed over control of the newspaper. There was sadness and anger, but also a measure of dignity. Instead, this has become a grinding spectacle.

This is part of the Abramson story that’s not really getting any attention. The way the Times is set up as a corporation protects Sulzberger as a publisher-king. . .

The Times Company has a dual share structure: Class A stock, which is publicly traded, and a special class of stock, Class B, that allows the Sulzbergers to elect about 70 percent of the company’s board.

At some point, employees and stockholders of the Times need to question if a change in executive leadership is needed, and not just an editorial switch. And those are questions not being asked. For example, Carr wrote that “increases in digital circulation have bought the company some breathing room.” Maybe Carr can ask Sulzberger why anyone subscribes to the Times digitally at all as the paywall to protect digital subscribers can be bypassed simply by using the private or incognito setting on your browser. 

Carr ends with this anecdote regarding his interview with the paper. Think like Spock if you want to work  in King’s Landing at the Times:

Before I came to work here, Gerald Boyd, the crusty — or should I say “pushy”? — managing editor who would eventually be swept up in the Jayson Blair affair, was interviewing me. I could tell it was not going well. He was skeptical of my lack of daily experience and my more noisy tendencies. I finally realized what he was waiting to hear.

“I understand that if I come to work at The New York Times, the needs of the many will frequently supersede the needs of the one,” I said.

I meant it when I said it and I learn the truth of it with each passing day.

Well, since Carr does bring it up, when do the needs of the many at the NYT outweigh the needs of the Sulzberger family?


Live-Tracking a Great White Shark off Miami

by Greg Pollowitz

I had no idea this existed: real-time shark tracking.

And here’s the track of a great white shark named Katharine as it heads toward Miami:

Local news in Ft. Lauderdale is reporting that it might be the same great white that menaced a diver in this video from a few days ago:

It’s too bad CNN isn’t covering this as “breaking news,” because I think I’d watch it. Especially if they had a helicopter in the air showing how close Katharine was to swimmers.