Serious Journalism – Bikini Edition

Howard KurtzI was watching Howard Kurtz on CNN this morning, and he weighed in on the controversy (which I hadn’t even heard about) regarding Sports Illustrated retouching out a tattoo on Danica Patrick’s back.

Kurtz’ view is that retouching is wrong because this is supposed to be journalism. No, I don’t think he was joking. Here’s the transcript:

By the way, Sports Illustrated also did something this week. It airbrushed a photo of racecar driver Danica Patrick to remove a tattoo that she had on her back. SI thinks this is just fine. I don’t. This is a journalistic magazine.

Come on, guys. Keep it real.

This was a picture of Danica Patrick, the race car driver, in a bikini. Is that what she wears when she’s racing? And was the picture for a serious journalistic piece about her career, which could have included some discussion of the fact that, in addition to racing cars, she’s viewed as a sex symbol? Plenty of sports figures pose for posters, calendars and such that are about subjects other than the human drama of athletic competition. Often they’re about the human drama of being hot. Would Kurtz have a problem with those pictures getting the Photoshop treatment?

The picture was not for a serious article on Patrick’s career, by the way. It was for SI’s annual swimsuit edition, the purpose of which isn’t exactly serious journalism about sport. Go ahead and click through on that link if you want to see the purpose of the magazine. You’ll probably see the same pop-up ad I saw for Planter’s Big Nut Bar, with the tagline “Make It Big.” Message received.

This is not sports journalism. It’s part fashion (selling the swimsuits), but for the most part, it’s cheesecake — pin-ups.

And fashion and glamour model pictures are retouched all the time. Hell, I’ve got a friend who works both as a fashion model and a photo retoucher. There she is below, working her photoshoppery magic.


Keep it real, Howie.

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Michael Moore vs. Wolf Blitzer

Michael MooreThis time it’s personal.

Michael Moore was on CNN during the 5-6 pm (Eastern) hour today for a live interview conducted by Wolf Blitzer. The interview was preceded by a report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which attempted to fact check Moore’s film Sicko. After the report ran, they went live for the interview, and Moore proceeded to slam Blitzer, Gupta, CNN, and the mainstream media. He accused them of being water carriers for their sponsors, including the pharmaceutical and health care industries, of refusing to ask tough questions of the powerful, of cowardice, dishonesty… it was beautiful.

It ran long (Jack Cafferty complained that they’d dug into his time), but Blitzer was barely able to get a word in edgewise. The best he could do was defend Gupta as a doctor and a journalist, and admit that CNN is a business and has to make money.

Blitzer offered to continue the interview on tape, but Moore insisted that he would only do it live because he didn’t want to be edited against his will. Blitzer replied that he’d play the whole thing, uncut. I don’t know if Moore agreed to that or not.

If I can get my hands on a video of the interview, I’ll post it here. Moore says he’s going to answer all of Gupta’s points on his site, so maybe he’ll upload the interview too.

Update: Blitzer just did a tease for the 7:00 hour, and he says he’s going to have the first part of the interview and the second tomorrow, so hopefully that means they’ll show all of the stuff that was live earlier today and more — uncut — tomorrow. I wish I had a DVR.

Update to update: today’s interview is up at YouTube. It’s non-embeddable, so you’ll have to go way over there to see it. Thanks, Mike.

OK, one more update: Moore, as promised, has published a blow by blow response to Gupta’s report on his site, closing with the following:

CNN: “But no matter how much Moore fudged the facts, and he did fudge some facts…”

This is libel. There is not a single fact that is “fudged” in the film. No one has proven a single fact in the film wrong. We expect CNN to correct their mistakes on the air and to apologize to their viewers.

We shall see…

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Hala GoraniPoor, poor . It’s just not fair what they’ve done to her.

Just think about it: born in Seattle to Syrian parents, raised in Paris, fluent in English, French and Arabic, she’s worked for , and in Paris, Bloomberg Television in London, and then joined , who relocated her to Atlanta. Atlanta? Why is it necessary to broadcast Your World Today, only one hour of which is even seen in the US, from Atlanta, of all places? Why not London, where they used to do the show, or Hong Kong, or if it had to be from the States, New York or Washington? Gorani still does every month. How much longer does it take to get to Damascus or Beirut from Atlanta than it does from London?

Sure, I get it. CNN was founded in Atlanta, by Ted Turner, Mr. Atlanta himself, and is still “based” in Atlanta, even though all of their main anchors and analysts (the names they count on to bring in ratings to rival ) are in NY and DC. But why is it still based in Atlanta? Sentimental value? Of course they could run the company from anywhere with a satellite uplink, but that’s not the point. The major news outlets broadcast from the major cities, and Atlanta isn’t one of them, not from a global perspective. CNN has been there since 1980, and they hosted the Olympic games, but when somebody in Armenia is asked to name some “international” cities, Atlanta isn’t going to make the list.

Ever watch the weather on CNN? They’ll run a crawl of a list of global cities, so you can see the weather in Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, Nairobi, Sydney, Berlin, Tehran, New York, Mumbai, Tokyo… and Atlanta. If the crawl happens to run through the A’s, Atlanta’s going to be on it. So if I decide to go on that tour of Coca-Cola’s headquarters, I’ll know whether to bring an umbrella. Thanks for being so considerate, CNN.

Look, just about every provincial city wants to be looked at as a big deal. Here in Boston, we like to think of ourselves as the academic capital of the world. Maybe we are, but we’re also a city of about 700,000, and we’re only about 400 km from New York City (die heißeste Stadt). It would be silly to compare us with them. New York is an international city. Boston isn’t. I’m OK with that. I grew up there, and I chose to live here.

I remember when our beloved feetsball team (who haven’t actually been based in Boston since the early 1970s, by the way) very nearly moved to Hartford Connecticut (now there’s a global kinda town). Some guy wrote an impassioned letter to the stating that Boston couldn’t consider itself an international city if it didn’t even have an NFL team. Yeah, that’s the yardstick for an international city. And now that I think of it, Atlanta has itself one of those, doesn’t it?

OK, I take it back.

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