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"Cable News Bullies"

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Media Matters Hits "Wild . . . Myths" on Immigration

A "trio of cable news bullies is advancing baseless urban legends and wild accusations targeting the immigrant community," according to a report Wednesday from the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America.

"The report exposes how cable news overflows not only with vitriol regarding immigration, but also with a series of myths that feed viewers' unfounded resentments and fears. Leading the charge are CNN?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Lou Dobbs, CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, all of whom have played major roles in creating this anti-immigrant hysteria," the group said.

The group released its report at the U.S. Capitol and garnered quotes of praise for the study from Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force.

Its conclusions:

  • "Illegal Immigration and Crime: Although numerous studies have found that immigrants in general commit fewer crimes than native-born citizens, these programs are positively obsessed with the topic. During 2007, the alleged connection between illegal immigration and crime was discussed on 94 episodes of 'Lou Dobbs Tonight,' 66 episodes of Fox News' 'The O'Reilly Factor,' and 29 episodes of 'CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck.
  • "Illegal Immigration and Social Services: Undocumented immigrants are barred from receiving most federally provided social services and pay a variety of taxes, including sales, property (in the form of rent), and payroll taxes. Yet during 2007, the allegation that undocumented immigrants drain social services and/or don't pay taxes was discussed on 71 episodes of 'Lou Dobbs Tonight,' 13 episodes of 'Glenn Beck,' and eight episodes of 'The O'Reilly Factor.'
  • "Myths and Urban Legends: Dobbs and Beck have perpetuated two related myths, that there are plans to construct a 'NAFTA Superhighway' running from Mexico to Canada and that there are plans to join Mexico, Canada, and the United States in a ?¢‚Ǩ?ìNorth American Union.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù Dobbs has discussed the fictional North American Union on 52 separate programs during the past two years. All three programs, 'Lou Dobbs Tonight,' 'Glenn Beck,' and 'The O?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢Reilly Factor,' have presented as fact the 'reconquista' myth, which states that there is a movement afoot for Mexico to take over the American Southwest.
  • "Unsubstantiated Allegations: On 'Lou Dobbs Tonight,' viewers were told about a mythical explosion of leprosy cases due to illegal immigration and a mythical epidemic of voter fraud due to illegal immigration.
  • "Dobbs Out Front: Of the three hosts examined in detail, Dobbs is the most obsessed with the topic; indeed, fully 70 percent of the 2007 episodes of 'Lou Dobbs Tonight' contained a discussion of illegal immigration."
"Among the hosts, Dobbs stands out as the most guilty of this recklessly irresponsible journalism," the report said. FEEDBACK: Feel free to send an e-mail about this column.

In Mike Fannin, Kansas City Star Gets Hispanic Editor

Mike Fannin
Mike Fannin, the head of the sports and features departments of the Kansas City Star who says he considers himself Hispanic, has been named the newspaper's new editor. The Star thus becomes the largest-circulation U.S. newspaper with a Hispanic editor.

Fannin, 41, is the second sports editor to be tapped for the paper's top newsroom post in the 128-year history of the newspaper, the Star said in announcing the appointment on Thursday. The late Joe McGuff, sports editor of the Star and the Kansas City Times for 20 years, was named editor in 1986.

"I do consider myself Hispanic. Or else, I'd have some issues with my mom and grandmother," Fannin told Journal-isms.

The Kansas City Business Journal wrote, "In an interview Friday, Fannin said the paper will take steps to reduce its employee count, which could include layoffs and buyout offers. He said that it's too early to know how many jobs will be cut or when it will occur but that 'probably we'll be dealing with it in the summer.' He said he's looking at all areas of the operation to find ways to cut costs."

Fannin told readers on Sunday, "I am white and Latino, a mix of Irish, Mexican and German heritage, but, make no mistake, all American."

"I was raised in the foothills of Appalachia, in Sandy Hook, Ky. (pop. 1,100). My grandfather had climbed out of the West Virginia coal mines as a young man in the 1930s and returned to the rolling family farm in northeast Kentucky with hopes of finding a better way. . . . . My mom came from strong Mexican-American stock in south Texas.

"I would not understand until later how fortunate I was to have my feet planted in two cultures.

" . . . Juan Cortina was a 19th-century Robin Hood-like figure to Mexicans living along the border near Brownsville. I always loved hearing those stories.

"Life was idyllic until my parents divorced around the time I became a teenager. We were forced to sell our house and move away. Mom struggled to find work and faced discrimination; eventually, we had to live with friends.

"Finally, in my senior year, we moved into federally subsidized housing, paying $10 a month in rent. We used food stamps to buy groceries. In those years, Mom's prayers sustained us.

"In years to come, poverty and hunger would remain deeply personal issues for me. It was then I discovered that we must all overcome adversity in this world. In our case, we just kept putting one foot in front of the other until we emerged from the shadows.

"Later, Mom helped me launch a career. But it didn't happen overnight.

"After I found success and an identity in journalism, I began to understand the power of the medium to assist people. I was immediately drawn to the mission statement: afflict the comfortable, comfort the afflicted."

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Howard U.'s Hilltop to Resume Print Edition

Howard University's student newspaper the Hilltop will publish daily for the 2008-09 academic year after suspending print publication in March, the newspaper reported on its Web site Wednesday.

The paper said the Hilltop Policy Board, which includes students and interested faculty and administrators, made the decision to resume print publication at a meeting on Wednesday. "On August 25th, 2008, The Hilltop will begin printing and distributing 7,000 issues a day across Howard University's campus, remaining the only black [campus] newspaper to print daily," the paper said in its online notice. The Hilltop had been publishing only on the Web.

Students had said the newspaper had a $48,000 bill from the Washington Times for printing expenses that it was attempting to pay off. The Hilltop notice did not address the financial issues, but participants in the meeting told Journal-isms that the university's Office of Student Affairs pledged $100,000 for next year and agreed to pay $5,000 of the Washington Times debt.

To improve business practices, the dean of the business school was added to the policy board, along with the paper's business manager, and past-due bills will henceforth be referred to a collection agent. "They are starting the year with a clean slate," a participant said.

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News Service Picks "100 Best Student Journalists"

The first African American editor of the Harvard Crimson since 1952, a Navajo from a one-store reservation town in Arizona and a University of South Carolina student who covered the fiery deaths of fellow students are among the journalists of color named by UWire, a news service for college students, as "the 100 best student journalists in the country."

However, none is from a historically black college or university. The wire service received 500 nominations, said Ben French, UWire general manager, but "we had no nominations from an HBCU. The whole thing was based on nominations," he said. Such historically black institutions as Howard, Jackson State and Florida A&M universities are UWire subscribers, he said. This year's is the first such list.

Malcom Glenn

Of Malcom Glenn, president of the Crimson, Karan Lodha, former Crimson sports chair, wrote, "There is no better way to attract a diverse reporter corps than to show the outside world that diversity is important at The Crimson, and Malcom's background, values, and leadership stance clearly demonstrate this. While The Crimson has been quite diverse for many years, Malcom has reached out to many untraditional groups on campus and has certainly improved the building in that respect. . . .There was no responsibility or task too great, and Malcom always pushed himself to go above and beyond the call of duty."


Sunnie Redhouse
Denny McAuliffe, project director of, a Native American student effort, wrote of Sunnie Redhouse, "Sunnie was one of reznet's reporters covering the Indian Gaming '08 trade show last month in San Diego. On opening day, the Native American actor Adam Beach made a guest appearance. The name Adam Beach may not mean much to the majority of Americans. But in Indian Country, he has the star appeal and drawing power of Brad Pitt. Sunnie ?¢‚Ǩ' along with the other 5,000 Native women in attendance ?¢‚Ǩ' decided she'd like to meet him. In fact, she decided, she was going to interview him for a story, meaning she'd have to spend some quality time with him. One eye blink later, there was Sunnie sitting next [to] Adam Beach at the table, interviewing away while he signed autographs between responses to her questions."

Chris Roberts, assistant professor for University of South Carolina?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, wrote, "Jackie Alexander's case to be editor of The Daily Gamecock was so strong that she won the job over the incumbent editor, who had done a fine job.

"The local daily paper routinely followed The Daily Gamecock on big stories, including a leak of sensitive student data. She handled coverage of the fiery deaths of seven University of South Carolina students with dignity ?¢‚Ǩ' and found herself interviewed by national media about the story ?¢‚Ǩ' yet still reported the harsh truths.

"She could have taught parts of my reporting class, which she aced."

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Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., accepts gifts Monday on the Crow Reservation in Montana in advance of Montana's June 3 Democratic presidential primary. Obama was adopted into the tribe and given a Crow name, 'One who helps people throughout the land.' (
Clinton, Supporters Accuse News Media of SexismIn an interview after church services in Bowling Green, Ky., on Sunday, Sen. Hillary Clinton "for the first time addressed what women have been talking about for months, what she refers to as the 'sexist' treatment she has endured at the hands of the pundits, media and others," Lois Romano wrote Tuesday in the Washington Post.

"The lewd T-shirts. The man who shouted 'Iron my shirt' at a campaign event. The references to her cleavage and her cackle.

"'It's been deeply offensive to millions of women,' Clinton said. 'I believe this campaign has been a groundbreaker in a lot of ways. But it certainly has been challenging given some of the attitudes in the press, and I regret that, because I think it's been really not worthy of the seriousness of the campaign and the historical nature of the two candidacies we have here.'

"Later, when asked if she thinks this campaign has been racist, she says she does not. And she circles back to the sexism. 'The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted, and . . . there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head,' she said. 'It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists.'

Meanwhile, a San Francisco group called Womencount Pac took out a full-page ad in the New York Times on Tuesday headlined, "Not so fast . . ." It said, "Hillary's voice is OUR voice, and she's speaking for all of us."

Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who earlier said that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., had gotten as far as he has because he is black, said on NBC's "Today" show that "there is a real difference in this country. It is ?¢‚Ǩ' it is not OK to be racist, it is just not. It is almost acceptable to be sexist."

When Clinton "appeared at a rally up in New Hampshire, somebody held up a sign that said, you know, 'Iron my shirt.' Now, suppose somebody had gone up to a Barack Obama rally [and] said 'Shine my shoes.' The press would have been on top of that 'shine my shoes' and on top of that person, saying, 'What are you, a racist?' Nothing done. When Hillary ?¢‚Ǩ' barely saw a story on this thing."

Ferraro had told the New York Times that she might not vote for Obama if he is the nominee. "I think Obama was terribly sexist," she said.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, in Boca Raton, Fla., "Clinton compared her effort to seat Florida and Michigan delegates to epic American struggles, including those to free the slaves and win the right to vote for blacks and women," Ken Vogel reported for

On Tuesday night, after the Oregon and Kentucky primaries, both Obama and Clinton disparaged the "pundits" ?¢‚Ǩ' Obama for their early underestimation of his campaign; and Clinton for their saying the contest was over. They could form "the People Who Hate Pundits Party," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann quipped.

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McCain to Attend NAACP, Urban League Meetings

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, plans to attend both the NAACP annual conference in Cincinnati and the National Urban League annual meeting in Orlando, Republican National Committee spokesman Darrell Jordan told Journal-isms on Wednesday, but "the NABJ Conference is not on Sen. McCain's schedule at this time."

The National Association of Black Journalists is meeting along with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association at the Unity convention in Chicago from July 23 to 27.

"We have invited the three candidates to speak at UNITY," Executive Director Onica N. Makwakwa said, speaking of McCain and Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. "We've heard from all 3 campaigns acknowledging receipt of UNITY's invitation but no confirmations as of yet," she said via e-mail.

McCain first disclosed his acceptance of the NAACP's invitation in an interview with Tatsha Robertson in Essence magazine, touted online as his first with an African American publication.

"I know the magazine well," McCain is quoted as saying.

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Racial Make-Up of Democrats' Chosen Bloggers Hit

"Democrats consider affirmative action a cornerstone of their national agenda, but some minority bloggers say the party isn't practicing what it preaches," Karen Brooks reported Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News.

"Last week, the national Democratic Party announced that 55 online writers had been chosen for the 'State Blogger Corps,' to cover the convention in Denver," which takes place Aug. 25 to Aug. 28.

"But some members of the self-titled 'afrosphere' ?¢‚Ǩ' blogs written or published by African Americans ?¢‚Ǩ' are angry that the 'State Blogger Corps' appears to be mostly white, particularly since the party appears [poised] to nominate a black candidate, Barack Obama, for president.

"Party leaders said the factors in determining state bloggers were readership, Internet ratings and focus on local and state politics, not race. The Texas representative, the Burnt Orange Report, has several writers, including at least one Hispanic contributor.

"A second round of blog credentials will be announced before the end of the month, party leaders said, and minority bloggers will be purposely included in that selection."

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Don't Call Jealous, New NAACP Leader, "Biracial"

Benjamin Jealous
Benjamin Todd Jealous, selected Friday as the new president of the NAACP, may be of mixed parentage, but he does not want to be called "biracial."

Jealous was interviewed Tuesday on National Public Radio's "Tell Me More." "One other interesting thing about you is that you are also biracial," host Michel Martin said, "as is Barack Obama, as is the lieutenant governor of Maryland, as is the mayor of Washington."

JEALOUS: "Can I, can I make a small correction there?"

MARTIN: "Of course."

JEALOUS: "I'm black, you know the only thing that we have, you know, the only definition that's out there on the books if you will, are state laws, and my family is from Virginia. When I was born . . . the law said . . . if you were at least 1/32nd of African descent, you were black, end of story. White was an exclusive definition; black was inclusive definition. I do have biracial parentage, but quite frankly . . ."

MARTIN: "You don't consider yourself biracial."

JEALOUS: "No, I mean I don't understand it, I mean . . . my grandmother's much fairer than I am, has straight hair. You know, the reality is that you know our family, like most families, were sort of created in the Jeffersonian model. You know we were raped on Virginia plantations, and you know all of those kids were black."

MARTIN: "But your parents weren't? I mean, that's not your parents?"

JEALOUS: "Yeah, right, but what I'm saying is that . . .

MARTIN: "What I'm curious about though is that, is there . . . an important cultural moment here, or not?"

JEALOUS: "No, I mean, you know, yeah, it is significant, I think the most significant thing about my parents is that, you know, a year after their marriage was illegal, it was made legal because of the work of the NAACP and the Legal Defense Fund.

"You know, my parents, when they were married in Washington, D.C., in 1966, they had to be married there, because they couldn't get married where they lived in Baltimore. When they drove back for the party in Baltimore, people pulled off the side of the road, took off their hat because they thought it was a funeral procession passing. Because there was a Cadillac in front of a bunch of cars with their lights on.

"So, you know, and my father was disowned not by his two brothers or his mom, but by the entire rest of his family. And his family was in Salem in 1636, and they're a big family. And they disowned him, not because they didn't believe that he loved my mom. You know, . . . my great-uncle drove out, sat down with them, said we believe that you love this woman, but you know I'm a man, I know a man can love many women, and you need to fall out of love quick or you're going to [go] out of this family.

"So, you know the notion 'biracial' I just think is blunt and crude and ahistorical . . . "

Jealous, 35, was president of the Rosenberg Foundation, which supports advocacy efforts on behalf of California's working families and recent immigrants. He is also a former executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the organization of black-community newspaper publishers.

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Short Takes

  • "Campaigning in Pendleton, Ore., Sunday, Barack Obama said Big Media would be a target of his administration's antitrust enforcers if he is elected. What took him so long to target media consolidation?" William McConnell asked Monday on
  • "LAT TV, the Houston-based independent Spanish-language network, today announced it is suspending operations," Veronica Villafa?ɬ±e reported Tuesday in her Media Moves blog. "LAT-TV launched operations on May of 2006 with 5 stations in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Phoenix. Of those, only Houston and Phoenix were O&O's," owned and operated by the network. "Their business plan called for expansion in the top 50 Hispanic markets within its first 4 years."
  • Allison Hunter
    Allison Hunter, assistant news director at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, has been named interim news director of the Tribune Co. station. News director Rich Goldner became news director of Tribune's San Diego station KSWB-TV. As program chair of the Student Education Enrichment and Development (SEED) Program of the National Association of Black Journalists, Hunter has run the student projects at the National Association of Black Journalists convention.
  • "Embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick revealed to city employees last week a policy, which he implemented last month, making private all text messages from publicly-funded devices," according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "The policy, which took effect on April 15, will prevent the public from accessing messages and pages under the Freedom of Information Act." After the Detroit Free Press received sexually explicit text messages under the state public records law, Kilpatrick was charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.
  • A "Muslim" Minnesota charter school that came under fire for allegedly blurring the line between church and state must take "corrective" action in two areas related to religion at the school, the state Education Department said Monday, Gregg Aamot reported for the Associated Press. "While on school grounds, our crew was attacked by school officials. Our photographer was injured while wrestling with the two men over the camera," KSTP-TV reported.
  • "Red Herring's 19 employees were evicted Tuesday from the tech publisher's offices in Belmont, Calif., after it fell behind in rent payments, according to a source close to the situation," Greg Sandoval reported Tuesday for Editor in chief Joel Dreyfuss told Journal-isms on April 20 he was dividing his time at Red Herring between New York and Paris and was no longer living in San Francisco.
  • Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar is leaving the Los Angeles Times' D.C. bureau to cover health issues for the Associated Press, the Web site FishbowlDC reported. He spent 10 years in the bureau.
  • TV Week named Kathy Johnson, for 20 years the prime mover for NAMIC, the National Association for Minorities in Communications, as its Cable Executive of the Year. Now the name has changed. "NAMIC was founded as an organization by a group of African Americans and we rebranded the organization by changing the 'M' in our name from minority to multi-ethnicity, as a way to recognize that minorities were becoming the majority. We also wanted to be reflective of the fact that all people, regardless of their ethnicity, were welcome to be in the NAMIC organization," Johnson told TV Week's Allison J. Waldman.
  • The National Association of Hispanic Journalists added its voice to those dismayed that Florida International University is considering major cutbacks to its School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The school is regarded as one of the top schools of journalism in the country, graduating more Hispanic journalists and public relations/advertising majors than any other.
  • David Barboza, the New York Times' business reporter based in Shanghai, has won the paper's internal business award, the Nathaniel Nash Award. "David, whose wife Lynn Zhang is Chinese, has captured the complexities of China today by immersing himself in its culture in a way that few foreign correspondents can. David excels at humanizing the economic issues changing China and affecting the rest of the world," Executive Editor Bill Keller said in a memo, according to the New York Observer. The award comes with a check for $1,500.
  • Bob Greene, who joined WFAA-TV in Dallas in June 2006 from New Orleans' WWL-TV, where he was part of the team reporting on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, will be leaving in early June after resigning Monday, television writer Ed Bark reported Monday night on his blog. "He has decided to pursue a law degree instead of chasing stories," Bark wrote.
  • Dennis Richmond
    The San Francisco Bay Area is saying farewell to anchor Dennis Richmond after an extraordinary 40-year career at KTVU-TV. In 1969, while working for the station as a part-time clerk-typist, Richmond won a scholarship to the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at Columbia University, a predecessor of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. He returned to the station after completing the program.
  • Reporters Without Borders released a report Wednesday on the career of Eritrea's Naizghi Kiflu, "an adviser to the president of one of the world's most repressive countries and currently its local government minister, who as information minister supervised the round-ups of government opponents and pro-reform journalists in September 2001. According to a former ruling party member interviewed by Reporters Without Borders, Naizghi did the government's 'dirty work' for more than 30 years. Yet nowadays he lives in London, has a permit to reside indefinitely in Britain, and receives treatment for a chronic condition free of charge at a public hospital."
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Feedback: Reporters Misidentify NAACP Tradition

I think it's worth mentioning my concern about some flawed reporting on the selection of Benjamin Jealous as president of the NAACP. Many of the news stories on Jealous' selection say that the NAACP has broken with the tradition of naming a minister or politician to head the 99-year-old organization. But, in fact, no such "tradition" exists. Since its founding, 11 people have headed the NAACP's day-to-day operation. Between 1909 and 1920 three whites served in this position: Frances Blascoer, a businesswoman and social activist; Mary Childs Nerney, a librarian and researcher; and John Shillady, a social worker.

In 1920, James Weldon Johnson became the NAACP's first black leader. He was followed in 1931 by Walter White, who was succeeded by Roy Wilkins in 1955. Benjamin Hooks assumed the position in 1977; Benjamin Chavis in 1993; Kweisi Mfume in 1995, and Bruce Gordon got the job in 2005.

While Hooks and Chavis were ministers, Mfume was the news and programming manager at WEAA-FM, Morgan State University's radio station, before launching his political career. For a time, Mfume was an active member of Baltimore's NABJ chapter. White wrote two syndicated columns; Wilkins worked for the Kansas City Call before joining the NAACP staff and Johnson, too, spent time working as a journalist.

If there is a tradition that can be identified among the NAACP's leaders it is that far more of them (James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, Roy Wilkins, Kweisi Mfume and now Benjamin Jealous) have been journalists than practiced any other profession.

DeWayne Wickham
USA Today/Gannett News Service
May 21, 2008

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Feedback: I Hope Sue Simmons Isn't Fired

I was reading about Sue Simmons' recent troubles with poor word choices and I sincerely hope that she doesn't get fired because of them. I am a former New Yorker who grew up watching Ms. Simmons and liked her style of journalism. I still watch her whenever I am back home visiting family.

Unfortunately, there was a similar situation at WCNC-TV in Charlotte, N.C. (where I now live) about 18-24 months ago. Chuck Howard, a longtime sportscaster, used a four-letter word during taping, which accidentally aired at a later time. Despite apologies by everyone involved, the sportscaster (along with the camera operator) was fired.

Adrian DeVore
Charlotte, N.C.
May 21, 2008

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Full disclosure: Richard Prince works part time at the Washington Post.) It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites.

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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