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A.A. Bondy
American Hearts


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Leaves in the Gutter

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Glossary
For What I Don't Become


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The Thick of It
BBC America



Saddest Ghost Lamp

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Trib-on-Trib Name-Mangling: An Epidemic?

zorn_mug
Homicidal mobster Eric Zorn.

Eric Zorn, welcome to the John Ass Club! A while back I took note of Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass' failure to spell fellow Trib reporter Mark Caro's name correctly in a column, despite the fact that all he really had to do was read the byline of the story he was writing about.

Today, Erica proves he's just as capable as Ass at mangling his colleagues' names--and this time it's personal! My wife, Tribune editor and film critic A-l-l-i-s-o-n [space] B-e-n-e-d-i-k-t makes an appearance in Zorn's blog--don't ask what he was writing about, something to do with after-school specials. You can read it for yourself if you dare. Point is, he quotes one "Alison Benedickt," as in: "Not long before that, Tribune critic Alison Benedickt had panned the movie 'Uncle Nino' as an 'after-school special of a movie.'"

Granted, she's got that weird K in her last name, which can throw you for a loop, but that's why I love her.

But seriously: Isn't it time a Trib honcho fired off a stern memo to the staff about trying to, at the very least, limit their factual errors to people who don't work at the paper?

And Erica, if you're reading this--which I hope you are, cause I'm about to e-mail this post to you--maybe think about responding to this other thing over here....

Friday, May 27, 2005

Jon Klein's Ironic Anniversary

Well, that was fast. I just got a call from Bart Feder, CEO of the Feedroom, and it turns out that I am just a humble little blogging guy, not a bringer-downer of media titans, and the extraordinary coincidence of Jon Klein resigning from Feedroom's board within days of my questioning the propriety of his continuing to sit on said board was just that--an extraordinary, really really convenient coincidence.

"Ironically," Feder told me, "it happens to be Jon's six-month anniversary of leaving the company." How very ironic indeed. And apparently, the plan all along had been for Klein to stick around for a six month transitionary period. "You can take credit for it if you want," Feder said--thanks, I think I will, just for kicks--"but he had notified us of his intent to leave the board a long time ago. Officially, he has no active role in the company. I think Jon understands well what his new job is."

Feder is a very nice guy, and I don't want to second-guess him (although I did ask Klein about this back in November when I covered his hiring at CNN for the Chicago Tribune, and at the time he didn't mention any six-month window, he just said that, since he wasn't in a decision-making capacity at the Feedroom, there was no conflict of interest--I just assumed at the time that, after he settled in, someone would point out the impropriety and he'd quietly resign).

But, to beat a dead horse, which is, after all, about 85 percent of what bloggers are trained to do, I asked Feder if Klein still held a significant financial stake in Feedroom--which, to repeat, gets about half its revenue from folks like GM, Wal-Mart, and the Pentagon. Here's what he said: "He and I have been friends for 22 years, and I won't speak for him. But he was the founder of the company. We're a private company, so we don't have to talk about our finances. But he put five years of his life into this company, and to think he would walk out the door one day and not care about it is an unrealistic expectation."

So, if Klein's retirement account really really cares a lot about a firm that needs the Pentagon's money to survive, and helps the Pentagon and other institutions like Wal-Mart get their corporate messages out to the public in a format that, as Feder told Lost Remote in a recent interview, "feel[s] like news," is that not still a problem? Just asking.

Getting it Done in the Blogosphere

Alert reader Vidiot points out in an e-mail that, all of a sudden, Jon Klein's mug and name have disappeared from the Feedroom.com page listing the firm's directors that I linked to in this post, which would indicate that Klein has resigned his seat on Feedroom's board, which would in turn indicate that yours truly is an extraordinarily powerful media watchdog who is ignored at the peril of the media barons whom I mercilessly and ceaselessly, um, watch.

For those of you just joining us: Last week I wondered aloud why CNN president Jon Klein continues to sit on the board of directors of Feedroom, the broadband "solutions" company he founded, when Feedroom's clients include GM and the Pentagon. I linked to this page, which at the time listed Klein as one of Feedroom's directors--but as you can see that's no longer the case.

I've e-mailed Feedroom's flack and Klein for comment, and I'm looking for a Google cache of the old Feedroom page showing Klein on the board. But in the meantime, this old press release will confirm that Klein retained a board seat at Feedroom when he jumped to CNN.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

That's Why It Burns When Afghanistan Goes to the Bathroom

Sen. John McCain, flogging his new two-hour campaign commercial A&E biopic on Conan O'Brien last night, previewed his '08 presidential campaign slogan and offered some moving words of support to our troops overseas in one rhetorical stroke of genius: "What we've done has spread throughout the world like a disease. And it's a wonderful disease: It's called democracy."

We heard you can catch it from toilet seats, which explains a lot, when you think about it--our men and women in uniform at Gitmo were just trying to infect the Koran with a little democracy.

McCain '08: Catch the Disease.

Priorities, Vol. III

Number of words in today's New York Times devoted to credible allegations that two U.S. citizens were repeatedly tortured over a period of eight months in Pakistan while FBI agents stood watch: 422

Number of words devoted to a "quixotic"--read "frivolous" and designed exclusively to get coverage of the band in the New York Times--lawsuit filed by Mötley Crüe against NBC alleging discrimination against the Crüe because Vince Neil said "Happy Fucking New Year" on NBC's air last year: 905

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Why Won't the Tribune Correct Its Mistakes?

Eric Zorn gives himself and his Chicago Tribune colleagues a big wet one for winning a libel trial last week.

The suit was filed by Thomas Knight, a former DuPage County prosecutor--one of the "DuPage 7" accused of framing death row inmate Rolando Cruz for the murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico. Knight charged Tribune reporters Maurice Possley and Ken Armstrong of defaming him in a 1999 story.

It is well and good that the jury found for the Tribune. The specifics of Knight's case are too complicated to get into here, but suffice it to say that it was groundless.

But Zorn seems to think that being found by a jury not to have libeled someone is the same as being found to be a super-awsome newspaper that everyone should read--"I couldn't think of a time I was prouder to be on the staff of the Chicago Tribune," he wrote.

So here you go, Eric: Three things that emerged during the trial--gleaned from the Tribune's and the Sun-Times's coverage--that you shouldn't be proud of. And that the Tribune should be ashamed of.

1) The Tribune refused to correct a very big error. And your boss Ann Marie Lipinski got on the stand at trial to defend the paper's apparent policy of correcting errors of fact only when it is convenient for the paper.

Possley and Armstrong's story was essentially a summary of thousands of pages of grand jury testimony from a special prosecutor's investigation into Knight and six other prosecutors and sheriff's deputies, all of whom were indicted for framing Cruz (they were later acquitted). The story reported that an evidence expert named John Gorajczyk told the grand jury that Knight had told him to keep quiet about potentially exculpatory evidence--a shoe print at the crime scene that didn't match any of the suspects.

"Gorajczyk told the DuPage grand jury that Knight told him to keep his mouth shut about his conclusion," Possley and Armstrong wrote.

That's not true. Gorajczyk never testified before the grand jury. The testimony came from a private investigator named Steven Kirby, who claimed that Gorajczyk told him about the conversation with Armstrong.

That's not libel, but it is a substantial error. I have no doubt that it was an innocent and stupid mistake, and nothing more. Possley and Armstrong initially sourced the account in the version they filed as "Gorajczyk later recalled"--a rather sleazy attribution, considering that it implies that they talked to Gorajczyk, but technically accurate--and an editor unwittingly changed it to make it wrong, as editors often will.

Whatever. Point is, the Tribune published an error of fact. When newspapers publish errors of fact--and every newspaper does, almost every day, and there's nothing wrong with that when it's done in good faith--they print corrections. It's not just about acknowledging error, it's about correcting the record for future researchers, and maintaining your principles as a news organization that always strives for total accuracy, even after the fact. It's just the right thing to do, and it's an exceedingly easy thing to do. I'll give you an example: "A Tribune story in January 1999 inaccurately reported that evidence expert John Gorajczyk testified before the grand jury investigating the DuPage 7 case. Gorajczyk did not testify; an anecdote about a conversation between Gorajczyk and prosecutor Thomas Knight came from the testimony of investigator Steven Kirby, who told the grand jury that Gorajczyk told him about the conversation. The Tribune regrets the error." See? That wasn't so hard.

The Tribune just didn't do it in this case. Why? I don't know. According to the Trib coverage of the trial, Knight suggested that it's because the Trib had Pulitzer hopes for its coverage of the Cruz debacle, and flagging an error on one of those stories with a correction would hurt its chances.

Whatever the reason, it's indefensible.

Here's Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski trying to defend it anyway, from the Trib's trial coverage:
On Friday, Knight, who is representing himself, asked Lipinski if the Tribune has a policy of correcting mistakes.

"If there's an inaccuracy, we respond to that," she testified. But she explained that a response might not take the form of a printed correction. She cited the paper's publication of an edited version of the letter that Knight's attorney sent the Tribune. But Knight has said that the published letter did not contain the key complaint about the attribution that his attorney had included in the original version.
I can't find the above-referenced letter in Nexis; but even if Knight's wrong and the letter did include the complaint about attribution, that's no way to go about correcting the record. There's one way, at the very least, to respond to an inaccuracy--it's to print a correction.

2) Possley and Armstrong didn't even bother to try and call Gorajczyk to ask if the testimony about what he said was true. They relied on Kirby's account to the grand jury about what Gorajczyk was supposed to have said without contacting Gorajczyk directly. That's sloppy and lazy. Was Kirby lying? Didn't Possley and Armstrong want to find out if what he said was true? Again, from the Trib's account of the trial:
In his second day of testimony in a libel case brought by former DuPage County prosecutor Thomas Knight, Tribune reporter Maurice Possley said he did not think it was necessary to contact the expert because the "story was about what the grand jury heard," not about who testified before the panel.
The story should have been about what actually happened. I've had my share of stories where I didn't make every call I should have. And I've been called out for it. Possley and Armstrong deserve to be called out for it in this instance. As it happens, Gorajczyk was called to testify at the libel trial, and told the jury that Kirby's grand jury testimony was inaccurate. Possley and Armstrong should have asked him back in 1999.

3) The Trib published two stories based exclusively on the 5,000-or-so pages of grand jury testimony. They came to opposite conclusions. Ironically, it was Knight's lawyer, Terry Ekl, who first leaked the grand jury testimony to the Tribune, hoping for a sympathetic story. He got it. In June 1997, Ted Gregory wrote a 2,200-word story, headlined "Transcripts Reveal Cruz Case Bungling," that painted a picture of prosecutorial incompetence, but not misconduct. Here's Gregory:
Critics of the prosecution over the years have theorized that law enforcement and prosecutors cooperated to convict Cruz wrongly. But while virtually all the players in the troubled case testified before the grand jury, no conspiracy to railroad Cruz appears to emerge. And in the grand jury transcripts, no witness implicates another in wrongdoing.
Flash forward two years, to another story--about, according to its lead reporter, "what the grand jury heard"--and you get a different take. Here's Possley and Armstrong:
But thousands of pages of testimony from the DuPage 7 grand jury and court documents paint a picture of a prosecution that was constructed with lies and half-truths, buttressed with distorted evidence and, according to the indictment, stitched together with criminal misconduct.
So which is it?

None of the above amounts to libel. Every reporter makes mistakes, and precious few make every phone call they should and track down every lead they should. But the only way to become a better newspaper is to acknowledge errors, correct them, and vow to do better next time. The Trib didn't do that here, and even if there's nothing particularly atrocious about the flubs recounted above, they're nothing to be proud of.

(The Trib should, however, be proud of Ameet Sachdev's coverage of the trial. Covering your bosses' testimony in a libel trial against your paper is probably the toughest assignment this side of Baghdad, and Sachdev's coverage was fair and relatively fearless.)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Spoon Kicks Styx's Ass

The aforementioned Spoon record has debuted at No. 44 on The Billboard 200, beating out a six-month-old Ludacris record, a Fantasia record, and a new Styx record.

Yes, there is a new Styx record.

It's the first time Spoon's label, Merge Records, has cracked the top 200.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Shut Up, Mike Miner! Shut Up!

What the fuck is this man talking about?

For those of you who are blessed to live somewhere other than Chicagoland, allow me to introduce you to Michael Miner, the most infuriating columnist in America. Miner purports to write weekly about the local press in the Chicago Reader, which is rivaled only by the San Francisco Bay Guardian for the title of the nation's most dull, doctrinaire, and grotesquely oversized "alternative" weekly.

The alt-weekly press-critic perch is a useful and important platform--SF Weekly's DogBites, especially back when Laurel Wellman was writing it, was merciless in skewering the San Francisco Chronicle's smug, left-coast complacency and the San Francisco Examiner's spectacular ineptitude. When Jim Ledbetter was writing the Village Voice's Press Clips column, readers were assured to learn something from it beyond what Ledbetter thought about stuff. The New York Observer's seemingly endless succession of Off the Record columnists have all managed to elevate dishy media-world gossip into an ongoing chronicle of a highly dysfunctional and entertaining subculture while actually calling out the press barrons and their minions for failures, ommissions, inconsistencies, and all around stupidity.

In other words, it's an important function, and good alt-weekly (I know, the Observer is hardly an "alt" anything, but still) press critics hold their local newspapers accountable by reporting their fuck-ups.

Mike Miner, sadly, tragically--operatically--is not a good alt-weekly press critic.

He is an atrocious writer. He does not write ledes, he writes riddles, and if you think you have the vaguest idea what he's getting at by the seventh paragraph of his column, you will be proved wrong by the eighth. He lumbers up to a point like a Teamster contemplating lifting something heavy.

And lazy! The man has picked up a telephone precisely once in the three years I've been reading him--it's like picking a scab; I don't want to but I have to--and he celebrated the event by writing a column about how he was stymied by the Chicago Sun-Times' voicemail system:

"Please enter the first four letters of your party's last name."

I did.

"We're sorry. We cannot find the person you are trying to reach. Please try again."

I did.

"We're sorry . . ."

I heard the same message again. While I wondered what to do, the recorded voice broke in again. "Please enter the remaining digits of your party's last name, followed by the pound sign." So I did that.

"Please enter the first two letters of your party's first name." I was as compliant as a child.

"We're sorry. We cannot find the person you are trying to reach. Please try again."

At this point I decided to start over. I hit zero. I hit the star key. I hit other keys, hit them pretty hard actually, looking for a way out of this spell-your-party box.

This is Chicago. It is the nation's third largest media market, with two highly competitive metro dailies. At the Chicago Tribune: A new publisher is shaking things up; circulation is down drastically; the paper has responded by launching two wholly new weekday sections in a spastic bid to boost readership; one of those new sections' advertisers was recently the subject of a glowing profile in the newspaper; the number two management position in features has been vacant for months; the number two movie critic position has been vacant for a year; the state political editor was recently and suddenly shifted out of his job; and the paper has admitted focus-grouping editorial content prior to publication. At the Sun-Times: A new editor has taken over in recent months; the future ownership of the paper is uncertain; and its TV critic position has been open for a month.

That's just off the top of my head. And this idiot is writing about voicemail?

A Health Tip

Just FYI--we heard somewhere that if you don't buy the new Spoon record immediately and listen to it over and over again to the exclusion of any other obligations, like deadlines or attention to loved ones, you might get cancer and die.

It's music designed for headphone listening on the subway. It makes you feel much cooler than you in fact are. It's a soundtrack to the life you wish you are living.

I've never understood why Spoon songs don't show up all over crime shows on TV. They're the ideal incidental music for "The Sopranos"--moody, jumpy, and Britt Daniel's voice, with that gloriously deviated septum, is noir-ish and so goddamn cool. Screw The Who--when CBS develops up with "CSI: Williamsburg," or "CSI: Wicker Park," they'll sign up Spoon for the intro music--"My Mathematical Mind" screams "indie gumshoe."

Buy it. You can listen to a stream here.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Meet Jon Klein

OK--it's been a while, and for anyone who's listening I'll probably have some things to say about the upfronts (I've been going to the Chicago simulcasts this week) pretty soon, and I've been challenged by my father to somehow add to the "debate" over this Newsweek stuff, which I doubt is possible at this point.

But first things first: CNN president Jon Klein is well-known, at least among people who care about this sort of thing, as founder of the Feedroom, a tech firm that contracts with companies to deliver broadband video.

Obviously, Klein stepped down as Feedroom's president and CEO when he took over CNN last November. But as the Feedroom web site makes clear, Klein continues to sit on the company's board of directors (he even rates a picture).

And as this client list and this Lost Remote interview with current Feedroom CEO Bart Feder make just as clear, Feedroom's major clients include General Motors, Wal-Mart, and the Pentagon. Here's Feder:
Half of our revenue is from our corporate business. WalMart, GM, Sun, Cisco, Chevron, Hess…. We support the Pentagon Channel and the US Air Force (channel).
Can anyone explain why on earth the president of CNN sits on the board of directors of a company that derives half of its revenue from institutions that CNN covers?
Would CNN let any of its reporters sit on corporate boards? So why should it's ultimate decision-maker be allowed to? Is this not a no-brainer? Even for a network that's accustomed to being involved in glaring conflicts of interest?

And if that's too Brillian a compaint for you, how about this quote from Feder, from the same interview with Lost Remote:
Video is a great tool to use for PR and corporate communications… they can use a lot of content, and have it feel like news.
So not only is Klein on the board of a company that contracts with the Pentagon, but it's a company that actually helps the government deliver PR that "feels like news." Wasn't there supposed to be something wrong with the federal government delivering PR that feels like news?



Monday, May 16, 2005

No Posts Today

Busy busy busy, including a trip downtown this afternoon for the Chicago simulcast of NBC's upfront presentation. I'll be curious to see if sweaty desparation comes through over the satellite feed.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Final Word, as Far as We're Concerned, on "Topic A With Tina Brown"

From Phil Rosenthal's column in the Chicago Tribune:

"Brown is ending her CNBC run this month.... Viewers will be notified individually."

Priorities Vol. II

Just so we have this straight: Murder? Eh, it happens. Torture? An Army's gotta do what an Army's gotta do. Flush a book down a toilet?

Oh no you didn't!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It Lives

Have at it.

My inaugural column--I'll be writing twice a month about television for the site--has some odd coding and linking issues, but here it is anyway.

Priorities

I guess it's moderately odd that the Illinois Supreme Court has chosen Robert Thomas, a former place-kicker for the Chicago Bears, to be its next chief justice. But Thomas has been on the court for five years, and he was previously a circuit and appellate judge, so it's not like they plucked him right off the field of play.

The beautiful thing is that the proprietors of the Chicago Tribune's web site have decided that the selection of a new chief justice on the state's highest court is a sports story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

No Peace I Find

"As you build freedom in this country, you must know that the seeds of liberty you are planting in Georgian soil are flowering across the globe.... Georgia is today both sovereign and free, and a beacon of liberty for this region and the world."

--George W. Bush, addressing an audience today in Tblisi, Georgia.

"The Government's human rights record remained poor; although there were improvements in some areas, serious problems remained. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) blamed two deaths in custody on physical abuse. NGOs reported that police brutality continued, and in certain areas increased. Law enforcement officers continued to torture, beat, and otherwise abuse detainees. Corruption in law enforcement agencies decreased, but remained a problem. Arbitrary arrest and detention remained problems, as did lack of accountability. The judiciary system continued to lack true independence, and the executive branch and prosecutors' offices continued to exert undue influence on judges. There were lengthy delays in trials, and prolonged pretrial detention remained a problem."

--The State Department's 2004 Georgia Country Report on Human Rights Practices.

What a putz.

UPDATE: I foolishly forgot Bush's money quote--"You increased your troop commitment in Iraq fivefold. The Iraqi people are grateful, and so are your American and coalition allies."

Come to Think of It, All That Election Coverage Was a Total Waste of Time--We Knew That Template, Too

John Tierney's on the right track. Why do reporters insist on slavishly covering suicide bombings? "We all knew the template: number of victims, size of the crater, distance debris had been hurled, height of smoke plume, range at which explosion was heard," he writes, recalling his stints on the car-bomb beat in Baghdad and Kurdistan. "There was no larger lesson except that some insurgents were willing and able to kill civilians, which was not news."

Don't stop there, John.

Same thing with this constant drip-drip of gruesome stories about torture at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. Don't we know this story already? We know the template--length of waterboarding, amount of menstrual blood, country of rendition. Enough already, guys.

And Tom DeLay's an asshole--we get it. But do we have to file a whole entire new story every time credible allegations of ethics violations emerge? I mean, all that proves is that DeLay is willing and able to take luxurious vacations paid for by lobbyists who represent special interests with business before the House. Which is not news.

And can we just drop the closeted gay Republican story while we're at it? We know that template, too.

It's such a waste to spend all those column-inches on stuff we already know when Big Recycling is just sitting there, recycling things and getting away with it.

UPDATE: For anyone who noticed, this post initially had the wrong URL linked on the word "gay," which totally wrongly implied that someone was gay. Bad cut-and-paste job on my part, and my apologies to that certain someone who I wrongly and unintentionally implied was gay.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Best. Record Review. Ever.

From Tiny Mix Tapes:

nine_inch_nails-with_teeth2

Link via the always-entertaining Electrical Audio message board.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Does Anyone Have Any Idea How to Make a Rogue Wave?

Cause if a really big one could hit this on or around October 15, that'd be fantastic.

Link via Tiny Mix Tapes.

Adventures in Brilliant Lede-Writing, Vol. I

From Eric Alterman's column in the May 23 issue of The Nation:
If you agree with John Dewey (and Jürgen Habermas) that democracy depends on a series of institutional arrangements that enable the public to form its own values and judgments on a variety of questions--and I do--then you cannot ignore the importance of civility in allowing these institutions to function.
You had me at "Jürgen," Eric.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Credit for the Discredited

The Dallas Morning News' Mark Wrolstad wrote into Romenesko today to defend his wife's honor--a tough sell for the Romenesko crowd, considering his wife is Mary Mapes.

But he makes a legitimate point, taking to task some guy for crediting Seymour Hersh with breaking the Abu Ghraib prison scandal (actually, Wrolstad wrongly accused Brian Montopoli of giving the errant credit, but the point is he was mad that someone said Hersh broke the story.)

"Brian Montopoli at CJR Daily is the latest in an endless line to say incorrectly that Seymour Hersh 'broke the Abu Ghraib prison scandal story,'" Wrolstad wrote. "In fact, the Abu Ghraib scandal was broken by '60 Minutes II' on its Wednesday, April 28, 2004, broadcast. The terrific Mr. Hersh wrote a detailed account that was posted online the following weekend and appeared in print the next week."

Endless line indeed. The Chicago Tribune's editorial page made the same error while I was there, writing rather preposterously just days after the story broke--and long before anyone knew what proportional spacing meant--that "the most alarming aspects of this debacle may be the prospect that if The New Yorker magazine had not obtained a copy of one of the reports and some photographs, the abuses may have never come to light."

I sent a note at the time to Bruce Dold, the Trib's editorial page editor, alerting him to the factual error. But he never wrote back, and no correction was forthcoming.

CBS, of course, won a Peabody Award for the Abu Ghraib story, and I hear that Mapes plans to attend the awards ceremony on May 16. Her former colleague Morly Safer is slated to host. I don't know how the awards are handed out, but here's hoping that Mapes and Andrew Heyward get into a public wrestling match over who gets to keep it. I don't really know which one I'd root for.


So Give Me My Money Already

I believe that once we set priorities and fund them, we ought to remember who pays the bills in the first place. This surplus is not the government's money. We're going to spend money as if it's the government's money -- it's the people's money. And I believe we ought to listen to the people of America and share that money with the people who pay the bills.
George W. Bush in 2001, before he sent me a check for $300.

Well, it's about that time again.

Of course, I opposed the rebates and tax cuts back then. But I had a conversation with my accountant this morning about sole proprietership and the self-employment tax, and every little bit helps.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Time Warner Identities for Sale

Always wanted to pretend you're Wolf Blitzer? Ready to finally settle that long-standing bet over whether Bob Pittman's Social Security number begins with "666"?

Well, you're dreams may soon come true in the form of a Russian e-mail offering a bunch of very high-class identities for sale: Time Warner apparently "lost" a data tape containing the names and social security numbers of an undisclosed number of the company's current and former employees, rendering them vulnerable to identity theft. Which makes the whole Judy Woodruff thing so much clearer now: She was an imposter!

Here's the contrite e-mail they sent to employees:
May 2, 2005

To: Time Warner Colleagues
From: Larry Cockell, Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer
RE: Employee Data Tapes

For several years, as part of our company's regular processes to protect our computerized data, Time Warner has used a leading data storage firm to ship and store our computer back-up tapes offsite. I am writing to let you know that this outside firm recently lost a container of these back-up tapes during transport to one of its storage facilities.

The missing tapes contained company data including names and U.S. Social Security numbers of: current and former U.S.-based employees of Time Warner and its current and former affiliates (and U.S. citizens working for the company abroad); some of their dependents and beneficiaries; and certain other individuals who have provided services to the company.

With respect to non-U.S. citizens who work for Time Warner outside the U.S., there was no information comparable to a Social Security number on the missing tapes. Accordingly, we are providing this letter to non-U.S. employees as a courtesy, but do not believe that there is a need for them to consider options like those presented below.

The U.S. Secret Service is involved in an active investigation of this matter, working closely with Time Warner and the outside data storage firm. We have now determined that public disclosure of this matter will not interfere with the investigation. To date, the investigation has not found any evidence that the tapes or their contents have been accessed or misused. In addition, the information on the tapes is in a form that is not easily accessed.

Time Warner takes the security of our employees' personal information very seriously and we deeply regret that this incident occurred. We are aggressively investigating this situation and are committed to staying in touch with you as the investigation unfolds. In addition, we have taken the following steps:

• First, we have posted a copy of this letter, a press release, Q&A and other information on our company's internal and external websites, and we will post updates, as appropriate, on those sites.

• Second, in the U.S. we have set up a special toll-free number (800-435-2285) to assist you with questions or concerns you may have relating to this incident. Outside the U.S., the number is 402-516-5014.

• Third, we have contacted the major credit agencies - Equifax, Experian and Trans Union - to let them know about this incident. While we have no evidence that information on the tapes has been compromised, given that the investigation is ongoing, you may want to take the precaution of placing a fraud alert on your credit file. The law allows you to place an initial fraud alert on your credit file free of charge for 90 days. This notification alerts creditors to use additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name.

To place a fraud alert on your Equifax credit file, please call the toll-free number at Equifax at 877-559-6020. Once the fraud alert has been placed with Equifax, a notification will be sent on your behalf to Experian and Trans Union, who will add the alert to their files or contact you to obtain additional information.

Alternatively, you may choose to contact Experian and Trans Union directly to place a fraud alert on your credit file at those companies. They can be reached at:
Experian
888-397-3742

Trans Union
800-680-7289

• Fourth, in addition to the above services, Time Warner has made arrangements with Equifax to offer to U.S. employees - at no cost to you - the Equifax Credit Watch(tm) Gold with 3-in-1 Monitoring service that will help protect your identity and credit information for 12 months. This service includes:

◦ Daily alert notifications of key changes in your credit reports at Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. If no changes occur during the month, you'll receive a "No News is Good News" notification.
◦ Unlimited access to your Equifax Credit Report(tm) and one 3-in-1 Credit Report.
◦ $20,000 in identity theft insurance with no deductible (subject to limitations and exclusions).
◦ 24-hour customer service to answer questions and initiate disputes of your credit information.

You can enroll in this Equifax credit protection program free of charge for the next 90 days. If you would like to enroll, Equifax has a simple Internet-based verification and enrollment process at www.myservices.equifax.com/timewarner_tri. You will be receiving by mail a hard copy version of this letter containing (for U.S. employees only) a Promotional Code, located in the upper right hand corner of the page, that you will need to provide to Equifax during the enrollment process. If you do not have access to the Internet and would prefer to enroll by mail, please call 800-435-2285. You will need the Promotional Code to enroll by mail.

If we become aware of any instance in which the information on the tapes may have been accessed or misused, we will alert you immediately of additional steps that can and should be taken.

Again, please know that we regret any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause you. Be assured that we are committed to continuing to take whatever steps are appropriate to protect confidential employee information. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.