Thursday, June 13, 2013

What will we think of Snowden in one year?

A few days after he leaked news of a National Security Agency program that collects information about Americans’ phone calls and emails, Edward Snowden told the world he was responsible for the leak. He gave a video interview to Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian.
Before the interview hit the web, there were three general reactions to the leak from our esteemed Congress:

This is terrible!

We knew this was happening! What’s the big deal?
We knew this was happening! We think it’s terrible and tried to stop it!

Clearly Congress knew about it and had different comfort levels (read: re-election needs) where government surveillance and personal privacy were concerned. The truth is we all knew there had been some Orwellian stuff going on for years thanks to the Patriot Act. The question really is why was the government being so secretive about the details?
Right on cue, the partisan noise began. There are Republicans who ten years ago were saying that information gathering was crucial to national security but are now appalled and violated. There are Democrats who are now saying it’s just fine but ten years ago were having aneurysms in response to Bush’s intelligence policies.

Beyond the polarized rhetoric are deeply troubling questions raised by Snowden’s leaks. First off, why does someone who is no longer even working for a federal agency, but a government contractor capable of scooping up all of this information about the government’s practices and making it public? Why did he, a relatively low-level employee, have all the capabilities he describes in the interview? (If he did, there are countless others who do.)  Perhaps the biggest question of this whole story, why is the government not being forth coming about its security practices when it directly involves the privacy of its citizens?
When the story first broke, I understood on the surface why Snowden wanted the public to know that the government is bending the rules to get the information that they need/want/think they need. But I didn’t initially see what the big deal was.

Call me a cynic, but I have always assumed that the United States government has a habit of bending the rules. It’s a superpower. It’s the biggest, most influential government on the planet. With that kind of power comes some level of corruption. If you’re uncomfortable with the word corruption, call it misuse of power. But is it really new?
After a little thought, I realized it is. Although I think there has always been some level of shadiness within our government, this kind of sinister invasion is new because of the nature of the internet and technology. This kind of data mining was never possible in other eras.

The reason Snowden left his cushy home and job was to tell the world that the American government has a penchant not only for working in the shadows but secretly being where it does not belong. Snowden’s core problem with the government is that it routinely grants itself rampant and unilateral powers.
Unless I’m giving him too much credit, I think Snowden’s goal was to create a public discussion about what we as a society are willing or not willing to give up in terms of privacy in the name of security. It’s a topic that comes up again and again since 9/11 and yet we still have not managed to come up with any definitive decisions. The concept gets volleyed around from time to time and then gets dropped in the next news cycle.

Everyone is now trying to label Snowden a hero or a villain. I certainly wouldn’t call him a villain, but I wouldn’t go as far as hero either. Just one rather shallow reason is that there are much cooler ways he could have broken this news. Staying anonymous would have automatically made it cooler for me. But I do think that he did this for reasons outside himself – for what he perceives as the greater good. I suppose there is the possibility that he could make a sweet payday on this…there always is nowadays. But for right now, he’s in some pretty serious trouble. There’s a greater possibility that he’s going to jail for a long time. Now we have to wait and see if this dramatic act of Snowden's will actually make a difference.
Another interesting facet of this story will be watching how aggressively an administration so fond of the idea of transparency will be with its most high profile whistle-blower.  Just like there was no way Anthony Weiner could post ridiculous pictures of himself online or Mark Sanford could go “hiking on the Appalachian trail” without being found out, the government as a whole is no longer immune to news in real-time. Let’s see how they deal with it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Staying Connected - for Better or for Worse - After Sandy

As Sandy’s monumental storm surge ebbed away, there were lots of reasons to be hopeful for the future of humanity. By my count, there were almost as many reasons to make going the way of the apes and hashing it out in the actual jungle seem like a feasible option.

First of all, to all the insane producers and journalists at every network who think they get more street cred for sending people to/standing in the middle of an evacuation zone - go inside! We all know it's windy out there. Don't rebuke the morons behind you calling their BFFs on their cell phones so that they can tune in and see their moronic friends in the background of the report, if you are going to point a camera at them! If you want them to go home, turn off your floodlight and live feed!

Okay, I just had to get that out of my system. On to my points.

This storm created extremes on every level. The beautiful and the ugly came through loud and clear via all sorts of media outlets… at least for those of us who were lucky enough to have power and an Internet connection. People in Breezy Point, Queens lost everything they did not have on them. Some who live 10 miles north of them didn’t lose a thing – not even power. Some people worked tirelessly to gather donations for the relief effort, in some cases filling donation sites to capacity, while some looted copper piping from inside the walls of the most devastated homes so they could sell it for scrap. Companies, corporations, and small businesses gave money, time, and effort to help those hardest hit. Some gouged anyone they could for the items they desperately needed like water and gas.

As different ends of the humanity spectrum duked it out, the storm also acted as an equalizer for the victims. Those of us living in the Northeast realized that we are not immune to the kind of epic disaster we have previously only witnessed in pictures and on video. With that, people on all levels of the economic ladder were thrown the same set of humbling circumstances – no power, no heat in an unforgiving mid-autumn, having to rely on others for everything. Then there was the basic human need to connect, which is where social media became the virtual hero of the day.

When I think about the landscape had Sandy hit 15 years ago, it’s another set of extremes. Safe havens, gas, resources, security – these all became exponentially more accessible to those with magical pockets of wifi because of Facebook and Twitter, not to mention email and text. If not for these lifelines, so many more would have been in the dark in more ways than one.

Those who did right by their fellow humans were promptly rewarded, thanks in large part to technology. Several times in the days after the storm I read updates by people waiting in lines at certain stores and gas stations because they had heard about huge donations made by them to the relief effort. Others posted and tweeted about their positive experiences with specific merchants when store owners and managers found out that the raid on the cleaning supply and baby food sections was for the hurricane victims. For me, whether these groups donated on a human level or in a calculated maneuver to reap a plethora of PR benefits doesn’t even matter. They gave. At a time when so many people had no choice but to take, that’s what matters.

The people and companies who screwed people over will undoubtedly pay the price for their greed. The people who became the most vulnerable at the hands of Sandy won’t quickly forget who was there to pick them up and who kicked them in the head when they were down. Or, I suspect, who attempted to have 40,000 runners trample them 6 days after the storm pounded them.

Maybe it’s because Bloomie has no plans to buy himself a fourth term, but what was up with trying to go ahead with the marathon?! There have been some times I have agreed with Bloomberg and some times I haven’t, but this was one big, permanent strike against him for me. He’s a money guy. I get that. He’s spent his entire life focused on the bottom line and he’s a bazillionaire because of it. Fine. But he’s also human. And that wasn’t quite as apparent in the days after the storm when he repeatedly and nonchalantly declared that the marathon would go on as planned. Thousands of people running a race miles away from a densely populated, now completely devastated coastline is just a bad idea.

Storm victims tossed out of hotel rooms so that runners could take them – BAD. Generators allocated for the marathon tents (albeit supplied by the Road Runners Club and not the city) when they could have been helping the hardest hit – BAD. The thousands of already-spread-thin police officers that would have had to man the marathon route instead of keeping the peace in the outer boroughs – BAD. There was a silver lining, at least, to this really bad move. The marathon was called off so late in the week that most of the runners where already in town. Many paid for their hotel rooms and donated them to flood victims. They also went out into the city that hosts them every year to do what they could to help – GOOD.

In the face of something the scale of which this area has never seen, those who were good to their neighbor, and the tools that connected them, won the day. But what do all the myriad reactions to the circumstances, brought to us instantaneously courtesy of social media, say about us? Sure, we have never seen anything like this so it’s understandable that people became a little unhinged after a few days without power. But at the same time, we have never seen anything like this. This was a big deal. We’ve been so lucky in the Northeast that even ancient people don’t remember another storm of this caliber in their lifetime. With the exception of the people along the NY and NJ coast that redefined the term “taking one for the team”, I was left wondering why people couldn’t keep it together a little better. I mean, syphoning gas out of cars in their owners’ driveways? Come on people! Go donate some old clothes. I bet you can find a relief site within walking distance on twitter.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

HuffPo gets greedy...and lazy...and stupid...again

The Huffington Post is once again being criticized for “over-aggregation”. It’s not the first time, and surely won’t be the last. A piece written by a now-suspended Amy Wise for HuffPo was deemed by the original writer, Simon Dumenco, to have gleaned much too much from his Ad Age piece, "Poor Steve Jobs Had to Go Head to Head With Weinergate in the Twitter Buzzstakes. And the Weiner Is ...". Dumenco accused the HuffPo piece of summarizing all of the key points of his June article before placing a “disingenuous” link to his piece at the bottom of the page that resulted in less than 60 hits on his Ad Age story.

Although these tactics may technically cover aggregators, they’re a pretty lame way of making things legit. As reported by Mathew Ingram at, Dumenco accepted the apology of Peter Goodman, the new Exec Ed of HuffPo, but said “unethical aggregation is essentially embedded in the very DNA of The Huffington Post.”

Ingram goes on to point out that much of journalism is based on aggregation. Indeed it is. Unless you are writing about an insanely well-guarded scoop (and let’s face it, that’s pretty much non-existent today), you are going to rely on some degree on what has been written about your topic in the past. There is nothing wrong with that. I do it all the time. I think the problem comes when writers have nothing original to say about their topic. Does the word “angle” mean anything to anyone anymore? Better yet, does plagiarism? That almost feels like a defunct word these days - kind of like anvil or outhouse. It looks like the HuffPo writers are treading dangerously close to the ‘p’ word, if, in fact, that word still means anything in these days of non-stop news cycles and hyper-aggregation.

Any doofus can cover the same old story over and over by poaching a little from here, a little from there. The point is to have an original voice, to do something new and interesting with the same old information. I understand this might not be the most profitable way to spend time when you’re trying to churn out hundreds of stories a day, but if this isn’t your goal, then you’re not really a writer. You’re just a regurgitator of someone else’s thoughts.

One of the more interesting facets of the story for me is that Wise (such an ironic name) seems to have poached only from Dumenco. She paraphrased ONE other story. Come on, sister! Put a little effort into it! If you’re not going to have any original thoughts of your own, at least vomit up several other peoples’ thoughts. And that’s not to say that the only problem I have with this is that she only cited one other piece. But it’s definitely a big part of the problem.

Erik Wemple from the Washington Post said in his opinion piece last week that HuffPo has a “standard” of linking to at least three other news sources for their stories. That’s great and all, but clearly some of these writers are slapping links into their stories just for the sake of meeting that yardstick. And the writer should give the reader a reason to click on those links. Otherwise, what purpose does it serve other than meeting HuffPo’s (and other such aggregators’) Herculean “standards”?

In his response post to the HuffPo debacle “What It’s Like to Get Used and Abused by The Huffington Post”, Dumenco poses the question, “What constitutes unfair – unethical – aggregation?” That really is the key question here, and one that Goodman did not attempt to answer in his response to Dumenco. “We should have either taken what you call ‘the minimalist approach’ or simply linked directly to your story. That is how we train our writers and editors to handle stories such as this…this instance is entirely unacceptable and collides directly with the values that are at work in our newsroom,” wrote Goodman in an email to Dumenco.

Really, Goodman? Let’s just see how fast the next, basically identical story about HuffPo surfaces. It’s only a matter of time.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Twitter for Newsrooms

Twitter for Newsrooms (#TfN) was launched last week. Although I’m still skeptical about Twitter as a global newsroom and how some use it for dissemination of real news, I’m hoping this site will go a long way in legitimizing it. The site highlights best practices and streamlines resources with the goal of making it a more efficient news-gathering tool. This may also make some or most of the info offered here redundant for reporters who are already well-versed in using social media in their reporting. Ideally, it will ensure that if Twitter is to continue being taken seriously by news consumers, certain standards need to be upheld.

Broken down into four areas, TfN covers Reporting (effective search methods, setting up a search for up-to-the-minute updates on a certain topic, an archive of older Tweets), Engaging (examples of how veteran reporters and journos are sharing news through Twitter and connecting with their audience), Publishing (a plugin that allows reporters to embed Tweets in HTML, how to document Tweets in your story), and Extras (links and resources).

Who knows, the site might just surprise some of the reporters who think they’ve got Twitter all figured out. Included on the site is an Advanced Twitter Search that allows you to search by sentiment, a specific location, and time period, etc. According to, it had been possible to search by sentiment, but the tool was not readily accessible prior to the launch of TfN. Examples of reporters who are doing it right on Twitter are especially intriguing to me. Ann Curry, John Steltner, and Katie Couric are designated as Twitter superstars and TfN tells you why.

Justin Ellis at the Neiman Journalism Lab made an interesting point last week: “Twitter for Newsrooms has some commonalities with Facebook + Journalists, which similarly is a resource for helping reporters and editors navigate the new world of social-assisted journalism. But the two resources also seem to share a common wisdom: that it’s time to take back control of the expertise and resource market.” If that works, I’ll be much more confident about journalists coming to rely more and more on social media for their news-gathering. But that hinges on reporters doing due diligence and not getting sucked into a warp-speed news cycle. Standards need to be high, and most importantly, sources need to be credible.

Another positive aspect of this site is that it will be open to suggestions from users. Love that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The real-time erosion of journalism

At a social media summit held by the BBC last week, the news outlet posted the process it follows for verifying user content at their user-generated content (UGC) Hub in London. Matthew Ingram wrote about the process at last Friday. Ingram says there is a desk in the middle of the BBC newsroom with dedicated staffers pulling reports from social media outlets and verifying them.

These staffers sometimes spend hours conducting journalism-style forensics to figure out if a certain photo was taken where and when the photographer claims, if a Twitter post holds water, if a video was really taken minutes earlier at the nexus of a revolution. They do this by studying shadows to verify the time of a photo or video, checking locations based on what is visible in the background, identifying accents and dialects to determine whether a video was recorded at the specific location claimed by the person who submitted the piece.

Now, the BBC has an immense wealth of resources. From what I read about its verification of social media leads, the resources are well-used. Staffers can verify accents, dress, locations as easily as emailing or calling a colleague somewhere else in the world and sending them the video or photo. Throughout the Arab Spring of the past few months, individuals or makeshift news teams have been taking the initiative and creating a narrative that would not otherwise be known to the rest of the world. It’s amazing that people in other countries have had access to this information. And if everyone were approaching real-time news reporting like the BBC, it would be great. There, it seems as though nothing hits the presses or airwaves without having met a rather rigorous test of veracity. That is news. But will all news outlets dive into these uncharted waters with equal integrity? Will other outlets hold citizen journalism to the same standards as traditional journalism?

Did you guess ‘no’?

Andy Carvin has sort of been doing the same thing as the BBC over at NPR during his coverage of the Arab Spring. He’s the guy who “tweeted the revolution”. Carvin starts his reporting process with a non-stop onslaught of information coming in through social media. He also has a stable of reporters or sources that he has worked with and trusts. That’s great. What bothers me is that he sometimes retweets unverified information and asks the “crowd” to help him verify it.

Maybe it’s just me, but Carvin seems like (a potentially legit journalist in other realms, but in this one) a big gossip. How does he know the verification that he’s getting from people besides his trusted group is for real? Who is it coming from? Other people steeped in the revolution? The opposition? Either way, I’m guessing it’s not the most unbiased info.

I know a huge shift in journalism is happening, and it is a necessary one. Given social media and new and better technology, journalism cannot be left behind the curve. It should be ahead of it. But this just seems irresponsible. There are growing numbers of people who applaud Carvin and think he’s at the cutting edge; that news is happening and must be reported in real-time. Personally, I’ll take a two-hour lag in reporting any day if it means I’m getting the most accurate information possible and not something that may or may not have happened…can anyone out there verify?

Ingram says that Carvin is not the only newsmaker that uses crowd verification. Mark Little, founder of Storyful, a tool allowing journos to collect video and content on a specific topic, says that the “human algorithm” is the future of media. The human algorithm is a cool idea, but it’s not news.

It’s true that even if expansive foreign news bureaus still existed, they couldn’t be- and never were - everywhere at once. They could not possibly always be everywhere something interesting is happening on the ground. They could not report the kinds of things that were reported by Egyptian youths during their revolution early in the year. But does that mean that we should move to a model of journalism where the standards are so low? Where everyone is a journalist? I hope journalism still requires a lot more finesse than that.

Ingram argues that twitter news is being disseminated in the same way news has always traditionally gotten out to the masses – a report comes in over the wire, it’s fact-checked, then goes to print or air. It’s then updated as necessary when additional information comes in. He calls Twitter the “real-time news wire for the world”. Well, it’s not exactly like the days of yore, Matt. Back in the day, you know, five years ago, news stories consisted of more than 140 characters. There may have been a news flash as soon as a story came over the wire that could be akin to today’s tweet, but then it was followed with a real, in-depth story with some meat to it.

There was a perfect example of this with the raid on Osama’s compound last month. There was a firefight, firefight, FIREFIGHT!! Two days later, we learn there was never anything coming close to a firefight. The whole thing was eerily non-combative. Who ever said anything about a firefight? How did that ever become part of the story, considering it was pure fiction? Why, in the middle of the biggest U.S. security-related accomplishment in years is the White House having to walk back the story of how everything went down?

I truly loved the concept of citizen journalism when I first read about it. I still like it in theory. But I think it needs to be harnessed. If, as Little suggests, anyone can become a reporter and start producing news, who is going to be consuming it? Is the future of media going to look like a room full of demanding children all jockeying for attention? Wait a minute! That’s already what media looks like. And just like that room full of children, it’s a nightmare.

Little’s human algorithm reminds me of some flash mob videos I’ve seen on youtube. Sometimes there are so many people involved in the mob that when everyone is finished revealing themselves as participants, there’s one schmo left in the food court to watch. What’s the point? And was that guy meant to be left watching, or did he just forget to check his email that morning?

Where does media and journalism begin and end in this new model? The line should be a little blurred, a little amorphous. Technology - for good and bad - has made that unavoidable. But I think there should be a set of people expected to reliably deliver a set of facts and a set of people who can confidently consume that information.

Inherently, there’s nothing wrong, and nothing stopping a citizen journalist from creating a news stream. Part of me can relate to the excitement that approach breeds – the wide open possibility of covering a story, and the possibility of reading about something like the Arab Spring from participants definitely has a certain allure. And maybe that is the kind of situation to which Carvin’s approach should be confined – breaking news, one-of-a-kind, you-had-to-be-there-to-get-it kind of stories. But journalism in general is all about having standards and sticking to them. The general public posting “news stories” willy-nilly as it encounters them and legions of staffers going nuts trying to confirm and verify them has the potential to be chaotic and confusing.

I suppose this dumbed-down, inaccurate coverage may well be the future of journalism. Some see that as exciting and cutting edge. I think it’s unfortunate.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Citizen what?

Mayhill Fowler has been called a poster child for citizen journalism….may God help us all. Fowler wrote entries for OffTheBus, a forum on HuffPo for amateur journalists who followed the 2008 presidential campaign. And I mean literally followed – she traveled around the country on buses covering her man Obama during 2007 and 2008.

Fowler heard Obama’s “bitter” Pennsylvania voter comment at a San Francisco campaign event in 2008 - an event to which mainstream media did not have access. Of course, the mainstream outlets were pissed that they didn’t get that info for themselves. To that I say: Suck it up kids. Like it or not, that’s the nature of new media. And to anyone running for any kind of public office I say: Just because an event is closed to the “media”, does not mean that something you say at said event will not go viral...really fast.

Of course, now, two years removed from the fracas, no one wants anything to do with Fowler. And that could be (one of) the ugly flip side(s) to citizen journalism. She had her 15 minutes of fame, and got burned for it – accusations of being in cahoots with Hillary were predictably thrown around after she posted the quote. And that’s fine on a personal level. If you’re going to walk into the fire, you have to be prepared. Honestly, I don’t really care if Fowler ever gets paid to write. I’m more interested in what her story as a citizen journo means for the bigger picture.

A few days ago, the LA Times reported on an interesting caveat to the San Fran story of which I was not aware. Fowler almost didn’t include Obama’s bitter comment in her post about the evening knowing how damaging it could be to the candidate. She only decided to include it after an OffTheBus director encouraged her to disclose all she had heard. What I find so troubling about the heat Fowler caught for including the quote in her post was the fact that as a “journalist”, she absolutely should have included it. In fact, she was - dare I say - ethically obligated to include it. That’s not the kind of comment that a candidate should get away with at a public event.

The fact that the mainstream was pissed to be scooped by Fowler proves that they wished they had gotten the quote themselves. I mean, that’s good stuff, whether or not you’re in the tank for someone. If you are running to be the POTUS and you say something dumb, you should be quoted on it as eagerly as when you say something smart. That’s a journalist’s job.

Now OffTheBus was not a one-time phenomenon. There are citizen journalism sites popping up all the time. Demotix, for example, reviews content and image entries from international Joe Schmos all day. The ones that are up to snuff get pushed to the U.K.-based company’s news feed. The major outlets can then buy them, allowing Schmo to get published in The New York Times if he gets lucky. Demotix gets a 50% cut and the writer or photojournalist gets 50%.

The great thing about Demotix is that it offers hyper local news from around the world, written or filmed by natives from the area – not an old white dude working for the BBC. The down side is that I don’t yet see how this model works to fill the most important role of journalists – investigative reporting. Not that Demotix claims to do this. The site knows its place as an event-based news outlet.

It could be that with the simple passage of time citizen journalism and maybe crowd sourcing will yield powerful insights into the most troubling aspects of society. (Just consider how much a news story written by lawmakers about their initiatives might differ from a collaborative story written by a cross-section of constituents about how the initiative would affect their everyday lives.) Journalists often work with a similar handicap – trying to capture the sentiments of Everyman by speaking with three of them.

But alas, considering how the craft of investigative reporting has been languishing even in traditional media, I have a hard time believing that it will flourish among people who woke up this morning and decided to change the world. Of course I’m wildly oversimplifying the concept, but I feel good about the point I’m trying to make.

The founder of Demotix, Turi Munthe, says that his idea for the site came out of the belief that when a society is open and enjoys free speech, its propensity towards radicalizing decreases. I’m all for that. I’m just leery of a future where the onus for real journalism is placed on a system that is incapable of supplying it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Game Change" plays by the rules

As a reporter, I’ve had plenty of off-the-record conversations. Some juicy, some not so much. I have never, however, had the delicious pleasure of interviewing on the basis of “deep background”. This is the reporting method used by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in their new book “Game Change”.

Basically, operating on the understanding that all sources are providing deep background means that the authors do not have to reveal any of their sources in the finished product. It is an ideal method of gathering a huge amount of information and creating a sweeping omniscient narrative.

I have not read the book yet, only an excerpt in New York magazine. (As a result of reading that excerpt I cannot wait to get my hands on it.) In this instance, writing a book from an omniscient point of view is akin to the reader being transported back in time to be a fly on the wall in some of the most fascinating, infuriating, disastrous, and amazing meetings and gatherings that occurred during the 2008 presidential election. Who wouldn’t love to take that ride?!

The beautiful thing about the crafting of “Game Change” is that the authors got everyone to dish post-election under the agreement that their name would never appear in print…not exactly what the average reporter can promise. As a result, they got the dirt. Some say it’s too dirty – that the authors may have let angry ex- aides and staffers have free reign. The authors rebuttal is that they were very careful with sources and never relied on one person to shape the telling of an event.

Once I do finally meet all imminent work-related deadlines and get the bookstore to buy this gem, I am anticipating a riveting read. I’ve always been a big fan of the omniscient point of view in all kinds of literature. And surely this, of all books, will be intriguing considering that all of the characters are so well-known and have (or had) such carefully crafted public personas.

Now I have to confess, something that has always irked me is “journalism” that is an endless parade of information gathered from unnamed sources. I think there is without a doubt a need for off-the-record conversations, but when they overwhelm an article it begins to read like a flimsy, disposable set of quasi-might-not-actually-be-facts. Writing like this makes my skin crawl. Unfortunately, I’m seeing more and more of it all the time.

“Game Change”, I suppose the argument could be made, is one of these wannabe pieces – full of “facts”, but no substance to back it up. But in this case, that argument does not hold water. I think writing the book in this way was a necessary evil if Halperin and Heilemann wanted to tell the raw, uncensored, gritty truth. And is it really the truth? Do the authors know for sure that everything in the book is completely accurate? I don’t think they have any way of knowing that, but I am convinced that neither of them have any reason to believe that anything in the book is false.

So when all the fuss got kicked up over the Harry Reid comments, I did not find it to be completely unseemly. Some did. But not only did Reid’s staff admit that Reid made the comment to the authors, Halperin and Heilemann probably verified Reid’s feelings through another source as well. Now, should they have written the comment as a direct quote? Well, Reid’s people also never attacked the authors alleging that they violated their sourcing agreement, so it looks as if they didn’t actually do anything wrong.

The excerpt I read from New York magazine was about John and St. Elizabeth Edwards. What I found so fascinating about that part of the story is that no one knew anything about it during the campaign. Stories of John McCain aides being frustrated by Sarah Palin’s lack of intellectual rigor were swirling while the campaign was still going on. Not so with the Edwardses. They fairy tale was definitely unraveling well before Edwards conceded, but the extent of the turmoil reported in the book is staggering – mostly because there was no hint of it in the mainstream media at the time.

Did the Edwards camp just have that tight a grip on what got out to the press? Was the staff so deluded by the promises of their candidate that when he morphed into a woman-crazed narcissistic lunatic, they didn’t have the heart to blow the whistle? Did they actually feel bad for an ill Elizabeth even though she’s portrayed as a raving banshee? So many questions! If the rest of “Game Change” is as good as the excerpt, and lives up to all the hype, I’m in for one awesome winter read.