Fox News & CIA caught in the virtual hen house — both have edited Wikipedia entries

Wikipedia Scanner‘s first outing of embarrassing attempts to alter Wikipedia entries.

From Mashable:

It’s been uncovered that Fox News has been making changes to the Wikipedia entries of their competitors and critics.Edits made to author Al Franken’s Wikipedia entry was tracked back to a Fox News IP address. One of the changes to Franken’s Wikipedia entry about the lawsuit against him, brought on by Fox, clearly reflects Fox News’ desire to avoid any bad press or misgivings about itself as a brand.

However the BBC reveals that someone at Langley actually has a sense of humor:

On the profile of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tool indicates that a worker on the CIA network reportedly added the exclamation “Wahhhhhh!” before a section on the leader’s plans for his presidency.

Oh, we’re going to be getting more good stuff out of this one.

Today’s corporate weasel words: Verizon thinks it’s the CIA

NEW YORK, May 12 /PRNewswire/ — Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) today issued the following statement:

The President has referred to an NSA program, which he authorized, directed against al-Qaeda. Because that program is highly classified, Verizon cannot comment on that program, nor can we confirm or deny whether we have had any relationship to it.

Having said that, there have been factual errors in press coverage about the way Verizon handles customer information in general. Verizon puts the interests of our customers first and has a longstanding commitment to vigorously safeguard our customers' privacy — a commitment we've highlighted in our privacy principles, which are available at

Verizon will provide customer information to a government agency only where authorized by law for appropriately-defined and focused purposes. When information is provided, Verizon seeks to ensure it is properly used for that purpose and is subject to appropriate safeguards against improper use. Verizon does not, and will not, provide any government agency unfettered access to our customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition.

This is a classic non-denial denial. We can't comment on it because it's classified. Well, that's convenient but that really only works if you are an arm of the government or are under a court order (yeah like there's a court order anywhere near this fiasco). I love the fact that they won't confirm or deny what's been in the headlines but they will attempt to correct "factual errors in press coverage." How about you just say what you have and/or haven't done? You report, we decide. Hey, that's catchy. And here's the classic phrase "…under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition." Now there's a clause you could hide a corporate rep behind. And I love the implicaton that somehow Verizon will know what the CIA/NSA/TSA/ETC is going to do with the information that's being handed over. If Verizon does indeed know that then I have just spotted a truly staggering security problem with our intelligence agencies.

BWA HA HA: Must read PugBus' wonderful story on Bush, Verizon Team Up to Sell NSA Telephone Spying Program. Starting to be something a little ominous about that giant network following the guy around everywhere…

“Rearranging of deck chairs on the Hindenburg continues as CIA Director Porter Goss resigns”

Headline of the day from No they don't mean the Titanic, either. The Hindenburg reference is from Steven Colbert's amazingly funny (if you weren't there) speech at the White House Correspondent's dinner. Read it here. I have been incredibly amused by the fallout from Mr. Colbert's comments. Read about them at MediaNews, or here and here and here and here and … well you get the idea. The basic theme of all the criticism is that the Official DC Press-erati got their bow ties in a knot because Mr. C had the temerity to make fun of his Bushness at the shindig. To which I can only respond: WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? DO YOU WATCH HIS SHOW? This is not a development that should have caught the cream of US journalism (ha ha) by surprise.

And besides, hurrah for him. In the US, the press spends far too much time trying to be liked and far too little just doing their job. That dinner is just one more sign of the way that the press bigwigs suck up to power in DC. We're supposed to represent the least powerful, remember.


  1. Maybe they should just use Charles Schwab like the rest of us: "The new chief of the CIA's venture capital organization, In-Q-Tel, has resigned after just four months on the job." His downfall was putting so much money on WMD stocks.
  2. Belated Headline of the Day From Friday's Chicago Sun-Times: 82-year-old kidney in 55-year-old man (Thanks to CD Sr. for that one).
  3. Obvious headline of the day: 18 to 34 Year Old Males Seen As The Target Audience for In-game Advertising. Really? Huh. I would have thought that advertising in video games would have gotten me that all-important killer grandmother demographic. Headline courtesy of Center For Media Research, whose website still proclaims: "Daily alertness to and briefings on breaking media research news that will impact planning and buying decisions." I'm feeling alerter already.
  4. Today's headline of the Day: China's Army Rejects Snorers. Are you sure they didn't mean schnorers? 'Cuz that I would understand.
  5. The Black Death – Public health crisis or marketing opportunity? Press release: FAIRFAX, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–April 24, 2006–A case of the Bubonic Plague was reported last week in Los Angeles County, California for the first time since 1984. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that flea populations, the most common transmitter of this illness, are on the rise, especially during warmer months. "Fleas are parasites that feast on any warm-blooded body, including humans," said Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA.

Let me see if I get this right … it's the fleas that are the parasites?

A cenotaph

Doc Peckett has died and I feel like telling a few stories. What I know for fact about Doc: decorated Viet-Nam vet, professor of politics, wrestling coach at NYU, wrestled for Hofstra and lost to the near legendary Dan Gable once (losing to Gable was not in itself that big an accomplishment, the man only lost one match). What I (and everyone else on the team) assumed about Doc: former CIA. Doc was in his quiet way one of — if not the — most surprising person I ever met.

  1. The man had seen Rocky Horror Picture Show more times than anyone I had ever met. Why? He just loved it. One time as we pulled up at a tri-meet (wrestling being what it is you can have several teams wrestle at once) vs. the US Merchant Marine Academy and some other school we had no chance against, he looked up at the school and back at his van full of wrestlers and asked without a trace of irony: “Whatever happened to Fay Wray?” He had a knack for always knowing the right thing to say.
  2. He had seen Apocalypse Now more times than anyone I had ever known. He said the scene where they’re coming into the battlefield on helicopters and they’re playing “Ride of the Valkyries” was pretty much dead on — and he knew whereof he spoke.
  3. A burglar once made the mistake of trying to break into Doc’s apartment when Doc was home. Doc, butt naked, chased the man out of the apartment while wielding a samurai sword. I have no one’s word on this but Doc’s but I never knew the man to make things up — he didn’t have to.
  4. NYU was and still is a Division III school in the NCAA — no one came here for the athletics. But, NCAA rules being what they are or were one of the school’s team was allowed to compete at the Division 1 level (I’m guessing it had to be in one of the non-revenue sports). Guess who got that honor at NYU? Which means we lost to some good teams when we weren’t busy losing to some bad ones. (The one guaranteed win on our schedule each season? Yeshiva. That’s how good we were.) One year that meant we got to go to the NCAA qualifying tournament. That year it was held at the now-famous but then totally unknown George Mason University in Virginia. (Someone on the team **cough cough** suggested that our motto should be “What a nice Div III school like us doing at a tournament like this?”) On the way down he looked out at the rolling Virginia country side and said, “Now that’s infantry country.” On the way back we stopped in DC and went to Viet-Nam memorial and Doc remembered the names of all 12 of them men who had died under his command.
  5. The reasons we figured he was ex-CIA: There was a long gap in his resume between “leaving” the Army and coming to NYU. He never said and we never asked. But one of our braver team members — I think it was Kurt Brungardt (one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, and that’s saying something. I think Kurt was/is a verb come to life.) — asked Doc if he had ever done that classic spy movie thing of being dropped off by submarine at night. Doc replied, “Yup, but I’m not saying in which hemisphere.” George Coffinas, an alum and former wrestler, told this story about taking a trip with Doc out of country. When they got to customs Doc flashed some piece of ID, George never saw what it was, and they walked through without anyone looking at them.
  6. As a wrestler I lost. A lot. Even by our team’s standards. The only time Doc ever said anything critical to me was one match when I just didn’t try at all.
  7. He never took anything too seriously. He clearly never forgot that no matter what he had seen worse.

Doc died a few years ago as a result of poisoning from Agent Orange and I just found out about it. I feel like a tool not because I didn’t know but because he was forever on that list of people I meant to get in touch with. It was and is my loss.

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