Boxing Days: Readers on Saletan.

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Sept. 11 2002 1:51 PM

Boxing Days

Our readers respond to Saletan's changes of heart.

(Continued from Page 7)

Op-Ed Ops: Michael Kinsley's Readme always brings out strong posts. His discussion of Colin Powell's loyalty was no exception. In one thread, Ex-fed accusedKinsley of succumbing to what Slate's Jack Shafer has called "the fog of journalism."

I have ceased to be amazed at how journalists' standards and tradecraft abandon them when the subject touches upon journalism itself. So you speculate that Colin Powell is leaking to "small audiences of reliably discreet journalists"? And you, a well-connected journalist, are content to leave it at that? …

Why the lack of curiosity here? Powell has bought himself immunity by leaking. Journalists are co-opted and bought off by receiving "privileged" information …

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Zathras repliedthat Powell may be playing other, more important games—like doing his job.

Powell could be talking to State Department subordinates who then talk to the press on background. He could be talking to his opposite numbers in foreign governments, who then talk to American reporters, normally also on background. He could also be talking to Scowcroft, Eagleburger, and one or more members of Congress, who can use information thus obtained to support views they already hold.

Powell also can and has been quoted directly in public fora saying things that can be interpreted in more than one way. Is he a "closet dove," to use the old Vietnam-era phrase, or is he merely projecting that image to help him better do his job of relating to foreign governments put off by President Bush's conduct of foreign policy? Or, are reporters and commentators interpreting Powell's remarks in the context of what they would like to think he believes?

All three of these possibilities could be true at once …

Both posts are longer and worth reading in full. Other good posts (excerpted at the end of the article) seek to divine the intentions of "the holy rock."

Readme again: Ender, who is often (usually?) right about these things, claims that this is Kinsley's "first anti-war with Iraq" piece here.

Workflow: Thursday and Friday this week are loaded with new Slatecontent, guaranteed to exercise The Fray. Stop back for more snapshots ... 8:55 a.m.

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Thursday, Sept. 5, 2002

Fat or Phat?: Today's Dear Prudence column—specifically the letter from "Up In Arms," the friend of the "portly" woman in tight clothes—went on msn.com. The Fray became unreadable—filled with vulgar spamming and then irrelevant political invective. I cleaned out the worst on more than one occasion, but things may get bad again …

Readers(new ones or regulars) who want to see the Prudie Fray in its more usual form should try clicking back to a solid early thread here  or select "View Fray Editor's Picks." Julia offered this advice from the how-to-lose-friends-and-alienate-people school: "Up [the letter writer—J.D.] needs to tell these mutual 'friends' to shut up. I would never allow someone to ridicule my friend like that. If they say, 'Why don't you tell her how terrible she looks?,' I'd say, 'For the same reason I never told you what a snotty person you are sometimes.'" You go girl!!!! (Can I say that?)

Common thread: tell your friend by taking her shopping (not, say, over lunch).

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