Bogus trendspotting at USA Today.

Bogus trendspotting at USA Today.

Bogus trendspotting at USA Today.

Media criticism.
Aug. 11 2003 6:33 PM

Bloggy Monday

Bogus trendspotting … did the press snooze while JFK boinked? … and more bogus trendspotting.

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Rebuttal: Oh, be serious! Without corroborating survey or industry data, how can one connect the growth of the prepaid credit card industry to the "trend" of more 8- to 12-year-olds shopping on their own?

Without a doubt, some 12-year-old kids are shopping without their parents. Decades ago, for example, I shopped solo as a subteenager. For all anybody knows, Horovitz could be right about his trend, but this lazy piece never makes the case.

JFK's Not-so-Secret Boinking

Retired Associate Press reporter Walter Mears, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose memoirs come out in October, tells U.S. News & World Reportthe press didn't cover up President John Kennedy's sexual indiscretions because it didn't know about them.


"Even if they can't prove it, reporters trade gossip," Mears tells U.S. News. "Even at last call in the bar, I didn't hear any. … [H]is affairs were secret because he saw to it."

Mears should have frequented other journalistic bars or at least had a few drinks with former CBS News reporter Marvin Kalb and New York Times reporter R.W. Apple Jr. On Page Four of One Scandalous Story, his critique of the Monicagate coverage, Kalb writes about an incident in September 1963 in which he stumbled upon the Secret Service escorting "a woman with stunningly attractive legs" up a private elevator in New York's Carlyle Hotel—where President Kennedy was staying. The panicked Secret Service knocked Kalb flat on the floor to prevent him from getting a good view of the woman.

Kalb didn't file a report about the knockdown or the woman. "It was my judgment at the time that such an incident was simply not 'news,' " Kalb writes. He then relates a similar story by the Times' Apple, who as a young reporter claims to have seen a beautiful woman escorted into Kennedy's Carlyle suite in 1963. Apple returned to the Times newsroom and told assignment editor Sheldon Binn what he'd seen. "Apple," Binn allegedly said, "you're supposed to report on political and diplomatic policies, not girlfriends. No story."

That the press shielded Kennedy cannot be denied. According to Scotty, John F. Stacks' biography of James B. Reston, Reston used his power as the New York Times Washington bureau chief to spike the inquiry of one of his reporters who was investigating rumors that JFK had married before taking Jacqueline Bouvier as his wife. "I will not have the New York Times muckraking the president of the United States!" he hollered.

And those are just the first three JFK stories that come to mind. …

Nielsen Schmielsen

An exhausted nation is turning away from TV news, asserts New York Times TV reporter Jim Rutenberg today in "Suffering News Burnout? The Rest of America Is, Too." Rutenberg bases his conclusion on numbers provided by Nielsen Media Research. According to Nielsen, the number of people watching the three evening network newscasts each night, on average, in June and July was 24.1 million. Over the same period in 2002, 25.2 million tuned into the broadcasts, and in 2001, 24.3 million did so.