Narco News '02
Your Letters on...
Problems at Alternet...
House Press Secretary Bob Weiner
(Note: We really do welcome letters-to-the-editor
that disagree with our report, "Ethics Problems at Alternet,"
but so far have not received any in our mailbox. Our email address
March 9th Update: More Alternet Papers, links, letters, clarifications
and a correction on one part of our White Paper on Ethics Problems
at Alternet are now posted to Narco News in our ongoing coverage
of this story through the uncensored words of all sides. Click
Must Clean House"
I just now read your excellent article...
...and am very grateful for your scrupulous honesty. Wow. I had
no idea that this BS was going on. It sure is simultaneously
inspiring to see such journalistic honesty on your part and disheartening
to see such dishonesty on Hazen's part with both of you within
the same 'alternative' news realm.
Ego: it's such a trap and, clearly, Hazen has fallen into it,
thus has damaged the alternative news genre as a result, but
it is clear to me that you have limited the damage greatly or,
at least, I hope that such damage has been limited.
Now what to do about Hazen, beyond boycotting? I won't go back
to the Alternet site again--that's for sure. Perhaps the Alternet
board has that power to fire the guy? I suppose strong pressure
from many readers will pursuade that it is best to let Hazen
go? Some web-based 'hazing' of Hazen seems in order to me.
If you could kindly share an e-mail address or two of the Alternet
board members, or of those in a position to demote Hazen, I will
be happy to pass along the e-addresses, along with the url to
your Hazen story, to others with an encouragement for them to
pass it along as well.
One thing for sure: as long as Hazen remains at the helm at Alternet,
I won't hit the website; furthermore, Alternet must not only
get rid of Hazen, but clean up its house and fully answer your
list of questions regarding its policies.
Again, I thank you very much for your stalwart journalistic honesty.
If only the mainstream journalist whores were like you...
Alternet does a shitty job and always
has. The entire corrupt and inordinately top-heavy institution
needs to collapse.
And the sooner we begin to make people
respect the talent of workers, the better.
The foundations better dig what you say--
besides the freelancers, they are the ones being robbed.
OK, update me when you got more. (Which
I assume is now)
From US Journalist
Letter to Alternet (CCed to Narco News):
Is the article in Narconews today about
Hazen true? If so, why would Alternet continue to have him on
their staff? He sounds, in the Narconews article, like a real
sleaze ball. I hope to see an open, truthful and complete response
to Giordano accusations on Alternet's page and /or Narconews'
Thanks for your response.
Owen R. Jones
(If Alternet sends us a response,
we will publish it uncensored.)
Political Cartoonist David Rees
Good for you!
Remember when you were kind enough to
ask permission to post one of my "get your war on"
Well, indymedia reprinted two of them
in their newspaper without notifying me! Arrrrrrgh
Why does lefty journalism discredit itself
with unprofessional b.s. like this?
I'm glad you're bringing attention to
I just read your piece on Alternet ethics
with great interest. Alternet had syndicated my work for a couple
of years until last fall. Since then, I can't get them to return
an e-mail, change the address for my royalty checks or my 1099,
or acknowledge stories I sent to them in any way. Your talk of
a blacklist interests me greatly. I'm not sure what I would have
done to be blacklisted, but I suppose it's possible. Do you know
any of the other names on the list?
Interestingly, this happened about the
same time that I had a contract dispute with one of my major
alternative clients, which is still unresolved and has me blacklisted
as a result. I have wondered if that somehow had affected Alternet's
willingness to communicate with me, much less continue running
Anyway, I thought you might have some
thoughts. I really appreciated reading your story. Coming on
the heels of this other contract problem, it is very interesting
to me to read about Alternet's ethical lapses.
Maybe this new syndication service will
be a decent alternative.
A US Journalist
the the SF Bay Guardian
Dear Al and Narco News,
That is a wonderful piece, marvelously
researched and conceptualized and written. And you are right
on target, on all counts. As the first "alternative"
journalist to take on Don publicly, as the one who led the fight
to cut his annual AAN subsidy,
as the one who has fought him publicly for years out here and
nationally, I am in a position to appreciate your truly good
work. I do feel badly I did not know about your case; I would
gladly have helped out.
By the way, the Bay Guardian and
I are founders of IAJ/IMI/Alternet, I am a former board member
for years. I and many of my staff spent a lot of time and money
developing the organization and then having to fight Don. From
our point of view, the key questions go to his secret foundation
funding: the source, the amount, and the conditions of his solicitation
and the ultimate bequest. Precisely the questions you raise.
I will ask his board to get the answers (to yours) and to mine
or else they will be running a doomed organization. Too bad.
Alas. Keep us informed on developments, B3, from (still) sunny
and (still) muddy sf
Bruce B. Brugmann, editor and publisher
San Francisco Bay Guardian
520 Hampshire Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
phone (415) 255-3100
fax (415) 487-3658
Dear Mr. Giordano,
I just read your piece on Alternet. I
think you left out the fact that my company, Featurewell.com,
which syndicates articles by more than 600 top journalists including
Jimmy Breslin, Ted Rall, Andrei Codrescu, and David Margolick,
has been competing with Alternet since October 2000.
Please visit Featurewell's home page,
by clicking on the following link:
Author Martin A. Lee
Many thanks for your report on Hazen. I was one of the founders
Martin A. Lee
Publisher Replies to Lee:
I interviewed you about your book, Acid
Dreams, many many years ago when I was a cub reporter at
the Valley Advocate in the 80s, and have always looked
for your work ever since.
Did you notice that your name is in my
report today? According to one of Hazen's internal memos, a story
of yours that it sold was among those submitted to a donor for
the "bounty" funding. It appears that Alternet received
an extra $150 for that story.
salud y abrazo,
Yes, I did notice you mentioned my name
in the story. It probably had to do with a piece I syndicated
through Alternet, "Shamanism vs. Capitalism: The Politics
of Ayahuasca." I know several papers picked up the story
last June but I've only seen something like $40 total. I hope
this Pulp Syndication effort works out. We sorely need it.
Syndicated Columnist Amy Alkon
Hey, thanks so much for the Alternet piece
you wrote. I'm a self-syndicated columnist in over 70 papers
-- started out going through Alternet -- terrible experience.
Papers would run me and I wouldn't get
paid. It was "the honor system" they said. I called
it terrible business practices that needed to be changed, and
50 percent is indeed usurious -- for doing
absolutely ZERO to market the writers' work -- simply putting
it up on a website and making it available. Syndicates take fifty
percent, but they sell your work, manage the papers, see that
the editors are happy, advertise your work, invoice, etc. A pal
of mine, journalist David Wallis, has a syndication service called
"Featurewell.com" -- I think his take is 40 him/60
the journalist, and he works to see that pieces get placed. Might
even be 70/30.
Why is it the supposed "anti-capitalists"
are ten times slimier than for-profit businesses which are up
front about their motive to earn money?
The Advice Goddess
syndicated columnist in 71 papers across North America
I just read your indictment of Alternet.
I have been in heated discussion about
this "publication" with a friend for a long time, and
I have just hand-delivered a print-out of your article.
I do a morning talk show in San Francisco
called "Straight Up with Sunny," on KDNZ 880 AM - if
you're ever in the Bay Area, I wish you'd drop me a line.
I'd love to have you on the show.
Keep up the good work.
KDNZ Radio, TheSchism
Condescending to IndyMedia
Thank you for your illuminating story
on AlterNet. As someone who works with San Francisco Indymedia,
long wondered what is up at AlterNet. I know several people who
work there, and I know other people who
have contracted there.
One thing of interest is that the core
AlterNet people are routinely condescending towards us unwashed
indymedia folks... their recent "user survey" results
excluded indymedia altogether, even though "internal
documents" showed us scoring higher than The Nation and
similar for-profit outfits. And in person they
have a kind of smirk on their face whenever indymedia comes up,
as if it is a cute project but not a real
attempt at community media.
If this message reaches Al Giordano, thank
you for your nice words about indymedia. Many of us involved
with the sf-imc obsessively check narconews, so the compliment
couldnt have come from a more respected
From San Francisco
Seem to Get Paid By Them"
You're a trip, dude! Just printed out
17 pages to read on the subway re Alternet. Never seem to get
paid by them. Maybe I'll write for you to get the big bucks.
Ha! Talk to you.
A US Journalist
Got Out of the Shower"
Jesus, Al, I just got out of the shower, and I feel dirty all
over again. Does Alternet really believe that people are going
to accept this?
The blacklist thing is funny. Certain
writers, and even entire news organizations, are known by the
Alternet staff to be off limits for various reasons (although
the staff often doesn't know what those "reasons" are).
A US Journalist
for Your White Paper"
thanks for your white paper on Alternet
. . . I recently discovered their website and will be paying
more attention to their practices. i'm very glad that I discovered
Narco News as well. keep up the good work!
by the Media Establishment"
Your dedication in covering the increasingly
hostile situation in Columbia has, again, shown the journalistic
integrity of Narco News. Jaded by the establishment media in
this country, your site is a refreshing reminder that there are
people out there who both know and care about America's dirty
drug war in South America. Keep up the good work and Ja bless.
the Light of Truth on Corruption"
Not content with stealing Panama in 1903
the USA now seeks the conquest of the entire country in order
to secure to its rulers the drug and oil resources of that country.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your faithfulness to the
principles of real journalism -- to shine the light of truth
You will always have my admiration and support.
Chris D Herz
Mail from a Flounder"
Dear Mr. Giordano,
The "Flounder" deprecatingly referred to in the subject
header above -- "Fan Mail from a Flounder" -- is myself,
in reference to the "Rocky And Bullwinkle" tagline,
but it really should be "From Some 'Flounderer'" instead,
since that's what I was doing with regard to my long-time, and
previously much more active, role as a street-level drug abuse
counselor and discussion facilitator with small groups of people
involved at all stages of the interface between illegal drug
use, enforcement, judicial review and incarceration...
I've fallen by the wayside in recent years
due to chronic illness and lost touch with the developments that
your site delivers such excellent, regularly updated information
on, and that thanks to which I've been able to "get back
on board" with, with no excuse for "floundering"
in the morass of sheer laziness and physical isolation from the
contacts I used to take for granted in the Drug War milieu that
was part of my professional life, so thank _you_ for the chance
to stay abreast of the facts and for your "dead bang-dead
center" take on drug-related journalism.
With sincere regards,
Publisher's Note: We have more than a
dozen new emails in our mailbox from former White House Press
Secretary Robert Weiner, which we will deal with on a later date.
Meanwhile, our readers weigh in about his two letters published
on Narco News...
Special Kind of Slime"
Nice second response
to Bob Weiner. An additional point: it takes a special kind
of slime to take credit, in the midst of protesting that he has
been treated unfairly, for "pressing other alternatives
for THC delivery so people get the medical benefits without the
hallucinogenic high or cancerous dangers of the hot smoke of
Say what? First, is Mr. Weiner under the
impression that THC itself, as the primary active ingredient
in marijuana, is not itself responsible for much of this "hallucinogenic
high"? Is he unaware that this is, in fact, one of the primary
physician complaints about Marinol: that it provides all the
psychoactive effects of THC, but none of the effects of marijuana's
other cannabinoids, which appear to modulate that psychoactivity?
(References available if you need them.)
And second: I'd like to see Mr. Weiner
find us even one person who has died of cancer due to "the
cancerous dangers of the hot smoke of marijuana," and who
did not also smoke tobacco. Of course, in a culture not committed
to declaring war on cannabis users, more users would undoubtedly
choose to use the higher amounts necessary for oral
consumption -- thereby reducing the genuine risks of smoking,
such as increased risk of bronchitis.
Sheesh. This guy hardly needs you to take
him down a peg (though it sure is fun to read when you do). He's
capable of doing it all by himself.
Palo Alto, CA
Bob Weiner's second letter brings a question
to mind that I have been asking for years. Marijuana is classified
as a drug with no known medical benefits in the United States.
This is one of the biggest hurdles to relaxing marijuana laws,
most importantly allowing medical marijuana.
My question has always been this:
If marijuana has no known medical benefits, why do they have,
and continue to research, synthetic (and patentable) alternatives
for medical purposes such as Marinol?
Surely if the drug has no known medical benefits, there would
be no point to making synthetic prescription alternatives. Especially
when those drugs are less affective than the natural, real thing
(by their logic, less than zero).
Mr. Weiner (or is it Whiner) wants a pat on the back for "...pressing
other alternatives for THC delivery so people get the medical
benefits without the hallucinogenic high or cancerous dangers
of the hot smoke of marijuana...." Wait a minute. A former
administration official is admitting that the administration's
position was that marijuana has medical benefits. But instead
of working to change marijuana's classification or trying to
formulate some kind of medical marijuana laws, they decided to
try to smash the medical marijuana movement, throw medical marijuana
patients and providers in jail and throw the big drug companies
a bone by letting them patent legal alternatives, which *do*
get you high by the way.
As if there aren't prescription drugs, including marinol, that
get you high in some way. Of course, we wouldn't want anybody
to get cancer either, unless it comes from an "acceptable"
source like cigarettes, processed foods, high-tension wires,
depleted uranium, pollution or industrial waste.
Just another angle on the corrupt drug war.
While on the subject of medical marijuana, when Dubya was campaigning,
he said he thought medical marijauna should be left to the states
to decide. This was his position on the record. And now that
he is in office, Asa Hutchinson has the DEA busting co-ops and
patients all over California without mercy. Maybe we should change
Dubya to Doubletongue.
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