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MousePlanet Mailbag for October 14, 2004

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.

Feedback for David Koenig

David received a mountain of e-mail regarding his article, “Black Eye” from last month, about how the CBS 60 Minutes/Dan Rather controversy brought to mind for David his own experience with 60 Minutes. In our September 21 Mailbag, we ran his initial barrage. While it was still somewhat topical, we've decided to hand-select these comments to run today. We promise this will be the last batch of CBS-related e-mail regarding David's article. But we thought it only fair to balance the load a bit, since we got such a huge number of negative comments after we ran the previous mailbag. – Lani

Jason Williams writes:

Best of luck with the readership that didn't appear to read your entire article, “Black Eye.” Maybe it's because I'm Canadian, but the message I perceived was that you were being railroaded into a quotable statement that may or may not have reflected your true meaning. Or worse, the dreaded paraphrase, where select words and phrases are used to pervert the original comment, or exclude the counterpoint.

As a Canadian, the CBS issue is only a footnote in the international news—and it's rather quite silly to us up here. There is little question that this election is rather sensitive to the majority of Americans given the polarity of opinion and the current spread in the standings. However, given the rather limited spectrum of news coverage in the U.S., this was the best example of how media often reports what it wants to without covering both sides of the story—or in the rush to get the scoop or demonstrate it's point, it fails to verify the facts or obtain all aspects.

Maybe it was just me, but I understood the CBS issue to be an analogy and nothing more. If there is a political bend to the story, so be it! Nobody watches The Daily Show expecting Jon Stewart to say, “Vote Republican.”

Anyway, best of luck with this issue. Maybe you could watch some international news for another analogy, but then again, who'd have heard the story?

Jim Hollifield writes:

I got exactly what you were writing about in your column without letting my politics get in the way.

As a former journalist myself, I couldn't help but think of the time when I was starting as an intern at Playboy's New York editorial offices.

One afternoon, one of the major networks called and wanted to talk to me about being an intern at Playboy.

The reporter had a preconceived notion that Playboy interns would be living it up, cavorting with bunnies, and having a grand old time.

Just the opposite was true. It was as quiet and ordinary as could be, but that didn't suit the story they already had in mind for doing.

The story never made it beyond that stage and was killed. A good journalist still could have done a story along the lines of, “Think working at Playboy is a wild and crazy life? Think again” and gone on to demonstrate just how straight-laced it actually was.

So many journalists do fish for stories with preconceived angles, already thinking how it'll play out, and if it the round answer doesn't fit the square peg, they'll move onto a new story.

In the CBS case, it seems they continued on, trying to push a round story into a square peg with some disastrous results.

And this from someone who is not a right-winger!

Brian writes:

Somehow I missed this story when it was first posted on the site; but thanks to the Mailbag I was able to read this wonderful article. Unlike others who have bashed you for a political stance in this article, I find no such references myself. I will admit that I am not the first to follow politics as politicians do not care for their constituents, most only care about extending their stay in office.

I used to visit Disneyland Resort often when I lived in California, and it was quite apparent in all aspects that there were cutbacks in effect. The Park is indeed finally getting the things it needs to bring it back to it's earlier levels.

As for the 60 Minutes reporter fishing for damaging evidence, unfortunately people do make up their minds and simply need the correct pieces to put into place to make their beliefs seem real and correct. I applaud you for seeing what she was looking for and staying honest to the facts.

One of the readers wrote in to you that you made only minor connections to Disneyland in order to make this a “Disney” article. If that reader had actually read the entire article it would have been obvious that this was completely about Disneyland with only minor references to other political subjects simply for comparison.

David, don't ever be afraid to write what you feel and tell the truth. There are those out there who would like to think they can rule with out rules. We are allowed to question things here, it is how we grow and understand. Keep up the great work on this site.

Bob Hefferman writes:

Enjoyed your article regarding 60 Minutes and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Biased journalism—basing the reporting on a required outcome—is like running a scientific experiment to give one the results desired up front. The worst kind and contemporary news media is rife with examples. I have to laugh because if Mike Wallace showed up at my front door, I'm not sure I would let him.

E writes:

I just wanted to send you a message of support regarding your recent article. I believe I read the article the way you intended it to be read—an account of how news isn't always as factual as we believe. You shared your opinion about a factual event that happened (both the current CBS story and the one about Disney) and I've never seen a disclaimer on this site that said you couldn't do that. While it was an article that I'm not used to reading on MousePlanet, it didn't bother me at all. I thank you for sharing your experience (isn't that what this Web site does?) and keep up the great work to you and all Mouseplanet staff!

Bill (who had written earlier accusing me of having an agenda, and I replied, “What is my agenda?”) writes:

See your Mailbag article for the answer. By the by, thanks for sharing your feedback with us; it doesn't make me feel so alone in this world.

P.S. If it looks like peanut butter, smells like peanut butter and tastes like peanut butter, guess what? It's peanut butter. No amount of spin could ever make me think otherwise.

Irene Kautto writes:

I went back and reread your CBS 60 minutes story. I think the people who disagreed with you and said you were being political, are being political themselves. They are reading the article through their own political eyeglasses, so to speak. I thought it was a well thought out, timely piece of journalism. On a side note, I laughed out loud at your last line regarding Pressler's Memo…

Regarding the CHOC story. Thank you for putting that up. I am a registered walker for this event and looking forward to it… my first time.

Frank Wierenga writes:

I am shocked at the responses to your article. If they had actually read your whole article, it was obvious that you were simply sharing your own experience with 60 Minutes and lamenting poor journalism. Simply that and nothing more.

The accusations of any political comments, either in support or against Bush, Kerry, Dan Rather, 60 Minutes or anything is just not supported by anything you wrote. To be honest, the individuals making the accusations are the ones who seemed fixated on politics and saw what they wanted to see.

I was wonder about your thought of Disney's board announcing that they intended to find a CEO by June 2005? The more I think about it, the more it seems that the board may be developing a backbone after all. What I wonder about is whether or not Eisner will stay on once the board identifies a new CEO? What are your thought?

By the way, love your books!

Jeff R., frequent MP reader and former DL Cast Member, writes:

I was shocked to see some of the comments made by a few MousePlanet readers in the Mailbag in regards to your reporting of the CBS story. It was obvious to most of us that you didn't have a political agenda, but that you were just reporting on a similar incident that happened to you in regards to CBS and Disneyland's safety. I didn't see any political opinion in your article. It appears that some of those who wrote in, however, did have there own political agenda, and were trying to create an issue where there was no issue. I think your reporting on the subject was both interesting and relevant to this site.

Ken writes:

Mr. Koenig: I agree with you. I felt your original article wasn't political. The responses reflected the reader's perspective rather than your politics, which I could not tell from your article.

Anyone who watches the news should expect non-bias, which means an evenhanded evaluation of the facts. The simple truth was CBS messed up. Dan Rather blamed his mistake by slandering his critics. Dan Rather appears to be a partisan Democrat than a responsible journalist.

The response from your readers is equally telling. They can't acknowledge the CBS mess was its own creation. Your experiences was confirmation of CBS' poor journalistic practices.

With the risk of appearing political, I think those who would read politics into your article are showing their distate for facts that would make the case for the other point of view. They can't stand anything other than their propaganda. That's a shame.

Viacom Guy wrote: “CBS News has a proud history of journalism excellence. Let's remember that.” Yes, I remember Walter Cronkite. Dan Rather, you're fired!

Isaac writes:

David, I'm frankly disappointed that so many readers of MousePlanet have seen your article as a political statement. You clearly went out of your way to make it as honest as possible, but some people are just blinded by their political associations in our much-too-polarized nation. One side is always right, the other is always wrong. “It's true because it's my opinion, and my opinion can't be wrong.” That is the fallacy of postmodernism and it's eroding the concept of objective truth on both sides of the political divide (and, indeed, throughout the world). That's a shame, and I thought MousePlanet visitors would be more discerning. I don't know what your political affiliation is, David, but I do know that you were about as balanced as you could be in such a short article. Keep up the good work!

Lori writes:

David - I really felt from reading the Mailbag that you got hammered unjustly. I thought you were very brave to add your two cents worth to this issue. You never said in your article that you were pro Bush or pro Kerry—just concerned over 60 Minutes. That is not political!! I for one appreciated you sharing your take on 60 Minutes and how some news media shows do try to spin things to fit their agenda. After looking at the documents via the Internet myself and hearing the experts talk about them—We now know that they are fake. 60 Minutes is handling this very badly and anyone should be able to admit that no matter where their political feelings live. Thanks for your story and please do not let all the hammering get to you. It was very informative and unbiased.

Wade writes:

MousePlanet is about to lose a reader.

OK, I ignored Koenig's article the day it appeared—even though he didn't make any direct political statements, the article was still inappropriate, “look at me, I'm relevant!” I thought it a bit silly, and way too self-important, but regardless, I didn't let it mar my opinion of your site.

Then the mailbag comes—which I look forward to more than any feature at any Disney site—and it's full of venom and smart-ass comments by Koenig who is trying to justify his self-important tirade and comes off about as unprofessional as picking your nose during a business meeting.

This all has nothing to really do with Disney, and his attempt to be Jim Hill for a day fell flat on his face. Koenig has really hurt the reputation of this site in my eyes—not because of the initial article, but because his ego couldn't handle the critical mail that was rightly sent his way; this latest edition of the mailbag was nothing more than an extended childlike rant.

Exercise some more editorial control, or at least encourage professional behavior, not rude, childish responses to people who simply thought the article, and it's presentation, were not appropriate. Regardless, it's the mailbag that really disappoints me. I have never seen such self-congratulatory and self-preserving rants passing as “journalism” since the last time I saw 700 Club.

Cory writes:

Big Fan! I just wanted to write to you and applaud you handling of the backlash you've been receiving about the “60 Minutes” piece that you wrote. I thought the article was excellent, and your responses in the reader mail section were equally brilliant. I think the best part of all is how you refuse to state whether or not you are a pro-Bush or anti-Bush guy. You had me giggling with joy as the readers tried so hard to make it political and you still kept them wondering where you stand on the political spectrum. Just bloody brilliant. Keep up the awesome work.

Cory B. Mitchell
Creative Director
Jim Hill Media

Jim Hill writes:

Jim Hill here. And I am just so sorry to hear about how MousePlanet readers hammered over you over that “60 Minutes” story. When I read that piece last week, I kept thinking that I should get in touch with you. Let you know about my own dealing with that producer. Which were also rather bizarre. With that woman consistently haranguing me over a two-week period for something—anything!—that would back up the story she was trying to pull together. I got phone calls from all hours from this woman…

I mean, I guess I was naive to think that big-time journalists don't go into interviews with agendas. If you think that it would help take some of the heat off you, feel free to share that story with MP readers, okay? Again, sorry about all the unnecessary aggravation. Me personally? I enjoyed last week's story.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact David here.


Do you have specific questions about an upcoming trip to Disneyland, Walt Disney World or another park, or do you need help with your trip planning? While you can contact one of the columnists, we encourage you to join our special MousePlanet community on our MousePad discussion board. There, you will find like-minded Disney park fans who can try to help answer your questions.


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