"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 25 June 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.



As fans of a pastel cartoon

palette, we were dismayed by a

recent BBC report indicating our

color preferences mark us as

depressives, pencil-neck

weaklings, four-square dupes, or

worse. According to the

broadcast, people who buy

pastel-colored cars are more

likely to be victims of road

rage, more likely to be unhappy

with their purchasing decisions,

more likely to have selected the

car color as some kind of

pathetic cheering-up effort (but

almost certainly doomed to

be disappointed by the choice

and to get beat on the resale

price), and more likely to be

shy, introverted, and depressed.

Right on all counts, but

apparently we weren't the only

ones having our colors done by

the BBC this week. Louise

Woodward's decision to go with a

basic black for her interview with

Panorama's resident slyboots

Martin Bashir brought nothing

but contumely from the Sceptred

Isle's media. And the uproar

over whether Woodward's photo op

was modeled too closely on a

1995 appearance by England's

most famous sparsely talented

milkmaid was just the tip of a

media backlash that has seen

British coverage of Woodward

shift from weepily supportive

during her trial to insanely

bloodthirsty once she was set

free. From stateside, where the

nanny trial supposedly aroused

its most intense passions, the

split personality of the British

tabloids makes us wonder how

successful that Mad Cow

containment program (or

"programme") really was. So,

while we're trying to figure

what our taste for autumn beige

seat covers says about us, we're

pretty sure what a taste for

fish 'n' chips says about our

vanquished foes across the pond.

And we thought they had sent all

their lunatics to Australia!



Anybody who thinks they can spot

a liar should compare the prissy

grin and Mr. Peepers glasses on

that ubiquitous Stephen Glass

mug shot with the no-nonsense

scowl and righteous-sister

dreads of Patricia Smith, The

Boston Globe columnist defrocked

last week for fabricating

sources and quotes. "I set out

to be 10 times as good by doing

10 times as much. Write columns.

Author books. Write and perform

poetry. Make films. Pen and star

in plays. Gig at Scullers with a

jazz band," Smith said in a more

or less honorable valedictory

column. Being overextended was

also, of course, the explanation

Glass' numerous apologists

advanced for his fabrications -

though Smith's interests seem

somewhat more varied and

livelier than Glass' passel of

predictable freelance

assignments. Writing fiction

bespeaks a certain fecundity of

mind, so it probably makes sense

that journalistic yarn spinners

should be seized by the urge to

Have It All (Glass this week did

not comment on reports that he

is searching for a candidate to

become the father of his child).

But since Smith was caught in a

Globe-wide net designed to trap

Beantown's star blowhard Mike

Barnicle, a more trenchant

question is why anybody would

expect a word of truth from a

metro columnist in the first

place. Given the nationwide

standard that defines the

columnist's job as a combination

of citing bogus statistics,

limning Most Interesting

Characters, transcribing the

wisdom of babes and codgers, and

hoping for some modern version

of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

that you can wax irate about,

should we really expect a

columnist's food for thought to

be any more nutritious than head




While its 9 p.m. air time created

an unresolved conflict with our

long-established Walker, Texas

Ranger habit, we were

nonetheless eager to know more

about the historic first

broadcast of Fox News Channel's

Drudge. "What's unclear is

whether Drudge's mystique as the

shadowy figure behind the Web

curtain will melt in the klieg

lights," less-than-lethal

finger-wagger Howard Kurtz

boldly hedged in a

single-paragraph column-ender

that seemed oddly curt given the

extent to which his own coverage

of Matt Drudge helped him reach

this pinnacle of TV newzdom.

Eager for more information, we

ventured to the Fox News Channel

Web site hoping to view a few

RealVideo clips of Drudge's

cathode debut - only to discover

that Fox seems even more wary

than Kurtz of its newest

squawking head. In addition to

issuing an implicit disclaimer

regarding the value of Drudge's

work by truncating the name of

his trademark column, Fox News

has yet to even list the new

media news breaker amongst its shows or

staff. "He's a personality, not

a reporter," we can almost hear

nervous studio execs reassuring

themselves. In the spirit of

bold hedge work, we can only add

that we're certain such an

assessment is at least half


courtesy of the Sucksters