American Pie 25.02.05

It
started as just a supplement to the regular edition, just six pages
altogether, with a cover picture of a model in a bathing suit, but
today the Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated has become almost a
multi-million dollar industry. It’s now one of the most eagerly awaited
events of the year. Who will be on the cover this year? That’s one of
the questions. The special issue (left), which now runs to more than
200 pages, is read (or at least looked at) by one in five American
adults. That’s the claim. It brings in a whopping $35 million in
advertising. But if that’s not enough Time Warner, which owns SI, has
turned the swimsuit issue into a cottage industry. It started first
with a swimsuit calendar; that was followed by a video of how the issue
was put together – with, of course, lots of pictures of leggy models in
bathing suits.

Then came a TV show about how the magazine
searched for the models. This year the show had more than 5 million
viewers. It’s estimated the magazine now makes at least $10 million a
year from spinoff products – including “screen savers” for cell phones
that cost $2 and are very popular. What’s next? Publisher Dave Morris
is reluctant to say. But one rumour is the magazine is contemplating
selling its own brand of swimsuits.

 

The
possibility that two leading American journalists may go to jail for
refusing to name an informant has sent a chill through the profession.
At first noone seriously thought it would happen – but now a federal
court has ruled the two journalists, Judith Miller of the NY Times and
Matthew Cooper of Time must reveal all – or go to prison.

The
case stems from an inquiry into who revealed the name of a CIA agent
involved in the now almost forgotten investigation into whether Saddam
Hussein was seeking to buy uranium in Africa. A story which originated
in Britain and was subsequently discounted. But leaking the name of a
covert operative is a federal offence. Ironically, one of the
reporters, Miller, never even wrote a story. Nevertheless she and
Cooper were ordered to appear before a grand jury investigating the
leak. They refused, claiming the right, or so they believed, of
journalists not to have to reveal their sources. But several courts
have rejected this defence. They have all said that the long-held
belief of the right of journalists not to have to reveal sources does
not extend to a grand jury investigation into a criminal offence. Both
the NY Times and Time are planning an appeal – which could end up in
the Supreme Court. But if the appeals fail both journalists could face
up to 18 months in jail. Miller, who is 57 and once won a Pulitzer
Prize for her reporting from the Middle East (she was the first woman
to be chief of the NY Times’ Cairo bureau), admits she is somewhat
scared – and finds it hard to concentrate on her work these days.
Cooper, who is 42 and covers the White House for Time, claims he is not
dwelling on the possibility that he might go jail, but says he is
troubled by how to explain what’s happening to his six-year-old son.

 

The
New York Post is still reluctant to let the Washington Press Club have
a copy of its famous pre-election blunder which declared on the front
page in big type that Democratic candidate John Kerry has chosen
Richard Gephardt as his running mate – which of course wasn’t true. In
fact the error has been compared to the famous 1948 headline in the
Chicago Tribune that equally erroneously proclaimed “Dewey Defeats
Truman”. The Washington Press Club has been trying to persuade the Post
to let it add the now-celebrated page one to its collection of
front-page bloopers. Official requests for permission to display the
front page – and the subsequent Page One correction – have been
ignored. The club can use its own reprint (there are plenty of copies
around) but would prefer to use a framed fresh copy. Although lawyers
have told the club there are no legal problems with displaying the
page, club officials don’t want to get into a legal wrangle. Why is the
Post reluctant to co-operate?

One suggestion is because Rupert Murdoch provided the tip-off.

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