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Factual Error in The New Yorker: Is this how fake news starts?
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Factual Error in The New Yorker: Is this how fake news starts?

Factual error in the New Yorker: I write this post not just for myself, but for all women whose ideas were misattributed to a man, and who were told to leave it be and not to rock the boat.

New Yorker Factual Error

My husband Sabin Howard is making a national memorial, the National World War I Memorial.

He began with drawings. He drafted several iterations of a relief that would tell the story of the Great War.

One morning over breakfast, he was talking about the design and showing it to me.

“My goodness,” I said. “You’ve got Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey there.”

Sabin said, “Explain that?”

So I did. As a novelist, I’ve worked with Campbell’s ideas for years. For the purposes of storytelling, the beats of the hero’s journey are useful and important. I’ve been so entranced by Campbell’s work that I’ve talked about getting a PhD in it.

And so, with my explanation over coffee and scrambled eggs, began a critical and oft-repeated piece of the story around the WWI Memorial. The Hero’s Journey connection has been publicly broadcast, by Sabin and by others associated with the Memorial, including PR people.

This is my contribution to this worthy endeavor and I’m proud of it.

Sabin is an honorable man. He consistently credits me with telling him about Joseph Campbell. He says, “My wife told me about the Hero’s Journey…” in every public venue where he’s spoken–including at a meeting of the Commission on Fine Arts in Washington DC.

In the worlds of literature and academia, claiming credit for someone else’s work is called plagiarism. Sabin is well aware of that. He is extraordinarily brilliant, but I was the one who came up with the Hero’s Journey.

The idea is to give credit where credit is due. As a matter of integrity–don’t take credit for other people’s work. Sabin doesn’t. He’s honorable.

Then came a big opportunity: The New Yorker magazine decided to do a Talk of the Town piece on Sabin and his sculpture at the New York Academy of Art.

The publicist for the NYAA was happy and excited. She had done a great job! This piece would add luster to the NYAA, to Sabin, who was showing the WWI Memorial Maquette at the NYAA, and to the Memorial itself. This was a coup!

Sabin was happy. Despite the extraordinary–unparalleled–quality of his work, he has struggled for acceptance here in the New York art world.

“A prophet is not recognized in his home town,” I tell him.

The Talk of the Town piece went live online yesterday.

It contained a factual error:

“I realized, Oh, my God, this is like Joseph Campbell’s ‘the hero’s journey,’ ” Howard said. “It’s a very simple story that everybody in every single culture has experienced.”

Sabin was out when I texted him about the error. He stepped away from a meeting to contact the publicist at the NYAA and ask for the article to be corrected for factual accuracy.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

The NYAA publicist was less than enthusiastic about the update. She forwarded the request to the writer at The New Yorker.

Then she emailed back, “Anna…consulted with the fact-checking department on the request, and they feel since the piece doesn’t go into “how” the realization was made, it should stay as is.”

This is disingenuous. Sabin was directly misquoted and asked for his words to be represented correctly. He always says, “My wife said, “This is Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.”

The New Yorker‘s misquote creates a factual error in the piece.

Sabin and I continued to push for accuracy. Sabin felt it was an injustice that his words were manipulated and that he was misquoted.

The NYAA publicist responded with increasing unpleasantness. She even told Sabin, “The story wasn’t pitched to The New Yorker as a piece about you and Traci.”

I emailed her,

Adding the words, “My wife remarked…” certainly does not make it a story about me and Sabin. Three words could not do that in a piece of this length. It does, however, become factually correct. It gives the piece an integrity that it currently lacks. Whether or not the magazine is attempting to be vindictive, they are acting in a way that has become a sore point with the parties involved. The magazine has been informed of a misquote and has chosen, this far, not to correct the piece.

The publicist was so appalled that I would continue to stand up for myself and my ideas that she got the head of the New York Academy of Art to email Sabin to tell me to back down.

Is that how the NYAA chooses to behave: by attempting to bully women who are standing up for their contributions? By attempting to get an authority to squelch the quest for accuracy and integrity? Women applying to the New York Academy of Art: BEWARE!

Regarding The New Yorker, here are my questions:

Is this how fake news starts: with journalists twisting subjects’ words any way that pleases them, and being unwilling to correct their piece when told about the error?

If The New Yorker makes a mistake and doesn’t correct that error because of specious and disingenuous reasoning, how is this publication any different from the fake news outlets they descry?

It’s disappointing that a venue that lauds its own integrity isn’t showing its integrity.

And there’s one more wrinkle in this sordid story. That is, there’s a concern about vindictiveness. The NYAA publicist and the head of the NYAA wanted us to stand down for fear that we would alienate people who had “been on our side.”

The NYAA publicist wrote us,

No press will be inclined to write on Sabin again, because it appears that he goes and attacks press who cover him. In addition, “fake news” is very inflammatory language to use and the New Yorker takes accusations like that extremely seriously – they have to, because of their political journalism. Claiming that the New Yorker is publishing fake news will attract a lot of unpleasant attention to you.

It’s a craven concern, but a real one. In today’s world, with its emphasis on expedience, the press might just step away from a subject who insists that his words be accurately represented.

Sabin said to me, “The New York Academy of Art will never work with me again because of this.” In order to uphold his personal integrity, he himself has to make a personal sacrifice that directly affects his career.

And so…I write this blog post for myself, for all women whose ideas have been misattributed to a man and were told to leave it be and not to rock the boat, and–come to think about it–for all the wives who are the unsung heroes supporting their husband.

Sabin Howard and Traci Slatton

Sabin Howard WWI Memorial relief drawing

In the HuffPost, International Conference in Shared Parenting 2017
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In the HuffPost, International Conference in Shared Parenting 2017

International Conference Shared Parenting 2017

This week I took the train to Boston to attend the International Conference in Shared Parenting. This conference gathered together specialists in post-divorce child development from all over the world. I sat down with a very lovely Dr. Holstein to discuss the Conference, and I wrote about my experience in the HuffPost.

From my article:

…Despite advances in recognizing fathers’ fundamental rights to be equally involved in their children’s lives, the problem of not implementing that right continues within the legal system. At the same time, there’s a growing awareness that relegating one parent, whether father or mother, to second-class citizen parent status is not in the best interests of the child, when neither parent is actually abusive. There is a growing understanding that, post-separation, children need both parents to be fully present in their lives for optimal wholeness.

I sat down with Dr. Ned Holstein, the founder and chairman of the board of the National Parents Organization, at the International Conference on Shared Parenting in Boston. The National Parents Organization has a mission to preserve the bond between parents and children. To that end, at this conference, the world’s most renowned child development experts in the area of post-divorce parenting have gathered to share their research results. How do children fare with and without shared parenting post-divorce?…

“Court practices haven’t kept up with the growing research evidence on the benefits of shared parenting, so our intention was to gather all the world experts in one place at one time to compile the evidence that needs to be recognized as a basis for changing what our current practices are in the courts,” Dr. Holstein told me. “Based on the work of world experts at our conference today, ‘Best Interests of the Child’ means shared parenting for most children.”

Read the whole post here.

International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017

International Conference Shared Parenting

 

Latest HuffPo Piece: Ongoing Chicanery with the Gehry Memorial
anarchy | errors | Huffington Post | politics | Sabin Howard | special

Latest HuffPo Piece: Ongoing Chicanery with the Gehry Memorial

Ongoing Chicanery with the Gehry Memorial

The editorial board of the New York Times is at it again, opining in high-falutin’ ways that show for the millionth time just how much this newspaper wants to set policy, rather than report it objectively.

This time the Editorial Board is commenting on the ghastly Gehry design which is supposed to honor our plain-spoken 34th president Dwight Eisenhower, but instead just serves to memorialize an aging architect’s vanity.

The august editorial board pronounced that Gehry’s “innovative and modernistic design plan…predictably raised the hackles of neo-classicists,” as if only neo-classicists would object to the appalling spectacle of a monstrous woven 80’-high metal curtain with two attached columns and two detached columns that look like smokestacks. It’s a sly piece of spin doctoring crafted to jam this dreadful design down the throats of the American people. It is a marketing sleight-of-hand to relegate criticism of these plans to the category of “raising the hackles of neo-classicists.”

After all, neo-classicists don’t matter, so no one should care what that insignificant group thinks. No worries, the New York Times will tell you who does matter.

But it’s not just benighted neo-classicists who are appalled by Gehry’s design. These ugly tapestries have been widely said to evoke concentration camps, not a great and humble leader who loved his country and his family—who surely would have wanted his family’s voices to be heard regarding his memorial.

At least in this press release Rocco Siciliano, Chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, isn’t openly sneering at the Eisenhowers. Instead, there’s a dismissive throwaway line, “Critics continue to object, including members of the Eisenhower family.”

At this point, I will repeat the disclaimer I included in my post last year, “The Problem with the Frank Gehry Memorial”: I am the wife of sculptor Sabin Howard, who was courted by Frank Gehry for the Eisenhower Memorial, told the sculpture gig was his and he would begin working on the project next week, and then suddenly dropped.

But this is the least of the ugly business surrounding this memorial project. There’s the misrepresentation in the editorial piece that the lengthy opposition to Gehry’s design is typical of the process for memorials in Washington. In fact, this is not true, and is another example of spin doctoring to achieve an objective.

Fifteen years of objections is not typical. The Vietnam memorial, for example, shows another way—a better way. An open design competition was held beginning in December, 1980. Maya Lin’s breathtakingly gorgeous Memorial Wall won.

Yes, there was controversy. The Three Soldiers sculpture was added because of the controversy, and ground was broken in March, 1982. Lin’s design, in its stunning and elegant simplicity, shocked many people. It still took less than two years to break ground.

It also required far less than the more than $42,000,000 that has already vanished into the maw of the Gehry design, according to the eisenhowermemorial.net website, with almost nothing to show for it. Is this $42,000,000 taxpayer money or privately raised money? There is so much obfuscation about the money that it’s hard to tell—and I made some phone calls to that end.

Indeed, the bigger question here concerns finances, which the New York Times editorial saw fit to overlook. How has this money been spent? Where has it all gone? Don’t the American people deserve an accounting? If it’s taxpayer money, then we have the right to demand one. If it’s privately raised money, since the memorial is a public project, We the People have a stake.

Instead of discussing the specific details of financing, including the vanished $42,000,000 and the estimated additional $140,000,000 required to build Gehry’s design, the Times editorial quotes Representative Darrell Issa as saying, “We can’t go back to square one. We have an obligation after fifteen years to get this thing going.” Note: the editorial makes careful mention of Issa’s status as a “senior Republican.” After all, approving of a Republican means the New York Times isn’t biased on this issue.

I personally think we have an obligation to create a beautiful memorial that will serve both the memory of a beloved president and the American people, something with the grandeur of the Lincoln Memorial or the Vietnam Memorial. Note that both of those monuments are about their subjects, not about their architects.

But time is an issue for the Gehry Memorial because Gehry himself is so very elderly.

If there is never going to be an open competition for the Eisenhower Memorial, and if, in fact, Gehry’s self-aggrandizing design is going to be inflicted as a fait accompli on this nation, then at least show us where the money has all gone. Don’t just sweep it under the rug. Eight figures worth of cash has disappeared. Give us a line-by-line accounting of that money.

I’m not saying that anyone absconded with the money. Nor am I suggesting that it’s lined anyone’s pockets to keep a bad plan rolling. It is, however, most interesting that in September the Gehry Memorial was reported to be on life support, and then suddenly in mid-October the plan was passed, a done deal, with the Commission refusing to address any aesthetic concerns. Huh? Was that money well-spent?

If no one else will say that the emperor has no clothes, then I will. Gehry’s design is hideous and will be an eyesore in this nation’s capitol. Refusing to address the legitimate, ongoing aesthetic concerns, and refusing to inquire into possible financial mismanagement of memorial funds, is a way of pulling the wool over the eyes of the American public, the very people who are supposed to benefit from the memorial, and who are putting up 80% of the funds for it.

I suggest that a fair and open competition would best serve the integrity of President Eisenhower’s memory, and that it is most likely to yield us a design that is both innovative and beautiful. To Representative Issa, and to everyone else, including those who connive to ignore the aesthetic concerns, I say: It is time to start over. Scrap this terminally ugly, expensive project. If that’s not possible, then create an Eisenhower sculpture, a sculpture of President Eisenhower, that will be a fitting tribute to the statesman and to the country he served with such distinction. Iron smokestacks and giant metal drapery won’t do it.

Latest HuffPo Piece

Copyright: sborisov / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Hear this post as a podcast at the Traci L. Slatton podcast channel

 

or listen here [sc_embed_player_template1 fileurl=”http://tracilslatton.com/eqongoingchicanery.mp3″]

Citizenfour: The Most Important Movie You Will Ever See
anarchy | criminal behavior | dystopian | evil | freedom | horror | movies | politics | psychosis | review | special | terrorism | vulnerability

Citizenfour: The Most Important Movie You Will Ever See

I recently finished a WWII novel, and I’m still researching the era for another, very different novel set during the same time period. Since one of my closest friends is a Bavarian woman whom I know to be a person of integrity, heart, courage, compassion, and grace, I was curious: how did the NSDAP come to control Germany so completely that its citizens would commit atrocities? So that atrocities would be legalized?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that the NSDAP under Adolf Hitler legalized the illegal. They made laws to force their citizens to participate in the killing of Jews, Poles, the Romany, Socialists, Communists, and anyone who disagreed with the Nazi party. They made laws to enforce the killing and sterilization of children and adults with physical “imperfections” such as mental retardation.

So the Nazi party in Germany created a legal system based on hatred and killing. To enforce this legal system, they instituted a series of Party overseers, one in every community, to make sure that people remained “Loyal” to the party. This was the state police, the Gestapo. The Gestapo surveilled every German citizen, collecting vast files of information about German individuals. There was no “privacy” because the German State was everything.

Every dictatorship surveilles its population as a method of controlling its subjects. This is pointed out in CITIZENFOUR, Laura Poitras’ film about Ed Snowden.

Admittedly, from the beginning, I have considered Snowden a hero. There is no justification for the massive, George-Orwell-1984-Big-Brother spying on citizens in which the United States intelligence services participate. It is an outright breach and invasion of privacy, ethics, and all things good and true.

Our government, the United States government under Barack Obama, is participating in–perhaps perfecting–the exact same tactics employed by Hitler and the Nazi party: Watch every citizen. Scrutinize every private individual. Know what every single person in the State is thinking, saying, and doing. It’s all about information linking, you see.

I know this because I have been researching the Gestapo.

I happened to be at a showing of Citizenfour at Lincoln Plaza after which Poitras appeared for a Q & A. No, she doesn’t know if she’s been followed, but she expects that the US Government would use skilled personnel to follow her. She has been told that all her electronic communication “lights up like a Christmas tree” in the offices where electronic communication is collected and followed.

Poitras was composed, articulate, and expressive. She said that Snowden was exactly as portrayed in the movie: articulate and collected, trying to teach her, Glenn, and Ewan what was most important in the information he gave them.

Some people consider Snowden a traitor. Consider the White Rose in Germany, which consisted of students at the University of Munich and their professor. They had an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign to inform the German public of what was actually being done to Jews and to call the Nazi government to question.

Here is what Wikipedia says of them:

White Rose survivor Jürgen Wittenstein described what it was like to live in Hitler’s Germany: “The government – or rather, the party – controlled everything: the news media, arms, police, the armed forces, the judiciary system, communications, travel, all levels of education from kindergarten to universities, all cultural and religious institutions. Political indoctrination started at a very early age, and continued by means of the Hitler Youth with the ultimate goal of complete mind control. Children were exhorted in school to denounce even their own parents for derogatory remarks about Hitler or Nazi ideology.”

The White Rose was considered traitorous, too. So they were executed.

And “Ultimate goal of mind control” can only be the reason for the NSA’s total surveillance of the American population, including hundreds of millions of completely loyal American citizens.

How long before the US government insists on the same kind of control? All in the name of “protecting” American citizens from terrorists?

Just as the Gestapo was protecting German citizens from Judeo-Bolshevik enemies.

The most important concept in the movie was one that Snowden articulated: that the NSA’s actions change the balance of power so that it’s not elected-officials and electorate, it’s now rulers and those who are ruled.

See the movie. Think about the United States government, which is acting like a bully and a dictatorship.

Citizenfour

 

 

criminal behavior | dystopian | politics

Open Letter to Senator Schumer: Remove Me From Your List and Stop Asking Me For Money

Dear Mr. Schumer,

I am a registered Democrat, so I understand why I keep getting emails from your office.

However, while I voted for Obama the first time, I did not vote for him in the last election. With regret, I tell you that I am hoping the Republicans take control of the Senate in the upcoming elections.

I am a disillusioned Democrat who is disgusted with the Obama presidency. Please remove me from your mailing list.

In case you wonder why I am disillusioned, I will explain. I voted for Obama the first time because I believe in women’s rights, reproductive freedom, gay rights, social justice, and gun control. So far, OK.

But I also believe in citizen privacy, supporting and encouraging small American businesses (not Wall Street and not Socialism), supporting Israel, accountability and oversight for multi-national corporations that function as sovereign nation-states, and getting the Health Insurance companies to pay for universal Health care (not the states).

I am appalled at Obama’s foreign policy, which is a joke and a shambles. “Don’t do stupid sh*t” is adolescent drivel not suited to the gravitas of the office of the President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the United States military.

I also find it extraordinarily hypocritical that Obama’s tactic is to rally people against “the Have’s” when he has taken more vacations, and more expensive vacations, and played more golf, than any president in history. So many of his supporters are the Limousine liberals of Wall Street, which may be why he bailed them out.

My family is losing our expensive, bad PPO Health Insurance that we purchase through Freelancers, and we are being forced into a more expensive, worse HMO. My doctor of many years who manages my low thyroid medication is not in the HMO. Frankly, I feel screwed.

In New York state, we don’t have many options—just one outrageously expensive, covering-almost-nothing HMO after another. Our choices are limited to bad and worse, and we are losing our trusted doctors of many years, despite Obama’s “promises” to the contrary.

Mr. Schumer, you have failed the state of New York in this way.

The Obamacare plan gives money to rich, greedy Health Insurance companies, funds a ghastly bad, buggy, confusing website to the tune of over $2.1 billion, places people’s life-or-death medical decisions in the hands of medically untrained Obamacare supervisors rather than in the hands of physicians who have undergone years of medical school (more than one doctor has expressed their horror at this!), and strips people of their right to choose their health care plan—while costing them an arm and a leg. This is just the beginning of what is wrong with Obamacare.

We need a universal healthcare plan, but not this frighteningly awful one. When Democrats go on the campaign trail and state “Obamacare is working,” they are either 1, lying through their teeth, or 2, experiencing a psychotic break from reality and should be institutionalized.

I have voted Democratic since I was old enough to vote—until now. So I hope you will understand why I am asking you to remove me from your list, and to stop asking me for money.

Thank you.
Traci L. Slatton

anarchy | hope | politics

So I am a populist.

Other people think the way I do: caring about small American businesses, caring about ethics, wanting to challenge big business, appreciating Ralph Nader, who is a genius.

I would also mention that citizen privacy matters profoundly to me. The government does not have the right to read my emails nor to listen to my phone conversations, even if the most dangerous thing I ever talk about is clipping my own hangnail.

It is a great joy to discover intelligent writings on how the Democrats and the Republicans have let us down. To Bill Curry, author of the piece: Great work!

Here’s the article on Salon: My Party Has Lost Its Soul: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Victory of Wall Street Democrats.

Speaking of Ralph Nader, here’s what the article says:

His latest book, “Unstoppable,” argues for the existence and utility of an “emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state.” The book is vintage Nader and ranks with his best. The questions it poses should greatly interest progressives. The question is, will any read it.

The corporate state is evil.

And here is my biggest beef about the Democratic Party, to which I used to belong:

Democrats aren’t even having a debate. Their one think tank, the Center for American Progress, serves their establishment. …If Democrats had caught populist fever they’d be reappraising their own orthodoxy and offing a few of their own incumbents. Owing only partly to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, they instead spend their days as Republicans do, in an endless search for new ways to help the rich pump money into politics.

The Democratic Party has become about the very rich, whose money is protected, imposing lower-middle-class socialism on the middle class. The Wall Street Democrats, also known as Cadillac Communists, congratulate themselves on being good people when they vote in socialist reform.

So who will stand up for the middle class?

It isn’t Obama: “By buying into Bush’s bailout, Obama co-signed the biggest check ever cut by a government, made out to the culprits, not the victims. As for his stimulus, it didn’t cure the disease and hefty portions of it smelled like pork.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

This isn’t just a slow recovery from a financial sector collapse, or damage done by debt overhang or Obama’s weak tea Keynesianism. We’re in crisis because of all our broken systems; because we still let big banks prey on homeowners, students, consumers and retailers; because our infrastructure is decrepit; because our tax code breeds inefficiency and inequality; because foreign interventions bled us dry. We’re in peril because our democracy is dying. Reviving it will take more than deficit spending and easy money. It will take reform, and before that, a whole new political debate.

Populists offer hope.