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Daily Archives: November 29, 2011

Kristina Helfer’s “Mounting Nittany” sex column used to run every Thursday in Penn State’s Daily Collegian — typical fare: “Let’s talk sex, hugs and handjobs” — but it’s been MIA for several weeks now. The last “Mounting” was published Nov. 3; Jerry Sandusky was arrested Nov. 5. Helfer didn’t respond to my email, so I called the Collegian newsroom. A man who identified himself as “a campus editor” linked the column’s disappearance to the Sandusky scandal. He transferred me to the managing editor, and she said she couldn’t discuss this because only the editor-in-chief is allowed to speak to the media. (When did college newsrooms become so bureaucratic?) I’ll post top editor Lexi Belculfine’s email when it arrives.

UPDATE: Belculfine writes:

Initially, I wouldn’t call the absence of Mounting Nittany a decision. During the week of Monday, Nov. 7, the paper — and opinions page — evolved as the story did, often by the second.

Mounting Nittany would have ran in the Nov. 10, 2011 issue of The Daily Collegian. This was the edition that chronicled the removal of former Penn State President Graham Spanier and former football coach Joe Paterno. We ran three opinons pages that day — as opposed to our typical one. One was a full page editorial and two were filled with letters to the editor, reflecting the influx of community input the paper was receiving.

In the week that followed, we offered Kristina Helfer the opportunity to write a sex column on the scandal or sexual assault, but she decided that based on the tone of the previous columns that it would not be “respectful to those who have been affected by sexual assault” to write the column that week. Instead, we ran another columnist’s piece on the importance of not being a passive bystander.

Looking forward, based on the current situation and mood at Penn State, we have decided to remove the column for the time being.

> Critic: “What’s disturbing is how lax Helfer’s attitude is toward sex”

A few months ago, someone asked on Quora: “Why must at least one letter to the editor in every magazine contain the word kudos?”

Forbes managing editor Bruce Upbin replied:

I don’t think it is a must. The most frequently appearing phrases in our letters from readers are:

“Shame on you”
“I expected more from you”
“We expect this error/assertion/omission/confusion to be corrected ASAP”
“I’ve been a subscriber for XX years…until now”
“What a shoddy piece of work that article was”

but kudos to you for asking the question.

Any other popular phrases come your way?

National Review: Cain “reassessing” candidacy (November 29)

“Late Show with David Letterman” (November 18)
David Letterman (at 15:38 mark): “Is there going to be a time when you’re going to say, you know what, I think I’m not going to run for the office 2012, I’m going to step aside, and this will all have been for naught?”

Herman Cain: “No. You’re still trying to talk me out of this — that’s good, though Dave. But Dave, the people that know me and have known me for most of my career, over 40 years in business, know Herman goes after things and he’s in it to win it, not just to test the waters.”

Just a few of the items I posted on November 29, 2001:

* Steve Brill is named Newsweek columnist. “This is a great opportunity for me to return to writing and reporting full time,” he says in a release.

* Time managing editor Jim Kelly confirms that Osama bin Laden is among the half-dozen candidates being considered for Person of the Year.

* Brattleboro Reformer photographer Jason Henske is threatened with arrest for treason after he’s seen taking a picture of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant while on assignment.

* Ted Turner predicts the consolidation of the cable industry will result in only two operators still standing by 2003.

* The New York Times Co.’s interest in the Boston Red Sox raises conflict of interest concerns.

PLUS: More Romenesko posts from November 29, 2001.

Howard Stern show regular and notorious media prankster Captain Janks called CNN on Sunday, pretending to be Cairo University exchange student Gregory Porter. He did a fairly lengthy interview with Fredricka Whitfield and wasn’t cut off by producers until he made reference to “Baba Booey’s Monkey Nuts.” (Whitfield continued to ask questions even after the Baba Booey reference.)

On his Monday Sirius XM show, Howard Stern discussed the prank:

I’m amazed by this. Captain Janks not only made a phony phone call to CNN, where he posed as that kid who was Egypt who was thrown in jail for a while but they let him out. I think Janks was booked as a guest like 12:30 in the afternoon. So from 12:30 to 5:30 at night, when he got on, CNN doesn’t even check their sources [to make sure their guest is legitimate]. It’s kind of crazy.

Stern show producer Producer Gary (“Baba Booey”) Dell’Abate added:

Janks emailed me at 11:30 yesterday and said, I’m booked on CNN at 5:45. Then he hits me back about one and says, my call time is moved up to 5:10, and all I can think of is, so he’s been booked for six hours; what was the process to check if you’re talking to the actual guy?

Janks told the Stern show listeners:

This took about four hours to set this up. I got myself booked through their booking agent early in the morning. I’m not too far from where that real kid lives, so I knew a bunch of things about him — where he lived, and the street, and the phone number is the same — you know, the prefix. I just was on the phone trying to talk like a 19-year-old kid. …I said [to CNN] I’m that kid, Gregory Porter, and that I just got back from Egypt and I heard that you wanted to interview me. So I just wanted to tell you that I’ll do it. I figured CNN had already had tried to reach out to him, so I just bascially said I was calling back.

I’ve asked CNN to comment.

UPDATE: CNN sent me this:

Below is the statement that was
read by Ted Rowlands on air Sunday evening regarding the prank call.

Earlier tonight we had planned an interview with an American student who
returned home after being held in Egypt. Gregory Porter was one of three
students arrested during pro-democracy protests. We did not talk to him.
Instead, a prankster made it on air. CNN regrets this mistake and we
apologize to Mr. Porter for any confusion that arose from this incident.

Watch Capt. Janks prank-call Fredricka Whitfield

Josef Stalin’s daughter, Lana Peters, who died in Wisconsin last week, spoke with Wisconsin State Journal columnist Doug Moe in April of 2010, because she wanted to clarify a comment attributed to her in an Associated Press story about a documentary film on her life. Moe wrote last year:

According to the Associated Press story on the film, Peters talks in “Svetlana About Svetlana” of how, in retrospect, she might have been better off living in a neutral country, like Switzerland, rather than coming to the United States.

This week, Peters said she’s glad to be here.

“I am quite well and happy,” she said. “Richland Center [Wisconsin] has a hospital and good social services for seniors.”

Moe wrote another column about Peters in today’s State Journal. He tells readers:

The last time we spoke was Nov. 13, a Sunday night. Lana sounded confused. She had called my number but was looking to reach someone else, a name I didn’t recognize. She ended the call quickly.

Three months earlier, Lana had phoned and requested we do another interview, which she said would be her last. Her health was failing, she said. There were things she wanted to say.

Naturally, I said yes. It turned out she mostly wanted to talk about money. People still thought her father had left her millions, she said, and that was ridiculous.

“He would never leave money for anyone, including his children,” Peters said. “He believed money was evil.”