PIX11’s Turkey Dude

Edwin Lyngar in a role that will surprise you…

Meet PIX11’s Turkey Dude:

He bears a striking resemblance to a shady character who’s previously graced these pages: blogger Edwin Lyngar, known to cavort about as faux poultry in connection with his sideline as an atheist wedding officiant. Indeed, Lyngar is atheism’s “man of a thousand faces,” many of them thoroughly sh-tfaced:

edwin-lyngar-green-behind-the-ears_v03c

Blowhard blogger Edwin Lyngar

You would recall that when Lyngar’s not planting false stories on Salon.com at the behest of his well-seasoned (or salty) literary agent Elizabeth Kracht, he’s doling out instructions on boating safety for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. (And believe me, the saf-e-ty of the public is always the uppermost thing in their minds.)

Though I lack proof positive, I’m personally convinced that Turkey Dude is in fact Edwin Lyngar. The build and IQ are both about right. Then too, boating safety doesn’t pay a packet, and neither does his monthly rant for Salon. As for his manuscript “Guy Parts” (tentatively renamed “Chicken Parts”), it’s been looking for a home longer than Little Orphan Annie. Continue reading

False Salon Story: What was said at the time

Collecting good rebuttals to bad journalism

I previously blew the whistle on blogger Edwin Lyngar and his agent Elizabeth Kracht for planting a false story in Salon libeling the late meditation teacher and humanitarian Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007). I analyzed the false Salon story in relation to a false story (on a different subject) appearing in Rolling Stone. (See “Can Salon Learn From Rolling Stone’s Mistakes? Part 1.”)

I’ve recently been beating the bushes, making a nuisance of myself, trying to track down what people said at the time in rebuttal to Salon. I remembered people wrote some good things, but realized they were scattered in different places and somewhat difficult to access. So I hope no one minds that I’ve collated what different people said and presented it in a single blog post, where the whole may be greater than the sum of the parts. The purpose is to resolve a matter of public concern. Continue reading

Understanding Media: The Smear Campaign

I recently produced a 9-minute documentary on Understanding Media: The Smear Campaign. It draws on an eclectic mix of cultural icons — everything from The Manchurian Candidate to I Love Lucy to Family Guy:

I was happy with the way it turned out, because I think it manages to do two things clearly:

1. Show how entertainment and news have become the same thing now;
2. Illustrate the mechanics and ethics of media smear campaigns.

I ask questions like “Why should we care whether news stories are true or false?” I stress the connection between media literacy and good decision-making. The principles are universal.

The points made in the documentary can be used as building blocks to explore characteristics of modern media, including the Internet. The next obvious question is “Why is it a problem if news and entertainment become indistinguishable?” The simple answer is that news is ideally supposed to give us factual information which we need, while mass entertainment is more like bread and circuses — something to please the popular taste by pandering to the lowest common denominator of appetites and prejudices. Continue reading

How far would you go to get a book deal?

At Kimberley Cameron & Associates, K is for korruption.

With the summer season upon us, it’s well to take a moment to reflect on safe driving and safe workshopping. Safe driving we all know about, but safe workshopping, you ask?

It’s no secret that the publishing industry is in distress, with a midlist that’s all but moribund. This means it’s harder than ever for even talented writers to break out with a first book deal. As for the less talented…

This summer, many of us will travel to writers’ conferences where we hope to improve our writing craft. At least, that should be our main goal; but brochures often tout the presence of literary agents and a chance to press their flesh, wow them with an elevator pitch, and perhaps slip a well-honed chapter into their Gucci handbag (if not padlocked or booby-trapped).

Judging by the apocrypha emerging from faithful attendees at prior conferences, we can also assume a fair amount of time will be spent osculating the posterior of said literary agents, for it is well known that when the sphincter is thus palpitated, this spurs agents on to greater zeal in finding a publisher for even second-rate manuscripts.

Such osculation is not illegal between consenting adults, and helps to fill the awkward silences at literary gatherings — those moments when the last of the Chardonnay has died a poetic death, and no amount of patchouli oil can cover the stench of naked literary ambition. In such moments, it’s considered wise to pucker up. (Tip #1: Always lubricate the lips with ample hyperbole, e.g.: “You’re a God among literary agents! I would travel to the ends of the earth in hope of a mere glance from your well-connected countenance…”)

This has become an accepted, customary, and even obligatory ritual in the flirtations between writers and literary agents. But what if an agent asks you to go beyond accepted norms and engage in activities considered risky or extreme? What if the agent is Elizabeth Kracht?

As documented in the extended article “Can Salon Learn From Rolling Stone’s Mistakes? Part 1,” in May 2014 blogger Edwin Lyngar planted a false story in Salon. His literary agent, Elizabeth Kracht of Kimberley Cameron & Associates, set him up. She put him in touch with a fabulist source who was a close personal friend of hers from high school, Celia Corona-Doran, who would feed Lyngar a false story which would hang him. His chances of ever being taken seriously as a journalist would be ruined. Naturally, Lyngar didn’t fact-check. Continue reading

Can Salon Learn From Rolling Stone’s Mistakes? Part 1

The Rolling Stone/UVA debacle was preventable but not unique. Salon had a similar breakdown in early 2014, likewise due to somnolent editors and fabulist sources, plus a hidden element of corruption.

Continue reading

The ACLU and Religious Freedom, Part 1

The ACLU has often fought for the rights of minority adherents, including Eastern spiritual seekers. BRAVO ACLU!

I might not be able to avoid criticising some attorneys for harassing minority faith groups. But my purpose here today is to praise the American Civil Liberties Union for often coming to the rescue of minority adherents.

aclu_logoThe backdrop for understanding these issues is this: America was built on noble ideals of religious freedom which are part of its very soul. Yet, religious freedom is not a given; it must often be won and re-won by successive generations of immigrant groups or new faith groups which spring up indigenously. Counterbalancing the ideals of religious freedom, we sometimes find that conformism, populism, and authoritarianism lead America in a quite different, less flattering direction. Continue reading