Sorry behavior

Bites on Bites: It is within the purview of this space to periodically reward those readers who not only consume Bites for its well known laxative effects, but who actually also take the time to write in and comment on the various Bites hotlines. So here, for better and worse, are this month’s lucky winners.

Let’s start with the one reader who had the guts to use his name, Hal. Hal is in agreement with Bites that Bill and Hillary Clinton both leave something to be desired in the leadership department, but disagrees that President George W. Bush flaunts the law, as reported in last week’s column. The correct word is “flout,” insists Hal. Bites quibbled at first, noting that some usage manuals consider flout and flaunt interchangeable, but reluctantly concedes that Hal is probably correct. Bush “flounts” the law; he doesn’t “flaunt” it. That’s lovely Laura’s department.

Bashing Bush: Speaking of Laura and last week’s column, an angry woman claiming to be a journalist with 20 years of experience and a former Bites contributor objected to the following sentence: “If we catch Laura Bush in a dark alley, should we jump the frump?” Shame on the misogynistic Bites for suggesting the first lady should be raped, fumed the woman, who courageously asked that her name not be used.

To which Bites replies that not only is that a sexist misinterpretation of the sentence, it also ignores the fact that it’s a rhetorical question, clearly meant in jest, with the obvious answer of, “No.”

Bites anti-Semitic? Batting clean-up was the gentleman caller who complained that Bites’ frequent references to the lopsided political influence of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and other pro-Israel organizations are anti-Semitic. Bites should pick on Arabs and Muslims, too, hissed the angry reader.

Here’s why, based on figures provided by political watchdog the Center for Responsive Politics: Between 1990 and 2006, pro-Israel interests donated a total of $58 million to Republican and Democratic political candidates. Between 1990 and 2002, Arab and Muslim interests gave just $296,830. In other words, Israeli interest groups outspend their Arab counterparts by more than 80 to 1.

Please forgive Bites, who for all the angry reader knows might be a self-loathing Jew rather than an anti-Semite, for presuming that these days you still get what you pay for.

All apologies: Believe it or not, it’s lonely down here with the bottom feeders. It hurts Bites when you don’t write, and it hurts Bites even more when you don’t write back. That goes double for McClatchy Co. CEO and former Bites correspondent Gary Pruitt, who no longer returns Bites’ inquiries into McClatchy’s sagging fortunes.

For those who haven’t kept track, since reaching a high of $75 per share in April 2005, McClatchy stock has plunged a breathtaking 66 percent, to $25 per share in late June. Bites is more than a little terrified about the prospects of the periodical publishing industry, and hoped Pruitt might be able to provide some comforting words. Bites is sorry about all those awful things said about last year’s Knight Ridder deal, Gary. Honest.

“Why would anybody start a newspaper or magazine in such a gloomy business climate?” Bites recently asked Rob Turner, who along with wife Elyssa Lee recently launched Sactown Magazine.

“We’re magazine people,” Turner shrugged.

While this increased Bites’ admiration for Turner & Co., it did little to assuage concerns for journalism’s future. It’s true, as Turner puts it, that you have to bleed a little to make a little. But as one of the honchos around here puts it, you have to bleed a little to die, as well.

Which is to say, please read Sactown Magazine. Hell, read the Sacramento Bee. Read SN&R. We need all the readers we can get. And if you don’t like what you find, you can always call the Bites hotline: Phone: (916) 498-1234 x3333. Fax: (916) 498-7920. E-mail: <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script>.

Mazel Tov!