Nov
24
2008

The L.A. Times Must Think You Won't Click Its Links

It says something for the weakness of your argument when you have to turn your opponents' argument on its head. Take the L.A. Times editorial today (11/24/08) headlined "An Unfair Litmus Test." The editorial claims that "some ardent supporters of Barack Obama are aggrieved because the president-elect's emergent national security team includes supporters of the Iraq War," and argues that "making opposition to the war a litmus test for service in the new administration would be both unfair and impractical." But are the complaints from the left really that supporters of the Iraq invasion are not being treated as "pariahs," […]

Nov
24
2008

'How Parodies Work' in the Internet Age

The ever-vigilant Electronic Frontier Foundation announces (11/18/08) its representation of "a New York City community organizer [who] is fighting back in court after her parody website challenging redevelopment efforts in New York City's historic Union Square was shut down with bogus claims of copyright infringement and cybersquatting": As one part of her education campaign, [Savitri] Durkee created a website parodying the official website of Union Square Partnership…. In response, USP sent Durkee's Internet service provider a notice pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act improperly asserting that her parody site infringed USP's copyright, leading to the shutdown of the site. […]

Nov
24
2008

Truth Cast Under Wheels of CBS's 'Reputation'

As George W. Bush prepares to leave office, Ian Williams (Guardian.co.uk, 11/18/08) thinks that what is really in order is some sort of pardon and apology to Dan Rather, who CBS's cowardly management squeezed from 60 Minutes for telling the truth about Bush's war record. Rather's suit against them, with its accompanying subpoenas, has now revealed that in their eagerness to throw a sacrificial victim to the swiftboating bloggers with their escorting media sharks, CBS management actually considered such paragons of journalistic objectivity as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, William Kristol, William Safire and William Buckley for the investigating panel. Their […]

Nov
24
2008

Media Push Consumerism Over Consumer Rights

In looking at "How Our Gutless Media Helped Trigger the Credit Crisis," Trudy Lieberman examines (Columbia Journalism Review, 11/20/08) "just one piece of evidence of the decline of the consumer movement, the rise of consumerism to replace it and the media's role in both trends." Lieberman recalls then-New York State Gov. Eliot Spitzer's veto of a state bill to curb exactly the type of usurious credit card interest rates which "pile on debt that has contributed to mortgage foreclosures." Whatever the merits of Spitzer's argument, it was an important discussion for New York and the rest of the country. But […]

Nov
24
2008

Newsweek's 'Other Holocaust'

There are two major conflicts in Africa that receive U.S. media attention. In Congo, it is estimated that 5 million people have died in a conflict that has raged for about 12 years. In the Darfur region of Sudan, estimates can range from 200,000 to 400,000. The Darfur conflict, though, has received much more press attention than Congo–which serves to explain why Newsweek magazine would run a (short) article about Congo under the headline "Africa's Other Holocaust."

Nov
24
2008

The Post and the 'Center-Right' Con Game

Under the headline "Pollsters Debate America's Political Realignment," the Washington Post's Robert Kaiser tries to weigh the arguments about the political makeup of the United States in light of the 2008 election. But Kaiser's rendition of this debate only serves to confuse matters. There are basically two sides to this clash: those who say the country is still "center-right," politically speaking, and those who think the country is moving in a more progressive direction. Kaiser seems aware that the latter group is probably more correct, but tries to undercut this conclusion: The election results, the exit polls and the polling […]

Nov
24
2008

Who Gets to Speak: Iraq, Afghanistan and the NY Times

The New York Times' Week in Review section yesterday (11/23/08) gathered a group of op-eds under the heading "Transitions," which they described as "a series of Op-Ed articles by experts on the most formidable issues facing the new president." The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the topics under examination; we've examined who gets to weigh in on such matters before. The Times yesterday ran seven pieces. Readers were treated to the thoughts of ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi (who, you might remember, peddled many of the false stories about Iraqi WMD) and leading […]

Nov
22
2008

'Persecution and Grave Danger,' Compliments of the U.S.

Glenn Greenwald delineates for Salon readers (11/21/08, ad-viewing required) the implications of the Committee to Protect Journalists including a prisoner of U.S. forces on their list of "six journalists who have faced down persecution and grave danger in their line of work": So, to recap the award winners: We have a reporter persecuted by the Ugandan government; another imprisoned by the Castro regime; a journalist-defending lawyer who faced down the intimidation and threats of Robert Mugabe; two journalists who work at great risk of being attacked by the Taliban; and one who was arrested by the U.S. military and then […]

Nov
22
2008

FAIR Radio on Prop 8 Blame and 'Impossible' Guantanamo Closure

Don't miss this week's offering on the FAIR radio program CounterSpin (11/21/08): The victory of Proposition 8 in California has, at least for the moment, put the brakes on gay marriage in that state. The post-election recriminations are flying, but the main story we're hearing is that black voters turned out in droves–to support Barack Obama, and to defeat gay marriage rights. Is that narrative correct? We'll ask journalist Kai Wright. And: According to the New York Times, Newsweek and NPR, for Barack Obama to keep his promise to close the Guantanamo detention camp will be next to impossible, extremely […]

Nov
22
2008

WSJ's Ambivalent 'Angel of Mercy'

CounterPunch editor Alexander Cockburn confesses (Nation, 11/19/08) to being moved to violent thoughts "while listening to the McLaughlin Group, all of whom presumably haul home at least $200,000 a year, as they deplored the unconscionable wages of line workers in Detroit": The same urge flares up when reading the Wall Street Journal's editorial page. As a matter of economic principle, the WSJ's editors have always taken a stern line about letting the weak die in the snow…. But when it came to prostrate bankers, the Angel of Mercy descended from heaven and took up residence in the WSJ's editorial suite. […]

Nov
22
2008

Third Party Blackout

In a column in the Baltimore Sun, journalism professor John F. Kirchdoes a quick tally of coverage of third-party presidential candidates in 2008: According to a basic Lexis/Nexis database search of election coverage from August 5 to November 5, the Washington Post and the New York Times published a combined 3,576 news stories, editorials, op-eds, photographs and letters to the editor about Mr. Obama and 3,205 items about Mr. McCain. By contrast, the two dailies published only 36 items about independent Ralph Nader, 22 about Libertarian Bob Barr, five about Green Cynthia McKinney and three about the Constitution Party's Chuck […]

Nov
21
2008

New Cable Show: 'I Can't Believe The Chutzpah'

Blogging communications attorney Harold Feld (WetMachine, 11/14/08) thinks he missed a class in law school. Not once in my Administrative Law class did my professor ever tell me that you could respond to a federal investigation by telling the agency, "We know you have authority, but we'd rather not answer these questions because you are a great big meany." But then, I'm not working for the cable industry, which has repeatedly shown it has trouble with the concept that federal law really applies to them, and that the FCC is supposed to be a regulator, not a lap dog. Today's […]

Nov
21
2008

New Math Yields Old Story

Via Beat the Press: Saying he "might expect it from right-leaning commentators like Will Wilkinson" but not "from someone like Mark Perry, who lives in Flint, Michigan," Felix Salmon of Portfolio notes (11/18/04) that "all of them are perpetuating the meme that the average GM worker costs more than $70 an hour, once you include health and pension costs." Just one problem–"It's not true": The average GM assembly-line worker makes about $28 per hour in wages, and I can assure you that GM is not paying $42 an hour in health insurance and pension plan contributions. Rather, the $70 per […]