Dec
29
2008

Wanted: Pro-NAFTA Minority for Cabinet Post

Continuing the media trend of cheering Obama's center-right cabinet nominees, the Los Angeles Times' editorial page weighs in today (12/28/08): The best measure by which to evaluate any president's administration is the quality of the appointees. In recent times, however, a president's inner circle also has been viewed through the prism of identity politics. Obama has succeeded on both levels, assembling an impressive roster that includes men and women, blacks, whites, Latinos and Asian-Americans. Only once did he seem willing to allow diversity to trump policy. He offered the Cabinet-level position of trade representative to the protectionist Rep. Xavier Becerra, […]

Dec
28
2008

The Bible Tells Me…Something Else

The New York Times' Charles Blow writes on the op-ed page ("Heaven for the Godless?,"12/27/08): "The Bible makes it clear that heaven is a velvet-roped V.I.P. area reserved for Christians. Jesus said so: 'I am the way, the truth and the life: No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'â┚¬Ã‚ He then expresses puzzlement that many Christians nevertheless avow that Jews, Muslims, Hindus and even atheists can get into heaven. Maybe these Christians know their Bibles better than Blow does: In his most explicit discussion of Judgment Day (Matthew 25:31-46), the Jesus of the Gospels describes the Son of […]

Dec
23
2008

Washington Post Cheers for Charter Schools

The Washington Post recently published an editorial praising the city's charter schools, claiming that those schools' students outperform their public school counterparts "not because they come from more privileged backgrounds but because the charters are free to innovate and implement practices that work." The editorial pointed to an analysis the paper did that found the city's charter school students doing better on tests, attendance and graduation. "Clearly," the editorial argues, "the 'no-excuses' innovations of the best charters make a difference: longer school days, summer classes, an inclusive culture of parental involvement, and the power to hire teachers who are committed […]

Dec
21
2008

CNN Can't Tell 'Weather' from 'Climate'

For a change of pace from his incessant immigrant bashing, CNN's Lou Dobbs recently exclaimed over "unusual storms" and snow in Las Vegas, Southern California and Arizona's mountains. This "unbelievable" evidence has Dobbs wondering: "So what are those folks talking about global warming?" Posting at Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog (12/19/08), Steve Benen describes how, "to 'discuss' the subject, Dobbs invited CNN meteorologist Chad Myers and Heartland Institute science director Jay Lehr onto the show": Not surprisingly, Lehr told Dobbs what he wanted to hear, starting with an anecdote about Lehr's sky diving hobby. LEHR: I have jumped out of […]

Dec
21
2008

Chris Matthews: 'Stinker' of the Year?

FAIR founder Jeff Cohen and longtime FAIR associate Norman Solomon have compiled their 17th annual list of "P.U.-litzer Prizes" (OpEd News, 12/18/08). Among this year's "stinkiest media performances": HOT FOR OBAMA PRIZE — MSNBC's Chris Matthews This award sparked fierce competition, but the cinch came on the day Obama swept the Potomac Primary in February–when Chris Matthews spoke of "the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often." BEYOND PARODY PRIZE–Fox News In August, a FoxNews.com teaser for the O'Reilly Factor […]

Dec
21
2008

Media Ignore, Fudge Evidence of Nixon's Treason

With the recent release of a tape recorded President Lyndon Johnson concerned that Richard Nixon's people had avoided Vietnam peace negotiations for domestic political purposes, Paul Jay (Real News, 12/20/08)interviewsConsortium News's Robert Parry on "evidence of Nixon's treasonous legacy and the media's choice to ignore it": PJ: So you would think this should be a… real confirmation–the story's kind of been out there, in some articles and some books–but to have this kind of confirmation that we didn't have before, one would think should have been a screaming headline all over the newspapers and all over television. But there's one […]

Dec
21
2008

FAIR Radio on Guantanamo Abuse Report and Obama's Education Secretary

This week, the FAIR radio showCounterSpin (12/19/08) has constitutional rights advocate Michael Ratner countering the fact that, when the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a report finding former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other high officials responsible for abusive treatment of detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan, with few exceptions, the media played the story down, preferring, for instance, righteous anger over embroiled Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Then, education writer Alfie Kohn discusses Obama cabinet pick Arne Duncan: Obama's pick for education secretary drew more attention than you might have expected–in large part because the press corps was lobbying Obama […]

Dec
21
2008

'The Bad News About the News'

Veteran publisher Tom Engelhardt's rundown on the decimation of book publishers' staff (TomDispatch, 12/17/08) compares "collapsing worlds" with newspapers–"a disaster area long before the greatest downturn 'since the Great Depression' hit": The bad news about the news has been flooding in for years, even if it's worsened under the weight of more general economic tough times. If, for instance, you were even reading a newspaper in print on Tuesday, December 9 (and, if you're under 25, odds are you weren't), then you undoubtedly caught the story about the debt-ridden Tribune Company, a news monster which owns, among other properties, the […]

Dec
19
2008

The 'War on Terror,' With and Without Scare Quotes

I was intrigued to see this in a New York Times editorial yesterday (12/18/08): The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the "war on terror"–the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions. I doesn't seem like the paper generally puts the concept of the "war on terror" at arm's length. Looking at the last few months, the most popular editorial construction seems to be something like this (11/16/08): Troops and equipment are so overtaxed by […]

Dec
19
2008

And If It Wasn't All a Bad Dream

Useless caveat of the day, courtesy of the New York Times (12/19/08): Mr. Bush, one of the least popular presidents in recent history, if public opinion polls are accurateâ┚¬Ã‚¦ Yes, perhaps it's all a mirage.

Dec
19
2008

The Unchanging Mideast Cycle of Violence

The corporate media template for explaining Mideast violence can be summed up like this: Palestinians attack, Israel retaliates. It wasn't surprising, then, to read this lead in today's New York Times (12/19/08): JERUSALEM – Rockets are flying from Gaza into southern Israeli communities again. Israeli warplanes are firing missiles back, and Israel is closing the crossings through which food and fuel are supplied. Same old, same old–the Palestinians started it. Interestingly, though, the piece doesn't really provide evidence of that; in fact, readers are more likely to conclude that the lead is just wrong: It took some days, but they […]

Dec
19
2008

Katrina's Real Marauders

A major–and majorly disturbing–story of post-Katrina New Orleans is broken (12/17/08) by an independent reporter at the Nation who finds evidence of up to 11 black people shot by white vigilantes in one New Orleans neighborhood immediately after the hurricane. A.C. Thompson writes that over the course of an 18-month investigation, I tracked down figures on all sides of the gunfire, speaking with the shooters of Algiers Point, gunshot survivors and those who witnessed the bloodshed. I interviewed police officers, forensic pathologists, firefighters, historians, medical doctors and private citizens, and studied more than 800 autopsies and piles of state death […]

Dec
19
2008

New Report, Old News on TV 'Whiteout'

Associated Press TV writer Lynn Elber reports (12/18/08) the bad news that, "nearly a decade after the NAACP condemned a 'virtual whiteout' in broadcast TV, the civil rights group said major networks have stalled in their efforts to further ethnic diversity on-screen and off." Even worse, television shows of the future could be even less inclusive because of a failure to cultivate young minority stars and to bring minorities into decision-making positions…. A "critical lack of programming by, for or about people of color" can be traced in part to the lack of minorities who have the power to approve […]