Jan
30
2009

The Crack Baby Myth: Now They Tell Us

A January 27 New York Times story, "The Epidemic That Wasn't," brought the news that researchers following children prenatally exposed to cocaine have found "the long-term effects of such exposure on children's brain development and behavior appear relatively small" and are "less severe than those of alcohol and are comparable to those of tobacco." Though the Times makes it sound like breaking news, the fact is many reputable people disbelieved the whole "crack baby" phenomenon from the beginning: Even Dr. Ira Chasnoff, whose 1985 study spurred much of the early coverage, was lamenting as long ago as 1992 that medical […]

Jan
30
2009

'Old Habits Die Hard' on GOP TV

Following up on the well-documented phenomenon wherein corporate news outlets justify their mode of getting "conservatives to dominate their shows, booking them as guests far more often than progressives" by using "the rationale… that Republicans were 'in power,'" ThinkProgress (1/28/09) now shows that "it appears that old habits die hard." Even with a Democratic president and congressional majority, "the cable networks are still turning more often to Republicans and allowing them to set the agenda on major issues, most recently on the debate over the economic recovery package": In a new analysis, ThinkProgress has found that the five cable news […]

Jan
30
2009

At NYT: The End of an Error

Guessing that the departure of Bill Kristol from the New York Times op-ed page will be "sparing the paper any further embarrassment, Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell (1/26/09) has "a good belly laugh" at the Times notation of Kristol's farewell column, reading "All good things must come to end": Let's recall some of the highlights of his one-year (plus two weeks) reign, as chronicled in my new book, Why Obama Won: His very first column earned a correction, when he misattributed a Michael Medved quote to Michelle Malkin…. Who can forget when he told Stewart he was getting wrong information […]

Jan
30
2009

NPR: CIA Says Sites That Never Existed Now Closed

Catching Morning Edition correspondent Tom Gjelten asserting that Barack Obama's prohibition of "the CIA from holding any detainees in secret prisons" is "not a big change" since "those prisons are all closed anyway, according to U.S. officials," blogger mytwords (NPR Check, 1/23/09) is amazed by the "brilliant reasoning": "All the CIA secret prisons are closed because U.S. officials–who ran these covert, CIA criminal black sites for years and years–say they're shut down." But NPR's lack of skepticism fails to surprise the long-time public radio critic: Yes, NPR is really out in front on this one. The CIA torture sites were […]

Jan
30
2009

Bush Saves the World on Fox News

Fox News anchor Brit Hume's gratitude toward George W. Bush recently was expressed by Hume's amazement that "this country would pass into a new presidency eight years later with not a single attack" since September 11, 2001. Mark Howard (News Corpse, 1/27/09) expands on Hume's list by noting "No hurricanes in New Orleans since Katrina. Bush kept us safe from nature," and "No comets have hit Earth since Tunguska, 100 years ago. Bush kept us safe from celestial collisions," and even "No sightings of the Four Horsemen on the Interstate. Bush kept us safe from the Apocalypse." While he recognizes […]

Jan
29
2009

Middle East Reportage 'Smothered in Deceptive Euphemisms'

Credited by the London Review of Books (1/29/09) as the "former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America," Henry Siegman's list of official Israeli claims that "most of the Western media have accepted" includes "that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed" and "that Israel has acted not only in its own defense but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies." In fact, Siegman is not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of […]

Jan
29
2009

Media 'Grading [GOP] on a Curve'

Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall (1/28/09) is bemoaning how "Republicans have been getting a lot of air time and minimal press criticism for a series of arguments about the stimulus that are in most cases transparently ridiculous": For instance, I heard several House Republicans yesterday making the straight up argument that the renovation of the Capitol Mall wouldn't create any jobs or stimulate the economy. Well, obviously any major building project creates jobs. Nothing could be more straightforward. Whether it's the best long-term use of the money, in the sense of whether the building project will have spin-off effects […]

Jan
29
2009

Chris Matthews: The Thrill Is Gone

Blogger Brad Jacobson gives play-by-play (MediaBloodhound, 1/28/09) for an epic attempt by MSNBC's Chris Matthews to live down his one-time confession to having "felt this thrill going up my leg" during a Barack Obama speech. Matthews' reparation strategy: "How about facilitating a discussion about Obama's proposed stimulus plan with two lawmakers from the same party, the Republican Party?" That's precisely what Matthews did during a segment on his January 27 edition of Hardball, inviting only Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada) and Representative Mike Pence, the House Republican conference chair, to discuss the plan. Not enough? How about a segment exploring whether […]

Jan
29
2009

When Journalistic Liabilities Exceed Assets

Economist Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 1/28/09) points to an embarrassingly simple contradiction in the premise of Washington Post staff writer David Cho's worry that government plans to give cash to failing banks in exchange for current investors' shares "could also precipitate a sell-off across the banking system as investors flee, fearing they could be next": The reason that the government would be injecting capital is that the bank is effectively bankrupt. Shareholders should know if their banks are effectively bankrupt. If they are, then they essentially have an asset that has no value. (In principle, shares of stock only […]

Jan
28
2009

Update: Richard Cohen

Far from holding the feet of the powerful to the fire, "liberal" Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is the very model of the establishment-protecting beltway hack. Glenn Greenwald walks us through Cohenâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s history of cheering for the capital's criminal class, with a focus on the columnistâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s latest call to sweep torture under the rug.

Jan
28
2009

Bubble Alert!

A New York Observer profile of NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker looks at the differences between D.C., where Whitaker is now stationed, and New York City, where he's spent most of his career. (OMB chair Peter Orzag can turn heads at a D.C. party, but in NYC, no less than Beyoncé or Tom Cruise will do the trick!) Along the way Whitaker makes an observation all New Yorkers can identify with–all New Yorkers who spend their waking hours rubbing shoulders with the wealthy, powerful and influential, that is. Pointing out how exciting things are currently in the capital, Whitaker […]

Jan
28
2009

Limbaugh: The 'Kineesians' Are Coming!

Attacking the White House's proposed economic stimulus plan (1/26/09), Rush Limbaugh explained that the issue pits his favored "supply-siders," who see the holy grail in tax cuts, against what he repeatedly referred to as, at least what sounded like "kineesian economists," who he described as partial to "government spending on shovel-ready projects of all kinds." ("Kineesian"–rhymes with "artesian"–is my phonetic version of what Limbaugh said, but listen for yourself.) As you might have guessed, what Limbaugh meant to say was "Keynesian" (this is confirmed by the corrected transcript at his site), a well-worn adjective derived from the name of John […]

Jan
27
2009

O'Reilly's Phony Guantanamo Math

In a top-of-the-show rant about the dangers of the Guantanamo detainees, Fox's Bill O'Reilly declared (1/25/09): Just hours after President Obama announced he was going to shut down Guantanamo Bay, the feds confirmed that a released Gitmo inmate, 35-year-old Sahid al-Shahiri, had resumed terrorist activities in Yemen. Now if this isn't a warning, ladies and gentlemen, I don't know what is. Obama tells the world no more Gitmo, and a guy the Bush administration let go in 2007 is now a major Al-Qaeda terrorist again. So we can add this guy to a list of 61 former Gitmo detainees who […]