Feb
25
2009

Challenging George Will's Reign of Climate Error

After eight years of George W. Bush's rule, popular disapproval of policies that had come to be regarded as grave mistakes–from the invasion of Iraq to the response to the economic crisis–drove the Republicans from power. Unfortunately, the media system has no such built-in check on powerful pundits, as the unchallenged reign of another George W. with a long record of mistakes can attest. The ongoing controversy over a recent error-plagued climate change column penned by George Will–a Washington Post syndicated columnist whose record of error spans decades–offers a good case study in the impunity of the punditocracy. As bloggers, […]

Feb
25
2009

AP's Obama 'Fact-Check' Does Not Meet the 'Gotcha' Threshold

This AP "fact check" (2/24/09) of President Barack Obama's speech is, as usual, a sad effort. You really need to have some threshold for calling "gotcha," and some of these–maybe all of these–really don't measure up. Obama says, "Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market," and AP's Calvin Woodward and Jim Kuhnhenn retort, "This may be so, but it isn't only Republicans who pushed for deregulation of the financial industries." But Obama didn't say–or suggest–that they were. Nor is he the sort of politician who routinely pretends that his party […]

Feb
24
2009

Liberal Bias Debunked (Again)

More bad news for right-wingers longing to peddle the myth of liberal bias in the corporate media. Indiana University released a comprehensive study of the visuals used in presidential campaign coverage from 1992-2004, finding that the three major broadcast networks–NBC, CBS and ABC–all favored Republicans in each election. The study focused on the visual production of news: where each story was placed in the newscast, editing techniques and manipulations related to camera angles, shot lengths, eyewitness perspectives and zoom movement. Among the most negative visual representations or "image bytes" is the "lip-flap shot," where a reporter's narration is placed over […]

Feb
24
2009

Jonah Goldberg in Praise of 'Pack Journalism'

News that an arrest may be in the offing in the Chandra Levy murder case–no, it's not Gary Condit, but a man currently incarcerated for a similar crime–inspires many unpleasant strolls down media's memory lane. But the most unpleasant might be Jonah Goldberg's ode to pack journalism and rushing to judgment (Jewish World Review, 7/11/01; Townhall, 7/16/01 ), where the conservative columnist all but declared Democratic Congressman Gary Condit guilty of murder. Wrote Goldberg: Technically, it's bad form for journalists to "rush to judgment." We're supposed to carefully weigh and measure every confirmed fact as it comes in. Speculation, gossip […]

Feb
24
2009

Digital Spectrum Conversion Cover-Up?

Industry news outlet TV Predictions has a commentary from Phillip Swann (2/22/09) telling us that when "roughly 36 percent" of local television stations recently stopped broadcasting ahead of the digital conversion deadline ("stations save money by switching early because they would no longer have to transmit both analog and digital signals"), "the FCC received more than 70,000 complaints in the first two days." "Based on these developments," Swann writes, "you would think that the early DTV switch was a major disaster": But good luck in finding that story in many of your nation's top trade and consumer publications, particularly if […]

Feb
24
2009

On CNBC and Rick Santelli's 'Losers'

Ryan Chittum of CJR.org holds up (2/19/09) Rick Santelli's recent CNBC tantrum as "an example of what's wrong with a certain kind of financial journalism, the kind where people of like backgrounds spend all day staring at tickers and interviewing each other. As such, Chittum says, "the segment couldn't more clearly illustrate the disconnect between the financial-services sector, certain financial journalists and, you know, 'reality'": What sent Santelli, CNBC's hot-air, oops, "On-Air Editor," over the edge? The homeowner bailout. Of course, he didn't get himself into nearly this much of a lather over the trillions of dollars we've given to […]

Feb
24
2009

AP Stuck in Social Security Crisis Groove

Media Matters (2/24/09) catches AP reporter Liz Sidoti garbling Barack Obama's position on entitlements: He called the long-term solvency of Social Security "the single most pressing fiscal challenge we face by far" and said reforming healthcare, including burgeoning entitlement programs, was a huge priority. What Obama actually said was: In the coming years, we'll be forced to make more tough choices and do much more to address our long-term challenges, from the rising cost of healthcare that Peter [Orszag, Office of Management and Budget director] described, which is the single most pressing fiscal challenge we face by far, to the […]

Feb
24
2009

NY Times: The Military's View of Afghanistan

Apparently the New York Times hasmoved Elisabeth Bumiller over to the Pentagon beat. Her record as Bush White House correspondent producedsome memorable missteps ("You canâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t just say the president is lying," for example), so it wasn't a surprise to see her byline under the story, "From a Carrier, Another View of America's Air War in Afghanistan" (2/24/09). The piece was little more than pro-military propaganda (is that "another" view?) with lines like "pilots circle Taliban strongholds like an airborne 911 service and zoom in," and: From 15,000 feet up, the pilots protect supply lines under increasing attack, fly reconnaissance missions […]

Feb
23
2009

The Erratic Bernard Goldberg True to Form on Reliable Sources

Howard Kurtz had Bernard Goldberg on his Reliable Sources show (CNN, 2/22/09), weeks after the erratic right-wing media critic blew off his show. You could have had a better conversation about pro-Obama media bias with the drunk on the next barstool. For example, when Kurtz says: I think sometimes you're selective in your evidence. For example, you write about Deborah Howell; she's the former ombudsman at my newspaper, the Washington Post. You say, "She waited until after the election to write about the tilt on the Post op-ed page toward Barack Obama." But–and she did, but on August 3, Deborah […]

Feb
23
2009

NYT's 'Budget Analysts' Blow Smoke on Social Security

Jackie Calmes reports in the New York Times (2/23/09): The president signaled in his campaign that he would support addressing the retirement system's looming financing shortfall, in part by applying payroll taxes to incomes above $250,000. But that would ignite intense opposition from Republicans, especially with the economy deep in recession. Liberal Democrats are already serving notice that they will be equally vehement in opposing any reductions in scheduled benefits for future retirees. But any solution, budget analysts said, must include a mix of both approaches, though current beneficiaries would see no change. Really? Budget analysts said it was impossible […]

Feb
23
2009

David Gregory, Fat Cat in Denial

David Gregory sticking up for bank stockholders on Meet the Press (2/22/09): There's a larger point here, which is, first of all, the more…the shares of…these banks gets talked down…the closer you get to wiping out the shareholder completely. And it's, it's not clear to me that everybody understands that the investor in this country, who is not just a fat cat, the investor is us…. It is the taxpayer, it's the teacher, it's someone who's invested in a 401(k). The investors on the sidelines, scared to death about taking any risk. And unless that changes, this economy really can't […]

Feb
23
2009

Copyright Law in Aid of Corporate Cover-Up

Raw Story (2/22/09) has a report that illustrates, in passing, the ridiculousness of how copyright law is applied on the Internet. The story concerns a McDonald's employee in Arkansas who threw an abusive customer out of the restaurant and got shot, and the hamburger company's refusal to pay the injured employer workers compensation because the worker's "injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment." Surely there's a legitimate public interest in the question of whether corporations pay compensation in such cases. And if you want to have an informed opinion on this particular […]

Feb
23
2009

NYT: Not Spending Is Not Saving

Economics blogger Dean Baker asserts that "about the only thing that readers can learn from an article on Japan in the business section today" is that "The New York Times Doesn't Like Japan" (Beat the Press, 2/22/09). Among the piece's "variety of complaints about Japan's economy, many of which are contradictory," is "the standard line about people not spending because deflation means that goods will be cheaper in the future if they wait"–which Baker debunks by noting that, with "deflation…generally less than 1.0 percent," a Japanese shopper "considering buying a $600 television would save approximately 50 cents by delaying the […]