Feb
18
2009

Who's 'More of an Advocate Than the Corporate Press'?

In a discussion with Jessica Newman of Campus Progress (2/17/09), Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman gives her motivations for entering journalism: "I just always saw it as a way to pursue issues of social justice, to hold those in power accountable, to really work hard to get at the truth." When asked if she sees "a successful and profitable way to embrace multimedia…in a for-profit system, like the mainstream media," Goodman makes an important distinction: "It depends on what you mean by a 'for-profit system'": For the profit of society, yes. I can only speak from my own experience with what […]

Feb
18
2009

Stimulus Law Requires Neutrality for (Some of) Net

Free Press has some good news (2/17/09) about the "$7.2 billion to expand broadband access" contained in President Obama's new American Reinvestment and Recovery Act: The law attaches open Internet conditions to broadband funds and directs the Federal Communications Commission to produce a national broadband plan. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will distribute the majority of the funds, $4.35 billion, through a temporary grant program. NTIA broadband projects must be completed within two years of the award, provide the greatest broadband speed possible, and adhere to Internet nondiscrimination and openness principles established by the FCC. The law also funds […]

Feb
18
2009

Action Alert: George Will's Climate Change Baloney

In the wake of a George Will column (Washington Post, 2/15/08) attempting to refute the reality of climate change with a string of inaccurate claims, FAIR has an action alert calling on media activists to write to the Washington Post asking them to retract the falsehoods and explain their fact-checking procedures for columnists. You can post copies of your letters to the Washington Post in the comments section below. Please remember that letters that maintain a civil tone are most effective.

Feb
18
2009

USA Today: Obama's War, No Critics Allowed

USA Today's "Obama's War" cover story today (2/18/09) is long by that paper's usual standards, but can't seem to find any space for critics of the plan to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Quoted in the piece: –Barack Obama –Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution –political scientist Richard Eichenberg of Tufts University –White House press secretary Robert Gibbs — Joe Biden –Robert Gates, Pentagon –Sen. Joe Lieberman, "a leading hawk on both wars." –Richard Holbrooke, Obama's special adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan –Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic & International Studies –U.S./NATO commander David McKiernan USA Today does note, however, […]

Feb
18
2009

NY Times Amplifies Pentagon's Budget Worries

Today's New York Times features a piece by Thom Shanker that dwells on suspected budget cuts at the Pentagon. As the headline tells us, "After Stimulus Package, Pentagon Officials Are Preparing to Pare Back." The piece gives little reason to believe that there are any such plans afoot; Obama did not campaign on cutting the Pentagon budget, and in fact we learn further on that any suspected cuts won't mean a total decrease in military spending: Even if overall spending is reduced, the official Defense Department budget may actually grow over last year's spending plan, because billions of dollars in […]

Feb
17
2009

Support Wanes for Caricature of Fairness Doctrine

Politico reported (2/16/09) that a new poll shows that support for the Fairness Doctrine has dropped. Unfortunately, the policy described in the poll question bears no relationship to the Fairness Doctrine as it actually existed. The Rasmussen polling firm asked respondents whether "the government should require all radio stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary." But the Fairness Doctrine never called for equal time for any points of view; it actually required, as codified in a 1959 amendment to the Communications Act of 1934, that "a broadcast licensee shall afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of conflicting […]

Feb
17
2009

NPR, Fox Collude to Hide Fake Lefty

Noting that "news organizations often encourage their journalists to appear on other platforms for promotional purposes," former TVNewser Brian Stelter reports (New York Times, 2/15/09) that, "when the National Public Radio analyst Juan Williams speaks on the Fox News Channel's highest-rated program, the radio network doesn't want any attention": Mr. Williams, a longtime political analyst and author, is a paid contributor to both NPR and Fox News. His voice is a prominent one at Fox; he was a panelist for the network's coverage of election night and Inauguration Day. When he appears on the cable channel, he is regularly described […]

Feb
17
2009

On the Affinity of For-Profit News for 'Colorful Lies'

Regular Huffington Post media critic Marty Kaplan finds something especially "discomfiting" (Jewish Journal, 2/16/09) about recent stimulus bill coverage and "what it says about the role that the media have carved out for themselves in American public life": If the job of the press were to help the public understand what's really important, and to distinguish propaganda from facts, then Republican attempts to sink the bill by defining it as liberal pork would have gone nowhere. The endangered mouse that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was allegedly earmarking billions to protect; the Las Vegas supertrain that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) […]

Feb
17
2009

Self-Censorship Trumps Official Censorship

FAIR associate Norman Solomon (Creators Syndicate, 2/14/09) tells why he's concerned the potential lifting of the government ban on press photography of war casualties' coffins isn't "particularly good news": I wrote in my book War Made Easy that ambiguity is part of the process that we bring to the media-consuming table: "Visual images may be among the most powerful messages we receive about war, but those graphic messages still leave it to us to assign them meaning. And we, in turn, assess meaning not so much because of what's in front of our eyes as because of what's behind them–our […]

Feb
17
2009

Most Famous Pundits = Most Wrong

"Pointing out how often pundits' predictions are not only wrong but egregiously wrong" is, in Newsweek science columnist Sharon Begley's view (2/14/09), "like shooting fish in a barrel, except in this case the fish refuse to die. No matter how often they miss the mark, pundits just won't shut up." Citing "the fact that being chronically, 180-degrees wrong does not disqualify pundits is in large part the media's fault: Cable news, talk radio and the blogosphere need all the punditry they can rustle up, track records be damned," Begley looks at Stanford psychologist Philip Tetlock's methodical attempt to "identify those […]

Feb
16
2009

Vogue's Credibility–and Howard Kurtz's

In the same column (2/16/09) that he cites Sam Donaldson's reputation as a "blowhard liberal," the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz has an item in which he complains that "the Vogue cover story on Michelle Obama, by editor at large André Leon Talley, is nothing if not laudatory." Kurtz writes: The Talley article mentions briefly that Obama showed up "at a fundraiser I co-hosted last year." That would be a $1,000-a-head fundraiser–"An Evening With Michelle Obama"–also hosted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour and designer Calvin Klein. Wouldn't the story have had more credibility if written by someone who hadn't helped the […]

Feb
16
2009

Sam Donaldson, Unremembered

Discussing the retirement of ABC's Sam Donaldson, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz writes (2/16/09): Donaldson's detractors viewed him as a liberal blowhard, and there were certainly times when his mouth outran his brain. I would certainly count FAIR as being among Donaldson's detractors, and we viewed him as someone who was frequently mistaken for being liberal because he shouted questions at Ronald Reagan. And the examples Kurtz gives of Donaldson's reporting–promoting a Colin Powell presidential bid, suggesting that Bill Clinton should resign over the Lewinsky scandal–do not exactly illustrate a progressive crusader. Though Kurtz does report that Donaldson was […]

Feb
15
2009

One Paper — Three Views on Term Limits

The author of an upcoming "people's history of the Bolivarian Revolution entitled We Created Him," George Ciccariello-Maher tells (CounterPunch, 2/15/09) an eerily "familiar" tale of one unnamed political leader who, after being "in power for nearly eight years," no longer feels the need to comfort his opponents, and his discourse radicalizes as his view of term limits shifts. Dismissing his opposition as rigid "dogmatists," the leader now insists on the need to change course flexibly to meet circumstances. True and sustained change, he argues, requires the continuity of his successful leadership…. Not without controversy, then, was the decision of the […]