Mar
31
2009

More Jokes From Howard Kurtz

Quoting Washington Post/CNN media "critic" Howard Kurtz slamming Headline News for "talking about this constantly on cable for more than a week" and "feasting on this terrible situation," Brad Jacobson (Media Bloodhound, 3/30/09) also cites Kurtz railing against media obsession with octuplet mother Nadya Suleman on CNN: "The media were demonizing her….all the while capitalizing on America's latest soap opera." But, lo and behold, a "Crossfire-like vapid shouting match" couldn't be resisted: Kurtz dedicated an entire segment of this past Sunday's Reliable Sources to a gratuitous pie fight between two players involved in Nadya "Octomom" Suleman's never-ending nationally televised freak […]

Mar
31
2009

White Media vs. Black Power

The Maynard Institute's Richard Prince (Journal-isms, 3/30/09) has a look at "a two-day conference in Washington called '1968 and Beyond: A Symposium on the Impact of the Black Power Movement on America,'" with "hardly anyone from the mainstream media…there to cover it." Urging his readers to "think beyond the news media script that often pits a noble civil rights movement against a 'destructive' one preaching black power," Prince quotes some symposium participants: "The white media just basically attacked us," Askia Muhammad Toure, activist, educator and poet and one of Monday's panelists, told Journal-isms. "Very few black people were writing in […]

Mar
31
2009

Plane Crash Begets Military Budget 'Booster-Baloney'

News reports on a March 25 F-22 crash in Mojave, Calif., that "contained some strange assertions about the cost of the F-22" have budget myth-buster Winslow Wheeler (Military.com, 3/28/09) decrying the "utter hogwash" that reporters printed "possibly based on the price asserted in the Air Force's 'fact' sheet on the F-22 that was linked to a Pentagon 'news' story on the crash." Wheeler demonstrates how the uncritical dissemination of the assertion therein–that "the cost per aircraft was typically described in many media articles as about $140 million"–means that "the tragic event was apparently used to disseminate some booster-baloney": The latest […]

Mar
31
2009

S.F. Columnist Protests Protesters

Writing under the pen name Jami Tarn (CounterPunch, 3/27/09), one San Francisco lawyer is rallying against "a hate-filled column in the San Francisco Chronicle." Chronicle commentator Debra J. Saunders "insinuated that Tristan Anderson, still lingering in a coma in Tel Aviv after taking an Israeli tear gas canister to the face, costing him part of his frontal lobe and possibly his right eye, deserves this comeuppance for daring to join Palestinians in protest against Israel's illegal Apartheid wall." Saunders, Tarn wrote, reduced such suffering to the snarky "love-it-or-leave-it Amer'kuh" line that Anderson now has "found out in the worst way […]

Mar
31
2009

Panama: When Journalists Learned to Rally 'Round the Flag

With the discussion of Afghanistan sounding more and more like the debate over Iraq these days, we thought it would be worthwhile to point out how similar the media rhetoric around all of the U.S.'s recent wars has been. To that end, we've put up some classic FAIR articles from the January/February 1990 issue of Extra!–which happens to be the first issue that I edited–critiquing corporate media coverage of the Panama invasion. There's the main piece, "How Television Sold the Panama Invasion" by Mark Cook and Jeff Cohen, documenting how U.S. journalists viewed the brief war through the eyes of […]

Mar
30
2009

Woman Journalists: Last In, First Out

Author and journalist Sheila Gibbons has some regrettably foreseeable news (Womens eNews, 3/30/09) on how female reporters who "worked hard to establish themselves in what had long been a male-dominated field" are faring in a time of massive media cutbacks and layoffs: By the end of 2009, a quarter of all the newsroom jobs that existed in 2001 will be gone, says the Project for Excellence in Journalism. This outgoing tide is taking away the reporting, editing and producing jobs of seasoned journalists, many of them women. I'm thinking of investigative reporting ace Roberta Baskin of WJLA-TV in Washington, who […]

Mar
30
2009

NPR's Afghanistan Stenographers Bureau Still Open

NPR watchdog Mytwords (NPR Check, 3/28/09) would just "love to know what it costs NPR to station Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Afghanistan," from where she dispatches to U.S. public radio such "news" as U.S.-installed Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai telling reporters "that he welcomes the increased American focus on Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan," that "the plan will help restore Afghans' faith in western efforts in their country" and–in an actual soundbite from Karzai–"It's exactly what Afghan people were hoping for and seeking, therefore it has our full support." Nelson also reported, "Meanwhile in the southern province of Helmand, Afghan […]

Mar
30
2009

Options to the Latest 'Absolutely Essential' Bank Plan

Looking back over how corporate "media abandoned any pretense of objectivity in pushing the original TARP back in the fall," when "they eagerly pushed the story that the economy would collapse if the TARP did not pass," Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 3/28/09) recalls how "media never told the public that the Fed had the ability to takeover the banks in the event of a national emergency and it had plans to do exactly this back in the early '80s debt crisis." Which makes it somewhat unsurprising that "the new line that being pushed to argue that there is no […]

Mar
30
2009

On TNR's 'Incredible Dereliction of Basic Journalism'

Jonathan Schwarz has a quick post (3/27/09) over on his A Tiny Revolution blog asking readers, "Have I Lost My Mind?" or "is it really true that the New Republic published a 6,000-word profile of Larry Summers" that wondered if "Summers might appear to have less to contribute on the bank and credit-market front" since "his exposure to Wall Street over the years has been limited." Schwarz has to ask how it was possible to print that passage without mentioning Summers spent several years as a managing director of D.E. Shaw, one of the world's largest hedge funds?… That's such […]

Mar
30
2009

NYT Finds Comedy Gold in 0.1 Percent of New York's Budget

The New York Times reported today (3/30/09) that New York State government had reached an agreement on a $131.8 billion budget. The third paragraph of the front-page story by Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim reads: And despite the enormous fiscal pressure the state faces, the budget contains $170 million in financing for pet projects–an amount unchanged from last year–suggesting that Albanyâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s appetite for what critics call pork-barrel spending appeared to be undiminished. Listed in the budget were grants to gun clubs, an upstate museum dedicated to bricks and brick-making, the Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta and an organization known […]

Mar
29
2009

An Order of Paul Krugman–Hold the Economics

It's to self-described "establishment" journalist Evan Thomas' credit that he calls attention (Newsweek, 4/6/09) to economist Paul Krugman's progressive criticism of the Obama administration's financial bailout plan; corporate media generally pay much more attention to critics from the right. But the same shallowness that renders most media policy discussions virtually useless infects Thomas' article, which seems more interested in analyzing Krugman's personality than his economics. "A lot of what he says is wrong and not considered," asserts George Mason economist Daniel Klein. Such as? Thomas doesn't say (nor does he allude to Klein's right-wing politics). "In areas outside his expertise […]

Mar
28
2009

Pelosi: More Corporatization for Failing News Corporations

Free Press' Craig Aaron and Joseph Torres (Guardian.co.uk, 3/26/09) promptly knock down the scary development in which Nancy Pelosi recently "asked attorney general Eric Holder to consider loosening antitrust laws to help out struggling newspapers by allowing more media mergers. Holder responded by saying he is open to revisiting the rules": Pelosi's request sounds innocuous at first–after all, struggling newspapers seem to need all the help they can get. But opening the door to more media consolidation is not the cure for the crisis in journalism. More of this bad medicine will only weaken reporting and worsen the health of […]

Mar
28
2009

National Papers as 'Paparazzi-Like Birdcage Liner'

David Sirota has a new column (Creators Syndicate, 3/27/09) chronicling the nature of "newspapers' self-inflicted blows": First, financially strapped newspapers undermined their comparative advantage by replacing audience-attracting local exclusives with cheaper national content. Then the providers of that national content diverted resources from tough-to-report investigative journalism that builds loyal readership and into paparazzi-like birdcage liner that unconvincingly portrays politicians, CEOs and their minions as celebrities. Former journalist David Simon, "whose HBO series The Wire examined this trend," gives Sirota the awful truth: "In place of comprehensive, complex and idiosyncratic coverage, readers of even the most serious newspapers were offered celebrity […]