Apr
30
2009

Calvin Woodward's Fractured Fact-Check Strikes Again

Associated Press reporter Calvin Woodward has a history of straining to catch Barack Obama in factual errors. But today's review of last night's Obama press conference may have hit a new low in absurdity. In the piece, headlined "Fact Check: Obama Disowns Deficit He Helped Shape," Woodward takes issue with Obama's statement: "Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit…. That wasn't me." Woodward's criticism: "It actually was him–and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years–who shaped a budget so out of balance…. Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for […]

Apr
29
2009

'Modifying Adjectives' Replace Torture Facts at NYT

Brad Jacobson has an incisive take (Media Bloodhound, 4/29/09) on the consequences of mealy-mouthed torture language at the New York Times, where public editor Clark Hoyt provides he said/she said examples to show how the public has reacted. But in doing so, in this context, he turns the very idea of news reporting–that it should be based on fact rather than opinion–on its head and, in effect, concedes that Times editors, on news stories as serious as torture, are allowing public sentiment to color their reports. Robert Ofsevit of Oakland, Calif., asked, "Why canâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t the New York Times call torture […]

Apr
29
2009

Laying to Rest the 'Bandwidth Bogeyman'

Free Press is welcoming (4/28/09) as "a long overdue step in the right direction" the news that "Cablevision announced plans to offer download speeds of 101Mbps and upload speeds of 15Mbps" without charging "usage caps or overage fees" to users. Research director S. Derek Turner explains that the plan does, however, beg the question why Cablevision can offer fast access with reportedly no caps or overage fees, when others claim such a plan would cause the sky to fall and an exaflood to break the Internet. We hope this new announcement will put an end to the bandwidth bogeyman. We […]

Apr
29
2009

Pol 'Thugs' Think Twice in Age of Internet Media

Sure that Andrew Sullivan "would be horrified" by the idea that he and Cindy Sheehan agree on anything, Jonathan Schwarz nonetheless quotes (A Tiny Revolution, 4/25/09) the Atlantic.com blogger's declaration of "love" for the Internet, because "can you imagine what those thugs would have gotten away with without it?" Sheehan's similar 2005 statement–"Thank God for the Internet, or we wouldn't know anything, and we would already be a fascist state"–spurs Schwarz to celebrate the democratizing power of online media: I'm not sure we'd be a fascist state without the beautiful, beautiful tubes. But the difference they've made is gigantic. Recall […]

Apr
29
2009

USA Today and the Meaning of Dissent

USA Today had a remarkable headline (4/29/09) on a story about Pennsylvania's Sen. Arlen Specter switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party: Leaving GOP, Specter Gives Dems a Boost in Stifling Dissent The headline writer does not seem to understand the meaning of the word "dissent," which is the expression of opposition to reigning policies, not the ability to prevent policies from being enacted even when they're supported by a majority of elected representatives. This same misunderstanding is found in the article itself, which reports, "As a minority in the House and without the votes to filibuster the Senate, […]

Apr
29
2009

Does Torture Work, or Might Therapy Be More Effective?

A couple of recent FAIR Blog posts have dealt with apologists for torture: Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen and former CIA interrogator John Kiriakou, who misled ABC News about the effectiveness of waterboarding. What's striking is how they both offer the same insight into why torture is attractive–it met their post-September 11 psychological needs. Kiriakou told ABC (12/10/07): "At the time I was so angry and I wanted so much to help disrupt future attacks on the United States that I felt it was the only thing we could do." He sounds a lot like Cohen writing in the Post […]

Apr
29
2009

Al Neuharth and 'What You Do for Children'

Rosamunda Neuharth-Ozgo

We're not in the habit of linking to Accuracy In Media–and here's an Extra! article that explains why–but I thought this piece, by the apparent though unacknowledged daughter of USA Today founder Al Neuharth, deserved an exception. Writing in response to a USA Today column by Neuharth (3/20/09) celebrating his six adopted children, Rosamunda Neuharth-Ozgo writes: My mother, Betty Moore, met Mr. Neuharth in St Paul, Minn., in 1962, at an Associated Press convention. At the time, he was a young editor with the Detroit Free Press and my mother was a Paris-based translator in town on business. I am […]

Apr
28
2009

Richard Cohen's Torture Fantasyland

In his column today, Washington Post's Richard Cohentells us that he is against torture, which itself is not remarkable. His real point is this: Yet the debate over torture has been infected with silly arguments about utility: whether it works or not. Of course it works–sometimes or rarely, but if a proverbial bomb is ticking, that may just be the one time it works. I refer you to the 1995 interrogation by Philippine authorities of Abdul Hakim Murad, an al-Qaeda terrorist who served up extremely useful information about a plot to blow up airliners when he was told that he […]

Apr
28
2009

NYT, ABC and Waterboarding: An Update

We noted recently that a New York Times story about the waterboarding of two Al-Qaeda detainees included a bit of media criticism. The Times mentioned that in 2007, ABC featured an interview with former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who claimed that "Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew." This would be hard to square with what we now know–that Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. The Times pushed the story further on today's front page, with Brian Stelter putting the focus squarely on that 2007 ABC report and the effect it had […]

Apr
28
2009

The NYT's Favorite 'Climate Change Denier'

An April 24 New York Times op-ed from "Skeptical Environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg contends "that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a hopeless cause and that public money is better spent on research and development of renewable energy"–which Jonathan Hiskes of Grist calls (4/27/09) "a classic Lomborg argument–deliberately provocative and presenting several worthy goals as an either/or choice. Choose either emissions caps or R&D, he proposes. You can't have both." Pointing out that Lomborg "makes no mention of the tremendous potential that carbon regulation has to raise money for clean energy R&D," Hiskes gives us some background: Lomborg made his name in […]

Apr
28
2009

CNN's Full Scope of Journalistic 'Genius'

The Daily Howler's Bob Somerby has a look (4/27/09) at how Newsweek bigshot Fareed Zakaria "pandered and fawned in dragging out yesterday's panel" on his CNN show Zakaria: As I was thinking about the smartest people I could gather to talk about the first stage of Barack Obamaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s presidency, I thought of that wonderful quotation from Oscar Wilde: "Any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it." So today, I'll be talking with a panel of geniuses. Each of them has books and accomplishments too numerous to mention. I'll talk about a few. The others will […]

Apr
28
2009

The 'Important Historical Context' of Torture Punditry

Quoting Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter's strong words on the Keith Olbermann show about how "it's important, historically, to look at the context of" the "effort in these OLC memos to try to dress [torture] up as something else," Hullabaloo blogger digby takes issue (4/24/09) with his statement that "Dick Cheney stands almost alone" in still publicly defending the memos: Yes, Dick Cheney is forlorn and all alone. Many of the people who advocated taking the gloves off are leaving him out there hanging today. And one of them is Jonathan Alter. See, he forgot to mention–and Keith apparently didn't know–that […]

Apr
28
2009

Why Some Deaths 'Don't Seem to Impinge on Our Lives'

Having covered the U.S. war on Afghanistan at his TomDispatch website from the outset, Tom Engelhardt marvels (4/23/09) at how, "almost like clockwork, the reports float up to us from thousands of miles away" of "so many lives snuffed out so regularly for more than seven years now." But at this point, "unfortunately, those news stories are so unimportant in our world that they seldom make it onto, no less off of, the inside pages of our papers." And the context of such news, when it does make those inside pages, is cookie-cutter awful: Like obituaries, they follow a simple […]