Apr
24
2009

Obscure, High-Risk Senate Business-as-Usual

New York Times reporter Robert Pear (4/23/09) joined the rest of the media world expressing discomfort with the idea that the Senate Democrats might adopt budget reconciliation rules, which wouldthey would use to pass major legislation on a majority vote rather than seeking 60 votes. His lead: With solid majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats are tempted to use their political muscle to speed passage of health care legislation with minimal concessions to the Republican minority. That approach may be the only way they can fulfill President Obama's campaign promises, but it carries high risks as well. In the […]

Apr
24
2009

George Will and D.C. Vouchers

The school voucher program in Washington, D.C., has been the subject of serious research, with opponents and supporters of vouchers using at as a test for whether the idea works in practice. Conservativestend toinsist that it's been a success, though the studies of the program don't seem to bear that out. Washington Post columnist George Will (4/23/09), though, sees a new Education Department study bolstering the case for vouchers, which means the White House'sdecision tocurtail the program is a horrible blow tochildren in the struggling D.C. schools: After Congress debated the program, the Education Department released–on a Friday afternoon, a […]

Apr
22
2009

The Exception That Proves the Rule

Brad Jacobson has a new Media Bloodhound post (4/21/09) lauding CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for his "refreshing" refusal of "a generic phony Devil's advocate stance" when scholar Mark Danner "torpedoed" CNN analyst David Gergen's claim that the number of people who were interrogated [by U.S. personnel] with these harsh and, I think, torturous techniques was fairly limited. It was, of the thousands of people who were captured, it was about some 30 or 35 whom these techniques were used. Instead, Cooper "actually set up Danner's response to Gergen's allegations with…facts and context": Cooper: Do we know how many people died […]

Apr
22
2009

Empty Economic Rhetoric at the NYT

Asking a simple question about a large issue–"How Do Trillion Dollar Bank Bailouts Fit With 'Free-Market Fundamentalism?'"–Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 4/19/09) tells his readers that "the obvious answer is, they don't"–since, "if you are a free-market fundamentalist, then you are absolutely opposed to bank bailouts" that "involve taking taxpayer dollars and handing them to banks that would go belly up if left to the market": However simple this distinction might seem, it somehow escaped the NYT, which discussed the policies promoted in recent decades as though they could be plausibly described as "free-market fundamentalism." It should be perfectly apparent […]

Apr
22
2009

On the Rare Journalistic Habit of 'Thinking Independently'

On the occasion of the first annual Izzy Awards from Jeff Cohen's Park Center for Independent Media, the son of progressive journalism icon I.F. Stone, Jeremy Stone (Consortium News, 4/1/09), describes Stone's most journalistically valuable quality–"his capacity for thinking independently"–along with its rewards and consequences: In the McCarthy era, because he spoke in defense of Jeffersonian principles, people were afraid to be seen with him. When he supported the rights of Palestinians, Jewish institutions would not invite him to speak. And when the National Press Club refused to serve his black guest lunch, he quit the club, isolating himself from […]

Apr
22
2009

Commentary's Trumped-Up Case Against I.F. Stone

Right-wing historians are back again with more claims that the renowned progressive journalist I.F. Stone was a KGB operative. Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and Alexander Vassiliev have an article on Commentary's website headlined "I.F. Stone, Soviet Agent–Case Closed." "Until now," they write, "the evidence was equivocal and subject to different interpretations. No longer." So what is this unequivocal, case-closing evidence, subject to only one interpretation? It's notes from co-author Vassiliev's notebooks, made when the former KGB agent was allowed to examine Soviet intelligence files in the early 1990s. He says he had to leave the notebooks behind in 1998, […]

Apr
22
2009

Unaccountability: 'A Trans-Partisan Religious Tenet of Beltway Culture'

Blogging from his regular Salon perch (4/20/09, ad-viewing required), Glenn Greenwald notes that the public wants to investigate U.S. torture (that's what the polls tell us), but: These facts about public opinion are virtually always excluded from establishment media discussions, and those who advocate investigations and prosecutions–the view held by large percentages, if not majorities, of Americans–are virtually never heard from. That's because the belief that elites should be exempted from all consequences when they break the law is as close to a trans-partisan religious tenet of Beltway culture as it gets. Consider yesterday's Meet the Press panel discussion of […]

Apr
22
2009

More Calls to Bomb (Any) Somalians

Taking the brave position (ScholarsAndRogues.com, 4/20/09) that the National Review Online is so bad that it makes William F. Buckley's print version look "semi-respectable" by comparison, former U.S. Navy Commander Jeff Huber writes that in his April 11 NRO post, "military historian and former classics professor Victor Davis Hanson comes across like a rabid war mongrel": Frothing over the recent Somali pirate caper involving a U.S. flagged merchant ship, Davis insists that, "To end Somali piracy, disproportionate measures against the shore should be taken–for every one pirate assault, a lethal air assault should immediately follow." It's perhaps understandable that Hanson […]

Apr
22
2009

Glimpsing Journalism's 'Devouring Black Hole of Corruption'

A Tiny Revolution blogger Jonathan Schwarz (4/18/09) samples the response to Mike Allen of Politico's quote of "a former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush" calling the publishing of U.S. torture memos "damaging because these are techniques that work": This, from Andrew Sullivan, is a representative example of the reaction: Allen is allowing a member of the administration that broke the Geneva Conventions and committed war crimes to attack the current president and claim, without any substantiation, that the torture worked. He then allows that "top official" to proclaim things that are at the very least […]

Apr
21
2009

Challenging Media Distortions on Pro-Labor Bill

NBC Today show host Matt Lauer introduced Today's exclusive interview with Wal-Mart's new CEO by saying, 'If you really want to know how the economy is affecting the average American, he's the guy to talk to.â┚¬Ã‚ Trust the corporate media to see a wealthy CEO as the most-qualified source to tell the public about ordinary people's experiences of economic hardship! It was an inauspicious beginning for a program in which the host himself repeated the business lobby's false claim that a proposed law that would make it easier for workers to form unions would eliminate the secret ballot in union […]

Apr
20
2009

Media Discover 'Obscure' Latin American Book

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave U.S. President Barack Obama a copy of Eduardo Galeano's book The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent at last weekend's Summit of the Americas, the corporate media appeared to be caught off guard. In its initial report, CNN (Newsroom, 4/18/09) appeared to be completely unaware of Galeano's classic 1971 treatise on the history of European and U.S. imperialism in Latin America, failing to correct Obama's initial mistaken belief that the book was penned by Chavez himself. Both CNN (CNN Newsroom, 4/18/09) and AP (4/19/09) contrasted the immediate […]

Apr
20
2009

ABC's 2007 Pro-Waterboarding Propaganda

Today the New York Times is reporting that waterboarding was used far more often than we have been told–almost 300 times on two prisoners, including Abu Zubaydah.This stands in rather stark contrast to what we heard about the instant, positive effects of waterboarding–as the Times notes: A former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew. Of course, someone who relented in "35 seconds" would not need to be waterboarded 83 times. And as been several accounts […]

Apr
20
2009

Playing the Left on TV

Regular NewsHour left/right panelists Mark Shields and David Brooks were off on April 18. Sitting in on the right was former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson. In the liberal chair was Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, who is not exactly known for her strong progressive views. And in fact, Marcus established that fact right from the start on the debate over torture, showing (once again) that a good TV leftist is usually not, well, a leftist: JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, to you first. The release of these Bush administration-era interrogation memos and, simultaneously, the decision not to prosecute the CIA agents who […]