May
30
2009

The Results of 'Smothering Torture in Euphemism'

In a Smirking Chimp piece (5/29/09) averring that "Everyone Should See Torturing Democracy"–the delayed documentary that "recounts how the Bush White House and the Pentagon decided to make coercive detention and abusive interrogation the official U.S. policy" and "also credits the brave few who stood up to those in power"–PBS' Bill Moyers spells out the larger consequences of the fact that "in all the recent debate over torture, many of our Beltway pundits and politicians have twisted themselves into verbal contortions to avoid using the word at all": Smothering the reality of torture in euphemism of course has a political […]

May
30
2009

Sotomayor Not 'Normal' Like 'Unbiased' White Pundits

Claiming that he doesn't "know at this point whether Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a good choice for Supreme Court justice or a bad one," critic Dave Lindorff (ThisCantBeHappening.net, 5/28/09) does note that she "is a lousy judge for writers and other creative people" for ruling "that the [New York] Times and periodical publishers could reprint, without any additional compensation, any freelance works they contracted." Then Lindorff proceeds to get to the real problem at the core of so much of the media criticism directed toward Sotomayor: But the elite–the white male editors and TV commentators, the white male politicians, and […]

May
30
2009

NYT Likes Its Readers Complacent

Looking at "people of a certain age" for whom "getting a letter published in the Times has always been a very, very big deal," David Margolick (Nation , 5/27/09) tells the tale of two lifelong friends and constant New York Times letter submitters–one with a "Babe Ruth"-like record of getting his views into print, and the other, who was always "striking out." Want to know "what explained their very different fates?" Margolick tells us, "it wasn't politics": [George] Avakian couldn't contain his anger, and as anyone who reads the Times well knows, on the letters page no one ever gets […]

May
30
2009

NYT Public Editor 'Circles the Wagons' Against Public

Posting to the Columbia Journalism Review's Behind the News blog, Megan Garber (5/26/09) catches New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt espousing "a peculiar brand of institutional defensiveness" in his May 23 column: One that plays itself out via divisiveness–and via, in particular, a false dichotomy that aggrandizes Times reporters and dismisses those who are not. In particular, those nagging, nattering bloggers. (Outsiders! Pouncers! Rougher-uppers!) And he does so right in his lede: There are those "within" the Times, "trying to protect the paper's integrity"â┚¬Ã‚¦and then there are those "outside" it, "ready to pounce on transgressions by Times journalists." Garber […]

May
29
2009

Sotomayor Not a Rags-to-Rags Story, AP Explains

This Associated Press story ("Debate Over Who Sotomayor Is a Sensitive One," 5/29/09) sure is confused. Luckilyreporter Sharon Thiemermakes at least that much clear from the very start: There are two sides to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor: a Latina from a blue-collar family and a wealthy member of America's power elite. The White House portrays Sotomayor as a living image of the American dream, though its telling of the rags-to-riches story emphasizes the rags, a more politically appealing narrative, and plays down the riches. Yes, somehow the White House picked her despite the fact that she is no longer […]

May
29
2009

The Trouble With Japanese Media

According to today's New York Times (5/29/09), there's a scandal brewing in the Japanese media. Apparently in its coverage of a current political scandal, the Japanese press has "reported at face value a stream of anonymous allegations, some of them thinly veiled leaks from within the investigation." The Times goes on to note that "big news organizations here have long been accused of being too cozy with centers of power"; the end result is "bland reporting that adheres to the official line. " For their part, journalists "say government officials sometimes try to force them to toe the line with […]

May
29
2009

NYT's One-Sided Sotomayor Framing: Accident or Agenda?

The New York Times' front-page piece today (5/29/09) on Sonia Sotomayor's work with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund is a good example of what is meant by "framing"–and a bad example of how it can distort a story. The bulk of the story describes various cases that the group took on while Sotomayor was involved with it, which is interesting enough. But making a case for the importance of the story (justifying its inclusion on Page 1?), writers Raymond Hernandez and David W. Chen write: Ms. Sotomayor's involvement with the defense fund has so far received scant […]

May
28
2009

NPR: Ever Faithful to U.S. Empire

Dubbing National Public Radio "The Counterinsurgency Channel," blogger Mytwords (NPR Check, 5/28/09) takes issue with a May 27 All Things Considered report "meant to promote an aspect of U.S. counterinsurgency in Afghanistan–the training of Afghan police as part of Task Force Phoenix (what dumb ass names these operations anyway?)": The report opens with some great editorializing from Michele Norris: If American policy is ever to be successful in Afghanistan, it will be because of people like Army Major Jim Contreras; he's the top American police trainer in Helmand province in Southern Afghanistan. Afghan police are key to fighting insurgents: They […]

May
28
2009

'Ugly Sentiments' and 'Reckless' Reporting on Sotomayor

Making clear on Salon (5/28/09, ad-viewing required) that his "writing about this issue from the start has not been based on my view that [Judge Sonia] Sotomayor is the best choice" for the U.S. Supreme Court, Glenn Greenwald states that his "interest has been due to the fact that the smears against her were both totally unrecognizable, driven by very ugly sentiments and enabled by reckless 'reporting' methods." To wit: The same right-wing extremists who drove the country into the ground continue to attack Sonia Sotomayor with blatant and ugly stereotypes. She's one of those judges selected "for their readiness […]

May
28
2009

NYT's Bad Stats Push for European Layoffs

Blogging (Beat the Press, 5/26/09) about how the "New York Times Cooks the Books on Europe's Auto Industry," economist Dean Baker catches the paper "touting the layoffs in the U.S. auto industry as a virtue"–since "it notes that auto industry employment in Europe is remaining steady at around 2.3 million, while it is falling to close to 700,000 in the U.S.": The article and accompanying chart imply that Europe is delaying an inevitable adjustment. The case is far from clear, in spite of the NYT's best effort to make the case. The chart shows that Europe produces about 18 million […]

May
28
2009

U.S. Pundits' Hiroshima Ignores Rest of the World

Noticing that "many of the headlines greeting North Korea's nuclear blast yesterday carried the phrase 'as big as the Hiroshima bomb' or words to that effect," media writer and Hiroshima in America co-author Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher, 5/26/09) says "that's not the only reference point that Hiroshima should evoke": Simply stated: The fact that the U.S. first developed, and then used–twice–the WMD to end all WMDs against heavily populated cities, killing a quarter of a million civilians (and very few soldiers), has severely compromised our arguments against others building the weapon ever since. Americans may not like to hear […]

May
28
2009

Spinning the Sotomayor Abortion Debate in the NYT

Charlie Savage did some good reporting on the Bush signing statements, but his front-page story in today's New York Times on reproductive rights groups' reaction to Sotomayor is way off course. His lead explains that abortion rights advocates are worried about Sotomayor, because "when she has written opinions that touched tangentially on abortion disputes, she has reached outcomes in some cases that were favorable to abortion opponents." OK, so what are those opinions? Here's what he names: She ruled in favor of the Bush administration's reinstatement of the global gag rule; she ruled that anti-abortion protesters could take police to […]

May
28
2009

Supreme Court Fights: Left-Wing Media Bias Is Seldom More Imaginary

Politico's Mike Allen writes (5/27/09) The media's left-of-center bias is rarely more apparent than during court fights. The coverage running up to the pick was slanted heavily toward the notion of how "pragmatic" Obama's legal views are and how unlikely he was to pick a liberal. So coverage of Supreme Court fights is one of the best illustrations of corporate media's supposed lean to the left? Only three of the current justices had what could be described as a "fight" over their confirmation: Clarence Thomas (confirmed by a vote of 52-48), John Roberts (78-22) and Samuel Alito (58-42); all the […]