May
22
2009

CIA Tortured by Questions About Torturing

The independent website Raw Story (5/6/09) recently summarized the human toll of the U.S. government's torture program. Approximately 100 prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to human rights investigators, with 34 of those deaths officially classified as homicides; at least eight individuals were tortured to death. Yet somehow, when corporate media report on the torture program's victims, they focus on the CIA, the agency that designed and helped implement the array of torture techniques known as "enhanced interrogation." A May 19 article by Walter Pincus, intelligence correspondent for the Washington Post, is a particularly gross […]

May
22
2009

Non-Disclosure: A Way of Life at the Washington Post

Jonathan Schwarz recently caught the Washington Post crediting the author of an anti-progressive tax op-ed as just "an economics professor," when in fact he sat on tax-funded bailout beneficiary "AIG's board of directors. He's also a member of the board's finance committee." Now, continuing (A Tiny Revolution, 5/21/09) to mine the Post's editorial page for insights into "Their Cozy Little Village," Schwarz writes that I don't think there's anything wrong with the Washington Post publishing op-eds by Bob Graham. But it does seem like they might mention that he's a member of the family that owns the Post, and the […]

May
22
2009

When News Budgets Mean Life or Death

New York Times media reporter Tim Arango has a story (5/20/09) on one very serious repercussion from shrinking corporate news outlets: Opponents of the death penalty looking to exonerate wrongly accused prisoners say their efforts have been hobbled by the dwindling size of America's newsrooms, and particularly the disappearance of investigative reporting at many regional papers. In the past, lawyers opposed to the death penalty often provided the broad outlines of cases to reporters, who then pursued witnesses and unearthed evidence. Now, the lawyers complain, they have to do more of the work themselves and that means it often doesn't […]

May
22
2009

False Balance Alive & Well in Environmental Coverage

Jonathan Hiskes of Grist–who recently exposed "The NYT's Favorite 'Climate Change Denier'"–has now (5/13/09) caught Fox News giving airtime to Marc Morano's charge of Al Gore "profiting off global warming campaign" : Say you're a harried cable news producer with 24 gaping hours to fill with finished material every day of the week. Say you're constantly in need of articulate guests to offer a diversity of viewpoints. How do you do it? One way is to take up offers like this one from the PR folks representing Marc Morano. Refresher: Morano was formerly an aid to climate-change-denier-in-chief James Inhofe (GOP […]

May
20
2009

You Don't Get 'Thoughtful Conversation' From an Advocate for War Crimes

Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed columnist Harold Jackson (5/20/09) writes that most of those who have criticized his paper for hiring of pro-torture lawyer John Yoo as his colleague "have their facts wrong." After making a gratuitous swipe at bloggers ("who never let the facts get in the way when they're trying to whip people into a frenzy to boost website hits"), Jackson gets down to specifics: "To set the record straight, no one tried to hide Yoo's becoming a regular columnist," he declares. If that's the case, why isn't Yoo listed on the Inquirer's website along with its other regular columnists? […]

May
20
2009

California Health Reform, Minus Single-Payer

The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib wrote a piece today (5/20/09–subscription required) that offers California as a model for understanding the difficulties in overhauling the healthcare system: California's experience, in fact, represented a kind of trial run for the healthcare overhaul the president and Congress are about to attempt on the national level, offering useful lessons as well as warning signs about the potholes ahead. Well, yes and no. Seib writes that the "California example showed the importance of securing at least some bipartisan support, the need to reassure those who have insurance as well as those who don't, and […]

May
20
2009

Media Cheer Obama Moves Toward Bush's 'Center'

Salon's Glenn Greenwald (5/19/09, ad-viewing required) "gives the lie to the collective national claim that we learned our lesson and are now regretful about the Bush/Cheney approach to terrorism": Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country's institutions–particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media–acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do. Nothing has produced as much media praise for Obama as his embrace of what [the New Republic's Jack] Goldsmith calls the "essential elements" of "the […]

May
20
2009

On Bill O'Reilly's (Latest) Ignorant Gloating

Taking note of Bill O'Reilly's "cheerleading the downfall" of newspapers–"he reacted with glee when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was forced to go Web-only. More recently in his column, O'Reilly similarly wisecracked about the New York Times' financial woes"–MediaWeek editor Mike Shields (Editor & Publisher, 5/18/09) challenges "O'Reilly's theory for why these publications are in such deep trouble": Because they have suddenly shifted radically left in their coverage, and readers are rejecting it. That's why he's happy. That theory doesn't sync with the thinking of most sensible people in the media who understand the industry is going through massive macro changes, and […]

May
20
2009

Knocking Down Big Media's Hugo Chavez 'Caricature'

NACLA has Latin America writer Daniel Denvir's review (5/11/09) of a new Bart Jones biography of Hugo Chavez. In it, Denvir's reasons for having "never been a big reader of biographies"–"the product of our most unfortunate and idol-indulging tendencies"–give way to the fact that some leaders' "images become proxies for larger ideological, social and cultural debates–often to the point of caricature." Denvir's contention that "a good biography can take on this echo chamber residuum and tell a more reality-based story" becomes that much more urgent when, "in the case of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, this is a politically necessary task": […]

May
19
2009

The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Search Engines

Corporate media's arguments against Google are getting stranger and stranger. While previously the Washington Post had accused the search engine of "vacuum[ing] up their content without paying a dime," now the Post has media lawyers Bruce Sanford and Bruce Brown (5/16/09) charging that search engines "crawl the Web and ingest everything in their path." Can anything be done to stop these terrifying monsters? Yes, the two Bruces say–you could change the law to require search engines to "obtain copyright permissions in order to copy and index websites." Given that the point of this would be to force search engines to […]

May
18
2009

Selective Coverage of Selective Catholic Principles

Media critic blogger Mark Howard (News Corpse, 5/16/09) has a problem with the voluble media controversy over "the fact that Obamaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s pro-choice position is in conflict with [Notre Dame] University's Catholic principles"–namely, "neither the Catholic protesters nor the media ever threw similar tantrums when George W. Bush delivered the commencement speech in 2001, after receiving his honorary degree": Every good Catholic knows that the church is strictly opposed to capital punishment. Since Bush set records for carrying out death sentences when he was governor of Texas, you would think that the same guardians of virtue that are protesting Obama, who […]

May
18
2009

MSM Blind to Energy Factor in U.S. Wars

In his introduction (TomDispatch, 5/12/09) to Pepe Escobar analyzing the current politics of the Aghanistan/Pakistan region, Tom Engelhardt describes how "there, the skies are filled with planes and unmanned aerial drones, and civilians as well as combatants die every day in increasing numbers as ever more frequent attacks and expanding conflicts make daily headlines." But there's more to the story: Those are, of course, the front-page stories. Energy, especially in the form of oil and natural gas, fuels everything from civilization to its various discontents and means of destruction, and yet it remains largely on the business pages of our […]

May
17
2009

Media Silence on Pol 'Implicitly Endorsing' Inquisition

Quoting Sen. Lindsey Graham's statement at a May 13 Senate hearing that "one of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work," Robert Parry (Consortium News, 5/16/09) explains that this is "implicitly endorsing the Spanish Inquisition's brutal treatment of Jews, Muslims, Protestants and other alleged heretics from the 15th to 17th centuries," and posits that "in a normal world, one might have expected national outrage over a prominent U.S. senator speaking favorably of the Spanish Inquisition, which pioneered innovations in torture… including the water torture now known as waterboarding": Beyond the inhumanity of […]