May
17
2009

On the Depths of Rupert Murdoch's 'Crass' Roots

Taking down "Michael Wolff's fat masterpiece of sycophancy about Rupert Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News," Murdoch Archipelago co-author Bruce Page (CounterPunch, 5/15/09) counters Wolff's "astigmatic lens of gossip" with "a true outline" of Fox/Wall Street Journal mogul Murdoch's roots: Rupert's father, Sir Keith, founded the dynasty during World War I as a dirty-tricks minion for "Billy" Hughes, probably Australia's nastiest prime minister. His cover myth as a heroic war reporter has been so thoroughly dismantled that now it impresses none but family retainers and–of course–Mr. Wolff. At Versailles, Keith was Billy's ever-present aide in striving to make the […]

May
17
2009

U.S. Media Solution for War: More Wars

Pointing to a May 9 Boston Globe editorial saying that Barack "Obama conveyed the right message last week by hosting Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari" to emphasize "the close link between Pakistan and the anti-Taliban struggle in Afghanistan," before admitting that "U.S. military strikes against militants in both countries inevitably provoke anger and indignation among civilians," Palestine Chronicle editor Ramzy Baroud (5/14/09) notes that "this is as much as most U.S. media… are willing to concede as far as U.S. responsibility in lethal wars, civil strife and militancy in both countries is concerned." Baroud elaborates […]

May
15
2009

Examining the Paper of Record's Torture Record

Giving us a glimpse at "a large part of what was left on the editor's floor" from his On the Media NPR interview, Harpers.org's Scott Horton (5/12/09) writes of "the New York Times and its history of dealing with the word 'torture'": I noted that in the pre-Bush era, the Times had absolutely no compunction about calling certain practices "torture," but when the Bush administration began to use them, the word was suddenly off-limits, or only used in the most circumspect way ("a practice which critics of the administration call 'torture,'" for instance). A good example can be found in […]

May
15
2009

Philly Paper Welcomes Home Native Torture Hero

Blogger and Philadelphia Inquirer writer Will Bunch has a review (Attytood, 5/11/09) of how, "by late last year, the world already knew a great deal about John Yoo, the Philadelphia native and conservative legal scholar whose tenure in the Bush administration as a top Justice Department lawyer lies at the root of the period of greatest peril to the U.S. Constitution in modern memory": It was widely known in 2008, for example, that Yoo had argued for presidential powers far beyond anything either real or implied in the Constitution–that the commander-in-chief could trample the powers of Congress or a free […]

May
15
2009

Don't Even THINK of Lying to Bob Schieffer

CBS anchor Bob Schieffer was profiled byMarketwatch, where we learn: But don't get the false impression that Schieffer is a pushover for his important guests. When I asked him how he feels when subjects lie to him on the air or try to mislead the audience, he got right to the point. "I want to jump across the table and choke them," he said. Wow. First of all, this Marketwatch piece is largely about Schieffer's recent interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney. The irony isalmost too much; as Colin Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson put it to […]

May
15
2009

The Moral Deficiency of Charles Krauthammer

Responding to a "stupid" critique of his May 1 column defending the use of terror in "ticking timebomb" scenarios, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (5/15/09) asserts that there has too been a real-life example of such a situation: On October 9, 1994, Israeli Cpl. Nachshon Waxman was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. The Israelis captured the driver of the car. He was interrogated with methods so brutal that they violated Israel's existing 1987 interrogation guidelines, which themselves were revoked in 1999 by the Israeli Supreme Court as unconscionably harsh. The Israeli prime minister who ordered this enhanced interrogation (as we now […]

May
15
2009

For the WaPo, It's Not Really a Debt if You Borrowed From the Elderly

The Washington Post editorial (5/14/09) on the Social Security and Medicare trustees' report didn't break much new ground, other than perhaps a uptick in the sarcasm quotient. ("Oh, please" is their retort to critics who point out the paper's demonstrable hostility to the Social Security program.) But this line jumped out at me as noteworthy: Furthermore, the size of the Social Security surpluses has shrunk, posing a problem for the government since it relies on these funds to help plug its deficits. Over the next seven years, the cumulative surpluses will be $157 billion instead of the previously estimated $454 […]

May
15
2009

Journalistic Accuracy? — 'Too Good to Be True'

The Associated Press' Shawn Pogatchnik (5/12/09) has the incredible and deeply alarming story of Dublin sociology student Shane Fitzgerald having "posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia" just as the world's reporters were writing up the March 18 death of composer Maurice Jarre. Intended for "testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news," Fitzgerald's fib "flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper websites in Britain, Australia and India"–in short, "Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked." "They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free […]

May
15
2009

When 'Thriving' Capitalism Is Really 'Organized Crime'

Current Anti-Advertising Agency CEO Steve Lambert and founder Jordan Selier have posted (AntiAdvertisingAgency.com, 5/12/09) their letter to the New York Times responding to a May 11 piece that cites one NYC advertising executive asking, "All you have to do is walk out the door for lunch and notice the number of vacant storefronts… so why not get in there and put a message in there?": I know why not, because it's a crime! And I was disappointed that the Times didn't mention this. Outdoor advertising is regulated by the Department of Buildings for several reasons; so billboards aren't erected in […]

May
15
2009

Impoverished Papers Can't Afford Truth

Hearing "the whining retreat of a whipped pup instead of the toothy growl of a watchdog," the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic (5/11/09) quotes Washington Post reporter Paul Kane answering an online question with a new excuse for refusing to "call waterboarding people and slamming them into walls torture"–"because [the Post] fears a lawsuit for libel": New York, N.Y.: What's the difference between the "harsh interrogations" I keep reading about in the Post and actual "torture"? If it's the same thing, then why not just call it "torture"? I don't get it. Aren't you guys continuing to catapult Bush-era propaganda when […]

May
15
2009

Big Pharma's Big Deception

Medical librarian blogger Laika Spoetnik (Laika's MedLibLog, 5/8/09) has taken a long look at the international media "tsunami" generated by the Australian paper's one sentence on "a fake Elsevier/Merck journal. It says: 'The drug company also allegedly produced an entire journal–called the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine–and passed it off as an independent peer review publication.'" Among Spoetnik's findings: It had the looks of a peer-reviewed medical journal, but contained only reprinted or summarized articles Most of the articles presented data favorable to the Merck products Fosamax (for osteoporosis) and Vioxx… There are several ads for Fosamax and […]

May
15
2009

Monica Crowley: 'Young People Are Gravitating to the GOP'

While Glenn Greenwald and Camille Paglia catch us up on the increasingly hateful and dangerous language emanating from conservative talk radio–including Mark Levin show substitute host Andrew Wilkow repeatedly calling a gay man a "vile sodomite" and Limbaugh sub Mark Davis joking about the murder of top Democratic officials–there are other signs the genre is growing increasingly desperate in the midst of dwindling conservative and GOP fortunes. Take Monica Crowley, the Fox News contributor and talk radio host. While the former assistant to the disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon may not be the most hateful in the nation's vast toxic lineup […]

May
13
2009

Social Security Scaremongering, Washington Post Style

Yesterday the Social Security and Medicare trustees' reports were released. This annual ritual often gives reporters a chance to exaggerate the long-term problems of the Social Security system. This year, the news was more or less what folks were expecting: By the trustees' forecasting, Social Security's trust fund will be depleted in 2037, while Medicare's hospital fund will run out of money in 2017. Somehow, the Washington Post decided that Social Security was the real concern–its page-one story is headlined "Alarm Sounded on Social Security." The lead rings the same bells: The financial health of the Social Security system has […]