Jul
23
2009

NYT's David Brooks Scares Up More False Figures

Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 7/21/09) has synopsized the latest fiasco of a David Brooks column under the headline "David Brooks Wanted Tax Increases to Pay for Stimulus"–since, Baker writes, "that is presumably the implication of his complaint that the Democrats paid for the stimulus package 'with borrowed money.'" Predictably, "this is not the only peculiar item in his column. He also claims that only 11 percent of the stimulus will be spent in the first seven months of the program." Even though, as economist Baker explains, the "Congressional Budget Office puts the figure at 20 percent, which doesn't seem […]

Jul
23
2009

'Strength in Bargaining' Still, When Deals 'Done Fairly'

Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher (7/21/09) is reporting that newspaper union representatives claim a victory of sorts in the Boston Newspaper Guild's refusal to accept a deal that "called for smaller benefit cuts and a furlough, but a higher 8.3 percent salary reduction." The Boston Globe eventually agreed instead to "a 5.94 percent salary cut, a one-week furlough, a pension freeze and healthcare cost increase." Strupp quotes Guild president Bernie Lunzer saying the result "does demonstrate that there is strength in bargaining," that "people can push back" and they "are correct now to question what management is doing, to […]

Jul
23
2009

Venerating — but Not Emulating — Journos of Yore

In a piece about current media "Celebrating Cronkite While Ignoring What He Did" by (belatedly) condemning the U.S. war on Vietnam, Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald (7/18/09, ad-viewing required) addresses another recently passed war reporter as well: When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam died, media stars everywhere commemorated his death as though he were one of them–as though they do what he did–even though he had nothing but bottomless, intense disdain for everything they do. As he put it in a 2005 speech to students at the Columbia School of Journalism: "The better you do your job, often going against conventional […]

Jul
20
2009

Best Hate Mail Ever

Tossing out old papers in preparation for an upcoming office move, I came across what was probably the best hate letter I've ever received. It came in response to FAIR's work on talkshow host Bob Grant–who, after FAIR had documented his bigoted, violent rants and promotion of white supremacy, had been fired by Disney's ABC, and prompty hired by rival station WOR. The unsigned fax contained a page of doggerel: Hey, "FAIR," Bob's still here. Your little plan didn't work so well, so all of you can go to Hell. Bob Grant lives, he talks, he rules, And you look […]

Jul
20
2009

On Cronkite as (Belatedly) 'Courageous Truth-Teller'

Norman Solomon has noticed (Common Dreams, 7/20/09) that "media eulogies for Walter Cronkite–including from progressive commentators–rarely talk about his coverage of the Vietnam War before 1968." An "obit omit" Solomon deems "essential to the myth of Cronkite as a courageous truth-teller": But facts are facts, and history is history–including what Cronkite actually did as TV's most influential journalist during the first years of the Vietnam War. Despite all the posthumous praise for Cronkite's February 1968 telecast that dubbed the war "a stalemate," the facts of history show that the broadcast came only after Cronkite's protracted support for the war. In […]

Jul
20
2009

Honduras Coup Talks 'Presented as Progress' in NYT

Citing a Committee of Family Members of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras report "detailing hundreds of cases of human rights abuses committed by the coup regime, including four political assassinations," Ogg Blog's Chuck Ogg (7/17/09) notes that "the situation is getting worse in Honduras…but you wouldn't know this reading the New York Times": In fact, the story no longer merits front-page headlines. If you dig deeper, you discover that the chief negotiator said Thursday a series of compromises had been achieved between the two "camps" claiming the right to rule Honduras. We are given a sense of optimism with the […]

Jul
20
2009

Indy Filmers Create Most Jobs, Own Least Content

Toxic Avenger creator Lloyd Kaufmann has a new McClatchy column (7/16/09) "speaking out on behalf of the little guy–or, in the case of independent film and TV producers, the belittled guy," who generally is still "at the mercy of a handful of vertically integrated network-studio conglomerates, powerful giants that exercise control over the entertainment and media businesses." Kaufmann says "the fact is that independents have produced the largest number of motion picture industry jobs," creating, between 2004â┚¬“07, "more than 198,000 full-time motion picture jobs annually, accounting for 55 percent of all of those available in the industry": Overall, independents were […]

Jul
20
2009

'Objectivity'–Sotomayor's, Sessions' and AP's

In another example of how the racist record of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's top Republican questioner has gone down the memory hole, Associated Press had a whole story (7/19/09) about Sen. Jeff Sessions' assertions that Sotomayor was too prejudiced to get his vote without mentioning that the Senate Judiciary Committee had rejected Sessions when he was up for a federal judgeship precisely because of his long pro-discrimination history. On MSNBC, the subhead of the story was "Top GOP Member of Senate Committee Still Concerned About Her Objectivity." And AP reporter Douglass Daniel would tell you, I expect, that "objectivity" […]

Jul
17
2009

War 'Fixers' Make Unembedded News, at High Cost

Afghanistan writer Ann Jones has an essay on TomDispatch (7/16/09) in which she calls The Fixer "the best documentary I've seen on Afghanistan–so good it's hard to imagine a better one." Her description of a scene she found particularly moving demonstrates the harsh reality of unembedded reporting, begetting a corporate media output that merits her headline, "Everything That Happens in Afghanistan Is Based on Lies or Illusions": It is 2006, late in the year. A reporter stands on a rocky hillside near the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan and points a wobbly camera at dark-clad gunmen ranged at a […]

Jul
17
2009

Time Marriage 'Concern' Really Just 'Attack on Liberals'

In Katha Pollitt's latest Nation column (7/15/09), she finds it "not hard to poke holes in" the July 2 Time magazine cover story by "Caitlin Flanagan–professional antifeminist, author of a whole book of essays attacking working mothers, herself excepted"–being full of "Flanagan's predictions of universal doom for the children of divorced or never-married parents": After all, President Clinton and President Obama turned out all right. Most children of divorce do. There are plenty of countries where divorce and unmarried parenthood are common, but children do fine–Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands. Some of the measured bad effects on kids are more […]

Jul
17
2009

U.S. Press Cites Pro-Coup Paper's Pro-Coup Poll

Just Foreign Policy national Coordinator Robert Naiman has a follow-up (7/15/09) on his July 13 catch of major U.S. new outlets relying solely on Honduras' La Prensa, "a pro-coup newspaper, with a history of publishing inaccurate information," to falsely "indicate that a plurality of Hondurans support the military coup against democratically elected President Zelaya." Naiman looks at the first question in the poll cited by the paper–"Rough translation: Do you consider that the actions that Mel Zelaya took with respect to the fourth ballot justified his removal from the office of President of the Republic?"–responded to affirmatively by 41 percent, […]

Jul
17
2009

Fox Race Rant 'More Than Silly'–'Ignorant and Bigoted'

The UNITY: Journalists of Color organization has a new press release (7/14/09) denouncing July 8 comments by Fox and Friends' Brian Kilmeade, in which he "made a crude and bafflingly ignorant attempt to dismiss a study on marriage and Alzheimer's that was conducted in Sweden and Finland." Kilmeade's remarks that "we [Americans] keep marrying other species and other ethnics," "Swedes have pure genes" and "in America we marry everybody" have the advocacy group declaring they "don't know where to begin": Did the study not apply to Americans because of racial intermarriage? Are racially integrated couples more likely to exacerbate the […]

Jul
17
2009

Newsweek's 'Selective Zeal for Democracy'

Newsweek has a rather curious take this week (7/20/09) on the Honduras coup in a short piece headlined "The World Goes Bananas Over Honduras": Poor, hot and fractious, Honduras–the original banana republic–rarely draws a second look from the global community. But on June 28, when President Manuel Zelaya was yanked out of bed by the military and bundled into exile, the world took notice. International leaders unanimously decried the "assault on democracy." The Organization of American States expelled Honduras, the only nation since Cuba to be so disgraced. Venezuela even threatened to send in troops to reinstate Zelaya. But in […]