Jul
17
2009

Carr on Finke Is Pot vs. Kettle

In his front-page profile of movie industry blogger Nikki Finke, New York Times media reporter David Carr (7/17/09) can't resist a self-congratulatory dig: "Her liabilities in the world of print–a penchant for innuendo and unnamed sources–became assets online." Those familiar with the print media world may recall that unnamed sources are not exactly unknown there. To find an example, I didn't have to go farther than the first half of Carr's own article, where he has a paragraph full of anonymous attacks on Finke: "I'd prefer not to ever deal with her," said a senior communications executive at a studio […]

Jul
17
2009

On Google, HuffPo and the Business of Conveying Information

I give Peter Osnos credit for not being as nutty as Richard Posner or as self-pitying as Dana Milbank; his piece from CJR on "Whatâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s a Fair Share In the Age of Google?" (7-8/09) is the most reasonable version I've seen of the news industry's case against the search engine company. Still, I can't help but think that he's missing the point in a fundamental way. One of Osnos' key examples of the unfairness of Google involves Sports Illustrated's website, SI.com, and a story it ran (2/7/09) on pitcher Alex Rodriguez testing positive for steroids. Osnos relates SI.com's grievance: Though […]

Jul
17
2009

NYT Sotomayor 'Analysis' = What Republicans Are Thinking

Under the headline "Future Nominations Are at Stake in Hearing," New York Times reporters Peter Baker and Charlie Savage suggested that Sonia Sotomayor's nomination is a given; the real battle among partisans and legal activists is "to define the parameters of an acceptable nomination in case another seat opens up during Mr. Obama's presidency." Interesting, then, to see what the parameters of debate are like in this report. The Times solicits comments from five conservatives or Republicans–Rachel Brand, Fred McClure, James R. Copland, Manuel Miranda and Kenneth M. Duberstein. The Times also quoted one law professor with a liberal reputation […]

Jul
17
2009

Big Media's 'Steadfastly Neutral' 'Partisan Ideologues'

Asking his readers to "remember" that, on NBC, Chuck Todd "is billed as a reporter covering the White House, not a pundit expressing opinions," Salon's Glenn Greenwald (7/15/09, ad-viewing required) examines a Todd appearance on the MSNBC show Morning Joe "discussing reports that [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder is likely to appoint a prosecutor to investigate Bush torture crimes. Needless to say, everyone agreed without question that investigations were a ridiculous distraction from what really matters and would be terribly unfair": In response to virtually every media criticism (at least the few they acknowledge), establishment journalists will insist that their […]

Jul
17
2009

AP Adds $500 Billion to Healthcare Costs

Washington Monthly's Political Animal blogger Steve Benen (7/16/09) has observed that on July 15, "the Associated Press reported that the House Democratic healthcare plan cost '$1.5 trillion,'" and "by the afternoon, the AP reporting didn't attribute the price tag to anyone; it just stated the figure as fact." Even though "the day before the AP blasted the $1.5 trillion figure to the world, the Congressional Budget Office pointed to a roughly $1 trillion cost over 10 years," Benen notes how "the AP not only went with the much higher figure, it made no reference to the CBO score." Considering this, […]

Jul
17
2009

Va. Daily Confesses Racist Role in 'Dreadful Doctrine'

Editor & Publisher is running a wire item (Associated Press, 7/16/09) on the Richmond Times-Dispatch's recent front-page editorial and website video "expressing regret for supporting the state's fight to maintain separate schools for blacks and whites in the 1950s." The paper's confession of its "central role in the 'dreadful doctrine' of Massive Resistance–a systematic campaign by Virginia's white political leaders to block school desegregation"–functions as testament to both their current integrity and one of the darkest episodes of U.S. journalism. Here's an except: Fifty years ago Virginia had a rendezvous with destiny and came up wanting. It scorned human rights […]

Jul
16
2009

Telecoms Rally Against 'Transformative' Internet Bill

Free Press campaign coordinator Misty Perez has sent out (7/15/09) a call to action in light of the astonishing figure that "in the first three months of 2009, the phone and cable industries spent at least $20 million to hire more than 400 lobbyists" in an effort to "push for policies that fatten phone and cable profits while leaving us with an Internet that is too expensive and too slow." Why their sense of urgency?: Right now, the FCC is crafting a national broadband plan that could fix our national broadband problem. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps called this plan "the […]

Jul
16
2009

When Reporters Are Present, Yet 'Fail to Bear Witness'

Arianna Huffington's latest column (Huffington Post, 7/13/09) presents a compelling portrayal of the power of new democratic media–versus the self-preserving corporate model of news gathering–in the Chinese government response to major riots last week: "It choked off the Internet and mobile phone service, blocked Twitter and Fanfou (its Chinese equivalent), deleted updates and videos from social networking sites, and scrubbed search engines of links to coverage of the unrest." But here's the rub: "At the same time, it invited foreign journalists to take a tour of the area": That's right, it slammed the door in the face of new media–and […]

Jul
16
2009

Swine Flu 'a Case Study in Reckless Journalism'

Writing that "the swine flu outbreak that wrecked Mexico's economy this spring, and that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic last month, may become a case study in reckless journalism," Miami Herald Latin America correspondent Andres Oppenheimer (7/8/09) admits that he "had taken it for granted that the disease had started in Mexico" since "that's what most press reports said." But he "recently found myself scratching my head" over a "Pan American Health Organization press release that 'the new virus, which emerged in Mexico and the United States in April,' has spread to 74 countries." Follow-up questions put […]

Jul
15
2009

'Freed' Afhan Women Suffer 'Rape, Pillage, Plunder'

The latest segment to be made available online (7/7/09) from Robert Greenwald's Rethink Afghanistan documentary features the president of the Global Fund for Women Kavita Ramdas challenging U.S. media tropes about improved women's conditions since the U.S. invasion: "The perception of the women of Afghanistan having been severely oppressed only under the regime of the Taliban, and then having been freed by the united States' military intervention in 2001, is a false perception." The film continues: Ann Jones, author Kabul in Winter: We got reports back that indeed that had been accomplished and the women had thrown off their burqas […]

Jul
15
2009

PR Successfully Sicced on 'Sicko'

Former PR agent Wendell Potter's stories of how he helped the health insurance's industry's campaign "to discredit Michael Moore and his film Sicko" calls to mind just how successful that campaign was. Corporate media coverage of the debate raised by the film's expose of the for-profit insurance system went out of its way to demonize Moore. USA Today ran an editorial tied to the film against a single-payer healthcare plan, which was paired with an "Opposing View" from an insurance executive that denounced single-payer even more harshly. CBS News' Jeff Greenfield distinguished himself with his (inaccurate) claim that the U.S. […]

Jul
15
2009

NYT and the Pro-Withdrawal Majority (of 2004)

New York Times reporter John F. Burns turned in a piece on Sunday about the debate in Britain over the Afghanistan war ("Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain," 7/12/09), in light of the increase in British casualties in recent weeks. Burns writes: So far, however, the reaction in Britain has not run to the kind of popular groundswell for withdrawal that President George W. Bush faced when the war in Iraq worsened after his re-election in 2004. To careful readers of the Times, this is more than a little jarring. While there is certainly some truth […]

Jul
15
2009

Misty Water-Colored Memories of the D.C. Press Corps

Number of stories in the Nexis news database dated today that mentioned Sen. Jeff Sessions' (R.-Ala.) questioning of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, in which Sessions accused Sotomayor of harboring ethnic prejudices: 69 Number of such stories that recalled that Sessions was rejected as a judicial nominee in 1986 in part because of his approving remarks about the Ku Klux Klan: 2