Sep
30
2009

NYT: Swerving to the Right Is a 'Middle-of-the-Road Approach'

Right turn only (cc photo: Phillip Winn)

In a story about the Senate Finance Committee voting down two amendments that would have added a public option to the committee's healthcare bill, New York Times reporters Robert Pear and Jackie Calmes (9/29/09) write, "The votes vindicated the middle-of-the-road approach taken by the committee chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana." The Times just had a poll that found 65 percent of respondents were in favor of a public option, with just 26 percent opposed. To call the approach favored by the rightmost one-quarter of public opinion "middle-of-the-road"–well, maybe someone ought to take away Pear and Calmes' car keys […]

Sep
29
2009

Richard Cohen's Insults

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen writes today of Iran's nuclear program: They then turned themselves in to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and, as usual, said the site was intended for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. These Persians lie like a rug. Classy. The fact that this appears in a column chastising Barack Obama for not being serious enough only makes it worse ("Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States."). But it's worth remembering that Cohen also wrote that "only a fool–or possibly a […]

Sep
25
2009

Reading the New York Times Poll on Healthcare

The Times has a report about their new poll on today's front page. As Adam Nagourney and Dalia Sussman put it in their lead, Obama "is confronting declining support for his handling of the war in Afghanistan and an electorate confused and anxious about a healthcare overhaul." While that's true, the most interesting part of the poll isn't reported until near the end of the story, where we find this: On one of the most contentious issues in the health care debate–whether to establish a government-run health insurance plan as an alternative to private insurers–nearly two-thirds of the country continues […]

Sep
22
2009

Bill Bennett, Please Leave Frederick Douglass Alone

William Bennett at the Values Voter Summit (AlterNet, 9/22/09): I don't know why more of the African American leadership doesn't talk about Frederick Douglass…. Probably because of his deep devotion to Lincoln, and his deep devotion to this country. Frederick Douglass at the dedication of the Freedman's Monument in Memory of Abraham Lincoln (4/14/1876): It must be admitted, truth compels me to admit, even here in the presence of the monument we have erected to his memory, Abraham Lincoln was not, in the fullest sense of the word, either our man or our model. In his interests, in his associations, […]

Sep
22
2009

New Developments in Honduras–Same Old Bad Media

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya has returned to Honduras, though not to office.Unfortunately, press accounts still manage to mangle the story behind his ouster, relying on those who supported the coup to explain what happened. In today's New York Times (9/22/09): At the time of his removal, Mr. Zelaya was planning a nonbinding referendum that his opponents said would have been the first step toward allowing him to run for another term in office, which is forbidden under the Honduran constitution. Mr. Zelaya has denied any attempt to run for re-election. An Associated Press report appearing in today's USA Today (9/22/09) […]

Sep
22
2009

Debate, Washington Post Style

We've talked about these "Topic A" debates in the Washington Post before, and today's installment is a doozy. The topic on the table is Obama's media strategy. And, as before, the important people are on the political right, Here are the right-wingers: Karl Rove, Dan Schnur(communications director of John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign), Ed Rogers (White House staffer to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush), Dana Perino (White House press secretary for George W. Bush), Linda Chavez(chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity, former member of the Reagan administration). They're matched by two Democrats: pollster DouglasSchoen and Clintonadviser Lanny Davis […]

Sep
22
2009

The Neverending 2008 Presidential Campaign

Remember back in 2007/2008 when Democratic candidate Barack Obama was being called an elitist? Well, if you miss that kind of media coverage, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank has got you covered (9/18/09) here, writing up Michelle Obama's visitto aD.C. farmers market: The promotion of organic and locally grown food, though an admirable cause, is a risky one for the Obamas, because there's a fine line between promoting healthful eating and sounding like a snob. The president, when he was a candidate in 2007, got in trouble in Iowa when he asked a crowd, "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately […]

Sep
21
2009

The 'Progressive' Multicultural Anti-Semitism of KPFK

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report (Fall/09) is calling attention to Pacifica Radio network member station KPFK for airing the Spanish-English show La Causa's "naked anti-Semitism." According to the SPLC, the weekly program's hosts, Augustín Cebada and Rafael Tlaloc, "are more than just passive enablers of anti-Semitic rhetoric: They actively promote conspiracy theories about Jewish control of media and world governments, referring to Ponzi scheme crook Bernie Madoff as "that Jewish scam artist." Tlaloc said he felt no sympathy for Madoff's victims, many of whom were Jewish, because they were "shylocks and shysters."… La Causa is tightly linked to […]

Sep
20
2009

Localism: Corporate Media's Ultimate Bogeyman

On his Media Citizen blog, Free Press' Timothy Karr (9/17/09) has compiled some astounding Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs quotes propounding a "fear that's laced with paranoia, stoked by misinformation and prejudice and fed to millions of people via powerful media"–namely that "the most anti-American notion of the lot is the idea that we need to reform the media itself": While Beck and his ilk want to portray diversity and localism as a dangerous conspiracy to censor, the fact remains that these ideas have been staples of communications policy since the beginning. The central mandate of the Federal […]

Sep
20
2009

More 'News' from WaPo's 'Exciting Alternate Universe'

Under the headline "Washington Post Publishes More Information About Exciting Alternate Universe," A Tiny Revolution blogger Jonathan Schwarz (9/13/09) lets us know that, while "lots of banks had to get a bailout from the federal government," do "you know who didn't? The ultra-smart guys at BlackRock investment management, that's who"–at least according to the September 13 Post, which featured this passage: BlackRock emerged as one of their principal advisers as the agencies bailed out major companies and tried to put a price on their toxic assets. BlackRock is also managing tens of billions of dollars worth of AIG assets for […]

Sep
17
2009

Ignatius Proposes a 'New Deal for the CIA' That's Two Centuries Old

David Ignatius starts off his Washington Post column today ("A New Deal for the CIA," 9/17/09) with a story about Jeannie de Clarens, a 90-year-old Frenchwoman who infiltrated the Nazi army, discovered information about German rockets that "saved London," was captured by the Gestapo and survived a year in a concentration camp without betraying her secrets. De Clarens sounds like a real hero with a great story. But the moral Ignatius draws from it is not so great: "When we read about waterboarding and other techniques that shock the conscience, it's easy to lose sight of what intelligence agents like […]

Sep
17
2009

USA Today's Afghanistan Non-Debate

USA Today 's left/right op-ed feature today is a doozy– a "debate" on escalating the Afghan War between regulars Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel. The headline gives it away: Time to Dig In, Not Bail Out Forget left or right. Forget politics. Think "war on terror." Bob and Cal agree that now is not the time to abandon the war in Afghanistan. The back and forth between arch-conservative Thomas and TV leftist Beckel ends with this exchange: Bob: As much as my liberal instincts want us out of this war, I have to agree with you that it's time to […]

Sep
17
2009

Baucus Plan: No One Likes It, So It Must Be Good

Conservative Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana unveiled his long-awaited health reform proposal yesterday, the results of weeks of negotiations among the Senate Finance Committee's so-called "Gang of Six"–three Democrats from the right-wing of their party and three moderate-to-conservative Republicans. The bill (unsurprisingly) does not include a public option andcouldend up leavingmiddle-income Americans paying too much for health insurance (Think Progress, 9/15/09). At the same time, no Republican–including those in the Baucus' Gang–has indicated that they intend to vote for this bill. But some of the early media coverage seems to find it encouraging that the Baucus bill pleases almost […]