Nov
30
2009

More on Jon Meacham's Strange Cheney Attraction

Newsweek editor Jon Meacham's enthusiasm for Dick Cheney is not a new thing. Appearing on MSNBC back in 2004, Meacham praised the Republican National Convention speeches of Cheney and Sen. Zell Miller: If I taught at the Kennedy School, I would take these two speeches as ur-text of partisan rhetoric. I think it was a brilliant tactical night, one of the most brilliant in the age of television. These were two concise, rather devastating rhetorical hits at John Kerry. And there was just–they did not miss a base. They did not miss anything that they could hit. The remarkable thing […]

Nov
30
2009

Why Jon Meacham Earns the Big Bucks

Newsweek's editor apparently believes this is the way to make a "provocative" argument: I think we should be taking the possibility of a Dick Cheney bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 more seriously, for a run would be good for the Republicans and good for the country. (The sound you just heard in the background was liberal readers spitting out their lattes.) Calm down, caffeinated liberals! Meacham explains: Why? Because Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of […]

Nov
24
2009

WP (Re)inventing a Green Nuclear Renaissance

How many times does nuclear power get to have a "comeback"? At least one more, the Washington Post Anthony Faiola reports today (11/24/09), under the headline "Nuclear Power Regains Support," and the subheads "Tool Against Climate Change" and "Even Green Groups See It as 'Part of the Answer.'" The "greening of nuclear power" story is a perennial corporate media favorite (Extra!, 1-2/08), and no example of the genre would be complete without the environmentalist-turned-nuclear-lobbyist whose financial ties to the nuclear industry go politely unmentioned. In this case, it's Stephen Tindale, described as the former head of Greenpeace's British office and […]

Nov
24
2009

Illegally Obtained Info Is a Big Scoop–or a Non-Story

The New York Times' reporter on the climate beat, Andrew Revkin, had a front-page story this weekend (11/20/09) detailing the contents of climate scientists' private emails discussing global warming. Predictably, the emails are being taken out of context by climate change deniers–but more interesting to me is the fact that the focus is on the content of the emails, not on the fact that they were illegally obtained. That's not the way corporate media handled the illegally taped cell phone call between Newt Gingrich, John Boehner and other Republican congressmembers in which Gingrich violated the terms of a ethics sanction […]

Nov
23
2009

For Parade Magazine, the Middle Class Starts at 100K

Claiming that "something needs to be done–and fast" to save Social Security, Parade magazine's Gary Weiss (11/22/09) suggests a downside to the idea of raising the ceiling on taxed income, so that income above the current $106,800 would be subject to the Social Security tax: "Raising the cap is popular among Social Security reformers but would increase the tax burden on the middle class, since more of their income would be subject to the tax. " (By contrast, "Raising the payroll tax rate would disproportionately affect lower-income workers.") According to the Census Bureau, less than 5 percent of individuals over […]

Nov
23
2009

NYT Non-News Story Says It's Time to Tighten Belts

The New York Times (11/23/09) has an editorial on its front page today disguised as a news story. Appearing under the headline "Federal Government Faces Balloon in Debt Payments," Times business reporter Edmund Andrews makes an impassioned plea for the neo-Hooverist economics popular in corporate media: Claiming that "the government faces a payment shock similar to those that sent legions of overstretched homeowners in default on their mortgages," Andrews maintains that "there is little doubt that the United States' long-term budget crisis is becoming too big to postpone." There's not a lot of news in this ostensible news article; it […]

Nov
23
2009

David Broder's (Selective) Deficit Worries

Washington Post columnist David Broder rounds up some "non-partisan" budget experts– one of whom, oddly enough, was John McCain's Social Security adviser during his 2000 campaign — to agree with him that the Democrats' healthcare bills are too expensive. He closes with this: The challenge to Congress — and to Obama — remains the same: Make the promised savings real, and don't pass along unfunded programs to our children and grandchildren. This advice would be easier to take from someone who didn't just write that Obama should escalate the Afghanistan war because of the"urgent necessity is to make a decision […]

Nov
23
2009

The Unimaginably Awful Japanese Media

The New York Times (11/21/09) describes Japan's elite "press clubs" as a century-old, cartel-like arrangement in which reporters from major news media outlets are stationed inside government offices and enjoy close, constant access to officials. The system has long been criticized as antidemocratic by both foreign and Japanese analysts, who charge that it has produced a relatively spineless press that feels more accountable to its official sources than to the public. In their apparent reluctance to criticize the government, the critics say, the news media fail to serve as an effective check on authority. The mind reels.

Nov
20
2009

Sarah Palin in the No Spin Zone!

Sarah Palin's highly anticipated visit to Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor saw the famously tough-as-nails host ask the tough questions of the right-wing leader: O'REILLY: OK. The latest poll has you with a 23 percent favorable, 37 percent don't know. You do the math, OK. And you're up at 60 percent of people who could like you. You are the biggest threat because you are a star, media star, whereas you're the only Republican. There aren't any other Republicans who are media stars but you. Now, that's why they're attacking you so vehemently. Do you know that? In other words, […]

Nov
20
2009

LAT: 'Risky' Tax Hikes on Wealthy

A headline in today's Los Angeles Times (11/20/09): "Democrats Risk Taxing the Wealthy for Healthcare." The paper explains: Embracing the progressive–and sometimes politically risky–principle that the cost of carrying out public policies should fall to the well-off more than the disadvantaged, both the House and Senate bills would place new taxes on the wealthy to help pay for expanded insurance coverage. Since mostly people aren't "well-off," and raising taxes on the wealthy tends to be rather popular with most people, what exactly is the political risk here? Surely the article will tell us. Oh, here it is: In a recent […]

Nov
19
2009

NYT Charts the Choices of Selfless Politicians

The remarkable ability to engage in in-depth discussion of lawmakers' opposition to healthcare reform efforts without ever mentioning the massive contributions such lawmakers tend to receive from the healthcare industry is not confined to the Washington Post–as Dan Ward noted in his Extra! piece (11/09). Another recent example of the phenomenon was provided by the New York Times, which ran a piece (11/18/09) on three Democratic senators –Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas–who may help filibuster the reform bill to death. The piece, by Carl Hulse, informs us that the three "have all […]

Nov
18
2009

Rule of Law–Who Cares?

One of the odder outbreaks of outrage from conservative pundits is the horror expressed at the idea that people accused of being connected to the September 11 attacks would actually be put on trial. Here's Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson (11/18/09) on Attorney General Eric Holder's "destructive" decision to prosecute Khalid Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects in an actual court: There is one serious argument for this course: that a civilian court will provide greater legitimacy for the imposition of the death penalty than a military tribunal. But the guilt of these terrorists is not in question. And it is […]

Nov
18
2009

Post Polling, Afghanistan (Again)

The Washington Post reports its latest polling on the Afghanistan war, and once again have managed to put together a baffling question that seems intended to muddy up the debate over a troop surge. The lead and headline("Poll Finds Guarded Optimism on Obama's Afghanistan Plan") stress the idea that the public still seems to have faith in the White House. But the strangest part comes when the paper asked people about sending in more troops. As the Post's write-up explains: Asked to choose between a larger influx of troops to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and train the Afghan military, […]