Dec
18
2009

Ideology Versus Pragmatism–Again

Once again, the New York Times is setting up a false debate over healthcare policy, contrasting White House-style "pragmatism" with left-wing "ideology." The lead of Sheryl Gay Stolberg's piece today (12/18/09): In the great healthcare debate of 2009, President Obama has cast himself as a cold-eyed pragmatist, willing to compromise in exchange for votes. Now ideology — an uprising on the Democratic left — is smacking the pragmatic president in the face. In this worldview, "ideologues" are those who push for reforms–including single-payer–that they believe will lower costs and offer more comprehensive coverage. "Pragmatists," meanwhile, are moving in the opposite […]

Dec
17
2009

NBC's Bogus Tea Party Poll

The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is getting attention for one rather unusual finding: that the right-wing Tea Party movement is more popular than either the Democratic or Republican parties. The point was made on MSNBC's First Read website and on the channel's Morning Joe program this morning (12/17/09). Don't buy it. The MSNBC headline– sure to be repeated everywhere on Fox News today– is straight-forward: "Tea Party More Popular Than Dems, GOP." The numbers tell you that Republicans are viewed positively by 28 percent of the public, the Democrats are at 35 percent, whilethe Tea Party is at 41 […]

Dec
17
2009

Post Mishandles Post Poll

Yesterday's Washington Post (12/16/09) reports that the public isn't sold on healthcare reform. As the headline puts it: Public Cooling to Healthcare Reform as Debate Drags On, Poll Finds The story by Dan Balz and Jon Cohen explains that "there is minimal public enthusiasm for the kind of comprehensive changes in healthcare now under consideration." Now, how "comprehensive" the reforms under consideration are is certainly debatable, but these conclusions seem to be drawn from questions about costs and Barack Obama's handling of the issue. But the Post did ask other, more interesting questions–and then buried the results. Deep into the […]

Dec
15
2009

Washington Post Softens Israel's Gaza Blockade

The Israeli government's near-total blockade of the Gaza Strip has been roundly criticized by international human rights groups as a harsh form of collective punishment. Some U.N. investigations have labeled it much worse–that Israel's actions amount to crimes against humanity. Back in medialand, the Washington Post's Howard Schneider has a story today (12/15/09) comparing life in Gaza with the West Bank. While the latter is still under Israeli occupation, its economy is (predictably enough) much stronger, and its standard of living relatively higher. This is a somewhat familiar theme in the press–noting that while Hamas' rule in Gaza is a […]

Dec
15
2009

Can't She Be a Little Nicer, Though?

On Sunday (12/13/09), the New York Times Book Review offered a brief take on Malalai Joya's A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice. Times reviewer Marc Tracy seemed to like the book OK, with a few notable caveats: Joya's arguments, we're told, "have earned the plaudits of people like Noam Chomsky, [and] are sometimes extreme, simplistic and misguided, but they are rarely without a grain of truth." It's hard to tell what the "grain of truth" might be, but throwing Chomsky's name into the mix seems to be a sign to […]

Dec
14
2009

Calling Science 'the Left' Is Not Advocating for Science

New York Times' climate change reporter Andrew Revkin is taking a buyout from his employer after a tough year, the Columbia Journalism Review's website (12/14/09) reports. Revkin, whom CJR's Christine Russell describes as "one of the most influential and respected reporters on the environment," says that 2009 "has been the hardest year Iâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢ve experienced on this beat"–in part because Revkin has increasingly found himself–and his paperâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s coverage–the target of critics on both the right and the left, particularly in the often vitriolic blogosphere. He described himself as "an advocate for scientific reality," not for either side of the debate. "The […]

Dec
14
2009

Kurtz Covers for Post, Palin

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz spends his Sunday mornings as the host of Reliable Sources, the media criticism show on CNN. Yesterday (12/13/09), one segment concerned the Washington Post's decision to print an op-ed (12/9/09) on "Climategate" by Sarah Palin. It prompted this exchange with guest John Aravosis of Americablog: ARAVOSIS: What newspapers aren't supposed to do is present an issue that's already decided as being a he said/she said of, hey, half the people say yes, half the people say no. KURTZ: So you say it's already decided. ARAVOSIS: Ninety percent of scientists believe global warming is manmade. KURTZ: […]

Dec
08
2009

GOP: Sauce for the Goose Is Terrible for the Gander

We've noted the corporate media's double standard on Nazi analogies: When conservatives are compared to the Third Reich, however obscurely, it's an outrageous slur, but when leaders of the right charge progressives with Hitler-like tendencies, it's unremarkable political rhetoric. Political Animal's Steve Benen (12/8/09) rounds up some similar examples of criticisms that are outrageous when applied by the left to the right, but no big deal when they go the other way–starting with the manufactured controversy over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's likening Republican foot-dragging over healthcare reform to conservatives' lack of urgency over women's suffrage and ending slavery: If […]

Dec
07
2009

Forbes Publishes Fiction on Climate Change Debate

Forbes.com has an article up called "The Fiction of Climate Science" (12/4/09). Thanks no doubt to a link from Drudge, it's currently one of the website's "top rated," "most popular" and "most emailed" items. "Fiction" is a polite word for what the author, Gary Sutton, does with evidence. Sutton grinds the already well-worn denialist ax about "global cooling"–scientists were predicting an imminent ice age in the 1970s, the argument goes, so why listen to those eggheads now about global warming? See FAIR's Action Alert from last February 18 for a debunking of this myth. But wait! Sutton provides a quote: […]

Dec
07
2009

Dana Milbank and the Church of Obama

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank (12/6/09) thinks there's something wrong with left-wing critics of Barack Obama.As his lead put it: Some parishioners in the Church of Obama discovered last week that their spiritual leader is a false prophet. Milbank startswith Michael Moore, who wrote an open letter urging Obama not to escalate the Afghanistan war.This makes no sense to Milbank, since Obama never said he'd withdraw troops.Well, yes. I suspect many of Obama's critics–maybeeven Michael Moore–are aware of that.Moore also supports single-payer healthcare, and wishes Obama would too. Does that mean that continuing that advocacy with Obama in the White […]

Dec
07
2009

The Mac Is Back (Again)!

Today's Los Angeles Times (12/7/09) gives us a story headlined "The Fight's Back in John McCain." In the subhead we learn that McCain is "Bipartisan No More, Especially on Healthcare." The Timestells us that "the Mac is back" because he's sounding an awful lot like a Republican politician: "Gone is the maverick bridge-builder who bucked his party on high-voltage issues such as immigration, climate change and campaign finance reform." The paper explains that "some Democrats see McCain turning more partisan because of bitterness at his 2008 defeat, but his friends say the increasingly polarized political environment makes it harder for […]

Dec
04
2009

Joe Klein: Obama No Reagan

Time columnist Joe Klein (12/3/09) was not altogether impressed by Obama's announcement of a 30,000 troop escalation in Afghanistan (an "iffy proposition," as Klein put it). But Klein's main point was that Obama should have justified the war differently: "Once you have made the decision to go, or to redouble your efforts, you must lead the charge–passionately and, yes, with a touch of anger." Then he describes the better way: Ronald Reagan would have done it differently. He would have told a story. It might not have been a true story, but it would have had resonance. He might have […]

Dec
03
2009

New Frontiers in Journalism

Washington Times, the paper of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, has announced it will be going to free distribution and laying off at least 40 percent of its staff. Which positions won't make the cut? Well, one that's been mentioned is that of editor. That's right; former editor John Solomon resigned last month after less than a year at the Times, and the company's new president and publisher, Jonathan Slevin, told the Washington Post that "there is no search for a Solomon successor and that his job may not be filled under a reorganization." Who, exactly, will be in […]