FAIR has a new Action Alert (1/29/10) about All Things Considered's obituary of historian Howard Zinn, which "balances" the praise of Noam Chomsky and Julian Bond with a substance-free attack by far-right activist David Horowitz. If you communicate with the NPR ombud (which requires using a Web form), feel free to copy your message and post in the comments here.
David Brooks, the conservative New York Times columnist who speaks for the little guy who eats at the Applebee's salad bar, has figured out (1/29/10) what Barack Obama ought to do: Force the country to accept common sacrifice. This is the issue that unlocks everything else…. Establish your credibility and offer to raise taxes on the lower 98 percent. At a time of 10 percent unemployment, when the median wage for male workers is lower than it was in 1974, Brooks has a solution: Let them not eat so much cake.
AP's story (1/28/10) on Ben Bernanke's reconfirmation as chair of the Federal Reserve states plainly what is more usually the unstated assumption in corporate media coverage of the Fed: The battle over Bernanke's confirmation has been a test of central bank independence, a crucial element if the Fed is to carry out unpopular but economically essential policies. From this perspective, the Federal Reserve is an organization of financial philosopher kings who must be insulated from democracy in order to do what is best for us. There is another way to look at it, of course: that the Fed essentially represents [...]
AP's Calvin Woodward, who has the standing assignment of "factchecking" political speeches, continues to be an embarrassment to genuine factcheckers everywhere–substituting his own weird value judgments, semantic games and crystal-ball gazing for genuine examination of facts (FAIR Blog, 10/30/08, 2/25/09, 4/30/09). In his post-State of the Union effort (1/27/10), he singles out Barack Obama's call for a non-military discretionary spending freeze, pointing out that during the 2008 campaign Obama had said that rival John McCain's proposal for a spending freeze was "using a hatchet where you need a scalpel." Saying that Obama's "proposal is similar to McCain's," Woodward complained that [...]
FAIR has a new Action Alert out, "Does NYT's Top Israel Reporter Have a Son in the IDF?" (1/27/10), about the New York Times' failure to respond to questions about whether Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner's son is enlisted in Israel's military, and, if so, whether this poses a conflict of interest. If you send a message to the Times about the alert–or otherwise have thoughts you'd like to share about the alert–please make use of the comments thread for this post.
The New York Times, which we had criticized (FAIR Blog, 1/12/10, 1/13/10) for ignoring insurgent candidate Jonathan Tasini in its coverage of the New York Senate race, ran a substantial piece about his candidacy today (1/27/10). While the piece, by N.R. Kleinfield, had a somewhat wry tone as it stressed the "long shot" nature of Tasini's bid, it also gave him space to outline his progressive policy positions and how they differ from those of incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
An interesting catch from Think Progress (1/26/10)–from an interview conducted last year by Fox News' Chris Wallace (9/27/09) with pretend pimp James O'Keefe: WALLACE: O'Keefe says he wants to do more undercover films, and he has some targets in mind. He says his friends always tell him the next sting will never work. O'KEEFE: I disagree with them. I think that I'll come up with a new strategy and I'll get them to say yes. This was, of course, before O'Keefe and three of his friends were arrested while apparently trying to wiretap the phones of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. [...]
The lead in an article in today's New York Times (1/26/10) tells us that the White House and Congressional Democrats will soon decide "whether to use a procedural maneuver" to pass a healthcare bill with less than 60 votes in the Senate. That process is called budget reconciliation; it would be a complicated process, to be sure, and as the Times tells us "it carries numerous risks, including the possibility of a political backlash against what Republicans would be sure to cast as parliamentary trickery." Well yes, they could indeed say that–and reporters will type it into stories. As the [...]
Time's Joe Klein wrote on his magazine's Swampland blog (1/25/10) that the American public doesn't understand that the economy benefited from the Obama administration's stimulus efforts. So far, so good–it's true that economists generally feel that the stimulus bill had some impact in curbing unemployment, saving about 1.2 million jobs, according to one survey of the profession (USA Today, 1/25/10). The CBO had a similar estimate of stimulus effects (Bloomberg, 12/1/09). Where Klein goes wrong is blaming the public's lack of understanding of the impact of the stimulus on the public's stupidity. The post, headlined "Too Dumb to Thrive," notes [...]
An enterprising Washington Post report by Joe Stephens (1/23/10) uses the Freedom Of Information Act to uncover the close and creepy relationship between folksy far-right broadcaster Paul Harvey and longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The documents Stephens uncovered show Harvey as just the kind of journalist that Hoover liked: sycophantic ("If the Republic has survived, history will record that it was largely due to your vigilance") and servile ("For a number of years, you have been kind enough to send me your daily copy," an assistant FBI director noted to Harvey in 1957). On its side, the Bureau appeared [...]
Amy Wilentz has a strong critique of the media in her column in the new issue of the Nation (2/8/10). Starting with the New York Times' David Brooks (1/15/10; see FAIR Blog, 1/15/10), she demolishes his facile comparison of Haiti and Barbados ("Why is Haiti so poor? Well, it has a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism. But so does Barbados, and Barbados is doing pretty well") and then moves on: Brooks goes on to discuss the Haitian family, seemingly basing his argument on a book by Lawrence Harrison, a conservative cultural critic who also knows nothing about Haiti. "Child-rearing [...]
Following a 2006 incident in which three Guantanamo detainees had apparently taken their own lives, the Pentagon responded by describing the suicides as "asymmetrical warfare" against the U.S. Here' s how the BBC reported it at the time (6/11/06): Rear Adm. Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair. "They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said, quoted by Reuters. "They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." As if [...]