Jan
21
2010

O'Reilly's Lament: We Can't Make Fun of Arabs Anymore

On the January 15 edition of his show, while chatting with Ray Stevens, who recorded the song "Ahab the Arab" nearly 50 years ago, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly seemed to become nostalgic for a time when making fun of Arabs was acceptable: Forty-eight years ago in this country we could make fun of Arabs. We could make fun of people in a general gentle way, and certainly, "Ahab Was the Arab" [sic] was a general gentle parody. But now we can't. What has changed in America? As American Prospect blogger Adam Serwer put it, O'Reilly is really mourning the […]

Jan
21
2010

Pedophiles, Terrorists and the Massachusetts Senate Race

An illuminating account of how conservatives won the Massachusetts Senate race (Washington Independent, 1/20/10) singled out an op-ed by Dorothy Rabinowitz in the Wall Street Journal (1/14/10) as having energized citizens to vote against Martha Coakley. And, honestly, the piece does provide plenty of legitimate ammunition for the anti-Coakley side. The op-ed centered on a case in which three members of the Amirault family, which ran a pre-school in Massachusetts, were sent to prison based on children's accounts of seemingly impossible sexual abuse. (Read the column if you want to see the grisly yet preposterous examples.) Rabinowitz, who has long […]

Jan
21
2010

Lake Wobegon Nation

I agree with much of what Timothy Egan has to say in his recent New York Times blog post (1/20/10), but I'm tired of hearing this: Democrats have to govern in a country that is essentially center-right. What does that even mean? To the right of the center of what? It's like saying that all the kids are above average.

Jan
20
2010

Politico's Allen Warns Democrats Against GOP's Winning Strategy

digby (1/19/10) spotted a telling moment on the Ed Show (MSNBC, 1/19/10), when host Ed Schultz asked Politico's Mike Allen "what's the next move for progressives" if the Democrat lost in the Massachusetts Senate race. Allen's response: I would remind you that when Republicans started to eat each other up, we talked about how it wasn't very smart. I think a lot of people will make that point about Democrats as well. digby's rejoinder: OK. Eight or nine months ago, the villagers were all saying that the Republicans were eating at each other and that it wasn't very smart. And […]

Jan
20
2010

For 'Liberal' NYT, Taxing the Rich Is a Fringe Idea

The New York Times is one of the most effective tools for limiting discussion in the U.S. political system. Falsely perceived as a left-leaning outlet, it has the power to make the most reasonable proposals seem ultra-radical by placing them beyond the pale. Take yesterday's review by Times book critic Michiko Kakutani (1/19/10) of progressive economist Joseph Stiglitz's Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy. Kakutani says Stiglitz's accurate prediction of the financial crisis " lends credibility to his trenchant analysis of the causes of the fiscal meltdown," though at the same time she accuses him […]

Jan
20
2010

Of Course You Need 60 Votes–for Now

It's striking how the coverage of the Republicans' gaining a 41st vote in the Senate accepts without question the idea that there is nothing unusual or objectionable about a majority party needing 60 votes to pass any legislation there. This normalization of the filibuster, as I wrote in the December 2009 issue of Extra!, amounts to a radical change in the U.S. political system–but expect this change to be temporary. You can bet that the next time the Democrats are in the minority, and the Republicans don't have 60 votes, corporate media will not consider it normal and natural for […]

Jan
15
2010

MLK: 'There's Something Wrong With That Press!'

Sam Husseini (1/15/10) recalls a great media quote from one of Martin Luther King's most powerful sermons, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church (4/30/67): Been a lot of applauding over the last few years. They applauded our total movement; they've applauded me. America and most of its newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, "We can't do it this way." They applauded us in the sit-in movement–we non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. The applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted […]

Jan
15
2010

Heartless, Patronizing Haiti Pundits

While many are opening their hearts and purses to Haiti's suffering, itâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s important to note the corporate media's high profile exceptions. Televangelist Pat Robertson, carried on Disney's Family Channel, suggested Haiti invited the disaster by making a deal with the devil 200 years ago (FAIR Blog, 1/14/09). Radio big Rush Limbaugh discouraged donating to Haiti disaster relief on his January 13 show, saying: "We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax…. You just canâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t keep throwing money at it." Meanwhile, Fox's Bill O'Reilly and New York Times columnist David Brooks each presented nauseatingly patronizing prescriptions for Haitiâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s […]

Jan
14
2010

MSNBC Goes to a Suspect Source on Iranian Scientist's Killing

Various forces have been accused of being behind the January 12 killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi–including the Iranian government, the Iranian opposition, the United States and Israel. To sort through this murky subject, MSNBC (1/12/10) turned to Democratic congressmember Jane Harman, who confidently told Andrea Mitchell: I think the logic here is that the Iranian government or some group associated with them took this guy out. I mean, it's a sign of desperation to start killing your own nuclear scientists. So who is Harman, that we should trust her sense of what the "logic" behind Middle East […]

Jan
14
2010

Robertson: Haitians Signed Up for Catastrophe

While other cable news programmers responded to the grim news out of Haiti by calling for emergency aid and furnishing directions for how to help, right-wing religious broadcaster Pat Robertson took to the air with commentary disparaging the earthquake victims in a way that could very possibly discourage needed aid to the stricken nation. Robertson told viewers of his 700 Club (1/13/10) that Haiti has been visited by so much tragedy over the years because it had signed a deal with the Devil. As Robertson told his co-host, when Haiti was under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon […]

Jan
13
2010

Nameless Sources and the Crisis of Accountability

Glenn Greenwald (Salon, 1/12/10) makes an excellent point about the corrosive effect of the widespread use of anonymous sourcing by the most powerful U.S. news outlets. After listing a number of false stories that got prominent coverage in U.S. media, Greenwald writes: Unjustified anonymity–especially when mindlessly repeating what shielded government sources claim in secret–is the single greatest enabler of false and deceitful"reporting."… None of the falsehoods documented here will ever lead to any accountability, because the identity of the falsehood-producers will be shielded by their loyal journalist-servants, and the journalists themselves will simply claim that they wrote what they did […]

Jan
13
2010

Corporate Media Love a Horserace–but They Love Gatekeeping Even More

One of the frustrating things about corporate media coverage is that it's so focused on horserace coverage–who's likely to win or lose in voting that might be months or years away–and yet they're so bad at it. Take the matter of Jonathan Tasini, running in the Democratic senatorial primary in New York against incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand–and an apparent nonperson to the state's most powerful newspaper, the New York Times. The Times has lately run two extensive stories (1/11/11, 1/13/10) on whether Harold Ford, a former representative from Tennessee, would also run against Gillibrand–both of which ignored the fact that it […]

Jan
12
2010

'Considering' a Campaign More Newsworthy Than Conducting One?

The New York Times ran a front-page story (1/11/10) on the race for the Senate seat held by New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand that omits mention of the sole Democratic candidate running a serious campaign against her. Jonathan Tasini (who garnered 125,000 votes in a bid for the seat against Hillary Clinton in 2006) declared in June of last year. But while the paper of record has logged numerous stories on the race–including several, like todayâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s, focusing on people who are "thinking about" challenging Gillibrand (e.g., "Thompson Won't Rule Out Pursuing U.S. Senate Seat," 12/19/09)–they have so far completely ignored […]