Mar
11
2010

Evidence That Media Need to Use Different Unemployment Measures

Actual Washington Post headline today (3/11/10): Rise in Washington Area Unemployment Seen as Good Sign for Economy's Recovery Reporter V. Dion Hayes tries to explain: Rising unemployment as a positive sign may sound counterintuitive, but economists explain it this way: The increase suggests that long-term unemployed people in the D.C. area who had given up looking for work have restarted their job hunt, perhaps because they see evidence that the region's economy is improving and that employers are beginning to hire again. On the other hand, the declining national rate indicates that discouraged workers elsewhere have remained out of the […]

Mar
11
2010

Kennedy: Media's 'Despicable' Afghanistan Coverage

Yesterday (3/10/10) there was a Housefloor debate on Rep. Dennis Kucinich's push to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Kucinich's bill–which isbased onthe War Powers Act–was defeated, but it sparked hours of rare discussion of the White House's war policy(in spite of the Washington Post's efforts tominimize the discussion as left-wing "venting"). The most dramatic moment came when Rep. Patrick Kennedychastised the press corps for skipping out on the discussion: "There's two press people in this gallery…. We're talking about Eric Massa 24-7 on the TV, we're talking about war and peace, $3 billion, 1,000 lives and no press? No press." He […]

Mar
11
2010

Action Alert: NYT Falls for the ACORN Hoax

FAIR has a new Action Alert out pointing out that the New York Times has repeatedly published accounts of the right-wing anti-ACORN videos that credulously accepted assertions that have turned out to be false–for example, that one of the video-makers, James O'Keefe, went into ACORN offices dressed as a cartoon pimp. See the alert here for the real story–and feel free to post copies of your messages to the Times or to respond to the alert in the comments thread here.

Mar
11
2010

A Part of the National Psyche

Victor Davis Hanson notes that one reason for American exceptionalism may be that we did not inherit from England "a large underclass of only quasi-free people attached to barons as serfs." Sadly, a worse institution took root here, but never became part of the national psyche. –Rich Lowry & Ramesh Ponnuru (National Review Online, 3/8/10, via Crooked Timber, 3/9/10) So, David Paterson will become the massa who gets to appoint whoever gets to take [Rep. Eric] Massa's place. So, for the first time in his life, Paterson's gonna be a massa. Interesting, interesting. –Rush Limbaugh (Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/9/10, via […]

Mar
10
2010

Glenn Beck Needs to Devote More Time to His Strange Obsessions

I don't know why it should surprise me that Glenn Beck doesn't know what he's talking about, but you'd think that if you had a furious grudge against someone who died 40 years before you were born, you would spend at least a little time finding out what exactly was wrong with that historical figure. But then, as Tom Frank explains in a subscribers-only column in the Wall Street Journal (3/10/10), you're not Glenn Beck: Consider how Mr. Beck, the popular host of a Fox News program, began his performance at CPAC: "Hello. Please. Thank you. Please be seated. I […]

Mar
10
2010

Action Alert: PBS Replacing Moyers, Now. . .With Jon Meacham?

FAIR has a new Action Alert reacting to reports that PBS's replacement for the retiring Bill Moyers and the canceled Now series will be headed by Newsweek editor Jon "Center-Right Nation" Meacham. To learn more or to send a message to PBS ombud Michael Getler, click here. Feel free to leave copies of your responses in the comments thread here.

Mar
09
2010

NYT Debate: Bill of Rights, Sometimes or Never?

The New York Times has a piece today (3/9/10) with the headline "Experts Urge Keeping Two Options for Terror Trials"–meaning both regular trials under the criminal justice system as well as newly established military tribunals. But who are these "experts," exactly? Well, they're "national security officials who served in the Bush administration"–though later on, "national security officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations" are also cited. Balancing out this "expert" point of view are "conservatives," "supporters of military commissions" and "the Republican line"–all of which argue that the civilian court system is unnecessary and military tribunals should be exclusively […]

Mar
09
2010

Dennis Kucinich, Right-Wing Democrat?

If you're a politics buff, you probably remember the way National Journal's ratings were used in the 2004 and 2008 elections to establish that the Democratic candidate was the "most liberal voting record in the Senate"–first John Kerry (Extra! Update, 6/04), then Barack Obama (CounterSpin, 3/28/08). FAIR pointed out the flawed methodology that the magazine was using, but the headline-grabbing findings still had a profound–and profoundly misleading–impact on both races. Now National Journal has released its rankings for 20098 (2/28/1009), and they reveal that Dennis Kucinich is one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus–he's the 240th most […]

Mar
09
2010

Newsweek Wants Accountability for Teachers, Not Editors

Newsweek devotes several pieces this week to public schools. But the lead piece, "Why We Must Fire Bad Teachers," by Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert, lays out the magazine's skewed vision: Teacher unions protect the worst performers, while charter schools offer an easy solution. ("In the past two decades, some schools have sprung up that defy and refute what former president George W. Bush memorably called 'the soft bigotry of low expectations.'") Newsweek even finds the silver lining in Hurricane Katrina: It is difficult to dislodge the educational establishment. In New Orleans, a hurricane was required: Since Katrina, New Orleans […]

Mar
09
2010

Washington Post and Afghan War Critics

Sometimes the words journalists choose are revealing. Take the lead of a story in the Washington Post today (3/9/10) about congressional debate on the Afghanistan War: Liberals in the House, who have spent much of the past year complaining that other congressional Democrats and the White House are insufficiently progressive, will get a chance this week to vent about one of their biggest concerns: the war in Afghanistan. To say that lawmakers are "venting" is a short way of saying that they're wastingtime with pointless complaining. And what are they whining about, anyway?Nothing special–just whether or not the war complies […]

Mar
05
2010

Progressive History on the Public Airwaves: U.S. vs. U.K.

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the end of the historic British miners strike of 1984-85. The BBC has a special broadcast in commemoration, The Ballad of the Miners Strike, featuring the voices of miners. But where can Americans turn for commemorations of our progressive history? There is always Howard Zinn's excellent book, A People's History of the United States. But turn on NPR, the closest thing the U.S. has to the BBC, and the closest you'll get to the people's history is the denunciation of Zinn.

Mar
05
2010

Allowing Homophobia to Have Its Say on Gays in the Military

The New York Times features an op-ed today (3/5/10) by Gen. Merrill McPeak, a retired Air Force chief of staff, arguing against allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military. It's not much of an argument, really–there's not much more to it than the assertion that "warriors are inspired by male bonding, by comradeship, by the knowledge that they survive only through relying on each other," and the claim–presented completely without evidence–that acknowledging that not all soldiers are heterosexual will "weaken the warrior culture." You can't really describe the piece as an attempt at persuasion–it's more […]

Mar
03
2010

Friedman's Wisdom: CEOs Want to Pay Even Less Tax

In a column headlined "A Word From the Wise" (3/3/10), New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lets us know what Intel CEO Paul Otellini thinks is wrong with the U.S. economy. And there's a certain theme that runs through his critique: "The things that are not conducive to investments here are [corporate] taxes and capital equipment credits."… "If I build that factory in almost any other country in the world, where they have significant incentive programs, I could save $1 billion," because of all the tax breaks these governments throw in…. "The cost of operating when you look at it […]