Apr
30
2010

PBS Oil Spill Deja Vu?

When FAIR released a study of the PBS's NewsHour (then known as the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour) in 1989, one finding stood out: The Exxon Valdez oil spill was the major environmental story of the period. MacNeil/Lehrer had seven segments on the spill; not one included an environmental representative. Several discussions were limited to Exxon officials and friendly officials: The March 30, 1989 program, for example, featured Exxon's chairman and Alaska's governor ("The chairman of the board of Exxon, I think, has been to heavy on his own company"). Andthe summaryof a segment from last night's broadcast of the NewsHour (4/29/10): Costs […]

Apr
29
2010

Obama's DOJ vs. the First Amendment

The Obama Justice Department–or at least one of its top prosecutors–is cracking down on investigative reporting without regard for the First Amendment. The first disturbing development was the indictment of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, whose leaks to the Baltimore Sun helped expose how the NSA's warrantless spying program deliberately failed to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens. Now the same prosecutor who indicted Drake–William Welch, who stepped down from a prior post as head of the Justice Department's public integrity unit after botching the prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska)–has opened a new front against freedom of the press. Welch […]

Apr
28
2010

Glenn Beck Thinks Some People Have Gone Too Far

Fox host Glenn Beck has had it (4/27/10) with opponents of Arizona's new immigration law making analogies to Nazi Germany: I hate to rain on the hate parade here, but can we please slow down for just a minute and, I don't know, think? You are comparing the systematic, cold-blooded extermination of millions of Jews to America making sure people are here legally. The parallels are… nonexistent. Indeed. The guy who's made a regular habit ofderiding various White House officials as Communists, Maoists and the like is urging restraint with the historical analogies. Save the Hitler talk for people who […]

Apr
28
2010

George Will Thinks You Don't Know Any Latinos, Either

George Will, defending Arizona's draconian new immigration law, concludes his column (Washington Post, 4/28/10) with this today: Arizonans should not be judged disdainfully and from a distance by people whose closest contacts with Hispanics are with fine men and women who trim their lawns and put plates in front of them at restaurants, not with illegal immigrants passing through their back yards at 3 a.m. There are 47 million Latinos in the United States. Will's assumption that the only ones known to the readers he's addressing are likely to be waiting tables or mowing lawns is quite bizarre–and a testament […]

Apr
27
2010

Can Intent to Commit Journalism Turn a Good Samaritan Into a Felon?

I'm having trouble getting my mind around the legal case against Gizmodo editor Jason Chen, who purchased an iPhone prototype that was apparently mislaid in a bar, published photographs of it on the Gawker-affiliated blog, and then returned it to Apple when the company asked for its property back. Here's a thought experiment: Suppose you're out walking and a neighbor says to you: "Look at this cool dog I found. I think I'm going to keep him." You think you know who actually owns the dog–let's call him Steve–and so you offer the neighbor some money to give it to […]

Apr
27
2010

What Would the Tea Party Look Like if It Were British, and Totally Different?

As a U.S. political columnist, the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum ("Britain's Spot of Tea Party," 4/27/10) might be excused for calling the Liberal Democratic Party "Britain's historically insignificant third party"; historically speaking, it was actually one of Britain's two major parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's Applebaum's misunderstanding of the politics of her own country that's harder to forgive. Applebaum's column asks, "What would the Tea Party movement look like if it were British"–and the answer is, like the Liberal Democrats, as embodied by candidate Nick Clegg. Presumably it's not his support for immigration or his […]

Apr
26
2010

The IMF to the Rescue?

A Washington Post article (4/23/10) about the International Monetary Fund focused on the advice it is offering for the United States. The piece notes that this is somewhat unusual. Even stranger, though, is the Post's description of IMF officials as folks who "have a long history of stabilizing economies and solving global financial problems." This might come as news to those who've been on the receiving end of the IMF's advice. As economist Dean Baker put it at his Beat the Press blog (which has a new home at cepr.net–bookmark it!): Back in the '90s, the IMF came to be […]

Apr
26
2010

Someone Has to Defend Goldman Sachs

And that someone is Fareed Zakaria, in columns published in the Washington Post ("Cool the Goldman Rage") and in the Post-owned Newsweek. Zakaria is unimpressed by the SEC's fraud case against Goldman Sachs; he likens the firm's mortgage securities bonds to someone placing a bet against the New York Yankees. Then he writes: But the rage surrounding the Goldman case can cloud our perspective and distort public policy. We're going through a familiar part of America's boom-and-bust cycle. Having been mesmerized during the go-go years, having unduly lionized and feted industries, firms, and people as they rode the wave, we […]

Apr
26
2010

Washington Post, or The Onion?

A real headline today (4/26/10) in the Washington Post: Amid Outrage Over Civilian Deaths in Pakistan, CIA Turns to Smaller Missiles The piece–by Joby Warrick and Peter Finn–has government officials (anonymously, of course) providing new assurances: The technological improvements have resulted in more accurate operations that have provoked relatively little public outrage, the officials said…. The CIA declines to publicly discuss its clandestine operations in Pakistan, and a spokesman would not comment on the kinds of weapons the agency is using. But two counterterrorism officials said in interviews that evolving technology and tactics have kept the number of civilian deaths […]

Apr
26
2010

WP: Israelis, Palestinians Not Sharing Israeli Highway?

The headline of this Washington Post piece today (4/26/10) is certainly not promising: Sharing a West Bank Highway Proves a Tall Order for Israel, Palestinians The highway in question was built by the Israeli government on occupied Palestinian territory. Since 2000, Israeli authorities have barred Palestinians from using the road. They are now offering to open just two on-ramps for use by Palestinians, who would be searched upon entering the road. And the highway would still not provide access to the crucial Palestinian city of Ramallah. So what would justify the notion that Palestinians, like Israelis, aren't doing their part […]

Apr
26
2010

Party Like a Beltway Insider Journalist!

Perhaps the most revealing anecdote (noted by Glenn Greenwald, and likely others) in Sunday's New York Times Magazine profile (4/25/10) of the Politico's gossip-journalist Mike Allen: On a recent Friday night, a couple hundred influentials gathered for a Mardi Gras-themed birthday party for Betsy Fischer, the executive producer of Meet the Press. Held at the Washington home of the lobbyist Jack Quinn, the party was a classic Suck-Up City affair in which everyone seemed to be congratulating one another on some recent story, book deal, show or haircut (and, by the way, your boss is doing a swell job, and […]

Apr
23
2010

Action Alert: PBS Misrepresents Single-Payer Advocates

FAIR's latest Action Alert (4/23/10) concerns the Frontline program Obama's Deal, which not only didn't mention the single-payer proposal, but misrepresented single-payer advocates as proponents of a public option. You can leave copies of your messages to Frontline, or comments on the alert, in the comments thread of this post.

Apr
23
2010

It's Hard to Make a Flat Line Sound Sexy

A New York Times article (4/23/10) by Peter Baker and David Herszenhorn remarks of Barack Obama: With his poll numbers sagging, the choreographed confrontation seemed aimed at tapping the nation's antiestablishment mood as well as muscling financial regulation legislation through Congress. While Obama's confrontation with the financial industry was no doubt choreographed, are his poll numbers really sagging? This chart from Pollster.com, averaging out all the major national polls, reveals instead that opinion on Obama's job performance is remarkably steady (and remarkably evenly divided, too). It's hard to turn a line like that into exciting news, which isn't to say […]