Brian Williams introduced a report on NBC Nightly News (4/21/10) with this declaration: "Public schools from coast to coast in this country are looking at tens of thousands of layoffs, a lot of them teachers, because the money is not there." Correspondent Ron Allen went on to report: In Springfield, Illinois, thousands of teachers turned out to try to save their jobs and programs; music, art and sports activities all being threatened with elimination. Many school districts are hoping for federal stimulus help, but in the meantime are locked into longer teacher contracts and higher salaries for tenured teachers. Some [...]
Usually propaganda is a little more clever than this (Reuters, 4/20/10): Israel, like the United States, European Union and others, suspects Iran is developing atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies. Iran, whose president has said Israel should be wiped off the map, says its nuclear program is peaceful.
The cover of Newsweek (4/26/10) proclaims: "Don't Mess With Texas: What Governor Rick Perry's Hard-Right Creed Tells Us About America." I can't say I learned much about America, but I guess I learned something about Newsweek: They really like Rick Perry. The story, by Evan Thomas and Arian Campo-Flores, beginswith the observation, "The myth of the once and future king is as old as Camelot, as ancient as the Bible."Perry, it seems,is a living example of such a"redeemer": In Texas, his name is Rick Perry. Raised in a ranch house with no running water in the West Texas town of [...]
The PBS program Frontline on April 13 offered a look at the White House drive for healthcare reform titled Obama's Deal. Like a previous Frontline special about the U.S. healthcare system, the program failed to adequately include single-payer. But the way the show did it this time was remarkable. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Programwas interviewed by Frontline–leading one to suspect thatthe show might include some discussion of truly universal healthcare systems like single-payer (aka Medicare for All). But the program was a major disappointment. As she wrote (Consortium News, 4/15/10) after it aired, "Curiously, just as [...]
In a lengthy New Yorker piece (4/26/10) about the Amazon/Apple battle over e-books, Ken Auletta paints some familiar heroes and villains: "The [publishing] industry's great hope was that the iPad would bring electronic books to the masses–and help make them profitable. E-books are booming…. But publishers were concerned that lower prices would decimate their profits." If Amazon gets away with selling e-books for $9.99, Auletta quotes one publishing CEO, "to my mind it's game over for this business." Amazon is depicted as controlling and mercenary: Many publishers believe that Amazon looks upon books as just another commodity to sell as [...]
E.J. Dionne has a good column in the Washington Post today (4/19/10) looking at the Tea Party movement, and pinning a fair amount of blame on the press: "The news media's incessant focus on the Tea Party is creating a badly distorted picture of what most Americans think and is warping our policy debates." Looking at the most recent poll of Tea Party supporters, Dionne concludes that racism is clearly a factor in motivating many of these activists. And he makes this point: This must be the first "populist" movement driven by a television network: Sixty-three percent of the Tea [...]
I find it very peculiar that the New York Times can publish an editorial observer piece about unheeded warnings–"Cassandra, the Ignored Prophet of Doom, Is a Woman for Our Times," by Adam Cohen (4/19/10)–without once mentioning climate change. The piece cites various foretold disasters–Bernie Madoff, sexual abuse by priests, the financial meltdown, September 11, New Orleans–without mentioning the looming catastrophe whose impact seems likely to eclipse all of these. (One of China's top economic planners recently predicted that the economic disruption caused by global warming "would be equivalent to that of the two world wars and the Great Depression combined.") [...]
The New York Times had an odd correction today (4/16/10): A picture caption on Thursday with the continuation of a news analysis article about a shift in the Obama administrationÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s Middle East policy referred incorrectly to Ramat Shlomo, the name of a Jewish housing development that Israel says it is expanding despite objections by the United States and the Palestinian Authority. It is a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, not a settlement in the West Bank. Ramat Shlomo is, in fact, in the West Bank, defined as that part of the Palestine Mandate that was controlled by Jordan from 1948-1967 and [...]
Andrew Tyndall makes a good point about how the network newcasts covered the Upper Big Branch mining disaster (flagged by Liz Cox Barrettat CJR): Not once, in all five days of coverage, did a single reporter mention the organization that has worked hardest over the decades to make sure that mining management does not cut safety corners and that miners can monitor their own working conditions with impunity. The union went unmentioned, as did the fact that the Upper Big Branch workforce went unorganized. Rush Limbaugh, for his part, did mention the miners union–to bash the non-existent union at Massey [...]
Continuing in the fine media tradition of treating dead civilians mostly as a problem for the people who kill them, USA Today offers readers this (4/16/10): Deaths of Afghan Civilians Double Accidental killings hurt NATO effort By Paul Wiseman USATODAY KABUL ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬”Â Deaths of Afghan civilians by NATO troops have more than doubled this year, NATO statistics show, jeopardizing a U.S. campaign to win over the local population by protecting them against insurgent attacks.
From his Web column today (4/16/10): After initially dismissing the tea types as an unimportant sideshow, the media are drinking deeply from that particular cup, especially with today being Tax Day and all. If by "dismissing" Kurtz means "featuring on the network evening newscasts," he might have a point–since that's how last year's Tea Party Tax Day protests were actuallycovered. But Kurtz has always had weird ideas about how much coverage the Tea Party events should receive. A year ago he criticized several newspapers for not devoting enough coverage to the protests–though the actual protests, uhh, hadn't happened yet: "The [...]
The New York Times' Jackie Calmes has a report today (4/15/10) about the brewing fight over the Bush tax cuts, which were passed for limited time period and will phase out if Congress does not pass legislation to extend them. The Obama White House will ask lawmakers to renew most of the tax cuts, but let those for wealthy taxpayers expire. This obviously does not sit well with Republicans, and they have a plan, which the Times describes in the third paragraph of the story: For all of the talk from President Obama and his party of ending the Bush [...]
Andrew Breitbart is the right-wing Internet provocateur behind the ACORN video hoaxes, which purported to show a pretend pimp-and-prostitute duo getting criminal advice from the community organizing group ACORN. That's not what happened, but Breitbart's inaccurate presentation was taken at face value. Yet some in the media are still treating Breitbart seriously. Washington Post ombud Andrew Alexander wrote a column on April 11 taking his cue from Breitbart's latest effort, which is to attempt to cast doubt on the widely reported racist incidents at Tea Party protests at the Capitol on March 20, the day of the final health reform [...]