Apr
14
2010

David Leonhardt Punctures Right-Wing Tax Myths

Last week the Drudge Report flagged an Associated Press report (4/5/10) by Stephen Ohlemacher with the headline: "Rob Thy Neighbor: Half of American Households Pay No Fed Income Tax." The piece in questionsaid more or less the same, making it a popular item for right-wing pundits eager to pounce on tax freeloaders. But the AP article was problematic right from the start: "Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it's simply somebody else's problem." Ohlemacher later elaborated: The result is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for […]

Apr
14
2010

Glenn Beck's Social Security Problem

Fox News host Glenn Beck (4/13/10) came out against Social Security yesterday: Have you ever wondered why we even have Social Security? It's not an American idea. It's first from Germany in the late 1800s. Hmmm, lets see, who else was prominent in Germany at that time…Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche. This is where the first progressive ideas came from, and when those ideas floated across the Atlantic, they took America off course…. The progressive wave of European social insurance infected America and this is the result of it. This is European thinking, not American. Now, factchecking Glenn Beck is a […]

Apr
13
2010

Ted Koppel Lectures Viewers About Good Old Days

Veteran corporate journalists tend to dismiss the Internet age for delivering news with a point of view. In the good old days, you received a broad array of information from a broad array of guests. But nowadays you only read or watch things that conform to your political point of view. It's not clear that this is even true, but it's pretty unconvincing coming from the likes of former Nightline host Ted Koppel (via TVNewser, 4/13/10). In response to a question from anchor Katty Kay about a new Pew Research survey–in which 64 percent of broadcast news executives believe the […]

Apr
13
2010

Responsibility Obscured as NYT Uses Passive Voice

Front-page headline in the New York Times today (4/13/10): Civilians Killed as U.S. Troops Hit Afghan Bus The paper seems to have a real problem with writing a headline that informs readers in a straightforward way that the United States kills civilians.

Apr
13
2010

Factchecking: At NBC, That's a Job for the Viewer

In his stint as interim host of ABC's This Week, Jake Tapper has arranged for the fact-checkers at Politifact to review what the guests say on the ABC Sunday morning show.An idea worth applauding, it came to Tapper via NYU's Jay Rosen. The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz asked NBC Meet the Press anchor David Gregory if he'd consider a similar arrangement for his show: An "interesting idea," Gregory allows, but not one the NBC show will be emulating. "People can factcheck Meet the Press every week on their own terms."

Apr
13
2010

Rewriting Ratzinger's Record to Create a Hero of the Abuse Scandal

While FAIR Blog complained earlier (3/30/10) that coverage of the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal was overlooking Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's involvement in the story before he became Pope Benedict XVI, yesterday two prominent op-eds focused on this history. Unfortunately, both op-eds present a highly selective version of Ratzinger's role. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat (4/12/10) cites the reporting of Jason Berry (National Catholic Reporter, 4/6/10), who is critical of Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, for his support of Marcial Maciel Degollado, a child molester who founded the influential Legion of Christ: Only one churchman comes out of Berry's […]

Apr
10
2010

Newsweek's Implausible Defense of Catholic Priests

The evidence Newsweek presents to back up the heading of a recent Web article–"Priests Commit No More Abuse Than Other Males" (4/8/10)–is remarkably unpersuasive. Here's the main argument offered by reporter Pat Wingert: The only hard data that has been made public by any denomination comes from John Jay College's study of Catholic priests, which was authorized and is being paid for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops following the public outcry over the 2002 scandals. Limiting their study to plausible accusations made between 1950 and 1992, John Jay researchers reported that about 4 percent of the 110,000 priests […]

Apr
08
2010

NYT 'Bent Over Backwards' to Deny Ground Zero Health Risks It Now Reports

As yet another study is released documenting the damaging health effects of breathing in toxic Ground Zero dust, it's good to see corporate media outlets taking it seriously. (Most media outlets, anyway–the New York Post continues to give a platform to deniers.) It's worth remembering, though–since they won't remind you–that for many months after 9/11, some outlets–the New York Times in particular–downplayed the fallout and mustered shockingly little journalistic skepticism of government reassurances about safety. The attitude of Andrew Revkin, the Times' environmental reporter at the time, says it all. As I wrote in 2006: The Times' Revkin told American […]

Apr
08
2010

Washington Post's Anti-Social Security Crusade Continues

The Washington Post (4/8/10) continues its crusade against Social Security (Action Alert, 1/6/10; FAIR Blog, 5/15/09, 5/13/09, 4/1/09) in a front-page news story by Neil Irwin and Lori Montgomery: Social Security is already draining resources from the broader federal budget, as spending on benefits has risen above this year's Social Security tax collections. While that gap is expected to be fleeting, the program, the largest single item in the federal budget, is projected to require sustained support within the next 10 years. If you are a retiree under the age of roughly 90, then you paid extra Social Security taxes–cumulatively […]

Apr
07
2010

Corporate Media Love to Be Hated by Sarah Palin

New York Times media reporter David Carr wrote the other day (4/5/10) about Sarah Palin's wide-ranging appeal: Ms. Palin still gets a session in the media spanking machine every time she does anything, but the disapproval seems to further cement the support of her loyalists. Ms. Palin may or may not be qualified to represent America around the world, but she certainly represents vast swaths of the American public and has a lucrative new career to show for it. If we donâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t see why, then maybe we deserve the "lamestream media" label she likes to give us. Mark Halperin of […]

Apr
07
2010

NYT Discovers 'New' Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance

New York Times reporter Ethan Bronner has a piece today (4/7/10) headlined "Palestinians Try a Less Violent Path to Resistance," which attempts to show that there is a new move away from armed resistance to Israeli occupation. You get that message pretty clearly from Bronner's language: He calls it a "new approach" and argues, "Nonviolence has never caught on here." That's not so; if anything, Palestinian nonviolence just hasn't caught on at the New York Times. As Patrick O'Connor wrote in 2005: Over the last three years the New York Times has published only three feature articles on Palestinian nonviolent […]

Apr
07
2010

Action Alert: Tasini Campaign Not Fit to Print?

FAIR has a new action alert out about the New York Times' snubbing the U.S. Senate candidate Jonathan Tasini. While the paper has given intensive coverage to numerous New Yorkers who thought about challenging appointed incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand–but in the end decided not to run–the Times has ignored Gillibrand's most prominent actual rival in the Democratic primary, aside from one rather snarky profile that appeared in January. Click here to send a message to the Times–which you can post a copy of in the comments thread below.

Apr
06
2010

Tea Party Stupid and Racist? They're Not All Republicans, Says O'Reilly

Like Andrew Malcolm (FAIR Blog, 4/6/10), Bill O'Reilly (O'Reilly Factor, 4/5/10) has a bone to pick with how the "left-wing media" have representing the Tea Party movement. First, he complained, "Tea Party folks were labeled stupid, too dumb to understand complicated issues." Then the media said that "many Tea Party people are racist and far-right cranks." O'Reilly then refuted these charges by citing a poll that suggested that "the majority of Tea Party supporters in America are not Republicans." If I were a Republican, I'd be offended.