Aug
31
2010

Deficit Panic Continues at NYT

The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes today (8/31/10) about the possible steps Obama might take to bolster the economy: With voters angry about government spending, and economists divided about just what approach is the correct one, such aggressive steps are by now out of the question. "There's a deep frustration among economists that they simply don't know what to do under these circumstances, at least in terms of fiscal policy," said Bruce Bartlett, an economist who advised Republican presidents. "I think there are a lot of economists who, in principle, would support some new fiscal stimulus, perhaps a […]

Aug
31
2010

The Katrina Story You Don't See So Much in Anniversary Coverage

In the coverage of Hurricane Katrina's fifth anniversary, you'll find several obligatory mentions in the corporate media of the still-decimated Lower Ninth Ward, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything as direct or damning as what you find in independent media coverage–for example, this piece on Women's eNews (8/29/10) by Kimberly Seals Allers, who recently attended a conference in New Orleans on health disparities in communities of color: When a few of the local community leaders came to address us, what they had to say about the Lower Ninth Ward was appalling but not surprising. They said that of […]

Aug
28
2010

Disappearing Palestinian Deaths in the NYT

It really is offensive for commentators to use the word "violence" to mean "violence against one side in a conflict." As in Martin Indyk's op-ed in the New York Times yesterday (8/27/10), which argues that there is "For Once, Hope in the Middle East," because, "First, violence is down considerably in the region." Here's his complete explication of this point: Throughout the 1990s, Israel was plagued by terrorist attacks, which undermined its leadersâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢ ability to justify tangible concessions. Israelis came to believe that the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat was playing a double game, professing peace in the negotiations while allowing […]

Aug
27
2010

USA Today Still Rewriting the Iraq War

"Seven Years of War Provides Many Answers" is USA Today's front-page headline (8/27/10) over a story by Jim Michaels and Mimi Hall that attempts to take stock of the Iraq War. But one issue that the paper can't seem to get right seven years later is how the war started. USA Today provides this stunningly deceptive summary: In October 2002, the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to authorize force against Iraq. In November, the United Nations Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution offering Saddam "a final opportunity" to comply with disarmament. Three months later, Secretary of State Colin Powell said […]

Aug
26
2010

Help Us, John McCain–You're David Broder's Only Hope!

Some in the media just can't let go of John McCain. David Broder's column today is really headlined, "John McCain, Your Country Is Calling." He explains that he wasn't "bothered by the doctrinal compromises the senator made to convince Arizona voters that he was, in fact, a conservative. McCain has always been a realist, doing what was necessary to survive a North Vietnamese prison camp or a tough political trap." So a senator willing to do whatever it takes to get elected is apparently a badly needed voice of conscience in Washington. OK. McCain's role, according to Broder, should be […]

Aug
26
2010

Matt Bai's Outrageous Slam on Social Security

New York Times reporter Matt Bai writes a piece today (8/26/10) singling out a Democratic congressmemberwho talks aboutcuts to the federal budget. Thisis presumably an unusual, newsworthything worth writing about–hence the headline, "One Liberal Voice Dares to Say, Cut the Budget."It's worth pointing out thatother Democrats have proposed ideas likecutting military spending withoutgetting points for bravery. The point of the piece is to attack Social Security. Bai cheers on the White House deficit commission, which he argues hasbeen unfairly attacked by liberals who are "mobilizing to discredit the panel's work" and "pre-emptively oppose the panel's findings." These critics don't get […]

Aug
26
2010

NYT Piece on Candidate's Shoes Is Irrelevant, Trivial and Sexist–According to Its Author

The New York Times' Susan Dominus, writing an article (8/24/10) entirely about a congressional candidate's footwear, makes an attempt at self-inoculation: I know. We, the news media, are not supposed to ask female candidates about their hairstyle or their choice of pantsuits over skirts or their shoes. It is irrelevant. It is trivializing. It is sexist. "You would never write about Chuck Schumer's shoes," Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand said in a New York magazine article in response to a question about her flats. So why write this article that is irrelevant, trivializing and sexist? Because, as it turns out, the […]

Aug
25
2010

Brian Williams Rehashes Katrina Violence Myth

Dateline NBC (8/22/10) did a special look back at Hurricane Katrina last weekend in anticipation of the disaster's five-year anniversary. Watching the collage of 2005 footage and Brian Williams' present-day commentary, I was struck by his characterization of the violence: You know, I've been around a lot of guns and a lot of dead bodies, and a lot of people shooting at people to make dead bodies. But you put them all together and you put it in the United States of America and boy, it gets your attention. You can't shake that…. It was clear already there weren't going […]

Aug
25
2010

The 'Broader' Questions About the Secret War in Yemen

"CIA Sees Increased Threat in Yemen" is the Washington Post's headline today (8/25/10) over astory thattells of a"sober new assessment" of Al Qaeda-related activities that has "helped prompt senior Obama administration officials to call for an escalation of U.S. operations there–including a proposal to add armed CIA drones to a clandestine campaign of U.S. military strikes." At present, U.S. airstrikes in Yemen are not carried out by drones,but "have involved cruise missiles and other weapon that are less precise." The Post adds: Proponents of expanding the CIA's role argue that years of flying armed drones over Pakistan have given the […]

Aug
25
2010

Killing Civilians and Tribal Sensitivities

Yesterday's New York Times (8/24/10) brought this headline: "Afghans Say NATO Troops Killed 8 Civilians in Raid." About those claims, we were told this: Maj. Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO force is known, said NATO authorities were unaware of any such attack. Today's Times (8/25/10) brings this headline: "New Case of Civilian Deaths Investigated in Afghanistan." Of civilian casualties, we are told that "the issue is a delicate one between NATO and the Afghan government." And also: Afghanistan is a tribal society, and the results of botched raids are often difficult to […]

Aug
24
2010

Fox News Finds 'Ground Zero Mosque' Financier…Close to Home

Starting about a minute in,this clip from last night's Daily Show is must-see media criticism. On the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, it is revealed thatthe Kingdom Foundation is a dangerous Saudi organization that, according to guest Dan Senor, funds radical madrassas and has also funded Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam at the heart of the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy. Unmentionned by Fox, but revealed by Jon Stewart, is thatthe Kingdom Foundation is run by Al-Waleed bin Talal, who also happens tobe…one of theNewsCorp's largestshareholders (Fox's parent company). Theclipincludes a hilariousdebateover whether Fox'scoverage of this storymakes them evil, […]

Aug
24
2010

Conflicts and Transparency at the Washington Post

Washington Post ombud Andy Alexander devoted his August 22 piece to lauding how the paper handles storiesabout its parent company and itsvarious business entanglements–which, as he explains, are rather extensive. The Washington Post Co. owns Newsweek, several television stations, and the Kaplan company, which runs the for-profit Kaplan University,the subject of recent critical media reports. As Alexander put it: The list of Washington Post Co. holdings and interests is extensive, and the relationships are complex. Whenever a news story discusses investment giant Berkshire Hathaway or its chief executive, Warren E. Buffett, it must note that he is a Post Co. […]

Aug
20
2010

What Do War Critics Think? Well, Ask One

During an August 18 segment about the Iraq War, anchor Brian Williams said (emphasis added): Let's bring into this conversation retired U.S. Army Colonel Jack Jacobs. He's a decorated combat veteran, a recipient of the Medal of Honor and, of course, an NBC News military analyst. Well, at this point, people like me always ask people like you, what have we learned. Critics of this war are always going to look at it as an elective. They're always going to say those 9/11 pilots weren't Iraqis. And they're always going to say we never found the weapons of mass destruction. […]