Sep
15
2010

When the Umpire Won't Call Balls or Strikes

There was something depressing about a recent discussion on the PBS NewsHour Monday night (9/13/10) about the debate over what to do with the Bush-era tax cuts. The politics of the tax debate is well-known; most Democrats want to extend them for all but the top brackets, while the Republicans want to renew the cuts that affect only the wealthiest taxpayers (which could cost the government an additional $700 billion in lost revenue over the next decade). The Republican argument is that allowing the tax cuts to expire on families earning more than $250,000 would hurt "small businesses." So here's […]

Sep
15
2010

'Is This What Happens With Matters of Real Significance?'

Today in the New York Times (9/15/10) Woody Allen was interviewed on his latest film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, and had this to say about the state of journalism: Q. Were you prepared for the firestorm of media coverage you set off by casting Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in your next movie, Midnight in Paris? A. I was very surprised at the level of journalism that occurred in relation to her. She has a small part in the movie–a real part, but it's a small part. And I shot with her the first day, and then all the papers […]

Sep
14
2010

Homelessness and Poverty in America: Bad News for Democrats

After Hurricane Katrina, the airwaves were filled with media promises to pay attention to long-neglected stories about poverty and racism. As FAIR documented(Extra!, 9-10/07), that promise didn't amount to much; three years of newscasts(coveringSeptember 2003 through October 2006) provided just 58 stories about poverty. On September 12, ABC World News devoted almost 100 words to the news that, according to anchor Dan Harris: 170,000 families were homeless, rather, in homeless shelters in 2009. That's a 30 percent increase in two years. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau is expected to announce this week that as many as 15 percent of American families […]

Sep
14
2010

PBS Ombud's Trust in Nova Only Goes So Far

PBS ombud Michael Getler has thankfully expanded on his "I trust Nova" response to concerns that public TV's leading science program might be influenced by its climate change-denying funders (FAIR Blog, 9/8/10). In a more extensive response to those who thought they detected the fingerprints of oil tycoon David Koch (and industry giant ExxonMobil) in a Nova broadcast, Getler (9/13/10) suggests that those critics might have reason to be suspicious. Getler points to the interconnection of Koch's gifts to Nova and to the Smithsonian museum, which has a David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins that portrays climate change as […]

Sep
13
2010

Action Alert: ABC's Misleading Spin on Taxes and Small Business

FAIR has a new Action Alert (9/13/10) pointing out ABC World News' misleading treatment of taxes and small businesses. Please leave copies of your messages to ABC, or comments on the alert, in the comments thread of this post.

Sep
13
2010

But Older White Men Are 'Newsmakers'!

A new study of the guest lists for the Sunday morning chat shows finds that the networks prefer lawmaker guests who are white, male, older and Republican. The study was publishedby the George Mason University School of Law's Green Bag Journal, and got a brief write-up in the New York Times today (9/13/10). And that means we got to hear excuses from the shows about why this is the case. Meet the Press executive producer Betsy Fischer spoke about how they are "committed to having a diverse group of voices on the program whose opinions and expertise reflect the cultural, […]

Sep
13
2010

Facts Irrelevant in NYT Tax Coverage

There's a simple way of looking at the debate over the Bush tax cuts. The White House and most Democrats say they want to extend them for the vast majority of the population, but keep higher rates in place for families making over $250,000 a year. Republicans seem to know that "Keep Taxes Rates Low for the Rich!"isn't a winner, politically speaking. So they argue that these tax increases are really going to punish "small businesses." There's ample evidence that this is mostly untrue–the number of "small businesses" that would affected is somewhere between 2 percent and 5 percent, depending […]

Sep
10
2010

PBS's NewsHour Throws a Tea Party

NewsHour viewers last night (9/9/10) might have been surprised to see a long one-on-one conversation with far-right activist/lobbyist Dick Armey, promoting his new book, Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto. The interview gave Armey ample room to explain the Tea Party movement's beliefs, with host Judy Woodruff offering no real challenge to any of Armey's rhetoric–like when he claimed that Tea Party activists are "probably the kindest, gentlest, most gentle souls we ever saw. We had a million of them in town last September, and they left the town cleaner than they found it." Armey is wildly exaggerating the […]

Sep
10
2010

Militarization of State Dept. Stirs Little Media Interest

When Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies appeared on FAIR's radio show CounterSpin last week, she challenged Barack Obama's assertions that U.S. combat in Iraq was ending and that the last combat brigade was leaving the country, describing the plans the U.S. actually has in store for Iraq: The policy has not changed. It is true that the number of troops are significantly lower than they were at their height of 165,000; it's now down to about 50,000. That's a good thing. Reduction in troops is a good thing. But the notion that this troop reduction somehow means […]

Sep
09
2010

The Quran-Burning PR Pastor: Blame the Media

If you own a television or read a newspaper,you may have heard by now that a pastor in Florida plans to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday. The only reason you know anything about this is because the national media have decided, for reasons that are entirely unclear, to give this guy a platform. As Michael Calderone noted at Yahoo!, this pastor appeared on the front page ofover 50 different newspapers…on Wednesday.As Calderone pointed out, he doesn't even have that many members of his church. Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas put the blame where it mostly belongs–on the media: […]

Sep
09
2010

The Long-Running Public Opposition to Roads and Bridges

Matt Bai has a piece in theNew York Times today (9/9/10) explaining how Barack Obama squandered an opportunity to make fundamental changes to the American economy. One claim in the piece jumps out; after explaining that large infrastructure projects–rail lines, broadband, etc.– are "things that only an active government could realistically do," Bai claims: Getting such projects done justified some tolerable level of public debt, proponents argued, just as a family might consider a steep mortgage on a home in a high-quality school district to be an investment in the children's success. And yet, little was achieved by way of […]

Sep
08
2010

Is Nova Catering to Its Anti-Science Sugar Daddy?

Nova: Becoming Human

PBS's Nova is taking money from one of the biggest bankrollers of climate change denial–and, surprise surprise, the resulting programming tells viewers not to worry about climate change. But PBS's ombud doesn't see this as a conflict of interest–because Nova is a "consistently first-rate program," and he trusts it. Nova's conflict of interest was highlighted out by Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm (9/7/10), who had previously caught the Smithsonian promoting strange climate science after getting a grant from oil billionaire David Koch (Climate Progress, 4/1/10). Koch, who's a major funder of propaganda rejecting the science of climate change, is also […]

Sep
08
2010

WP's Definition of Mideast Peace

The Washington Post's editorial page weighed in (9/7/10) on the Israel/Palestine negotiations by noting that the news in the West Bank has been far less encouraging. In two shooting attacks last week, four Israelis were killed and two others wounded, interrupting what had been nearly three years of peace in the territory. My colleague Jim Naureckas blogged about this in response toa recentNew York Times op-ed. Even if you are restricting your focus to the West Bank (as the Post is),the Israeli human rights groupB'Tselem counted 24 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces from the beginning of 2009 to July 31, […]