Oct
25
2010

ABC on WikiLeaks: When Will They Be Arrested?

On the October 22 broadcast of ABC World News With Diane Sawyer,the anchor weighed in on the WikiLeaks Iraq War documents by noting, "Arab television is already trumpeting the revelations." Not exactly a promising start, but the correspondent Martha Raddatz did a pretty good job of conveying the findings: hundreds of Iraqi civilians killed at checkpoints, thousands of unreported civilian deaths and torture of detainees. Then the report went back to Sawyer for a follow-up question: "I know there's a lot of outrage about this again tonight, Martha. But tell me, anything more about prosecuting the WikiLeaks group?"

Oct
25
2010

NYT Questions Efforts to Rehabilitate Suharto–a Dictator It Boosted for Decades

I was struck by this New York Times headline on Saturday (10/23/10):"Effort to Rehabilitate Suharto's Reputation Grows in Indonesia." (The headline seems to have been changed somewhere along the way.) The piece led with this: JAKARTA, Indonesia– To millions, Suharto, the military strongman who ruled Indonesia for 32 years, was a tyrant, a thief and a murderer. But more than 12 years after his fall from power in a popular uprising, and two years after his death at age 86, an effort is under way to redefine his legacy: as a national hero. Coming from the New York Times, this […]

Oct
25
2010

Election Coverage Meme: Obama Needs an 'Enemy'

One strand ofconventional wisdom among elite D.C. reporters is that losing the midterm elections would be a good thing for the White House. Hence New York Times reporterPeter Baker (10/24/10): WASHINGTON â┚¬” Let there be no mistake: President Obama wants the Democrats to win next week's midterm elections. His voice has gone hoarse telling every audience that from Delaware to Oregon. But let's also acknowledge this: Although he will not say so, there is at least a plausible argument that he might be better off if they lose. The reality of presidential politics is that it helps to have an […]

Oct
25
2010

The Kathleen Parker Headline Was Enough for Me

I clicked on the Washington Post website on Sunday and saw this: We Overreact to Prejudice Instead of Airing It Out By Kathleen Parker Only someone who's pondered Barack Obama's "fullbloodedness" and Elena Kagan's distance from "mainstream" America (hint: She's Jewish, and from New York!) can do this. Parker also wrote a memorable column about Barack Obama being too "girly," then explained in a follow-up that, unlike African-Americans,she has the "luxury of seeing people without the lens of race." Kathleen Parker is indeed an expert in "airing out" prejudice.

Oct
22
2010

LA Public TV, Direct From–WHOSE Studios??

The L.A. Times has an interesting piece (10/22/10) about KCET, the local PBS affiliate that is bolting from PBS because it says it can't afford to pay the fees PBS wants to charge them. What happened is that KCET, for a little while at least, was very good at raising corporate money; the PBS fee formula required them to pay more as a result, even though that corporate underwriting was supposed to be used for producing programming. Who did the money come from? Oil giant BP.So much money that, as the Times noted, "in gratitude KCET bosses renamed their historic […]

Oct
22
2010

With Juan Williams, the Question Is Not Objectivity, but Bigotry

It seems to me that debating Juan Williams' firing from NPR in terms of the role of "opinion" and "objectivity" in journalism is missing the point. Williams has expressed his opinions on Fox News countless times. Other NPR employees frequently express opinions, too, as when Scott Simon wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (10/11/01) comparing opponents of the invasion of Afghanistan to Hitler appeasers; it didn't seem to set back Simon's career any. The reason that Williams' discussion with Bill O'Reilly (O'Reilly Factor, 10/18/10) got him fired, it seems clear to me, is that he sounded like he […]

Oct
22
2010

Juan Williams: NPR Worse than Nixon

There are plenty of opinions flying around about NPR's decision to fireJuan Williams. The Washington Post editorialized against NPR's decision, arguing in part that Williams "undoubtedly spoke for many Americans who are wrestling with similar feelings" about seeing Muslims in airports. (Williams was worried primarily about those in "Muslim garb.") Former Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, now at the Daily Beast website, called it a "blunder of enormous proportions." What I found most puzzling, though, was this passage from Williams' commentary that appeared on FoxNews.com: Daniel Schorr, my fellow NPR commentator who died earlier this year, used to talk […]

Oct
22
2010

Tell PBS: Bring Back Now!

FAIR's exposé of PBS's prominent news and public affairs shows demonstrated that public television is failing to fulfill its mission–to "provide a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise be unheard," to serve as "a forum for controversy and debate," and broadcast programs that "help us see America whole, in all its diversity." Now, which PBS canceled without explanation and replaced with Need to Know (co-hosted by corporate media fixture Jon Meacham), lived up to that mission admirably. Need to Know does not. Join FAIR in telling PBS to bring back Now: Sign the petition today.

Oct
21
2010

At WPost, Everyone's a 'High Earner'–When It Comes to Benefit Cuts

Rep. Paul Ryan is the Republican leader most often touted as a seriouspolicy wonk.His plan to "fix" Social Security was recently evaluated by the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration. As the Washington Post notes inan article today (10/21/10), Ryan's plan"would slice initial benefits by about a quarter for middle-income Americans who turn 65 in 2050." So why is the Post's headline "Republican Rep. Ryan's Social Security Plan Would Cut Benefits for High Earners"? While it is true that the wealthy would see benefit cuts,it would seem moreimportant to notehow his plan wouldaffect most people. Economist Dean Baker (Beat […]

Oct
20
2010

Dropping Fox: A Thought Experiment

Brian Stelter has a piece today (10/20/10) in the New York Times explaining the latest in the fight between Cablevision and NewsCorp. NewsCorp wants the cable company to pay them more money–a lot more–for airing Fox's broadcast signal (and a few, smaller cable channels).The two sides couldn't reach a deal, and as of Saturday, Cablevision customers in the New York area weren't able to watch Fox. NewsCorp upped the ante, as Stelter reports, byblocking Cablevision customers from accessing Fox shows on the popular streaming video site Hulu. While thatmaneuver didn't last long, it did represent a pretty clear example of […]

Oct
20
2010

When Limbaugh Demonizes Obama, Some Listeners Take Him Literally

Rush Limbaugh (10/18/10), holding a photo montage from Drudge up to the "Dittocam," went off on a bizarre rant that suggested that Obama was possessed by supernatural evil (Mediaite, 10/19/10): Folks, these pictures, they look demonic. And I don't say this lightly. There are a couple pictures, and the eyes, I'm not saying anything here, but just look. It is strange that these pictures would be released…. It's very, very, very strange. An American president has never had facial expressions like this. At least we've never seen photos of an American president with facial expressions like this. It's not the […]

Oct
20
2010

NewsHour Fails French Public, Too

In the coverage of French retirement protests, you often hear U.S.reporters state the debate is over raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. As Dean Baker has pointed out (as did Amitabh Pal from the Progressive, when he appeared on CounterSpin) this is incorrect; the retirement age for most French workers is 65; they are pushing toraise it to 67.Early retirement for some workers would shift from 60 to 62. Lastnight (10/19/10)the PBS NewsHour had two discussions on this topic, and both made the same error. A live reportby Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman included thisJohn Stosselesque exchange: RUGMAN: […]

Oct
20
2010

Pat Moynihan's Non-Vindicating Vindication

Monday's front-page New York Times piece, "'Culture of Poverty,' Long an Academic Slur, Makes a Comeback," is about how it's okay again for scholars to talk about the "culture of poverty" and to study "cultural" aspects of the subject. It's a trend reporter Patricia Cohen suggests vindicates Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who popularized the term in the mid-'60s when he infamously wrote that much of black America was caught up in a "tangle of pathology" resulting from "the weakness of the [black] family structure," which he called "the principal source of most of the aberrant, inadequate or antisocial behavior that did […]