Oct
11
2010

Joe Klein on Big Government Breastfeeding

Thispast Sunday's edition of NBC'sMeet the Press (10/10/10) featuredtwo gueststalking about the midterms, the economy and public sentiment: conservative Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and Time magazine's Joe Klein. Klein has been on a road trip through the middle of the country to assess how Americans are feeling (that is, Americans who don't live in "urban" areas or the "deep South," as Klein explained). Trying to explain how voters feel aboutWashington, Klein provided this anecdote: They have no idea what the Democrats stand for, except for these big, slovenly pieces of legislation that we've seen which inevitably contain ridiculous […]

Oct
08
2010

Undocumented Labor in Lou Dobbs' Backyard

Isabel Macdonald, a former FAIR staff member, published an article in the Nation (10/7/10) revealing that undocumented workers had been landscaping Lou Dobbs' Florida home and looking after his daughter's show horses. As a hardline commentator on the issue of "illegal immigrant workers," one would think Dobbs would be a little embarrassed about this discovery. When Dobbs and Macdonald appeared on MSNBC's Last Word (10/7/10) yesterday to debate the issue, Macdonald pointed out that "Lou Dobbs, who has made himself an emblem of this get-tough approach to immigration…had been exploiting undocumented labor." Dobbs attempted to sidestep the issue by claiming […]

Oct
08
2010

NYT on Dems, Tea Parties and 'Social Issues'

Jodi Jacobson from RH Reality Check joins CounterSpin this week to talk about the media's decision to let Tea Party activists define their movement as one that doesn't focus on red meat "social issues." As Jacobson argues, that distinction doesn't really square with the far-right views espoused by leading Tea Party Republican candidates. The New York Times (10/7/10) offered a fresh example of this kind of reporting, in a piece by Kirk Johnson headlined "Democrats in Tight Races Put Focus on Abortion Rights." Johnson notes the perilsof this strategy: The Democratic strategy is at least drawing the attention of voters. […]

Oct
08
2010

Chris Matthews' Role in MSNBC's Donahue Firing

Gabriel Sherman's piece in New York magazine (10/3/10) on the cable news wars includes a bit of history on MSNBC's firing of progressive host Phil Donahue in 2003; an internal memo at the timeworried that the showwould be "a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." Sherman focuses on MSNBC personality Chris Matthews–who sometimes claimshe was opposed to the Iraq War–and his desire to get Donahue fired: Donahue's problems only increased when Chris Matthews let it be known that he wanted Donahue off the air. Matthews was […]

Oct
04
2010

NYT Lets Fox Go Anonymous to Trash-Talk Obama

You may have heard that Barack Obama shared some thoughts about Fox News Channel in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. When asked about the channel, Obama pointed out that media outlets with a political perspective have been relatively common throughout U.S. history, but that he believed Fox's perspective is "ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class." The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg had a piece (10/2/10) on Fox's political activism this year–particularly News Corp's million-dollar donations to the Republican Governors' Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But Fox's response to […]

Oct
04
2010

Does Anyone Object to U.S. Drone Wars in Pakistan?

Apparently not, judging by theWashington Post's October 3 story ("Military Drones Aid CIA's mission") about the CIA's expansion of its drone war in Pakistan.It is "part of a high-stakes attempt by the Obama administration to deal decisive blows to Taliban insurgents," and also "a significant evolution of an already controversial targeted killing program." Post readersget details from "a U.S. official"–who says things like, "Our intelligence has gotten a lot better." The only other perspective comes from Bruce Reidel at Brookings, who is "a former CIA analyst who led the Obama administration's initial overhaul of its Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy." In other words, […]

Oct
04
2010

MSNBC Does Not–and Never Can–Play the Same Game as Fox

Gabriel Sherman's New York magazine piece on cable news (10/3/10) has an important insight into the Fox News' success: Fox's rightward flanking maneuver, capturing a disenfranchised part of the audience, was only part of its strategy. The news, especially political news, wasn't something that happened. It was something that you shaped out of the raw data, brought out of the clay of zhlubby, boring politics, reborn with heroes and villains, triumphs and reverses, never-ending story lines–what TV executives call "flow." And the beauty of it was that the viewers–the voters–were the protagonists, victims of evil Kenyan socialist overlords, or rebels, […]

Oct
04
2010

Factually Challenged Reporter Cheers Factchecking

I tuned into C-SPAN on Friday night and caught part of a panel discussion hosted by Arianna Huffington. One of the panelists was Weekly Standard reporter Stephen Hayes, who is perhaps best known for advancing the bogus theory that Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda were in cahoots. And oddly enough, the discussion turned to misleading political advertising, and the efforts to factcheck such political lying–an effort that Hayes cheered: HUFFINGTON: What else can the media do, Steve? HAYES: I think one of the upsides to the proliferation of information sources is that you can go to places and find out whether […]

Oct
01
2010

Haiti News That Makes You Sad–But Should Make You Angry

If you listen to CounterSpin this week (and you should be downloading the podcast EVERY WEEK), you'll hear this item: USA Today ran a version of an AP story September 29 about the outrageous and depressing fact that not a penny of the $1.5 billion the U.S. pledged to Haiti for rebuilding after the devastating earthquake nearly nine months ago has actually been delivered. It's the sort of news that might make readers sad, but it should make them angry. Trouble is, you have to get to paragraph 10 of the 12 paragraph piece before you learn why the money […]