Jan
31
2011

Kathleen Parker and the Idiotic Debate Over 'Exceptionalism'

Washington Post columnist (and CNN host) Kathleen Parker turned in some thoughts (1/30/11) about what she didn't hear Barack Obama's State of the Union address: He didn't say it. That word: "exceptional." Barack Obama described an exceptional nation in his State of the Union address, but he studiously avoided using the word conservatives long to hear. She goes on: The exceptional issue may be political, but it isn't only that. The idea lies smack at the heart of how Americans view themselves, and the role of government in their lives and in the broader world. Is America exceptional or isn't […]

Jan
31
2011

Julian Assange, Conspiracy Theorist

The long 60 Minutes segment on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange from last night (1/30/11) is definitely worth a look. But this set-up from correspondent Steve Kroft was certainly odd: Julian Assange is not your average journalist or publisher, and some have argued that he is not really a journalist at all. He is an anti-establishment ideologue with conspiratorial views. He believes large government institutions use secrecy to suppress the truth and he distrusts the mainstream media for playing along. Assange believes the government keeps important secrets? And that mainstream media play along? That is kooky.

Jan
28
2011

The Joe Biden Rules

Joe Biden on Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak (PBS NewsHour, 1/27/11): I would not refer to him as a dictator. On WikiLeaks' Julian Assange (NBC's Meet the Press, 12/19/10) DAVID GREGORY: Mitch McConnell says he's a high-tech terrorist, others say this is akin to the Pentagon Papers. Where do you come down? JOE BIDEN: I would argue that it's closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the Pentagon Papers. For the record, neither journalist pushed Biden to explain his opinions.

Jan
28
2011

NYT vs. Guardian on Egypt WikiLeaks

The New York Times: Cables Show Delicate U.S. Dealings With Egypt's Leaders The Guardian: WikiLeaks Cables Show Close U.S. Relationship With Egyptian President That reminds me of something Times executive editor wrote in a forthcoming piece on WikiLeaks, where he explains the difference between The Newspaper of Record and the Guardian in handling theAfghanistan documents: If anyone doubted that the three publications operated independently, the articles we posted that day made it clear that we followed our separate muses. The Guardian, which is an openly left-leaning newspaper, used the first War Logs to emphasize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, claiming the […]

Jan
28
2011

Defining a Dictatorship: The U.S. Role in Egypt

Yesterday (FAIR Blog, 1/27/11) the Washington Post tried to argue that U.S. policy under the Obama administration has shifted to one of open support for pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia. There was little, if any, evidence to support this idea. Today (1/28/11) the New York Times steps in with a report based largely on WikiLeaks cables that paints a rather unflattering portrait of Obama policy towards Egypt. As the Times put it, the cables show in detail how diplomats repeatedly raised concerns with Egyptian officials about jailed dissidents and bloggers, and kept tabs on reports of torture by the […]

Jan
28
2011

Jay Carney, Revolving Doors and the Beltway Bubble

Jay Carney was a Time magazine reporter, bureau chief and frequent TV talking head. He is married to ABC reporter Claire Shipman. He left journalism to be Joe Biden's communications director, andwas just namedBarack Obama's next press secretary. It used to bemore common to see people criticize thismedia/politics revolving door. Journalists who jump over the supposed divide between the supposed watchdogs andthe powerful institutions they're watching do little to dispel the sense that the Beltway is one big cocktail party. (Read "Party Like a Beltway Insider Journalist!"–FAIR Blog, 4/26/10–for some sense of the terrain.) Which brings me to Howard Fineman's […]

Jan
27
2011

We're (Anonymously) With You! WaPo Touts U.S. Support for Arab Democracy

Now this is a head scratcher."As Arabs Protest, U.S. Speaks Up" is the headline today over a story by Scott Wilson and Joby Warrick in the Washington Post. The storyattempts to arguethat the Obama administration is backing protests in Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon–in the first two cases, regimes backed strongly by the United States (Egypt to the tune of more than $1 billion in annual military aid). As the lead puts it: The Obama administration is openly supporting the anti-government demonstrations shaking the Arab Middle East, a stance that is far less tempered than the one the president has taken […]

Jan
26
2011

Great Moments in Public TV, SOTU Edition

From the post-State of the Union discussion on the Charlie Rose Show (1/25/11): CHARLIE ROSE: With respect to his base, where are they tonight? They listened to him move to the center– JOHN SUNUNU: On the Upper West Side. JOHN HEILEMANN: Drinking heavily on the Upper West Side. (LAUGHTER) The discussion went on to explain how the progressive base either really likes Obama, or won't have anyone else to vote for so it won't matter what they think. Such discussions are a lot easier to have when you don't invite any actual progressives who might disagree with the Upper West […]

Jan
26
2011

After Obama, CNN's Right-Wing Double Dip

It's normal for the opposition party to deliver a rebuttal address to the State of the Union. Last night Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was given that responsibility. But further-to-the-right Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota delivered the "Tea Party" response to the State of the Union, which was initially scheduled to air on the Tea Party Express website. That is, until CNN decided it would air it on television. Which meant, as Washington Monthly's Steve Benenput it, CNN broadcast "the president's address, followed by a speech by a far-right Republican, and then followed by another speech by a different far-right […]

Jan
25
2011

Media Meme: Public Cheers Obama's Rightward Turn

There's an emerging line in the corporate media that Obama's recent bump in the polls is due to the perception that he's shifting to the "center." There's a long record of media encouraging Democrats to move to the right; after the midterms, Wise Pundits were saying that Obama had to pull a Bill Clinton in order to get things back on track. And now we see things like this from the Los Angeles Times (1/24/11): After his party was dealt an electoral blow in November, Obama embraced a compromise that extended the President George W. Bush-era tax cuts, retooled his […]

Jan
25
2011

Adventures in Absurd Anonymity, Continued

Anonymous Israeli officials are weighing in at the New York Times today. Let's remember the Times has some rules regarding the use of anonymous sources: The use of unidentified sources is reserved for situations in which the newspaper could not otherwise print information it considers reliable and newsworthy. When we use such sources, we accept an obligation not only to convince a reader of their reliability but also to convey what we can learn of their motivation–as much as we can supply to let a reader know whether the sources have a clear point of view on the issue under […]

Jan
25
2011

Bob Herbert Slams Social Security Dishonesty; Times Reporters, on the Other Hand…

Bob Herbert, today in the New York Times (1/25/11): There has always been feverish opposition on the right to Social Security. What is happening now, in a period of deficit hysteria, is that this crucial retirement program is being dishonestly lumped together with Medicare as an entitlement program that is driving federal deficits. He's right. Where did I last readsomeone trying to pull off thatdishonest accounting? Oh yeah–it was in yesterday's New York Times. Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported on a poll that found people unwilling to support cuts to Medicare and Social Security, the programs that directly touch millions of […]

Jan
24
2011

John McCain: TV Talk's Indispensable Man

A few laughs on CBS's Face the Nation yesterday (1/23/11): BOB SCHIEFFER: And we begin this morning welcoming back to Face the Nation for the first time in exactly one year Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the person who, by the way, has been on this broadcast more than any other politician now in office. Well, senator, you haven't been here in a year. What were you doing? Were you busy back in Arizona or what? JOHN MCCAIN: Busy and thanks for having me back on. And it's probably the longest absence in all these years too. So I'm glad […]