As we approach the Monday holiday, we're hearinga Pentagon lawyer suggest that Martin Luther King would support the war in Afghanistan. That makes it an ideal time torecall a 1995 column by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen and longtime associate Norman Solomon (Media Beat, 1/4/95). The full column appearsbelow, and is archived here. The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader." The remarkable thing about [...]
Four months ago, Steve Rendall wrote here (9/10/10) about the militarization of the State Department and its role in the continuing occupation of Iraq–developments that were getting little attention amidst all the talk of the "end" of thewar. Now Aaron Davis of the Washington Post (1/14/11) fills in some of those details,writing that "the contours of a large and lasting American presence here are starting to take shape." Davis adds that: Planning is underway to turn over to the State Department some of the most prominent symbols of the U.S. role in the war–including several major bases and a significant [...]
Earlier this week (1/10/11) I wrote, given how short corporate media's memories are, "Let's hope that when someone convenes a civility in media discussion in 2020, they don't ask Glenn Beck to weigh in." No need to wait that long. Time magazine has convened a panel to talk about civility in our public discourse. And the first contribution is from…well, take a look: Now in fairness, the listis alphabetical. But seriously– was Michael Savage too busy?
USA Today (1/12/11) continues the tradition of dishonest reporting on the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. In a front-page article, reporter Tom Vanden Brook writes: Estimates vary among organizations that have tried to count civilian dead, according to a review last year by the Congressional Research Service. The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights reported that 85,694 Iraqi civilians died from insurgent attacks from 2004 through 2008. The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, estimated that more than 111,000 Iraqis died from war-related incidents from 2003 through 2010. So estimates vary between about 85,000 and 111,000, right? Wrong. As the [...]
Right-wing pundits have come out vociferously against the idea that they, their colleagues and the political movement they identify with have anything to answer for in the wake of the Tucson massacre. David Brooks (New York Times, 1/11/11) asserted that "the evidence before us suggests that [shooting suspect Jared] Loughner was locked in a world far removed from politics as we normally understand it," rejecting as "vicious charges" the notion that the gunman "unleashed his rampage because he was incited by the violent rhetoric of the Tea Party, the anti-immigrant movement and Sarah Palin." George Will (Washington Post, 1/11/11) bitterly [...]
Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson writes an important column today (1/12/11) about right-wing rhetoric and the Tucson shootings. Meyerson's point is that discussing certain symbols–like the Sarah Palin "cross hairs" map–makes little sense without understanding the paranoid worldview that is advanced by right-wing leaders and commentators like Glenn Beck. When folks like Beck and Erick Erickson use threats of violence in discussion flu vaccines and Census workers, it's an articulation of their worldview. The primary problem with the political discourse of the right in today's America isn't that it incites violence per se. It's that it implants and reinforces paranoid [...]
From theendofa New York Times story headlined "Gates Warns of North Korea Missile Threat to U.S.," readers saw this: Predicting missile capabilities is notoriously difficult. Documents released last year by WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy organization, revealed sharp disagreements between American and Russian experts on Iran's missile technology. Of course, some readers might remember that once upon a time (November 29, to be precise) the Times told a very different story about those cables–in a story headlined "Iran Fortifies Its Arsenal With the Aid of North Korea," which warned that the country now had "the capacity to strike at capitals in Western [...]
The Washington Post headline overa story about Joe Biden's remarksthat U.S. military forces would stay in Afghanistan after the supposed 2014 withdrawal deadline "if the Afghan people want it" is: Biden Promises Long-Term Aid to Afghans Of course, if theU.S. troop presence in Afghanistancame down to what the "Afghan people want," it might end sooner than that.
A New York Times profile (1/8/11) of author/economist Robert Reich was headlined "Obama the Centrist Irks a Liberal Lion." It's hard not to see where reporter Michael Powell comes down in the debate over Democrats moving to the right: Mr. Reich sees a parallel with his former boss, Mr. Clinton, and draws no comfort from the comparison. Confronted with a muscular Republican majority in the House in 1994, Mr. Clinton mastered triangulation, which is to say he sailed into a sea neither Republican nor Democratic. It was a strategic masterstroke, but he threw overboard some liberal founding stones. It's hard [...]
Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources (1/10/11), Time's Joe Klein denouncedthe "crap" on the Fox News Channel. And as many pundits are prone to do, he found the need to balance that by citing a comparable example from the "other" side: Well, that brings me to point number two…. Cable news chooses not to really deal with complicated issues with the level of complexity that they deserve. I was on Ed Schultz's show to discuss Afghanistan. I was just back from there. It is the most complicated issue imaginable. And the guy writes on a piece of paper, "Get out now," [...]
Last night (O'Reilly Factor, 1/10/11), Bill O'Reillytalking to Brit Hume: O'REILLY: We have a network, an entire network that's built around attacking Fox News and right-wing people. That's all they do at MSNBC. They have nothing else. HUME: How's that working out for them? O'REILLY: It's not working out for them. But it does mean that I have to have 24-hour security. That I have to worry about my children being assaulted. OK? That's what it means. You talking about nuts? These people ignite those nuts all day long. I don't see the equivalency of talk radio. I said that [...]
On CBS's Face the Nation (1/9/11), host Bob Schieffer declared: Democracy's arguments have never been pretty, but technology has changed the American dialogue because we can now know of problems instantly. We expect answers immediately and when we don't get them, we let everyone know in no uncertain terms. We scream and shout, hurl charges without proof. Those on the other side of the argument become not opponents but enemies. Dangerous inflammatory words are used with no thought of consequence. Schieffer singled out one exceptional political leader: "In an eloquent statement, the new Republican House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday's [...]
One theme in the coverage of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffordsconcerns whether the tone of the political debate will change. That's probably going to happen in the short-term. A long-term shift is unlikely. There have been frequent allusions to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the nationaldiscussion that ensued at the time about violent rhetoric on right-wing talk shows. See Extra!'s 1995 article "AM Armies" for more background. Roughly 10 years later, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough convened a panel (4/27/05) to discuss talk radio extremism, in the wake of incendiary comments made by Air America's Randi Rhodes. As FAIR [...]