Feb
28
2011

Just the Facts: The New Guy at CNN

From a Broadcasting & Cable interview with new CNN hostPiers Morgan: What kind of feedback have you gotten from CNN? They're thrilled. They just tell me not to forget it's an intelligent audience. And to remain independent. And being independent right now is a really good thing. Being too far right or left right now is a bit dangerous, given whatâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s going on in the Middle East. What Americans need is facts. Iwatched some of his showlastnight. The guests were Hugh Hefner and his soon-to-be-wife. I guess that would be neither right nor left–justthe "facts."

Feb
28
2011

NYT Public Editor Explains What's Not Fit to Print

New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane (2/27/11) offers a justification that makes very little sense for his paper's concealing the fact that an American arrested in Pakistan worked for the CIA. The Times, Brisbane wrote, could not "take the risk that reporting the CIA connection would, as warned, lead to Mr. Davis's death." Davis was arrested for murder after allegedly shooting two people in Pakistan. Pakistan has the death penalty, so in theory he could be tried and executed if found guilty. Is that the risk that the New York Times is concerned about? If so, is that how […]

Feb
28
2011

WSJ and the Disappearing 'Gasland' Quote

The documentary Gasland was up for an Academy Award last night. Director Josh Fox has been writing about the gas industry's campaign against the film, which is a critical look at hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." That controversy found its way to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, where a story byBenCasselman was posted that included an interesting admission. As Press Action noted: In the original version of the article, Casselman, who has covered the energy industry at the Journal for several years, quoted Range Resources-Appalachia director of public affairs Matt Pitzarella as saying: "We have to stop blaming documentaries and […]

Feb
28
2011

What Union Voices Mean to the Wisconsin Debate

As we noted here, there weren't many labor voices booked on the Sunday morning chat shows. One, actually–Richard Trumka from the AFL-CIO. ABC's This Week featured four governors (two Democrats, two Republicans) talking about their fiscal problems. CBS's Face the Nation had a soft interview with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Host Bob Schieffer asked him one question that began, "You have a reputation as a straight talker, I think…." Schieffer went on to play a clip of Christie bravely calling for Social Security cuts. Instead of questioning Christie's totally inaccurate premise–that you "have to raise the retirement age"–Schieffer […]

Feb
28
2011

Who's the Source of O'Reilly's 'Nonpartisan' Pro-Walker Poll?

On his Fox News show Friday, self-described "union guy" Bill O'Reilly was touting the results of a newpoll finding that Wisconsinites are backing Gov. Scott Walker: According to a new poll by WisconsinReporter.com, a nonpartisan group, 71 percent of Wisconsinites believe that Gov. Scott Walker's union cutbacks are fair.71 percent. And 69 percent of Wisconsin residents believe state workers have better benefits than private sector employees. That finding would seem to at odds with other polls of Wisconsin residents.But who is this "nonpartisan" group, anyway?If you go to the WisconsinReporter.com website, the "About"page is blank. TPMuckracker fills in the details: […]

Feb
28
2011

WaPo Profiles Most Awesome Guy in World

In journalistic parlance, a "beat sweetener" is a story that lavishes praise on a powerful figure the reporter is assigned to cover on a regular basis–a great way for that reporter to get in good with an important source. That may have been what was happening with Lori Montgomery's February 26 Washington Post piece touting the deficit-busting greatness of White House budget director Jacob Lew. Under the headline "Jacob Lew Returns to Work on Fixing Nation's Finances, Again," she begins: At 27, Jacob J. Lew helped save Social Security. At 41, he helped cut a deal to balance the federal […]

Feb
25
2011

Latest Glimpse of Fox's Culture of Lying?

A front-page story in today's New York Times strongly suggests that Roger Ailes–the News Corp executive who runs the Fox News Channel, the Fox Business Network, and Fox broadcast stations–urged a witness to lie to federal officials in order to protectfriend and politician Rudolph Giuliani. If true, what may be most remarkable about the story is how unsurprising it is coming from Fox. Other networks surely harbor biases, but it would be surprising to find, say, that a top ABC News executive had suborned perjury in a partisan ploy to protect a politician. But if the allegations against Ailes are […]

Feb
25
2011

What Americans Want to Read

The gallery of covers for Time magazine this week. One stands out, obviously.

Feb
25
2011

Where Are the Workers' Voices?

As best I can tell, the labor battle in Wisconsin is a big story–and maybe the biggest labor story in years. But as Amanda Terkel reported at the Huffington Post, that doesn't mean you're going to see union advocates on the Sunday chat shows. Terkel noted: A union official told the Huffington Post that when none of the Sunday shows' producers reached out to them to book a labor representative this week, several unions started to pitch the shows with affected workers and local and national leaders who they felt could discuss the protests. The official said the response from […]

Feb
24
2011

The Public Doesn't Hate Public Workers

As Josh Marshall noted recently, one of the assumptions in the media discussion about Wisconsin is that Republican politicians are playing on public outrage over the perks given to public workers. That assumption took a hit after a new Gallup Poll, reported on the front page of USA Today, found this: Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61 percent would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33 percent who would favor such a […]

Feb
24
2011

Giving and Getting 'Coined'

The Washington Post had a report yesterday (2/22/11) about the military tradition of giving "challenge coins." For thoseunfamiliar, here's a quick explanation: "Challenge coins," as they are known, have become an important part of the ethos of the armed forces, where the story of service members' careers–deployments, promotions, awards–is told by the ribbons and patches on their uniforms. Traditionally, commanders hand out the coins to troops for exemplary service and morale boosting. The pointof the article is thattoo many coins are floating around,and are being offered to just about anyone. Including reporters who cover the military: When he was covering […]

Feb
23
2011

Breaking News: There Is a Labor Movement. In the United States, Even!

I read this in the New York Times a few days ago (2/19/11): The images from Wisconsin–with its protests, shutdown of some public services and missing Democratic senators, who fled the state to block a vote–evoked the Middle East more than the Midwest. There's a labor movement in this country? And in theMidwest, even!?

Feb
23
2011

Factchecking ABC's Factcheck on Public Workers

On Monday (2/21/11), ABC World News wanted to set the record straight on Wisconsin's budget problems. As host George Stephanopoulos put it, the debate is over whether pensions and other benefits for public workers are to blame for the crippling budget shortfalls in Wisconsin and other states. Tonight Barbara Pinto has a reality check. What a relief–this is something that surely screams out for clarification. The report starts with a quote from Republican Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. ABC's Pinto weighed in on his side: Part of that problem, pension plans for America's public workers that are under funded by at […]