Feb
14
2011

USA Today's 'Nonpartisan Experts' Agree: Obama Not Tough Enough on Elderly, Poor

The subhead sums up the point of USA Today's lead story today (2/14/11) about Barack Obama's budget proposal: Obama Proposes Cuts to Trim Deficit; GOP, Others Want More The piece by Richard Wolf and Mimi Hall begins, "President Obama will send Congress a 2012 budget today that would trim the budget deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next decade, but Republicans and nonpartisan budget experts are already saying that's not enough." And that's how the story is framed: You've got the White House vs. the Republicans, and "nonpartisan budget experts" who agree with the Republicans. "We're going to make tough […]

Feb
14
2011

David Gregory's Social Security Challenge

From his Meetthe Press interview withHouse Speaker John Boehner (2/13/11): On entitlements, like Social Security, you said the retirement age should be raised, but you said you don't want to get into negotiating how that happens just now until the problem is better defined. Again, when it comes to leadership, when it comes to the need to, you know, have no limit on cutting, don't you think Americans understand what the problem with Social Security is? What will it take for you to join with the White House to make real reform to deal with this piece of the budget? […]

Feb
14
2011

Psst. . . They're Talking About Torture

The Washington Post yesterday (2/13/11): Mubarak Resignation Throws Into Question U.S./Egyptian Counterterrorism Work By Mary Beth Sheridan and Joby Warrick Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, February 13, 2011; A01 For decades, Egypt's government has been a critical partner for U.S. intelligence agencies, sharing information on extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and working hand in glove on counterterrorism operations. Now the future of that cooperation is in question. That "work" and "cooperation" includes, among other things, rendition and torture. It'd be more helpful if this were made clear from the outset, instead of being mentioned in the 11th paragraph of the […]

Feb
14
2011

WaPo on Obama Budget: 'Countering' Conservatives by Doing What They Want

On Sunday (2/13/11), the Washington Post had an odd piece about Obama's budget proposal–starting with the odd headline, "Obama to Propose Spending Cuts in Budget Plan Aimed at Countering Conservatives." Republicans have been stressing spending cuts, so Obama is "countering" that with… spending cuts? Huh. The piece tries to argue that these calls for austerity are merely the political system reacting to the will of the voters, particularly self-described independents: Obama is sending a similar message, but to a different constituency: the independent voters who abandoned Democrats in droves last year and who are crucial to the president's 2012 reelection […]

Feb
11
2011

Tom Friedman Admires His Writing in Egyptian Mirror

It might be hard for you to imagine covering the democratic uprising in Egypt as a way to reflect upon all the wise things you've written in the past. But you're not Tom Friedman. He wrote today (New York Times, 2/11/11): I spent part of the morning in the square watching and photographing a group of young Egyptian students wearing plastic gloves taking garbage in both hands and neatly scooping it into black plastic bags to keep the area clean. This touched me in particular because more than once in this column I have quoted the aphorism that "in the […]

Feb
11
2011

More 'Liberal Bias' at CNN

According to this post at Media Bistro (2/10/11), CNN is adding three new contributors. Two are right-wingers: Dana Loesch, a Tea Party radio host and editor of Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism website. Will Cain is a commentator at the National Review website. And the "left"? His name is Cornell Belcher, a pollster and advertising/messaging consultant for various Democrats. Beyond the 2-1 numerical tilt in favor of the right, this is a good example of how corporate media often pick their pundits. The right-wingers are true believers, drawn from the ranks of the conservative media world. TV leftists are generally not […]

Feb
10
2011

Conflating Ousted Presidents and Former Dictators in Haiti

It was certainly surprising to see former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier return to the country on January 16. To say he hasblood on his hands is an understatement–the Duvalier regimes were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and widespread abuse, and stole millions of dollars from the country. Soon thereafter, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide announced his intention to return to his country.Aristide, twice elected andtwice removed from office, remains a popular figure in Haitian politics. His first stint in office was remarkably peaceful; his second, during which he faced armed attacks that eventually succeeded in overthrowing his government, was […]

Feb
08
2011

Not the Onion: Redskins Owner Offended by Dehumanizing Imagery

The owner of the Washington Redskins football team, Dan Snyder, is suing the local City Paper for publishing an unflattering cover image of him–namely, a photo doctored to include devil horns. That imagewasaccompanied by an article about Snyder'sbusiness practices. Rob Capriccioso of Indian Country Today points out (2/1/11) thatthe suit alleges the cover art is "the type of imagery used historically, including in Nazi Germany, to dehumanize and vilify the Jewish people." And, well…. The claim comes as ironic to many observers since Native Americans have for over a decade been suing Snyder for his use of the Redskins name […]

Feb
08
2011

NYT's Fisk Factcheck Fail

The United States sent former ambassador Frank Wisner to Egypt to talk to Hosni Mubarak. Wisner garnered headlines when he declared support for Mubarak staying in power, causing the White House to try and argue that wasn't the message the White House was trying to send. But Wisner's background was worth more attention. As Pratap Chatterjee reported (Inter Press Service, 2/4/11): Frank Wisner, the former U.S. ambassador that President Barack Obama dispatched to Cairo earlier this week to advise President Hosni Mubarak, is employed by Patton Boggs, a law firm and registered lobbyist. On its website Patton Boggs summarises the […]

Feb
08
2011

LAT Invents Support for LAT Series on Teacher Testing

The L.A. Times' controversial investigation last year that rated Los Angeles schoolteachers' effectiveness based on a value-addedresearch methodhasfaced a storm of criticism. (See Wayne Au's recent Rethinking Schools piece.) Now the National Education Policy Center has weighed in, finding that the research "was demonstrably inadequate to support the published rankings." The NEPC was covered in the Washington Post and, wouldn't you know it, the Los Angeles Times. Below are the headlines. Go ahead and guess which one is which. Researchers Fault L.A. Times Methods in Analysis of California Teachers Separate Study Confirms Many Los Angeles Times Findings on Teacher Effectiveness

Feb
08
2011

U.S. Outraged Over Cuban Detention Practices

OnFebruary 5 theAssociated Press ran a story about a case in Cuba: Prosecutors are charging jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross with "acts against the integrity and independence" of Cuba and requesting a 20-year prison term, state news media reported Friday, dimming hopes he would be allowed to go home soon. Further down, as one would expect, is a response from the United States: Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which Washington maintains instead of an embassy, said his "imprisonment without charges for more than a year is contrary to all international human-rights obligations." Now that […]

Feb
08
2011

NYT Documents U.S. Support for Egypt's Torturer

The White House position on Egypt would seem to back the transfer of some level of official power to Omar Suleiman, who Hosni Mubarak recently named vice president. Suleiman's former role as intelligence chief made him a key player in Egypt's use of torture, against Egyptian citizens and in connection with CIA-backed rendition. That part of the story hasn't received enough media attention, but today the New York Times does a great job, splashing the story on the front page…. Sorry, that's not right. It must be here somewhere. Perhaps a stinging editorial denouncing torture… no, that's not it. OK, […]

Feb
07
2011

Politico and Centrist Media Bias (22 Years Late)

One of the supposed attractions of the news site Politico is that every so often they give you a peek behind the media curtain, trying to explain how Beltway journalism works. So they don't just obsessively cover Sarah Palin–they explain why they obsessively cover Sarah Palin: "For the media, Palin is great at the box office." John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei offer a similar piece (2/7/11) that takes aim at thesupposed turnabout in Barack Obama's political fortunes after the midterm election. Part of the answer is thatthe White House is doing things they know the media will cheeron asa […]