Mar
18
2011

NYT Explains Peculiar Japanese Customs

The New York Times (3/17/11) presents a look at the Japanese government's lack of candor about the Fukushima nuclear disaster. At first we're given the impression that this is something cultural: "The less-than-straight talk is rooted in a conflict-averse culture that avoids direct references to unpleasantness." We don't have that problem, I guess. Then, we're told, Japanese media are to blame: Left-leaning news outlets have long been skeptical of nuclear power and of its backers, and the mutual mistrust led power companies and their regulators to tightly control the flow of information about nuclear operations so as not to inflame […]

Mar
18
2011

NYT on Pakistani Beliefs

On the release of CIA agent Raymond Davis, who was held in Pakistan on charges of killing two Pakistani men on a street in Lahore, the Times explains the reaction (3/17/11) The Davis episode was particularly sensitive because of the resentment among Pakistanis who believe that a growing American security contingent roams the country with relative impunity. The Davis incident would seem to confirm this "belief," wouldn't it?

Mar
17
2011

Jay Carney, Comforting the Powerful

The New York Times has a piece today (3/17/11) about new White House press secretary Jay Carney and how his background suits him for the job. Carney was previously a reporter for Time magazine, and was apparently notmuch of a partisan–he "complained privately" that the magazine's coverage of the 2008 campaign "was too lopsided toward Barack Obama." Carney's friends say he's good at making powerful people like him–a talent he apparently used to great effect as a journalist: Mr. Carney, they said, always seemed comfortable around people in power and exuded a certain confidence that endeared him to some of […]

Mar
17
2011

Blaming the Internet for Reporters' Gullibility

USA Today has a long piece (3/17/11) by Martha Moore about video hoax artist James O'Keefe's NPR project. The article does a pretty good job of running down the deceptions in O'Keefe's video. That's good. This, however, is not: The video follows a long, if not always honorable, tradition of muckraking exposés. It also is a stepchild to the political tactic of tracking an opponent with video until a gaffe occurs, then capitalizing on it. The sting's impact was magnified by the quick dissemination-without-scrutiny that is a hallmark of Internet-driven media. O'Keefe's video has nothing to do with muckraking. And […]

Mar
16
2011

On Islamist Terrorism, WSJ Entitled to Its Own Opinions–But Not Its Own Facts

Rep. Peter King

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial (3/11/11) defended the Peter King hearings on Islamist terrorism against "our friends on the left [who] are busy portraying them as the McCarthy hearings and Palmer Raids rolled into one." The editors argued that in fact, the focus on Muslims is justified based on the facts: Since 9/11, there have been more than 50 known cases, involving about 130 individuals, in which terrorist plots were hatched on American soil. These include plots to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, an office tower in Dallas, a federal court house in Illinois, the Washington, […]

Mar
16
2011

The End of the Nuclear 'Renaissance'?

If you've tracked media coverage of nuclear power, you know that every few months or so nuclear power is about to enjoy a comeback. The "nuclear renaissance" has always been right around the corner, we've often been told. Take the New York Times, for example: -Few industries have enjoyed the kind of renaissance that nuclear power may be poised to undergo. (5/23/01) -After decades in the doghouse because of environmental, safety and cost concerns, nuclear power is enjoying a renaissance of expectations. (editorial, 5/29/01) -Energy shortages may be creating talk of a nuclear power renaissance. (6/28/01) -"Much Talk of a […]

Mar
16
2011

Assigning Blame for West Bank Killings

Five members of a family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar were killed in their home on Friday night. Nothing is known about the perpetrators or their motivation. But much of the media coverage assumes the killers were Palestinians, and the murders were apolitical act. The New York Times on March 13: It was close to midnight on Saturday when the bodies of five members of the Fogel family were removed from their home in this Jewish settlement in the hills of the northern West Bank, more than 24 hours after intruders, suspected to be Palestinians, stabbed them to […]

Mar
15
2011

Afghan War Less Popular Than Ever

The new Washington Post/ABC poll is on the front page of the paper today (3/15/11): Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. The Post's write-up includes a lot of strange language about the political situation for the White House: "a growing challenge for President Obama,""a difficult political challenge,""an awkward issue for the president." A more direct way of putting it would be to say thatObama's war policy is massively unpopular. A broader point: No matter how […]

Mar
15
2011

NBC Still Doesn't Know About O'Keefe's ACORN Hoax

From Wednesday's NBC Nightly News (3/9/11), courtesy of reporter Lisa Myers: We last saw O'Keefe wearing a fur coat and playing a pimp when he managed to take down the liberal group ACORN. No we didn't. As should be well-known by now, O'Keefeused footage of himself wearing a "pimp" costume in his ACORN videos–but didn't wear the ridiculous costume during his "undercover stings." Media accounts acted as though he did, though–it took a lot of effortto get the New York Times to finally admit its errors on this count. If reportersdon't know these facts, they're bound to get fooled by […]

Mar
15
2011

The 'New' Newsweek's Nuclear Power Puffery

There was a lot of chatter about editor Tina Brown and the "new" Newsweek, which debuted last week. None of it struck me as all that interesting–a column up front from Leslie Gelb warning about the threat of Arab democracy and an anti-Social Security harangue from Robert Samuelson made it feel very much like the "old" Newsweek. One other piece stood out, and only more so this week–a warm profile of the executive in charge of France's nuclear power company, Areva. The subhead was "France's Most Powerful Businesswoman Believes Now Is the Time for the Next Atomic Boom." And the […]

Mar
14
2011

NPR Unstung? Once Again, O'Keefe Shows He Shouldn't Be Trusted

After his fraudulent ACORN videos, the lesson media should havelearned aboutright-wing "citizen journalist" James O'Keefe is not to trust him. But they didn't, so here we are with his NPR stunt, which allegedly shows NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller saying mean things about the Tea Party in a meeting with phony Muslim Brotherhood-connected donors. But it appears that, once again, O'Keefe's videos are not be what they seem. The first serious questions about them were raised on (I swear!) The Blaze, a Glenn Beck-affiliated website. Over there, Scott Baker pointed to a few problems (3/10/11). In one part of the video, […]

Mar
14
2011

Time for a 'Debate' on Nuclear Power–Involving Mainly Boosters

Will the unfolding crisis in Japan lead to a debate over the safety of nuclear power in the United States? Initial signs are not encouraging. NBC's Meet the Press(3/13/11)had an interview with Marvin Fertel of the Nuclear Energy Institute.Host Chuck Todd prefaced one question with, "Iunderstand that you represent the industry's interests in this…." Later on the show, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) was asked to weigh in–since he had been speaking out in favor of nuclear power, a position he doesn't appear to be abandoning: Well, we're going to have to see what happens here. Obviously, it's still, still things […]

Mar
14
2011

Edward Said on the 'Clash of Civilizations'

It was great to see this letter in the New York Times from Edward Said's widow (3/11/11): To the Editor: I smiled when I read "Huntington's Clash Revisited," by David Brooks (column, March 4). Eighteen years after Samuel Huntington wrote his Foreign Affairs essay "The Clash of Civilizations," Mr. Brooks has arrived at a conclusion that so many Arabs and Arab-Americans arrived at very soon after its publication. Mr. Huntington's essay and subsequent book, in which he asserted that the peoples of the Islamic world were incapable of developing societies rooted in freedom and democracy, which he perceived to be […]