Apr
26
2011

Ron Paul Is Not a 'Serious' Candidate–Unlike Donald Trump

The first role of the corporate press in an election cycle is to weed out candidates who they deem nonviable. This usually means choosing not to cover candidates whose ideas that fall outside the Beltway conventional wisdom (e.g., Dennis Kucinich), or those who reporters decide have no real chance of winning the nomination. The speculation that reality TV star/mogulDonald Trump might run in 2012 flips the narrative around–and demonstrates the fact that the media can change the "rules" whenever they want. Trump is extremely unlikely to actually run, and his "ideas" mostly revolve around a long-debunked conspiracy theory that Barack […]

Apr
25
2011

Drone 'Debate' Breaks Out at Washington Post

Readers of the Washington Post can see this headline in today's edition (4/25/11) about the U.S. drone airstrikes: Debates Underway on Combat Drones But there is no actual debate in the article. Reporter Walter Pincus cites a British military study that calls the use of missile-firing drones "a genuine revolution in military affairs," adding that the "use of unmanned aircraft prevents the potential loss of aircrew lives and is thus in itself morally justified." Pincus goes on to explain: At a Washington conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) last week, the issue of drones was also widely […]

Apr
25
2011

Why Hold a Journalist at Guantanamo?

Today's New York Times report (4/25/11) on the WikiLeaks Guantanamo files provides an answer: The documents show that a major reason a Sudanese cameraman for Al Jazeera, Sami al-Hajj, was held at Guantanamo for six years was for questioning about the television network's "training program, telecommunications equipment and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan," including contacts with terrorist groups. The Times' piece is definitely worth reading, though I wish they didn't feel the need to add this type of equivocation: The Guantanamo assessments seem unlikely to end the long-running debate about America's most controversial prison. The documents can be […]

Apr
22
2011

'Courageous,' 'Bold,' 'Serious' Paul Ryan–Booed?

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wisc.) is used to being celebrated by pundits for his "courageous," "bold," "serious" budget proposals (even though his numbers don't add up). Indeed, Ryan has become a genuine media darling. So it must have been a little surprising to find himself being booed earlier this week, at a town hall meeting he hosted in his congressional district. It happened after one attendee at the event, a constituent describing himself as a "life-long conservative" challenged GOP views on income disparity, taxes on the wealthy, and raising the income cap on Social Security taxes: The middle class is […]

Apr
21
2011

Another Word From Our Sponsor: The Return of Renee McMontagne

Renee "McMontagne" brought NPR listeners another McDonald's PR story yesterday morning. On April 5, Montange and her Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep uncritically previewed McDonald's big PR campaign revolving around a one-day hiring blitz to "recast its jobs not as dead-end work, but in ads starring its happy employees as desirable employment" (FAIR Blog, 4/6/11). I noted that McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc gave NPR a 9-figure bequest a few years ago. Well, Montagne returned to the story yesterday with an on-the-ground report from the scene of a McDonald's hiring event in Philadelphia, where an NPR correspondent interviewed three of those […]

Apr
21
2011

Newsweek Bravely Highlights the Plight of the Beached White Male

Newsweek's cover story this week is on the plight of college-educated white men aged 35-64. The magazine laments that "this hitherto privileged demo isn't just on its knees, it's flat on on its face." The subhead of the piece asks, "Can manhood survive the lost decade?" Now, I have much sympathy for all who are struggling with unemployment. But are middle-aged, college-educated white males flat on their face and worthy of a trend cover story? It's hard to square that with the piece's own admission that their jobless rate is just above 5 percent. Most demographic groups would give anything […]

Apr
18
2011

NYT Critical Spotlight on Tanton Gives His Anti-Immigrant Groups a Pass

The Sunday New York Times (4/17/11) ran a big front-page piece on John Tanton, founder of the anti-immigration organizations Federation for American Immigration Reform and Center for Immigration Studies. I guess it's positive that someone in corporate media is finally paying attention to Tanton's racism (long documented here at FAIR–1/1/93–and by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center–Winter/08), and reporter Jason DeParle does include a good deal of damning information about Tanton and some of his own racist words. But he also manages to interview almost exclusively people currently or formerly affiliated with Tanton's groups (six of these people in […]

Apr
16
2011

Gadhafi's Cluster Bombs–and Uncle Sam's

"Gadhafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas," declares a New York Times headline (4/15/11). The lead of the story makes clear that these weapons are considered in many countries to be illegal: Military forces loyal to Col. Moammar el-Gadhafi have been firing into residential neighborhoods in this embattled city with heavy weapons, including cluster bombs that have been banned by much of the world. The story, by C.J. Chivers, goes on to explain why these weapons have been banned: These so-called indiscriminate weapons, which strike large areas with a dense succession of high-explosive munitions, by their nature cannot be […]

Apr
14
2011

Dana Milbank Red-Baits the People's Budget

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank seems to like to mock progressives almost as much as he likes to go after Glenn Beck. So it's no surprise that he turned out to "cover" the unveiling of a budget plan by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (4/13/11). Milbank seems to think that little explanation is needed–these crazy ideas are just obviously crazy: Among the highlights: a $4 trillion tax increase over 10 years. An increase in the top tax rate to 49 percent. A $2.3 trillion defense spending cut–and an increase in domestic spending. Oh, and they would revive the "public option" to […]

Apr
13
2011

Friedman, Iraq and the U.S. Referee

Tom Friedman, writing today about the Arab Spring (4/13/11–the same column Jim Naureckas critiqued for FAIR Blog here): Another option is that an outside power comes in, as America did in Iraq, and as the European Union did in Eastern Europe, to referee or coach a democratic transition between the distrustful communities in these fractured states. It's been a while since I've played an organized sport, but if any coach or referee did anything resembling what the U.S. has done in Iraq, they would be removed from the league, and probably put in jail. That analogy sounded familiar, though. Turns […]

Apr
13
2011

Tom Friedman: Being a Columnist Means Never Having to Say You Researched

One thing Thomas Friedman demonstrates over and over is that you don't need to know much to be an expert. Take today's column (New York Times, 4/13/11), which is based around a contrast between the European wave of democratization in 1989 and the current "Arab spring": Think about the 1989 democracy wave in Europe. In Europe, virtually every state was like Germany, a homogenous nation, except Yugoslavia. The Arab world is exactly the opposite. There, virtually every state is like Yugoslavia–except Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. That is to say, in Europe, when the iron fist of Communism was removed, the […]

Apr
12
2011

NPR's Critics–and the Critics Who Actually Listen

From a Q&A with NPR ombud Alicia Shepard (CJR, 4/11/11): I also got a call last week from Ralph Nader. He was saying how NPR is really just a corporate toady, and that they don't have enough progressive voices on, and I hear that quite a bit. I hear that more from people who actually listen to NPR. Funny how that works.

Apr
12
2011

ABC: That's What They Call Journalism!

ABC reporter Jonathan Karl clarifies the budget stalemate that nearly shut down the federal government (ABC World News, 4/7/11): KARL: And believe it or not, the issue of abortion could be what causes the government to shut down. GRAPHICS: DEMOCRATS CLAIM KARL: Democrats say Republicans are trying to use the funding bill to force new restrictions on abortion rights. GRAPHICS: REPUBLICANS CLAIM KARL: But Republicans say they are simply trying to restrict public funding of abortion. "Democrats say, Republicans say." ABC could save money and program a computer to do this. Later Karl said this: Today, House Republicans did pass […]