May
24
2011

New NYT Columnist's Bush-Boosting History

Frank Bruni has been named the new Sunday op-ed columnist at the New York Times. Bruni has been writing restaurant reviews for the past few years, but came to a lot of people's attention as the reporter covering the 2000 campaign of George W. Bush. Bruni went on to write a book about that experience, and one of the lessons in the book was that what Bruni actually thought about Bush's campaign rhetoric and debate performances wasn't really what he was reporting at the time. I wrote something about this when the book came out, though I can't recall whether […]

May
24
2011

PBS's New Plan: More Intrusive Ads

The public broadcasting newspaper Current (5/18/11) reports that public television–you know, the non-commercial outlet–will start airing more commercials: The move could be controversial for the network, which has traditionally prided itself on offering uninterrupted programming over its 40-year history. PBS will begin breaking into programs with underwriting and promo spots four times per hour on an experimental basis beginning this fall, it told station members at the PBS National Meeting here. PBS corporate communicationsofficial Anne Bentley issued a response that actually begins, "We are always looking at ways to improve the viewer experience." It goes on to say that "It […]

May
24
2011

Behind the Scenes at Fox Is Like in Front of the Scenes

Gabriel Sherman's new piece in New York magazine (5/22/11) about Roger Ailes and Fox News Channel offers more indications that whatgoes on behind the scenesat Fox is more or less what you'd expect, given the channel's obvious on-air slant. The person hired to run the news division has some peculiar ideas about news: Bill Sammon, a former Washington Times correspondent, angered Fox's political reporters, who saw him pushing coverage further to the right than they were comfortable with. Days after Obama's inauguration, an ice storm caused major damage throughout the Midwest. At an editorial meeting in the D.C. bureau, Sammon […]

May
23
2011

NYT and Bogus Gas Price Rhetoric

The New York Times had a good editorial on May 20 headlined"Gas Prices and Political Pandering." The paper slammed Republican rhetoric about domestic production and gas prices: [Sen. Mitch] McConnell said his bill would bring relief at the pump by raising domestic output. That is fiction. Production will take years to come online and even then would have a tiny impact on prices set on the world market. And they also pointed out that Obama was making similar arguments: Last weekend, he, too, was out there pitching domestic production…. None will quickly lead to new drilling or have any effect […]

May
23
2011

Peterson Pay-to-Play at the Washington Post?

On Sunday the Pete Peterson Foundation took out an ad in the Washington Post touting its upcoming "Fiscal Summit," which will feature speeches by the likes of Bill Clinton, Paul Ryan and Alan Simpson. Panels will be moderated by Gwen Ifill, George Will and others. The hook is that Peterson is promoting a "Solutions Initiative," which in part involves giving money to different organizations to develop plans that focus on "solutions." The grantees are the American Enterprise Institute, Bipartisan Policy Center, Center for American Progress, Economic Policy Institute, Heritage Foundation and the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network. On the page next […]

May
20
2011

WaPo and the People's Budget Blackout

Lori Montgomery has a piece today in the Washington Post (5/20/11) noting that Senate Democrats have yet to unveil a budget planthat would"counter the budget blueprint approved last month by House Republicans."Some Democrats dosay that they will soon unveil a plan that "would offer a sharp contrast to the GOP budget." Such a contrast exists already in Congress. It's called the People's Budget, and it is the work of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The most notable coverage of it in the Post came in the form of a red-baiting Dana Milbank column. The news pages of the Post, like most […]

May
20
2011

Bill O'Reilly Explains the 'Muslim Problem'

Last night's broadcast of the O'Reilly Factor (5/19/11) provided ample evidence–if more were needed–of Bill O'Reilly's bigotry. He started by trying to explain why Barack Obamais unpopular in Muslim countries: The answer is complicated but does reflect my opinion that there is a Muslim problem in the world. The United States and the West are largely secular societies that do believe in human rights. The Muslim world is centered on religion and may Muslims believe if you don't worship Allah you are an infidel and therefore you don't deserve human rights. In fact, in certain parts of the Muslim world […]

May
19
2011

Why Did Olbermann Really Leave MSNBC?

Keith Olbermann popped up on the David Letterman show and gave one reason–perhaps one big reason–why he left MSNBC. As transcribed by MediaBistro's TVNewser (where you can also watch the video): At some point in the last few years that I have been doing the news in the way that I do, it has occurred to me that the best place to continue doing the news in that way would be to do it at a place that is just in the news business and nothing else. It doesn't also own an amusement park in Orlando, it doesn't have outdoor […]

May
19
2011

Gingrich's Gaffes and Wesley Clark's

The New York Times' Michael Shear has a piece today (5/19/11) reminding readers that presidential candidates often have early stumbles of the sort that Newt Gingrich has been having. He recalls several examples, most of which don't really offer much hope for Gingrich. One is Wesley Clark's brief 2004 campaign: In 2004, General Clark's campaign was premised on his military credentials and his critique of President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. So when the general said, within days of announcing, that he might have voted to authorize the Iraq War, it was a big deal. That's not exactly […]

May
19
2011

NYT's Anonymous Israeli Truth-Tellers

What's the Israeli government's new "plan" for peace? Reading the New York Times doesn't help your understand where they stand. Earlier this week, the Times' Ethan Bronner (5/17/11) praised a speech by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exhibiting "greater flexibility on territory." Bronner wrote that he showed "more willingness to yield territory than he had before, strongly implying that he would give up the vast majority of the West Bank." As Matthew Taylor wrote at Mondoweiss (5/17/11), there was little actual evidence that there was much going on here–just some "implying" and "suggesting." A Times article today (5/19/11) from […]

May
18
2011

NY Times and the Israel/Palestine 'Status Quo'

The New York Times has a piece today (5/18/11) previewing Barack Obama's Israel/Palestine speech, calling it a "chance to reshape the debate," whatever that's supposed to mean. One thing to always pay attention to in coverage of this issue is the language used to frame the discussion. The piece mentioned Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' recent op-ed in the Times concerning the Palestinian drive to gain United Nations recognition for the Palestinian state. Abbas defined the state as "the lands framed by the 1967 border." In most of the world this is a rather uncontroversial starting point. But look how the […]

May
17
2011

Palestinians Protest Israel's Founding–or Something Else?

At Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah challenges the skewed history coming from Ethan Bronner in the New York Times (5/15/11). In trying to explain the context for the recent Palestinian protests, Bronner wrote: After Israel declared independence on May 15, 1948, armies from neighboring Arab states attacked the new nation; during the war that followed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli forces. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were also destroyed. The refugees and their descendants remain a central issue of contention in the Israeli-Palestinianconflict. Abunimah replied: This is standard Zionist propaganda that bears little […]

May
17
2011

David Gregory's Factcheck Fail on Show's Sponsor

Labor journalist Mike Elk (In These Times, 5/16/11) made an excellent point after watching NBC host David Gregory interview Newt Gingrich on Sunday's Meet the Press (5/15/11). Elk wrote: Speaking yesterday on Meet the Press, Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said that "the Obama system of the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] is basically breaking the law to try to punish Boeing and to threaten every right-to-work state." While Meet the Press host David Gregory vigorously challenged Newt Gingrich on details of his personal life, he failed to challenge Gingrich on his false […]