Jun
20
2011

Meet the Press–But Skip the Libya Debate

There is growing Congressional opposition to the Libya war. Two House votes this month sought to challenge the White House policy– one of which passed by a wide margin. On Saturday (6/18/11) Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times that the Office of Legal Counsel's advice to Obama was that he needed to comply with the War Powers Act. Obama rejected their advice, which as Savage reported is "extraordinarily rare." Congress will be taking up more Libya debates this week, with a potential vote scheduled to stop the funding of the war. And the recent Republican presidential debate showed […]

Jun
20
2011

LA Public TV: Less PBS, More Al Jazeera

Elizabeth Jensen has an interesting piece in the New York Times today (6/20/11) about Los Angeles public television station KCET. After deciding to cut its ties to PBS, the channel is experimenting with different programming options, including Al Jazeera English. And the results so far, according to one station official: Mr. Marcus said he had been braced for some criticism from viewers about Al Jazeera English's point of view, but 'most people think it's been very even-handed.' He praised the scope of coverage, noting that last week the program carried reports from Argentina, China and Sri Lanka. 'I would guess […]

Jun
20
2011

WaPo's Very Balanced Coverage of Netroots Nation

The Washington Post had a report on Sunday (6/19/11) from the left-liberal Netroots Nation conference. Actually, it's a report from two conferences: The Netroots event and a smaller right-wing affair which schedules its conference to coincide with the larger, liberal get-together–for a reason: RightOnline's conference is smaller (about 1,200 people to Netroots' 2,500) and more focused on strategy than policy. RightOnline always makes sure to be in the same city, so the get-together is guaranteed more media attention. Mission accomplished.

Jun
17
2011

NYT Quotes a Social Security Defender, Only Bashes Him Indirectly

A New York Times piece (6/17/11) on Social Security actually quotes a defender of Social Security–but as that source notes, "the context looks designed to refute me." In a story about the AARP suggesting that maybe Social Security benefits will have to be cut, the Times' Erich Lichtblau writes: But other advocacy groups that are pushing to preserve Social Security benefits accused AARP of effectively abandoning its core constituency. Doug Henwood, the Brooklyn editor of a liberal business blog and Internet radio program who has written on Social Security, said AARP's willingness to consider cuts in benefits "reads like a […]

Jun
17
2011

Time Magazine Feeds the Bachmann-tum

The story of Michele Bachmann's surging campaign momentum continues, this time courtesy of Beltway reporter Mark Halperin of Time magazine: Why has Michele Bachmann suddenly become the It candidate? With her impressive New Hampshire debate performance, Bachmann has gone from a conservative Sarah Palin-lite curiosity to a potential game changer. For two hours onstage with her GOP rivals, Bachmann appeared polished, serene and in command. Her smooth performance was partly the work of a top-shelf team of veteran advisers (manager Ed Rollins, pollster Ed Goeas, forensic coach Brett O'Donnell). They sanded down some of her rough edges but let Bachmann […]

Jun
17
2011

NYT's Greenhouse vs. 'Generous' Public Worker Compensation

Yesterday New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse (6/16/11) reported on efforts in several states to get public-sector workers to increase contributions to state pension funds–or, to put it more bluntly, to take a pay cut. Political leaders are claiming this is simply the only thing they can do–and Greenhouse helps them make their case. Right from the start, Greenhouse frames the political shift as "the most definitive sign yet that the era of generous compensation for public-sector employees is ending." Many studies have shown that public sector compensation isn't actually all that generous, and such workers might lag slightly […]

Jun
15
2011

Bachmann Comes Across as Less of a Nut–Thanks to Some Tactful Editing

The emerging storyline after the Republican presidential debate this week was that far-right Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is for real, mostly because she managed to sound, well, a little less crazy than she's sounded before. (No, they didn't quite put it like that.) There are stories about Bachmann's new Bach-mentum in the New York Times (6/15/11), the Washington Post (6/14/11) and USA Today (6/15/11). Let's take the Times' lead: The key question for Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota before the Republican debate on Monday night was whether she could appeal to voters beyond the Tea Party wing that she helped […]

Jun
15
2011

Tea Party: Anti-Corporate Corruption Fighters?

Some in the press still seem to have trouble defining whatever it is that motivates the Tea Party movement. I noticed this in an L.A. Times piece last week (6/5/11): Americans possess a long-standing wariness of power and its potential as a corrupting influence, especially in the hands of large institutions. That instinct bred our government system of checks and balances and, more recently, led members of the "tea party" to embrace the nation's founders (repackaged as a band of small-government crusaders) as the guiding lights of their movement. So "wariness of power" and the "corrupting influence" of "large institutions" […]

Jun
14
2011

The Press Plays Water Guns With the Bidens (Again)

Seriously, another one of these? Like last year, maybe some of the reporters involved find it valuable for the people they cover to get to know them on a more personal level, away from all the tough questions and dogged investigations.

Jun
13
2011

Newsweek's Nostalgia for Arab Dictatorships

If you feel like there hasn't been enough attention paid to the fact that the democratic movements in the Arab world are undermining the power of U.S. elites to have troublemakers tortured and/or killed, rest assured that Newsweek's Christopher Dickey has you covered this week (6/12/11): Among American spies there's more than a little nostalgia for the bad old days. You know, back before dictators started toppling in the Middle East; back when suspected bad guys could be snatched off a street somewhere and delivered to the not-so-tender mercies of interrogators in their home countries; back when thuggish tyrants, however […]

Jun
13
2011

June 2007 Flashback: The Clinton/Giuliani Election

I noticed a few stories in today's USA Today (6/13/11) about supposed Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. There will be plenty more of this to come–horserace commentary based on polling that's being done in order to give journalists a reason to talk about one candidate more than another, which candidate has "momentum" and so on. It's worth remembering that the polling at this stage of the race is useless. Actually, it's probably worse than that, since the political press corps obsesses over this trivia at the expense of doing any actually useful reporting about the candidates. I wanted to find a […]

Jun
10
2011

Anonymous NATO: We Don't Know Who Bombed That Tent

From the L.A. Times (6/9/11): A tattered tent, shreds of carpet and other scorched debris were all that were left of a favored retreat of Moammar Gadhafi just outside the Libyan capital, the aftermath of what appeared to be a NATO bombing run. Was the usually idyllic nature preserve a "command and control" center used by the Libyan military? Or was this an example of NATO attempting to assassinate the longtime Libyan dictator? A NATO official reached in Naples, Italy, late Wednesday emphasized that the Western alliance does not target people for killings, and the official would not confirm that […]

Jun
10
2011

To WaPo, Planet's Fate Is a 'Second-Tier Issue'

The Washington Post had a piece yesterday (6/9/11) on Mitt Romney's views on global warming. It serves as a reminder that Republican political candidates are under enormous pressure from the right-wing base of the party on this issue–any politician who's ever suggested that climate change is a problem, or backed efforts to address it, is in trouble. This is an important thing to point out. But that doesn't mean the Post thinks climate change is important. See the article's lead sentence: It seemed like a straightforward question on a second-tier issue: Would Mitt Romney disavow the science behind global warming? […]