Jul
21
2011

NBC Finds 'Balance' in Debt Ceiling Poll

NBC (Nightly News, 7/19/11) did some polling to see what the public thinks about the Republican and Democratic positions on the budget and debt ceiling : CHUCK TODD: Now, look, any sort of deal is putting pressure on the bases of both parties. For Republicans, a large majority of the country is telling Republicans get off the no new taxes pledge and compromise, 62 percent. TEXT: NBC News/The Wall Street Journal Should Republicans Compromise? Agree to Raise Taxes Yes 62% No 27% TODD: But inside those numbers, tea party supporters, 65 percent of them say to Republicans, "No. Stick to […]

Jul
21
2011

The Times' 'Truism' on Mideast Peace

The first sentence of Mark Landler's piece in the New York Times today (7/21/11): It is a truism of Middle East peacemaking that the United States is the pivotal player–the most credible broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. If by "truism" he means "something most people don't believe to be true," then this makes sense. If he means "truism" in the other, more conventional way, then it is difficult to understand the article in question–which is about Palestinian efforts to pursue alternatives to U.S.-backed negotiations.

Jul
18
2011

Murdoch's Journal Defends Bosses on News Corp Scandal

In the wake of the News Corp scandal and the resignation of their own paper's publisher/CEO, the editors of the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal came out swinging today (7/18/11) against critics who would question the Journal's own standards and even "perhaps injure press freedom in general." Today's editorial first goes for deflection: Scotland Yard's failure to stop the hacking is "more troubling than the hacking itself," and "it is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt […]

Jul
18
2011

Puffing Petraeus

Newsweek (7/17/11) begins a piece on David Petraeus becoming CIA director with an account of how he got the "short-term job done" after he was named commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan: Now, after 13 months, the 58-year-old Petraeus is coming home to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Since that day in the Oval Office, hopeful signs have begun appearing that he may have performed the seemingly impossible task of stabilizing the Afghan battlefield. The article, by reporter John Barry, doesn't provide much detail on what these "hopeful signs" are, but Afghan civilian deaths are up 15 percent in the […]

Jul
15
2011

Fox's Eric Bolling Fans on Terror Facts–Twice

Glenn Beck's temporary replacement in the 5 p.m. slot on Fox News, Eric Bolling, has started out with a bang. On the July 13 edition of his new show the Five, the host declared: "America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don't remember any attacks on American soil during that period of time." After Bolling's error, erasing 9/11 and several other deadly terrorism attacks from the Bush record, was pointed out by outlets including Media Matters and Huffington Post, the host returned to the air Thursday to issue a correction that sounded more like a retaliation against those […]

Jul
15
2011

McHistory: Fox Launched to Counter Nonexistent Leftism of MSNBC

The headline of Al Neuharth's column in USA Today (7/15/11) summed up his case: "Murdoch Media Give You What You Want." That sort of depends on who "you" is. Neuharth explains: Murdoch has an uncanny knack for figuring out what a sizable segment of readers and viewers want and giving it to them. Straight or slanted. His Fox News television network is as blatantly right-wing as Murdoch intended it to be when he started it in 1996 to counter the left-wing MSNBC. Oh, so that's what explained the launch of Fox News Channel in October 1996–the rampant left-wing bias of […]

Jul
15
2011

USA Today Debunks Once Again the Myth of the Bloody Border

USA Today published a useful investigation today (7/15/11) finding that "rates of violent crime along the U.S./Mexico border have been falling for years," that U.S. border cities are "statistically safer on average than other cities in their states" and "border cities, big and small, have maintained lower crime rates than the national average, which itself has been falling." The USA Today report is not the first to dispel what it calls the "bloody" picture of the U.S. border with Mexico. But while it cites politicians, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, for spreading the myth, the piece lets right-wing media, including […]

Jul
15
2011

The Brave World of Boehner/Obama Bipartisanship

Media love the "middle" in politics–where leaders of the two major parties come together to find common ground, renew the national spirit and/or live up to the ideals of the Founders. Time magazine (7/14/11) has a soppy piece about Barack Obama and Republican leader John Boehner's attempt to reach a budget deal. Those efforts–some of which happened in secret–are, according to reporters Jay Newton-Small and Michael Scherer, the story of two self-described dealmakers in a town where dealing is often a synonym for surrender, who ran up against the limits of their roles, their powers and their colleagues. Boehner and […]

Jul
15
2011

Media Malpractice on the Debt Debate

The convention in mainstream journalism is that the new stories give you the facts, and the columnists give you their opinions (hopefully backed by facts). But in the coverage over the debt ceiling and budget debates sometimes you're better off heading straight to the columns. Today offers a good example. In the Washington Post (7/15/11), Ezra Klein lays out the political dynamic that is rarely explained. As Klein writes, the White House has decided to offer Republicans a deal that is not only much farther to the right than anyone had predicted, but also much farther to the right than […]

Jul
14
2011

Olbermann: O'Reilly's Hacking Hypocrisy

On Tuesday FAIR documented that Fox host Bill O'Reilly called for the prosecution of media outlets that published Sarah Palin's hacked emails in 2008– which might mean, if he were at all consistent, that O'Reilly wants to see his boss Rupert Murdoch do some hard time over the far more serious News Corp. hacking scandal. FAIR's research showed up on Keith Olbermann's Countdown program on Current last night– where O'Reilly was named The Worst Person in the World. Watch it (starts at around the 2:15 mark):

Jul
14
2011

The Strangeness of Afghan Culture

The end of a Wall Street Journal article (7/14/11) on a new report on Afghan deaths highlights the peculiarity of their culture: Of civilian casualties, 2 percent were caused by night raids, slightly down from last year, with 30 fatalities, the report says. Night raids have been a contentious issue between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. military officers and civilian leaders. The raids are sensitive in Afghanistan, because foreign soldiers burst into civilian homes, where strangers are unwelcome in the country's conservative Islamic traditions. What a strange place. I guess in a civilized society, when a foreign soldier bursts […]

Jul
13
2011

NYT Says: No All-Star Game Immigration Protests. And Reality Says. . .

The headline in today's New York Times (7/13/11): Plenty of Action Before the Game, but No Immigration Law Protests The Paper of Record reported that the much-discussed protests against Arizona's SB 1070 law fizzled: In the end, commerce trumped conscience. It was no mystery why the fervor over the immigration law was as flat as a half-full can of soda left in the 100-degree heat. Meanwhile, back in reality (Think Progress, 7/13/11):

Jul
13
2011

Rebel Atrocities 'Pale' Next to Gadhafi's Similar Atrocities

A New York Times piece by C.J. Chivers (7/13/11) presents a scary picture of Libyan rebel behavior: Rebels in the mountains in Libya's west have looted and damaged four towns seized since last month from the forces of Col. Muammar el-Gadhafi, part of a series of abuses and apparent reprisals against suspected loyalists that have chased residents of these towns away, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. The looting included many businesses and at least two medical centers that, like the towns, are now deserted and bare. Rebel fighters also beat people suspected of being loyalists and burned their homes, the […]