Jul
13
2011

Newsweek Touts Palin's Wonky Insights on the Price of Slim Jims

Will the outrages ever stop? Newsweek's "I Can Win" cover story about Sarah Palin is awful. But Palin fans will have a hard time trying to figure out how to square this puff piece with the notion that the mainstream media is out to get Palin. The premise is that Palin could run for president–and win. Because, well, that's what she says. That's sort of the theme for the whole article, as it is full of quotes and observations from Palin family members and associates who are trying to 'set the record straight' about her political career. Like how she […]

Jul
13
2011

NYT's Immigrant Name-Calling

As we pointed out here and Monica Novoa pointed out here, Jose Antonio Vargas came out in the pages of the New York Times Magazine as an undocumented immigrant. In that piece and in some follow-ups, he seems to be aware of the distinction between "undocumented" and "illegal." His Times piece was headlined, "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant." That is the term he used in the article. It is completely inexplicable, then, that the magazine chose this headline for the Vargas letters this weekend: I, Illegal Immigrant

Jul
13
2011

Meet the New Boss: NBC's Pentagon Beat Sweetener

You may have heard about new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's trip to Iraq–mainly because while in the country he told some U.S. soldiers that they were there because of 9/11. That led to coverage like this in the Washington Post: On Monday, in his first visit to Iraq as Pentagon chief, Panetta appeared to justify the U.S. invasion of the country as part of the war against Al-Qaeda, a controversial argument made by the George W. Bush administration but rebutted by President Obama and many Democrats. Also rebutted by…reality. Panetta's visit was covered on television too. But on NBC Nightly […]

Jul
12
2011

Fox Media Show Skips Murdoch Scandal

Fox News Channel airs a weekly media criticism show called Fox News Watch. Disgraced New York Times reporter Judith Miller is one of the panelists because…well, it's Fox. TVNewser noticed that the show posts a web video of the chatter among the panelists during commercial breaks. On this weekend's show, they started talking about how they weren't gonna talk about Murdoch's current scandal. You can watch the video here. The conversation consisted mainly of right-wing panelist Cal Thomas saying, "Anyone want to bring up the subject we're not talking about, for the streamers?" That elicited some chuckles, and Thomas said: […]

Jul
11
2011

Could Hack Scandal Spell Trouble for Murdoch's U.S. TV Licenses?

As noted by an account on the TVNewser blog (7/11/11), on ABC's This Week panel there was some talk of Rupert Murdoch losing his U.S. television licenses over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. There is a "character clause" for broadcast licensees, and the current scandal would go a long way towards demonstrating a certain type of bad behavior. Here's how panelist Steven Brill put it: News Corp has a lot of FCC licenses. There's still a clause in the federal communications law that requires that you have to be of good character to have such a license, […]

Jul
11
2011

Is Japan Threatened by Anti-Nuke Politicians…or by Nukes?

I was struck by this headline in the Washington Post (7/10/11): Loss of Support for Nuclear Power Threatens Japan's Economy There are probably a lot of things that are threatening the Japanese economy–a massive, deadly earthquake and tsunami, for instance. Or the massive nuclear disaster that resulted from that tsunami. The news here is that Japanese officials are doing inspections of their nuclear reactors–as they've always done. The problem, apparently, is that they're doing more than that: Under ordinary circumstances, these shutdowns would be temporary. Instead, they loom as an urgent problem for Japan, whose government–itself divided over nuclear policy–has […]

Jul
11
2011

Newsweek Covers Egyptian Election…Via Israel

Here's the headline and subhead in a Newsweek piece (7/10/11) about the Egyptian presidential election: Egypt's Rising Power Player Amr Moussa is on track to succeed Mubarak. And that spells danger for Israel. Reporter Dan Ephron characterizes Moussa like this: "long and vocal history of anti-Israel diatribes" "his anger against Israel" "one of Israel's most relentless detractors in Egypt" "He confronted Israelis at conferences and attacked them in television interviews" "His tirades even made him the subject of a hit song" "his longstanding dislike of Israel" "anger at Israel is genuine" This would be a lot more convincing if there […]

Jul
11
2011

WaPost: Iraq 'Complicates' Withdrawal by Sticking to Plan

The current Status of Forces agreement calls for U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of the year. The U.S. government wants to stay longer, and would seem to be pressuring the Iraqi government to ask them to do just that. But the Iraqi government hasn't done that yet–leading to stories like this one in theWashington Post by Karen DeYoung (7/10/11), headlined "Iraqis Fail to Reach Consensus on Longer U.S. Troop Presence." The "failure" is that they haven't written a new agreement that would negate the current agreement. The Post presents this all as a strategic problem […]

Jul
08
2011

Zakaria: All U.S. Presidents Support Democracy (Except When They Don't)

In the Washington Post (7/7/11), Fareed Zakaria tries to defend Barack Obama against the criticism that he needs a more consistent foreign policy. He writes: All American presidents have supported and should support the spread of democracy. The real question is: Should that support involve active measures to topple undemocratic regimes, especially military force? Since this is an important part of his argument, it is worth noting that "all American presidents" have no such passion for the spread of democracy. There is a fairly rich history of U.S. foreign policy taking "active measures" to support undemocratic regimes. It is unclear […]

Jul
07
2011

Questioning Obama: The Pros vs. the Tweeters

Barack Obama took questions via Twitter at an event yesterday. The queries they posed didn't impress everyone– Michael Shear of the New York Times wrote: Most of the Twitter queries were not very tough-minded and gave the president the opportunity to repeat his talking points. Yeah– leave the question-asking to the professionals, who apparently know how to get politicians to stray from their talking points (anyone who's ever watched a White House press conference might find this unusual). The real difference, though, is in what issues are worth asking questions about. On that score, the Twitter users have different priorities […]

Jul
05
2011

Jose Antonio Vargas and the 'I Word'

Reporter Jose Antonio Vargas wrote a moving piece for the New York Times magazine about his status as an undocumented immigrant. One hope is that his story might improve the tone and substance of media coverage of immigration; Vargas has suggested as much, at one point tweeting this message: Undocumented Immigrant trending. So let's drop "Illegal" and "Alien." No person is illegal or an alien. His story has received a tremendous amount of media attention. But as Monica Novoa pointed out at ColorLines, too much coverage has dwelt on Vargas' "illegal" status: Vargas' story has drawn enormous media attention and […]

Jul
05
2011

Is the Justice Department Holding Torturers Accountable?

The answer might depend on which media outlet you rely on. I read the headline at Democracy Now! on Friday: "Justice Dept Drops 99 of 101 Cases Against CIA for Abuse and Torture" The New York Times, on the other hand, offered a different sort of emphasis: "U.S. Widens Inquiries Into 2 Jail Deaths"

Jul
05
2011

Ethan Bronner on the Non-Crisis in Gaza

When I saw the July 3 New York Times headline "Setting Sail on Gaza's Sea of Spin," I expected the worst. Times reporter Ethan Bronner's analysis piece on the Gaza humanitarian flotilla starts off predictably enough, saying there's blame to spread all around: Almost everything about the flotilla stuck in Greece and waiting to challenge Israel's blockade of Gaza seems to be a parable for something else, part of an unstated effort to recast the Israeli-Palestinian narrative in extreme terms. Instead of helping to clarify what Gaza needs and how it might build a future, the saga has merely brought […]