Aug
31
2011

The Libya Rebels and Al-Qaeda, Anonymously

FAIR editor Jim Naureckas tweeted recently, "NATO's installation of an Al Qaeda-friendly government in Libya is one of 2011's most underreported stories." He's got a point. The Washington Post today published a pretty interesting look at how the Libyan government viewed the jihadist threat, thanks to some documents recovered in Tripoli: The documents were uncovered days after the regime fell to rebel fighters led in part by a self-proclaimed former Islamist, Abdelkarim Belhadj. He has declared himself the leader of the "Tripoli Brigade" that spearheaded the defeat of Gadhafi loyalists in the capital. Belhadj is the former commander of the […]

Aug
31
2011

NYT TV Critic: Sharpton's Show Could Use More Misinformation

New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley has a piece (8/31/11) about Al Sharpton's debut as an MSNBC host. It seems his show, like others on the channel, could use more of a debate: On Monday Mr. Sharpton followed the patented formula, bringing in two experts who agreed with him that recent efforts in North Carolina and other states to stiffen voter-identity requirements and restrict early voting would mostly affect the minorities and younger voters who turned out in record numbers for Barack Obama in 2008. Mr. Sharpton called it a "poll tax by another name." It's an interesting issue, […]

Aug
30
2011

Libya and Terrorist Signatures

Under the headline "Nations Hope Veil Lifts From Libya's History of Terrorism," John Burns writes in today's New York Times (8/30/11): Television footage of the only man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing lying in bed, purportedly comatose with advanced prostate cancer at his Tripoli home, has provided a focal point for a question asked with new urgency in places far from Libya: With Col. Muammar el-Gadhafi's government in ruins, what reckoning is likely for the terrorist bombings that were once a signature of the former Libyan leader's war with the Western world? So terrorism was Gadhafi's "signature," and many "nations" […]

Aug
30
2011

Hurricanes and Climate Change? Close That Door!

In case you were wondering whether Irene sparked any discussions of climate change, here's a moment from the panel discussion on ABC's This Week (8/30/11): RON BROWNSTEIN (National Journal): Do we want to get into a global warming and a hurricanes discussion? DONNA BRAZILE (Democratic Strategist): No. BROWNSTEIN: I mean, I don't know if we want to open that door. Let that serve as a reminder to read Neil deMause's piece from the last issue of Extra! This was a laugh line, so I guess take it for what it's worth. On the other hand, Cokie Roberts seemed to be […]

Aug
29
2011

Ron Paul in the Post–by the Numbers

Washington Post ombud Patrick Pexton dedicated his column this weekend (8/29/11) to addressing complaints about the skimpy coverage of Republican presidential contender Ron Paul. It's hard to argue with the numbers he's gathered: Still, the Post's coverage of Paul looks thin compared with its stories on Bachmann. In the past six months, the Post has published online or in print 34 staff-written stories plus 12 wire service stories on Bachmann, who has served not even five years in the House, and that doesn't count the blog posts about her on the Fix or Glenn Kessler's Fact Checker pieces. The Post […]

Aug
26
2011

Zakaria, Libya and Iraq: Don't Remember What I Wrote

Fareed Zakaria cheers the Libya War in Time magazine this week for not following the Iraq model: It has been prosecuted with the memory of the Iraq war firmly in mind. Only this time the approach has been to view the last war as a negative example. The international coalition–and even the Libyan opposition–is doing pretty much the opposite of what was done in Iraq. Zakaria explains that Obama "was clearly trying to avoid the mistakes of Iraq." Among the mistakes the Bush administration made: Had UN weapons inspectors been given more time in the spring of 2003, the UN […]

Aug
26
2011

O'Keefe's Bogus NPR Sting Lives On

Jesse Jackson had some tough criticism for the Tea Party movement at a Martin Luther King event on Thursday. USA Today's Melanie Eversley covered his remarks, getting a Tea Party activist to respond to his criticism. The piece then added this, presumably in order to add some context: The group has faced criticism of being a racist group, a claim made most visibly by former National Public Radio fundraiser Ron Schiller, who was caught on hidden camera calling the group racist and xenophobic, prompting his immediate resignation. In other words, lots of people seem to hurl accusations of racism at […]

Aug
26
2011

Why Is Israel Bombing Gaza?

The coverage of the Israeli attacks on Gaza is following some predictable patterns. The New York Times has a headline today (8/26/11), "Israeli Strikes in Retaliation Kill Nine Gazans." Readers should ask: Retaliation for what? It's widely understood that this violence stems from the attack last week in the southern Israeli town of Eilat. As the Times puts it: "The recent round of violence started a week ago, with a terrorist attack on southern Israel in which eight Israelis were killed." The real question, though, is who committed these acts. The Times says: Israeli officials said the perpetrators and planners […]

Aug
26
2011

Ron Paul Top Tier Shakeup!

There is little reason to care about what the polls say right now about who's leading in the Republican presidential nomination. But the media obviously think otherwise, hence this headline in the Washington Post yesterday (8/25/11): Romney Loses GOP Front-Runner Status The "news" is that Rick Perry is leading in a new Gallup Poll. But read a little further: The survey showed Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) at 13 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) slipping to 10 percent. No other candidate registered in the double digits. So this means Paul's in the "top tier" now, right? This is a good […]

Aug
26
2011

Corporations Want to Create Jobs (and Other Myths)

New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer takes a look (8/26/11) at U.S. trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that are currently languishing in Congress. The piece calls them "free-trade" agreements, which is generally misleading: Trade deals usually involve complicated horse-trade negotiations regarding tariffs, patent protection and the like–meaning they make trade in some ways less free. But more important are the other assumptions in the piece: The three free-trade agreements, which originated with the Bush administration, would eliminate tariffs on cross-border transactions, expanding exports of American goods by about $12 billion a year, according to estimates by the […]

Aug
24
2011

NYT Quake Reporter: Don't Worry, Be Happy

The New York Times' Katharine Seelye begins her report (8/24/11) on yesterday's Virginia-centered earthquake with a dangerous inaccuracy: Of all the things there are to worry about, earthquakes are fairly low on the list for those on the East Coast. Actually, people on the East Coast should probably worry about earthquakes a lot more than they do. A study done of potential quake hazards faced by various cities placed Boston at slightly more risk than San Francisco (Wired Science, 8/23/11)–because the latter city, while more seismically active, is also better prepared. In New York City, where Seelye's main audience resides, […]

Aug
24
2011

News Report: Costly, Unnecessary Regulations Are Strangling the Economy

OK, that headline reflects one of the most common right-wing complaints against the Obama administration. (See Bill O'Reilly's bullet point on Monday: "Increased federal regulations: Cutting into profits and causing banks to hoard, not lend money.") That's the right-wing argument, but it's also the premise of some news reporting. Take this lead in today's USA Today: WASHINGTON — President Obama's effort to roll back costly regulations that are not needed could save more than $10 billion over five years, but critics say that's a drop in the bucket. That's a lot to pack into one sentence: Regulations are costly and […]

Aug
24
2011

NYT Points Out 'Racist Overtones' in Libyan Disinformation It Helped Spread

Today's New York Times has a story by David Kirkpatrick and Rod Nordland running down the exaggerations and misinformation that have been spread throughout the Libya War. There's been "spin from all sides," they report. Gadhafi's exaggerations are well-known, but this passage is rather striking: Still, the rebels have offered their own far-fetched claims, like mass rapes by loyalist troops issued tablets of Viagra. Although the rebels have not offered credible proof, that claim is nonetheless the basis of an investigation by the International Criminal Court. And there is the mantra, with racist overtones, that the Gadhafi government is using […]