Aug
22
2011

Fairness Doctrine Dead: Misconceptions Live On

The FCC announced it was doing away with dozens of rules today, including the Fairness Doctrine–perhaps one of the most widely misunderstood media policy concepts of all time. As the Hollywood Reporter put it: Bound to get the most attention though is ditching the Fairness Doctrine, an idea that was meant to force radio broadcasters into offering as much left wing political content as they offer right wing commentary. This is the Fairness Doctrine as imagined by right-wing talk show hosts as a way to scare listeners. Rush Limbaugh called it the "Hush Rush Bill," and claimed that it would […]

Aug
19
2011

ProPublica's False Balance on Economic Myths

ProPublica's factcheck of seven economic myths facing the country makes some good points: Taxes aren't going up, for instance. Some of the "myths" are a bit muddled: "The stimulus has been full of/free of fraud, waste and abuse." Is someone really saying the latter? But overall the piece tries vainly to balance myths that will please both the right and the left. For instance, Myth #3 doesn't appear to be a myth at all, but a difference of opinion between economists. But labeling it a myth serves the conservative perspective: The stimulus should have been bigger. This is a red […]

Aug
19
2011

Rick Perry's Jobs 'Swagger'

On NBC Nightly News (8/16/11): ANDREA MITCHELL: Perry's Texas swagger is his calling card, bred of a hardscrabble boyhood on the family farm and Aggie roots at Texas A&M. Perry's chief claim to challenging President Obama is the Texas jobs record. Perry says his state produced 40 percent of all the jobs created across America in the last two years, with an unemployment rate at 8.2 percent, well below the national average, partly because of the oil and gas boom, partly because of growing trade with Mexico and federal defense spending in Texas. Since Perry's campaign is based almost entirely […]

Aug
19
2011

ABC Evades Buffett's Tax Hike Proposal

When a super-wealthy guy like Warren Buffett talks about taxing the rich– in the pages of the New York Times, no less– it gets the rest of the media talking. But that doesn't mean that talk will get things right. Here's one example from ABC World News (8/15/11): BIANNA GOLODRYGA (ABC NEWS): Much of Buffett's income comes from capital gains, profits resulting from investments, and they're taxed at only 15%. Buffett's solution, rates should be raised for the 300,000 Americans who make more than a million a year, left alone for everyone else. An additional 1% tax on the richest […]

Aug
17
2011

She Was After His Money: Newsweek's Anonymous Strauss-Kahn Rumor Mill

A few weeks ago Newsweek's piece on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape case offered a welcome break from some of the sloppy, offensive coverage of the case we've seen elsewhere in the media. The magazine even cast doubt on some of the reporting coming from the New York Times. This week, though, is another matter. John Solomon has a piece outlining the Strauss-Kahn defense, and he includes this: Now sources familiar with Strauss-Kahn's case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, say the defense could speculate that the encounter went bad when housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo discovered she would not receive any […]

Aug
17
2011

It Would Be Violent if We Left Iraq

A headline and subhead in the Los Angeles Times: Iraq attacks raise new concerns about U.S. pullout Suicide bombings, car explosions and gunfire that killed at least 70 in an apparently coordinated assault suggests Iraqi forces may be overwhelmed by insurgents after American troops withdraw. Of course, these attacks happened while U.S. troops are still in the country– making the point about the U.S. "pullout" somewhat hard to follow. But this is a familiar argument. Remember the Time magazine cover photo of a disfigured Afghan woman last July? The magazine's political point was summed up by the text on the […]

Aug
16
2011

Times: U.S. Mideast Policy's "Uncomfortable Position"

In today's New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer notes the remarkable number of Congressmembers– more than 80–who are heading to Israel thanks to a program affiliated with AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying force. Steinhauer sizes up the political backdrop– the White House has strained relations with the current Israeli government, and there's more: the Palestinians are weighing a request to the United Nations Security Council to support a bid for statehood, leaving Washington in the uncomfortable position of blocking such a unilateral move while supporting democracy movements in other Arab nations. U.S. policy at the United Nations has historically been pro-Israel. […]

Aug
16
2011

If Bachmann Is Gasping for Media Oxygen, What Do You Say About Ron Paul?

One of the strangest comments post- Iowa straw poll came from reporter Kelly O'Donnell on NBC Nightly News (8/14/11): Both Pawlenty's exit and Perry's launch consumed political oxygen that typically would have gone to the straw poll's actual winner, Congresswoman Bachmann, who appeared on all five Sunday morning talk shows, including Meet the Press. I'm having trouble imagining how someone could put those two thoughts together. Bachmann was merely on five national TV shows Sunday morning. That's being overshadowed? If that's oxygen deprivation, one has to wonder what you'd call the media treatment of Ron Paul, who finished one percentage […]

Aug
15
2011

Bipartisan Robot Bashing

There was one moment in last Thursday's GOP presidential debate that seemed to sum things up. The candidates were asked if they would agree to a long-term budget/deficit reduction deal that was tilted 10 to 1 in favor of spending cuts over tax increases. This would be an unbelievably favorable outcome for anti-tax Republicans. Every candidate said they'd reject it. This got plenty of attention in the Saturday New York Times. Guest columnist and radio host Kurt Andersen wrote: And the most surprising, depressing moment was when former Gov. Jon Huntsman, along with the seven others, raised his hand after […]

Aug
15
2011

Weeding the Field: Press Declares "Top Tier" GOP Candidates

As we've said plenty of times before, one of the main jobs of campaign journalists is winnowing the field of candidates– which must come as a relief to voters who don't want to have more of a say in the process. Before the results of the Iowa straw poll rolled in this weekend, there were pieces about whether anyone should pay attention to the event in the first place. Most reporters are willing to admit that paying so much attention to an elaborate popularity contest where the candidates pay voters to participate is a little odd. The lesson for readers […]

Aug
12
2011

Drones in Pakistan: Equal Time for Killers?

The New York Times has a long piece (8/12/11) looking at the question of how many civilians in Pakistan are killed by CIA drones. The agency doesn't even speak about the program on the record, except to make the far-fetched claim that no civilians have died in the past year or so. The article, written by Scott Shane, includes some useful criticism of the CIA, and it's hard not to conclude that the agency's claims are not very credible. But the real problem with the piece is that it gives much weight to the CIA's defense at all, using their […]

Aug
12
2011

After London Police Killing, Media Focus on Problem of Police Restraint

Much of the media coverage of the riots in England dwells on the issue of police restraint. There is a "public backlash against police restraint," the Washington Post explained (8/11/11), with some wanting "a tougher response to the rash of disturbances that has sullied Britain's image." The problem is the "seemingly halting, even timorous, policing," according to one New York Times story (8/12/11). Another Times piece added: A former senior riot police officer with knowledge of current operations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the most recent riots were allowed to rage, in part, because police officers […]

Aug
10
2011

NYT and Obama's 'Disagreeable Medicine'

Today New York Times reporter Helene Cooper (8/10/11) surveys the bad economic situation and asks of Barack Obama: Is he willing to try to administer the disagreeable medicine that could help the economy mend over the long term, even if that means damaging his chances for re-election? What's that mean, exactly? The first person she quotes is former Clinton official (more recently, former managing director of Kissinger Associates) David Rothkopf, and he's talking about cutting so-called "entitlements": Mr. Obama, Mr. Rothkopf argues, has to focus in the next 18 months on getting the economy back on track for the long […]