Dec
14
2011

A New Lowe in Advertiser Cowardice

The national hardware chain Lowe's pulled its advertising from the TLC reality show All-American Muslim–explaining that the question of whether Muslims can be presented as regular human beings is a "hotly contested debate." All-American Muslim is a reality show described by TLC, the cable channel that airs it, as "a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan–home to the largest mosque in the United States–through the lens of five Muslim American families…an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community." But the Florida Family Association, a right-wing group leading the […]

Dec
13
2011

'Invented' Palestinians Can't Be Quoted

Of course Newt Gingrich (you know, the "big thinker" in the Republican campaign) made a lot of news by declaring that the Palestinians are an "invented" people. As As'ad AbuKhalill–aka Angry Arab–pointed out, the New York Times ran a piece on this controversy on December 10 quoting exactly two sources: former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk and David A. Harris, chief executive of the National Jewish Democratic Council. Times reporter Trip Gabriel also noted of Gingrich: He described Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, as denying Israel's right to exist. "You have Abbas, who says in the […]

Dec
13
2011

For False Balance, WaPo Cites Phony Report on Vote Fraud

In today's Washington Post (12/13/11), Jerry Markon reports on the news that the White House "will wade into the increasingly divisive national debate over new voting laws." But the article's explanation of the concept of "voter fraud"–the ostensible rationale for these Republican efforts to restrict voting–leaves a lot to be desired. Markon writes that liberal and civil rights groups have been raising alarms about the remaining laws, calling them an "assault on democracy" and an attempt to depress minority voter turnout. Supporters of the tighter laws say they are needed to combat voter fraud. That's the usual (and frustrating) on-the-one-hand, […]

Dec
12
2011

Great Moments in Campaign Journalism…

Three moments, actually: –NBC's Chuck Todd yesterday on Meet the Press (12/10/11), commenting on Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich: Well, first of all, those are a couple of nimble debaters. They are pretty good. I think we have seen it. This is the final two. I'm old enough to remember when Todd had the campaign narrowed down to a Top Three, way back in August: "We have a top tier. It is Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann." –ABC host Diane Sawyer, asked to describe (This Week, 12/11/11) the most revealing lesson she learned about the candidates after she […]

Dec
12
2011

Washington Post: Campaign Journalism or Campaign Advertising?

The Washington Post launched a series of Republican presidential candidate profiles on Sunday (12/11/11). First up was Mitt Romney, and right away you sense there's something a little off here. Here's the headline and subhead: The Problem Solver Mitt Romney doesn't want to talk about feeling voters' pain. He just wants to get to work relieving it. Reporter Ann Gerhart's piece begins: The mind of Mitt Romney is a supremely rational place. The article is full of quotes from Romney supporters, alongside nods of approval from the reporter: He is a man with a prodigious intellect who has been married […]

Dec
09
2011

Do as Bill O'Reilly Does and He'll Hit You With His Umbrella

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claims he was accosted by a "screaming" man "armed with a cell phone camera" on December 7 while walking to a media party at the White House in Washington, D.C. On his show the next night (O'Reilly Factor, 12/8/11), O'Reilly explained, I told the guy to get lost, but he came closer and closer, armed with a cell phone camera. When he was about a foot away, I turned to shield myself and my assistant with an umbrella. At this point, we were just a few feet away from the White House gate. According to […]

Dec
09
2011

Joe Klein: Newt's Kids-as-Janitors Plan Too Narrow

We know by now that Newt Gingrich thinks he's smart. And we know there are plenty of people in the corporate media who believe the same thing. How do they show their love for the brainy Republican presidential candidate? Time's Joe Klein shows the way in this week's issue (12/19/11) of the magazine. He doesn't think Gingrich should be president, but he does think Gingrich is full of interesting ideas. Well, what about that plan to have kids work as janitors cleaning their schools? Klein's problem with it is that it doesn't go far enough: I've known him for 25 […]

Dec
09
2011

Freedom of the Press–When You Own One

"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."– A.J. Liebling Rob Davis of VoiceofSanDiego.org reports on the new owner of his local daily: Doug Manchester, the new owner and publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune, wants his new media outlet to be a booster. The newspaper's new CEO, John Lynch, made that clear in an interview with me after Manchester bought the paper November 17. Lynch said he wanted the newspaper's sports page to advocate for a new Chargers stadium and call out opponents as obstructionists. He's since revisited those remarks, telling a Union-Tribune reporter that […]

Dec
09
2011

A Son's Death Didn't Make a Critic 'Credible'

Over on Twitter, Glenn Greenwald recommended this USA Today profile of Boston University historian Andrew Bacevich, who has been one of the most prolific and incisive critics of U.S. foreign policy in recent years. Greenwald called it "surprisingly good," which is right. But one thing about the piece really bothered me–how it dealt with the death of Bacevich's son in Iraq. Reporter Rick Hampson tells that story via the classroom: The students knew that Bacevich had always opposed the war in Iraq. They may have known that his only son, Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr., was an Army officer there. […]

Dec
09
2011

NPR Tries to Track Down Those Millionaire Job Creators

Dean Baker (12/9/11) flagged this NPR Morning Edition report today (12/9/11), and it's well worth a positivity. In the debate over the payroll tax cut, Democrats want to pay for extending the tax break with a surtax on the wealthy. Republicans claim–usually without being challenged by reporters–that a surtax on millionaires would be an attack on job-creating small-business owners. So NPR decided to go to GOP officials and ask to speak with these small-business-owning, millionaire job-creators. Turned out there was trouble finding any: We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So NPR requested help from numerous […]

Dec
09
2011

Why Is PBS Telling Us That Profit Is Journalism's Friend?

PBS has a website called MediaShift, billed as "Your Guide to the Digital Media Revolution." Based on an alarming post this week headlined "Tear Down the Wall Between Business and Editorial!" (12/7/11), the revolution looks rather revolting. The piece is written by Dorian Benkoil, who "handles marketing and sales strategies for MediaShift, and is the business columnist for the site"–a job description that suggests that PBS has already torn down the wall between business and editorial, since those responsibilities would seem to put you in a constant position of conflict of interest. (He earlier worked as "a liaison between the […]

Dec
08
2011

How Iran Assertions Turn Into 'Facts'

The New York Times today (12/8/11), reporting on the CIA drone that went down in Iran, refers in passing to the recent public debate in Israel about whether time is running out for a military strike to slow Iran's progress toward a nuclear weapon. Of course, the assumption here is that Iran is making "progress towards a nuclear weapon." That is what some political elites and many in the media say, but that doesn't make it true. And there is no evidence to support that assertion. And basing a debate around an assumption that might be entirely false is, of […]

Dec
07
2011

Republicans and the Hezbollah-in-Mexico Menace

Political campaign watchers seem to agree that the election will be about the economy, and that Republicans probably won't have much to say about Obama's foreign policy (partly because it doesn't much differ from what a Republican president might be doing). The New York Times' Richard Oppel has a piece today headlined, "Republican Candidates Aim at Obama Foreign Policy." So what exactly is the Republican case against Obama's foreign policy? That it's too soft on the Hezbollah menace on our southern border. Seriously. Oppel writes: A small but revealing episode unfolded in the closing minutes of the last Republican presidential […]