As if tensions between the United States and Iran weren't high enough, here's PBS NewsHour anchor Margaret Warner (1/9/12): The Iranian government insists that its nuclear activities are for peaceful energy purposes only, an assertion disputed by the U.S. and its allies. On CBS yesterday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta repeated international demands that Iran stop enriching uranium. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA: But we know that they're trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that's what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is, do not develop a nuclear weapon. That's a red line for us. They need [...]
In its new issue, Newsweek puts this as #4 on their list of "31 Ways To Get Smarter In 2012": 4. Get News from Al Jazeera Don't shut yourself out from new ideas. A 2009 study found that viewers of Al Jazeera English were more open-minded than people who got their news from CNN International and BBC World. That's a nice idea. Someone should tell my cable company, who make me pay way too much for the privilege of having Fox News Channel.
We've been seeing a lot of this sort of thing lately–this time from Elizabeth Wurtzel on TheAtlantic.com (1/9/12): All the reasons Romney is disliked are all the reasons he would be an excellent president. Let's start by recognizing that principled politicians are highly overrated–consider Jimmy Carter as Exhibit A. Despite our pretensions to pretension, we are not a country that loves ideology–we're not, heaven forbid, France–so much as we are a can-do people that, after all, last elected a yes-we-can president. We like what works, not what it says in The Communist Manifesto, which reads like a guidebook for a [...]
Elizabeth Jensen has a preview (New York Times, 1/8/12) of the new Bill Moyers program coming to public television stations later this month–a show that is not being distributed by PBS. Why not? She reports: Mr. Moyers said he was unsure why PBS, where he has spent most of his career since 1971, declined the show for its main schedule. Some public television executives, who would not publicly comment on a sensitive issue, said they believed that PBS did not want to realign itself with Mr. Moyers, a longtime target of some conservatives, as it was fighting to keep its [...]
Real estate developer and media mogul Mort Zuckerman has picked Colin Myler to be the new top editor for his New York tabloid, the Daily News. That's a surprising choice on at least a couple of accounts. One is that Myler's last job was at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, which was shut down while he was boss due to the scandal over News reporters hacking into people's voicemail for scoops. True, the phone hacking seems to have happened before Myler got there–but he seems to have been brought in by Murdoch not so much to clean up as [...]
FAIR's latest Action Alert (1/6/12) urges activists to contact the New York Times about its repeated assertions, contrary to the available evidence, that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Feel free to leave copies of your messages to the Times in the comments thread here, along with any thoughts on the alert.
The usual criticisms of the Iowa caucuses–that the votes of a small, demographically unrepresentative slice of America gobble up too much airtime–are basically correct. As David Sirota noted in Salon (1/3/12): The same journalism industry that pleads poverty to justify cutting big city newspapers' editorial staffs, gutting coverage of state legislatures and city councils, and eliminating every other critical topic not related to Washington's red-versus-blue fetish from news content–as writer Joe Romero recounts, this same industry has for months devoted a massive army to cover Iowa's small contest. Just one example of the absurdity: At least one of Rick Santorum's [...]
Sean Hannity got his start in radio on UC Santa Barbara's KCSB in the late 1980s, where he got in trouble for promoting homophobia and disinformation about HIV and AIDS. I wrote about this in a 2003 Extra! profile of the then-Fox News show Hannity & Colmes: After airing for less than a year, Hannity's weekly show was canceled in 1989, when KCSB management charged him with "discriminating against gays and lesbians" after airing two shows featuring the book The AIDS Coverup: The Real and Alarming Facts About AIDS (Independent, 6/22/89). Written by homophobic Christian-right activist Gene Antonio, the book [...]
The new issue of Time magazine promises on its cover "Essential Info for the Year Ahead." One apparently essential report: U.S. drones are awesome. The report–written by Mark Thompson, available to subscribers only explains that a "hot military trend" this way: Today's generals and admirals want weapons that are smaller, remote-controlled and bristling with intelligence. In short, more drones that can tightly target terrorists, deliver larger payloads and are some of the best spies the U.S. has ever produced, even if they occasionally get captured in Iran or crash on landing at secret bases. And also, you know, kill innocent [...]
Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel has a column in the Washington Post today (1/3/12) outlining the three important election issues to watch–and one of them is about how the press covers the process: Third, the media's obsession with false equivalence: How the election is covered will almost certainly have a measurable impact on its outcome. The New York Times' Paul Krugman describes what he's witnessing as "post-truth politics," in which right-leaning candidates can feel free to say whatever they want without being held accountable by the press. There may be instances in which a candidate is called out for saying [...]
Washington Post reporter Nia-Malika Henderson reports today (1/3/12)that Republican candidate Ron Paul really says some weird things out on the campaign trail. His appearances start out normal… And then, for the next 45 minutes or so, he outlines a view of the world so bleak it would make Chicken Little sound like an optimist. Now, to be fair, some of what he says is more than a little troubling. Massive federal budget cuts could cause some people to suffer, he explains, but "they should have to suffer." The piece closes on this note: There is one radical change Paul likes: [...]
George Will's January 1 column in the Washington Post was a laundry list of familiar criticisms of progressives and Democrats–they worry too much about climate change, for instance. Another non-problem, in Will's world, is student loan debt: Political logic suggests that this year Obama will try to rekindle the love of young voters with some forgiveness of student debts. But one-third of students do not borrow to pay college tuition. The average debt for those who do borrow to attend a four-year public institution is $22,000, and the average difference between the per-year earnings of college graduates and those with [...]
On December 25, New York Times reporter David Barstow filed this update on the scandal that he broke back in 2008: A Pentagon public relations program that sought to transform high-profile military analysts into "surrogates" and "message force multipliers" for the Bush administration complied with Defense Department regulations and directives, the Pentagon's inspector general has concluded after a two-year investigation. Those who don't recall Barstow's original story can catch up by reading this FAIR action alert (4/22/08): According to the Times, the Pentagon recruited over 75 retired generals to act as "message force multipliers" in support of the Iraq War, [...]