Apr
30
2012

What No One Said About NCLB Profiteering (Except the People Who Were Saying It)

New York Times columnist Gail Collins had a good critique of standardized testing and the No Child Left Behind law (4/28/12), weighing in on the "Pineapplegate" controversy about a bizarre question that appeared on a New York English exam. She writes: We have turned school testing into a huge corporate profit center, led by Pearson, for whom $32 million is actually pretty small potatoes. Pearson has a five-year testing contract with Texas that's costing the state taxpayers nearly half-a-billion dollars. Indeed. But then comes this: This is the part of education reform nobody told you about. You heard about accountability, […]

Apr
30
2012

For WaPo, Promises to the Elderly Have 'No Economic Significance'

I gave my daughter a tip on being a media critic: "If you see a newspaper article with the words 'Social Security' in the title," I told her, "it's probably bad." Sure enough, the article we were looking at–"Fixing Social Security," by Washington Post columnist Allan Sloan (4/29/12)–was pretty terrible. Sloan's argument is that cuts in Social Security benefits are "inevitable" because of "projections that Social Security's cash expenses will exceed its cash income as far as the eye can see." Note the important qualifier: "cash income." That means excluding Social Security's investment income. Including that income, Social Security is […]

Apr
24
2012

Who Thinks Paul Ryan Is Mr. Serious?

Sometimes it's the little moments that tell you something–like this from a Meet the Press panel discussion (4/22/12) about potential running mates for Mitt Romney: DAVID GREGORY: E.J., the point though also about Paul Ryan is that if you want to send a message you're serious about the budget you could do that with Paul Ryan. DIONNE: Well, I don't think his budget is serious, so I disagree with the premise of the question. It's worth remembering that in the Beltway media, "Paul Ryan is Mr. Serious Budget" is the neutral, middle-of-the-road position, and someone who thinks otherwise–based on, you […]

Apr
24
2012

Prostitution Scandal Is the Big Government Story You Were Waiting For

The Beltway press is remarkably fixated on two stories: A "scandal" over an $800,000 General Services Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas, and the unfolding saga involving prostitutes and some Secret Service and military officers in Colombia. The White House thinks both are bad, of course, but not worth the amount of coverage they're getting. Beltway journalists think otherwise, and seem to want to believe that by paying so much attention to these stories they are a) standing up to the government by exposing wrongdoing; and b) not really talking about prostitutes at all, but telling a larger quasi-morality tale […]

Apr
23
2012

Obama's Not Quite Silver Spoon Swipe UPDATED

Last week Barack Obama declared some sort of class war on Mitt Romney–at least that's what Fox, the New York Post and a few other outlets would have you believe. On April 18, Obama gave a speech at a community college touting, among other things, a rather common only-in-America underdog spirit: Somebody gave me an education. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn't. But somebody gave us a chance–just like these folks up here are looking for a chance. The next day, as blogger Michael Thaddeus pointed out (4/21/12), Fox host Steve Doocy added a […]

Apr
23
2012

PBS Series, Brought to You by Dow Chemical Company

Seen FAIR's recent alert about Dow's sponsorship of a PBS series? Want to do something about it? Write to the ombudsman to encourage an investigation. And paste your letter in the comments section below.

Apr
23
2012

Anti-Obama, Pro-Romney Media? Don't Believe the Hype

There seems to be a lot of attention to a new study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) study that finds Barack Obama to be much more harshly covered than the Republicans competing to run against him this fall. "Obama Has Received Least Favorable News Coverage So Far During 2012 Election Cycle" reads the headline at Think Progress (4/23/12). At the Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz writes, "During the bruising Republican primaries, there was one candidate whose coverage was more relentlessly negative than the rest"–that candidate, it turns out, is Barack Obama. A study like this is a handy […]

Apr
20
2012

NY Times Bungles Keystone Debate (Again)

More Democrats are starting to shift towards supporting the controversial Keystone pipeline, reports Jennifer Steinhauer in the New York Times (4/20/12). The media discussion has leaned heavily in favor of the project, so perhaps this is no surprise. And this report is no exception. The political fight over Keystone has a lot to do with how the story is framed. Take this paragraph from Steinhauer: With gas prices sticking near $4 a gallon, unemployment high in many states and demonstrable support for the project in numerous polls, many Democrats–especially those from states where pipelines are commonplace–are beginning to sound almost […]

Apr
20
2012

NYT Finds Fox News Whistleblower!

Brian Stelter reports in the New York Times that Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity are renewing their contracts…meaning that we'll be enjoying–and paying for–their talents through the 2016 election season. Not many people around Fox wanted to speak on the record about the new deals, but Stelter granted anonymity to one Fox insider who was more than willing to spill the beans: A colleague of Mr. O'Reilly's, speaking on the condition of anonymity because Fox had not given permission to speak on the record, said he seemed as engaged as ever, despite having had the job for 16 years. "He […]

Apr
19
2012

Now They Tell Us: Iran Didn't Actually Threaten to Wipe Israel Off the Map

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor acknowledged on Al Jazeera English (4/14/12) that Iranian leaders have never called for Israel to be "wiped" off the map. Meridor agreed with interviewer Teymoor Nabili's suggestion that the supposed remarks were never actually made; Iranian leaders, Meridor said, come basically ideologically, religiously, with the statement that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive. They didn't say "we'll wipe it out," you are right, but [that] it will not survive, it is a cancerous tumor, it should be removed. Hostile words, to be sure, but not the menacing threat endlessly reported in […]

Apr
18
2012

Assange's 'Nut Job' Portrayal Says More About Portrayers

New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley–whose work has been regularly featured in the paper's Corrections box–doesn't think much of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange's new TV show, which debuted on the Russian-backed RT cable channel. Stanley takes her shots–the channel has a "zesty anti-American slant," she writes, then crudely notes: "A few correspondents can sound at times like Boris and Natasha of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame." OK. Stanley runs down the various controversies swirling around Assange, then presents his response: "Mr. Assange tells reporters that he is being persecuted for political reasons, which, even if true, doesn't exactly help his case." I'm […]

Apr
18
2012

Washington Post's Molotov Peace Offer

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has delivered a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that calls for a resumption of peace negotiations. Look at the image the Washington Post (4/18/12) used to accompany its story about this : I will admit that a letter might not lend itself to an interesting graphic, but it sure seems odd to use a fiery Molotov cocktail instead.

Apr
17
2012

NYT: Iranians and Their Lying Religion

There are different ways media talk about how you can't trust Iran. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, for one, went straight for bigotry: "These Persians lie like a rug," he wrote in 2009. The New York Times took a slightly different route on Saturday (4/14/12) : Maybe Iran can't be trusted because their religion permits–or perhaps even encourages–duplicity. "Seeking Nuclear Insight in Fog of the Ayatollah's Utterances" was the headline over the piece by James Risen. It's hard to know what the fog might be; the Iranian leader who actually has control over the nuclear program–supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei–has […]