May
30
2012

Those Children Weren't Civilians–Says Nobody

On Sunday, there were reports of a NATO airstrike in the eastern Paktia province of Afghanistan. The early reports said that a family of eight was killed, as the New York Times reported: The casualties took place in eastern Paktia province on Saturday night when the family's home was hit by a bomb, said Rohullah Samoon, a spokesman for the governor of Paktia. Six children were killed, four boys and two girls, as well as their mother and father, whose name was Safiullah. But an Associated Press report that appeared in the Washington Post (5/28/12) looked very different, thanks mostly […]

May
25
2012

It's Not About Climate Change–It's About Keeping Advertisers Happy

Scientific American has a dilemma (Extra!, 2/11): It takes advertising from oil companies whose profits depend on denying the most important scientific fact of our era, the reality of human-caused climate change. The magazine would lose its whole brand identity if it pretended global warming wasn't happening, but there are things short of that that will make its fossil-fuel-selling advertisers a little happier. Such as running blog posts like "It's Not About Tar Sands–It's About Us" by Melissa C. Lott and Scott McNally (5/23/12). Lott and McNally–both of whom have worked for the energy industry when they aren't science blogging–dispute […]

May
25
2012

Gawker's New Media Model: Have Advertisers Edit Content

How's this for a business model for new media? Have people talk about products, and let the corporations who make the products pay to control the conversation. That's Gawker's new sure-fire money-making scheme, according to CJR (5/24/12), which quotes a memo from the media gossip site: "In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform." CJR explains that people mainly read Gawker for the snarky comments, so site founder Nick Denton is planning on virtually doing away with posts: Expect Gawker's blog posts to get shorter, in future, and sometimes just be a headline, at least […]

May
24
2012

If GOP Was Anti-Racist, Why Wasn't Buckley a Democrat?

The conservative National Review, which has had a longstanding attachment to racism (FAIR Blog, 4/11/12) which it has lately shown signs of regretting, now has a cover story (5/28/12) by Kevin Williamson that argues that the Democratic Party is now and always has been the party of racism, while the GOP has always been the party of civil rights. Sample: That is because those Southerners who defected from the Democratic Party in the 1960s and thereafter did so to join a Republican Party that was far more enlightened on racial issues than were the Democrats of the era, and had […]

May
24
2012

Chris Matthews and the Awesome Power of Cable Television

Here's the video of MSNBC host Chris Matthews speaking at a cable industry conference this week. We noted here the odd notion that, as Matthews argues, 24-hour cable news would have stopped the Iraq War lies–despite the fact that 24-hour cable news had been around for more than 20 years at the time of the invasion. But watching the video is rather jarring: Matthews' passionate critique of embedded, what-officials-say-is-OK-with-me journalism sounds like Amy Goodman. It's so fundamentally at odds with Matthews' actual work that you have to wonder whether he believes any of it. Of course, Matthews was speaking at […]

May
23
2012

Chris Matthews: Cable News Would Have Stopped Iraq War Lies

(UPDATE: See the video of Matthews' comments here, along with some discussion of what it all means.) Reporting from the big cable TV industry event this week, Broadcasting & Cable's Andrea Morabito writes (5/22/12): Hardball host Chris Matthews argued that because of the rise of opinion-based news networks, the non-critical aspect of the media is gone, going as far to say that the reporting that verified the U.S. administration's claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002 would not happen today because of cable news. "I would like to think there would be a reckoning we didn’t have […]

May
23
2012

Give Friedman a Chance–to Rewrite His Own History

Thomas Friedman on Face the Nation this past Sunday (5/20/12): You know, I believed from the beginning we had four choices in Afghanistan, Bob: lose early, lose late, lose big, or lose small. And, you know, my hope was that we would lose small and early. Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, November 2, 2001: A month into the war in Afghanistan, the hand-wringing has already begun over how long this might last. Let's all take a deep breath and repeat after me: Give war a chance.  

May
23
2012

Karl Rove's Ad 'Deeply Researched'–Says NYT

New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters (5/22/12) covers the new attack ad being released by Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS group. Under the (somewhat funny) headline "Subtler Entry from Masters of Attack Ads," Peters makes it sound like this is something of a scoop, and certainly a pretty big deal: When it makes its debut Wednesday in 10 swing states as the centerpiece of a $25 million campaign, it is expected to become one of the most heavily broadcast political commercials of this phase of the general election. So what do Times readers learn? We get the inside scoop on the […]

May
22
2012

Time on Netanyahu: Frozen Puffery

I finally managed to get all the way through Richard Stengel's fawning cover story about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At a moment when incumbents around the world are being shunted aside, he is triumphant. With his bullet-proof majority, he has a chance to turn himself into the historic figure he has always yearned to be. And it traces what it says is Netanyahu's appeal to U.S. audiences: He appeared regularly on Nightline and became the Israeli-American It boy–confident, handsome, fearsomely articulate in virtually accentless English. Every suburban Jewish mother had a crush on him. "Bibi was the streetwise local […]

May
21
2012

Now They Tell Us: Iranian Diamonds, Megrahi Questions

Two things in the New York Times today that readers should have already known more about: –Reporter William Broad has an article (5/21/12) on the state of nuclear inspections in Iran, particularly the military facility at Parchin. Broad tells readers about the "proposed inspection of a building that the agency suspects Iran used in testing explosives that can trigger a nuclear blast." People following this story know that the facility in question is at the heart of the case against Iran. When the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report last November that finally detailed some of the allegations against […]

May
21
2012

Why It Matters That There's No Such Thing as Simpson-Bowles

Dan Balz, the Washington Post's chief correspondent (5/20/12), complains that President Barack Obama hasn't solved America's fiscal problems: Obama has drawn criticism for failing to offer more forceful leadership. He established the Simpson-Bowles commission but declined opportunities at key moments to push and prod for its consideration and enactment. There's an odd syntax here that reflects some slippery thinking. Grammatically, "its" in the second sentence seems like it would refer to the Simpson-Bowles commission, but that would be nonsensical. You're presumably supposed to think it means the commission's plan, but that's a trick–there was no plan passed by the commission […]

May
21
2012

NYT and Honduras Killings, Take Two

On Friday (5/18/12) we noted that the New York Times and Washington Post had long pieces about a drug war shooting in Honduras that reportedly killed four innocent bystanders, including two pregnant women. The story got increased attention here in the U.S. because of the apparent involvement of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Honduran officials and sources claimed the dead were civilians. The Times and Post, though, granted anonymity to U.S. officials to claim that the dead were maybe not civilians at all; in fact, according to some of these unnamed officials, the whole town where the shooting occurred was involved […]

May
18
2012

NYT, WaPo Let Unnamed U.S. Officials Spin Honduras Killings

The details are somewhat murky, but we know the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is heavily involved in counternarcotics in Honduras. A shooting incident last Friday reportedly left four innocent people dead–including two pregnant women. Questions are being raised about whether they were shot by DEA agents who were apparently going after a boat carrying drug smugglers. The story has become a scandal in Honduras, as the New York Times reports today (5/18/12) Residents of the isolated Mosquito Coast of Honduras have burned down government buildings and are demanding that American drug agents leave the area immediately With a story like […]