Aug
21
2012

Niall Ferguson Can't Be Factchecked!

Niall Ferguson's Newsweek cover story "Hit the Road, Barack" has attracted lots of the wrong kind of attention. As Dean Baker put it: It's hard to believe that progressive bloggers didn't get together to pay Newsweek to run Niall Ferguson's piece on Obama. The thing is so shot full of easily identifiable errors no serious publication would ever allow it into print. But printed it was–a lengthy cover-story argument against re-electing Obama, based on an array of charts and economic facts that the Harvard professor believes bolster his case. The first–and arguably most important–error was flagged in a blog post […]

Aug
21
2012

ABC: Social Security Running Out of Money?

Part of ABC's This Week show (8/19/12) was devoted to the idea that, as host Jake Tapper put it, the U.S. economy is at a potentially defining moment: The great debate: Can we restore the nation's finances, or is the U.S. headed toward bankruptcy–an issue at the forefront of the presidential debate, especially since Mitt Romney's selection of Congressman Paul Ryan. Setting aside the notion of "bankruptcy," it's worth pointing out that despite Ryan's professed interest in taming the debt, his budget plans don't actually do much of that. The "all-star panel of experts" was going to tackle this weighty […]

Aug
20
2012

The Faulty Assumption Behind Bad Reporting on Iran

The Washington Post (8/17/12) has a story on Iran and the threat of war that begins with this: Preparations in Israel for a possible war are focusing new attention on whether Israel will attack Iran's nuclear facilities and forcing an unwelcome debate in the thick of a presidential campaign about the U.S. role in stopping an Iranian bomb. The article, by Anne Gearan and Karin Brulliard, repeats the same assumption a number of times–Iran is after a nuclear weapon: Some say that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is bluffing in hopes of forcing President Obama to issue an ultimatum to […]

Aug
20
2012

What if Paul Ryan Isn't Really a Wonk? Krugman vs. Campaign Reporters

If you know anything of substance about Paul Ryan, it's that the Republican vice presidential pick knows his numbers. A Washington Post profile today by Michael Leahy (8/20/12) tells us: He got his start on Capitol Hill as a 19-year-old intern working in the mailroom of Sen. Bob Kasten (R-Wis.). That led in time to positions on congressional committees and habits he hasn't broken since, including a staffer's zeal for voracious research, for charts and PowerPoint presentations, and a facility for budget numbers that he recites with a savant's glee. As if that weren't clear enough, we're told later that […]

Aug
20
2012

Another Brave, Anonymous Campaign Whistleblower

The Washington Post has done it again. Reporter Felicia Sonmez (8/17/12) somehow got a  Republican campaign adviser to spill the beans on the Ryan/Romney relationship : A senior Republican adviser close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Ryan views Romney's career as "a case study of some of the ideas that he has been immersed in and debating about for years." "By his intellect and political upbringing, he is a natural champion for the success of the free-market system," the adviser said of Ryan. "He's a true believer in the free-market system. And so he […]

Aug
17
2012

FAIR TV: False Balance, NPR Ethics and the Press Crush on Paul Ryan

In this new episode of FAIR TV: The media's Paul Ryan crush, fact checking failure at PBS and a look at the curious ethics at NPR.

Aug
17
2012

NY Times Does Good Ryan Fact Check– If You Can Find It

Sometimes the facts that need checking are pretty easy to check. That seemed to be the case with some misleading statements Paul Ryan made at a campaign stop yesterday. The New York Times set the record straight. Unfortunately their fact check was pretty much buried. The piece (8/17/12) by Trip Gabriel–headlined "Ryan Pushes Working-Class Message in Ohio"–is all about how the Romney campaign is deploying Ryan to speak to "white working-class voters." Gabriel notes: Republicans are excited about the Biden-versus-Ryan showdown because of Mr. Ryan's rhetorical skills and command of policy. That's funny, because down in the 8th paragraph or […]

Aug
17
2012

At NPR, You Can Take Money From Banks–Just Don't Protest Them

Even if you're not be an expert in media ethics, you'd probably agree that a show about finance and business exclusively sponsored by one giant bank has an obvious conflict. The fact that the show is on public radio might make such an arrangement all the more curious. And the fact that the host of the show also makes money giving speeches to the financial institutions he covers…. Well, now, that's not how things are supposed to work. But that's precisely how things work for Adam Davidson, the host of NPR's Planet Money. His program's exclusive underwriter is Ally Bank, […]

Aug
16
2012

ABC's Unrealistic Paul Ryan Reality Check

Campaign rhetoric, we're led to believe, can be hard to sort out. If Paul Ryan says his budget plan protects Medicare and the Democrats say it "ends" it, what should we believe? Those are the kinds of questions journalism is supposed to answer. Which is why ABC World News' August 14 "Reality Check" on Medicare was such a failure. Actually, the fact that it wasn't very good wasn't a total shocker. That was to be expected as soon as you heard Diane Sawyer said this: So we asked ABC's Jon Karl for a reality check on the plan and what […]

Aug
15
2012

FAIR TV: August 10, 2012

One more pilot episode of FAIR TV to share. Please let us know what you think.

Aug
15
2012

ABC News: Tough Choice on Paul Ryan

abc-ryan-page

Heading over to the ABC News website, I found this on the homepage: Tough call: Do you read the story about Paul Ryan's impressive physique first, or his awesome bowhunting skills?

Aug
14
2012

Romney Whistleblower Comes Forward (Not Really)

Washington Post columnist Dan Balz has a big scoop from an anonymous source in today's paper (8/14/12): The choice, like most vice presidential selections, also was a way for Romney to say something bigger about the kind of campaign he hopes to run. In that sense, advisers say, Ryan was "Mitt's pick, completely." "Stories talk about it being a bold choice," said one senior Romney adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about the decision. "To me, it was a confident choice. He was very confident in himself, in Paul Ryan, in the campaign and in the […]

Aug
13
2012

PBS Does 'Both Sides' on Bogus Romney Welfare Attack

Some campaign disputes can be tricky to sort out. Others are not. That's why media coverage that takes the both-sides-have-a-point approach can be so disappointing, if not dangerous. Take Mitt Romney's recent claim that the White House was "gutting" the work requirements in the  1996 welfare "reform" law. As a Romney TV ad put it: "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check." That charge earned a "Pants on Fire" from PolitiFact (8/7/12), which pointed out that the policy change that is supposedly at issue […]