The new public editor at the New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, dedicated her first column (9/16/12) to factchecking and false balance. Her conclusion: It ought to go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway: Journalists need to make every effort to get beyond the spin and help readers know what to believe, to help them make their way through complicated and contentious subjects. The more news organizations can state established truths and stand by them, the better off the readership–and the democracy–will be. It's good news that Sullivan thinks this way–and an improvement over her predecessor's much-maligned column [...]
Time magazine's James Poniewozik (9/24/12–subscription required) says it's been "a banner year for the factcheckers," and yet the facts keep on getting mangled: Yet the traffic violations keep coming. Scads of fibs, exaggerations and misleading statements have been swept up in the dragnet: a super-PAC ad implying that Mitt Romney was responsible for the cancer death of a laid-off worker's wife, a Republican claim that Barack Obama was ditching welfare work requirements, a charge by Senator Harry Reid that someone told him Romney hadn't paid taxes for years, a boatload of statements from Paul Ryan's vice-presidential acceptance speech. Poniewozik has [...]
Part of being a journalist–the most important part, perhaps–is deciding which information is most relevant to readers. So take a look at today's New York Times piece (9/14/12) on Iran's nuclear program. The focus is on Israeli threats and where it says it is drawing its "red line" for military action. But this focus is distorting one of the most important facts about the conflict. Mark Landler and Helene Cooper explain that Israeli leaders are unhappy with the White House position: Israeli officials, however, say this guarantee may not be enough for Israel, which Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened with [...]
FAIR's new action alert shows how the Washington Post failed to disclose to readers that a two-page spread on the election-year energy debate was based on events the paper co-sponsored with the American Petroleum Institute. We're asking people to write to the Post's ombud about this conflict. Please feel free to share your letter in the comments section below.
At Huffington Post (9/13/12), Ryan Grim and Michael Calderone are raising questions about the somewhat mysterious disappearance of a New York Times news article: On Wednesday, the New York Times published a provocative story bylined by David E. Sanger and Ashley Parker, leading with the news that Mitt Romney had personally approved the blistering Tuesday night statement on the attacks in Libya and Egypt that landed his campaign in trouble. But hours later, the newspaper wiped the story out and replaced it with a significantly rewritten piece bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker…. The later version, which appeared on [...]
Ryan Cooper of Political Animal (9/8/12) called attention to a column by Washington Post's Ezra Klein (8/30/12) that I think really sums up the corporate media's problem with false balance. After arguing at length that "quite simply, the Romney campaign isn't adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation," Klein wraps up: I don't like that conclusion. It doesn't look "fair" when you say that. We've been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and [...]
You can get away with almost anything if you're attacking teachers' unions in the corporate media. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera (9/11/12) explains that while the so-called "reform" movement hasn't come up with the right answers on schools: On the other hand, the status quo, which is what the Chicago teachers want, is clearly unacceptable. In Chicago, about 60 percent of public school students graduate from high school. A Washington Post editorial (9/11/12): The administration has championed reforms much like those the Chicago local is fighting. And with good reason: A scandalously low 56 percent of Chicago students graduate [...]
Labor actions like the current strike by the Chicago Teachers Union usually involves two sides presenting very different takes on the important issues that separate them. The New York Times story on the strike (9/10/12) by Monica Davey gives a fairly comprehensive account of what the school district thinks about its offers to the union. But the union's side of the story is hard to find. The Times calls it "a dispute over wages, job security and teacher evaluations." That isn't false, but that framing makes it seem like teachers are looking to protect a narrow set of interests. If you [...]
On NBC's Meet the Press (9/9/12), Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and host David Gregory had a discussion about the failures of the Obama administration's foreign policy that included this: ROMNEY: The president has not drawn us further away from a nuclear Iran. And in fact Iran is closer to having a weapon, closer to having nuclear capability, than when he took office. This is the greatest failure, in my opinion, of his foreign policy. He ran for office saying he was going to meet with Ahmadinejad. He was going to meet with Castro, Kim Jong Il. All the [...]
The new episode of FAIR TV is here, featuring misreporting on Iran's nuclear energy program, NewsHour lecturing labor leaders on Labor Day, and some of the most embarrassing biographical puffery for a presidential candidate you're likely to ever hear. Please share it with your friends, and let us know what you think in comments below.
What do you call it when prisoners are slammed into walls, forced to wear diapers, placed in stress positions and subjected to drowning? You call that torture–unless you're the New York Times, and the United States is accused of being the torturers. A new report from Human Rights Watch indicates the group has found another victim of CIA waterboarding. This is especially significant because the Agency has long claimed that they had only tortured three people this way. The Human Rights Watch investigation was reported in the New York Times (9/6/12) by Charlie Savage and Scott Shane. But their report [...]