Oct
16
2012

CBS Factchecks Romney's Tax Plan: Maybe, Who Knows?

cbs-romney

Mitt Romney has a multi-trillion dollar tax cut plan that he says won't add to the deficit. How does that work? He won't say, other than to pledge that he'd close some loopholes and deductions, but that none of those would harm "middle-class" Americans. Analysts have argued that this is not mathematically possible. So how do you factcheck that? That was the task for CBS Evening News last night (10/15/12). And their answer seemed to boil down to: Well, maybe. CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews explained: "Romney argues that lower rates will stimulate the economy and he is emphatic the middle-class […]

Oct
16
2012

Playing the Role of 'Journalist' at a 'Presidential Debate'

Candy Crowley

CNN reporter Candy Crowley was apparently causing the Obama and Romney campaigns to panic over the weekend. Why? She was telling people she might ask a question at tonight's presidential debate. Time's Mark Halperin reported (10/14/12) that has done a series of interviews on her network in which she has suggested that she will assume a broader set of responsibilities. As Crowley put it last week, "Once the table is kind of set by the town-hall questioner, there is then time for me to say, 'Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, Z?'" The campaigns apparently didn't much care […]

Oct
15
2012

CEOs Tout Austerity–Without Being 'Ideological' About It

brokaw-mtp

This passage from Meet the Press (10/14/12) says a lot about how middle-of-the-road elite journalists think about fiscal issues. Here's NBC veteran Tom Brokaw and host David Gregory: BROKAW:   I was just going to say, I talked to a lot of major business leaders who want Romney to get elected, but almost to a man and a woman, they say, "But you know what, we're going to have to pay some more taxes in our category."  What they want to do, however, is to benchmark them against spending cuts, so that they can get spending down to 20 percent of […]

Oct
12
2012

FAIR TV: Chavez vs. Corporate Media, Greening Fracking, NYT's Mideast Time Machine

FAIR TV takes a look at how the U.S. media handled the Venezuelan election, how the Washington Post "greened" fracking and how the New York Times used a time machine to "fix" a headline about Israel/Palestine. Watch it, share it with your friends and please leave a comment below.  

Oct
12
2012

Debate Deceptions Are a Time-Tested GOP Strategy

Corporate journalism is not known for standing up to powerful politicians–or for its long memory. And so, when factchecks of the first presidential debate revealed that GOP candidate Mitt Romney was often not very truthful, sometimes even misstating his own policies, the media not only failed to make much of a fuss over Romney's falsehoods, they also failed to tie them into a GOP tradition of debate dissembling. Wait, did I just say a GOP tradition of debate dissembling? That's right–it's a strategy that was acknowledged as far back as 1984, but it's gone virtually unmentioned in U.S. media since […]

Oct
12
2012

Factchecking the Debate Moderator

With all the newfound interest in campaign factchecking in the corporate media (that enthusiasm shouldn't be confused with being good at it), it's worth remembering that it's not just the political candidates whose claims should be factchecked. The moderators should face some scrutiny too. Last night ABC's Martha Raddatz framed a question this way: Let's talk about Medicare and entitlements. Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive? Glenn Greenwald caught that one, and […]

Oct
11
2012

WaPo's Debate Advice: Make Sure Your Lies Are Devastating

Dick Cheney and John Edwards at the 2004 vice presidential debate.

In today's Washington Post (10/11/12), David Fahrenthold goes through some of the more memorable moments from recent vice-presidential debates–including several big, decisive errors. Like this one: In other instances, the job was done with a single well-timed put-down. "I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session," Vice President Richard B. Cheney told then-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) in 2004. "The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight." That turned out not to be true. But for Edwards, it still hurt. So the lesson seems to be: Make sure your lie is […]

Oct
11
2012

Washington Post Greens Fracking

Poster at anti-fracking protest in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Bill Baker.

The Washington Post editorial page (10/5/12)  weighed in on the contentious environmental issue of fracking. No surprise–they're all for it. "Fracking's Green Side" is the headline in the print edition. (The Web version is different.) The editors write: Those who would ban fracking or regulate it into oblivion ignore the exceptional benefits that inexpensive natural gas can provide in the biggest environmental fight of our time–against climate change. Of course, many people who fight climate change don't think fracking is the answer. They point to the considerable local environmental hazards–water and air pollution, for starters–but they also question the argument […]

Oct
10
2012

The Right Won't Defund PBS–and the Left Won't Save It

Big Bird

It's clear by now, after several repeats of the same cycle, that the right doesn't really want to defund PBS. And the left, unfortunately, isn't truly interested in saving PBS, either. Why would the right defund? For a tiny investment–about a hundredth of a penny from each federal dollar–the GOP gets a leash on public broadcasting that ensures that it will never fulfill its promise to serve as a real alternative to the commercial networks. As long as public broadcasters are forced to go before Congress, hat in hand, to beg for another annual appropriation, their leaders will make sure […]

Oct
10
2012

CNN Exposes 'Villain' Chavez's Dastardly Plot to House the Poor

Venezuelan GDP per capita (PPP) (US$)

Corporate media's depiction of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is often cartoonish, but the lead from David Frum's piece from CNN.com (10/9/12) takes the cake: Venezuela's authoritarian president Hugo Chavez is a villain out of a Batman movie: buffoonish and sinister in equal measure. You want to be careful about throwing around words like "buffoonish," though, when you're making arguments like "Hugo Chavez has laid Venezuela's economy to waste." Here's a chart of Venezuela's per capita GDP since 1999, when Chavez was first elected; since 2003, when Chavez took control of the national oil company from its self-enriching management, the purchasing […]

Oct
10
2012

ABC's Very Efficient Anti-Chavez Propaganda

abc-chavez

If you're listening to a report on an Official Enemy like Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, you expect to hear a litany of misdeeds, real or imagined, about the leader in question. Just check out ABC World News (10/7/12), where anchor David Muir started out with this: And a fierce enemy of the United States, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, faces the toughest election of his life tonight. It's hard to know what Chavez has done to earn that label, but moments later Muir put this question to correspondent Jorge Ramos: MUIR: We all know that President Chavez has almost made it […]

Oct
09
2012

NYT Reverses Time to Put Retaliation Before Attack in Gaza

Media activist Alison Weir (10/8/12) calls attention to a remarkable New York Times report (10/9/12) on Gaza violence. While we've come to expect a pro-Israeli bias from the Times, it's still surprising to find the paper using time travel to make sure that events happen in their proper sequence. The headline of the Times piece is: Israel Launches Airstrikes After Attacks From Gaza But if you read the article, you immediately find that the sequence is exactly reversed: Gaza militants fired a barrage of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory on Monday, causing no casualties but some property damage, […]

Oct
09
2012

Factchecking Impossible, Pointless, Say Factcheckers

Michael Scherer

Time's Michael Scherer (10/9/12) responded to a FAIR Blog post by FAIR's Peter Hart (10/3/12), who apparently spoke for many: Peter Hart, writing for the liberal Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, summed up many of the tweets I received. "The article kicks off with a hefty helping of false balance–the tendency to see all problems as coming more or less equally from both sides," he wrote. "One of the most common problems with media factchecking is the need to always be balanced–no matter what is happening in reality." Scherer responds: I don’t disagree with Hart's underlying point…. I would love […]