Jan
12
2012

When the Campaign Moves Back to the 'Center'

The presidential campaign is breaking down along familiar ideological lines, according to New York Times reporter John Harwood (1/12/12): American voters loathe both major symbols of the forces squeezing their pocketbooks and life savings. President Obama will seek re-election vowing to rein in one of them: Wall Street. Mitt Romney will focus on the other: Washington. There are some complications (Republicans attacking Mitt Romney's "vulture" capitalism for starters), but Harwood assures readers that soon enough the candidates will be back to the sensible middle. But what's the center? Romney's right-wing rhetoric about Obama's fondness for Big Government and European socialism […]

Dec
15
2011

Time Paints Paul Ryan as Deficit-Slashing Superhero

The fact that Time magazine named "The Protester" its Person of the Year was maybe a little surprising. Totally unsurprising, though, was the choice of a runners-up: Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, a hero to many in the corporate media for his bold calls to slash government spending on the poor. It's hard to know where to start with reporter David Von Drehle's tribute. But let's try here: Through a combination of hard work, good timing and possibly suicidal guts, the Wisconsin Republican managed to harness his party to a dramatic plan for dealing with America's rapidly rising public debt. Dealing […]

Dec
09
2011

NPR Tries to Track Down Those Millionaire Job Creators

Dean Baker (12/9/11) flagged this NPR Morning Edition report today (12/9/11), and it's well worth a positivity. In the debate over the payroll tax cut, Democrats want to pay for extending the tax break with a surtax on the wealthy. Republicans claim–usually without being challenged by reporters–that a surtax on millionaires would be an attack on job-creating small-business owners. So NPR decided to go to GOP officials and ask to speak with these small-business-owning, millionaire job-creators. Turned out there was trouble finding any: We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So NPR requested help from numerous […]

Dec
07
2011

When Right-Wing Tax Spin Goes Unchallenged

The Republican Party is in something of a bind. Many oppose White House efforts to extend–and perhaps increase–a Social Security payroll tax cut next year. This might sound strange, since if conservatives are supposed to be fond of anything, it's tax cuts. So they have some explaining to do. They're given a valuable assist when journalists, thanks to the conventions of corporate media, will print their words with little in the way of critical analysis. Take this from today's Washington Post (12/7/11) by Rosalind Helderman: A Republican Party that has for decades benefited from a commitment to lower taxes is […]

Nov
18
2011

Paul Krugman and the Ghost of the Supercommittee

Paul Krugman argues in the New York Times today (11/18/11) that the failure of the Congressional supercommittee might be a good thing, and that public understanding of what's really happening is hampered by a familiar media problem. He also makes a pretty safe bet about what coverage is going to look like if they fail to reach a deal: So the supercommittee brought together legislators who disagree completely both about how the world works and about the proper role of government. Why did anyone think this would work? Well, maybe the idea was that the parties would compromise out of […]

Nov
16
2011

GOP's Amazing Revenue-Reducing Tax 'Hike'

The general line in corporate media coverage of the so-called "Supercommittee" tasked with coming up with a long-term budget plan is that both sides aren't willing to budge: Republicans won't agree to raise taxes, and Democrats want to protect "entitlements" like Social Security and Medicare. While some might find the idea of Democrats standing up for Social Security and Medicare, it's not really true–Democrats have offered to make such cuts if there are some tax increases to go along with them. This insistence that a compromise involve a compromise has been depicted, oddly enough, as a refusal to compromise. But […]

Nov
01
2011

What Would Steve Jobs Do?

On the Meet the Press roundtable on Sunday (10/30/11), talk turned to Steve Jobs. And, as one might expect from the avalanche of hero worship that accompanied news of his death, the chatter concerned how we might all one day live up to Jobs' legacy. Here's host David Gregory, speaking to Tom Brokaw: Tom, it's interesting, author and journalist Jeff Greenfield tweeted recently about Steve Jobs the following: "Imagine a Steve Jobs in the auto industry, in healthcare, in energy, even in government. We'd have a different country." We know from Walter Isaacson's biography that Jobs had some pretty strong […]

Oct
26
2011

NYT Misses News in New NYT Poll

The New York Times has a fascinating new poll out today (10/26/11); too bad the paper doesn't emphasize the most newsworthy findings. The headline is: New Poll Finds a Deep Distrust of Government That's based on the poll's finding that the public doesn't have much faith in government. But paragraph four offers a more striking finding: With nearly all Americans remaining fearful that the economy is stagnating or deteriorating further, two-thirds of the public said that wealth should be distributed more evenly in the country. Seven in 10 Americans think the policies of congressional Republicans favor the rich. Two-thirds object […]

Oct
26
2011

A Tax Plan Favoring the Wealthy? That Would Never Fly

When he's not sharing his thoughts about Barack Obama's birth certificate, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is apparently unveiling a tax plan. It's a flat tax, with a few other details explained by the Washington Post (10/26/11): Perry also would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent; eliminate taxes on dividends and capital gains; make deep, unspecified cuts in federal spending; and establish individual retirement accounts outside the Social Security system. The article, by Karen Tumulty, gets approving quotes from a Republican adviser and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. But it also says this, in the reporter's […]

Oct
19
2011

O'Reilly as Paul Revere: '1 if by Land, 17 if by Sea'

The country is on the brink of bankruptcy, Fox host Bill O'Reilly warned last night–all because Barack Obama is spending too much money. Drastic cuts are required, but "the far-left loons want to spend more." And he's got the number to prove it: In 2007, during the Bush administration, federal deficit spending was $161 billion, despite the Iraq and Afghan wars. Four years later under President Obama, the deficit spending is $1.3 trillion, eight times as much. To be fair, the economy collapsed on Bush's watch, and both Republicans and Democrats committed almost a trillion dollars to prop up the […]

Oct
07
2011

Is Glenn Beck Back at Fox News Channel?

It sounded like it, but it was just Bill O'Reilly channeling Beck's Soros/MoveOn/Big Labor paranoia, minus the chalkboard: On Wednesday in New York City, there was another far-left demonstration as a bunch of people marched on Wall Street. Why? We aren't exactly sure. What we do know is that these folks are zealots who are being organized by some very interesting people. Does the name MoveOn.org mean anything to you? How about George Soros? Well, for the first time, MoveOn, funded in part by Soros, has openly allied itself with the protesters. In addition, we have some unions in the […]

Oct
03
2011

New CNN Host a Rush Limbaugh Favorite

A full-page ad in USA Today reminded me that today is the debut of Erin Burnett's CNN show OutFront. Burnett gained a following at CNBC, and came to the attention of many conservatives with a report on the Today show (7/17/07) that managed to touch on almost every conservative myth about the economy, earning praise from Rush Limbaugh in the process. After a clip of Hillary Clinton saying that soaring corporate profits were "like trickle-down economics but without the trickle," Burnett made these claims: But while the rich are getting richer, you may be, too. Here's why: More than half […]

Sep
26
2011

Obama Plan=Class Warfare? NBC Asks a Billionaire

At the top of Meet the Press yesterday (9/25/11), NBC anchor David Gregory announced one of the topics to come: Is the president's plan basic fairness or class warfare? As with too many other media debates, an absurd proposition–that returning tax rates for certain wealthy people to levels seen in the 1980s and 1990s is a declaration of war–is treated as one of the two possible answers to a question. Gregory manages to make things worse by getting the only answer on the show from billionaire New York mayor (and media tycoon) Michael Bloomberg: GREGORY: Does that trouble you? BLOOMBERG: […]