Nov
06
2012

Final Factcheck: Political Lying Perfectly Balanced

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler had his last election piece in the Sunday edition of the paper (11/4/12)– and it made you glad there won't be any more. The article promised, in the headline at least, "The Best–or Worst?–Pinocchios of This Presidential Race." What it delivered was something else: Eight themes of lying and deception (like "Silliest Blooper" and "Worst Math Skills"), each with one example drawn from each side. In other words, lying was perfect balanced. And the piece closes with this bizarre attempt at "balance": Most complex subject for spinning–bipartisan effort The Obama administration's memo saying it […]

Nov
06
2012

Yes, You Can Talk About Climate Change on TV

hayes-sandy

FAIR's new alert takes aim at the Sunday morning chat shows (Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday) for ignoring climate change this weekend– right after "superstorm" Sandy devastated the East Coast. As we noted, NBC host David Gregory said early on his program: "Should more attention be paid to a changing climate's impact on the severity of these storms?" That was the last mention of climate change on the show. I know a lot of people might say, "Well, with the election around the corner, politics shows have to stick to electoral politics." I […]

Nov
05
2012

I Predict Dana Milbank Will Continue to Personify False Balance

After establishing that Republican operative Karl Rove is a terrible political prognosticator, Dana Milbank (Washington Post, 11/2/12) does the false-balance thing and attacks polling blogger Nate Silver: Rove is an easy target because his motive–conveying a false sense of momentum for Republicans–is so transparent. But he has plenty of company among prognosticators who confidently predict that which they cannot possibly know. There's Nate Silver, a statistician-blogger at the New York Times, who predicts with scientific precision that President Obama will win 303 electoral votes and beat Romney by 2 percentage points in the popular vote. He gives Obama an 81 […]

Nov
05
2012

Schieffer's Nightmare World Didn't Look So Bad at the Time

Electoral College map, 2000 presidential election (Wikipedia)

CBS's Bob Schieffer revealed his greatest fear on yesterday's Face the Nation (11/4/12): Let me just say, David Gergen, I think the worst of all worlds would be if one of the candidates won the popular vote and other won the Electoral College. As the two made clear, they were talking about the possibility that Mitt Romney would win the popular vote and still not be president. But it must be nice to know that the most terrible thing that could ever happen has already happened–as it did in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote by 300,000 votes […]

Nov
05
2012

Worst Media Moment on Hurricane Sandy?

CNN's Erin Burnett (screengrab by mroach)

CNN reporter Erin Burnett's comment (10/29/12) that it was "kind of neat" to see New York City break its flooding record as the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy flooded Battery Park was bizarre, to say the very least: I just want to give everyone an update of where we are right now in terms of the record books. This is one for the record books. In terms of the storm surge here in Manhattan, Lower Manhattan where I am right now, almost a three-foot record, three feet. We're at 12.75 feet, as you can see, it's above my ankles now […]

Oct
25
2012

NPR Could Use Some 'Energy Independence' of Its Own

NPR's Tom Gjelten

NPR's Tom Gjelten had a story on Morning Edition today (10/25/12) that made an important point about a prominent fallacy in the energy debate–and then spent the second half of the story falling into the exact same fallacy. The story questioned the constant use of the phrase "energy independence" in political discussions of U.S. energy policy. Gjelten noted: In truth, it would be virtually impossible for any country to be totally independent where energy is concerned. Not only would it have to produce all its own oil; it would also have to be independent of the global economy. Like sugar, […]

Oct
24
2012

Did Twitter Kill Media Diversity?

Remember how corporate media's campaign coverage used to offer wide-ranging, diverse perspectives? Me neither. But Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank apparently thinks that's the way the world used to work, until Twitter came along and the press corps turned into one giant exercise in groupthink. He writes today (10/24/12) that campaign reporters have one eye on the actual debates, and one eye on social media: This was to have been the campaign when Twitter and other social media allowed new voices to enter the debate, delivering a more diverse array of opinion and helping candidates reach beyond the media filter. […]

Oct
23
2012

WaPo: Racism in Obama TV Ad?

romney-coal

The Obama campaign has released a new ad criticizing Mitt Romney for having a Swiss bank account and wanting to keep tax breaks for corporations that offshore jobs.  The commercial's most devastating line: Romney once railed against the deadly pollution from a coal plant. I know what you're thinking: Totally racist, right? That's sort of the point of Karen Tumulty's piece today in the Washington Post (10/23/12). Under the headline "Obama's 'Not One of Us' Attack on Romney Echoes Racial Code," Tumulty uses complaints from right-wing bloggers to lead a discussion about the commercial, which she says "echoes a slogan […]

Oct
19
2012

CBS Libya 'Factcheck' Will Live in Infamy

Franklin Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan (National Archives)

CBS Evening News (10/17/12) provides another example of corporate media's through-the-looking-glass  media "factchecking" of the Libya exchange at the second Obama/Romney debate (FAIR Media Advisory, 10/18/12). CBS's Jan Crawford set up the issue this way: For weeks, Republicans have said the president's reluctance to call the attacks terrorism is a sign his administration doesn't have a competent national security policy. Last night, the president said he did call it an act of terror within 24 hours of the attacks. That is a new explanation, and it triggered a clash between the president, Romney and the debate moderator. Note how the […]

Oct
19
2012

Every Green Energy Failure Is News

Photovoltaic panels, Germany. Photograph by Bernd Sieker.

USA Today (10/17/12) ran a story about a battery manufacturer filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. But the story might as well have been a press release from the Mitt Romney campaign. "Another Blow for Green Energy" read the headline. Wendy Koch's piece led off with this: An electric vehicle battery maker that was awarded $249 million in federal stimulus funds filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on Tuesday, giving GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney potential ammunition to attack President Obama's green-energy subsidies. It's a short article, but it's hard to avoid the central theme: This is good news for the […]

Oct
17
2012

Judging Candidates on Their Resemblance to Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman

The day after the second Obama/Romney debate, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (10/17/12) offered a sort of scorecard for the debate–for the benefit of those watching on DVR, presumably. "I thought the most useful thing I could do is to offer the scoring system I’ll be using to determine who did best," Friedman wrote, adding generously,  "You can fill in your own scores." Friedman stressed that his "system is not based on zingers or extra points for energizing the base, but rather on what I believe many Americans really want from the next president." First  point: "an honest diagnosis […]

Oct
17
2012

Noise and Nonsense on Benghazi Attack

hofstra

Over the past few weeks of the presidential campaign we've been hearing a lot–maybe too much–about the September 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. It's been turned into a campaign issue by the Romney team, which has used the incident to charges that the Obama administration is unable to manage foreign affairs and so forth.  The intensity of the Republican pushback has made this into a major story. It was the lead issue in the vice presidential debate, and has been a regular subject on the Sunday […]

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 […]