Washington Post Dana Milbank (3/19/11) skewers the Republicans for their "emergency meeting" to defund NPR: This particular emergency involved the lower end of the FM radio dial. Republicans, in an urgent budget-cutting maneuver, were voting to cut off funding for National Public Radio. All $5 million of it–or one ten-thousandth of 1 percent of the federal budget. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ran the numbers and calculated the impact this emergency measure would have on government spending: "No effect." One of the rules of corporate media balanceisthat if you criticize Republicans, you have to findan example of similarbuffoonery on the [...]
The new Washington Post/ABC poll is on the front page of the paper today (3/15/11): Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. The Post's write-up includes a lot of strange language about the political situation for the White House: "a growing challenge for President Obama,""a difficult political challenge,""an awkward issue for the president." A more direct way of putting it would be to say thatObama's war policy is massively unpopular. A broader point: No matter how [...]
CNN/Time pundit Fareed Zakaria is considered one of the smartest guys in elite policy/media circles.Speaking with CNN host Anderson Cooper on Friday(3/4/11), he advocated CIA intervention in Libya. Deriding a no-fly zone as something less than a "magic solution," he explained: ZAKARIA: There's a lot of covert stuff we can do. We can effectively fund the Contra war against Gadhafi the way we did in Afghanistan. COOPER: So you think the opposition should be armed? ZAKARIA: I think the opposition–I think that the CIA should start looking into covert actions that can fund the rebels, that can provide food, logistics, [...]
Froma March 2 report on CNN about the U.S. killing nine Afghan boys: MICHAEL HOLMES: I mean, just another terrible thing. We've seen this happen before. DON LEMON: Yes. Sad all the way around. He did apologize, but still. HOLMES: It does a lot of damage to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. You don't win hearts and minds that way. LEMON: Absolutely. Thank you, Michael. I can think of bigger problem here than the"damageto the U.S. mission."
For a good example of how not to report the Afghan War, check out the lead story in today's USA Today (2/15/11): General: Taliban 'Beaten' by Surge Momentum Shifts in Afghanistan The piece–by Jim Michaels, who has an unfortunate history of this kind of reporting–is mostly sourced to Richard Mills, the Marine general who's in charge of the fight in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Unsurprisingly, he thinks he's doing a bang-up job; Michaels' story begins: Coalition forces in Afghanistan have beaten the insurgency in an important stronghold of Taliban fighters, though pockets of resistance remain, a U.S. commander said Monday in [...]
Sometimes words fail. Joe Klein, writing in the new issue of Time, wonders: How on earth do we get saddled with such creepy clients as Karzai and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, over and over again? Yes, why do they keep doing this to us?! His piece is a pox-on-both-houses rant about U.S. foreign policy: The "realists" often end up coddling dictators, and the idealists don't understand how the world works. Of the latter, he writes: the tangible fruits of the Freedom Agenda turned out to be mostly rotten: elections in the Palestinian territories, which no one but Hamas (and Bush) [...]
The Washington Post headline overa story about Joe Biden's remarksthat U.S. military forces would stay in Afghanistan after the supposed 2014 withdrawal deadline "if the Afghan people want it" is: Biden Promises Long-Term Aid to Afghans Of course, if theU.S. troop presence in Afghanistancame down to what the "Afghan people want," it might end sooner than that.
I always enjoy Andrew Tyndall's year-in-review report, which tallies the minutes each network newscast devoted to the important stories of the year. His 2010 report is worth a look. The most newsworthywoman of the year? GOP Senate hopeful and Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell from Delaware. Tyndall notes that the BP oil disaster was the most-covered story of the year, but that it "prompted no follow-up spike in coverage of energy policy, or global warming." Coverage of the economy stalled: "Unemployment may still be stubbornly high, yet the newshole for the economy has reverted to the mean. So apparently growth [...]
Stephen L. Carter has a piece over atNewsweek that points out that Barack Obama hardly differs from George W. Bush when it comes to war; as the subhead explains: "How does Barack Obama differ as a commander in chief from his swaggering predecessor? A lot less than you might think." Now that'ssomethingyou don't hearvery often in the corporate media. But Carter meansthis more as a compliment than a criticism, explaining that there were people on the left and right alike who thought that America had elected an antiwar president, but that simply turned out not to be true. Rather, the [...]
In FAIR's recent study of the PBS NewsHour, we found that discussions of the Afghan War were incredibly narrow–no opponents ofa war that isbroadly unpopular among the American public were allowed to make their case. Last night's NewsHour (12/16/10) offered a chance to see that narrow sourcing yet again. The showfeatured areported segment on the administration's much-anticipatedreview of the progress (or lack thereof) in Afghanistan.The NewsHour quoted Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A wide range of views from inside the administration. For the debate segment, anchor Jim Lehrer presented "two views of [...]
ApparentlyRichard Holbrooke's final words were, "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan."This is being highlighted in a big way on the Drudge Report, which meansmedia people will be talking about it. Revealing, in an entirely different way, was this part of a Washington Post story (12/14/10) about the state of the Afghan War post-Holbrooke: Holbrooke's death is the latest complication in an effort plagued by unreliable partners, reluctant allies and an increasingly skeptical American public. The war, in other words, is "plagued" by the public's disapproval of it. For a government to carry out a war that its citizens [...]
NewYork Times (12/3/10): Mr. Karzai first burst onto the international stage in the style of Che Guevara, slipping over the Afghan border from Pakistan in 2001 as United States forces pounded the Taliban, before being installed by the West. President George W. Bush invited him to his first State of the Union speech after September 11, 2001, where Mr. Karzai sat in the audience as a symbol of heroes who emerged from the terrorist attacks. Yep, just like Che–you remember when he was installed into power by the U.S., and then invited to the State of the Union address.
Patrick Cockburn has a wonderful piece in the Independent (11/23/10) on the hazards of embedded journalism that is a must-read. He points out: "Embedding" also puts limitations on location and movement. Iraq and Afghanistan are essentially guerrilla wars, and the successful guerrilla commander will avoid fighting the enemy main force and instead attack where his opponent is weak or has no troops at all. This means that the correspondent embedded with the American or British military units is liable to miss or misinterpret crucial stages in the conflict. Much of the British and American media reporting in Afghanistan since 2006 [...]