Aug
13
2012

PBS Does 'Both Sides' on Bogus Romney Welfare Attack

Some campaign disputes can be tricky to sort out. Others are not. That's why media coverage that takes the both-sides-have-a-point approach can be so disappointing, if not dangerous. Take Mitt Romney's recent claim that the White House was "gutting" the work requirements in the  1996 welfare "reform" law. As a Romney TV ad put it: "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check." That charge earned a "Pants on Fire" from PolitiFact (8/7/12), which pointed out that the policy change that is supposedly at issue […]

Aug
01
2012

The Threat–Again–of Left-Wing Latin American Democracy

You can count on U.S. corporate media to express alarm about the threat posed by left-wing governments in Latin America. Sometimes it's military hype (think Soviet MiGs in Nicaragua), but more typically it takes the form of a generalized concern about certain governments' commitment to democratic ideals. But how do you sound the alarm about left-wing threats to democracy when actual elected left-wing leaders are being removed in anti-democratic coups? That's no easy feat, but some reporters are up to the challenge. In the Washington Post on July 22 (under the headline "Latin America's New Authoritarians"), reporter Juan Forero explains […]

May
21
2012

NYT and Honduras Killings, Take Two

On Friday (5/18/12) we noted that the New York Times and Washington Post had long pieces about a drug war shooting in Honduras that reportedly killed four innocent bystanders, including two pregnant women. The story got increased attention here in the U.S. because of the apparent involvement of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Honduran officials and sources claimed the dead were civilians. The Times and Post, though, granted anonymity to U.S. officials to claim that the dead were maybe not civilians at all; in fact, according to some of these unnamed officials, the whole town where the shooting occurred was involved […]

May
18
2012

NYT, WaPo Let Unnamed U.S. Officials Spin Honduras Killings

The details are somewhat murky, but we know the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is heavily involved in counternarcotics in Honduras. A shooting incident last Friday reportedly left four innocent people dead–including two pregnant women. Questions are being raised about whether they were shot by DEA agents who were apparently going after a boat carrying drug smugglers. The story has become a scandal in Honduras, as the New York Times reports today (5/18/12) Residents of the isolated Mosquito Coast of Honduras have burned down government buildings and are demanding that American drug agents leave the area immediately With a story like […]

Apr
24
2012

Prostitution Scandal Is the Big Government Story You Were Waiting For

The Beltway press is remarkably fixated on two stories: A "scandal" over an $800,000 General Services Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas, and the unfolding saga involving prostitutes and some Secret Service and military officers in Colombia. The White House thinks both are bad, of course, but not worth the amount of coverage they're getting. Beltway journalists think otherwise, and seem to want to believe that by paying so much attention to these stories they are a) standing up to the government by exposing wrongdoing; and b) not really talking about prostitutes at all, but telling a larger quasi-morality tale […]

Mar
20
2012

U.S. Can't Win Afghan War Because We Aren't a Colonial Power

Now here's an anti-war argument I hadn't heard before, courtesy of conservative blogger/journalist Andrew Sullivan (on NBC's Chris Matthews Show, 3/18/12): SULLIVAN: Again, it just shows that America colonizes without any real colonial talent because this is a country built on escaping colonialism, not actually imposing it. MATTHEWS: Yeah. Well… SULLIVAN: You're doing something against the DNA of the United States. While the idea idea that the United States is not and has apparently never been a colonial power struck Matthews as a reasonable one, it might strike other people as rather odd. The Spanish-American War would seem to qualify […]

Feb
22
2012

James Traub Bids a Fond Farewell to an Era of Constant Warfare

James Traub seemed a little bummed in a Sunday New York Times op-ed ("The End of American Intervention?," 2/18/10), that military cuts and changing priorities will mean fewer humanitarian interventions in America's future. So we must accept, if uneasily, the future which now seems to lie before us: We will do less good in the world, but also less harm. A leading advocate of "humanitarian intervention," Traub doesn't waste many words on the "harm" produced the by two decades of them, but he seems pretty sure about the "good." For instance, he writes that the post-Cold War period "raised the […]

Dec
22
2011

New York Times Finds Noam Chomsky Fit to Print

Left-wing activist and author Noam Chomsky is in the New York Times today: The American linguist Noam Chomsky, a prominent source of intellectual inspiration for President Hugo Chavez, made a new appeal on Wednesday for the release of Maria Lourdes Afiuni, a judge arrested two years ago by the secret intelligence police. If you find it a little surprising that Chomsky's views on international affairs would be reported in the Paper of Record, and if you'd be inclined to believe the Times finds his views newsworthy only because Chomsky is criticizing Chavez (which they've done before)… well, you might not […]

Dec
07
2011

Republicans and the Hezbollah-in-Mexico Menace

Political campaign watchers seem to agree that the election will be about the economy, and that Republicans probably won't have much to say about Obama's foreign policy (partly because it doesn't much differ from what a Republican president might be doing). The New York Times' Richard Oppel has a piece today headlined, "Republican Candidates Aim at Obama Foreign Policy." So what exactly is the Republican case against Obama's foreign policy? That it's too soft on the Hezbollah menace on our southern border. Seriously. Oppel writes: A small but revealing episode unfolded in the closing minutes of the last Republican presidential […]

Dec
02
2011

Zakaria and Democracy 'Tension'

In the new issue of Time (12/12/11), Fareed Zakaria writes in the first sentence of his column: It is difficult to find a country on the planet that is more anti-American than Pakistan. In a Pew survey this year, only 12 percent of Pakistanis expressed a favorable view of the U.S. It's not that difficult. The same survey of seven countries found one of them, Turkey, with an even lower 10 percent favorable opinion of the U.S., and Jordan just a hair above at 13 percent. More important is Zakaria's conclusion: There is a fundamental tension in U.S. policy toward […]

Nov
04
2011

WaPo: Greece, Don't Be an Argentina!

Washington Post correspondent Juan Forero has a piece today (11/4/11) that attempts to compare the Greek economic crisis with other similar debt crises, particularly in Latin America. Unfortunately, he draws some misleading conclusions. Forero's point is that there's a lot about Greece's problems that are reminiscent of troubles in Argentina and Uruguay just a few years ago. One country chose the right response, and the other is called Argentina: In a story that may provide a lesson for Europe, one country, Uruguay, that was on the edge of financial oblivion organized a fast, orderly and negotiated response that revived the […]

Oct
13
2011

Bait-and-Switch Boosterism on Trade Pacts

Corporate media's incredibly uncritical boosterism of so-called "free trade" deals has been remarked on many times, and continues to be remarkable. What else but blind faith would allow a story to carry a line like one in the October 12 New York Times, about textile industry opposition to the new deal with South Korea: "The production of shirts and sheets has shifted steadily from the United States to countries with lower-cost labor. Economists argue that this process strengthens the economy as companies and workers shift to more productive and lucrative kinds of work." Of course, if the Times has evidence […]

Jun
30
2011

Hugo Chavez's Diabolical Conspiracies

The Washington Post's Juan Forero comments today (6/30/11) on how Hugo Chavez's illness means that he's off television: Chavez governs like the host of a reality show, cameras always rolling as he presides over summits, hectors opponents and warns of diabolical American plots to unseat him. Wherever would he get such ridiculous ideas.