Feb
22
2013

Fox News 'Liberal' Isn't So Sure About College Rape

fox-five-beckel

In most places, a record like Bob Beckel would probably lead your employer to tell you to take your act elsewhere. But if you're running a right-wing propaganda network, he's a pretty valuable "leftist" to keep around.

Feb
08
2013

At Beliefnet, 'Everyone' Doesn't Include Feminists

BN Media directors

The religious-themed website Beliefnet bills itself as offering "something for everyone" with a "broad editorial point of view." Unfortunately, as playwright and pastor Kristine Holmgren found when she was offered a chance to blog there, in Beliefnet's eyes, "everyone" does not include feminists.

Jan
16
2013

Journalism by–and for–the Sponsors

atlantic-scientology

The headline of a recent article posted at the website of the Atlantic–"David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year"–probably tipped readers that something was more than a little off. It wasn't an article, really; above the headline, in a yellow box, was the phrase "Sponsor Content." But is what the Atlantic did–and quickly apologized for–really unusual?

Jan
14
2013

Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013

Aaron Swartz (photo: NIck Gray)

It's always difficult to report on someone's death. If they've had a lifetime of accomplishments, how do you sum that up in a few brief paragraphs? When a life has been cut cruelly short, it's even worse–trying hopelessly to convey the sense of lost possibilities. With Aaron Swartz, who died this past weekend, reportedly by his own hand, you have the worst of both worlds

Dec
04
2012

Julian Assange, Erin Burnett and the Battle Over Press Freedom

burnett-assange

There seems to be an expectation in the Assange case that a dissident must take refuge with a government with a sterling human rights record. This message is conveyed by journalists whose own country has detained, harassed and killed their journalistic colleagues.

Nov
08
2012

Mittmentum: Reporters Thought He Might Win Because He Said So

Asked about the pre-election sense that Mitt Romney might win the election, CNN reporter Candy Crowley told viewers (11/7/12): There was an optimism in the Romney camp. But it wasn't based on the numbers. It was based on the feel of things. And one thing you know when you cover a campaign, the feel of things can be really deceiving. She's not alone–others had the same sense that the numbers couldn't be what they were. A Politico story (10/31/12) reported that this feeling was fairly widespread among elite media: Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign says it still has momentum. President Barack […]

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
02
2012

Politico Makes You Glad Election Is Almost Over

Nate Silver

The gossipy, horse race-obsessed outlet Politico ran a story on October 29 about the credibility of polling expert Nate Silver, whose 538 blog at the New York Times is a must-read for people interested in election forecasting. What Silver does isn't, on one level, all that tricky–his model combines national and state polls and generates probabilities about election outcomes. This model finds it highly likely that Barack Obama will win the election. It's probability, not a crystal ball or a bet. Politico's Dylan Byers notes that Silver's model says this "even as the polls have [Romney] almost neck-and-neck with the incumbent." […]

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
02
2012

Facebook Is Losing Your Mail in Hopes of Receiving More Bribes

Facebook logo

Back in May, Facebook introduced its Promoted Posts program, giving groups and companies with pages on the social media site the option of paying to get their posts seen by more of their fans. The way Facebook works is that you don't see every post by every friend or every page that you like–Facebook has a formula called Edgerank that tries to determine how interested you'd be in that post, based mainly on how much you've "liked," shared or commented upon similar posts in the past, and how many people are liking, sharing and commenting on that particular post. At […]

Sep
13
2012

The Case of the Disappearing NYT Piece

Mitt Romney

At Huffington Post (9/13/12), Ryan Grim and Michael Calderone are raising questions about the somewhat mysterious disappearance of a New York Times news article: On Wednesday, the New York Times published a provocative story bylined by David E. Sanger and Ashley Parker, leading with the news that Mitt Romney had personally approved the blistering Tuesday night statement on the attacks in Libya and Egypt that landed his campaign in trouble. But hours later, the newspaper wiped the story out and replaced it with a significantly rewritten piece bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker…. The later version, which appeared on […]

Sep
05
2012

Politicians in Tampa, Charlotte Massaged by Media—Literally

Huffington Post Oasis

When it comes to journalists socializing and otherwise cozying up to the powerful, there's not a lot new under the sun. More than 20 years ago, then-FAIR associates Martin Lee and Norman Solomon wrote about it in their book Unreliable Sources: TV's top journalists are part of the wealthy and influential elite, often socializing with people they're supposed to be scrutinizing. At an awards banquet for the Radio & Television Correspondents Association during Reagan's second term, Kathleen Sullivan (at the time with ABC) was photographed on the arm of then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, while CBS Face the Nation host Lesley Stahl […]

Aug
23
2012

Politicians Lie–and Reporters Can't Report That

There's an interesting Politico story (8/22/12) about Andrea Seabrook, who until recently was a Capitol Hill reporter for NPR. She's moved on to a new independent reporting project, but it's what she said about her previous gig that's most revealing: "I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you're doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say," Seabrook told Politico. "And I feel like the real story of Congress right now […]