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 […]

May
25
2012

Gawker's New Media Model: Have Advertisers Edit Content

How's this for a business model for new media? Have people talk about products, and let the corporations who make the products pay to control the conversation. That's Gawker's new sure-fire money-making scheme, according to CJR (5/24/12), which quotes a memo from the media gossip site: "In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform." CJR explains that people mainly read Gawker for the snarky comments, so site founder Nick Denton is planning on virtually doing away with posts: Expect Gawker's blog posts to get shorter, in future, and sometimes just be a headline, at least […]

Apr
18
2012

Assange's 'Nut Job' Portrayal Says More About Portrayers

New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley–whose work has been regularly featured in the paper's Corrections box–doesn't think much of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange's new TV show, which debuted on the Russian-backed RT cable channel. Stanley takes her shots–the channel has a "zesty anti-American slant," she writes, then crudely notes: "A few correspondents can sound at times like Boris and Natasha of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame." OK. Stanley runs down the various controversies swirling around Assange, then presents his response: "Mr. Assange tells reporters that he is being persecuted for political reasons, which, even if true, doesn't exactly help his case." I'm […]

Mar
02
2012

Bill O'Reilly and the Invention of the Internet

Last night Fox's Bill O'Reilly (3/1/12) asked guest Tamara Draut from the think tank Demos to name just one green energy success story. She tried to resist the question, explaining that in some cases, the benefits of government funding can come much later. Like, she mentioned, what happened with the Internet. But O'Reilly wasn't going to let those facts get in the way: O'REILLY: Let me break this to you. The Internet– DRAUT: It's too short of a time frame. O'REILLY: — private money. DRAUT: No, it was public money. Department of Defense, federal money. O'REILLY: Hold it. Have you […]

Feb
01
2012

Gingrich Refuses to Face the Fact That Voters Don't Matter

From Amanda Terkel in the Huffington Post (2/1/12): Newt Gingrich Florida Primary Results 2012: The Candidate Who Refuses to Operate Within Reality …From the beginning to the end of Gingrich's election night party, the campaign and its supporters seemed to be operating outside of realities, denying the importance of this large state's primary contest and insisting that victory was going to be theirs as soon as voters opened their eyes and truly saw Florida winner Mitt Romney as a "Massachusetts moderate." Gingrich, in fact, never even congratulated Romney on his win. I'm a fan of Terkel's work, but this genre […]

Jan
30
2012

Shameless Self-Promotion on NBC Nightly 'News'

No comment. NBC Nightly News (1/29/12) LESTER HOLT: And a sign of the times tonight on a football field in Hawaii. The NFL is relaxing its strict social media policy and allowing players to use Twitter to interact with fans during the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. There'll be one designated computer on each sideline, no smartphones allowed. Players will be tweeting with the hashtag probowl. And by the way, you can catch the game coming up next, here on NBC.

Jan
24
2012

Mother's Health News, Brought to You by Carcinogenic Baby Shampoo

Arianna Huffington had an announcement (1/19/12) about a new section in her Huffington Post: I'm delighted to announce the launch of Global Motherhood, a new section within HuffPost Impact dedicated to the health and well being of mothers and babies around the world, and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. It goes without saying that it's a bad idea in general to have a corporation in the health industry sponsoring health coverage; the potential for conflict of interest is obvious. But given that these kinds of special sections are typically created to meet an advertiser's need–an impression strengthened by the fact […]

Jan
23
2012

Rooting for Newt?

To me, the most interesting observation after the South Carolina primary came from New York magazine reporter and regular TV pundit John Heilemann, who said this on MSNBC (h/t Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars): Gingrich is going to get so much free media attention over the next few days. It is going to be wall to wall Gingrich, and I think it is fair to say that, in some ways, the "liberal media," as Gingrich would put it, is kind of rooting for Gingrich right now. They want this–they/we, want this race to go on, so he is gonna […]

Jan
19
2012

NYT, SOPA and Internet Factchecking

Remember last week's uproar about the New York Times and factchecking? In today's paper, we see a great example of how this works. Former Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd's new job is as a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, which means he's leading the charge in support of SOPA, the bill that big media companies believe will stop online "piracy." Opponents see it as a potentially devastating blow to free speech on the Internet, and they seem to have had great success in turning the tide of the debate. This is not good news for people like Dodd, […]