"Both sides" made objectionable comments after the Newtown massacre, writes Campbell Brown. Right-wing bigots on the one hand, and on the other… Diane Ravitch? For praising heroic teachers? This is "false balance" of the most absurd kind.
Writing about journalistic treatment of the superstorm and climate change, CJR's Curtis Brainard (10/30/12) criticizes the New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert for the wrong reason. He takes issue with her statement (10/29/12): As with any particular "weather-related loss event," it's impossible to attribute Sandy to climate change. However, it is possible to say that the storm fits the general pattern in North America, and indeed around the world, toward more extreme weather, a pattern that, increasingly, can be attributed to climate change. He's unhappy with the second part–retorting that you can't attribute a trend toward extreme weather to climate change. But [...]
On the new episode of FAIR TV: Is a new Obama ad…racist? We'll take a look at how PBS is misreporting Iran, and also take a look at Joe Klein's remarkable defense of killing four-year-old girls in other countries. Take a look–and please spread the word.
MSNBC's Morning Joe had a remarkable discussion of U.S. drone attacks today (10/23/12). Here's a clip of the most intense moments of the exchange between the conservative-leaning Joe Scarborough and Time columnist Joe Klein, who is occasionally mistaken for a liberal: Scarborough offered up a more passionate critique of drone attacks than you're likely to hear from his left-leaning MSNBC colleagues: "If you're between 17 and 30, and you're within a half-mile of a suspect, we can blow you up." When Klein interjects to argue that drones are "decimating bad guys," Scarborough responds that the attacks are "taking out a [...]
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 [...]
In Time magazine's new cover story ("Blue Truth, Red Truth," 10/3/12), Michael Scherer attempts to sort out the puzzle of campaign season factchecking. But while the cover promises to tell us which candidate is telling the truth, it mostly manages to capture some of the corporate media's worst factchecking tropes. The article kicks off with a hefty helping of false balance–the tendency to see all problems as coming more or less equally from both sides. Obama complains about Romney's sustained, false claims that the White House is doing away with work requirements under welfare. Scherer notes this is false–and then [...]
The protests and violence in Egypt, Libya and Yemen have caused a notable uptick in media discussions about, as Newsweek's cover puts it, "Muslim Rage." Part of the corporate media's job is to make sure real political grievances are mostly kept out of the discussion. It's a lot easier to talk about angry mobs and their peculiar religion than it is to acknowledge that maybe some of the anger has little to do with religion at all. Take the news out of Afghanistan yesterday: A NATO airstrike killed eight women in the eastern province of Laghman who were out collecting [...]
Time magazine's James Poniewozik (9/24/12–subscription required) says it's been "a banner year for the factcheckers," and yet the facts keep on getting mangled: Yet the traffic violations keep coming. Scads of fibs, exaggerations and misleading statements have been swept up in the dragnet: a super-PAC ad implying that Mitt Romney was responsible for the cancer death of a laid-off worker's wife, a Republican claim that Barack Obama was ditching welfare work requirements, a charge by Senator Harry Reid that someone told him Romney hadn't paid taxes for years, a boatload of statements from Paul Ryan's vice-presidential acceptance speech. Poniewozik has [...]
A few weeks ago Newsweek got a lot of attention for Niall Ferguson's factually challenged cover story slamming the Obama case for re-election. This week, in true corporate media style, we get the "other" side: An argument that Obama should move the Democratic party to the right. Peter Boyer's piece, "Why Barack Needs Bill," recycles some of more dubious claims about the effectiveness of Clinton's brand of center-right "triangulation." Since this is the media's usual advice for Democrats– move to the right in order to capture the center– it's worth unpacking. Clinton-style "New Democrats," Boyers explains, "have nearly vanished." And [...]
Flipping open the new issue of Time (9/3/12), a piece by Michael Crowley begins: Paul Ryan may be America's most famous budget wonk. Oh good grief. Crowley's point is not just to praise Ryan's devotion to spreadsheets. No, this piece is about the influences that made Paul Ryan the wonk he is today: But he's more than a number cruncher. Ryan's budget math is drawn from the political and economic theories of his many intellectual idols. And you get what you'd expect: Ayn Rand, Jack Kemp, Friedrich Hayek. But it's the passage about Ryan and Catholicism that is especially bizarre. [...]
Time magazine's Michael Crowley, from the new issue: In naming Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate on August 11, Romney chose someone as deep as Palin was shallow, a studious wonk known for his mastery of that most substantive of all issues: the federal budget. For Crowley, this is actually toning down the Ryan praise. Just last year, he co-wrote a piece for Time that went like this: Just 41 years old, with jet black hair and a touch of Eagle Scout to him, the House Budget Committee chairman unveiled an ambitious package of huge budget cuts designed to [...]