Oct
03
2012

Time: Obama's Lies Are Worse Because They're More Accurate

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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 […]

Sep
14
2012

When Not Saying Who's to Blame Is to Blame

Romney/Obama graphic from Time (by Lincoln Andrew)

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 […]

Aug
24
2012

Paul Ryan and Jesus Christ

Jesus/Tony Unruh

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. […]

Aug
22
2012

Another Liberal Media Hit Job on Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan/photo by Marco Grob

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 […]

Jun
15
2012

Millionaire Pundit: Public Sector Pensions Are the Real Threat

CNN host and Time columnist Fareed Zakaria is no doubt a wealthy guy. He reportedly gets paid $75,000 for one hour speeches. Who has that kind of money? As CJR recently noted: Over the years, he has been retained for speeches by numerous financial firms, including Baker Capital, Catterton Partners, Driehaus Capital Management, ING, Merrill Lynch, Oak Investment Partners, Charles Schwab and T. Rowe Price, according to the website of the Royce Carlton speakers bureau. All of which brings us to his new column in Time magazine, where he rails against the cushy pensions of public sector workers and slams […]

May
22
2012

Time on Netanyahu: Frozen Puffery

I finally managed to get all the way through Richard Stengel's fawning cover story about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At a moment when incumbents around the world are being shunted aside, he is triumphant. With his bullet-proof majority, he has a chance to turn himself into the historic figure he has always yearned to be. And it traces what it says is Netanyahu's appeal to U.S. audiences: He appeared regularly on Nightline and became the Israeli-American It boy–confident, handsome, fearsomely articulate in virtually accentless English. Every suburban Jewish mother had a crush on him. "Bibi was the streetwise local […]

May
15
2012

Time Ignores Climate Change to Paint a 'Golden Age' of Fracking

You have to wonder: Do journalists covering energy issues imagine they and their loved ones are going to be living on another planet in the not-too-distant future? That seems like the only reason you would write a piece about the world discovering ways to extract and burn vast new quantities of hydrocarbons without mentioning one word about climate change. That's what Bryan Walsh gave us in the May 21 issue of Time magazine–an article about fracking that doesn't mention the technology's powerful contribution to global warming. The headline over this article: "The Golden Age." Walsh does refer to fracking's ecological […]

May
01
2012

Romney's the Right Kind of Flipflopper

As we've written before, some political flipflops are better than others. The ones that Mitt Romney commits, or might commit in the future, are often seen as being the good kind. That argument was advanced once more this Sunday (4/29/12) on the Chris Matthews Show, by Time editor Rick Stengel and the host himself, who were engaged in a familiar Beltway media discussion where journalists pretend to be campaign strategists. In this case, the question was whether the Obama campaign should push the idea that Romney is a flipflopper, or the idea that he's very conservative. STENGEL: The thing that […]

Apr
16
2012

Arabs and Democracy: A Question for Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria wrote in Time magazine (4/16/12) that "the Arab Spring is looking less appealing by the week." The problem is a "messier reality," and he zeroes in on Egypt: And now, as Egypt's presidential election approaches, we see the rise of two candidates from Islamic parties, Khairat al-Shater and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. The former is often described as a moderate, the latter as a radical. Much of what we're seeing might well be the tumult that accompanies the end of decades of tyranny and the rise of long-suppressed forces, but it raises the question, Why does it seem […]

Apr
03
2012

Joe Klein on Trayvon Martin: Democrats Are Bad Too

Time columnist Joe Klein has harsh words for the right. His new column uses the Trayvon Martin tragedy to talk broadly about the right and racism. Klein points out that some of the Republican presidential candidates are desperate men playing on the ignorance and racist bigotry of their audiences. Those of us who cover campaigns and watched the Tea Party grow have notebooks full of hateful quotes from that distinct minority of militants who believe that nonwhites are "taking over" the country and that Shari'a looms and that the President is somehow egging this on. This is a relatively tiny […]

Mar
09
2012

Time's Iran Nuke Assumptions

There are plenty of problems with coverage of Iran right now. The most important issue to understand is that there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. Since this is the basis for the current "crisis" narrative, it's important for journalism to try to clearly differentiate what is known and what is speculation. On that score, Time magazine's big piece this week on U.S./Israeli relations fails. Massimo Calabresi and Jay Newton-Small write: Despite their history of distrust, Obama and [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu must cooperate if they are to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. […]

Mar
06
2012

The Iran Non-Debate, Continued…

Glenn Greenwald wrote recently of the extraordinarily limited media debate on Iran, which seems to consist of U.S. and Israeli officials making threats–attack now or attack later–alongside clinical discussions of the difficulties of bombing Iran. There is plenty missing–actual Iranians talking about what war would mean in human terms,legal experts discussing how preventive war (or even the threat of one) violates international law, and so on. Today's New York Times editorial (3/6/12) offers another illustration of just how limited this media discussion is. The paper states: Iran's nuclear appetites are undeniable, as is its malign intent toward Israel, toward America, […]

Feb
22
2012

Media's Weird Ethics: Pretending to Be Someone Else Is Worse Than Facilitating Global Catastrophe

There's a popular verb in headlines about climate researcher Peter Gleick's admission that he used trickery to get damning documents out of the climate change-denialist group the Heartland Institute: "Activist Says He Lied to Obtain Climate Papers" (New York Times, 2/21/12); "Scientist Peter Gleick Admits He Lied to Get Climate Documents" (L.A. Times, 2/21/12); "Climate Researcher Says He Lied to Obtain Heartland Documents" (WashingtonPost.com, 2/21/12). What you wouldn't gather from all these pants-on-fire condemnations is that there is a long and honorable tradition, from Nellie Bly feigning madness to expose mistreatment of the mentally ill to the Chicago Sun-Times' Mirage […]