Sep
20
2011

AP's Mangled Tax Factcheck

Yesterday Barack Obama made a speech outlining his deficit reduction plan–focusing attention on a variety of spending cuts and tax increases. The Associated Press, as is their habit, issued a "factcheck" piece by Stephen Ohlemacher that managed to bungle the issues involved, making it sound as if Obama was wrong about the taxes that wealthy people pay. Here's how it started: President Barack Obama makes it sound as if there are millionaires all over America paying taxes at lower rates than their secretaries. "Middle-class families shouldn't pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires," Obama said Monday. "That's pretty straightforward. It's […]

Jul
29
2011

Iran Helping Iraqi Insurgents…Make That Al-Qaeda

"Iran arming Iraq insurgents"was last month's story. Today's papers are telling a different story; the new line being pushed by U.S. officials is that Iran is supporting Al-Qaeda. Today's Washington Post: Iran Allows Money, Recruits to Reach Al-Qaeda, U.S. Says 'Secret deal' allegedly supports activities of terrorists in Pakistan In the New York Times: Treasury Accuses Iran of Aiding Al-Qaeda Associated Press: U.S. Accuses Iran of 'Secret Deal' With Al-Qaeda The Post calls this "the most serious U.S. allegation to date of Iranian aid to the terrorist group"– though it later notes that "U.S. officials have repeatedly accused Iran of […]

Jul
27
2011

What WaPo Won't Tell You About CIA's Yemen Drone Base

In a piece today, the Washington Post's Greg Miller reports on a CIA base that will be used to conduct drone strikes in Yemen: The agency is building a desert airstrip so that it can begin flying armed drones over Yemen. The facility, which is scheduled to be completed in September, is designed to shield the CIA's aircraft, and their sophisticated surveillance equipment, from observers at busier regional military hubs such as Djibouti, where the JSOC drones are based. The Washington Post is withholding the specific location of the CIA facility at the administration's request. The existence of the base […]

Feb
08
2011

U.S. Outraged Over Cuban Detention Practices

OnFebruary 5 theAssociated Press ran a story about a case in Cuba: Prosecutors are charging jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross with "acts against the integrity and independence" of Cuba and requesting a 20-year prison term, state news media reported Friday, dimming hopes he would be allowed to go home soon. Further down, as one would expect, is a response from the United States: Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which Washington maintains instead of an embassy, said his "imprisonment without charges for more than a year is contrary to all international human-rights obligations." Now that […]

Jan
18
2011

Did We Say Job-Killing? We Meant Job-DESTROYING: The New 'Civil' DC

Under the headline "Lawmakers Aiming to Increase Civility," the New York Times (1/17/11)reports from the front lines of theimproved, post-Tucsonpolitical climate: And the House speaker, John A. Boehner, used the phrase "job-destroying" instead of "job-killing" in reference to the Democrats' healthcare overhaul in a speech to colleagues on Saturday–a subtle but pointed shift in tone, though not in substance. Change is in the air! On a serious note, this would suggest a shift from a mean-sounding,unsupported-by-the-factsattack on one's opponents to a slightly less mean-sounding, still fact-free attack on the Democrats and the Obama White House. As Dean Baker wrote at […]

Oct
01
2010

Haiti News That Makes You Sad–But Should Make You Angry

If you listen to CounterSpin this week (and you should be downloading the podcast EVERY WEEK), you'll hear this item: USA Today ran a version of an AP story September 29 about the outrageous and depressing fact that not a penny of the $1.5 billion the U.S. pledged to Haiti for rebuilding after the devastating earthquake nearly nine months ago has actually been delivered. It's the sort of news that might make readers sad, but it should make them angry. Trouble is, you have to get to paragraph 10 of the 12 paragraph piece before you learn why the money […]

Sep
16
2010

How AP Can Make a Poll Say Whatever It Wants It To

An AP piece published across the Web today (9/16/10) carries this headline: AP-GfK Poll: Nearly Half Oppose Tax Hikes for Rich. Well, that's one way of looking at it–just like you could report the results of the 1988 election by saying that Michael Dukakis got "nearly half" of the popular vote. The more logical way of putting it would be that more than half support letting tax cuts expire for the rich: 54 percent to 44 percent. But framing it instead around the minority position lets them focus on how Democrats might worry about "provoking the 44 percent who say […]

Jul
23
2010

Sherrod Hoax Exposed, but Breitbart's ACORN Fraud Lives On

Reporting on Andrew Breitbart's latest bit of deceit–using a selectively edited video to paint a low-level USDA official Shirley Sherrod as a racist–has given the media a chance to resurrect one of their favorite myths: Breitbart's triumphant takedown of the community-organizing group ACORN. In September 2009, Breitbart's website BigGovernment.com posted videos, made by conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, supposedly showing ACORN employees counseling the pair–ostensibly pretending to be a prostitute and a pimp–on how to avoid paying taxes and other illegal activities. The videos were later found to be completely misleading. Among other things, it was revealed that […]

Sep
22
2009

New Developments in Honduras–Same Old Bad Media

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya has returned to Honduras, though not to office.Unfortunately, press accounts still manage to mangle the story behind his ouster, relying on those who supported the coup to explain what happened. In today's New York Times (9/22/09): At the time of his removal, Mr. Zelaya was planning a nonbinding referendum that his opponents said would have been the first step toward allowing him to run for another term in office, which is forbidden under the Honduran constitution. Mr. Zelaya has denied any attempt to run for re-election. An Associated Press report appearing in today's USA Today (9/22/09) […]

Aug
21
2009

AP and CNN Go Tabloid on South African Runner's Gender

Eighteen-year-old Caster Semenya, a runner from South Africa, just blew away the competition in the women's 800-meter world championship race. But the news reports yesterday weren't about that–they were about whether she's "really" a woman or not. And supposedly serious outlets like the AP and CNN are sinking to tabloid levels of coverage on the issue. The AP video of the controversy, posted on the L.A. Times website, kicks off: "Quick! Man–or woman?" The piece includes slow pans over Semenya's body, more tabloidy commentary ("She–and yes, SHE claims to be a woman"), and the offering of her voice as some […]

May
20
2009

Media Cheer Obama Moves Toward Bush's 'Center'

Salon's Glenn Greenwald (5/19/09, ad-viewing required) "gives the lie to the collective national claim that we learned our lesson and are now regretful about the Bush/Cheney approach to terrorism": Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country's institutions–particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media–acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do. Nothing has produced as much media praise for Obama as his embrace of what [the New Republic's Jack] Goldsmith calls the "essential elements" of "the […]

Apr
24
2009

Banning of Popular Party 'Threatens' Haitian Election's 'Success'

Voter turnout in last weekend's Haitian Senate elections was very low; observers cited in a Reuters report, "Haitians Largely Boycott Senate Election," estimated it at less than 10 percent, which an Al Jazeera report attributed in part to "resentment over the banning of a popular party"–Fanmi Lavalas–as well as disenchantment with the ruling government and poverty. A short Associated Press report published in the New York Times (4/20/09) about the vote had an odd spin on these issues: The success of Sunday's election was threatened by voter apathy and opposition from the Fanmi Lavalas Party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. […]

Jan
27
2009

AP vs. Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments

An Associated Press headline about the "Issue of Terrorists' Rights to Test Obama's Pledge" to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility spurs Salon critic Glenn Greenwald (1/26/09, ad-viewing required) to put a basic journalistic tenet as simply as possible: "The fact that the U.S. Government accuses someone of X does not mean that they are actually guilty of X": It's a good thing that there was no Associated Press around (let alone Wall Street Journals and John Yoos) during debates over the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments. AP would have run articles describing the proposed guarantees of Due Process […]