Jun
10
2011

Anonymous NATO: We Don't Know Who Bombed That Tent

From the L.A. Times (6/9/11): A tattered tent, shreds of carpet and other scorched debris were all that were left of a favored retreat of Moammar Gadhafi just outside the Libyan capital, the aftermath of what appeared to be a NATO bombing run. Was the usually idyllic nature preserve a "command and control" center used by the Libyan military? Or was this an example of NATO attempting to assassinate the longtime Libyan dictator? A NATO official reached in Naples, Italy, late Wednesday emphasized that the Western alliance does not target people for killings, and the official would not confirm that […]

Jun
09
2011

Libya's Lousy PR

One theme of the coverage of the NATO bombing of Libya is that the Libyan government is lousy at propaganda. It was somewhat jarring, though, to see all of these headlines in the space of two days this week. It's worth pointing out– as some of these stories (and others) do– that the NATO bombing has intensified over the past few days, making these 'no dead civilians here' pieces seem curiously timed. I guess this could be seen as a message to the Libyan government: This is how the professionals do it. New York Times (6/7/11): "Libya Stokes Its Machine […]

Jun
07
2011

Reading the Headlines When the Left Wins

Two elections, different outcomes, different headlines at the Wall Street Journal (6/6/11). When the left loses: Portugal Decisively Ends Leftist Rule Portugal on Sunday voted decisively to end six years of leftist rule, electing the country's main conservative party and boosting prospects for austerity measures tied to a $114 billion aid package from the EU and IMF. But when the left wins: Peru Votes in Divisive Runoff for President Voters in one of the world's most dynamic economies went to the polls Sunday to choose between two divisive presidential candidates. The latter piece included this: "Financial markets, which have been […]

Apr
26
2011

Someone at the LAT Really Likes Paul Ryan

At his Beat the Press blog (4/23/11), Dean Baker caught this in the L.A. Times (4/23/11): Congress is on its first recess since Republican leaders unveiled a plan to end the federal deficit by dramatically changing Medicare, cutting other government programs and reducing taxes. As Baker points out, what the paper is referring to–the Paul Ryan budget proposal–does not "end the federal deficit." As he put it: This is like saying they had a plan to fly to moon because they said they would build a rocket. The whole point is the specifics. How would they build a rocket? How […]

Apr
04
2011

Afghan War Is Over (If You Want It)

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Muskal explains Obama's 2012 campaign: Running for reelection is different than running for the first time because the incumbent has a record that voters can evaluate. Obama will cite healthcare insurance overhaul, his administration's response to the recession and his foreign policy, which includes winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Afghan War is winding down? Well, that would be news. Forget about Obama having "a record that voters can evaluate." I'm moreconcerned about reporters' inability to evaluate the present.

Apr
04
2011

LAT Finds Anonymous White House Truth-Teller

A brave, truth-telling whistleblower has emerged to tell the White House's side of the story in the Libya War. The inside scoop appears in a Los Angeles Times article by Christi Parsons (4/2/11) headlined, "For Obama, a Carefully Calculated Delay on Justifying Libya Airstrikes." Are you confused by the White House's decision-making on Libya? Fear not–everything has gone according to plan. Like, for instance, the delay in public explaining the decision to bomb: The timing was deeply controversial, but was designed to be a major part of the message itself, unfolding as the U.S. chalked up a measure of achievement […]

Apr
04
2011

'Revamping' Medicare? The Word They're Looking for Is 'Slashing'

Few pieces better illustrate the uselessness of so much corporate media political journalism than Kathleen Hennessey's piece in the L.A. Times (4/4/11) on Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's deficit reduction plan. The piece is headlined "House Republican Budget Plan Would Revamp Medicare," and the lead explains that the GOP budget proposal outlined by Ryan "includes an overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid and would aim to chop at least $4 trillion from the federal deficit over the next decade.""Revamp," an "overhaul"–well, that sounds good, doesn't it? How does Ryan plan to do that, exactly? Despite reporting that Ryan's "broad overview" offered "the […]

Feb
10
2011

Conflating Ousted Presidents and Former Dictators in Haiti

It was certainly surprising to see former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier return to the country on January 16. To say he hasblood on his hands is an understatement–the Duvalier regimes were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and widespread abuse, and stole millions of dollars from the country. Soon thereafter, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide announced his intention to return to his country.Aristide, twice elected andtwice removed from office, remains a popular figure in Haitian politics. His first stint in office was remarkably peaceful; his second, during which he faced armed attacks that eventually succeeded in overthrowing his government, was […]

Feb
08
2011

LAT Invents Support for LAT Series on Teacher Testing

The L.A. Times' controversial investigation last year that rated Los Angeles schoolteachers' effectiveness based on a value-addedresearch methodhasfaced a storm of criticism. (See Wayne Au's recent Rethinking Schools piece.) Now the National Education Policy Center has weighed in, finding that the research "was demonstrably inadequate to support the published rankings." The NEPC was covered in the Washington Post and, wouldn't you know it, the Los Angeles Times. Below are the headlines. Go ahead and guess which one is which. Researchers Fault L.A. Times Methods in Analysis of California Teachers Separate Study Confirms Many Los Angeles Times Findings on Teacher Effectiveness

Jan
25
2011

Media Meme: Public Cheers Obama's Rightward Turn

There's an emerging line in the corporate media that Obama's recent bump in the polls is due to the perception that he's shifting to the "center." There's a long record of media encouraging Democrats to move to the right; after the midterms, Wise Pundits were saying that Obama had to pull a Bill Clinton in order to get things back on track. And now we see things like this from the Los Angeles Times (1/24/11): After his party was dealt an electoral blow in November, Obama embraced a compromise that extended the President George W. Bush-era tax cuts, retooled his […]

Jan
07
2011

Center Moves to the Center, Courting the Middle

Obama's selection of conservative Democrat William Daley as his new chief of staff didn't surprise anyone.So reporters were left to explain the political shift behind the move. Some saw little movement at all, since Daley's political views would seem more or less in line with his predecessor Rahm Emanuel. The Washington Post (1/7/11)offered this somewhat confused explanation: His moderate views and Wall Street credentials make him an unexpected choice for a president who has railed against corporate irresponsibility and tried, with limited success, to appease restive liberals who think he has not been tough enough on bankers. Actually, the opposite […]

Dec
02
2010

Scandalous Behavior? It's All Relative

They don't show–at least in any significant way, with the caveat that thousands of e-mails still remain to be released–the U.S. government seriously misleading its allies. They don't show unauthorized war, fraudulent procurement practices or unexpected assassination. They don't show America forming significant alliances with sworn enemies or visiting unexpected deceit on friends. –James Rainey on the "dearth of scandalous behavior" in the WikiLeaks material (L.A. Times, 12/1/10) How good do you have to be to qualify as good? I haven't killed anybody. See, that's good, right? I haven't committed any felonies. I didn't start any wars. I don't practice […]

Nov
16
2010

Obama Flip-Flop on Taxes? Don't Be So Uptight, Says LAT

The Los Angeles Times reports today (11/16/10) that Barack Obama might give a tax break to the wealthy after all: Obama has loosened his longstanding view that tax cuts should be extended permanently only for households earning less than $250,000 a year ($200,000 for singles). When a reporter suggests that a politician has "loosened" his position on an important issue, it must be the kind of flip-flop the media don't find objectionable.