May
25
2011

'Obama Can't Win' Author Sees 2012 Defeat

On the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, conservative pundit Shelby Steele lays out the argument that Barack Obama's blackness is a unique asset that makes him difficult to beat in 2012. The argument–which, on some level, is worth taking seriously–is that "his presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to compete with. He literally validates the American democratic experiment, if not the broader Enlightenment that gave birth to it." You can see how this might be true for a segment of the American population–I wrote in 2007 about pundits who made such arguments–but it's unclear […]

Mar
16
2011

On Islamist Terrorism, WSJ Entitled to Its Own Opinions–But Not Its Own Facts

Rep. Peter King

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial (3/11/11) defended the Peter King hearings on Islamist terrorism against "our friends on the left [who] are busy portraying them as the McCarthy hearings and Palmer Raids rolled into one." The editors argued that in fact, the focus on Muslims is justified based on the facts: Since 9/11, there have been more than 50 known cases, involving about 130 individuals, in which terrorist plots were hatched on American soil. These include plots to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, an office tower in Dallas, a federal court house in Illinois, the Washington, […]

Feb
28
2011

WSJ and the Disappearing 'Gasland' Quote

The documentary Gasland was up for an Academy Award last night. Director Josh Fox has been writing about the gas industry's campaign against the film, which is a critical look at hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." That controversy found its way to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, where a story byBenCasselman was posted that included an interesting admission. As Press Action noted: In the original version of the article, Casselman, who has covered the energy industry at the Journal for several years, quoted Range Resources-Appalachia director of public affairs Matt Pitzarella as saying: "We have to stop blaming documentaries and […]

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 […]

Oct
18
2010

'Capitalism Saved the Miners'? Part Two

The emerging hero of the Chilean miners' story–in Latin America and elsewhere, if not in the U.S.–is Luis Urzúa, a topographer who took a job at the San José mines as a shift foreman while awaiting the start of new a job in his field. NASA officials working on the rescue called Urzúa "a natural leader," but his most important accomplishment was getting the 33 miners through the first 17 days of their crisis, when all they had was enough food for two days, dirty water and no idea if a rescue effort was even underway. Besides implementing food rationing […]

Oct
15
2010

'Capitalism Saved the Miners'? Only in Wonder Land

After the miners' rescue Wednesday, talk in Chile turned to mine safety and the conduct of Compania Minera San Esteban, the corporation that owns the San Jose mines where the miners were trapped. On Thursday, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera publicly addressed safety issues, vowing "fundamental changes in how businesses treat their workers." Stories about San Esteban's horrible record are legion (e.g., here and here). The company has been host to a number of deaths at its mines in recent years, and accusations of safety violations including the charge that it ignored orders to install safety equipment–a condition of its reopening […]

Sep
28
2010

It's Publishers' Greed, Not E-Books, That's Pinching Authors

Jeffrey Trachtenberg, writing for the Wall Street Journal (9/28/10), reports in "Authors Feel Pinch in Age of E-Books" that electronic publishing is ruining authors: It has always been tough for literary fiction writers to get their work published by the top publishing houses. But the digital revolution that is disrupting the economic model of the book industry is having an outsize impact on the careers of literary writers. Priced much lower than hardcovers, many e-books generate less income for publishers. And big retailers are buying fewer titles. As a result, the publishers who nurtured generations of America's top literary-fiction writers […]

Jan
21
2010

Pedophiles, Terrorists and the Massachusetts Senate Race

An illuminating account of how conservatives won the Massachusetts Senate race (Washington Independent, 1/20/10) singled out an op-ed by Dorothy Rabinowitz in the Wall Street Journal (1/14/10) as having energized citizens to vote against Martha Coakley. And, honestly, the piece does provide plenty of legitimate ammunition for the anti-Coakley side. The op-ed centered on a case in which three members of the Amirault family, which ran a pre-school in Massachusetts, were sent to prison based on children's accounts of seemingly impossible sexual abuse. (Read the column if you want to see the grisly yet preposterous examples.) Rabinowitz, who has long […]

Aug
28
2009

WSJ 'Scumbag' Columnist Gets Predictably Slimy

Noticing that Democratic strategist Mark Penn "is the Wall Street Journal's 'Microtrend'-spotting columnist" and "also CEO of PR giant Burson-Marsteller," Gawker blogger Hamilton Nolan (8/26/09) posits that "only a scumbag would abuse the former to drum up business for the latter." Alas, "Scumbag spotted!" is Nolan's cry when writing that Penn's latest (old, and none too insightful) "Microtrend" column is about "glamping"–glamorous camping. It ran last weekend. By Monday, according to an internal email obtained by Gawker, Burson was already trying to recruit companies from the industry featured in the column as clients. Nolan goes on to remind us that […]

Aug
25
2009

The Downside to Murdoch's Plan to Control Online News

The problem with Rupert Murdoch's proposal to create an online news consortium, in which major publishers would all band together to put their news content behind pay walls (L.A. Times, 8/21/09), is that it's not illegal to discuss news events online. And you don't want to make it illegal to discuss news events online. And yet, absent a law forbidding such discussions, there's nothing to stop someone from buying subscriptions to the various pay news sites and starting a website (like this one, but more so) in which they write about what they've learned from them–thus offering for free what […]

Aug
24
2009

Thanking Murdoch's Journal for More of Rove's Lies

OpEd News has published an open letter from attorney Dana Jill Simpson (8/20/09) to "Mr. Murdoch and all the editors at the Wall Street Journal," in which she expresses her wish to "thank you from the very bottom of my heart for running Karl Rove's delusional article, 'Closing In on Rove,' on August 20, 2009": The reason I want to thank you is that Mr. Rove has clearly lied about me in this article. You have captured and printed it without even checking to see if it is so or not. The lie he has told is and I quote, […]

Jul
07
2009

The 'Endemic Practices' of 'Revenue-Hungry News Orgs'

Furthering the story of "Washington Post executives–reeling…over a flier promoting a 'salon' for lobbyists to mingle with prominent newsmakers," Politico reporters Michael Calderone and Andy Barr (7/4/09) think the suits at the Post might reasonably ask "Why us?": The fact is the Post's clumsy effort to make money on its brand name and market its access to the powerful was a belated effort to follow in the steps of at least two other prominent news organizations: The Wall Street Journal and the Economist magazine. The Journal, for instance, is charging a $7,500 for its two-day CEO Council in November, an […]

May
20
2009

California Health Reform, Minus Single-Payer

The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib wrote a piece today (5/20/09–subscription required) that offers California as a model for understanding the difficulties in overhauling the healthcare system: California's experience, in fact, represented a kind of trial run for the healthcare overhaul the president and Congress are about to attempt on the national level, offering useful lessons as well as warning signs about the potholes ahead. Well, yes and no. Seib writes that the "California example showed the importance of securing at least some bipartisan support, the need to reassure those who have insurance as well as those who don't, and […]