Jan
18
2012

NYT and the Racism Bog

When a Republican presidential candidate goes around talking about Barack Obama as the "food stamp president," eventually reporters are going to have to write about racism. But how they talk about the issue in instructive. In today's New York Times (1/18/12), Jim Rutenberg has a piece headlined "Risks for GOP in Attacks With Racial Themes," where we learn this about Newt Gingrich's food stamp rhetoric: Mr. Gingrich was clearly making the case that he is the candidate most able to take the fight to Mr. Obama in the fall, but he was also laying bare risks for his party when […]

Jan
10
2012

'Opinions Differ' Should Be the Start of PolitiFact's Job

There are two ways to approach being evenhanded: You can try to actually be evenhanded, which could mean that you find that one side is right and the other is wrong. Or you can strive for the appearance of being evenhanded, which means that you decide in advance that you're going to find that there's truth on both sides. PolitiFact, a political factchecking project based in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been criticized for taking the latter approach. An item it posted yesterday (1/9/12) is further evidence of its preference for the appearance of evenhandedness over its reality. The item addressed […]

Dec
06
2011

Fox News Goes to the Middle (and Other Fantasies)

Is Fox News Channel going soft? In an election year? Some media figures seem to think the hard-right channel is going to the "middle," but this seems to be a figment of the centrist imagination. New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman has a short piece trying to make this case. His first bit of evidence is that Fox granted backstage access at its recent Republican debate to a New York Times reporter–as Sherman put it, "Fox's decision to allowTimes scribe Jim Rutenberg into the building to confront the candidates in person." That sounds rather aggressive, and Sherman sees this as some […]

Aug
26
2011

O'Keefe's Bogus NPR Sting Lives On

Jesse Jackson had some tough criticism for the Tea Party movement at a Martin Luther King event on Thursday. USA Today's Melanie Eversley covered his remarks, getting a Tea Party activist to respond to his criticism. The piece then added this, presumably in order to add some context: The group has faced criticism of being a racist group, a claim made most visibly by former National Public Radio fundraiser Ron Schiller, who was caught on hidden camera calling the group racist and xenophobic, prompting his immediate resignation. In other words, lots of people seem to hurl accusations of racism at […]

Aug
24
2011

NYT Points Out 'Racist Overtones' in Libyan Disinformation It Helped Spread

Today's New York Times has a story by David Kirkpatrick and Rod Nordland running down the exaggerations and misinformation that have been spread throughout the Libya War. There's been "spin from all sides," they report. Gadhafi's exaggerations are well-known, but this passage is rather striking: Still, the rebels have offered their own far-fetched claims, like mass rapes by loyalist troops issued tablets of Viagra. Although the rebels have not offered credible proof, that claim is nonetheless the basis of an investigation by the International Criminal Court. And there is the mantra, with racist overtones, that the Gadhafi government is using […]

Jul
15
2011

USA Today Debunks Once Again the Myth of the Bloody Border

USA Today published a useful investigation today (7/15/11) finding that "rates of violent crime along the U.S./Mexico border have been falling for years," that U.S. border cities are "statistically safer on average than other cities in their states" and "border cities, big and small, have maintained lower crime rates than the national average, which itself has been falling." The USA Today report is not the first to dispel what it calls the "bloody" picture of the U.S. border with Mexico. But while it cites politicians, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, for spreading the myth, the piece lets right-wing media, including […]

Jul
13
2011

NYT Says: No All-Star Game Immigration Protests. And Reality Says. . .

The headline in today's New York Times (7/13/11): Plenty of Action Before the Game, but No Immigration Law Protests The Paper of Record reported that the much-discussed protests against Arizona's SB 1070 law fizzled: In the end, commerce trumped conscience. It was no mystery why the fervor over the immigration law was as flat as a half-full can of soda left in the 100-degree heat. Meanwhile, back in reality (Think Progress, 7/13/11):

Jul
13
2011

NYT's Immigrant Name-Calling

As we pointed out here and Monica Novoa pointed out here, Jose Antonio Vargas came out in the pages of the New York Times Magazine as an undocumented immigrant. In that piece and in some follow-ups, he seems to be aware of the distinction between "undocumented" and "illegal." His Times piece was headlined, "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant." That is the term he used in the article. It is completely inexplicable, then, that the magazine chose this headline for the Vargas letters this weekend: I, Illegal Immigrant

Jul
05
2011

Jose Antonio Vargas and the 'I Word'

Reporter Jose Antonio Vargas wrote a moving piece for the New York Times magazine about his status as an undocumented immigrant. One hope is that his story might improve the tone and substance of media coverage of immigration; Vargas has suggested as much, at one point tweeting this message: Undocumented Immigrant trending. So let's drop "Illegal" and "Alien." No person is illegal or an alien. His story has received a tremendous amount of media attention. But as Monica Novoa pointed out at ColorLines, too much coverage has dwelt on Vargas' "illegal" status: Vargas' story has drawn enormous media attention and […]

May
16
2011

More Evidence of Gingrich's Idea-Spewing

Last week, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz explained that Newt Gingrich was "an idea-spewing machine" and a "one-man think tank"–even warning that "a keen intellect can also translate into the appearance of intellectual superiority." Well OK. A few days in Balz's paper, readers learned that in a recent speech Gingrich called Barack Obama a "food stamp president." Which I think must be some wonky think tank rhetoric. Matthew Yglesias also noted that in the same appearance, Gingrich advocated a return to Jim Crow-era voting laws, saying: "But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as […]

Apr
21
2011

Newsweek Bravely Highlights the Plight of the Beached White Male

Newsweek's cover story this week is on the plight of college-educated white men aged 35-64. The magazine laments that "this hitherto privileged demo isn't just on its knees, it's flat on on its face." The subhead of the piece asks, "Can manhood survive the lost decade?" Now, I have much sympathy for all who are struggling with unemployment. But are middle-aged, college-educated white males flat on their face and worthy of a trend cover story? It's hard to square that with the piece's own admission that their jobless rate is just above 5 percent. Most demographic groups would give anything […]

Apr
18
2011

NYT Critical Spotlight on Tanton Gives His Anti-Immigrant Groups a Pass

The Sunday New York Times (4/17/11) ran a big front-page piece on John Tanton, founder of the anti-immigration organizations Federation for American Immigration Reform and Center for Immigration Studies. I guess it's positive that someone in corporate media is finally paying attention to Tanton's racism (long documented here at FAIR–1/1/93–and by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center–Winter/08), and reporter Jason DeParle does include a good deal of damning information about Tanton and some of his own racist words. But he also manages to interview almost exclusively people currently or formerly affiliated with Tanton's groups (six of these people in […]

Mar
18
2011

FAIR at Left Forum in NYC

This Saturday I'll be on a panel at Left Forum titled "Racism and Resistance in the Immigration Debate," with former FAIR communications director Isabel Macdonald, Monica Novoa of Drop the I-Word, Sonia Guinansaca of the New York State Youth Leadership Council and Esther Kaplan of the Nation Institute, moderated by my former Paper Tiger colleague Denisse Andrade. Below is the description. I'll be talking about my recent article, "Time to 'Drop and Leave' Loaded Language," among other things. If you're in the New York area, stop by for what should be a very interesting conversation. Racist, dehumanizing terms such as […]