Aug
31
2012

FAIR TV: Paul Ryan, Bill O'Reilly's No Spin RNC and NPR "Truth Telling"

Aug
23
2012

Politicians Lie–and Reporters Can't Report That

There's an interesting Politico story (8/22/12) about Andrea Seabrook, who until recently was a Capitol Hill reporter for NPR. She's moved on to a new independent reporting project, but it's what she said about her previous gig that's most revealing: "I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you're doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say," Seabrook told Politico. "And I feel like the real story of Congress right now […]

Aug
17
2012

At NPR, You Can Take Money From Banks–Just Don't Protest Them

Even if you're not be an expert in media ethics, you'd probably agree that a show about finance and business exclusively sponsored by one giant bank has an obvious conflict. The fact that the show is on public radio might make such an arrangement all the more curious. And the fact that the host of the show also makes money giving speeches to the financial institutions he covers…. Well, now, that's not how things are supposed to work. But that's precisely how things work for Adam Davidson, the host of NPR's Planet Money. His program's exclusive underwriter is Ally Bank, […]

Jun
29
2012

Is Limbaugh Sure He Wants Lying to Be a Crime?

The Supreme Court decided on Thursday that lying about medals and military service, while "contemptible," is protected under the First Amendment's free speech clause. The court said the federal "Stolen Valor" law was overly broad and imposed a chilling effect on free speech. This news enraged Rush Limbaugh, who responded on is radio show with disdain, facetiously wondering, "I don't know if they legalized pedophilia or not." An interesting non sequitur, but back on point: Limbaugh's comprehension of freedom of speech has always been a crabbed affair, pretty much limited to the view that he and his conservative allies–people who enjoy […]

Jun
19
2012

Turning Down a Free Palace for Everyone Requires a Very Good Reason

Imagine an amazing new invention that allowed anyone to duplicate any existing building, using no resources. However, the law requires you to pay for such instant buildings, at about the price of those made the old-fashioned way, on the grounds that allowing everyone to live in their ideal home for free would make it hard for architects to make a living. Relatively little of the money paid for the new houses, though, goes to architects–or even to their great-grandchildren, many of the actual architects being long dead; most of it, rather, goes to builders and real estate agents, even though […]

Mar
23
2012

The New Campaign to 'Silence' Rush Limbaugh

Conservative talker Rush Limbaugh used to tell his listeners that the government was trying to silence him, based on a completely bogus tale about what the Fairness Doctrine would do. This time around, it's an ad campaign by the liberal group Media Matters for America directed at some of the stations that air Limbaugh's show. The group is encouraging citizens to contact stations and let them know they object to Limbaugh's degrading, sexist comments about Sandra Fluke. So what's the controversy? Fox News host Bill O'Reilly thundered (3/22/12) that "the far-left is a primary source of censorship in America." He […]

Mar
23
2012

Misinformed on Health Costs by Fox, Rush–and WaPo

Newspaper columnists often seem to get to write what they want. So it's interesting when two of them are writing about the same thing on the same day–and arriving at the opposite conclusion. In the Washington Post (3/23/12) , conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote this about the Affordable Care Act's costs, as tallied by the Congressional Budget Office: Obamacare was carefully constructed to manipulate the standard 10-year cost projections of the CBO. Because benefits would not fully kick in for four years, President Obama could trumpet 10-year gross costs of less than $1 trillion–$938 billion to be exact. But now […]

Mar
16
2012

Do Afghans Love Their Holy Book More Than Their Kids?

I felt like there was something slightly off about this New York Times story yesterday (3/15/12), "In Reactions to Two Incidents, a U.S.-Afghan Disconnect." Reporter Rod Nordland wanted to explore why Afghans seemed so much more outraged over the recent burnings of the Quran than they were about a massacre of 16 civilians by a U.S. servicemember. His piece begins: KABUL, Afghanistan– The mullah was astounded and a little angered to be asked why the accidental burning of Korans last month could provoke violence nationwide, while an intentional mass murder that included nine children last Sunday did not. "How can […]

Mar
13
2012

Dead Afghans Muck Up War Strategy

There is, as we pointed out yesterday, plenty of media coverage of the recent massacre of 16 Afghans–mostly children–as a PR problem. A related storyline is the discussion of the killings as presenting problems with the war strategy. Two headlines at the NPR website, for example: That piece advises that it "may be tough there for U.S. troops in the days and weeks ahead." Of course, the assumption in the headline is that there is a "strategy" in the first place. The other headline: That piece included a photo caption that explained that the dead Afghan children "could make the […]

Mar
09
2012

Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher Are Alike–and Also Very Different

As he loses advertisers by the handful over his comments about Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh's supporters (there are a few!) and a few other commentators have found what I guess they believe is a good counter-argument: If you're so offended by Limbaugh's sexist, demeaning rants, they why are you silent about Bill Maher? Some see a clear double standard. Fox News liberal Kirsten Powers wrote a column denouncing the left's near-silence on the misogyny of Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi and Ed Schultz. And as one adviser to a Gingrich Super PAC put it, "Did USA Today […]

Mar
02
2012

How Breitbart Got Away With His Lies

Andrew Breitbart (cc photo: Gage Skidmore)

Kudos to Paul Farhi of the Washington Post (3/2/12) for talking about the obvious deceptions and inaccuracies in right-wing publisher Andrew Breitbart's work: News organizations found, for example, that the ACORN videos–which purported to show a young Mr. Breitbart ally named James O'Keefe posing as a pimp seeking advice from the organization about how to establish a brothel and evade taxes–actually presented a heavily edited account of what had happened. An investigation by the California attorney general's office concluded that O'Keefe had added footage of himself and an ally dressed in flamboyant costumes that they had not worn to ACORN's […]

Feb
03
2012

Iran and the Threat of Not Having Future Wars

The conventional understanding you get from the media is that Israel is worried that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a serious threat to the country's existence. Is that really what's happening, though? Another interpretation is that Iran might want nuclear weapons not to launch any such an attack but to prevent an attack on its country–nuclear deterrence, in other words. (Of course, it's important to note that there is currently no evidence that Iran is pursuing a weapons program.) I was struck when I heard Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman bring up some of these ideas on NPR's Talk of the […]

Jan
18
2012

What Do NPR's Right-Wing Critics Have to Complain About?

David Margolick has an interesting piece about NPR in the new issue of Vanity Fair. He spends much of his time on Juan Williams, but this observation about NPR's right-wing critics is an important observation: Apart from the occasional stories about gays or Palestinians (and maybe even gay Palestinians), there's precious little on NPR these days for conservatives really to hate. For them, despising NPR and cutting off what amounts to the few pennies it collects from the federal budget has increasingly become more a matter of pandering, or habit, or sophomoric sport, than of conviction or serious policy. The […]