Jun
20
2009

How 'Adulatory News Coverage' Impedes Democracy

Norman Solomon uses his most recent Creators Syndicate column (6/19/09) to call for journalism that "is open scrutiny of the dynamics of power. Reporters should shine a bright light on behind-the-scenes maneuvers that block congressional oversight of administration policies": Last Tuesday, when the House of Representatives approved a supplemental spending bill for more war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there must have been celebration at the White House. Days of intense arm-twisting paid off. The Obama administration had brandished the weapon of retribution against the newest Democratic arrivals in the House. Most news coverage seemed oblivious, but not all. As the […]

Jun
19
2009

CNBC's Jim Cramer Still on Air–Still Wrong

Amanda Terkel of Think Progress (6/18/09) has posted video and transcript of an MSNBC segment in which Joe Scarborough asked CNBC's Jim Cramer about "a stunning poll the New York Times has this morning suggesting that Americans are more concerned about deficits than stimulus": Cramer claimed that Americans aren't buying into healthcare reform right now because "it just means tax increases, and there's got to be someone who pays for it." According to Cramer, the solution that "everybody" wants is for Obama to "go away": "But until we get the economy moving again, I think everybody wishes that Obama would […]

Jun
17
2009

WaPo's Front-Page News Deficit

Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 6/14/09) has caught "Fox on 15th (a.k.a. 'The Washington Post')" once again "departing from normal news practice" with "another editorial complaining about President Obama's deficits on the front page." The piece's subhead–"Concern Mounts in White House as 2010 Elections Loom"–prompts some hard questions from Baker: "Who is concerned? The story doesn't tell us. Who says that they are concerned? The story doesn't tell us." His conclusion–"In short, it's not clear that there is any news here": But the Washington Post wants to highlight the budget deficit, so it won't let such details stand in the […]

Jun
04
2009

Rule of Law vs. 'Blind Support' for Israel in Media

Responding to "both Likud Party members in Israel as well as their Americans supporters" who "complain that the Obama administration is unduly 'interfering' in Israeli politics"–as exemplified by Ben Smith of Politico reporting that "the administration's escalating pressure on Israel to freeze all growth of its settlements on Palestinian land has begun to stir concern among Israel's numerous allies"–Salon's Glenn Greenwald (6/3/09, ad-viewing required) likens the situation to "teenagers who tell their parents that they are not compelled to comply with parental dictates" and are told that "as long as they seek financial support, then the parents have the right […]

May
27
2009

On MSM's 'Liberal Bias'… Toward the Bush Presidents

Recapping at TPM Café (5/27/09) how the U.S. "press bent over backward to paint both Bushes as moderate, sensible, nice guy Republicans," Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell writes that "a hard-right [George W.] Bush, whether real or media-created, would have never beaten Gore–not that this one did either." Reminding us that "the New York Times, for example, had been very tough on [President Bill] Clinton on its editorial page," Mitchell says that "once in office, a long honeymoon between press and president ensued," and "just as Bush's approval ratings tanked and criticism was about to spread, 9/11 came along to […]

May
27
2009

GOP's Helpful Pundits Reinforce Public Fear

Noticing how "in the past week, Republican politicians and pundits have been striving mightily to invoke fear in the hearts of the American people," News Corpse blogger Mark Howard has collected (5/25/09) some choice quotes from GOP members "blanketing the airwaves with assertions that President Obama's policies on national security (Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, torture, etc.) will result in another 9/11": Cheney: "It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people less safe."… John Boehner: "I think this is a pre-9/11 mentality, and I think it'll make our nation less safe." Karl Rove: "They're doing the wrong thing […]

May
26
2009

Brookings Institution: 'Liberal,' Centrist… or Extremist?

Poking holes in the Brookings Institution's "preening conceit"–"they bequeath their website with an '.edu' suffix… They are 'scholars.' Just ask them and they'll tell you"–Salon's Glenn Greenwald (5/26/09, ad-viewing required) quotes one blogger fundamentally debunking Brookings mainstay William Glaberson's May 22 New York Times contention that, as U.S. president, Barack Obama "has sworn an oath to protect the country": "Barack Obama did not swear an oath to 'protect the country.' He swore an oath to protect the principles upon which the country was founded and the document in which those principles are enshrined." Looking more broadly at "Beltway world," in […]

May
26
2009

'Self-Serving Propaganda'? No Problem on NPR

Wondering "why NPR decided it was appropriate to present Cheney's blatantly self-serving propaganda as anything remotely relevant to current policy," NPR Check contributor Brian (5/23/09) blogs about current president Barack Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney recently "attacking the policies of the other administration and defending their own positions in speeches." Even though each was given "in front of friendly audiences unable to challenge them," NPR's Morning Edition of May 22 "presented them as a face-to-face debate between the two men, alternating soundbites from each," and giving Cheney equal billing with the president in a piece titled "Obama, Cheney: […]

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 […]

May
18
2009

Selective Coverage of Selective Catholic Principles

Media critic blogger Mark Howard (News Corpse, 5/16/09) has a problem with the voluble media controversy over "the fact that Obamaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s pro-choice position is in conflict with [Notre Dame] University's Catholic principles"–namely, "neither the Catholic protesters nor the media ever threw similar tantrums when George W. Bush delivered the commencement speech in 2001, after receiving his honorary degree": Every good Catholic knows that the church is strictly opposed to capital punishment. Since Bush set records for carrying out death sentences when he was governor of Texas, you would think that the same guardians of virtue that are protesting Obama, who […]

May
13
2009

Rush Limbaugh Comes Right Out and Says It

Political Animal's Steve Benen (5/12/09) notes a recent Rush Limbaugh broadcast (5/11/09) that makes the racist subtext of the right's critique of Barack Obama virtually explicit: The [economic] deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps. But in the Oval Office of the White House none of this is a problem. This is the objective. The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state. And the objective is to take the nation's wealth and return to it […]

May
04
2009

Curious Polling and Obama's Worrisome Popularity

Two newspapers have flagged some concerns about Barack Obama's popularity, citing a new poll to raise questions about the public's enthusiasm for White House policies so far. Both accounts, though, seem to try to hard to stretch the rather awkward poll results to match their arguments. In the Los Angeles Times (5/3/09), Peter Nicholas noted that while the public still supports Obama, "the activist government Obama has unleashed is increasingly worrisome to voters, polls show." He explained: An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 47 percent of those surveyed believe "government should do more," compared with 46 percent who believe […]

May
01
2009

Washington Post's War Against Chavez Continues

The Washington Post editorial page regularly slams Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, so it was no surprise to see it do the same on April 30. Their real point, though, was to suggest that Barack Obama's desire to change the tone of the U.S.-Venezuelan relationship wasn't going to work: The administration's strategy–to open up a constructive dialogue with Venezuela and avoid being cast as Mr. Chavez's Yanqui foil–is reasonable; it is also the same strategy as was tried, unsuccessfully, by the previous two administrations. It's hard to imagine that anyone believes that the Bush administration's Venezuela policy amounted to "constructive dialogue." […]