Apr
24
2012

Prostitution Scandal Is the Big Government Story You Were Waiting For

The Beltway press is remarkably fixated on two stories: A "scandal" over an $800,000 General Services Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas, and the unfolding saga involving prostitutes and some Secret Service and military officers in Colombia. The White House thinks both are bad, of course, but not worth the amount of coverage they're getting. Beltway journalists think otherwise, and seem to want to believe that by paying so much attention to these stories they are a) standing up to the government by exposing wrongdoing; and b) not really talking about prostitutes at all, but telling a larger quasi-morality tale […]

Oct
28
2011

NYT: Trade Deals Are Big Job Creators

A New York Times story today (10/28/11) by Jennifer Steinhauer on the state of bipartisanship in Washington noted: Outside of a few recent flashes of light–the passage of three trade bills this month, and an agreement on patent reform–there have been no big bipartisan jobs initiatives in this Congress. The idea that trade deals with Colombia and South Korea are "big" job creators is not a fact–it's an argument that proponents of the deals make. But a corporate media that gives a thumbs-up to anything labeled "free trade" are going to be just as eager to call these deals job […]

Oct
13
2011

Bait-and-Switch Boosterism on Trade Pacts

Corporate media's incredibly uncritical boosterism of so-called "free trade" deals has been remarked on many times, and continues to be remarkable. What else but blind faith would allow a story to carry a line like one in the October 12 New York Times, about textile industry opposition to the new deal with South Korea: "The production of shirts and sheets has shifted steadily from the United States to countries with lower-cost labor. Economists argue that this process strengthens the economy as companies and workers shift to more productive and lucrative kinds of work." Of course, if the Times has evidence […]

Aug
26
2011

Corporations Want to Create Jobs (and Other Myths)

New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer takes a look (8/26/11) at U.S. trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that are currently languishing in Congress. The piece calls them "free-trade" agreements, which is generally misleading: Trade deals usually involve complicated horse-trade negotiations regarding tariffs, patent protection and the like–meaning they make trade in some ways less free. But more important are the other assumptions in the piece: The three free-trade agreements, which originated with the Bush administration, would eliminate tariffs on cross-border transactions, expanding exports of American goods by about $12 billion a year, according to estimates by the […]

Jul
30
2010

Guerrilla Armed With Beer Sighted in Venezuela

The Washington Post's latest attack on Venezuela comes in an editorial headlined: "Colombia Proves Again That Venezuela Is Harboring FARC Terrorists." The editors don't say why a point already proved needs be proved again, but before offering the new evidence, they recount the old claim that laptops captured by Colombia from FARC guerrillas have clearly established links between the Venezuelan government and the FARC: That Venezuela is backing a terrorist movement against a neighboring democratic government has been beyond dispute since at least 2008, when Colombia recovered laptops from a FARC camp in Ecuador containing extensive documentation of Mr. Chavez's […]

Jul
09
2010

For Newsweek's Latin America Correspondent, It's the Stocks That Count

Newsweek's right-wing Latin American correspondent Mac Margolis (7/2/10) is once again playing games with statistics. After the obligatory attack on Venezuela's Hugo Chavez as a "chest-thumping autocrat," Margolis gets down to the business of praising his favorite Latin American country, Colombia, as a country that deserves "lead billing" among the "new stars of the emerging markets": In the past eight years, the Andean nation has gone from dud to dynamo: foreign investment has risen 250percent. Its stock index is up 15percent this year, and 35percent (versus Brazil's 14percent) over the decade. Since Margolis makes the comparison between Colombia and Brazil, […]

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 […]

May
20
2009

Knocking Down Big Media's Hugo Chavez 'Caricature'

NACLA has Latin America writer Daniel Denvir's review (5/11/09) of a new Bart Jones biography of Hugo Chavez. In it, Denvir's reasons for having "never been a big reader of biographies"–"the product of our most unfortunate and idol-indulging tendencies"–give way to the fact that some leaders' "images become proxies for larger ideological, social and cultural debates–often to the point of caricature." Denvir's contention that "a good biography can take on this echo chamber residuum and tell a more reality-based story" becomes that much more urgent when, "in the case of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, this is a politically necessary task": […]