May
30
2009

NYT Likes Its Readers Complacent

Looking at "people of a certain age" for whom "getting a letter published in the Times has always been a very, very big deal," David Margolick (Nation , 5/27/09) tells the tale of two lifelong friends and constant New York Times letter submitters–one with a "Babe Ruth"-like record of getting his views into print, and the other, who was always "striking out." Want to know "what explained their very different fates?" Margolick tells us, "it wasn't politics": [George] Avakian couldn't contain his anger, and as anyone who reads the Times well knows, on the letters page no one ever gets […]

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
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
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." […]

Apr
26
2009

Bush Lie Lives On as Pro-Torture Spin Point

David Swanson has noted (Consortium News, 4/23/09) that, as "much of elite U.S. punditry is backing away from torture," the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby is bucking that trend with an April 22 column in which "he both opposes torture under all circumstances and excuses it given the current circumstances." Jacoby's main justification for U.S. torture tactics are "the successes with which they have been credited"–such as "the foiling of Al-Qaeda's planned 'Second Wave'–a 9/11-like plot to crash a hijacked airliner into a Los Angeles skyscraper." Swanson gives the lie to this zombie resurrected from the graveyard of Bush administration propaganda: […]

Apr
22
2009

Glimpsing Journalism's 'Devouring Black Hole of Corruption'

A Tiny Revolution blogger Jonathan Schwarz (4/18/09) samples the response to Mike Allen of Politico's quote of "a former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush" calling the publishing of U.S. torture memos "damaging because these are techniques that work": This, from Andrew Sullivan, is a representative example of the reaction: Allen is allowing a member of the administration that broke the Geneva Conventions and committed war crimes to attack the current president and claim, without any substantiation, that the torture worked. He then allows that "top official" to proclaim things that are at the very least […]

Mar
16
2009

The Mysterious 'Special Risks' of the Obama Presidency

A Washington Post piece this weekend by Scott Wilson (3/14/09) centered around this "gotcha": In his inaugural address, President Obama proclaimed "an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics." It hasn't taken long for the recriminations to return–or for the Obama administration to begin talking about the unwelcome "inheritance" of its predecessor. Over the past month, Obama has reminded the public at every turn that he is facing problems "inherited" from the Bush administration, using increasingly bracing language to describe the challenges his administration is […]

Mar
09
2009

WPost: Sacrifice for Sacrifice's Sake

This column by Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl has received some well-deserved criticism, largely for its peculiar claim that reforming the U.S. healthcare system is a lot like invading Iraq. What jumped out at me was this supposed parallel between George W. Bush and Barack Obama: After September 11, Diehl wrote, "The president failed to ask a willing nation for sacrifice." Likewise, in explaining his stimulus program, Obama said, "You will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut . . . […]

Mar
06
2009

NYT: The Hague Strictly for Other Presidents

Consortium News' Robert Parry (3/5/09) uses New York Times do-gooder Nicholas Kristof as an example of blatant corporate media hypocrisy: Kristof–like many of his American colleagues–is applauding the International Criminal Court's arrest order against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for his role in the Darfur conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives…. By all accounts, Kristof is a well-meaning journalist who travels to dangerous parts of the world, like Darfur, to report on human rights crimes. However, he also could be a case study of what's wrong with American journalism. While Kristof writes movingly about atrocities that can […]

Jan
16
2009

Pardon Predictions

I don't know whether George W. Bush will issue a slew of pardons in his last weekend in the White House, but I would expect such pardons to receive less scrutiny than those issued by his predecessor. And if he attempts to pardon those who committed crimes on his behalf, you can count on large sectors of the media to welcome that self-exculpating behavior as a way of letting bygones be bygones.

Dec
15
2008

The Mixed Message of Shoe-Throwing

By now most people have seen the video footage of the Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi throwing his shoes at George W. Bush. The New York Times helps you put it in perspective: The shoe-throwing incident in Baghdad punctuated Mr. Bush's visit here–his fourth–in a deeply symbolic way, reflecting the conflicted views in Iraq of a man who toppled Saddam Hussein, ordered the occupation of the country and brought it freedoms unthinkable under Mr. Husseinâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s rule but at enormous costs. From the Times' account, al-Zaidi yelled at Bush, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in […]

Dec
02
2008

Chris Wallace and Why Watergate Worked

At a screening of the film Frost/Nixon, Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace defends George W. Bush against the assertion–which doesn't seem to have been made by anyone present–that Bush's crimes were worse than Richard Nixon's (Salon, 12/2/08): It trivializes Nixon's crimes and completely misrepresents what George W. Bush did. Whatever George W. Bush did was after the savage attack of 9/11, in which 3,000 Americans were killed, it was done in service of trying to protect this country. I'm not saying that you have to agree with everything he did, but it was all done in the service of trying […]