Dec
04
2012

Julian Assange, Erin Burnett and the Battle Over Press Freedom

burnett-assange

There seems to be an expectation in the Assange case that a dissident must take refuge with a government with a sterling human rights record. This message is conveyed by journalists whose own country has detained, harassed and killed their journalistic colleagues.

Nov
29
2012

AP's Iran Bomb Drawing Hoax

ap-iran

Crack open USA Today (11/28/12) and you saw this headline: Diagram Suggests Iran Working on Bomb The story was short–short enough for a careful reader to see that it in no way lived up to that alarmist headline. But the piece still tried really hard to frighten people. Here's the lead:  Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a diagram obtained by the Associated Press. The diagram was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran's atomic program […]

Oct
12
2012

Factchecking the Debate Moderator

With all the newfound interest in campaign factchecking in the corporate media (that enthusiasm shouldn't be confused with being good at it), it's worth remembering that it's not just the political candidates whose claims should be factchecked. The moderators should face some scrutiny too. Last night ABC's Martha Raddatz framed a question this way: Let's talk about Medicare and entitlements. Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive? Glenn Greenwald caught that one, and […]

Jun
01
2012

Cyberwar Is War, White House Said—but NYT Didn't Notice

For the second time this week, the New York Times has published a revealing report on a secret, legally questionable Obama administration program, but failed to include independent legal analysis of the controversial program. Tuesday's Times report on the White House's drone assassination program included no critical analysis of the thorny legal issues raised by the program. Surely independent legal experts would have something to say about the  program at large, but particularly about such details as the White House's bizarre definition  that counts any military-aged male found in the vicinity of a bombing target as a combatant, and thus […]

Mar
15
2012

Why Is It Hard to Believe President Obama Would Want a Journalist in Prison?

Abdulelah Haider Shaye

Jeremy Scahill's piece at the Nation website ("Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?," 3/13/12) about imprisoned Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye is riveting and deeply reported. But to Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum, the story doesn't quite add up…because Barack Obama seems like a decent guy. As Scahill reports, Shaye has "risked his life to travel to areas controlled by Al-Qaeda and to interview its leaders." He argues that this reporting has not exactly won him friends in the U.S. or Yemeni governments: His collision course with the U.S. government appears to have been set […]

Mar
06
2012

The Iran Non-Debate, Continued…

Glenn Greenwald wrote recently of the extraordinarily limited media debate on Iran, which seems to consist of U.S. and Israeli officials making threats–attack now or attack later–alongside clinical discussions of the difficulties of bombing Iran. There is plenty missing–actual Iranians talking about what war would mean in human terms,legal experts discussing how preventive war (or even the threat of one) violates international law, and so on. Today's New York Times editorial (3/6/12) offers another illustration of just how limited this media discussion is. The paper states: Iran's nuclear appetites are undeniable, as is its malign intent toward Israel, toward America, […]

Feb
15
2012

NYT: 'Scrutiny' of Iran's Nuke Sites Means Bombing Them

The media coverage of Iran is terrible, and seems to be getting worse–see Glenn Greenwald's latest piece on the ABC and NBC nightly newscasts. And today the New York Times (2/15/12) tells readers this about Iran's nuclear program: The new uranium enrichment plant, known as Fordo, has raised Western concerns because it is buried deep underground, making it more impervious to scrutiny. That struck me as odd, since Fordo is, like other Iranian nuclear facilities, regularly inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency. And the Times seems to know this, since a few paragraphs later, correspondent Rick Gladstone reported: Last […]

Dec
09
2011

A Son's Death Didn't Make a Critic 'Credible'

Over on Twitter, Glenn Greenwald recommended this USA Today profile of Boston University historian Andrew Bacevich, who has been one of the most prolific and incisive critics of U.S. foreign policy in recent years. Greenwald called it "surprisingly good," which is right. But one thing about the piece really bothered me–how it dealt with the death of Bacevich's son in Iraq. Reporter Rick Hampson tells that story via the classroom: The students knew that Bacevich had always opposed the war in Iraq. They may have known that his only son, Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr., was an Army officer there. […]

Nov
28
2011

Dead Afghan Kids Still Not Newsworthy

Back in March, we wondered when U.S. corporate news outlets would find U.S./NATO killing of Afghan kids newsworthy. Back then, it was nine children killed in a March 1 airstrike. This resulted in two network news stories on the evening or morning newscasts, and two brief references on the PBS NewsHour. On November 25, the New York Times reported–on page 12–that six children were killed in one attack in southern Afghanistan on November 23. This news was, as best I can tell, not reported on ABC, CBS, NBC or the PBS NewsHour. There were, on the other hand, several pieces […]

Nov
14
2011

Chelsea Clinton, TV Reporter

The New York Times reports that Chelsea Clinton will be a full time special correspondent for NBC News, starting more or less immediately. Salon's Glenn Greenwald connected this news to the media careers of Meghan McCain (MSNBC), Luke Russert (NBC) and Jenna Bush Hager (NBC), and reached this conclusion about the state of our meritocracy: We all owe our gratitude to NBC News for single-handedly correcting the shameful, long-standing exclusion from our media discourse of the views of young, journalistically accomplished heirs and heiresses to political power and great fortune; it is long overdue that former NYT executive editor Bill […]

Oct
12
2011

About That Iranian Plot…

Without further evidence, the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States is rather hard to believe. See Glenn Greenwald's take, for example, to appreciate the need for skepticism about U.S. claims–and the eagerness of many elite pundits to take the government story more or less at face value. Jim Lobe's piece on how Iran experts are reacting is worth reading too. Juan Cole's post has a provocative, almost unbelievable headline–"Is an Iranian Drug Cartel Behind the Assassination Plot Against the Saudi Ambassador?"–but then again, the Official Story is pretty out there, too. One can never […]

Sep
07
2011

Jonathan Chait's Not-So-Magical Thinking

As progressive criticism of the Obama administration has intensified, the critics of the critics have stepped forward to defend the White House. Much of the case comes down to saying that Obama's lefty critics don't know how the game is played in Washington. Jonathan Chait from the New Republic had a New York Times Magazine piece this weekend (9/4/11) taking issue with Obama critics like Glenn Greenwald, accusing them of "magical thinking" about the power of the presidency. As the argument goes, Congress can stop what the White House wants to do, so you can't blame Obama for not winning […]

Sep
06
2011

NYT's Misleading Rendition of the Reason for Rendition

Documents discovered in Libya suggest a close relationship between the Libyan government and the CIA. The New York Times described it this way on September 3: TRIPOLI, Libya — Documents found at the abandoned office of Libya's former spymaster appear to provide new details of the close relations the Central Intelligence Agency shared with the Libyan intelligence service — most notably suggesting that the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country's reputation for torture. And then today (9/6/11) the Times put it this way: The cooperation appeared to be far greater with […]