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 theĀ  program at large, but particularly about such details as the White House's bizarre definitionĀ  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 […]

Jun
03
2011

Politico Uses Anonymous Sources to Attack Hersh…for Using Anonymous Sources

Seymour Hersh reports in the New Yorker (6/6/11–subscription required) that there is s virtually no evidence Iran has a nuclear weapons program, despite huge efforts on the part of the U.S. to prove otherwise. Though Hersh's findings do not contradict the past two National Intelligence Estimates, they do fly in the face of long-held official and corporate media views. Corporate media routinely treat the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program as a matter of fact. New York Times reporter Michael Gordon has done it at least twice (2/24/03, 10/19/04), in one case suggesting that a U.S.-friendly regime in Iraq might pressure […]

Nov
19
2010

Torture and the 'Problem' With the Courts

The civilian trial of terrorism suspect Ahmed Ghailani, who was linked to the U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, was unsatisfying to those who believe that accused terroristsshould not be tried in civilian courts. To them, the scoreboard tells the story: Ghailani was convicted on one count, and acquitted onover 280 other charges. The newspaper headlines today lay out the problem: USA Today (11/19/10): Detainee's Acquittals Spark Debate Over Civilian Trials Washington Post (11/19/10): Verdict in Terror Case a Setback for Advocates of Civilian Trials A more rational media system would discuss the verdict primarily as a resultof the […]