Jul
06
2009

NPR Ombud Dodges 'Torture' Reporting Critic

Salon's Glenn Greenwald has an update (7/2/09, ad-viewing required) on "several noteworthy developments since I wrote on Tuesday about the refusal of NPR's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, to be interviewed by me about NPR's ban on using the word 'torture' to describe the Bush administration's interrogation tactics": Given the utter vapidity of her rationale ("there are two sides to the issue. And I'm not sure, why is it so important to call something torture?"), I was momentarily amazed to learn that she actually teaches "Media Ethics" to graduate students at Georgetown University…. NPR's "torture" ban and its ombudsman's incoherent defense of […]

Jun
28
2009

On 'Trial Balloons' and MSM's 'Veil of Anonymity'

Salon's Greenwald (6/27/09, ad-viewing required) has taken a hard look at Washington Post and ProPublica journalists Peter Finn's and Dafna Linzer's report–"relying exclusively on three Obama officials speaking behind a veil of anonymity"–"that the White House is 'crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely.'" Finding it "revealing" that "the article quotes two Bush national security officials justifying the need for detention without charges," Greenwald writes of how "anonymous trial balloon articles like this one are difficult to comment on because it's obviously designed to announce that a certain policy is being […]

Jun
15
2009

Battling 'Baseless, Worthless Grants of Anonymity'

Deeming "the battle against baseless, worthless grants of anonymity by journalists" to be "at this point, probably futile," Salon's Glenn Greenwald (6/15/09, ad-viewing required) is exasperated to see how "even many of the nation's best and most valuable reporters–such as the New Yorker's Jane Mayer–seem helplessly addicted to it." Greenwald points to "an otherwise solid and at times enlightening article on CIA Director Leon Panetta and his resistance to investigating past CIA abuses" in which Mayer includes this passage at the beginning of her article to explain how Panetta was chosen only after Obama's first choice, John Brennan, was rejected: […]

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 […]

Jun
02
2009

Pundits, and Thus Pols: 'Pathologically' Blameless

Writing on Salon (5/31/09, ad-viewing required) of the "controversy surrounding Jeffrey Rosen's New Republic anonymity-driven smear attack on Sonia Sotomayor's intellect and character," Glenn Greenwald sees more evidence that the one trait that defines establishment pundits more than any other is a pathological inability ever to accept blame or admit error. That's because they work in the most accountability-free profession in America, where people like Bill Kristol (with a record like this) and Jeffrey Goldberg (with a record like this) get promoted despite no retractions or remorse, and establishment media stars in general can pretend that they bear no responsibility […]

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
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
15
2009

Monica Crowley: 'Young People Are Gravitating to the GOP'

While Glenn Greenwald and Camille Paglia catch us up on the increasingly hateful and dangerous language emanating from conservative talk radio–including Mark Levin show substitute host Andrew Wilkow repeatedly calling a gay man a "vile sodomite" and Limbaugh sub Mark Davis joking about the murder of top Democratic officials–there are other signs the genre is growing increasingly desperate in the midst of dwindling conservative and GOP fortunes. Take Monica Crowley, the Fox News contributor and talk radio host. While the former assistant to the disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon may not be the most hateful in the nation's vast toxic lineup […]

May
09
2009

NYT Names 'Harsh Tactics' as 'Torture' — by Chinese

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald gets the site's lead story today (5/8/09, ad-viewing required) with an excerpt from the New York Times obituary for U.S. fighter pilot Harold E. Fischer Jr., who, as the Times headline puts it, was "Tortured in a Chinese Prison." Greenwald deems such naming of Fischer's ordeal–"kept in a dark, damp cell with no bed and no opening except a slot in the door…handcuffed. Hour after hour, a high-frequency whistle pierced the air"–to be "a major editorial breach" for the paper that so agilely dances around the T-word when reporting on U.S. actions: So that's torture now?… […]

May
02
2009

And Now, From the 'Hard Left': Ronald Reagan

In his latest Salon blog entry (5/1/09, ad-viewing required), Glenn Greenwald displays his find of "a perfect illustration of how severely our political spectrum has shifted in the last two decades and how depraved and extremist our political and media classes have become"–one quote of the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer rebutting those who "believe you never torture. Ever": Torture is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. . . . The second exception to the no-torture rule is the extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of high-value information likely to […]

Apr
28
2009

NYT, ABC and Waterboarding: An Update

We noted recently that a New York Times story about the waterboarding of two Al-Qaeda detainees included a bit of media criticism. The Times mentioned that in 2007, ABC featured an interview with former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who claimed that "Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew." This would be hard to square with what we now know–that Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. The Times pushed the story further on today's front page, with Brian Stelter putting the focus squarely on that 2007 ABC report and the effect it had […]

Apr
26
2009

Torture Memos Bring Out True Allegiances of MSM

Writing at Salon (4/23/09, ad-viewing required) of how the "sheer criminality" of George W. Bush-era torture, "really for the first time, has exploded into mainstream political debates," Glenn Greenwald is thoroughly unsurprised by their behavior as "media stars are forced to address it": Exactly as one would expect, they are closing ranks, demanding (as always) that their big powerful political-official-friends and their elite institutions not be subject to the dirty instruments that are meant only for the masses–things like the rule of law, investigations, prosecutions and accountability when they abuse their power. To Greenwald, This remains the single most notable […]

Apr
22
2009

On the Rare Journalistic Habit of 'Thinking Independently'

On the occasion of the first annual Izzy Awards from Jeff Cohen's Park Center for Independent Media, the son of progressive journalism icon I.F. Stone, Jeremy Stone (Consortium News, 4/1/09), describes Stone's most journalistically valuable quality–"his capacity for thinking independently"–along with its rewards and consequences: In the McCarthy era, because he spoke in defense of Jeffersonian principles, people were afraid to be seen with him. When he supported the rights of Palestinians, Jewish institutions would not invite him to speak. And when the National Press Club refused to serve his black guest lunch, he quit the club, isolating himself from […]