Why Is Israel Attacking Gaza?

Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel (photo: Times of Israel)

Journalism about the current violence is bound to focus on the death and destruction in Gaza. But there remains ample space to ask whether the war was launched to punish Hamas for something it had nothing to do with.


Being O'Reilly Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Bill O'Reilly slurs the left.

It tells you a lot about our media and society that no one even expects O'Reilly to apologize for his slur of the left.


Do You Trust Fox News to Tell You How Trusted Fox News Is?


Fox News is certainly the place for Republicans to go to be told what they want to hear–including that their favorite news outlet is the one that Americans in general find most trustworthy.


Chris Christie's Real Problem? Our 'Feminized' Culture


On the question of whether or not Christie is a bully, veteran Fox pundit Brit Hume blamed that perception on our "feminized atmosphere."


Corporate Media Lose Their Favorite 'Warrior Scholar'


There's no doubt that the sex scandal that prompted CIA director David Petraeus's sudden resignation late last week is a big story. New details–verified or not–seem to arrive almost by the hour. But the reason it seems to have shaken so many media figures is because Petraeus was uniquely beloved by many in the corporate media, who considered him both an accessible source and a war hero. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams called him (11/9/12) a "a man of such sterling reputation," and confided on the air to one guest that "it is impossible to be a member of […]


When Candidates Lie, REAL Journalists Say They 'Finessed the Facts'

Rachel Maddow/photo by JD Lasica

On the subject of why politicians aren't worried about corporate media factcheckers, a New York Times article from last week (8/31/12) by Alessandra Stanley is worth a second look. Under the headline, "How MSNBC Became Fox's Liberal Evil Twin," Stanley wrote: "You can agree with everything that Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz say on MSNBC and still oppose their right to say it." Stanley's problem was that "all that attitude" on MSNBC "leaves fewer choices for viewers who like their election coverage with informed commentary without a twist of bias": All that arch sarcasm and partisan brio may rev up […]


Pundit Accountability: What an Idea!

Writing in Newsweek, Peter Beinart has a pretty good idea: America's foreign-policy debate desperately needs some measure of accountability. I'm not suggesting that politicians and pundits who got Iraq wrong be banished from public life. (This standard would leave me looking for other work.) But neither should they be able to flee the scene of the disaster. Imagine if every time Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or John Bolton or John McCain or William Kristol was interviewed about military intervention in Iran or Syria, the interviewer began by asking what they've learned about the subject from their experience supporting the […]


Anti-Obama, Pro-Romney Media? Don't Believe the Hype

There seems to be a lot of attention to a new study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) study that finds Barack Obama to be much more harshly covered than the Republicans competing to run against him this fall. "Obama Has Received Least Favorable News Coverage So Far During 2012 Election Cycle" reads the headline at Think Progress (4/23/12). At the Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz writes, "During the bruising Republican primaries, there was one candidate whose coverage was more relentlessly negative than the rest"–that candidate, it turns out, is Barack Obama. A study like this is a handy […]


Media's Weird Ethics: Pretending to Be Someone Else Is Worse Than Facilitating Global Catastrophe

There's a popular verb in headlines about climate researcher Peter Gleick's admission that he used trickery to get damning documents out of the climate change-denialist group the Heartland Institute: "Activist Says He Lied to Obtain Climate Papers" (New York Times, 2/21/12); "Scientist Peter Gleick Admits He Lied to Get Climate Documents" (L.A. Times, 2/21/12); "Climate Researcher Says He Lied to Obtain Heartland Documents" (WashingtonPost.com, 2/21/12). What you wouldn't gather from all these pants-on-fire condemnations is that there is a long and honorable tradition, from Nellie Bly feigning madness to expose mistreatment of the mentally ill to the Chicago Sun-Times' Mirage […]


Fox News Goes to the Middle (and Other Fantasies)

Is Fox News Channel going soft? In an election year? Some media figures seem to think the hard-right channel is going to the "middle," but this seems to be a figment of the centrist imagination. New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman has a short piece trying to make this case. His first bit of evidence is that Fox granted backstage access at its recent Republican debate to a New York Times reporter–as Sherman put it, "Fox's decision to allowTimes scribe Jim Rutenberg into the building to confront the candidates in person." That sounds rather aggressive, and Sherman sees this as some […]


Journalists Held Hostage by the Sarah Palin Bus Tour

The Sarah Palin hostage drama continues. In case you haven't heard, Palin is taking a bus tour up the East Coast, visiting various sites of historic interest. Which naturally means that every media outlet is forced to follow along, covering this series of non-events as if they are of tremendous importance, asking the pertinent questions: Is she running for president? Hasshe launched a crafty non-campaign that appears much like a campaign, without really being a campaign? On Sunday (5/29/11), CNN host Howard Kurtz wondered: Is the press in danger of being bamboozled by somebody who, in the end, is probably […]


On Second Thought: The White House's Shifting Story on bin Laden Raid

Certain features of the White House story about the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound were irresistible to the media: A fierce firefight. The feared terrorist leader crouching behind his wife as the Navy SEALs approached, before resisting or possibly even reaching for a weapon. And on and on. Of course, those details have been substantially altered by the White House, if not scrapped altogether. And thus we started to see headlines like this one in the New York Times: "Raid Account, Hastily Told, Proves Fluid." As that story put it: a classic collision of a White House desire to […]


Lobbying for Dictators a 'Precarious,' 'Uneasy' Business

In 2007 Harper's journalist Ken Silverstein wanted to do a story on Beltway lobbyists' willingness to work on behalf of creepy dictators. So he went undercover: I decided to approach some top Washington lobbying firms myself, as a potential client, to see whether they would be willing to burnish the public image of a particularly reprehensible regime. The first step was to select a suitably distasteful would-be client. Given that my first pick, North Korea, seemed too reviled to be credible, I settled on the only slightly less Stalinist regime of Turkmenistan. As he reported, someof the lobbyists he approached […]