Sep
03
2013

John Kerry's Very Precise Death Toll: Where Does It Come From?

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Media reports emphasize the number John Kerry gives for the number of Syrians killed in the apparent chemical attack. But where does that number come from–and why is substantially higher than other estimates?

Jun
05
2012

NewsHour Showcases Its Education 'Reform' Funder

Last night (6/4/12) the PBS NewsHour launched "a series about teachers, testing and accountability in public schools." And while I'm sure there will be some bright spots, the rollout was a reminder of some of the big problems in media coverage of public education. At the top of the show anchor Jeffrey Brown announced, "Our first part includes the views of one of the more outspoken reformers and players in this debate." That terminology, so prevalent in the schools debates, should be avoided. If the corporate-minded, pro-charter test-obsessed are the "reformers," then what does that make someone who disagrees with […]

Jan
27
2012

Pentagon Budgets and Fuzzy Math

By the tone of some of the media coverage, you might have thought Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a plan to slash military spending yesterday. On the front page of USA Today (1/27/12), under the headline "Panetta Backs Far Leaner Military," readers learn in the first paragraph: The Pentagon's new plan to cut Defense spending means a reduction of 100,000 troops, the retiring of ships and planes and closing of bases–moves that the Defense secretary said would not compromise security. The piece quotes critics of the cuts like Sen. Joe Lieberman and an analyst at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute. […]

Sep
23
2011

Public TV's Inequality Balancing Act

The PBS NewsHour did a pretty strong piece last month (8/16/11) on inequality in America. So perhaps it was a sense of "balance" that drove them to do a follow-up segment on September 21 that argued that things aren't so bad after all. As anchor Jeffrey Brown put it: NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman has been examining that subject, including studies showing an alarming rise in the so-called wealth gap. But tonight's interview takes issue with that view. It turns out that one of Solman's old friends, American University economics professor Bob Lerman, didn't much care for that piece: "It […]