Jun
22
2012

NYT Discovers the Other Side of Spending Cuts

It's been said (by me!) that the big spending cuts set to hit the federal budget next year–so-called "sequestration"–are not created equal, at least in the eyes of the corporate media. The cuts, as designed, hit the military budget and non-military spending in roughly equal measure. The political calculation was that Republicans would object to the military cuts while Democrats would object to cuts in social spending. But in the corporate media, those non-military cuts hardly ever get any attention–perhaps because there are not powerful lobbyists and Cabinet officials complaining loudly about how the safety of the country is at […]

Apr
30
2012

What No One Said About NCLB Profiteering (Except the People Who Were Saying It)

New York Times columnist Gail Collins had a good critique of standardized testing and the No Child Left Behind law (4/28/12), weighing in on the "Pineapplegate" controversy about a bizarre question that appeared on a New York English exam. She writes: We have turned school testing into a huge corporate profit center, led by Pearson, for whom $32 million is actually pretty small potatoes. Pearson has a five-year testing contract with Texas that's costing the state taxpayers nearly half-a-billion dollars. Indeed. But then comes this: This is the part of education reform nobody told you about. You heard about accountability, […]

Sep
16
2009

Lauding 'Those Who Chose to Look' at Economic Crisis

By now it's old news to any reasonably critical observer that corporate outlets' "business reporters failed to see the crisis in the mortgage and credit markets as it brewed and bubbled," as former City Limits editor Alyssa Katz puts it (CJR.org, 9/14/09), but Katz also gives props to others who noticed how "evidence of its unsustainability was plain to see for those who chose to look": The fact is, and as immodest as it may seem to say, independents were repeatedly ahead of the curve on covering the mortgage and real estate bubble and in connecting the dots between vital […]

Aug
12
2009

Dobbs Still Resisting 'Nonpartisan Objective Reality'

Since "on his Wednesday radio show, [Lou] Dobbs as much as announced that CNN president Jon Klein" is forcing him into "focusing on a nonpartisan objective reality that it is our job to cover"–with Dobbs "admitting, 'I resisted this idea initially'"–author and journalist Leslie Savan (TheNation.com, 8/12/09) has noticed some "kind of French" behavior from the usually "government-out-of-my-face bloviator," in the form of "a month-long, nation-a-night series to 'learn from other countries' healthcare plans'": But as Lou has proved again and again, he can't help but resist. On radio the very next day, he slammed Obama for compiling "an enemies' […]

Jul
17
2009

Time Marriage 'Concern' Really Just 'Attack on Liberals'

In Katha Pollitt's latest Nation column (7/15/09), she finds it "not hard to poke holes in" the July 2 Time magazine cover story by "Caitlin Flanagan–professional antifeminist, author of a whole book of essays attacking working mothers, herself excepted"–being full of "Flanagan's predictions of universal doom for the children of divorced or never-married parents": After all, President Clinton and President Obama turned out all right. Most children of divorce do. There are plenty of countries where divorce and unmarried parenthood are common, but children do fine–Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands. Some of the measured bad effects on kids are more […]

Jun
15
2009

Media Men Debate Women's Rights

Columnist Katha Pollitt (Nation, 6/10/09) has examined the extent to which, "in the immediate aftermath of Dr. Tiller's murder, it was astonishing how many men were called upon to weigh in on abortion on national television": CNN featured William Schneider, Sanjay Gupta and Bill Press. On Fox, Bill O'Reilly defended his use of "baby killer" and "death mill" to describe Dr. Tiller and his clinic. On MSNBC, Keith Olbermann–who the last time I checked in spent a whole segment making fun of Miss Anti-Gay Marriage California's breast implants with waspish misogynist Michael Musto–had only men: Slate's Will Saletan, who thinks […]

Jun
01
2009

On Corporate Media's 'Scoop'-Driven Xenophobia

"If media reports are to be believed," Gabriel Arana of the Nation writes (5/27/09), "an Armageddon-like rash of drug-related violence–unlike any seen since 'Miami Vice years of the 1980s'–has crossed from Mexico into the United States, 'just as government officials had feared.'" But that's a pretty big if, even though "in the national media, it's become a foregone conclusion that Mexican drug violence has penetrated the United States": But the numbers tell a different story. According to crime statistics for American cities along the U.S.-Mexico border and major U.S. metro areas along drug routes, violent crimes, including robberies, have either […]

May
30
2009

NYT Likes Its Readers Complacent

Looking at "people of a certain age" for whom "getting a letter published in the Times has always been a very, very big deal," David Margolick (Nation , 5/27/09) tells the tale of two lifelong friends and constant New York Times letter submitters–one with a "Babe Ruth"-like record of getting his views into print, and the other, who was always "striking out." Want to know "what explained their very different fates?" Margolick tells us, "it wasn't politics": [George] Avakian couldn't contain his anger, and as anyone who reads the Times well knows, on the letters page no one ever gets […]

May
08
2009

Press Corp 'Dean' Preaches 'Purposeful Ignorance'

Quoting John Dewey's warning about "the proper role of the press in a democracy"–"a class of experts is inevitably so removed from common interests as to become a class with private interests and private knowledge"–Eric Alterman finds it (Nation, 5/6/09) "difficult to imagine a more telling–and disturbing–manifestation of Dewey's prediction than the current torture debate in Washington": Even after the disgraceful performance of so many armchair warriors during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, who would have dared predict the willingness, nay, eagerness, of respected journalists and pundits to argue in favor of purposeful ignorance? Sadly, many of them […]

Apr
06
2009

Not Much 'Intellectual Heavy Lifting' at New York Magazine

In a column on media treatment of Michelle Obama, Katha Pollitt (Nation, 4/20/09) points out this forehead-smacking quote from New York magazine's David Samuels (3/15/09): There are clear limits to Michelle's ambition. She went to excellent schools, got decent grades, stayed away from too much intellectual heavy lifting, and held a series of practical, modestly salaried jobs while accommodating her husband's wilder dreams and raising two lovely daughters. In this, she is a more practical role model for young women than Hillary Clinton, blending her calculations about family and career with an expectation of normal personal happiness. To which Pollitt […]

Mar
20
2009

Liberal Blogger Men Love Conservative Columnist Man

Resisting the tide of "liberal blogger men" who "are thrilled with the New York Times' appointment of 29-year-old Atlantic blogger Ross Douthat to replace William Kristol on the op-ed page," Katha Pollitt (Nation, 3/18/09) contrasts the fact that "Douthat is best known for his conservative Catholicism (abortion is murder, frozen embryos are children, contraception kills romance)," with such Times-approving quotes as "'Smart move,' says Matt Yglesias. Ezra Klein and George Packer agree he's 'brilliant.' At TheNation.com, Chris Hayes calls it a 'fantastic choice,' and Eyal Press looks forward to 'thoughtful commentary.'" Examples of such "thoughtful commentary" include Douthat "on those […]

Mar
18
2009

A 'New Overriding Mission' for CNBC

Personally inclined to think that "CNBC may be beyond repair," John Nichols (Nation, 3/17/09) still thinks a new Fix CNBC! campaign's "messaging is smart and instructive with regard to the broader media crisis in America," quoting their open letter to the financial network: Americans need CNBC to do strong, watchdog journalism–asking tough questions to Wall Street, debunking lies and reporting the truth. Instead, CNBC has done PR for Wall Street. You've been so obsessed with getting "access" to failed CEOs that you willfully passed on misinformation to the public for years, helping to get us into the economic crisis we […]

Mar
13
2009

On Sanjay Gupta's 'Breathless' Gullibility

Stating that "a lot of funny things can happen when the media translate science for the public," science writer Chris Mooney (Nation, 3/6/09) looks over more evidence that the U.S. public got really lucky when CNN's Sanjay Gupta was not made Obama's surgeon general. Mooney's list of Gupta "approaching medical coverage through 'one the one hand, on the other hand' equivocation, the selling of medical entertainment, following the pack or simply getting it wrong" clearly illustrates "what always made Gupta's nomination worrisome": Consider a few of Gupta's journalistic missteps. In late December 2002–a slow news week after Christmas–an outfit named […]