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. […]

Jan
17
2012

PBS, NPR Try to Defend Iran Distortions

Evaluating reporting and commentary about Iran could be reduced to one simple rule: There is no evidence that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon. Statements that suggest otherwise are misleading. Reports that fail to point this out are doing readers/viewers/listeners a disservice. That sounds simple enough. But don't tell that to the outlets that are being criticized over their Iran reporting. Take NPR and PBS, both of which were singled out by the group Just Foreign Policy. A few days ago (1/10/12), the FAIR Blog featured a post criticizing the PBS NewsHour for a deceptive report on Iran. The […]

Jan
10
2012

PBS's Dishonest Iran Edit

As if tensions between the United States and Iran weren't high enough, here's PBS NewsHour anchor Margaret Warner (1/9/12): The Iranian government insists that its nuclear activities are for peaceful energy purposes only, an assertion disputed by the U.S. and its allies. On CBS yesterday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta repeated international demands that Iran stop enriching uranium. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA: But we know that they're trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that's what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is, do not develop a nuclear weapon. That's a red line for us. They need […]

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 […]

Jun
10
2011

Debating the Big Issues, NewsHour Style

One of the most common criticisms of the PBS NewsHour is that it too often mimics the elite bias of the commercial media. A recent broadcast of the NewsHour (6/8/11) had two segments about the debate over the Afghan War–the first a news report covering the Senate nomination hearings for Ryan Crocker, Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Afghanistan. Quoted in the piece were senators Jim Webb (D.-Va.) and Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Barack Obama. The discussion segment that accompanied it featured two more senators: Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez. […]

Apr
28
2011

Donald Trump's Mysterious Control of the Media

Some mystical power forces the corporate mediato cover Donald Trump. In the New York Times today: But White House officials concluded about a month ago that the falsehoods had moved from "the nether regions of the Internet" into the mainstream political arena, thanks in large part to the efforts of Mr. Trump, the real estate developer and reality television host who has used the issue as a media magnet. Dan Balz of the Washington Post elaborated on the PBS NewsHour: I mean, I think that the press probably does bear some responsibility for this but there's no question that what […]

Mar
29
2011

Action Alert: On Libya, NewsHour Looks Like State TV

The bombing of Libya has sharply divided public opinion, but the PBS NewsHour has avoided a wide-ranging debate by overwhelmingly featuring the views of current and former government and military officials. If you'd like to see a more diverse group of voices arguing the pros and cons of intervention, see FAIR's Action Alert. Please leave copies of your messages to PBS, and comments on the alert, in the comments thread of this post.

Mar
24
2011

Public TV and Libya: Govt. Officials, Current and Former

Last night (3/24/11) Jim Lehrer introduced a NewsHour discussion segment about the Libya War: Now, how it looks to two former U.S. senators, Democrat Gary Hart of Colorado and Republican Norm Coleman of Minnesota. Senator Hart is now a scholar in residence at the University of Colorado and chair of the Defense Department's Threat Reduction Advisory Council. Senator Coleman is CEO of the American Action Network, an issue advocacy organization that supports Republican candidates and policies. The same broadcastfeatured an interview with Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough. Monday's broadcast featured this segment: JIM LEHRER: Now some perspective on the […]

Feb
07
2011

The Right Way to Support a Friendly Dictator…er, 'Strongman'

From the Friday broadcast of the PBS NewsHour (2/4/11) came a discussion about how the U.S. supports dictators–which elicited some chuckles. Remember, Mark Shields is the one who plays the "left" on the program. MARK SHIELDS: Just one little point of personal privilege on Joe Biden, who did take a hit for not being able to say dictator, but in United States politics, I mean, it's always been, if someone is on our side, he is a strongman. (LAUGHTER) MARK SHIELDS: If he is on the other side, he is a dictator. I mean, that has sort of been the […]

Jan
28
2011

The Joe Biden Rules

Joe Biden on Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak (PBS NewsHour, 1/27/11): I would not refer to him as a dictator. On WikiLeaks' Julian Assange (NBC's Meet the Press, 12/19/10) DAVID GREGORY: Mitch McConnell says he's a high-tech terrorist, others say this is akin to the Pentagon Papers. Where do you come down? JOE BIDEN: I would argue that it's closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the Pentagon Papers. For the record, neither journalist pushed Biden to explain his opinions.

Dec
17
2010

Antiwar Public Unrepresented on Public TV

In FAIR's recent study of the PBS NewsHour, we found that discussions of the Afghan War were incredibly narrow–no opponents ofa war that isbroadly unpopular among the American public were allowed to make their case. Last night's NewsHour (12/16/10) offered a chance to see that narrow sourcing yet again. The showfeatured areported segment on the administration's much-anticipatedreview of the progress (or lack thereof) in Afghanistan.The NewsHour quoted Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A wide range of views from inside the administration. For the debate segment, anchor Jim Lehrer presented "two views of […]

Dec
06
2010

Public TV's Austerity Hour

As you may have heard, the White House-backed deficit commission failed to gain a supermajority vote to support a proposal from co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Their suggestions came under sharp criticism from liberal and progressive critics. Butthe December 3 broadcast of the PBS NewsHour, a short report on that failure was tilted heavily in favor of supporters of the plan. Quoted in the piece were Bowles, Simpson and their ally Sen. Kent Conrad. Former SEIU chief Andy Stern, who voted against the plan, was the only no vote who was heard from. On December 1, the NewsHour had […]

Nov
05
2010

Can They Pull David Brooks' Pundit License?

New York Times columnist David Brooks is a regular on TV talk shows–including his weekly appearance on the PBS NewsHour (allowing the public to hear regularly from a widely syndicated columnist and commercial TV pundit, just aspublic TV was intended to do!). On a NewsHour midterm election post-mortem discussion (11/3/10), Brooks made this point about the supposed economic ignorance of some voters: If you looked at the exit polls, the independents were more likely than other voters to really be alarmed about the deficits. They were also more likely than other voters to want to protect Social Security, Medicare and […]