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 […]

Oct
20
2010

NewsHour Fails French Public, Too

In the coverage of French retirement protests, you often hear U.S.reporters state the debate is over raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. As Dean Baker has pointed out (as did Amitabh Pal from the Progressive, when he appeared on CounterSpin) this is incorrect; the retirement age for most French workers is 65; they are pushing toraise it to 67.Early retirement for some workers would shift from 60 to 62. Lastnight (10/19/10)the PBS NewsHour had two discussions on this topic, and both made the same error. A live reportby Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman included thisJohn Stosselesque exchange: RUGMAN: […]

Sep
24
2010

NewsHour's Tax Cuts Series Off to a Bad Start

On Wednesday night's broadcast of the PBS NewsHour (9/23/10), Gwen Ifill announced: "Now to the first of several conversations on whether or not to extend tax cuts that expire at the end of the year." The first guest was Republican Glenn Hubbard, who Ifill told viewers "was the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, and he helped to design those cuts." Not surprisingly, he is a big supporter of extending the tax cuts, and gave the usual laundry list of reasons why, and criticized Obama for creating uncertainty in the markets and so on. […]

Sep
20
2010

PBS Ombud on NewsHour's Tea Party

PBS ombud Michael Getler, inspired at least in part by this post on FAIR Blog, addressed Dick Armey's recent appearance on the PBS NewsHour in his September 17 column. Getler wrote that the Armey segment, which was paired with a later interview with Arianna Huffington, "didn't work,"since the guests seemed to havevery different agendas. The pairing wound up as a "big public relations win for Armey as mostly a platform for his views, while Huffington's main point was that 'the solutions are beyond left and right' and spent as much or more time bashing the Obama administration, aside from noting […]

Sep
15
2010

When the Umpire Won't Call Balls or Strikes

There was something depressing about a recent discussion on the PBS NewsHour Monday night (9/13/10) about the debate over what to do with the Bush-era tax cuts. The politics of the tax debate is well-known; most Democrats want to extend them for all but the top brackets, while the Republicans want to renew the cuts that affect only the wealthiest taxpayers (which could cost the government an additional $700 billion in lost revenue over the next decade). The Republican argument is that allowing the tax cuts to expire on families earning more than $250,000 would hurt "small businesses." So here's […]

May
04
2010

NewsHour Finds Drilling Critic

We noted last week that the PBS NewsHour's coverageof the Gulf oil disaster one night includeda one-on-one interview with a spokesperson from BP. Going through the show's coverage since then, a remarkable fact emerged: The show hadnot interviewed an environmental advocate opposed to the White House plan to increase offshore oil drilling. The reticence to talk about this obvious policy angle was bizarre–though not at all limited to PBS. Well, last night the NewsHour hosted a debate between Greenpeace's Kert Davies and Sara Banaszak of the American Petroleum Institute. So let the record show that the NewsHour has opened up […]

Apr
30
2010

PBS Oil Spill Deja Vu?

When FAIR released a study of the PBS's NewsHour (then known as the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour) in 1989, one finding stood out: The Exxon Valdez oil spill was the major environmental story of the period. MacNeil/Lehrer had seven segments on the spill; not one included an environmental representative. Several discussions were limited to Exxon officials and friendly officials: The March 30, 1989 program, for example, featured Exxon's chairman and Alaska's governor ("The chairman of the board of Exxon, I think, has been to heavy on his own company"). Andthe summaryof a segment from last night's broadcast of the NewsHour (4/29/10): Costs […]

Sep
16
2009

NewsHour Poses a Moral Conundrum

PBS's NewsHour's Gwen Ifill (9/15/09), quizzing Richard Goldstone on his U.N. fact-finding mission that found that both Israel and Palestinian fighters had committed war crimes in the Gaza conflict: The term "even-handed" is the problem that Israel has with the conclusions in the report. Your criticism of Israel seems so much harsher than that of the Palestinians. Why is that? CBS News (9/9/09), summarizing a report by Israel's leading human rights group: Well over half of nearly 1,400 Palestinians killed in Israel's Gaza war were civilians, including 252 children younger than 16, a leading Israeli human rights groups said Wednesday, […]

Apr
20
2009

Playing the Left on TV

Regular NewsHour left/right panelists Mark Shields and David Brooks were off on April 18. Sitting in on the right was former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson. In the liberal chair was Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, who is not exactly known for her strong progressive views. And in fact, Marcus established that fact right from the start on the debate over torture, showing (once again) that a good TV leftist is usually not, well, a leftist: JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, to you first. The release of these Bush administration-era interrogation memos and, simultaneously, the decision not to prosecute the CIA agents who […]

Feb
27
2009

NewsHour's Economics-Free Economics Reporting

Calling a PBS NewsHour budget plan segment by Judy Woodruff "a primer on how to conduct an interview relying almost solely on Republican talking points," Brad Jacobson (Media Bloodhound, 2/27/09) says her "first question isn't necessarily a Republican talking point, but it might as well be": "$3.66 trillion, is that a number you can actually grasp?" Seriously, members of the mainstream media need to stop acting like they suddenly have the vapors over big government spending. The Republicans weren't the only ones to preside over the most reckless spending in our government's history over the last eight years, on a […]