Jan
22
2013

Sanctions Not Really Hurting Ordinary Iranians, Says Anonymous U.S. Official

Pharmacy in Iran

It's hard to be surprised by the practice of granting anonymity to U.S. officials. But it was surprising to be reassured in the Washington Post that the U.S.-led sanctions on Iran aren't really harming ordinary Iranians–based on the word of an anonymous U.S. official.

Jul
03
2012

Getting Iran Sanctions Wrong

Much of the media analysis of Iran at the moment dwells on the punitive economic sanctions targeting Iran's economy. An additional round of more restrictive sanctions took effect at the beginning of this month, drawing renewed attention from the press. The clear message from that media coverage is this: If Iran were to come clean about its nuclear program, they could get relief from the sanctions that are starting to wreak serious havoc on the country's economy. That is one of the primary assumptions in the coverage of the Iran crisis. But is it correct? Mostly not. Here's the New […]

Feb
24
2012

Krugman: Actually, Romney's Insincerity Is a Bad Thing

There's this notion in the elite press that Mitt Romney's flip flops are a good thing–we've written about it here and here. In the latter post, I pointed to Nicholas Kristof's take: I'd much rather have a cynical chameleon than a far-right ideologue who doesn't require contortions to appeal to Republican primary voters, who says things that Republican candidates have all been saying and, God forbid, actually means it. This has never made much sense to me. It's based on the hunch that the "real" Romney–you know, the Massachusetts Moderate–would be the guy in the Oval Office and not the […]

Feb
17
2012

Corporate Pundits Waiting for a Palestinian Gandhi? Meet Khader Adnan

For years prominent corporate media pundits have told us that the world–and the media–would embrace a dramatic, non-violent Palestinian resistance movement. If only such a movement–perhaps led by a Gandhi-like figure–were to finally emerge, we are told, the media coverage will come, and sympathy from across the world will strengthen support for the Palestinian cause. This is nonsense–there has been non-violent Palestinian resistance for years. But that fact hasn't stopped pundits like Time's Joe Klein, as recently as last year, from wondering why Palestinians haven't found their Gandhi. Or New York Times columnist Tom Friedman from writing a column (5/24/11) […]

Jan
23
2012

Nick Kristof and the School Reform Straw Man

A new research paper by a team of economists got a lot of pretty favorable press because it appears to deliver results that would seem to confirm what many in the media believe about American schools: If you could just use standardized test scores to weed out underperforming teachers, you would see serious improvement in school achievement. Media coverage often glosses over the core problem here, which is how you measure teacher performance in the first place. The "value-added" research that is touted by many pundits–using test scores to determine a teacher's effectiveness–is controversial in large part because critics don't […]

Jan
10
2012

Pundits and the Romney Pass

In theory, presidential campaigns are a valuable opportunity for journalists to evaluate candidates' positions on important issues so citizens can make an informed choice. Actual media coverage is different, of course. And it's striking how some media voices diminish the importance of what the candidates are saying, treating it as meaningless theater that need not bear any relation to what they really think. It's remarkably cynical–and arguably dangerous as well. But that seems to be the approach when it comes to Republican candidate Mitt Romney. As Jim Naureckas already pointed out, there's a tendency in the corporate media to argue […]

Oct
17
2011

Hundreds of Worldwide Occupy Protests Occupy One Inch of Front Page

Squint or you'll miss it–the Sunday front page of the Washington Post: In case you're having trouble finding it, it's in the lower right-hand corner: a blurb approximately one column inch long, directing people to page A20 to find news about protests in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in "more than 900 cities in Europe, Africa and Asia." It wasn't just the Post that was having trouble finding the news in hundreds of protests around the world. NBC's Meet the Press featured Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, former Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. New […]

Mar
24
2011

Known Knowns: Libya, Kristof and Certainty

In his New York Times column today (3/24/11)–headlined "Hugs From Libyans"–Nicholas Kristof boils down the argument in favor of the war in Libya: Then, on Wednesday in Benghazi, the major city in eastern Libya whose streets would almost certainly be running with blood now if it weren't for the American-led military intervention, residents held a "thank you rally." They wanted to express gratitude to coalition forces for helping save their lives. Kristof goes on to write that "a humanitarian catastrophe has been averted for now," and that the air strikes could not wait: "A couple of days of dutiful consultation […]

Feb
03
2011

USA Today Shows How Not to Report on Egypt Protests

Start with USA Today's headline (2/3/11): Mubarak Supporters Weigh In: Anti-Government Rallies Shaken by Rival Protesters The forces attacking the pro-democracy demonstrators in Tahrir Square were not "rival protesters"; they were government agents, complete in many cases with police ID cards that were confiscated when violent provocateurs were apprehended by activists (Al Jazeera English, 2/2/11). As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (2/3/11) put it in his firsthand report from the square: The events were sometimes presented by the news media as "clashes" between rival factions, but that's a bit misleading. This was an organized government crackdown, but it relied […]

May
24
2010

Kristof's 'Simplest Option' for Ending Poverty: Blame the Poor

In his May 23 column–"Moonshine or the Kids?"–New York Times columnist Nick Kristof has hit upon the "simplest option" for keeping poor African kids in school (and ending malaria): getting their fathers to stop drinking, smoking and whoring. There's an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or U.N. reports. It's a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating and ubiquitous: It's that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children's prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by […]

Mar
26
2009

'Hold Us Accountable!' Says Unaccountable Darfur Pundit

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof issued a call in his column today for pundit accountability. After making a problematic argument about knowledge and experience being overrated, Kristof correctly pointed out that in the media, "the marketplace of ideas for now doesn't clear out bad pundits and bad ideas partly because there's no accountability," and he concluded his article with a call for action: "Hold us accountable!" Does this mean Kristof will now acknowledge the error of his prediction last month that the president of Sudan would not kick out aid groups in Darfur if the International Criminal Court issued […]

Mar
06
2009

Kristof: 'Saving' Darfuris by Killing Them

Just last week (2/26/09), Nicholas Kristof, who has written often about the situation in Darfur, was rooting for the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan's president, as a step towards "help[ing] end the long slaughter and instability in Sudan": Next Wednesday, the International Criminal Court is expected to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for crimes against humanity in Darfur. That would be historic–the first time the court has called for the arrest of a sitting head of state. It would be the clearest assertion that in the 21st century, mass murder […]

Mar
06
2009

NYT: The Hague Strictly for Other Presidents

Consortium News' Robert Parry (3/5/09) uses New York Times do-gooder Nicholas Kristof as an example of blatant corporate media hypocrisy: Kristof–like many of his American colleagues–is applauding the International Criminal Court's arrest order against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for his role in the Darfur conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives…. By all accounts, Kristof is a well-meaning journalist who travels to dangerous parts of the world, like Darfur, to report on human rights crimes. However, he also could be a case study of what's wrong with American journalism. While Kristof writes movingly about atrocities that can […]