This week on FAIR TV: Obamacare is like Hurricane Katrina? No, says one pundit: It's like Obama's Iraq War. Also this week: The Washington Post does PR for Paul Ryan as a poverty fighter, and CNN responds to its unbalanced pro-nuclear documentary with…a pro-nuke panel discussion.
Let's say you're best known for coming up with a federal budget blueprint that slashed tax rates for the wealthy and proposed big cuts to anti-poverty safety net programs, but now you want to be known as a guy who really cares about fighting poverty. Lucky for you, the Washington Post is here to help.
Paul Ryan's RNC convention speech kicked off a lot of discussion about how and when journalists should do factchecking. Some reporters noted that, for instance, the people you factcheck can push back; other pieces wondered if it was making any difference at all. There are plenty of factchecking operations, but there seems to be a feeling that the lying and deception is more significant now than it's ever been. But if you watched TV coverage of the Republican convention, you may not have seen much in the way of factchecking. More to the point, some of the discussions could get […]
On the subject of why politicians aren't worried about corporate media factcheckers, a New York Times article from last week (8/31/12) by Alessandra Stanley is worth a second look. Under the headline, "How MSNBC Became Fox's Liberal Evil Twin," Stanley wrote: "You can agree with everything that Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz say on MSNBC and still oppose their right to say it." Stanley's problem was that "all that attitude" on MSNBC "leaves fewer choices for viewers who like their election coverage with informed commentary without a twist of bias": All that arch sarcasm and partisan brio may rev up […]
"What if it turns out that when the press calls a lie a lie, nobody cares?" That's the question asked by Atlantic editor-in-chief James Bennet (8/28/12) after a raft of Pinocchios and flaming pants failed to sway the Romney campaign from its position that "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by factcheckers." I think that's the wrong question, though. The real question is: Does the press have the courage to call a lie a lie–and stick by it? It's hard to be hopeful about that when you have one of the media's most prominent factcheckers, the Washington […]
Flipping open the new issue of Time (9/3/12), a piece by Michael Crowley begins: Paul Ryan may be America's most famous budget wonk. Oh good grief. Crowley's point is not just to praise Ryan's devotion to spreadsheets. No, this piece is about the influences that made Paul Ryan the wonk he is today: But he's more than a number cruncher. Ryan's budget math is drawn from the political and economic theories of his many intellectual idols. And you get what you'd expect: Ayn Rand, Jack Kemp, Friedrich Hayek. But it's the passage about Ryan and Catholicism that is especially bizarre. […]
Time magazine's Michael Crowley, from the new issue: In naming Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate on August 11, Romney chose someone as deep as Palin was shallow, a studious wonk known for his mastery of that most substantive of all issues: the federal budget. For Crowley, this is actually toning down the Ryan praise. Just last year, he co-wrote a piece for Time that went like this: Just 41 years old, with jet black hair and a touch of Eagle Scout to him, the House Budget Committee chairman unveiled an ambitious package of huge budget cuts designed to […]
If you know anything of substance about Paul Ryan, it's that the Republican vice presidential pick knows his numbers. A Washington Post profile today by Michael Leahy (8/20/12) tells us: He got his start on Capitol Hill as a 19-year-old intern working in the mailroom of Sen. Bob Kasten (R-Wis.). That led in time to positions on congressional committees and habits he hasn't broken since, including a staffer's zeal for voracious research, for charts and PowerPoint presentations, and a facility for budget numbers that he recites with a savant's glee. As if that weren't clear enough, we're told later that […]
The Washington Post has done it again. Reporter Felicia Sonmez (8/17/12) somehow got a Republican campaign adviser to spill the beans on the Ryan/Romney relationship : A senior Republican adviser close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Ryan views Romney's career as "a case study of some of the ideas that he has been immersed in and debating about for years." "By his intellect and political upbringing, he is a natural champion for the success of the free-market system," the adviser said of Ryan. "He's a true believer in the free-market system. And so he […]
Sometimes the facts that need checking are pretty easy to check. That seemed to be the case with some misleading statements Paul Ryan made at a campaign stop yesterday. The New York Times set the record straight. Unfortunately their fact check was pretty much buried. The piece (8/17/12) by Trip Gabriel–headlined "Ryan Pushes Working-Class Message in Ohio"–is all about how the Romney campaign is deploying Ryan to speak to "white working-class voters." Gabriel notes: Republicans are excited about the Biden-versus-Ryan showdown because of Mr. Ryan's rhetorical skills and command of policy. That's funny, because down in the 8th paragraph or […]
Campaign rhetoric, we're led to believe, can be hard to sort out. If Paul Ryan says his budget plan protects Medicare and the Democrats say it "ends" it, what should we believe? Those are the kinds of questions journalism is supposed to answer. Which is why ABC World News' August 14 "Reality Check" on Medicare was such a failure. Actually, the fact that it wasn't very good wasn't a total shocker. That was to be expected as soon as you heard Diane Sawyer said this: So we asked ABC's Jon Karl for a reality check on the plan and what […]