Mar
12
2014

Is Putin Delusional–or Is NYT a 'Megaphone for Propaganda'?

Angela Merkel (cc photo: WEF/Moritz Hager)

Tracing back the story about Vladimir Putin being out of touch reality, one journalist sees it as a prime example of how media outlets can "become a megaphone for propaganda."

Feb
25
2014

The Question of US 'Democracy Promotion' in the Newspaper of Record

Noam Chomsky (cc photo: Agencia Brasil)

Today's New York Times has a piece about whether the Obama administration is as committed to a policy of "democracy promotion" as the Bush administration had been. To anyone familiar with US history of inhibiting and undermining democracies, the whole concept must seem rather absurd.

Dec
19
2013

Media Lean Left, Say Journalists Who Don't Really Say That

politico

When establishment journalists were asked about whether media leaned left, so little in their responses addressed what would seem to be the fundamental question: Does what is actually in the media suggest a liberal bias?

May
28
2013

Did Obama's Speech Really 'Narrow' the War?

p052313ps-0324_1

If you followed the coverage of President Barack Obama's May 23 speech at the National Defense University, you would think something big happened to the "war on terror." That was probably the message the White House wanted the press to send. But is true?

May
25
2013

Still Getting Gitmo Wrong

Guantanamo (Joshua Nistas/US Army)

President Barack Obama's address yesterday on U.S. terror strategies got a lot of attention for supposedly charting a new course in America's longest war. But some of the facts were mangled along the way.

Sep
13
2012

The Case of the Disappearing NYT Piece

Mitt Romney

At Huffington Post (9/13/12), Ryan Grim and Michael Calderone are raising questions about the somewhat mysterious disappearance of a New York Times news article: On Wednesday, the New York Times published a provocative story bylined by David E. Sanger and Ashley Parker, leading with the news that Mitt Romney had personally approved the blistering Tuesday night statement on the attacks in Libya and Egypt that landed his campaign in trouble. But hours later, the newspaper wiped the story out and replaced it with a significantly rewritten piece bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker…. The later version, which appeared on […]

Jul
20
2012

Objectivity and Its Opposite, 'Objectivity'

Whigs vs. Tories

One of the most confusing terms in the media discussion is "objectivity." In philosophy, it refers to a belief in a reality independent of the conscious mind, generally one that can more or less be known and meaningfully discussed. In journalism, on the other hand, it means "don't scare away any potential customers." "Objective" journalism emerged as newspapers realized that they were alienating potential readers by positioning themselves as a paper that saw the world through the lens of a particular party. Why be a Whig paper or a Tory paper, in other words, when you could be an independent […]

May
04
2012

Obama, Bill Clinton and the Need to Move Rightward

In corporate media, some political arguments are treated as indisputable fact. One of the most important: Democrats win by moving to the right. In the New York Times (5/3/12), Peter Baker offers the latest example: Mr. Obama, who campaigned on Sunday with Mr. Clinton, seems to be following his Democratic predecessor's playbook. After a generation of Democrats alienating voters with liberal domestic positions, Mr. Clinton moved the party toward the center on issues like trade, welfare and deficit spending. First off: Democrats had been alienating voters for a generation with their liberal policies? I am not sure what this is […]

Dec
13
2010

Obama Pulls a Clinton on the Liberal Base

One of the more annoying corporate media storylines since the midterms dwells on whether or not Barack Obama will move to the "center" in order to have better luck in the 2012 elections. The conventional wisdom is that Bill Clinton did this after terrible losses in the 1994 midterms, and his "triangulation" proved once and for all that successful Democrats move to the right. There are several reasons this is nonsense–Clinton was more or less the original DLC "New Democrat," so he was consciously and conspicuously to the right of the party base all along. The press wanted to nudge […]

Nov
03
2010

The Sentence That Sums Up What Was Wrong With Election Coverage

Here's the sentence that sums up what was wrong with election coverage '10, courtesy of the New York Times' Peter Baker (11/3/10): Was this the natural and unavoidable backlash in a time of historic economic distress, or was it a repudiation of a big-spending activist government? Clearly, the economy was the main thing on the minds of American citizens, and we needed the media to lead a serious discussion of what to do about it. Instead, we got a bogus debate in which the left-wing pole was that nothing could be done to improve the situation–when the actual progressive view […]

Oct
25
2010

Election Coverage Meme: Obama Needs an 'Enemy'

One strand ofconventional wisdom among elite D.C. reporters is that losing the midterm elections would be a good thing for the White House. Hence New York Times reporterPeter Baker (10/24/10): WASHINGTON â┚¬” Let there be no mistake: President Obama wants the Democrats to win next week's midterm elections. His voice has gone hoarse telling every audience that from Delaware to Oregon. But let's also acknowledge this: Although he will not say so, there is at least a plausible argument that he might be better off if they lose. The reality of presidential politics is that it helps to have an […]

Apr
23
2010

It's Hard to Make a Flat Line Sound Sexy

A New York Times article (4/23/10) by Peter Baker and David Herszenhorn remarks of Barack Obama: With his poll numbers sagging, the choreographed confrontation seemed aimed at tapping the nation's antiestablishment mood as well as muscling financial regulation legislation through Congress. While Obama's confrontation with the financial industry was no doubt choreographed, are his poll numbers really sagging? This chart from Pollster.com, averaging out all the major national polls, reveals instead that opinion on Obama's job performance is remarkably steady (and remarkably evenly divided, too). It's hard to turn a line like that into exciting news, which isn't to say […]

Aug
24
2009

The Debate Over Afghanistan–Newspapers Are Full of It

In his Week in Review piece wondering if Obama's Afghanistan policy is akin to LBJ andVietnam, New York Times reporter Peter Baker notes that the public mood is seeping into the media: That growing disenchantment in the countryside is increasingly mirrored in Washington, where liberals in Congress are speaking out more vocally against the Afghan war and newspapers are filled with more columns questioning Americaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s involvement. Newspapers are filled with what now? It doesn't feel that way to me, but surely Baker must havesome evidence. Which he does: The cover of the latest Economist is headlined "Afghanistan: The Growing Threat […]