Oct
22
2013

Does Being a Pundit Ever Mean Having to Say You're Sorry?

"The early denunciations of Snowden now seem both over the top and beside the point," the Washington Post's Richard Cohen writes. He should know–he wrote one of them. And now he says his initial reaction was "just plain wrong."

Aug
14
2013

What's the Message of Clinton's Noncampaign for the Office She Might Run for in Three Years?

Dan Balz

Hillary Clinton hasn't announced that she's running for president in 2016, and launched a campaign yet. But the Washington Post is already complaining that her nonexistent campaign for an office she may or may not seek lacks a clear message. "Clinton’s gender likely would be a significant asset," writes chief correspondent Dan Balz (8/12/13), adding: "It, however, is not a message." One has to admire the first 44 presidents of the United States, each of whom somehow managed to achieve the office without the benefit of this asset. The next day (8/13/13), Post columnist Richard Cohen picked up on Balz's […]

Feb
05
2013

Where Are They Now? The Reporters Who Got Iraq So Wrong

Colin Powell at the UN

Ten years ago today, Colin Powell made the Bush administration's case for going to war against Iraq, and much of what he said was false. Most of the journalists who promoted his justifications for the war paid no price for their failures.

Nov
21
2012

Precise Weapons Kill Civilians Too

Photo: PCHR

As a general rule, it'd be better if media accounts of war did not stress the surgical precision of the weapons being used. It's a fixture of U.S. reporting on U.S. wars, but the same rhetoric is used when U.S. allies are dropping bombs.   According to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (11/19/12):  Israel has gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties. Its air force has used new, highly accurate ammunition aiming for rocket-launching sites and government installations. For the most part, it has succeeded. Aron Heller of the Associated Press (11/17/12) had this description of the Israeli military: Israel, […]

Nov
13
2012

Corporate Media Lose Their Favorite 'Warrior Scholar'

saveiraq

There's no doubt that the sex scandal that prompted CIA director David Petraeus's sudden resignation late last week is a big story. New details–verified or not–seem to arrive almost by the hour. But the reason it seems to have shaken so many media figures is because Petraeus was uniquely beloved by many in the corporate media, who considered him both an accessible source and a war hero. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams called him (11/9/12) a "a man of such sterling reputation," and confided on the air to one guest that "it is impossible to be a member of […]

Jul
17
2012

Mitt Romney Swift Boats Himself

The criticism of Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital doesn't appear to be leaving the headlines.  And thus some political reporters are, as Jamison Foser notes, drawing an unusual comparison: Romney is being Swift Boated. The latest example comes from Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (7/17/12): In a sense, Romney deserves the Swift Boating he's now getting from the Obama campaign and the president himself. In case you missed the 2004 campaign: The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was formed to cast doubt on John Kerry's Vietnam War record. TV commercials were cooked up to expose Kerry as a fraud […]

Apr
17
2012

NYT: Iranians and Their Lying Religion

There are different ways media talk about how you can't trust Iran. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, for one, went straight for bigotry: "These Persians lie like a rug," he wrote in 2009. The New York Times took a slightly different route on Saturday (4/14/12) : Maybe Iran can't be trusted because their religion permits–or perhaps even encourages–duplicity. "Seeking Nuclear Insight in Fog of the Ayatollah's Utterances" was the headline over the piece by James Risen. It's hard to know what the fog might be; the Iranian leader who actually has control over the nuclear program–supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei–has […]

Apr
17
2012

Richard Cohen on Candidate Lying Is Half-Baked–and Half Cribbed

Richard Cohen says he envies people who are persuasive liars. He really ought to envy people who are persuasive writers. His column today (4/17/12) is ostensibly about how Mitt Romney is a big liar. It goes almost its entire length, though, before citing any compelling examples of Romney lying. (Cohen does say call Romney's claim "rubbish" that he doesn't watch the ads his Super PAC supporters make to attack his opponents–but is it really so hard to believe that a candidate might choose to remain strategically ignorant about such spots?) At the end, he points out that Romney claims Obama […]

Jan
24
2012

Richard Cohen Wowed by Professor Gingrich

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote a baffling column today (1/24/12) praising part of Newt Gingrich's political persona–not the bad stuff, but man"of big ideas," as he put it (italics his). Cohen gives one example: Out of nowhere, he has exhumed Saul Alinsky, whose fame is limited to university sociology departments, and yet whose name is so perfectly evocative of old-style radicalism, vaguely European in sound, that it fits Gingrich's recent formulation, "people who don't like the classical America." Who dat, Newt? The reference, although a tad obscure, is nevertheless intriguing. It shows that Gingrich is familiar with the late […]

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
25
2011

Richard Cohen: OWS Isn't Anti-Semitic–Just Clueless, Repugnant

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (10/24/11), tipped off by at least one of his Post colleagues, decided to pay a visit to Liberty Plaza to see the festival of anti-Semitism firsthand. Lo and behold, he found none: Reckless Jew that I am, I muscled my way into the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Lower Manhattan despite multiple reports of virulent and conceivably lethal anti-Semitism. Projecting an unvarnished Semitism, I circled the place, encountering nothing and no one to suggest bigotry–not a sign, not a book and not even the guy who some weeks ago held up a placard with the […]

Sep
06
2011

Richard Cohen Is Sorry You and He Got It Wrong

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (9/5/11) takes the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 to say that he's sorry: I went home on September 11 with my shoes dusted with the detritus of the World Trade Center. I felt a hate that was entirely new to me. Soon after, the anthrax attacks began, and I was ready for war–against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, for sure, but against Saddam Hussein as well. I was wrong, and for that I blame myself, but I blame us all for going along with it and then rewarding incompetence with another term. Wait–we all […]

Aug
09
2011

Richard Cohen: Even the Dow Jones Can't Make Obama Cry

There are plenty of thoughtful pieces–Drew Westen's in the New York Times over the weekend being the most recent one–that try to figure out what's going on with Barack Obama. Then there's Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen today (8/9/11), who begins by retelling a story about FDR: In her autobiography, Helen Gahagan Douglas recalled telling President Franklin D. Roosevelt about her visits to the camps of migrant workers. She was especially poignant about the children and their lack of Christmas toys when the president tried to stop her. "Don't tell me any more, Helen," FDR told the woman who is […]