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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 05 Mar 2010, 11:26 
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E.J. Dionne's Question Answers His Question
02/19/2010 by Peter Hart

Why are liberals and Democrats losing on issues like healthcare? Columnist E.J. Dionne (Washington Post, 2/18/10) rightly points out that congressional Democrats have caved on almost every big issue: "Single-payer was out at the start. The public option died. A Medicare buy-in died." He wonders:

While liberals were arguing about public plans and this or that, and while Obama was deep into inside deal-making, the conservatives relentlessly made a straightforward public case based on a syllogism: The economy is a mess. Obama and the Democrats are for big government. Big government is responsible for the mess. Therefore the mess is the fault of Obama and the Big Government Democrats.

Simplistic and misleading? Absolutely. But if liberals and Obama are so smart, how did they--or, if you prefer, "we"--allow conservatives to make this argument so effectively? Why do the mainstream media give it so much credence?

That last question is really the answer. Conservative misinformation is effective when the media allow it to be effective. It's a pretty easy formula. The best part is that the right can take up all that space in the media debate and still complain about the media's liberal bias.

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 05 Mar 2010, 11:27 
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New York Post Style Guide for White American Political Violence
02/19/2010 by Jim Naureckas

The New York Post (2/19/10) has an interesting front page on the anti-government protester flying his plane into an office building. After the bad pun ("KAMIKAZE ATTAX!"), the subhead reads:

Fed-Up Madman Crashes Plane Into IRS Building

"Madman"--because unlike, say, Nidal Malik Hasan, Joseph Stack is not a "terrorist" whose actions might discredit a wider political movement. And "Fed-Up" because...maybe he has a point?

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 05 Mar 2010, 11:33 
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Network Nukes Boosters
Reports on New Nuclear Plant Leave Key Questions Unasked

2/19/10

On February 16, ABC World News and NBC Nightly News aired incomplete and unbalanced reports following Barack Obama's announcement of $8 billion in new loan guarantees for a nuclear power plant in Georgia.

ABC reporter Jake Tapper announced that "for years leading Democrats and liberals opposed nuclear energy. No new nukes was the cry. So some may have been surprised to hear President Obama say today, essentially, yes, new nukes."

But after that nod, nuclear opponents mostly disappeared from the piece, which showed Tapper stressing industry claims about job creation for this new plant ("3,500 on-site construction jobs and 800 permanent operations jobs") and the amount of energy the plant will generate--enough "for 550,000 homes, 2,200 megawatts worth of electricity that would offset about 30 million barrels of oil." He also quoted two anonymous Georgia residents saying their town needs the jobs.

One critic--Greenpeace's Jim Riccio--made a short comment about safety concerns, but was countered by Tapper: "Nuclear power advocates say since then plant design and equipment requirements have been upgraded." Tapper then quoted nuclear industry lobbyist Patrick Moore, introducing him with his past credentials: "Back then, he was an anti-nuclear power activist and a founder of Greenpeace. Today, he lobbies for nuclear energy." After Moore claimed that "nuclear industry is generally one of the safest industries we have," Tapper concluded that "he's not the only one who's changed his mind."

Moore's former Greenpeace ties make him a media favorite, but he wasn't actually a founder, just an early activist--Extra!, 1-2/08--and it's worth noting that, as PR Watch pointed out (3/14/07), "Moore has now spent more time working as a PR consultant to the logging, mining, biotech, nuclear and other industries...than he did as an environmental activist."

The report by NBC Nightly News suffered from some of the same problems: Three sources are quoted supporting the nuclear plan, with only one critic (Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth). In attempting to discuss safety concerns, NBC mentioned Chernobyl and the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island (Extra!, 7-8/93). Neither network mentioned the current problems with nuclear reactors; the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, for example, is leaking radioactive tritium into the groundwater, a safety hazard that is being documented at other nuclear sites around the country (Associated Press, 2/2/10; Greenpeace Blog, 1/28/10).

NBC also has bigger issues: its parent company General Electric is a major player in the industry, and has done business with the company planning to build the Georgia plant (southerncompany.com)--a major fact NBC neglected to mention in its report.

While both reports mentioned that the Georgia plant would be the first built in the U.S. in three decades, neither gave much of an explanation as to why this would be the case. But as nuclear power critics have documented for years, the plants have proven to be financial disasters, with severe cost overruns and a general reluctance among investors to foot the bill for projects that are unlikely to be profitable (Greenpeace, 10/15/08). Obama's pledge of multi-billion dollar loan guarantees should have caused reporters to wonder why the industry, after decades of experience, needs so much government assistance in the first place.

ACTION: Please ask ABC and NBC why their reporting on the White House's nuclear power plans omitted important facts about nuclear power in favor of the optimistic projections of the nuclear industry. And, in NBC's case, why the report failed to disclose its parent company's financial ties to the nuclear industry.

CONTACT:
NBC Nightly News
nightly@nbc.com

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer
Web Form:
http://abcnews.go.com/Site/page?id=3271 ... e%20Sawyer

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 22:51 
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Washington Post and Afghan War Critics

Sometimes the words journalists choose are revealing. Take the lead of a story in the Washington Post today (3/9/10) about congressional debate on the Afghanistan War:

Liberals in the House, who have spent much of the past year complaining that other congressional Democrats and the White House are insufficiently progressive, will get a chance this week to vent about one of their biggest concerns: the war in Afghanistan.

To say that lawmakers are "venting" is a short way of saying that they're wasting time with pointless complaining.

And what are they whining about, anyway? Nothing special--just whether or not the war complies with the law.

The resolution will invoke the 1973 War Powers Act, which Congress passed in protest of the escalation of the Vietnam War by a series of presidents without formal congressional authorization. It requires congressional approval for a president to put troops in a military conflict for more than 90 days. Congress passed a resolution authorizing military force in Afghanistan in 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, and some congressional scholars doubt Congress can invoke the act now to force changes to President Obama's war policy.

As Robert Naiman wrote: "The Pentagon doesn't want Congress to debate Afghanistan. The Pentagon wants Congress to fork over $33 billion more to pay for the current military escalation, no questions asked, no restrictions imposed for a withdrawal timetable or an exit strategy."

The media don't seem to want to have a debate over Afghanistan either.

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 22:52 
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Newsweek Wants Accountability for Teachers, Not Editors
03/09/2010 by Peter Hart

Newsweek devotes several pieces this week to public schools. But the lead piece, "Why We Must Fire Bad Teachers," by Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert, lays out the magazine's skewed vision: Teacher unions protect the worst performers, while charter schools offer an easy solution. ("In the past two decades, some schools have sprung up that defy and refute what former president George W. Bush memorably called 'the soft bigotry of low expectations.'") Newsweek even finds the silver lining in Hurricane Katrina:

It is difficult to dislodge the educational establishment. In New Orleans, a hurricane was required: Since Katrina, New Orleans has made more educational progress than any other city, largely because the public-school system was wiped out. Using nonunion charter schools, New Orleans has been able to measure teacher performance in ways that the teachers' unions have long and bitterly resisted.

The decision of a Rhode Island superintendent to fire every teacher at one low-performing high school is called a "notable breakthrough."

Many of these ideas are the subject of intense debate--research on charter schools has generally not shown substantial improvement over conventional public schooling, for example. Experts and advocates disagree with the notion that New Orleans is a success story. But Newsweek presents little debate--sticking with the right-leaning narrative version of "school reform" that is primarily about bashing teachers.

An accompanying article pitting teachers union president Randi Weingarten and anti-union D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is presented on Newsweek's home page under the headline "The Union Boss vs. the School Reformer." It's not hard to imagine which option is supposed to be more attractive (unless you're the pro-boss, anti-reform type).

Back to the Thomas article, though, with its subhead: "In no other profession are workers so insulated from accountability." This is particularly ironic to see under Evan Thomas' byline. One only needs to recall his contribution to the pre-Iraq War propaganda effort summarized below, and wonder what sort of accountability exists at Newsweek.

March 17, 2003
—Newsweek's cover story is entitled "Saddam's War," and the cover features a close-up of Hussein's face on fire. At the top of the story, Newsweek reports from the scene of a Baghdad military parade, describing as jarring the sight of Iraqi fedayeen fighters "garbed in the familiar tan camouflage of the United States Army. Saddam has ordered thousands of uniforms identical, down to the last detail, to those worn by U.S. and British troopers. The plan: to have Saddam's men, posing as Western invaders, slaughter Iraqi citizens while the cameras roll for Al-Jazeera and the credulous Arab press." The article closes with this call for war:

"One Arab intelligence officer interviewed by Newsweek spoke of 'the green mushroom' over Baghdad—the modern-day caliph bidding a grotesque bio-chem farewell to the land of the living alongside thousands of his subjects as well as his enemies. Saddam wants to be remembered. He has the means and the demonic imagination. It is up to U.S. armed forces to stop him before he can achieve notoriety for all time."

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 22:52 
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Dennis Kucinich, Right-Wing Democrat?
03/09/2010 by Jim Naureckas

If you're a politics buff, you probably remember the way National Journal's ratings were used in the 2004 and 2008 elections to establish that the Democratic candidate was the "most liberal voting record in the Senate"--first John Kerry (Extra! Update, 6/04), then Barack Obama (CounterSpin, 3/28/08). FAIR pointed out the flawed methodology that the magazine was using, but the headline-grabbing findings still had a profound--and profoundly misleading--impact on both races.

Now National Journal has released its rankings for 20098 (2/28/1009), and they reveal that Dennis Kucinich is one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus--he's the 240th most conservative representative out of 416 ranked by the Journal. He's more conservative, according to the Journal rankings, than Blue Dog Democrats like Mike Arcuri (No. 243), Dennis Cardoza (No. 245) and Robert Marion Berry (No. 248).

Virtually any political observer will tell you that Kucinich is one of the most if not the most progressive member of Congress. Either none of them understand the political spectrum, or the National Journal's rankings are useless--take your pick.

Update: As reader Matt points out, the rankings linked to above are for 2008, not 2009. In the rankings for 2009, which are accessible only to National Journal subscribers at this point, Kucinich is a little farther to the left--270th most conservative out of 435 members--but is still grouped with "The Centrists," part of the "ideological center of the House of Representatives" according to the Journal's dubious rating system.

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 22:56 
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NYT Debate: Bill of Rights, Sometimes or Never?
03/09/2010 by Jim Naureckas

The New York Times has a piece today (3/9/10) with the headline "Experts Urge Keeping Two Options for Terror Trials"--meaning both regular trials under the criminal justice system as well as newly established military tribunals. But who are these "experts," exactly? Well, they're "national security officials who served in the Bush administration"--though later on, "national security officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations" are also cited.

Balancing out this "expert" point of view are "conservatives," "supporters of military commissions" and "the Republican line"--all of which argue that the civilian court system is unnecessary and military tribunals should be exclusively used to try those accused of terrorism.

Conspicuously missing from this framing are those who argue that military tribunals are unconstitutional, and that even people accused of terrorism-related crimes are still entitled to the guarantees of the Bill of Rights--people like Judge Andrew Napolitano and, well, the Supreme Court. But apparently they don't meet the New York Times' criteria as "experts."

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PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 22:57 
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A Part of the National Psyche
03/11/2010 by Jim Naureckas

Victor Davis Hanson notes that one reason for American exceptionalism may be that we did not inherit from England "a large underclass of only quasi-free people attached to barons as serfs." Sadly, a worse institution took root here, but never became part of the national psyche.

--Rich Lowry & Ramesh Ponnuru (National Review Online, 3/8/10, via Crooked Timber, 3/9/10)

So, David Paterson will become the massa who gets to appoint whoever gets to take [Rep. Eric] Massa's place. So, for the first time in his life, Paterson's gonna be a massa. Interesting, interesting.

--Rush Limbaugh (Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/9/10, via Media Matters, 3/9/10)

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 22:57 
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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 22:58 
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Evidence That Media Need to Use Different Unemployment Measures
03/11/2010 by Julie Hollar

Actual Washington Post headline today (3/11/10):

Rise in Washington Area Unemployment Seen as Good Sign for Economy's Recovery

Reporter V. Dion Hayes tries to explain:

Rising unemployment as a positive sign may sound counterintuitive, but economists explain it this way: The increase suggests that long-term unemployed people in the D.C. area who had given up looking for work have restarted their job hunt, perhaps because they see evidence that the region's economy is improving and that employers are beginning to hire again. On the other hand, the declining national rate indicates that discouraged workers elsewhere have remained out of the labor force because they do not see any reason to look for work.

There are actually other measurements of unemployment put out by the federal government that don't force editors to come up with such ridiculous headlines--and might help readers understand what's going on better. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks the number of people who have given up looking for work but want a job ("marginally attached" people), as well as those who are working part time but want to be working full time; those numbers are publicly available, yet journalists rarely use them. (For more on such media malpractices, see Veronica Cassidy's article, "Misleading Indicators," in the January 2009 issue of Extra!.)

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 22:59 
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L.A. Local News: Next to None
03/12/2010 by Peter Hart

The Los Angeles Times reports (3/12/10) on a new study of local news from the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism's Norman Lear Center. The findings are hardly surprising: There is almost no local political coverage on TV news. As the Times notes, "An average half-hour newscast devoted just 22 seconds to government issues, including city budgets, healthcare, layoffs and law enforcement." Coverage of local politics works out to just under 2 percent of the "news hole"; on the other hand, crime stories make up closer to three minutes of a given newscast.

While that's terrible, the L.A. Times waits until the end of the piece to tell us that the L.A. Times does just a little better:

A companion study also examined local coverage by the Los Angeles Times during the same 14-day period. The report found that while TV stations used 1.9 percent of its news hole (minus ads and teasers) for coverage of local government, the Times used 3.3 percent of its news hole (minus ads and teasers) for coverage of local government.

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 23:02 
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NYT and the ACORN Hoax
Why can't paper admit its mistakes?

3/11/10

Ignoring calls from numerous critics, the New York Times refuses to own up to mistakes in the paper's coverage of the now-famous right-wing videotapes attacking the community organizing group ACORN. Instead, the paper's public editor, Clark Hoyt, is relying on an absurd semantic justification in order to claim the paper does not need to print any corrections.

As conventionally reported in the Times and elsewhere, right-wing activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles dressed up as a pimp and a prostitute and visited several local ACORN offices, where office workers gave the duo advice on setting up a brothel, concealing a child prostitution ring and so forth. But many of the key "facts" surrounding the videos are either in dispute or are demonstrable fabrications.

Though O'Keefe appears in various scenes in the videos wearing a garish and absurd "pimp" costume, he in fact did not wear the outfit when he appeared in the ACORN offices (Washington Independent, 2/19/10); he was dressed in a button-down shirt and slacks. This fact undermines one of the key contentions of the ACORN smear--that the group is so hopelessly corrupt that they would dispense advice to an obvious criminal.

What's more, the "advice" that they received, according to the transcripts released by O'Keefe and Giles, does not appear to be as incriminating as it was portrayed in the videos--and echoed in outlets like the New York Times.

A review of the Times coverage:

--In an early piece (9/16/09), readers were told of the "amateur actors, posing as a prostitute and a pimp and recorded on hidden cameras in visits to ACORN offices.... Conservative advocates and broadcasters were gleeful about the success of the tactics in exposing ACORN workers, who appeared to blithely encourage prostitution and tax evasion." The Times explained:

The undercover videos showed a scantily dressed young woman, Hannah Giles, posing as a prostitute, while a young man, James O'Keefe, played her pimp. They visited ACORN offices in Baltimore, Washington, Brooklyn and San Bernardino, Calif., candidly describing their illicit business and asking the advice of ACORN workers. Among other questions, they asked how to buy a house to use as a brothel employing underage girls from El Salvador.

The paper also reported that O'Keefe "was dressed so outlandishly that he might have been playing in a risque high school play. But in the footage made public--initially by a new website, BigGovernment.com--ACORN employees raised no objections to the criminal plans. Instead, they eagerly counseled the couple on how to hide their activities from the authorities, avoid taxes and make the brothel scheme work."

--Three days later (9/19/09): "Their travels in the gaudy guise of pimp and prostitute through various offices of ACORN, the national community organizing group, caught its low-level employees in five cities sounding eager to assist with tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution."

--New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt weighed in (9/27/09), chiding the paper for not being more aggressive in promoting the ACORN videos--lamenting that Times readers weren't as up-to-speed on the story as "followers of Fox News," who already knew "that a video sting had caught ACORN workers counseling a bogus prostitute and pimp on how to set up a brothel staffed by under-age girls, avoid detection and cheat on taxes."

--The following week (10/4/09), Hoyt was on the ACORN case again: "To recap: Two conservative activists with a concealed video camera, posing as a prostitute and her pimp, visited offices of ACORN, the community organizing group, and lured employees into bizarre conversations about how to establish a bordello, cheat on taxes and smuggle in underage girls from Central America."

--After O'Keefe was charged in January with attempting to tamper with the phone system in Sen. Mary Landrieu's office, the Times reported under the headline, "After Arrest, Provocateur's Tactics Are Questioned" (1/28/10): "Mr. O'Keefe is a conservative activist who gained fame last year by posing as a pimp and secretly recording members of the community group ACORN giving him advice on how to set up a brothel."

---On January 31, 2010: "Mr. O'Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group ACORN--eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos that would threaten to become ACORN's undoing.

--On March 2, 2010, under the headline, "ACORN's Advice to Fake Pimp Was No Crime, Prosecutor Says, " the Times reported: "The ACORN employees in Brooklyn who were captured on a hidden camera seeming to offer conservative activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute creative advice on how to get a mortgage have been cleared of wrongdoing by the Brooklyn district attorney's office."

But the story the Times continues to tell is wildly misleading, as a review of the publicly available transcripts of his visit (BigGovernment.com) makes clear. O'Keefe never dressed as a pimp during his visits to ACORN offices, seems to never actually represent himself as a "pimp," and the advice he solicits is usually about how to file income taxes (which is not "tax evasion"). In at least one encounter (at a Baltimore ACORN office), the pair seemed to first insist that Giles was a dancer, not a prostitute.

In the case recounted in the March 2 Times story, the transcripts show that O'Keefe did not portray himself as a pimp to the ACORN workers in Brooklyn, but told them that he was trying to help his prostitute girlfriend. In part of the exchange, O'Keefe and his accomplice seem to be telling ACORN staffers that they are attempting to buy a house to protect child prostitutes from an abusive pimp.

Throughout the months the Times covered the story, it made a major mistake: believing that Internet videos produced by right-wing activists were to be trusted uncritically, rather than approached with the skepticism due to anything you'd come across on the Web. O'Keefe and the Web publisher Andrew Breitbart refused to make unedited copies of the videotape public, and with good reason: A more complete viewing, as the transcripts show, would produce a much different impression.

While the Times decide to skip the standard rules of journalism, ACORN commissioned an independent investigation led by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger (12/7/09), which noted that the

unedited videos have never been made public. The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O'Keefe's and Ms.Giles' comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

So what has the Times done in response? As reported extensively by blogger Brad Friedman (Brad Blog), several Times staffers have been asked to justify the paper's lack of accountability. In the most remarkable exchange, public editor Clark Hoyt--who had criticized the paper for not doing enough reporting on the tapes--wrote that the paper had made no errors that merited a correction (Brad Blog, 2/23/10). He explained that the January 31 story "says O'Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on ACORN counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time."

It is hard to believe that Hoyt actually believes what he's saying here. The obvious implication from the language of the article (and the others documented above) is that ACORN was dispensing advice to someone dressed up in an absurd pimp outfit. The Times chose to believe that O'Keefe's work was journalism that didn't need to be treated skeptically. The videos were in fact a hoax, and the Times was duped. Its readers deserve to know as much--and ACORN, which suffered serious political damage as a result of the false stories, deserves an apology.

In his September column criticizing the paper for being slow to report the ACORN videos, Hoyt wrote: "Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire. But others do, and a newspaper like the Times needs to be alert to them or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself." Worse than looking partisan, though, is being wrong.

ACTION: Encourage New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt to recommond that the paper investigate the ACORN videos and produce a report that clarifies the record.

CONTACT:
New York Times
Clark Hoyt, Public Editor
public@nytimes.com
Phone: (212) 556-7652

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010, 23:11 
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PBS to Replace Moyers, NOW With Newsweek Editor?
Meacham hire would send the wrong message

3/10/10

PBS is reportedly in final talks with Newsweek editor Jon Meacham to be co-host of its forthcoming Need to Know program (New York Times, 3/9/10). Meacham's consideration for a show that would replace hard-hitting independent programs Now and the Bill Moyers Journal sends a clear and troubling message about PBS's priorities (Extra! Update, 6/05).

Meacham is a fixture on commercial pundit shows in addition to his Newsweek duties. In these venues, he is a consummate purveyor of middle-of-the-road conventional wisdom with a conservative slant. After the 2008 election, Meacham (10/27/08) authored an article on America as a "center-right nation"--a conclusion based on dubious historical analogies (Sarah Palin is a kind of Thomas Jefferson) and cherry-picking national election results, casting aside evidence that would undermine the conclusion (FAIR Blog, 10/19/08).

He recently (FAIR Blog, 11/30/09) cheered on a Dick Cheney presidential run as "good for the Republicans and good for the country." Meacham had just months earlier (FAIR Blog, 1/12/09) argued that any critical investigations into the Bush/Cheney record on torture would be pointless ("the rough equivalent of pornography," as he put it).

Meacham's approach to journalism seems to be antithetical to the hard-hitting approach of Moyers and Now; he's called on journalists to "cover other institutions as you would want to be covered," with "charity and dignity and respect" (Meet the Press, 1/1/06). This Golden Rule approach to news was illustrated when he intervened in a Newsweek online story about Joe Scarborough, a personal friend who often invites Meacham on his cable show, to remove from the lead the fact that Scarborough had served as the defense attorney for the murderer of an abortion provider (FAIR Blog, 6/11/09).

Of course, some sources get more than their share "charity, dignity and respect," as when Meacham remarked about interviewing Rev. Billy Graham (Imus in the Morning, 6/27/05): "It was amazing. I went in and I realized this is what God probably was going to look like. The white hair, the blue eyes, he'll have a Southern accent, that's the way it should be, I think."

While Now and Bill Moyers Journal are notable for holding politicians feet to the fire, Meacham uses much more generous standards. After Cheney and right-wing Democratic Sen. Zell Miller gave speeches at the 2004 Republican National Convention that were filled with blatant distortions--accusing Democratic candidate John Kerry of being opposed to all U.S. weapons systems because he had voted against a Pentagon appropriations bill, for instance (FAIR Media Advisory, 9/3/04)--Meacham (MSNBC, 9/1/04) called it "a brilliant tactical night, one of the most brilliant in the age of television. These were two concise, rather devastating rhetorical hits at John Kerry.... They did not miss anything that they could hit."

Following the November 2009 announcement about the retirement of Moyers and the cancellation of Now, FAIR launched a petition (12/16/09) signed by over 14,000 people, calling on PBS to develop new programming that would feature the independent, outside-the-Beltway perspectives that appeared on those programs. PBS's response (1/22/10) was a recycled press release that didn't address any of the activists' concerns, instead asserting vaguely that "PBS is committed to maintaining the highest level of news and public affairs programming." This announcement suggests that that "highest level" is going downhill fast.

ACTION: Please write to PBS and tell them that choosing Jon Meacham to host Need to Know would mean that public television still needs to find suitable replacements for the hard-hitting, independent journalism of Now and Bill Moyers Journal.

CONTACT:
Michael Getler, PBS Ombud
Web Form: http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/feedback.html

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 16 Mar 2010, 17:47 
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CNN Scrapes Bottom of Right-Wing Barrel With Erickson Hire

March 16, 2010


Since Glenn Beck left Headline News for Fox, CNN executives apparently feel that their staff is short on unbalanced hatemongers. To make up the gap, they've just hired Erick Erickson as a political commentator.

"Prominent conservative commentator and RedState.com editor Erick Erickson will join CNN as a political contributor," CNN announced in a March 16 press release. "Erickson will appear weeknights on John King, USA, which launches Monday, March 22, as well as provide perspective and commentary to other programs across the network."

Who is Erickson? Well, he's a racist who declared that Barack Obama won the Nobel Prize because of "affirmative action quotas" (Think Progress, 10/9/09). He's a misogynist who suggested that "feminazis were enraged" by an anti-abortion Super Bowl ad because "that's what being too ugly to get a date does to your brain." He urged that "ugly feminists return to their kitchens" (Media Matters, 2/8/10). He's a homophobe who asserted that "the full gay rights agenda" means that "men and boys can have sexual relationships free of prudish moral people frowning" (Media Matters, 10/9/09).

He's an all-around nasty human being who, upon Justice David Souter's retirement, called him "the only goat-fucking child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court" (Crooks and Liars, 5/1/09). He declared that White House spokesperson Linda Douglass "really is the Joseph Goebbels of the White House healthcare shop" (TPM, 10/12/09). Meanwhile, he suggested that Obama might be worse than Hitler, writing, "Does it say more about the IOC or Obama that the IOC gave Hitler the Olympics, but not Obama?"

As if that weren't enough, he's also an advocate of political violence (Yglesias, 4/1/09):

Quote:
At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to Hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?

At some point soon, it will happen. It'll be over an innocuous issue. But the rage is building. It's not a partisan issue.... Were I in Washington state, I'd be cleaning my gun right about now waiting to protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation.


(Note that the tyranny to which he was calling for armed resistance involved regulation of dishwashing soap.)

If Erickson is not beyond the pale, then CNN has no pale.

ACTION: Please write to CNN and ask them to explain how hiring a commentator of Erick Erickson's ilk can possibly conform to the network's standards and practices.

CONTACT:
CNN Political Director Sam Feist
Email: sam.feist@turner.com
Telephone: 202-515-2852
Web form: http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form6a.html?2


Please post copies of your letters in the comments section on the FAIR Blog: http://www.fair.org/blog/2010/03/16/act ... -erickson/

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 Post subject: Re: FAIR Stuff...
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2010, 13:30 
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Will Face the Nation Factcheck Guest's Healthcare Lies?
CBS's Schieffer owes audience the truth

4/1/10

CBS's Face the Nation (3/28/10) covered the passage of healthcare reform by inviting Democratic National Committee chair Tim Kaine and two Republican critics on the program--one of whom spread misinformation that went unchallenged by host Bob Schieffer.

What's notable about this is that CBS has since posted on its website a debunking of the two claims made by the guest, conservative Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann from Minnesota.

At the very beginning of the interview, Bachmann explained her opposition to the new healthcare law: "Now we have the federal government, Bob, taking over ownership or control of 51 percent of the American economy. This is stunning. Prior to September of 2008, 100 percent of the private economy was private."

Schieffer's response was to point out that some of what she appeared to be talking about--the TARP bailouts--began under the Bush administration. A more important point to make, though, is that Bachmann's claim doesn't make sense. Government spending as a share of the country's gross domestic product is nowhere near Bachmann's claim. What she was apparently trying to say is that government bailouts of various industries are the same as "taking over ownership" of about a third of the economy, and that the new healthcare law amounts to a similar takeover of 18 percent of the economy--which adds up to over half of the economy. Since the government is not in fact "taking over" healthcare or the financial industry, the analogy makes no sense.

Another bit of evidence against the healthcare law that Bachmann offered was this: "The New England Journal of Medicine released a survey the week that President Obama signed Obamacare stating that over 30 percent of American physicians would leave the profession if the government took over healthcare."

The Journal neither conducted nor released any such study. A private physicians search firm posted a press release claiming this finding on the NEJM CareerCenter website, part of an employment newsletter published by the same company that publishes the Journal.

So much of the national debate over healthcare reform was marred by these types of wild exaggerations, many of which were not factchecked by journalists. It was encouraging, then, to see CBS publish a piece on its website by CBS associate news producer David Riedel (3/29/10) headlined "Bachmann Offers Big Numbers, Little Proof." Making that information available to a Web audience is important. But if CBS believes Bachmann's rhetoric was misleading, they should say so in the same place they gave her to make these claims. Correcting the record only on the Web--as ABC's George Stephanopoulos did when Rudolph Giuliani made inaccurate claims about 9/11 on Good Morning America (Extra!, 3/10)--does a disservice to your TV audience.

In an interview last year with Jon Friedman (Marketwatch, 5/15/09), Face the Nation host Schieffer expressed no tolerance for those who would mislead his TV audience: "When I asked him how he feels when subjects lie to him on the air or try to mislead the audience, he got right to the point. 'I want to jump across the table and choke them,' he said."

If he meant that, then he should tell his audience the truth.

ACTION:
Encourage CBS's Face the Nation to share its Web debunking of Rep. Michelle Bachmann's rhetoric on its upcoming April 4 broadcast.

CONTACT:
CBS Face the Nation
ftn@cbsnews.com
(202) 457-4481

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