Jul
30
2010

Guerrilla Armed With Beer Sighted in Venezuela

The Washington Post's latest attack on Venezuela comes in an editorial headlined: "Colombia Proves Again That Venezuela Is Harboring FARC Terrorists." The editors don't say why a point already proved needs be proved again, but before offering the new evidence, they recount the old claim that laptops captured by Colombia from FARC guerrillas have clearly established links between the Venezuelan government and the FARC: That Venezuela is backing a terrorist movement against a neighboring democratic government has been beyond dispute since at least 2008, when Colombia recovered laptops from a FARC camp in Ecuador containing extensive documentation of Mr. Chavez's […]

Jul
30
2010

USA Today: Americans Continue to Support Afghan War–in 2001

A USA Today story by Susan Page (7/27/10), on the impact of the WikiLeaks revelations, reports that despite some erosion, "Most Americans continue to support the war in Afghanistan." To back up this assertion, Page cites Gallup poll findings (7/8-11/10) that 58 percent of Americans think it was "not a mistake" for the U.S. to have sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001. Clearly, though, it's possible to believe that U.S. troops should have been sent to Afghanistan in 2001 without thinking that they should still be there almost nine years later. Much more to the point was the July 11 […]

Jul
29
2010

Time Magazine: We Cannot Leave Afghanistan

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In case you thought the WikiLeaks story might change everything: The forthcoming┬áTime magazine (out tomorrow) has a cover photo of a disfigured Afghan woman with the headline "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan." The implication would seem to be that the Taliban will commit similar atrocities without the presence of U.S. forces. You can see the cover (and a portion of the story) here. Something tells me that no one at a the magazine's editorial meeting suggested a "What Happens If We Stay in Afghanistan" cover headline, which would have been accompanied by a photo of the corpse of an […]

Jul
29
2010

On ABC, Sundays Will Never Be the Same

When ABC announced that CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour would take over as host of their Sunday chat show This Week, there were rumblings about how different things would be. Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales wrote a nasty hit piece on Amanpour in which he worried thattheshow focuses on "inside-the-Beltway palaver, an area where Amanpour is widely considered to be deficient." He seemed to mean that was a bad thing. ABC president David Westin, meanwhile, wrote in amemo to ABC staffers,"With Christiane we have the opportunity to provide our audiences with something different on Sunday mornings." Something different, something not […]

Jul
28
2010

NBC's Chuck Todd, Sleepless and Depressed Over JournoList

For those of you not following right-wing non-stories, there is a mini-scandal brewing over something called JournoList, a now defunct private email list started by a liberal blogger named Ezra Klein. It came to include something like 400 members, many of whom were other liberal bloggers, academics and pundits. Someone leaked many of the emails on the list to the conservative Daily Caller website, which has since run several stories alleging that the messages on the list amounted to a liberal media plot to coordinate their coverage in support of Barack Obama. The only problem is that the messages don't […]

Jul
27
2010

More of Lara Logan's Media Criticism

Fresh from her comments slamming Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings for reporting things the military wouldn't like, CBS reporter Lara Logan weighed in on the WikiLeaks story on last night's CBS Evening News, where she argued that reporters should do more to stress the Taliban's record of killing civilians: KATIE COURIC: Also mentioned in these documents is the number of Afghan civilians who have been killed. How do you think this will damage the war effort? LARA LOGAN: Well, the issue of civilian casualties is a major one. And the U.S. has taken a lot of criticism because of this. However, […]

Jul
27
2010

WashPost on Wikileaks: *Yawn*

The stories in today's Washington Post tell you everything you need to know about the media establishment's reaction to the Wikileaks Afghanistan documents: WikiLeaks Disclosures Unlikely to Change Course of Afghanistan War By Greg Jaffe and Peter Finn …The documents' release could compel President Obama to explain more forcefully the war's importance, military analysts said…. Senior White House officials said the classified accounts bolstered Obama's decision in December to pour more troops and money into a war effort that had not received sufficient attention or resources from the Bush administration…. In the near term, the Obama administration seems intent on […]

Jul
27
2010

NYT Op-Ed Writer Bored by WikiLeaks' Revelations on Afghan Deaths, Civil War

Former special ops squad leader/current think tank fellow Andrew Exum noisily yawns at the WikiLeaks Afghan document release on the New York Times op-ed page today (7/27/10): The news media have done a good job of showing the public that the Afghan war is a highly complex environment stretching beyond the borders of the fractured country. Often what appears to be a two-way conflict between the government and an insurgency is better described as intertribal rivalry. And often that intertribal rivalry is worsened or overshadowed by the violent trade in drugs. As it happens, Extra! (12/09) devoted an entire article […]

Jul
26
2010

Leaked Reuters Memo Suggests Reporters Should Keep Their Ideas to Themselves

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Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger sent a memo to staffers on July 8 with the subject line "How Social Media Impacts Your Professional Life," suggesting new rules for journalists' private expressions of opinion. So far, the memo seems to have only been discussed on a German language media blog (Ruhr Barone, 7/22/10). Jumping off from the cases of Dave Weigel and Octavia Nasr, who had to leave jobs at WashingtonPost.com and CNN, respectively, after their online communication became controversial, Schlesinger declares that "in a linked and searchable world, your online persona can reflect on how or even whether you can do […]

Jul
26
2010

Missing the Point on Shirley Sherrod

The lesson of the Shirley Sherrod story would seem to be a simple one:A conservative blogger with a history of promoting inaccurate, racially chargedstories published another one, and people in the media (not to mention the White House) fell for it–again. But New York Times reporter Matt Bai wrote a piece in the paper's Week in Review section (7/25/10) that soughtto make things a lot more complicated. Under the headline, "Race: Still Too Hot to Touch," Bai laments that the country is still not having a meaningful discussion about race: In many ways, Ms. Sherrod's ordeal followed a depressingly familiar […]

Jul
26
2010

How Important Are Dead Afghan Civilians?

The story of the day is obviously the large pieces in the London Guardian and the New York Times that are based on tens of thousands of documents related to the Afghanistan War published by WikiLeaks. The leak is already being compared to the Pentagon Papers. How newspapers determine what is most newsworthy about the leaks is interesting. The Guardian's lead is: A huge cache of secret U.S. military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and NATO commanders […]

Jul
23
2010

Sherrod Hoax Exposed, but Breitbart's ACORN Fraud Lives On

Reporting on Andrew Breitbart's latest bit of deceit–using a selectively edited video to paint a low-level USDA official Shirley Sherrod as a racist–has given the media a chance to resurrect one of their favorite myths: Breitbart's triumphant takedown of the community-organizing group ACORN. In September 2009, Breitbart's website BigGovernment.com posted videos, made by conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, supposedly showing ACORN employees counseling the pair–ostensibly pretending to be a prostitute and a pimp–on how to avoid paying taxes and other illegal activities. The videos were later found to be completely misleading. Among other things, it was revealed that […]

Jul
23
2010

Howard Kurtz Absolves Fox in Sherrod Smear

Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz (7/22/10) defends Fox News against charges it promoted Andrew Breitbart's fraudulent Shirley Sherrod story–because, he says, Fox's news division didn't even address the story until after Sherrod resigned. In an extensive defense of Fox, Kurtz also cites an e-mail circulated by a Fox executive to the channel's news division, cautioning news staff to be careful with the story. Here's Kurtz: But for all the chatter–some of it from Sherrod herself–that she was done in by Fox News, the network didn't touch the story until her forced resignation was made public Monday evening, with the […]