Jan
09
2013

Bill O'Reilly's Fact-Free War on Planned Parenthood

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Bill O'Reilly wants Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood for being an "abortion mill." In the real world, very little of their work is related to abortion services. But why let facts get in the way?

Nov
20
2012

You Think You're Getting Social Security But You're Not, Says Multimillionaire Banker

Lloyd Blankfein (photo: Stuart Isett)

What should the U.S. do about the so-called "fiscal cliff"? Who better to ask than Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, "one of the world's most influential bankers"? That's what CBS Evening News must have been thinking, anyway, when they did a segment last night (11/19/12) all about Blankfein's opinions. CBS's Scott Pelley began: "When we asked Blankfein how to reduce the federal budget deficit, he went straight for the subject that politicians don't want to talk about." BLANKFEIN: You're going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people's expectations. The entitlements, and what people think that they're going to […]

Nov
09
2012

Joe Klein: Obama's 'Moderate' Mandate

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Time magazine's Joe Klein found the lesson (11/7/12) in Obama's re-election. And it involves… wait for it… moving to the right: It will, and should, be argued that the election was a mandate for moderation. The last month of Mitt Romney‘s campaign, when he rushed to the center and suddenly made it a race, ratified the real will of the people: a sensible centrism that runs deeper than the over-caffeinated bluster that seems to dominate the media. The election hinted that the third rail of American politics–the certain death that comes to those who question entitlement programs like Social Security […]

Oct
22
2012

U.S. Media Ignore Toxic Legacy of U.S. Weapons

Doctor examining a baby in a Fallujah hospital (photo: Larisa Epatko/NewsHour)

The London Independent published a harrowing story on October 14, "Iraq Records Huge Rise in Birth Defects." The piece focuses on the legacy of the U.S war in Iraq, in particular the two massive U.S. military invasions of the city of Fallujah in 2004.  The Independent reports: High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiraling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad. […]

Oct
12
2012

Factchecking the Debate Moderator

With all the newfound interest in campaign factchecking in the corporate media (that enthusiasm shouldn't be confused with being good at it), it's worth remembering that it's not just the political candidates whose claims should be factchecked. The moderators should face some scrutiny too. Last night ABC's Martha Raddatz framed a question this way: Let's talk about Medicare and entitlements. Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive? Glenn Greenwald caught that one, and […]

Sep
06
2012

Please Tell Dems What Magic Words on Medicare Are

Washington Post "Factchecker" Glenn Kessler (9/6/12) doesn't like the way Democrats talk about Republican Medicare plans: The claim that Republicans will "end the Medicare guarantee" has been a frequent refrain at the convention, perhaps in response to factchecker complaints about the incorrect charge last year that Republicans would "end Medicare." But this phrase is a bit odd since there is no actual "guarantee" for any program that can be changed by some future Congress. The striking feature of Ryan's original Medicare plan was that when it's fully phased in, most seniors would not be able to afford healthcare.  Ryan's updated […]

Aug
21
2012

Niall Ferguson Can't Be Factchecked!

Niall Ferguson's Newsweek cover story "Hit the Road, Barack" has attracted lots of the wrong kind of attention. As Dean Baker put it: It's hard to believe that progressive bloggers didn't get together to pay Newsweek to run Niall Ferguson's piece on Obama. The thing is so shot full of easily identifiable errors no serious publication would ever allow it into print. But printed it was–a lengthy cover-story argument against re-electing Obama, based on an array of charts and economic facts that the Harvard professor believes bolster his case. The first–and arguably most important–error was flagged in a blog post […]

Aug
16
2012

ABC's Unrealistic Paul Ryan Reality Check

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 […]

Jun
29
2012

Public TV's Narrow Debate on Supreme Court and Obamacare

PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff introduced a panel discussion on the Supreme Court's Affordable Care Act decision (6/28/12) as a chance to get "some reaction and assessment from those who will deal with the law or had worked to overturn it." That set-up sounded like it a pretty narrow discussion was to follow–and it did. At the table was Karen Ignani, president of the insurance industry lobby America's Health Insurance Plans. So was former Republican Florida attorney general Bill McCollum, who sued the White House over the law. There was one advocate of Obamacare–Ron Pollack  of Families USA, a group […]

Jun
29
2012

The Race to Be First to Be Wrong at the Supreme Court

In corporate media there is always a race to be first to report a breaking story seconds before your competitors. It means nothing to the rest of the world–we're talking a matter of seconds, much of the time–but it's a point of pride in the news business to be first. Being right is more important, by several miles, and on that score a few prominent outlets failed spectacularly yesterday at the Supreme Court, telling viewers that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act had been struck down. The prime offenders on cable were Fox News (photo by @jasonkeath)  and […]

Jun
14
2012

WaPo's Plug for Health Insurer Misses the Deadly Fine Print

The Washington Post (6/11/12) had a story by headlined "Largest Health Insurer to Keep Key Parts of Law Regardless of Court Ruling." In the piece, reporter N.C. Aizenman relayed UnitedHealthcare's announcement that even if the Obama healthcare law is struck down by the Supreme Court, the company "will keep in place several key consumer provisions": The company will continue to provide customers preventive healthcare services without co-payments or other out-of-pocket charges, allow parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their plans, and maintain the more streamlined appeals process required by the law. UnitedHealthcare would also continue to […]

Apr
10
2012

Samuelson's Social Security Screed

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson really doesn't like Social Security and Medicare. And he'll go a long way to argue that they're wasteful, inefficient forms of welfare. (See Extra!, 10/11.) But his arguments rarely hold up. His most recent column (4/9/12) is no exception; in fact, it recycles a totally misleading factoid from a column he wrote last year. Samuelson's column has problems from top to bottom–you can read Dean Baker's dismantling of it at his Beat the Press blog: There is no trust fund, benefits cuts are necessary and inevitable, there are too many retirees supported by not very […]

Mar
06
2012

Sandra Fluke Controversy: Distraction or Revelation?

There seems to be a popular line emerging in the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke controversy that says his comments are especially harmful because they distract attention from the real issues. Kathleen Parker (Washington Post, 3/4/12): Inadvertently, Limbaugh also helped advance the argument from the left that Republicans are waging a war against women…. He has given his "feminazis" justification for their claims that conservatives hate women. Peggy Noonan (ABC's This Week, 3/4/12): But what he said was also destructive. It confused the issue. It played into this trope that the Republicans have a war on women. No, they don't, but he […]