Jul
02
2012

Do You Change the Weather When You Change the Climate? Yes

Illinois Drought

FAIR has noted the tendency of corporate media to play down the connection of extreme weather to climate change. (See Neil deMause’s piece in Extra!, 8/11.) This summer, as the country is beset by another devastating wave of drought and fires, the approach seems to be to acknowledge climate change–in the 10th paragraph–but end up by concluding that it’s impossible to say whether there’s any connection between climate change and any particular weather phenomenon. As in this L.A. Times piece (7/2/12): Since 2000, it has not been uncommon for wildfire seasons to end with a tally of 7 million to […]

Feb
08
2012

LAT: Where’s the Drone Deaths Coverage?

A Los Angeles Times editorial (2/7/12) begins: When the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism released a report Sunday claiming that U.S. drone strikes have killed dozens of civilian rescuers and mourners in Pakistan, the American media scarcely noticed. It’s a good point.The Bureau‘s report got remarkably little media attention. A New York Times story (which included an anonymous U.S. official smearing the researchers as Al-Qaeda sympathizers) might be the only story in the mainstream media; the only stories coming up in the Nexis news database are from Antiwar.com (2/5/12) and papers in Pakistan. The report was covered on Democracy Now! […]

Sep
21
2011

We Can’t Talk About Class Because We Can’t Talk About Why We Can’t Talk About Class

In the L.A. Times today (9/21/11), media reporter James Rainey asks a very important question: In a week that saw the number of people in poverty hit a half-century high and President Obama propose a tax increase on those with million-dollar incomes, will America and the American media finally dig in for a serious conversation about class? And his evaluation of the media’s performance on wealth-and-poverty issues accords with what FAIR has found when we’ve looked at the coverage (Extra!, 9-10/07, 6/10). Here’s Rainey’s take: Even though economists say the gap between haves and have-nots has been building for three […]

Aug
02
2011

Debt Ceilings and the ‘Balance’ Bias

There’s been plenty written about how reporters skew reality by treating “both sides” as equally intransigent or inflexible when it comes to the budget deficit battle. Another example, from the L.A. Times today (8/2/11): For Republicans, it was preventing any tax increase to upper-income families. For Democrats, it was ensuring no cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and a handful of other programs that aid the elderly and the poor. And for Obama, it was getting a deal that would end the threat of an economy-shaking default until after the 2012 presidential election. None of the key players was willing to […]

Jun
15
2011

Tea Party: Anti-Corporate Corruption Fighters?

Some in the press still seem to have trouble defining whatever it is that motivates the Tea Party movement. I noticed this in an L.A. Times piece last week (6/5/11): Americans possess a long-standing wariness of power and its potential as a corrupting influence, especially in the hands of large institutions. That instinct bred our government system of checks and balances and, more recently, led members of the “tea party” to embrace the nation’s founders (repackaged as a band of small-government crusaders) as the guiding lights of their movement. So “wariness of power” and the “corrupting influence” of “large institutions” […]

Jun
10
2011

Anonymous NATO: We Don’t Know Who Bombed That Tent

From the L.A. Times (6/9/11): A tattered tent, shreds of carpet and other scorched debris were all that were left of a favored retreat of Moammar Gadhafi just outside the Libyan capital, the aftermath of what appeared to be a NATO bombing run. Was the usually idyllic nature preserve a “command and control” center used by the Libyan military? Or was this an example of NATO attempting to assassinate the longtime Libyan dictator? A NATO official reached in Naples, Italy, late Wednesday emphasized that the Western alliance does not target people for killings, and the official would not confirm that […]

Jun
09
2011

Libya’s Lousy PR

One theme of the coverage of the NATO bombing of Libya is that the Libyan government is lousy at propaganda. It was somewhat jarring, though, to see all of these headlines in the space of two days this week. It’s worth pointing out– as some of these stories (and others) do– that the NATO bombing has intensified over the past few days, making these ‘no dead civilians here’ pieces seem curiously timed. I guess this could be seen as a message to the Libyan government: This is how the professionals do it. New York Times (6/7/11): “Libya Stokes Its Machine […]

Jun
07
2011

Reading the Headlines When the Left Wins

Two elections, different outcomes, different headlines at the Wall Street Journal (6/6/11). When the left loses: Portugal Decisively Ends Leftist Rule Portugal on Sunday voted decisively to end six years of leftist rule, electing the country’s main conservative party and boosting prospects for austerity measures tied to a $114 billion aid package from the EU and IMF. But when the left wins: Peru Votes in Divisive Runoff for President Voters in one of the world’s most dynamic economies went to the polls Sunday to choose between two divisive presidential candidates. The latter piece included this: “Financial markets, which have been […]

Apr
26
2011

Someone at the LAT Really Likes Paul Ryan

At his Beat the Press blog (4/23/11), Dean Baker caught this in the L.A. Times (4/23/11): Congress is on its first recess since Republican leaders unveiled a plan to end the federal deficit by dramatically changing Medicare, cutting other government programs and reducing taxes. As Baker points out, what the paper is referring to–the Paul Ryan budget proposal–does not “end the federal deficit.” As he put it: This is like saying they had a plan to fly to moon because they said they would build a rocket. The whole point is the specifics. How would they build a rocket? How […]

Apr
04
2011

Afghan War Is Over (If You Want It)

The Los Angeles Times‘ Michael Muskal explains Obama’s 2012 campaign: Running for reelection is different than running for the first time because the incumbent has a record that voters can evaluate. Obama will cite healthcare insurance overhaul, his administration’s response to the recession and his foreign policy, which includes winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Afghan War is winding down? Well, that would be news. Forget about Obama having “a record that voters can evaluate.” I’m moreconcerned about reporters’ inability to evaluate the present.

Apr
04
2011

LAT Finds Anonymous White House Truth-Teller

A brave, truth-telling whistleblower has emerged to tell the White House’s side of the story in the Libya War. The inside scoop appears in a Los Angeles Times article by Christi Parsons (4/2/11) headlined, “For Obama, a Carefully Calculated Delay on Justifying Libya Airstrikes.” Are you confused by the White House’s decision-making on Libya? Fear not–everything has gone according to plan. Like, for instance, the delay in public explaining the decision to bomb: The timing was deeply controversial, but was designed to be a major part of the message itself, unfolding as the U.S. chalked up a measure of achievement […]

Apr
04
2011

‘Revamping’ Medicare? The Word They’re Looking for Is ‘Slashing’

Few pieces better illustrate the uselessness of so much corporate media political journalism than Kathleen Hennessey’s piece in the L.A. Times (4/4/11) on Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s deficit reduction plan. The piece is headlined “House Republican Budget Plan Would Revamp Medicare,” and the lead explains that the GOP budget proposal outlined by Ryan “includes an overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid and would aim to chop at least $4 trillion from the federal deficit over the next decade.””Revamp,” an “overhaul”–well, that sounds good, doesn’t it? How does Ryan plan to do that, exactly? Despite reporting that Ryan’s “broad overview” offered “the […]

Feb
10
2011

Conflating Ousted Presidents and Former Dictators in Haiti

It was certainly surprising to see former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier return to the country on January 16. To say he hasblood on his hands is an understatement–the Duvalier regimes were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and widespread abuse, and stole millions of dollars from the country. Soon thereafter, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide announced his intention to return to his country.Aristide, twice elected andtwice removed from office, remains a popular figure in Haitian politics. His first stint in office was remarkably peaceful; his second, during which he faced armed attacks that eventually succeeded in overthrowing his government, was […]