Jan
31
2012

Loose Lips Sink Drones

Barack Obama did something yesterday that government leaders tend not to do: He talked about the CIA drone war in Pakistan. This admission–which, it should be pointed out, happened in a Google-sponsored Q & A with the public, not a session with reporters–made it into the papers. The New York Times (1/31/12) flagged civilian deaths as the most newsworthy aspect, headlining a report by Mark Landler “Civilian Deaths Due to Drones Are Not Many, Obama Says.” Landler writes: Mr. Obama, in an unusually candid public discussion of the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert program, said the drone strikes had not inflicted […]

Oct
19
2011

O’Reilly as Paul Revere: ‘1 if by Land, 17 if by Sea’

The country is on the brink of bankruptcy, Fox host Bill O’Reilly warned last night–all because Barack Obama is spending too much money. Drastic cuts are required, but “the far-left loons want to spend more.” And he’s got the number to prove it: In 2007, during the Bush administration, federal deficit spending was $161 billion, despite the Iraq and Afghan wars. Four years later under President Obama, the deficit spending is $1.3 trillion, eight times as much. To be fair, the economy collapsed on Bush’s watch, and both Republicans and Democrats committed almost a trillion dollars to prop up the […]

Jul
27
2011

The Secret of Rick Perry’s Texas Jobs Miracle? Government Jobs

The speculation about whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry will jump into the Republican presidential race boils down to one word: Jobs. Perry’s state has been generating jobs at an impressive rate–which Perry likes to think is due to low taxes and lax regulations. Some of the coverage points to important caveats–the booming oil economy, for instance, and rapid population growth both make Texas fairly unrepresentative. Today the Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece by Ana Campoy and Sara Murray about the Texas miracle. The papers shows that many of these jobs are in the public sector; a million total […]

Jul
18
2011

Murdoch’s Journal Defends Bosses on News Corp Scandal

In the wake of the News Corp scandal and the resignation of their own paper’s publisher/CEO, the editors of the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal came out swinging today (7/18/11) against critics who would question the Journal‘s own standards and even “perhaps injure press freedom in general.” Today’s editorial first goes for deflection: Scotland Yard’s failure to stop the hacking is “more troubling than the hacking itself,” and “it is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt […]

Jul
14
2011

The Strangeness of Afghan Culture

The end of a Wall Street Journal article (7/14/11) on a new report on Afghan deaths highlights the peculiarity of their culture: Of civilian casualties, 2 percent were caused by night raids, slightly down from last year, with 30 fatalities, the report says. Night raids have been a contentious issue between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. military officers and civilian leaders. The raids are sensitive in Afghanistan, because foreign soldiers burst into civilian homes, where strangers are unwelcome in the country’s conservative Islamic traditions. What a strange place. I guess in a civilized society, when a foreign soldier bursts […]

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 […]

May
25
2011

‘Obama Can’t Win’ Author Sees 2012 Defeat

On the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, conservative pundit Shelby Steele lays out the argument that Barack Obama’s blackness is a unique asset that makes him difficult to beat in 2012. The argument–which, on some level, is worth taking seriously–is that “his presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to compete with. He literally validates the American democratic experiment, if not the broader Enlightenment that gave birth to it.” You can see how this might be true for a segment of the American population–I wrote in 2007 about pundits who made such arguments–but it’s unclear […]

Mar
16
2011

On Islamist Terrorism, WSJ Entitled to Its Own Opinions–But Not Its Own Facts

Rep. Peter King

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial (3/11/11) defended the Peter King hearings on Islamist terrorism against “our friends on the left [who] are busy portraying them as the McCarthy hearings and Palmer Raids rolled into one.” The editors argued that in fact, the focus on Muslims is justified based on the facts: Since 9/11, there have been more than 50 known cases, involving about 130 individuals, in which terrorist plots were hatched on American soil. These include plots to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, an office tower in Dallas, a federal court house in Illinois, the Washington, […]

Feb
28
2011

WSJ and the Disappearing ‘Gasland’ Quote

The documentary Gasland was up for an Academy Award last night. Director Josh Fox has been writing about the gas industry’s campaign against the film, which is a critical look at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” That controversy found its way to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, where a story byBenCasselman was posted that included an interesting admission. As Press Action noted: In the original version of the article, Casselman, who has covered the energy industry at the Journal for several years, quoted Range Resources-Appalachia director of public affairs Matt Pitzarella as saying: “We have to stop blaming documentaries and […]

Jan
07
2011

Center Moves to the Center, Courting the Middle

Obama’s selection of conservative Democrat William Daley as his new chief of staff didn’t surprise anyone.So reporters were left to explain the political shift behind the move. Some saw little movement at all, since Daley’s political views would seem more or less in line with his predecessor Rahm Emanuel. The Washington Post (1/7/11)offered this somewhat confused explanation: His moderate views and Wall Street credentials make him an unexpected choice for a president who has railed against corporate irresponsibility and tried, with limited success, to appease restive liberals who think he has not been tough enough on bankers. Actually, the opposite […]

Oct
18
2010

‘Capitalism Saved the Miners’? Part Two

The emerging hero of the Chilean miners’ story–in Latin America and elsewhere, if not in the U.S.–is Luis Urzua, a topographer who took a job at the San José mines as a shift foreman while awaiting the start of new a job in his field. NASA officials working on the rescue called Urzua “a natural leader,” but his most important accomplishment was getting the 33 miners through the first 17 days of their crisis, when all they had was enough food for two days, dirty water and no idea if a rescue effort was even underway. Besides implementing food rationing […]

Oct
15
2010

‘Capitalism Saved the Miners’? Only in Wonder Land

After the miners’ rescue Wednesday, talk in Chile turned to mine safety and the conduct of Compania Minera San Esteban, the corporation that owns the San Jose mines where the miners were trapped. On Thursday, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera publicly addressed safety issues, vowing “fundamental changes in how businesses treat their workers.” Stories about San Esteban’s horrible record are legion (e.g., here and here). The company has been host to a number of deaths at its mines in recent years, and accusations of safety violations including the charge that it ignored orders to install safety equipment–a condition of its reopening […]