Aug
23
2012

Politicians Lie–and Reporters Can't Report That

There's an interesting Politico story (8/22/12) about Andrea Seabrook, who until recently was a Capitol Hill reporter for NPR. She's moved on to a new independent reporting project, but it's what she said about her previous gig that's most revealing: "I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you're doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say," Seabrook told Politico. "And I feel like the real story of Congress right now […]

Jul
30
2012

Never Maverick McCain Back to Still Not Being Much of a Maverick

Political reporters, for whatever reason, have always had a lot invested in John McCain. Reporters were enthralled by McCain the "maverick" 2000 presidential candidate, advancing the campaign's theme that McCain was a different kind of Republican. There was never much to this act; McCain had a solidly conservative record before being lionized as a maverick. He briefly tacked to the middle after losing the Republican nomination in 2000, then was soon back to being one of the most reliably conservative Republicans in Congress. But the press that made the maverick storyline stick is stuck with it, and every so often […]

Jun
26
2012

This Just In: Hillary Clinton's Scrunchie

Take my word for it. Diane Sawyer, ABC World News (6/21/12): And now to the ongoing master class in letting your hair down, by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.These past few months, we've been watching her swig a beer, brandish a scrunchie without apology, and makeup free and telling everybody she doesn't care what they think. And today, donning wing-tipped purple glasses at the swearing in of a new assistant secretary whose favorite color just happens to be purple. Proof that nobody does unplugged quite like the secretary of state, who is leaving office by the end of the year. […]

May
24
2012

If GOP Was Anti-Racist, Why Wasn't Buckley a Democrat?

The conservative National Review, which has had a longstanding attachment to racism (FAIR Blog, 4/11/12) which it has lately shown signs of regretting, now has a cover story (5/28/12) by Kevin Williamson that argues that the Democratic Party is now and always has been the party of racism, while the GOP has always been the party of civil rights. Sample: That is because those Southerners who defected from the Democratic Party in the 1960s and thereafter did so to join a Republican Party that was far more enlightened on racial issues than were the Democrats of the era, and had […]

May
15
2012

The Only Beltway White Guy Pundits Too Hot for the Sunday Shows?

Norman Ornstein at the Center for American Progress.

Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann are well-known in the Beltway. They work at big-time think tanks (Brookings and American Enterprise Institute), appear on television chat shows, and write books and op-eds that powerful people pay attention to. Lately, though, it seems they've become dangerous men. Mann and Ornstein recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post (4/27/12) based on their new book. In it, they argued that whining about increased polarization or partisanship in politics obscures a central truth: This problem is not seen in equal measure on both sides. The headline summed it up: "Let's Just Say It: The […]

Mar
28
2012

Tom Friedman Likes Countries to Our Left– So Advocates Moving Ours Rightward

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is doing what he does best–traveling the world. In today's column (3/28/12) he finds that other countries' political systems– Australia and New Zealand–are well to the left of our own: In New Zealand and Australia, you could almost fit their entire political spectrum–from conservatives to liberals–inside the U.S. Democratic Party. And somehow both countries manage to confront big issues head on: a carbon tax and cap and trade. They have single-payer healthcare, income support for the poor, and so on. So what's the lesson for American politics? The same as always, according to Friedman. […]

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 […]

Mar
05
2012

Frank Bruni and the Media's Snowe Crush

If you want an example of how much corporate media love so-called moderate Republicans, look no further than Frank Bruni's New York Times column (3/4/12): Back in 1999, when I covered Congress, I had a kind of crush on Olympia Snowe. Many of us in the Senate press gallery did. Well, that's good to know. As Bruni tells it, Snowe "dared to disagree with her party," which is something pundits always say they want to see more of. But Snowe's record on this count has always been a bit exaggerated. Snowe often ended up arguing for minor tweaks to Republican […]

Jan
12
2012

NYT to Readers: Can You Handle the Truth?

New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane has a new column wondering if the readers of the Paper of Record want to know if the politicians the paper covers are telling the truth. Seriously. It's right here. He writes: I'm looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge "facts" that are asserted by newsmakers they write about. He even has a pretty good example: on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches "apologizing for America," a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a December 23 column arguing […]

Jan
03
2012

Grading George Will on Student Loan Debt

George Will (cc photo: Keith Allison)

George Will's January 1 column in the Washington Post was a laundry list of familiar criticisms of progressives and Democrats–they worry too much about climate change, for instance. Another non-problem, in Will's world, is student loan debt: Political logic suggests that this year Obama will try to rekindle the love of young voters with some forgiveness of student debts. But one-third of students do not borrow to pay college tuition. The average debt for those who do borrow to attend a four-year public institution is $22,000, and the average difference between the per-year earnings of college graduates and those with […]

Dec
16
2011

The New Anti-Corporate Populism Isn't So New

Last night (12/15/11), MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes were impressed by a new Pew poll–flagged by Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent–showing that a vast majority of the public believes that corporations and the wealthy have too much power. The picture one gets from the poll is pretty dramatic: The question that seemed most important to Maddow and Hayes was why Republican politicians aren't shifting their policies in response to this apparent surge in anti-corporate populism: MADDOW: The national sentiment right now being expressed to pollsters is that the people at the top are getting way too much of […]

Oct
25
2011

Meet the Press Panel: From GE to Morgan Stanley

There's an old joke about how the pundit spectrum in corporate media debates goes from GE all the way to GM. On Sunday's Meet the Press, viewers got a chance to see that joke come to life. On the panel was conservative former GE CEO Jack Welch, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks and NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell. The left end of the spectrum must have been former Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr., best known for his time leading the center-right Democratic Leadership Council. Nowadays Ford is a TV pundit (the "liberal" who advises Democrats to move further right) […]

Sep
27
2011

Wall Street Activists Talk Back to NYT

It is very unusual to see such direct criticism of the New York Times in the Times itself (9/27/11)–this is something to celebrate. To the Editor: Anyone who has spent a few days–or nights–in occupied Zuccotti Park near Wall Street this past week would have trouble recognizing what they've seen in "Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim," by Ginia Bellafante (Big City column, September 25). The protesters' numbers have been growing, not "dwindling," both in New York and in related occupations around the country. Though their views are diverse, what exactly unites them is anything but "impossible to decipher": […]