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": […]

Sep
26
2011

CBS Celebrates 20 Years of Speaking…to Power

There's a piece at the CBS website (9/21/11) by Robert Hendin marking Bob Schieffer's 20 years hosting the network's Sunday morning show Face the Nation. Hendin, a senior producer for the show, writes: From the get go, Bob made his plans known. "Our aim is to going to be very simple here: to find interesting people from all segments of American life who have something to say and give them a chance to say it," he said that morning. The piece goes on to reveal–likely by accident–a lot about what they mean by "all segments of American life." So to […]

Aug
08
2011

Michele Bachmann: Covers Vs. Coverage

The right is apparently up in arms over this photo of Michele Bachmann that appears on the cover of this week's Newsweek: If someone wants to say this is an unflattering picture, fine. But Bachmann's supporters are unlikely to find much in Lois Romano's article to complain about. On the campaign trail, Bachmann's "simple, black-and-white distillations of complex problems are cheered as refreshing and tough." A campaign speech is a "folksy assault on a bloated federal government." Explaining Bachmann's apparent surge, Romano writes: Just months ago, Bachmann was the butt of jokes on late-night TV for her flawed grasp of […]

Jul
21
2011

NBC Finds 'Balance' in Debt Ceiling Poll

NBC (Nightly News, 7/19/11) did some polling to see what the public thinks about the Republican and Democratic positions on the budget and debt ceiling : CHUCK TODD: Now, look, any sort of deal is putting pressure on the bases of both parties. For Republicans, a large majority of the country is telling Republicans get off the no new taxes pledge and compromise, 62 percent. TEXT: NBC News/The Wall Street Journal Should Republicans Compromise? Agree to Raise Taxes Yes 62% No 27% TODD: But inside those numbers, tea party supporters, 65 percent of them say to Republicans, "No. Stick 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" […]