Sep
25
2012

Ted Koppel's Terrible Media Criticism

koppel

TV news veteran Ted Koppel has done two pieces on NBC's Rock Center that attempt to critique the partisanship of today's media system. But what the reports really illustrate is that some people aren't very good at playing media critic–especially when they feel obligated to suggest that "both sides" are equally at fault. Koppel's first report (9/13/12) looked at right and left watchdogs, "an industry out there on both sides monitoring and recording anything that could hurt the political opposition." That "industry" consists of the liberal  Media Matters for America and the right-wing Media Research Center. As Koppel explains, "You […]

Sep
20
2012

Quantifying 'Muslim Rage'

Newsweek's "Muslim Rage" cover

Sometimes very little can tell you a lot. Here's Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News, updating viewers on protests that are linked to that famous anti-Islamic video: Overseas tonight, new and deadly retribution from that amateur Internet film that's enraged much of the Muslim world. The "Muslim world" is, well, enormous–somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion people. A good question that doesn't get asked enough: How many Muslims are out protesting this video anyway? A helpful analysis comes from Dan Murphy at the Christian Science Monitor ("Is the Islamopocalypse Really Upon Us?," 9/17/12). He writes: While sensational headlines have […]

Feb
01
2012

Iran: This Is What Propaganda Looks Like

Alarmist corporate media coverage of the "threat" from Iran is everywhere, thanks to a Senate appearance yesterday by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. But Clapper said very little in his remarks that would justify the propagandistic coverage we're seeing. His main point was that Iran could launch attacks if it felt threatened. It is hard to see how this is particularly surprising. Clapper pointed to the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington D.C. as evidence that Iran seems more eager to assert itself, perhaps even inside the United States. But there were many people who […]

Oct
11
2011

Afghan War: NBC Lets the Generals Do the Talking

NBC Nightly News (10/7/11) marked the 10th anniversary of the Afghan War on October 7 with a segment that linked the war to the Occupy Wall Street protests. As anchor Brian Williams put it in the introduction: Tonight protesters remain in the streets of a dozen U.S. cities, angry over what's happened to their lives and our country; and a big part of that, over these last 10 years, the two wars we've been fighting, starting 10 years ago today. This is the anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan, longer now than World War II and the […]

Oct
03
2011

Chris Christie Doesn't Say He's NOT Running for President!

The New York Times had a headline on Saturday that read, "Imagining a Christie Campaign for President." That seems appropriate–if we're talking about how it's the corporate media doing the imagining. On ABC's This Week (10/2/11), Jonathan Karl announced that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's speech at the Reagan Library "was the most electrifying event of the campaign so far." That speech was treated like a big event on the NBC Nightly News (9/28/11), with anchor Brian Williams saying up front that Christie is "the man whose every word is being watched and listened to so very carefully." Reporter Chuck […]

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 […]

May
31
2011

NBC's Investigation of Patriot Act

There was some Congressional debate over extending certain parts of the Patriot Act last week– this Institute for Public Accuracy release is a helpful guide to some of the criticisms of the Act. But don't let anyone tell you there wasn't much coverage of this. On Friday, NBC Nightly News skipped reporting on what was at stake and went right for what really matters: May 27, 2011 Friday BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Back in D.C., a four-year extension of the revised Patriot Act passed by Congress was signed into law minutes before midnight last night. You would be correct to ask, […]

Sep
29
2010

The Lessons Learned From Killing Afghans

An important story is happening right now that's not getting a whole lot of media attention. A military court is investigating claims that members of a U.S. Army Stryker unit randomly killed Afghan civilians. Some of the soldiers say they were pressured by a commanding officer into participating in the crimes. There are also reports that soldiers took photos of the dead Afghans, along with body parts. One of earliest accounts I'd read of the story appeared in the British media (Guardian, 9/9/10). The basic outline of the story was recounted in a New York Times story on September 27. […]

Aug
25
2010

Brian Williams Rehashes Katrina Violence Myth

Dateline NBC (8/22/10) did a special look back at Hurricane Katrina last weekend in anticipation of the disaster's five-year anniversary. Watching the collage of 2005 footage and Brian Williams' present-day commentary, I was struck by his characterization of the violence: You know, I've been around a lot of guns and a lot of dead bodies, and a lot of people shooting at people to make dead bodies. But you put them all together and you put it in the United States of America and boy, it gets your attention. You can't shake that…. It was clear already there weren't going […]

Aug
20
2010

What Do War Critics Think? Well, Ask One

During an August 18 segment about the Iraq War, anchor Brian Williams said (emphasis added): Let's bring into this conversation retired U.S. Army Colonel Jack Jacobs. He's a decorated combat veteran, a recipient of the Medal of Honor and, of course, an NBC News military analyst. Well, at this point, people like me always ask people like you, what have we learned. Critics of this war are always going to look at it as an elective. They're always going to say those 9/11 pilots weren't Iraqis. And they're always going to say we never found the weapons of mass destruction. […]

Apr
22
2010

'The Money Is Not There' for Education, NBC Says–So Where Did It Go?

Brian Williams introduced a report on NBC Nightly News (4/21/10) with this declaration: "Public schools from coast to coast in this country are looking at tens of thousands of layoffs, a lot of them teachers, because the money is not there." Correspondent Ron Allen went on to report: In Springfield, Illinois, thousands of teachers turned out to try to save their jobs and programs; music, art and sports activities all being threatened with elimination. Many school districts are hoping for federal stimulus help, but in the meantime are locked into longer teacher contracts and higher salaries for tenured teachers. Some […]

Mar
06
2009

NBC's 'Good Model' for Healthcare

The night before Obama's big healthcare summit, NBC Nightly News offered some advice. "There's a place where policymakers could look for some tips on how an affordable, well-run system operates," anchor Brian Williams told viewers. "It is already running here in the U.S." Correspondent Robert Bazell explained: "Many experts agree that whatever happens in the health reform debate, a good model is Kaiser Permanente." Bazell went on to describe how Kaiser's salaried doctors "have no incentive to order unnecessary tests or office visits." He also pointed to cost savings from use of electronic medical records. "To be sure, patients sometimes […]