Media: What’s This Spending Doing in My Stimulus?

There’s a trope that you often see in corporate media discussions of the stimulus plan: Yeah, but do you really want to spend money on that? It may have started with the misrepresented contraceptive plan–which seemed to be grounded in a traditional media fascination/embarrassment at anything involving sex–but now it’s moved on to anything that…well, it’s hard to say exactly what’s objectionable about some of the programs media are objecting to. Take this confused passage from an L.A. Times editorial (2/2/09): But too many of the items have little apparent connection with economic growth–witness the nearly $5 billion for prevention, […]


Guantanamo Defenders Finally Have Their Say

There are two problems with William Glabersonâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s New York Times News Analysis piece (12/10/08), ‘Relatives of 9/11 Victims Add a Passionate Layer to Guantanamo Debate.” Let’s start with the lead: After the detainees charged with the plotting of the September 11 attacks discussed confessing this week, something unusual was heard here: a vigorous public defense of Guantánamo. “Guantánamo Bay has gotten a bad rap,” said Alice Hoagland, whose son was killed in the 2001 attack. Itâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s not at all unusual to hear people defending Guantanamo; itâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s a staple of right-wing punditry and talk radio. Government officials have offered self-serving tours […]


The Media’s Healthcare Debate

Two disappointing reports in major newspapers on the healthcare debate. In the Los Angeles Times, Noam Levey writes (“Consensus Emerging on Universal Healthcare“) that the momentum for real change is obvious in Washington–but that it only goes so far: The idea of a federal, single-payer system patterned on those in Europe and Canada, long a dream of the political left, is now virtually off the table. One might well reach such a conclusion if you only talked to the people Levey quoted in his article: -“Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, a leading trade group whose […]


The L.A. Times Must Think You Won’t Click Its Links

It says something for the weakness of your argument when you have to turn your opponents’ argument on its head. Take the L.A. Times editorial today (11/24/08) headlined “An Unfair Litmus Test.” The editorial claims that “some ardent supporters of Barack Obama are aggrieved because the president-elect’s emergent national security team includes supporters of the Iraq War,” and argues that “making opposition to the war a litmus test for service in the new administration would be both unfair and impractical.” But are the complaints from the left really that supporters of the Iraq invasion are not being treated as “pariahs,” […]


The Peculiarities of Afghan Society

New reports of civilian casualties in Afghanistan (37 dead) were covered in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. The story provides a decent sense of thedeath toll, but near the end makes a rather bizarre point (see bold): Afghan weddings are traditionally large, drawn-out affairs, and wedding parties several times have been the target of errant airstrikes, in part because from the air the gatherings can appear similar to concentrations of Taliban fighters. In Afghanistan’s clan-based society, civilian deaths can cause otherwise peaceable villagers to declare a vendetta against those they consider responsible for killing their kin–in many cases, Western […]


Obama vs. Fall Out Boy: Who Is More Popular?

James Rainey of the L.A. Times (10/22/08) quotes a colleague dismissing the size of Barack Obama’s crowds as an indication of the Obama campaign’s chances in November: “Fall Out Boy gets crowds this big,” Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal said at the Miami rally, referring to the pop punk band. “But I don’t think they are going to end up in the White House. “You can’t learn anything about the outcome based on how big the crowd is,” Weisman continued. “These are the people who are already convinced.” Of course, this is silly–you don’t compare the size of […]