Aug
31
2012

For Brokaw, It Doesn’t Get Better Than Global Warming Denial

Tom Brokaw

NBC‘s Tom Brokaw from the Republican National Convention last night (8/30/12): The best line, I think, in the speech was the one in which he said: “President Obama wants to slow the growth of the oceans, I want to help you and your family.” Yeah, wasn’t that great when Romney pretended we weren’t facing an ongoing global catastrophe, and made fun of people who thought we should do something about it? How can you top that?

Aug
31
2012

Factchecking the Minnows and Letting the Whales Swim Away

Mitt Romney at the RNC

In an attempted factcheck of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention, AP‘s Calvin Woodward (8/30/12) takes on Romney’s big laugh line: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet.  My promise is to help you and your family. Woodward looked into it and found that, indeed, Obama had said something like that. But aren’t the important factual questions here whether ocean levels actually are rising, and if so whether it’s possible to do anything about them? (The answers are “yes” and “yes,” as it turns out.) The Washington Post […]

Aug
29
2012

Hilarious Bill O’Reilly Spoof Site…. Right?

It appears someone has posted a hilarious send-up of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. On his site there’s a Talking Points commentary so wrong-headed and contradictory that it has to be a joke–and a pretty convincing one. “As you may know, we cover politics a bit differently here. We are not much on party propaganda or political bloviating,” the guy who looks just like Bill O’Reilly explained. He went on to say that his coverage from the Republican convention will not be the Republicans are good and Democrats are bad or vice versa. We are not in the business of […]

Aug
24
2012

Pointing Out How the Magician Does His Tricks Would Just Be Rude

Buddy the Bunny in a Top-Hat

In a New York Times story (8/24/12) about Mitt Romney’s energy proposals, reporters Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss make this observation: With gasoline prices again approaching $4 a gallon, Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is also trying to merge energy and economic policy in a way that will make voters see increased energy production as a pocketbook issue. Note that Lipton and Krauss don’t say that increased U.S. energy production will actually affect the $4-a-gallon price of gas and hence the voters’ pocketbooks; that would be inaccurate, since oil is a global commodity and it’s impossible for the U.S. […]

Aug
23
2012

Missing From LAT Report on Romney’s Energy Plan: Journalism

“Mitt Romney Sees Path to Energy Independence,” an L.A. Times piece by Seema Mehta (8/22/12), doesn’t mention climate change at all. It also doesn’t mention tar sands, the Canadian oil deposits whose extraction would devastate the environment, even though that’s what Romney’s talking about when he says that approving the Keystone pipeline will be one of the keys to energy independence for “North America.” Nor does it mention the ongoing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, even though that’s surely relevant to Romney touting offshore drilling as the other major piece of his energy plan. The story also leads […]

Aug
20
2012

Another Brave, Anonymous Campaign Whistleblower

The Washington Post has done it again. Reporter Felicia Sonmez (8/17/12) somehow got a  Republican campaign adviser to spill the beans on the Ryan/Romney relationship : A senior Republican adviser close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Ryan views Romney’s career as “a case study of some of the ideas that he has been immersed in and debating about for years.” “By his intellect and political upbringing, he is a natural champion for the success of the free-market system,” the adviser said of Ryan. “He’s a true believer in the free-market system. And so he […]

Aug
14
2012

Romney Whistleblower Comes Forward (Not Really)

Washington Post columnist Dan Balz has a big scoop from an anonymous source in today’s paper (8/14/12): The choice, like most vice presidential selections, also was a way for Romney to say something bigger about the kind of campaign he hopes to run. In that sense, advisers say, Ryan was “Mitt’s pick, completely.” “Stories talk about it being a bold choice,” said one senior Romney adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about the decision. “To me, it was a confident choice. He was very confident in himself, in Paul Ryan, in the campaign and in the […]

Aug
13
2012

PBS Does ‘Both Sides’ on Bogus Romney Welfare Attack

Some campaign disputes can be tricky to sort out. Others are not. That’s why media coverage that takes the both-sides-have-a-point approach can be so disappointing, if not dangerous. Take Mitt Romney’s recent claim that the White House was “gutting” the work requirements in the  1996 welfare “reform” law. As a Romney TV ad put it: “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.” That charge earned a “Pants on Fire” from PolitiFact (8/7/12), which pointed out that the policy change that is supposedly at issue […]

Aug
08
2012

Harry Reid, the New Joe McCarthy

Senator Harry Reid started a whole lot of trouble on the campaign trail when he told some Huffington Post reporters that he’d heard that Mitt Romney paid no taxes. As in zero. For an entire decade. Now there are reasons to be skeptical of Reid’s account. As Dana Milbank pointed out, Reid’s record does not inspire confidence. He says he got this scoop in a phone call with a Bain Capital investor. There is no other documentation or information to substantiate the allegation. Of course, Romney could settle the issue by releasing his tax returns– which is presumably why Reid […]

Jul
30
2012

Pundit Accountability: What an Idea!

Writing in Newsweek, Peter Beinart has a pretty good idea: America’s foreign-policy debate desperately needs some measure of accountability. I’m not suggesting that politicians and pundits who got Iraq wrong be banished from public life. (This standard would leave me looking for other work.) But neither should they be able to flee the scene of the disaster. Imagine if every time Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or John Bolton or John McCain or William Kristol was interviewed about military intervention in Iran or Syria, the interviewer began by asking what they’ve learned about the subject from their experience supporting the […]

Jul
20
2012

Objectivity and Its Opposite, ‘Objectivity’

Whigs vs. Tories

One of the most confusing terms in the media discussion is “objectivity.” In philosophy, it refers to a belief in a reality independent of the conscious mind, generally one that can more or less be known and meaningfully discussed. In journalism, on the other hand, it means “don’t scare away any potential customers.” “Objective” journalism emerged as newspapers realized that they were alienating potential readers by positioning themselves as a paper that saw the world through the lens of a particular party. Why be a Whig paper or a Tory paper, in other words, when you could be an independent […]

Jul
17
2012

Mitt Romney Swift Boats Himself

The criticism of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital doesn’t appear to be leaving the headlines.  And thus some political reporters are, as Jamison Foser notes, drawing an unusual comparison: Romney is being Swift Boated. The latest example comes from Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (7/17/12): In a sense, Romney deserves the Swift Boating he’s now getting from the Obama campaign and the president himself. In case you missed the 2004 campaign: The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was formed to cast doubt on John Kerry’s Vietnam War record. TV commercials were cooked up to expose Kerry as a fraud […]

Jul
17
2012

David Gergen Factchecks His Friends—and Financial Partners—at Bain

There are some pretty intense factchecking fights over what is true and not true about the Obama campaign’s claims about Romney’s record at Bain Capital. Media outlets are struggling with how to render a verdict; most seem to think Obama has exaggerated. But one outlet has found a voice willing to deliver a judgment. CNN has published a column (7/16/12) by veteran pundit David Gergen headlined: Facts don’t support Obama’s charges against Romney This is, for Gergen, pretty strong stuff; he’s a talking head whose head mostly talks about campaign strategy and the like. He’s not one usually to call […]