Aug
09
2011

Richard Cohen: Even the Dow Jones Can't Make Obama Cry

There are plenty of thoughtful pieces–Drew Westen's in the New York Times over the weekend being the most recent one–that try to figure out what's going on with Barack Obama. Then there's Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen today (8/9/11), who begins by retelling a story about FDR: In her autobiography, Helen Gahagan Douglas recalled telling President Franklin D. Roosevelt about her visits to the camps of migrant workers. She was especially poignant about the children and their lack of Christmas toys when the president tried to stop her. "Don't tell me any more, Helen," FDR told the woman who is […]

Jul
29
2011

Where Does Press Set Bar for Bachmann?

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote a rather apoplectic column about presidential candidate Michele Bachmann this week, lamenting the fact that other GOP candidates aren't calling her out for being completely ill-prepared for the job: Bachmann does not deserve to be in the presidential race. Legislatively, she has done little, she knows next to nothing and what she thinks she knows is wrong. He also called her "an ignoramus" and "a bigot when it comes to gays." Straight news coverage obviously isn't going to put things like that. But what's remarkable is how reporters seem to give Bachmann credit for […]

Jun
07
2011

Richard Cohen, Oxymoron

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen writes (6/7/11): I once worked for an editor who banned the word "oxymoron." I don't know why. It's a good word, meaning a contradiction in terms. The dictionary offers some examples: "wise fool" and "legal murder." I would like to cite another: Barack Obama. He sends contradictory messages. That sounds reasonable enough–what are some good examples? Cohen writes: The fact remains, no matter what Obama says–and almost no matter what he does–the business community deeply feels that he is unsympathetic to them and their goals. They say all they want to do is make an […]

Apr
05
2011

Is There Really a Goldstone 'Retraction'?

The big Israel-Palestine news of the weekis Richard Goldstone's op-ed in the Washington Post on Sunday (4/3/11). The short version you pick up from the media is that Goldstone has "retracted"his UN-sponsored report on war crimes during Israel's Operation Cast Lead war in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009. The "retraction" language is fairly common–as in the New York Times headline (4/4/11),"Israel Grapples With Retraction on UN Report." But is there any realretraction? Goldstone, a retired South African judge, chaired a four-person fact-finding commissioninvestigating crimes committed by both sides. As he explains in his Post column, the Israelis refused […]

Mar
02
2011

Teach for America Is Great Because It's Great

Richard Cohen recently (FAIR Blog, 2/15/11) took to the Washington Post to argue that Teach for America is wonderful because…. Well, it just is. He predicted that the "best teacher in America" is likely to be drawn from the ranks of the program, which draws recent graduates from elite universities into the teaching profession. His only evidence of the greatness of this scheme was that the program is very competitive. On Sunday, George Will joined Cohen in praising Teach for America–more evidence, if any was needed, that TFA enjoys a great ride in the corporate media. In Will's column, was […]

Feb
15
2011

Richard Cohen's Teach for America Column Deserves a Failing Grade

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen's Teach for America column today (2/15/11) demonstrates a real problem with logic. "Cut Teach for America Funding and We'll Be Closer to Flunking the Future," declares the headline, with Cohen kicking things off this way: The best teacher in America was in Washington over the weekend. So was the best principal. I cannot name these individuals because they are early in their careers, and the truth of the matter is that I am just playing the odds. They are members of Teach for America, a kind of Peace Corps for the school room–a program so […]

Nov
30
2010

Richard Cohen Nails That Lying George W. Bush

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen uses WikiLeaks as a jumping off point to talk about George W. Bush's new book and the run-up to the Iraq War (11/30/10): As my colleague, the indefatigably indefatigable Walter Pincus, has pointed out, Bush manages to bollix up both the chronology and the importance of the various inspections of Iraq's weapons systems so as to suggest that any other president given the same set of facts would have gone to war. "I had tried to address the threat from Saddam Hussein without war," he writes. On that score, he is simply not credible. The […]

Sep
29
2009

Richard Cohen's Insults

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen writes today of Iran's nuclear program: They then turned themselves in to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and, as usual, said the site was intended for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. These Persians lie like a rug. Classy. The fact that this appears in a column chastising Barack Obama for not being serious enough only makes it worse ("Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States."). But it's worth remembering that Cohen also wrote that "only a fool–or possibly a […]

May
05
2009

Richard Cohen on Racism: Not a Problem!

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen uses theFrank Ricci Supreme Court case to attack affirmative action: The justification for affirmative action gets weaker and weaker. Maybe once it was possible to argue that some innocent people had to suffer in the name of progress, but a glance at the White House strongly suggests that things have changed. For most Americans, race has become supremely irrelevant. Everyone knows this. Every poll shows this. Maybe the Supreme Court will recognize this. First of all, affirmative action was never solely about racism–though the media have long made race their primary consideration in how they […]

Apr
29
2009

Does Torture Work, or Might Therapy Be More Effective?

A couple of recent FAIR Blog posts have dealt with apologists for torture: Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen and former CIA interrogator John Kiriakou, who misled ABC News about the effectiveness of waterboarding. What's striking is how they both offer the same insight into why torture is attractive–it met their post-September 11 psychological needs. Kiriakou told ABC (12/10/07): "At the time I was so angry and I wanted so much to help disrupt future attacks on the United States that I felt it was the only thing we could do." He sounds a lot like Cohen writing in the Post […]

Apr
28
2009

Richard Cohen's Torture Fantasyland

In his column today, Washington Post's Richard Cohen tells us that he is against torture, which itself is not remarkable. His real point is this: Yet the debate over torture has been infected with silly arguments about utility: whether it works or not. Of course it works–sometimes or rarely, but if a proverbial bomb is ticking, that may just be the one time it works. I refer you to the 1995 interrogation by Philippine authorities of Abdul Hakim Murad, an al-Qaeda terrorist who served up extremely useful information about a plot to blow up airliners when he was told that […]

Mar
17
2009

Financial Reporters' 'Very Complex' Basic Incompetence

Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 3/17/09) weighs in on Richard Cohen's defense of Jim Cramer, accusing the Washington Post columnist of "continuing the stream of excuses for the financial media's failure to warn of the economic crisis." Baker sees "an effort to imply that the issues involved were very complex" lying "at the center of the cover-up for the media's incompetence." Baker's reply to the Cohen claim that "there was not much they [financial reporters] could do, anyway. They do not have subpoena power. They cannot barge into AIG and demand to see the books, and even if they could, […]

Mar
17
2009

Richard Cohen on Jon Stewart's 'Cheap Shot'

Many observers praised the Daily Show's Jon Stewart for his hard-hitting interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer. Columnist Richard Cohen (Washington Post, 3/17/09) begs to differ. Actually, Stewart was "wrong" to go after Cramer, Cohen wrote–it was a "cheap shot at business media." His main argument is that Stewart charged that Cramer "knew all the time what was happening" at game-playing financial companies, but Cohen has a list of CEOs at such firms who lost money on their own company's stock, so even they must not have known what was really going on: "When someone puts his money where his mouth […]