Extra! Update February 2007

    Flirting With Fascism

    NPR’s David Folkenflik (1/25/07) cited CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck as the kind of conservative pundit who believes that “severe rhetoric only drives people apart.” The Washington Post profiled Beck (1/26/07)—who also has a top-rated talk radio show and was recently hired as a commentator for ABC’s Good Morning America—as someone who doesn’t “traffic . . . in absolute truths and certitudes.” The New York Times (12/4/06) called him “brash” and “opinionated” with an “unfiltered approach,” reporting that he “take[s] credit for saying what others are feeling but are afraid to say.” The Times and the Post both criticized ...


    Staying Inside the Beltway

    One day after a mass anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., the networks’ Sunday morning talkshows (1/28/07) remained mostly unaffected by the expression of broad opposition to the war, keeping their discussions confined to the narrow spectrum of Beltway elites. Despite overwhelming public sentiment opposing the Iraq War—expressed in opinion polls and in the streets—the Sunday shows booked guests more representative of the center-right spectrum in official Washington. NBC’s Meet the Press featured pro-war Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and had a roundtable discussion with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); pro-escalation guests Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and former White House speechwriter ...


    NYT Pushing Drug Company Line

    The “Plan D” Medicare drug benefit came with so much confusion about deadlines, costs and gaps in coverage that one critical article (Nation, 1/30/06) was headlined “Plan D From Outer Space.” Perhaps critics’ biggest question: Why is the government forbidden to negotiate with the drug industry for lower prices? That idea makes so much sense that drug companies have been mounting a major effort to derail it, especially now that it’s been taken up by some congressional Democrats. A January 7 New York Times article—“Democrats’ Drug Plan Has Pitfalls, Critics Say,” by Robert Pear—seemed to be one success of this ...


    SoundBites

    The Barnum & Bailey Plot Reporting on a supposed foiled terror plot (1/22/07), ABC’s Pierre Thomas reported: “Sources tell ABC News that the plot may have involved moving between 10 and 20 suspects believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq into the United States with student visas—the same method used by the 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists who struck American targets on September 11.” In other words, the plot could have actually involved 46 suspects affiliated with the Barnum & Bailey Circus; the numerous qualifiers were a tipoff that ABC didn’t really know whether anything that the “sources tell” was true. ...


    Justifying a Lynching After the Fact

    Prominent legal observers and human rights groups have voiced strong criticisms of the trial and hasty execution of Saddam Hussein. NBC’s Tim Russert summed up the complaints about the trial by noting that “some people think that it could have gone longer and so forth” (Imus in the Morning, 1/3/07), though critics actually pointed to far more serious problems, like the fact that three of Hussein’s lawyers were assassinated during the proceedings (Washington Post, 6/21/06). A January 9 New York Times article by John Burns, though, seemed to be an attempt to justify the handling of Hussein’s case. Reporting on ...