Dec
01
2010

SoundBites

December 2010

Heads GOP Wins, Tails Dems Lose

The Sunday after the midterm elections (11/7/10), Meet the Press featured two conservative Republican guests, Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.). That’s only natural, right, because the GOP did so well in the elections?

Flash back to November 12, 2006, when Meet the Press’s then-host Tim Russert announced:

Our issues this Sunday: The voters send a loud and clear message to the White House, and give the Democrats control of the House and the Senate for the first time in 12 years. What now for the Republicans? We’ll ask a man who is positioned to seek the GOP nomination for president in 2008: Sen. John McCain of Arizona. What now for the Democrats? We’ll ask a man who lost a Democratic primary, but was just re-elected as an independent.

Inventing Reasons for Tea Party Non-Grievance

Contrary to the standard right-wing whine about mainstream media neglect, actual Tea Party activists contacted by the Washington Post’s Amy Gardner (10/27/10) saw things differently: “Seventy-six percent of local organizers said that coverage of their groups is either very fair or somewhat fair. Only 8 percent said coverage has been very unfair; 15 percent said somewhat unfair.” Gardner suggested that “perceptions of antagonism between the Tea Party and traditional news media are overstated,” but even she felt the need to suggest that there had been some basis for conservative grievance:

Media coverage of the tea party has evolved markedly since the groups first began forming in February 2009. Major news outlets paid little attention to the first wave of tax-day protests in April 2009 and even a large march the following September in Washington.

Those April 2009 protests were actually prominently featured on every network newscast (FAIR Blog, 4/16/09). And the September 2009 march got massive coverage—far more than the similarly sized National Equality March for lesbian/gay civil rights that occurred soon after (Extra!, 12/09).

Pay Cuts for Everyone (Except Me!)

Under the headline “Wage Cuts Hurt, but They May Be the Only Way to Get Americans Back to Work” (10/13/10), Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein argued that “structural adjustments”—that is, lower pay—“are necessary if the U.S. economy is to find a new equilibrium.” But he made clear that a 20 percent pay cut sure isn’t for everyone:

I’m sure many of you are reading this and thinking that if anyone is forced to take a pay cut to rebalance the economy, surely it ought to be overpaid investment bankers, corporate executives and newspaper columnists. That’s how things would work in a socialist paradise, but not in market economies, which are much better at producing efficiency than fairness.

While it’s hard to see investment bankers, whose industry survives because of a massive government bailout, as paragons of free market efficiency, his inclusion of newspaper columnists is even less convincing: It’s clearly inefficient for the Post to pay Pearlstein so much when they could get columns of a similar caliber for a lot, lot less.

Prosecute the Messenger

ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer (10/22/10), presenting a report on WikiLeaks’ exposure of thousands of classified documents from the Iraq War, noted that “Arab television is already trumpeting the revelations.” Sawyer then turned to ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz, who summarized the contents of the WikiLeaks files: “deadly U.S. helicopter assaults on insurgents trying to surrender...the Iraqi civilian death toll far higher than the U.S. has acknowledged...graphic detail about torture of detainees by the Iraqi military.” After Raddatz’ report, Sawyer offered this followup: “I know there’s a lot of outrage about this again tonight, Martha. But tell me, anything more about prosecuting the WikiLeaks group?”

Why Isn’t the Obama Tyranny Killing More Journalists?

On the FoxNews.com website (10/25/10), “frequent contributor” and Bush State Department alum Christian Whiton complained bitterly that the Obama administration hasn’t declared the WikiLeaks team to be “enemy combatants” and taken them out via “non-judicial actions.” It’s hard to think of another country where the opposition news media complains that the government doesn’t assassinate enough journalists.

Catching Brutal Cops on Tape Might Make Them Shy

USA Today (10/15/10) ran a valuable article by Kevin Johnson, “For Cops, Citizen Videos Bring Increased Scrutiny,” on the use of video to document police brutality—citing numerous examples where public recording was instrumental in exposing violent behavior on the part of cops. The piece also included the perspective of cops who don’t want to be videotaped, who produced zero evidence for their assertions that such taping “has had a chilling effect on some officers who are now afraid to act for fear of retribution by video.”

USA Today’s editors, though, put those unsubstantiated claims in the article’s subhead in the print edition—“Are Incidents Caught on Tape Hindering Officers?”—as well as in the main headline over the continuation of the story on page 2: “Some Fear Videos Create a ‘Chilling Effect’ by Making Police Hesitant.” Evidence-free complaints by public officials, apparently, were seen as more important than citizen journalists’ documented successes in holding those officials accountable.