Sep 1 2012


Extra! September 2012

Not Prone to Violence–Unless You Count Domestic Violence

A New York Times piece by Lizette Alvarez (7/13/12) starts: “A wide-ranging investigation of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, found a man not prone to violence or prejudice and who moved easily between racial and ethnic groups–a ‘decent guy,’  ‘a good human being.'” Four paragraphs later, we get more detail on this “man not prone to violence”:

During an argument with his ex-fiancee…he slapped her in the mouth because she was chewing gum. As the two were breaking up, they pushed each other forcefully, and he kicked her dog in the stomach, she said.

And he doesn’t show signs of prejudice–aside from that “MySpace page Mr. Zimmerman once kept where he went on a rant about the Mexicans in his old Virginia neighborhood, saying they would mess with cars and pull knives.”

The Drone Wars’ Toll…on U.S. Pilots

The New York Times published an in-depth report (7/30/12) on the impact of the drone war–on the people who fly them by remote control. As reporter Elisabeth Bumiller put it, “Drones are not only revolutionizing American warfare but are also changing in profound was the lives of the people who fly them.” Or not so profound: One pilot said that “when the call comes in for him to fire a missile and kill a militant…the hair on the back of his neck stands up.” Another objects to comparing what he does to a video game: “I don’t have any video games that ask me to sit in one seat for six hours and look at the same target,” he said. Bumiller summed up:

Of a dozen pilots, sensor operators and supporting intelligence analysts recently interviewed from three American military bases, none acknowledged the kind of personal feelings for Afghans that would keep them awake at night after seeing the bloodshed left by missiles and bombs.

Thanks to Bumiller for reassuring us that the people launching drone strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2/4/12) aren’t losing any sleep over it.

Fake News Is Much More Exciting

“OWS MURDER LINK,” declared the New York Post‘s front page (7/11/12), announcing a report that DNA from the scene of the 2004 murder of Julliard student Sarah Fox had supposedly been matched with DNA from a chain used to hold open a subway gate in an Occupy Wall Street protest. Inside, under the headline “OWS Link to ’04 Gal Slay,” the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper had 37 paragraphs on the story, along with three large photographs with a caption asserting that “DNA from a March Occupy protest (above) has been linked to the murder.”

When the story quickly evaporated–the New York Times reported (7/12/12) that “it appeared that the DNA recovered…came from a Police Department employee who works in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner”–the Post gave its follow-up story to the previous day’s front-page story four whole paragraphs, under the headline “’04 Slay DNA ‘Contaminated.'”

Apparently unreliable police work isn’t as exciting a story as a sensational smear against a progressive protest movement.

O’Reilly as Revere: The Disabled Are Coming

Bill O’Reilly (O’Reilly Factor, 7/5/12) complained that there are too many disabled people in America: “Twenty years ago, in June 1992, there were 3,300,000 Americans receiving federal disability payments. Today, 20 years later, that number is a record 8,733,000 workers on disability.” The Fox host wasn’t buying it: “Why has the disability rate increased more than 100 percent? I’ll tell you why. It’s a con. It’s easy to put in a bogus disability claim.”

And according to O’Reilly, who said, “Unfortunately, I have to be Paul Revere,” this is a sign that “the country is in steep decline”:

More than 100 percent increase on the taxpayer dime. And that dime is getting a lot smaller.

In 1984, 85 percent of American workers paid federal income tax–85 percent. Now? 51 percent pay federal income tax. A decline of 34 percent. Why? Because of social justice, because the feds are allowing Americans who don’t make much money to pay no income tax.

Unfortunately for O’Reilly’s analysis, disability insurance isn’t paid for out of income tax–it’s covered by Social Security taxes, which all workers pay. (It’s actually a regressive tax, since it’s not paid on income over $110,000.) This is what happens when, like O’Reilly, you rely on a right-wing comic strip to do your research for you: “By the way, I want to thank our pal Bruce Tinsley, who writes the Mallard Fillmore cartoon strip, for tipping me off to the federal tax number.”

CBS’s Climate Crank

Florida TV meteorologist David Bernard is the “severe weather consultant” for CBS News, making frequent appearances to talk about hurricanes, heat waves, drought and other extreme weather events (FAIR Action Alert, 7/20/12). But he never talks about climate change’s contributions to these problems–in fact, in scores of appearances in recent years, he’s never uttered the word “climate.”

This omission makes sense once you see Bernard’s Twitter feed, where he retweets messages and plugs articles from climate-change deniers, adding notes like, “Sorry global warming alarmists: The Earth is Cooling” (6/17/12), or “Love Salon, but please cool the global warming mumbo jumbo” (6/29/12). He responded (7/8/12) to a story about the UN raising funds to offset the impact of climate damage on poor countries: “This is what climate change is all about: global wealth distribution.” As weather catastrophes become an increasing part of our lives, CBS viewers deserve explanations from someone who doesn’t ignore the explanations climate science offers them.

Half-Baked by the Heat

You asked us–how do we explain the heat? One word: summer. I grew up in central Illinois in a house without air conditioning. What is so unusual about this? Now, come the winter, there will be a cold snap, lots of snow, and the same guys, like E.J. [Dionne] will start lecturing us, there’s a difference between the weather and the climate. I agree with that. We’re having some hot weather. Get over it.

–George Will (This Week, 7/8/12)