The Washington Post may be violating its own conflict of interest rules by hiring a Jerusalem correspondent whose spouse works for an Israeli government-linked public relations firm. As the website Electronic Intifada (9/18/13) pointed out, correspondent Ruth Eglash's husband, Michael Eglash, is a founding partner of the pro-Israel advocacy group Upstart Activist and is the president of its affiliated PR consulting firm, Upstart Ideas. EI reports that Upstart Ideas has been "deeply involved in efforts to promote Israel and Israeli government policy for years," adding that pro-Israeli propaganda is now Upstart's "main business." A 2010 Jerusalem Post profile ("Zionist Start […]
Family tie to Israeli PR poses major conflict of interest
Is Stephanie Cutter 'from the left'--or from the White House?
This month, CNN brought back its left-right debate show Crossfire. But is one of the left co-hosts representing the progressive viewpoint--or the White House? Stephanie Cutter was a campaign strategist for the 2012 Obama campaign, and currently heads up a PR firm called Precision Strategies. But while the premise of the CNN show is that Cutter is "from the left," she still maintains working ties to the White House. According to a Fox News report (9/3/13), Cutter was part of a PR strategy session on selling the White House's Syria policy. If so, Cutter was meeting with the White House […]
NPR, USA Today misrepresent nuclear story
While investigators try to establish the facts around what may be a horrific chemical attack in Syria, some media outlets are using the situation as an opportunity to make inaccurate claims about Iran. On NPR's All Things Considered (8/27/13), correspondent Mara Liasson claimed that Barack Obama "has done everything he can to avoid another foreign military involvement, but he can't avoid it after the widespread use of chemical weapons on this scale." Putting aside Liasson's declaration that non-military options are impossible, how does she know Syria launched the attack? Liasson explained: We now hear that U.S. intelligence officials are getting […]
Why can't Face the Nation face dissent on NSA spying?
The CBS Sunday morning show Face the Nation featured a discussion of NSA surveillance with the former head of the agency and two politicians who vigorously defend the agency's mass surveillance programs. The August 11 show featured a softball interview with Michael Hayden, who oversaw some of the most controversial Bush-era tactics at the NSA, including the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens (New York Times, 12/16/05). As Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald (8/12/13) observed, that eavesdropping was repeatedly found by federal judges to be unconstitutional and a felony. But the person in charge of overseeing that program was not brought on […]
Treating nuclear claims as facts
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New York Times, sarin and skepticism
During the run-up to the Iraq War, the New York Times amplified erroneous official claims about weapons of mass destruction (FAIR Action Alert, 9/8/06). Looking at the paper's coverage of allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria, some of the same patterns are clear: an over-reliance on official sources and the downplaying of critical or skeptical analysis of the available intelligence. In "Syria Faces New Claim on Chemical Arms" (4/19/13), the paper told readers that, according to anonymous diplomats, Britain and France had sent letters to the United Nations about "credible evidence" against Syria regarding chemical weapon use. On April […]