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 […]
NPR, USA Today misrepresent nuclear story
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 […]