Oct 26 2012

The Moderators’ Agendas

What was--and wasn't--asked at debates

The establishment media figures who moderated the 2012 major-party candidate debates confined the discussion to a remarkably narrow range of topics, a FAIR analysis of debate questions finds. A wide variety of topics were never brought up in questions during the six total hours of debate. Among economic subjects, no questions were asked about poverty, income inequality, the housing crisis, labor unions, agriculture or the Federal Reserve. Social issues were similarly truncated, with no questions raised about race or racism, gay rights (including marriage equality), civil liberties, criminal justice or drug legalization. Despite the fact that four Supreme Court justices […]

Oct 18 2012

Factchecking Libya

Debate dispute sheds light on media's cockeyed standards

Romney/Obama debate

The September 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, became a contentious issue in the October 16 presidential debate (FAIR Blog, 10/17/12). The discussion didn’t do much to illuminate U.S. foreign policy, but it exposed the essential uselessness in what corporate media offer as political “factchecking.”

Oct 3 2012

Moderate Debates and Debate Moderators

Debate process needs more scrutiny, not less

Jim Lehrer is hopping mad. The New York Times (10/2/12) reports that the PBS anchor “has been seething. He said he was outraged by suggestions that he was a ‘safe’ and uninspired choice to moderate the first of four debates.” The focus of the Times piece is the fact that people have more ways to express their opinions about the presidential debate moderators: In the Twitter age, when anyone can immediately render swift and harsh judgment, the stress of hosting an event as politically charged as a presidential debate is heavier than ever. While the New York Times seems bothered by the “partisan rancor in this hyper-politicized climate,” it’s difficult […]

Aug 15 2012

Paul Ryan’s ‘Self-Reliance’

Concocting an 'origin story' for VP hopeful's character

As corporate media tell and retell Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan’s life story, one theme emerges above all others: His “self-reliance. “David Fahrenthold and Paul Kane in the Washington Post (8/11/12) asserted that Ryan’s big ideas bear the stamp of his own story: They stress independence and self-reliance, the qualities that took him from the mailroom to a spot on his party’s presidential ticket. What government owes its citizens, Ryan says, is not a guarantee of happiness–only a fair shot to pursue it….“ He lost his father early and had to grow up sooner than he wanted to,” said Rep. Jeff […]

Aug 14 2012

The Media’s Favorite ‘Wonk’

Paul Ryan according to Beltway media

Paul Ryan

Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his Republican running mate has unleashed yet another torrent of fawning coverage touting Ryan’s intelligence and bravery for advocating a fiscal plan of massive government spending cuts and massive tax breaks for the wealthy.

Aug 1 2012

You Didn’t Build That–or Say It

In election attacks, 'working' trumps true

Sometimes the problem with corporate media’s coverage of elections is the absence of factchecking. And then there are times when the problem is more fundamental than that–when reporters suspend a minimal level of critical judgment in order to allow a political campaign to set a preferred storyline. Recent campaign coverage has focused on a supposed Barack Obama “gaffe” that was made to appear to be an attack on small business owners.

Jul 12 2012

Small Business Baloney

GOP tax claims should be factchecked

Barack Obama’s July 9 announcement that he would extend the Bush tax cuts for income below $250,000 prompted the expected response from Republican politicians and presidential candidate Mitt Romney: This is a tax increase on “small businesses.” That is false. But most news reports won’t say so. The New York Times (7/10/12) told readers that Obama said that 98 percent of households and 97 percent of small businesses would receive a tax cut under his plan. But Republicans said the president’s proposal would amount to a broad tax on small businesses because many business owners report their profits as personal […]

Jul 3 2012

Not So Fast on Fast & Furious

CBS sold 'scandal' on false premises

If you’ve paid much attention to media reports about the “Fast and Furious” scandal, you may be under the impression that government agencies inexplicably allowed guns to be purchased in the United States and shipped across the border to drug lords in Mexico, where they ended up being connected to the December 2010 death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Soon after Terry’s death, the story bloomed into a political scandal, with conservative lawmakers demanding to know who was behind the program. Barack Obama has claimed executive privilege to block the release of internal Justice Department communications about the […]