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.
In election attacks, 'working' trumps true
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 […]
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 […]
NYT piece raises questions, but not a media conversation
The New York Times' lengthy report (5/29/12) on Barack Obama's drone "kill list" should provoke serious questions: Is such a program legal? How does it square with Obama's criticism of the Bush administration's "war on terror" policies? Is the White House covering up the killing of civilians by labeling them "militants"? Why is the United States continuing an assassination policy described as Al-Qaeda's top "recruiting tool"? But those questions have been raised only in fits and starts around the rest of the media. One of the co-authors of the Times piece, Scott Shane, appeared on the PBS NewsHour and on […]
Media treat killings as PR problem for occupation
The news that a U.S. Army sergeant killed 16 civilians, most of them children, in southern Afghanistan early Sunday morning was treated by many media outlets primarily as a PR challenge for continued war and occupation of that country. "Afghanistan, once the must-fight war for America, is becoming a public relations headache for the nation's leaders, especially for President Barack Obama," explained an Associated Press analysis piece (3/12/12). Reuters (3/12/12) called it "the latest American public relations disaster in Afghanistan." On the NBC Today show (3/11/12) the question was posed this way: "Could this reignite a new anti-American backlash in […]
This year has given us simply too many worthy contenders for FAIR's annual P.U.-litzers--recognizing the stinkiest journalism of the year. A big part of the problem was that so many outlets were striving to distinguish themselves with especially awful coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. So to note those lowlights, we bring you a special installment of P.U.-litzers: The OWS edition. --Early Warning System Award: CNN's Wolf Blitzer On September 19: "Protests here in New York on Wall Street entering a third day. Should New Yorkers be worried at all about what's going on?" --We Could Do It […]
It's that time of year again--when FAIR goes through the year's archives to collect a sampling of the worst moments of corporate media spin and malfeasance. The competition was, as always, fierce. And in special recognition of the media's befuddled approach to the Occupy Wall Street movement, next week will see the release of a second round of OWS-related P.U.-litzers. --Wacky Conspiracy Award: CBS's Steve Kroft Kroft (60 Minutes, 1/30/11) explained the apparently demented worldview of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange: Julian Assange is not your average journalist or publisher, and some have argued that he is not really a journalist […]
Iraq all over again?
Much of the corporate media coverage of a new UN report on Iran strongly asserts that Iran is close to building nuclear weapons. But the International Atomic Energy Agency report does not actually arrive at that conclusion, and many critics contend that the speculations that are in the report are misguided. A USA Today piece (11/9/11) was headlined "UN Agency Issues Red Alert Over Iran's Secret Nuke Program"--with the "red alert" hype coming from a source in the piece, Rep. Ed Royce (R.-Calif.). On CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley reported (11/7/11), "The U.N.'s nuclear agency is expected to report later […]