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 […]
What was--and wasn't--asked at debates
NewsHour botches basic fact about Iran dispute
In an October 22 discussion of the foreign policy presidential debate, the PBS NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown stated that "Iran's nuclear weapons program has been a particular flash point." A few weeks earlier (10/5/12) on the NewsHour, Ray Suarez said that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez had continued to thwart American efforts on a range of international issues, such as Washington's attempt to convince Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to halt his country's pursuit of nuclear weapons. As most people following this story should know, there is no intelligence that shows Iran has a nuclear weapons program. The country has long denied the […]
Debate dispute sheds light on media's cockeyed standards
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."
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 […]
Energy 'debate' needed diversity and disclosure
The Washington Post has responded to FAIR's September 14 Action Alert, which criticized the paper for presenting a two-page energy "debate" that didn't include critics of the industry--and didn't disclose to readers that the discussion was sponsored by Big Oil. In his most recent column, Post ombud Patrick Pexton (9/21/12) largely agreed with FAIR's take, acknowledging that the panel discussions (which the Post used as the basis for the print feature) should have included more diverse views and that the sponsorship of the American Petroleum Institute (API) should have been disclosed to Post readers. The Post's Mary Jordan, who was responsible for the energy events, told Pexton that […]
Washington Post hides industry sponsorship of energy debate
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 […]
Paul Ryan according to Beltway media
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.