Jan
27
2011

Centrism Wins!

Media marvel at Obama's move to the right

With increasing vehemence since the midterm elections, pundits and journalists have recommended Barack Obama move to the right--and now are citing recent polling to suggest that the president has benefited from following their advice. But there is little evidence that Obama's current approval ratings have anything to do with a rightward shift, and the entire conversation rests on the premise that Obama was governing from the left in the first place. This is nothing new; there is a long corporate media tradition of urging Democratic presidents to move to the right in order to capture the "center." After the midterm […]

Jan
01
2011

Pushing Obama to 'Pull a Clinton'

The misunderstood and the misremembered

In the wake of the 2010 midterm elections, one of the more popular suggestions in the corporate media was that Barack Obama take a page from the Bill Clinton playbook and move to the right (Extra!, 12/10). But this narrative mistakes the problems of the current White House, and misremembers the history of Clintonian centrism. Right after the midterms, CNN viewers heard regular calls for a Clintonian right-ward lurch. Wolf Blitzer asked (11/3/10), “Does the president now need to go to the Bill Clinton playbook and deal with triangulation and all that if he wants to be re-elected?” Democratic strategist […]

Jun
18
2010

Riki Ott & Tim Dickinson on BP Gulf disaster

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin, two angles on the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history, the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP is trying to control what you know about the catastrophe. What’s more, the company has enlisted federal and local government agencies to help censor information about the damage, the progress of the cleanup, and the safety of workers in polluted zones. We'll talk about that with Riki Ott, marine toxicologist, Exxon Valdez survivor and a contributor to the Huffington Post. Also, the more you learn about BP’s track record and the governmental outfits […]

May
14
2010

Glenn Greenwald and Marjorie Cohn on the Elena Kagan nomination

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Barack Obama has announced his pick for Supreme Court justice—former Harvard Law School dean and Solicitor General Elena Kagan. And the media debates have begun: about her record, her credentials and her likely impact on the court. We'll sort through some of what you're hearing and perhaps what you aren't hearing in a conversation with court watchers Glenn Greenwald, of Salon.com and author and law professor Marjorie Cohn. That's coming up but first, as usual, we'll take a look back at the week's press. —With a story like the ongoing environmental disaster in the […]

May
01
2010

Journalists ♥ Tea Party

At last a citizen movement corporate media can love

A Tea Party activist--Photo Credit: In These Times

In the first year of the Obama administration, the corporate media suddenly overcame their general aversion to citizen movements that criticize government policies, granting the staunchly conservative Tea Party activists enormous coverage—a decision that seems likely to impact politics for the foreseeable future. Citizen movements are hardly ever front-page news, even when they have clearly identifiable political agendas and broad public support. But the Tea Party movement—an amorphous, politically incoherent umbrella designation for various strands of opposition to Obama, much of it beset with racism and backed by less-than-grassroots deep-pocket Beltway lobbying groups—has managed to buck that trend, getting the […]

Mar
01
2010

'America Was Safer Under Bush'

Journalists accept GOP’s screwy terrorism scorecard

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Karsun Designs

That George W. Bush kept America safer from terrorism than Barack Obama is a conservative article of faith these days—and corporate media seem little inclined to challenge the blatant falsehoods used to advance this childish GOP talking point. The most prominent example came on Good Morning America (ABC, 1/8/10) during a discussion of the failed Christmas Day “underwear bomb” plot, when former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani told anchor George Stephanopoulos: “We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama.” Get that? So-called terrorism expert Giuliani, who can barely finish a sentence without mentioning September 11 […]

Mar
01
2010

Playing the Nazi Card

Comparing Obama to Hitler becomes a standard right-wing trope

Comparing anyone to Hitler is egregious. During the 1980 presidential campaign, Walter Mondale released a letter that Ronald Reagan had written to Richard Nixon 20 years earlier, in which Reagan compared John F. Kennedy to Hitler and Karl Marx—though Reagan contended he was only speaking of Kennedy’s economic proposals (UPI, 10/23/84). In 2004, the Bush camp created a video juxtaposing “Wild-Eyed” Democrats like John Kerry and Al Gore with Hitler (Slate, 6/28/04). The frequency of such thoughtless comparisons popping up online prompted author and attorney Mike Godwin to coin Godwin’s Law (Wired, 10/94): “As an online discussion grows longer, the […]

Apr
17
2009

Miriam Pemberton on military budget, Terence Samuel on Obama & polarization

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The White House's proposed military budget comes to some $534 billion dollars, and that's without including the costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. So why on earth are some saying Obama is "disarming America". We'll hear what this budget does and doesn't do from Miriam Pemberton, research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Also on Counterspin today, the polarization of America. If you watch Fox News or listen to talk radio, America has adopted socialism and the Department of Homeland Security is planning to crack down on conservative activism. But even in […]