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
01
2008

Misogyny's Greatest Hits

Sexism in Hillary Clinton coverage

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/rachel_bunting

It may have been the first time an audience heckler yelled “Iron my shirt!” at a United States senator (AP, 1/7/08), as well as the first time a presidential candidate has had a pair of nutcrackers fashioned in her likeness (New York Post, 9/7/07). Sen. Hillary Clinton’s run for the Democratic nomination has been fraught with sexism, exposing an ugly streak within the American press. There were several repeat offenders—MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the New York Times’ Bill Kristol—but degrading, misogynist and ageist attacks on Clinton spanned from print to radio, from the Web to television. The level to which media […]

Nov
29
2007

Bill Clinton, Anti-War?

Times, Post let Bill Clinton's dishonesty slide

The New York Times and Washington Post (11/28/07) both failed to adequately challenge the dishonesty of former President Bill Clinton's declaration that he had been opposed to the Iraq War "from the beginning." Clinton, in fact, was a supporter of the war, both before the invasion and in the first year or so of the fighting. In the Times' words, though, Clinton's new stance was just "more absolute than his comments before the invasion in March 2003." The Times went on to claim that around the time of the invasion, "Clinton did not precisely declare that he opposed the war," […]

Oct
01
2006

Star Power Trumps History in AIDS Coverage

A love letter to the 'two Bills'

A number of activists at the 16th International AIDS Conference complained that the Toronto gathering foregrounded the rich and famous—most prominently Microsoft chair Bill Gates and former President Bill Clinton—at the expense of front-line workers and people living with AIDS (e.g., “Activists Blast Focus on Celebrity,” Calgary Herald, 8/17/06). “They can’t have it both ways,” responded Conference co-chair Mark Wainberg (AP Worldstream, 8/17/06). Advocates who want the increased public attention that comes with media coverage, Wainberg suggested, should know the deal. “They should understand, as we all do, that we would not have 3,000 journalists at this conference if not […]

Jul
01
2006

Impeachment Not on Media Radar

Adultery was serious; this is just the Constitution

There is a growing grassroots campaign demanding the impeachment of George W. Bush. Across the nation, towns and cities have been passing pro-impeachment resolutions. Websites promoting impeachment keep springing up. In several states, bills have been introduced in state legislatures that, if passed, would become formal bills of impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives, requiring initiation of impeachment hearings under congressional rules dating back to the early 19th century. Starting last fall, several polls (Zogby, 10/29-11/2/05, 1/9-12/06; Ipsos, 10/6-9/05) reported that a majority of Americans thought Bush should be impeached if he lied the country into war in Iraq […]

Jun
08
2001

White House Responds to Vandalism Charges, Fox Responds to FAIR

A May 21 FAIR Action Alert addressed the stories of White House "vandalism" during the transition in January. According to anonymous Bush administration sources, Clinton staffers had looted Air Force One and vandalized the White House on their way out of office. The rumors exploded after earlier, more light-hearted stories about minor pranks, such as removing the letter W from computer keyboards. Some news outlets gave the new vandalism stories minimal attention because they were based on little more than rumors, while others went ahead and ran with them. Fox News Channel played the story bigger than almost any other […]

May
01
2001

Unpardonable Disparities

When it's a Bush, not a Clinton, clemency is no scandal

A blizzard of coverage gave the impression that Bill Clinton's final pardons raised unprecedented ethical issues about pardons being given in return for favors or to questionable recipients. But are the issues really unprecedented--or have media simply failed to raise these questions with previous administrations? A look back at the elder George Bush's pardons shows that there was plenty of fodder for scandal that the media just weren't that interested in. One of the main complaints about Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich was that Rich's ex-wife, Denise Rich, had given some $450,000 to Clinton's presidential library fund. But […]

May
28
1999

New York Times Ignores Violation of War Powers Act

The indictment of Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes is the story of the day--the New York Times ran two front page pieces on it on the day the announcement was made (5/27/99). And Milosevic's indictment is an important story for the American media to cover. But isn't it at least as important for the press to cover accusations that the U.S. president is conducting an illegal war? That story has gotten virtually no mention in the Times. According to the War Powers Act of 1973, the president must "terminate any use of United States Armed Forces" within 60 days of […]