Jul
01
2006

O Say, Can You See?

Editor's Note

(cc photo: Liz West)

I love the “Star Spangled Banner.” It strikes me as the perfect anthem for the United States of America. Not the full version, of course. If you try to get through the whole thing, you find too many lines like “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,” and “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.” But nobody sings those verses anyway. As it’s actually sung in its one-verse form, the lyrics are quite remarkable. “Oh say, can you see” the flag, the anthem asks? During the night, “the rockets’ red glare” and “the bombs bursting […]

Jul
01
2006

SoundBites

They’re All We’ve Got “The only check-and-balance we have left is the media. That is, we didn’t find out about the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program, which is a federal crime, we didn’t find that out from members of Congress, we found it out from the media. . . . That doesn’t mean that the media doesn’t make mistakes. It does. But pound for pound, the media has done more to improve government than any other institution. But more importantly, they’re all we’ve got right now. There’s a reason why the administration has been threatening prosecution of journalists. Because they’re the […]

Jul
01
2006

Tom Friedman's Flexible Deadlines

The long six months in Iraq

New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman is considered by many of his media colleagues to be one of the wisest observers of international affairs. “You have a global brain, my friend,” MSNBC host Chris Matthews once told Friedman (4/21/05). “You’re amazing. You amaze me every time you write a book.” Such praise is not uncommon. Friedman’s appeal seems to rest on his ability to discuss complex issues in the simplest possible terms. On a recent episode of MSNBC’s Hardball (5/11/06), for example, Friedman boiled down the intricacies of the Iraq situation into a make-or-break deadline: “Well, I think […]

Jul
01
2006

Meet the Oil Executives

Industry-friendly panels on NBC’s Meet the Press

At a time of dramatic increases in gasoline prices and jaw-dropping oil profits, NBC’s Sunday morning talkshow Meet the Press has convened two panel discussions dominated by guests close to those interests—with no input from environmental or citizen groups critical of the energy industry. On April 30, Meet the Press devoted its entire hour to a conversation about rising gas prices, featuring Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman (a former chemical industry executive), Red Cavaney of the American Petroleum Institute, corporate energy analyst Daniel Yergin (who is also on a board of advisers to the Energy Department), CNBC host (and corporate cheerleader) […]

Jul
01
2006

The Morales Moral

Defy neoliberalism, face media wrath

To several observers in the U.S. media, Latin America’s leftward shift is the misguided product of a naïve populace that can’t understand economics and demagogic leaders who need to be scolded back into line. So when the recently elected president of Bolivia, populist Evo Morales, announced that he would be re-nationalizing the country’s natural gas reserves, the media response was swift and firm. A Newsday editorial (5/3/06) called Morales’ move “obtuse economics” and admonished, “Nationalization of major industries has proved to be a road to economic ruin in an era of globalization.” The paper noted the Bolivian people’s “steady drop […]

Jul
01
2006

Bolivia's Soul Sold?

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to The Morales Moral] Mainstream U.S. media have portrayed Bolivian President Evo Morales’ efforts to renegotiate Bolivia’s oil and natural gas contracts as a leftist conspiracy orchestrated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The New York Times (5/3/06) reported, “Bolivia’s nationalization of its energy industry, announced Monday by President Evo Morales, was a vivid illustration that the populist policies, championed most prominently by Venezuela, were spreading.” But the idea of controlling national resources didn’t need to “spread” to Bolivia, which first nationalized its petroleum industry in 1916, 38 years before Chávez was born. Morales, who […]

Jul
01
2006

Move Over--Over and Over

Media’s rightward push for Democrats

It’s an article of faith in the elite ranks of journalism: Political virtue and electoral success reside in the ideological center. Though it’s not overwhelmingly popular with the American public, centrism is the dominant message of national political pundits and journalists—at least for Democrats. While few commentators would disagree with the conventional wisdom that Republican success depends on the care and feeding of the GOP’s conservative base—GOP leaders would laugh at them if they did—pundits who make the same argument for the Democrats are virtually non-existent in national media. Instead, many of the most prominent political journalists in the country […]

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 […]