Jul 01 2006

Tom Friedman’s Flexible Deadlines

The long six months in Iraq

The long six months in IraqNew 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 […]

Jul 01 2006

Meet the Oil Executives

Industry-friendly panels on NBC’s Meet the Press

Industry-friendly panels on NBC’s Meet the PressAt 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 […]

Jul 01 2006

The Morales Moral

Defy neoliberalism, face media wrath

Defy neoliberalism, face media wrathTo 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 […]

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

Media’s rightward push for DemocratsIt’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 […]

Jul 01 2006

Impeachment Not on Media Radar

Adultery was serious; this is just the Constitution

Adultery was serious; this is just the ConstitutionThere 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 […]

Jul 01 2006

Letters to the Editor

Don’t Shut Down Dobbs Regarding the CNN TV program Lou Dobbs Tonight (“CNN’s Immigration Problem,” Extra!, 5-6/06), I watch this program and wish to tell you what I learned from it. Lou Dobbs: 1. Does not talk against legal immigrants or legal immigration. 2. Often has people speak in favor of illegals; presents many sides of this issue. 3. Has firmly pushed for “securing our borders” before any amnesty programs. 4. Is critical of our government which does not enforce laws against hiring illegals. 5. Points out that large corporations (and small) exploit poor people who enter this country illegally. […]

Jul 01 2006

Sidebar: Another Clinton?

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to Move Over—Over and Over: Media’s rightward push for Democrats] So who do political reporters now expect to close the “cultural gap” that supposedly prevents Democrats from winning at the polls? Many look to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who represents many of the centrist qualities media insiders prescribe for Democratic electoral success. Newsweek’s Howard Fineman (11/21/05) wrote that Kaine “provided a road map into the cultural mainstream for national Democrats.” The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt (2/20/06) described Kaine as an advocate of “pragmatic politics, stressing sound management and moderate bipartisanship over ideology.” Hiatt advised […]