Mar
01
2007

Obamamania

How loving Barack Obama helps pundits love themselves

The day after he formally announced he was a candidate for the 2008 presidential race, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) took a shot at the media. Alluding to the perception that he avoids taking strong positions on important political issues, Obama told reporters (Washington Post, 2/12/07): “The problem is that that’s not what you guys have been reporting on. You’ve been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit.” It’s not often that politicians complain that they get coverage they deem too “soft,” but Obama could make the charge with a straight face. In a sense, Obama’s complaint and the press […]

Mar
01
2007

Fear & Favor 2006 -- The Seventh Annual Report

Encroachment without apology

“Fear and favor” describes the various pushes and pulls on journalists to use something other than journalistic values in producing the news. The intense corporatization of media makes the precise contours of such compromise difficult to trace. Pressure to cut costs and please financially powerful players is, as it were, “in the air” in corporate America; who can say how far into the journalistic process such budgetary concerns intrude? Ad salespeople drumming up sponsors for an upcoming story in the Ft. Myers, Fla., News-Press will be accompanied on sales calls by the reporter, reports the Washington Post (12/4/06): “The logic: […]

Mar
01
2007

Here We Go Again

NYT's Gordon still peddling dubious claims by unnamed sources

In the wake of its disastrous pre-war reporting on Iraq, the New York Times announced new rules governing its use of unnamed sources. Its lead story on February 10, promoting Bush administration charges against Iran, violated those rules. In the report, “Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says,” Times reporter Michael R. Gordon cited a one-sided array of anonymous sources charging the Iranian government with providing a particularly deadly variety of roadside bomb to Shia militias in Iraq: “The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts […]

Mar
01
2007

SoundBites

Broder and ‘His President’ In “Bush Regains His Footing” (2/16/07), Washington Post columnist David Broder told readers that, “perverse” as it may seem, Bush may actually be “poised for a political comeback.” He “shows signs of renewed energy and is regaining the initiative on several fronts.” And, “more important, he is demonstrating political smarts that even his critics have to acknowledge.” Challenged in an online discussion (WashingtonPost.com, 2/16/07) about whether he was perhaps too “deeply invested” in the Bush White House, Broder bristled, writing, “The notion that I am invested in him is bizarre—unless it is meant to suggest that […]

Mar
01
2007

Think Tank Sources Fall, but Left Gains Slightly

Progressive groups still a small slice

FAIR’s annual survey of think tank sources produced a surprising result for 2006: While total think tank citations decreased for the second year in a row (before then, think tank citations went up every single year), progressive think tanks bucked the trend. Overall, the 27,877 citations that the 25 most-quoted think tanks garnered was a 4 percent decline from 2005. But progressive and left-leaning think tanks increased their exposure, up by 11 percent, having for the first time two think tanks in the top 10. Nevertheless, the media landscape remains dominated by centrist and conservative think tanks. Centrists led the […]