Jun
01
2005

The Great Emancipator

Media credit Bush for “democratization” of the Mideast

Failing to find weapons of mass destruction or an Al-Qaeda/Saddam Hussein connection almost two years after it invaded Iraq, the Bush White House fell back on its second-tier justification for the invasion: that occupying the country would start a domino-chain of democratization throughout the Middle East. In the wake of the January 30 Iraq elections, pundits and journalists eagerly spread the new White House-friendly conventional wisdom: Bush’s Iraq policy had inspired pro-democracy activists in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Palestine. Suddenly, the faltering military occupation was proof of the clarity of Bush’s alleged long-term vision. “Lately, even the harshest critics […]

May
01
2005

Confusing Israel Criticism and Anti-Semitism

While some examples of increasing anti-Semitism go little noted, considerable attention has been paid to dubious accusations that seem to equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Before Harvard President Laurence Summers drew fire for suggesting that women were inherently inferior at math and science (see Extra!,5-6/2005), he stirred things up by proclaiming that a new form of anti-Semitism was menacing academia (New York Times, 9/21/02). “Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent,” said Summers, referring to a campaign to have Harvard disinvest in Israel to protest the occupation […]

May
01
2005

Soundbites

Expert Opinion “Jim, you think he's with Jesus now? We only have 30 seconds.” --Larry King, interviewing Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, on Pope John Paul II's death (Larry King Live, 4/3/05) “The pope is above public opinion. His relationship is with God.” --Phil Griffin, MSNBC vice president of primetime programming (New York Times, 4/7/05) Good and Bad Catholics CNN host Wolf Blitzer introduced a discussion of John Paul II's death with Crossfire's co-hosts: “the conservative Robert Novak, the liberal Paul Begala, both good Catholics--I don't know if good Catholics--but […]

May
01
2005

I Was Right All Along

You can look it up—but better not

White House officials were reportedly telling staffers that there was a “don’t gloat” policy when it came to talking about the stirrings in the Middle East (NBC Nightly News, 3/8/05; Time, 3/14/05). No such limits were placed on pundits, some of whom saw the events as proof that they were right all along to support the Iraq war. Writing in the March 3 Los Angeles Times, conservative columnist Max Boot couldn’t help but crow. Citing a piece he had written for the Weekly Standard (2/10/03), Boot exulted: “At the time, this kind of talk was dismissed by pretty much everyone […]

May
01
2005

Letter to the Editor

WEBB AND HESS I would like to thank you for your tribute to Gary Webb. While you quite properly contrasted the fate of people who wrote stories the mainstream media deemed unacceptable with people who ducked the stories altogether, it might be interesting to find out what happens to people who write right-wing stories that are discredited. My vague understanding is that they settle into good-paying jobs in the right-wing media. Finally, regarding John Hess. When I read his obituary in the Times, I could not believe that the manufactured Utah past was simply an error. My only question is […]

May
01
2005

Self-Described Ombudsmen

Editor's Note

The ombuds at both the Washington Post and Boston Globe have written lately to complain about organized letter campaigns of the sort FAIR organizes. The Globe's Christine Chinlund's farewell column (4/25/05) contrasted "ideologues' web-orchestrated campaigns" with the "legitimate criticism" of people who arrive at their opinions "with honest independence." The Post's Michael Getler (4/24/05), responding to a FAIR alert, complained of how "annoying" it was to be "inundated" by messages generated by a "self-described media watchdog operation," saying he would prefer "one letter directly from FAIR laying out its critique." It's curious for newspaper representatives to suggest that it's illegitimate […]