Sep 01 2007

The Return of Elliott Abrams

A key Bush administration architect of the policy of arming elements of Fatah to attack Hamas was Elliott Abrams, whose current White House title is deputy national security advisor for global democracy strategy. Abrams has a long history of such operations, and seems to be pursuing them today in areas far beyond Palestine. As a State Department official for Latin America in the Reagan administration, Abrams promoted the strategy of “low-intensity warfare”—that is, arming death squads and guerrillas—against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and the Salvadoran insurgents, ultimately pleading guilty to withholding information about these efforts from Congress in the Iran/Contra affair. […]

Sep 01 2007

Swift-Boating ‘America’s Mayor’?

Hometown paper rushes to defend Giuliani

When the International Association of Fire Fighters, the nation’s largest firefighters union, released a video challenging the portrayal of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as a hero of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, there were scattered media references to a possible re-run of the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry during the 2004 campaign. But while media seemed eager to provide a platform for the Swift Boat vets’ false claims (Extra!, 11-12/05), the media reaction to the firefighters was nearly the opposite—particularly at the New York Times, where reporter Marc Santora hurried to put out the anti-Giuliani […]

Sep 01 2007

Rachel Carson, Mass Murderer?

The creation of an anti-environmental myth

Sometimes you find mass murderers in the most unlikely places. Take Rachel Carson. She was, by all accounts, a mild-mannered writer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—hardly a sociopath’s breeding ground. And yet, according to many in the media, Carson has more blood on her hands than Hitler. The problems started in the 1940s, when Carson left the Service to begin writing full-time. In 1962, she published a series of articles in the New Yorker, resulting in the book Silent Spring—widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The book discussed how pesticides and pollutants moved up the food […]

Sep 01 2007

Checking the FactCheckers, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, bills itself as a “nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” But in its July 18 response to the International Association of Fire Fighters’ video critical of Rudolph Giuliani’s September 11 performance, which it accused of taking “liberties with the truth,” FactCheck continued a pattern of partisan double standards (Extra!, 11-12/05) that does more to confuse than to undeceive the U.S. electorate. FactCheck took issue with several points in the firefighters’ video, including the […]

Sep 01 2007


Good News and No News Amid ongoing violence in Iraq, the Associated Press reported (7/31/07) the “U.S. Death Toll in Iraq for July Hit 8-Month Low.” The newsworthiness of this statistic is debatable; the 79 U.S. troops who were killed in July were only two less than had been killed in both March and February, making it a fairly unremarkable month for U.S. casualties. In fact, there have been 34 months in the first four years of war when the U.S. death toll was lower than July 2007’s. A more unusual, and therefore more newsworthy, statistic about U.S. deaths in […]

Sep 01 2007

Fencing Off the Immigration Debate

Why workers cross the border is off the agenda

Upon the proposed omnibus immigration bill’s final defeat in the Senate, the Washington Post (6/29/07) published an editorial titled “An Immigrant’s Lament,” which told the sad story of Ernesto, “a 31-year old Salvadoran handyman” who “watched ruefully as the senators dealt their lethal blow to his prospects for a normal life on the right side of the law”: He does better here as a painter, carpenter, landscaper and electrician than he ever could in Cabañas, his hardscrabble native region of northern El Salvador, which is rich in beans and sugar cane but bereft of jobs. The Post scolded politicians for […]