Sep
01
2008

David Brooks vs. the Real World

Columnist dreams up his own reality

David Brooks--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Miller_Center

Appearing on MSNBC Live (6/2/08), New York Times columnist David Brooks said that though Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy represented a “big historic movement,” the candidate may lack the common touch: The magic is not felt by a lot of people. It’s not felt, obviously, by a lot of less educated people, downscale people. They just look at Obama, and they don’t see anything. And so, Obama’s problem is he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who could go into an Applebee’s salad bar, and people think he fits in naturally there. The fact that Applebee’s doesn’t have salad bars […]

Sep
01
2008

The Illusion of Immigrant Criminality

Getting the numbers wrong

Photo Credit: Democracy Now!

Immigrants aren't a crime problem. "The foreign-born commit considerably fewer crimes than the native-born," as President Herbert Hoover's National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement concluded in 1931 (National Lawyers Guild Quarterly, 10/39; Immigration Policy Center, Spring/07). While noncitizens now make up more than 8 percent of the U.S. population, the available evidence indicates that they account for no more than 6 or 7 percent of the people incarcerated for crimes in the United States, less than 170,000 of the 2.3 million inmates currently in our federal, state and local penal systems--not including some 30,000 immigrants in administrative detention on […]

Sep
01
2008

Still Taking the Pentagon's Bait:

Media ‘balance’ critical GAO report with DoD spin

The General Accounting Office released a report June 23 that condemned the Bush administration’s “surge” strategy in Iraq. The same day the Pentagon released its own overwhelmingly positive report, “dated June 13 but not released until yesterday” (Washington Post, 6/24/08), which might reasonably be seen as a blatant White House effort to take the air out of the GAO’s findings. How did the Pentagon do with such a transparent gambit? Lamentably well. In write-ups in both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, reporters used the Pentagon’s self-assessment just as its producers must have hoped: to counterweigh and cast […]

Sep
01
2008

When a 'Flip-Flop' Is a Badge of Honor

Switching positions can be good—if McCain does it

When is a “flip-flop” evidence of moral character rather than a moral failing? To many in the corporate media, it seems, it’s when the perpetrator is John McCain. While Barack Obama was roundly disparaged for his “flip-flop” on public financing—criticism that largely ignored Obama’s actual promise to pursue an agreement on public financing with his Republican opponent (Extra! Update, 8/08)—the media deeply downplayed McCain’s reversal on the same issue. McCain’s transgression, unlike Obama’s, may have actually been illegal: McCain had pledged to accept public financing for the primary elections, and used that forthcoming public money as collateral for a $3 […]

Sep
01
2008

CounterSpin Interview: The Media Ignore Their Core Duty

Arianna Huffington & Glenn Greenwald on media accountability

Arianna Huffington--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/jdlas

From Iraq to Enron, from Hurricane Katrina to No Child Left Behind, from torture to civil liberties to healthcare and much more, it would be hard to overstate the role the U.S. media played in enabling many of the policy debacles of the Bush years. And yet media accountability rarely goes beyond the half-hearted internal investigation, followed by, if we’re lucky, the half-hearted mea culpa. That the media are not prone to self-criticism isn’t a new thing. As crusading journalist George Seldes said decades ago, “The most sacred cow of the press is the press itself.”   CounterSpin talked to […]