Apr 23 2005

Rather’s Real Bias

He slanted toward power, not the left

When Dan Rather stepped down from the CBS Evening News this week, right-wing media critics ought to have been among those most sorry to see him go. Rather has long served as their “liberal media” bogeyman, personifying the nightly news’ supposed tendency to skewer Republicans and coddle Democrats. But given the central role Rather plays in the conservative critique of the media, the evidence for his alleged liberalism is remarkably flimsy. If Rather’s unguarded comments over the years indicate any kind of bias, it’s a fondness for power and an unwavering support for American military action. During the 1999 NATO […]

Apr 1 2005

Blunting Bolton’s Problems

The day after George W. Bush nominated John Bolton as the new American envoy to the United Nations, the headline in the New York Times (3/8/05) was “Bush Nominates Weapons Expert as Envoy to U.N.” But calling him an “expert” might need a little explanation–and the Times should know this as well as anyone. In September 2003, Bolton was set to testify before Congress about various weapons threats around the world. The Times‘ Judith Miller wrote a story in advance (9/16/03), noting that Bolton was worried about Syria’s chemical weapons systems, and claiming that Bolton’s take was backed up by […]

Apr 1 2005


Curiouser and Curiouser “Once one side of an ideological conflict has seized control of a word, it no longer has a meaning of its own; opting for one or the other would be a declaration that doesn’t belong in the news reports.” —New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent (3/6/05), explaining why the Times should use “private” and “personal” interchangeably in the Social Security debate “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’” –Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass Centrist Fantasies […]

Apr 1 2005

CBS’s Pro-Privatization Predictions

CBS Evening News has presented two segments in recent weeks (2/9/05, 3/4/05) that purport to show how typical American workers would fare under George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. But the segments rely on stock market projections that, if true, would make any “crisis” in Social Security almost impossible. CBS reporter Jim Axelrod first profiled (2/9/05) Jama Whitesell, a 28-year-old receptionist making $32,000 a year. Axelrod went to a financial planner who predicted that a private account would be a safe bet for this worker–based on a projected 8 percent return on the private account. Why did CBS […]

Apr 1 2005

Weasel Words on Negroponte


George W. Bush’s February 17 nomination of John Negroponte to the newly created job of director of intelligence was the subject of a flurry of media coverage. But little attention was paid to Negroponte’s role in the brutal and illegal Contra war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua in the mid-1980s. From 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, a country that served as the main staging ground for the CIA-created and -backed Contra armies, who attacked civilians in a terrorist campaign against Nicaragua. Negroponte was a key player in organizing training for the Contras and procuring […]