Watch Dog of the Lap Dogs

Since I went off on the media yesterday, I thought I’d continue the rant and share  ‘Smell Something Rotten?’ from FAIR.  FAIR stands for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting.  It’s their annual P.U. litzer award time. Here’s a few juicy roasts of the worst media had to offer in 2010.

Prosecute the Messenger Award: Diane Sawyer (ABC News)

On October 22, ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer introduced a report on WikiLeaks‘ exposure of thousands of classified documents from the Iraq War. ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz summarized the contents of the WikiLeaks files: “Deadly U.S. helicopter assaults on insurgents trying to surrender…. The Iraqi civilian death toll far higher than the U.S. has acknowledged…. Graphic detail about torture of detainees by the Iraqi military.” After Raddatz’s report, Sawyer offered this followup: “I know there’s a lot of outrage about this again tonight, Martha. But tell me, anything more about prosecuting the WikiLeaks group?”

–The Quarter-Million-Dollar Middle Award: Kiran Chetry (CNN)

CNN anchor Kiran Chetry (American Morning, 2/1/10) interviewing White House budget director Peter Orszag: “You also talk about letting taxes expire for families that make over $250,000. Some would argue that in some parts of the country that is middle class.” Back in reality, more than 98 percent of U.S. households make less than $250,000

–Disappearing Palestinians Award: New York Times

On the New York Times op-ed page (8/27/10), Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution gave one reason to be hopeful about peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority: “First, violence is down considerably in the region.” What he meant was that Israeli deaths were down. Completely unmentioned were the roughly 1,500 Palestinians that have been killed since the Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008–the vast majority of whom were minors or noncombatant adults, according to the Israel human rights group B’Tselem. This oversight wasn’t just confined to the op-ed page: a Week in Review article by Ethan Bronner (11/21/10) reported “that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict has been largely drained of deadly violence in the past few years.” Hundreds of dead Palestinians are what is meant by “drained of violence.”

–Balancing Tolerance with Hate Award: Washington Post’s On Faith Blog

On National Coming Out Day (10/11/10), the Washington Post’s On Faith blog decided it would be a good time to hear from raging homophobe Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Perkins penned a column attacking “homosexual activist groups” under the headline “Christian Compassion Requires the Truth About Harms of Homosexuality.” Why on Earth does anyone need to hear Perkins’ claptrap? The Post explained on Twitter (10/12/10) that it was a matter of journalistic balance: “We’re working to cover both sides. Earlier, we hosted Dan Savage of It Gets Better in a live chat.” For the record, “It Gets Better” is Savage’s campaign to combat suicides among queer youth. Who knew that was a point of view that needed balancing?

–Am-I-Reading-The-Onion Headline Writing Award: Washington Post

For its April 26 story, “Amid Outrage Over Civilian Deaths in Pakistan, CIA Turns to Smaller Missiles.”

Honorable mention goes to the New York Times, whose November 11 story explained the U.S. plan to remain in Afghanistan for at least three years longer than advertised. The headline: “U.S. Plan Offers Path to Ending Afghan Combat.”

I’d love to put them all up, but then I’d go way over the rule of FAIR use.  At least Rick Sanchez is off the air or there would be enough on their list to fill up about 5 posts.

As Brad Delong says, “Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps?”

23 Comments on “Watch Dog of the Lap Dogs”

  1. Fannie says:

    The Good News Yesterday, Gov. Mississippi pardon the Scott sisters, who served 16 years for stealing $11. One of the sisters has kidney failure, and I hope she gets a transplant now and the specialized services she needs (including diet).

    • dakinikat says:

      oh sheesh, it’s amazing how ENRON execs can walk and poor people are sent to prison for endless terms for petty ‘crimes’ … maybe Barbour’s conscious is bothering him. Glad he at least learned that ‘ the quality of mercy is not strained’.

      • Fannie says:

        Yolo, California is just as bad as Mississippi, earlier this year Robert Ferguson
        was caught shoplifting $3.99 in cheese, and also for snatching a woman’s wallet, he was sentenced to 7 years and 8 months, under the 3 strikes law.
        In his prior convictions he had no injuries to his victims, nor did he have weapons. I think he was considered as being bipolar.

        I think we are going to see more and more cases like this. But like you say Dak
        it is totally unfair when it comes to petty crimes. When you do a cost benefit
        analysis, keeping them lock up at more $100,000 a year is total waste of tax payer’s monies. There is no such thing as rehabiltation in the system.

        • dakinikat says:

          And a lot of these people have issues that would be solved with health care. That’s the worst part. Since Reagan tossed the mentally ill on the street, we pay more to put them in prison!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I guess Haley Barbour decided he needed some positive publicity. I’m glad he did a good thing anyway.

      • Seriously says:

        Yeah, seriously, I doubt this was in the works before he got in trouble over the Citizens’ Council. Also, pointing out that now the state is off the hook for her medical treatment and forcing someone to surrender an organ as a condition of release were not nice touches.

    • Branjor says:

      The other sister is going to donate the kidney. It was a condition of her release. But she wanted to donate anyway.

    • B Kilpatrick says:

      Other issues aside, such as their comparatively harsh sentences, they didn’t steal 11 dollars. They committed two counts of armed robbery to get 11 dollars.

      • Fannie says:

        The evidence was shaky, as they did not committ the robbery, they were accused of luring the two men. And as I understand the case, those boys were like 14/18 years old, and originally did not implicate the sisters. From
        plea bargaining, one Howar Patrick said “If I didn’t cooperate they would send me to Parchman Prison and make me out a female.”

    • B Kilpatrick says:

      Having said that, the Mississippi Code of 1972 fixes the penalty for armed robbery as being life in prison, unless the jury decides on a lesser term, in which case the court can fix the penalty as anything from three years in prison on up.

      The judicial system in Mississippi has a long-standing love affair with amazingly variable sentences. Makes it possible for the redneck or black who does something to go away forever, while the son or daughter of the Pillars of the Community can get a fine and a suspended sentence.

      • B Kilpatrick says:

        Other examples –

        “Any person convicted of manslaughter shall be fined in a sum not less than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both, or in the penitentiary not less than two years, nor more than twenty years.”

        • Fannie says:

          You are aware that Edgar Ray Killen had the same Judge as the Scott sisters, Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon. Edgar received the lesser charge
          of three counts manslaughter in the 1964 Ms. Burning Case. That being a total of 60 years, he was convicted 2005.

    • Branjor says:

      More on the Scott Sisters via Tennessee Guerilla Women:

      The men who actually committed the robbery got 2 years. The women accused of enticing the robbery victims into a secluded spot got life.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Great post on our dying media. I’ve always thought FAIR was a great organization. We have so few of those on the liberal side.

  3. Inky says:

    First of all, I want to give a big and enthusiastic greetings to you, Dak, and all the great FPers here–BB, WTV, Fiscal Liberal, Grayslady, MA Blue, Sima, Minkoff Max, Sima, and Zaladonas! I’ve been reading and enjoying posts by every last FPer here. In fact, I’ve been lurking on this site ever since you stopped using it as merely a place to archive your posts–i.e., ever since the last great rift. I don’t want to say too much about that other site because I know that at least a few commenters enjoy both sites.

    But I’m only so good at tongue-biting and I do have to say this much. As you probably recall, I enjoy a good disagreement. In fact, I used to enjoy commenting on your posts back at that other place because I found that you never took offense at an honest intellectual disagreement and actually seemed to enjoy a lively exchange. The same goes for all the all FPers here who were FPers there. Thus it surprised me to no end to hear RD describe everyone here as a bunch of WATBs. Personally, I decided to stop commenting there many months ago because I tired of having innocuous comments disappeared, and I also tired of being unfairly labeled a troll by a certain clown in residence who truly does have a problem coping with even mild disagreements. I also wholeheartedly endorse your stated reasons for taking leave of that site.

    With that said, I want to thank you again for reaching out to me last year when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Your words of stength and sympathy as one who had been through what I was about to undergo meant a great deal to me then. I’m doing great, btw (knock on wood) although I’m just a bit sore right now from a cosmetic operation that I had 3 weeks ago to “match” my breasts.

    And now, onto that FAIR report. I thank you for posting it. I especially appreciated reading about the vile TIME magazine war propaganda cover of the Afghan woman with the missing nose. While that cover always rankled me, I had no idea until today of the following:

    On the heels of the summer controversies, the cover of Time magazine (8/9/10) provided a new propaganda boost: A harrowing photo of a disfigured Afghan woman was accompanied by the headline, “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan.” There were obvious problems with the crude suggestion of inevitable Taliban violence in the wake of a U.S. withdrawal, not the least of which is the fact that the mutilation happened last year, eight years into the U.S. military occupation of the country.

    In a piece intended to explain the cover decision (7/29/10), managing editor Rick Stengel explained that the intent was to highlight the progress in the country for Afghan women since the 2001 invasion, and to remind readers that

    “bad things do happen to people, and it is part of our job to confront and explain them. In the end, I felt that the image is a window into the reality of what is happening—and what can happen—in a war that affects and involves all of us. I would rather confront readers with the Taliban’s treatment of women than ignore it. I would rather people know that reality as they make up their minds about what the U.S. and its allies should do in Afghanistan.”

    Stengel suggested that Time’s contribution to the Afghan debate was more important than that of WikiLeaks: “What you see in these pictures and our story is something that you cannot find in those 91,000 documents: a combination of emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land and the consequences of the important decisions that lie ahead.”

    Of course, what Time is depicting is only part of “the reality of what is happening” in Afghanistan. It is difficult to imagine that Stengel spent any time at all considering a “What Happens If We Stay in Afghanistan” cover headline, accompanied by a photo of the mutilated corpse of an Afghan child killed in an airstrike or a house raid.

    A basic question rarely asked in the media discussions of Time’s cover was whether the attack portrayed was actually the work of the Taliban. By all accounts, the young woman, named Aisha, was punished for fleeing her husband’s abusive family. But the details are murky and sometimes contradictory. Time reported that a “local Taliban commander” acted as judge, ordering the amputation of her nose as punishment for her attempted escape. “The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight,” the magazine’s account began.

    But in the Nation (8/12/10), writer and humanitarian activist Ann Jones recalled her encounter with the victim: “She told me that her father-in-law caught up with her after she ran away, and took a knife to her on his own; village elders later approved, but the Taliban didn’t figure at all in this account.” In Jones’ view, Time was “transforming a personal story, similar to those of countless women in Afghanistan today, into a portent of things to come for all women if the Taliban return to power.”

    New York Observer reporter John Gorenfeld (8/12/10) noted that “there remains some question as to whether the unnamed Afghan judge who ordered Aisha’s mutilation qualifies as a ‘Taliban commander’ in any formal sense,” adding that the Taliban had condemned the atrocity.

    One of my countless pet peeves is the use of spurious feminist arguments to justify our wars of Empire.

    Anyway, I hope you don’t mind if I keep commenting on your site.

    • dakinikat says:

      I am genuinely happy to read that you made it through treatment! I found that to be a life as well as Body altering experience that simply teaches you so much if you let it. and you are right about me relishing honest disagreement. I was raised in a family where policy debates were held around the dinner table and if you could form a sentence you were assured competent enough to bring reason,substance and proof with you. I wasn’t raised on giving thanks. I was raised on citing sources.
      sure hope you’re here to stay!

      • Inky says:

        I agree with you that it can be a great teaching experience–for one thing there’s nothing like dealing with the people who work in oncology to make one fully appreciate just how incredibly decent people so often are.

        And I have to say, your childhood dinner table sounds a lot like mine.

        I do plan to be here to stay. My new Year’s resolution this year is do more commenting on blogs and other forms of writing. (and also to finally cure myself of an infernal and extremely embarrassing addiction to spider solitaire. oy veh!)

        • Teresa says:

          Mine is to only spend a half hour on the internet (for non-work) per day. Between your increased usage and my decreased, maybe the balance of nature will remain.

          Wow. WATB. More self-destructive behavior. Somebody needs an intervention.

          Glad your cancer treatment is going well.

    • Fannie says:

      Kudos to you!

  4. B Kilpatrick says:

    If you wanna hear a fun story about Tony Perkins types, during the 2008 GOP presidential caucuses in Louisiana (and this isn’t the “inventing an entire ticket overnight to keep Ron Paul out” story or the “Huckabee’s campaign busing from churches in hundreds of glazed-eye fundies with herds of children” story) something called the “Lousiana Family Forum” put out some of the slimiest propaganda I’ve ever seen. So slimy that you’d have to be an absolute moron to believe it. It had the standard opinion-comparison things, except that the opinions being compared were things like “Supports legalizing prostitution,” and this is Louisiana GOP stuff, so none of them supported that, but unless, at some point, a candidate had specifically said he OPPOSED it, they said “Possibly” or “Maybe” or something like that, except, of course, for the absolute loony-toons that they supported.

    Here’s their 2010 guide: Not nearly as entertaining as its 2008 predecessor.

    There’s no more reliable standard to determining whether some group supports tyranny than to see if it has the word “family” in its name.

  5. Branjor says:

    Re the Scott sisters: What an outrage that arrangement is. Isn’t it supposed to be against the law to compel someone to to donate an organ to someone else?

    • Fannie says:

      It most certainly is outrageous. Something needs to be addressed in this decision.
      You can’t force people into transplants, and their is not a transplant team in the world willing to take that on.

      Haley also said it was costing the state $200,000 a year for her medical needs.
      I’d like to see those records. Stats from 2007 shows roughly, that transplant cost about the same as dialysis, 68/70 Thousand dollars. While she was imprisoned
      she was given a renal diet, and her machine broke down many times. Not to mention infection after infection. I tell you what if I were in prison I would have become a germophobic, the conditions are beyond awful. Because of her prolonged stay in prison and lack of proper care, she is consider to be suffering
      chronic kidney disease, stage 5.

      As of this year, 84,000 people are awaiting kidney transplant, my spouse in one of those. It is far better to have a live donar. One thing that caught my eye, is that
      her sister might be considered in the high risk category, because she is
      overweight, the risk is higher.

      The other thing, mental condition plays a large part, and I just don’t know how
      Mississippi’s Transplant team will deal with their mental conditions. Jamie no doubt will qualify for Social Security/Medicare. She is totally disabled.

      I know that once she has the transplant, the cost for medications in the first two
      years is extremely high.

      For you Dak, statistics, statistics, statistics