Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
Reporting on emails selectively released by House Republicans, numerous media outlets falsely claimed the documents show Obama donor George Kaiser -- whose family foundation invested in Solyndra -- discussing Solyndra's federal loan with the White House, with Fox going even further to claim "quid pro quo." In fact, the emails occurred after Solyndra had already received the loan guarantee and do not indicate that Kaiser discussed the loan with the White House.
After relentlessly pushing the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed climate scientists deceitfully manipulating data, conservative media are celebrating a Rasmussen Reports poll finding that a majority of Americans believe "some scientists" have likely "falsified research data" to support "their own theories and beliefs about global warming."
The right-wing media is grasping for coherence in its attempts to portray military action in Libya as "Obama's Iraq."
In attempting to engage in what could have been an interesting discussion about the current state of American race relations, CNN made a terrible decision. CNN.com posted an article today about white racial anxiety -- a perfectly reasonable subject to discuss. What is not reasonable is interviewing and quoting figures like radio host James Edwards, whose show, The Political Cesspool, has a "Statement of Principles" that says the show "represent[s] a philosophy that is pro-White." Reinforcing the philosophy, Edwards has written in a blog post that "[i]nterracial sex is white genocide."
The show's "Statement of Principles" includes: "We wish to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility and beyond to grow the percentage of Whites in the world relative to other races." And Edwards regularly attacks Asians, Blacks, Jews, and Hispanics on his blog.
Among the things Edwards has written:
Anglos, to coin a phrase, have not yet begun to fight. They could. But will they in time?
I increasingly feel it hardly matters. This is all going to end in tears anyway.
To adapt another phrase, the historic American nation (= Anglos) will fight on the beaches, or it will fight in the hills. Even outnumbered, Anglos in Texas and America would be a formidable force -- one which probably could not be contained within the current political framework.
The most glaring problem with CNN's treatment of Brimelow and Edwards is that it presents the nature of their views as a he said/she said matter -- i.e., the Southern Poverty Law Center says they run hate groups, but they deny that. Any fair-minded look at their public statements would show that they espouse the view that minorities are inferior to white people.
Another important point about this treatment of white racial anxiety: It is completely unfair to white people who don't hold hateful views of minorities. If you are seeking perspective on "what white people think about race," you have committed journalistic malpractice by quoting people like Brimelow and Edwards. They can't be said to be in any way representative of what white people think.
Treating Brimelow and Edwards this way has the same effect as treating the New Black Panther Party as representative of black people. They're not. Plain and simple.
In a CNN.com opinion piece, CNN contributor David Frum attempted to justify the defeat of immigration reform bills, including the DREAM Act, by suggesting such measures would not help the United States attract highly skilled immigrants. In fact, both the DREAM and comprehensive immigration reform bills contain measures that would help attract such immigrants.
Fox News and right-wing blogs have attacked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for saying at a Ramadan dinner that "we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been." Bloomberg was actually echoing a statement in support of interfaith understanding that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf made during a memorial service for Daniel Pearl.
From Bloomberg's speech:
"At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, quote, 'If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one.'
"He then continued to say, 'If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'
"In that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion." [emphasis added]
You would think that Bloomberg's statement would be applauded or at least be seen as non-controversial. Instead, right-wing websites used the remarks to continue to stir up anti-Muslim rage.
After a CNN.com opinion piece lauded Bloomberg's comments under the headline: "New York's Bloomberg: We are all Muslims," the conservative websites pounced.
For instance, Fox News' website Fox Nation featured the headline: "Bloomberg: We Are All Muslims" and accompanied the headline with an image of Bloomberg in Arabic headwear:
On June 1, CNN.com's main page posted the following graphic and headline:
CNN.com is up with a "Things to watch in today's races" feature splashed across its homepage:
The article it links to concludes with the following:
There's one major problem with CNN's analysis on the "winds" of Oregon though. Wyden is a Democrat now in his 14th year as a Senator.
How Wyden winning the "primary today and another term in the fall" would complicate the "national picture" is anyone's guess.
UPDATE: CNN.com has corrected the post. Wyden is no longer identified as an "Incumbent moderate Republican" and is instead referred to as an "Incumbent Democrat." Strangely, the bit about his impending victory "complicating the national picture" remains intact. Can anyone out there explain how Wyden winning complicates the "national picture." Am I missing something here?
CNN.com has an article with the helpful-sounding headline "Things you should know about budget." But rather than clearly and directly explaining budget basics to CNN readers, the article drives home the fact that the news media fails badly at informing and educating the public.
Keep in mind: this is not a "political analysis" piece, or an article focused on the reception the budget is getting among lawmakers. The whole purpose of this article is ostensibly to give readers the information they need to assess the budget.
So, how does the article fail? Well, for one thing, it makes no effort to indicate how the $3.8 trillion budget breaks down. What portion of that is devoted to defense, to Medicare, to education, etc? CNN doesn't tell us. Take, for example, the article's treatment of the Defense budget:
To pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama is seeking $33 billion in supplemental funds for this budget year and $159.3 billion for next year's. Funding for military families would increase 3 percent to $8.8 billion. The president would appropriate in advance $50.6 billion for veterans' medical care.
Notice what's missing? That's right -- there's no indication of what total defense spending is.
CNN does, however, point to several drop-in-the-bucket items, such as "End grants to manufacturers of worsted wool. Annual savings: $5 million" and "Terminate Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, aimed at fostering "new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind." Savings in 2010: $1 million."
The cumulative effect should be obvious: Readers are given a warped picture of the relative amount of spending on defense and things like worsted wool grants.
But that's not nearly as bad as CNN's treatment of taxes. Here's CNN's handling of tax-cuts for wage-earners:
Still a little extra in your paycheck
The Making Work Pay tax breaks would be extended for a year. These were part of last year's stimulus and resulted in slightly higher paychecks for 110 million families, the White House said.
Wow. No mention of the extension of the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. That's weird. But that oversight is made worse by what comes a little later:
The president's budget would reduce the nation's debt by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Obama would let the Bush tax cuts expire for high-income families, impose a "financial crisis responsibility fee" on large banks and end fossil-fuel tax subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies. Discretionary spending that is not defense-related would get a three-year cap, saving $250 billion over the next 10 years. Read more
Well, what does "high-income families" mean? CNN doesn't say -- and that's a big, big problem, because time and time again, studies have shown that more Americans think they are "rich" or "wealthy" or "high-income" than actually are. In other words, a lot of people who read this article will falsely think Obama is letting their tax cuts expire. (The proposal would only affect individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000 a year -- about 2 percent of American households.)
Maybe you're wondering if CNN made this clear in that "Read more" link. Even if they did, that wouldn't be adequate -- but they didn't. The link takes you to an article that explains:
Let 2001-2003 tax cuts expire for high-income households: The Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire by 2011. As it has promised all along, the Obama administration would like to keep those tax cuts in place for everyone except the highest-income households.
It estimates nearly $700 billion will be raised over 10 years by letting the cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans.
"High-income households" ... "highest-income households" ... "wealthiest Americans": those are all vague and misleading phrases -- but that's all CNN gives us. It's almost like CNN is deliberately obscuring the fact that only people making more than $200,000 and families making $250,000 will be affected.
Media outlets continue to uncritically report Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) statement that he will oppose cloture for the Senate health care reform bill because he believes the opt-out public option provision Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said will be included in the bill would increase the national debt and burden the taxpayers. However, while Reid's bill has not yet been released, every proposed bill with a public option thus far has required that those who enroll in the plan cover its costs through premiums, rather than have the plans be paid for through federal revenues.
Several media outlets have uncritically reported Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) statement that he will oppose cloture for the Senate health care reform bill -- which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said will include a public option that each state could opt out of -- because he believes the public option would create a costly government entitlement program that taxpayers can't afford. However, as CBS News noted in a blog post on Lieberman's announcement, while Reid has yet to release details of the compromise Senate legislation, every other proposed bill with a public option so far has required the costs of the public plan to be covered by the premiums of those who enroll in it.
They all quote Sarah Palin's resignation-speech attack on the news media: "how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up"
And none of them point out that Palin herself has a famous history of "making things up." Like her claim to have said "thanks but no thanks" to Congress' attempts to inflict a "bridge to nowhere" on her state.
Sarah Palin, who has a lengthy history of making things up, basically accused the news media of dishonoring dead American soldiers by ... making things up. And the media typed up her words, not daring to point out the utter hypocrisy of her sanctimonious attack. An attack on them.
Don't they have any self-respect?
CNN.com reported that Republicans are using "accounts from Canada to warn against government involvement in the health care system" without noting that Democrats have ruled out moving toward a Canadian-style system.
Numerous media figures have cited anonymous smears of Sonia Sotomayor's intellect and temperament reported by The New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen, though Rosen has admitted he had neither read enough of her opinions nor spoken to enough of her supporters to form a fair assessment of her.