Media: At Reuters, ‘Not Refuting’ Is the Same as ‘Seeing’

26 April 2017 — FAIR

Top U.S. general in Afghanistan sees Russia sending weapons to TalibanTop US general in Afghanistan does not say what Reuters‘ headline says he said.

“Top US General in Afghanistan Sees Russia Sending Weapons to Taliban” was Reuters’ headline over a April 25 story.

Well, that sounds like news! Tell me more, Reuters’ Idrees Ali:

The head of US and international forces in Afghanistan said on Monday he was “not refuting” reports that Russia was providing support, including weapons, to the Taliban….

Asked about reports that Russia was providing a range of help, including weapons, to the Taliban, who control large areas of Afghanistan, [Gen. John] Nicholson replied: “Oh no, I am not refuting that.”

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Media: NYT’s ‘Impossible to Verify’ North Korea Nuke Claim Spreads Unchecked by Media

26 April 2017 — FAIR

New York Times: As North Korea Speeds Its Nuclear Program, U.S. Fears Time Will Run OutThe New York Times (4/24/17) makes news with an “impossible to verify” claim.

Buoyed by a total of 18 speculative verb forms—five “mays,” eight “woulds” and five “coulds”—New York Times reporters David E. Sanger and William J. Broad (4/24/17) painted a dire picture of a Trump administration forced to react to the growing and impending doom of North Korea nuclear weapons.

“As North Korea Speeds Its Nuclear Program, US Fears Time Will Run Out” opens by breathlessly establishing the stakes and the limited time for the US to “deal with” the North Korean nuclear “crisis”: Continue reading this...

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At NYT, Climate Denial and Racism Don’t Make You Fringe–but Single-Payer Does

20 April 2017 — FAIR

Bret Stephens
New York Times hire Bret Stephens (cc photo: Christopher Michel)

The New York Times is the most influential newspaper in the English-language world, not just because of its reach and leadership status within the industry, but because it defines the boundaries of acceptable debate. Being in the New York Times is a legitimizing event, one that cements ideas as not fringe, “other,” or in the realm of the dreaded, career-ending “conspiracy theory.” So it understandably upset many liberals when the Times decided to bestow upon hard-right Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens the ultimate stamp of Acceptable Opinion approval by affording him a regular op-ed column in the Times.

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Media: Thomas Friedman’s Perverse Love Affair With ISIS

13 April 2017 — FAIR

NYT: Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?Thomas Friedman urges Donald Trump to be “utterly cynical”–not unlike a Thomas Friedman column.

For the second time in as many years, Thomas Friedman has explicitly advocated that the United States use the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a proxy force against Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. The New York Times foreign affairs columnist made this suggestion in his Wednesday column, “Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?” (4/12/17):

Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?…

We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war—the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.

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Media: Out of 46 Major Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Only One Opposed

11 April 2017 — FAIR

Headlines of Syria airstrike editorialsOf the top 100 US newspapers, 47 ran editorials on President Donald Trump’s Syria airstrikes last week: 39 in favor, seven ambiguous and only one opposed to the military attack.

In other words, 83 percent of editorials on the Syria attack supported Trump’s bombing, 15 percent took an ambivalent position and 2 percent said the attack shouldn’t have happened. Polls showed the US public being much more split: Gallup (4/7–8/17) and ABC/Washington Post (4/7–9/17) each had 51 percent supporting the airstrikes and 40 percent opposed, while CBS (4/7–9/17) found 57 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed.

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North Korea: ‘The Only Sensible Path at This Point is Dialogue’

12 April 2017 — FAIR

Janine Jackson interviewed Hyun Lee about North Korea for the April 7, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

Hyun Lee

Hyun Lee: “Every country has a sovereign right to test its weapons capability. That’s how you know if it works or not, and that’s precisely what North Korea is doing.”

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The Essential Pundit Take: ‘Trump Became President’ by Bombing Syria

8 April 2017 — FAIR

Fareed Zakaria on Trump airstrikesFareed Zakaria: Presidents “don’t need to go to a pesky Congress every time they want military force.”

“I think Donald Trump became president of the United States” last night, CNN host Fareed Zakaria said when asked about the significance of Trump’s airstrikes on Syria (New Day, 4/7/17). “I think this was actually a big moment.” Continue reading this...

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Bloomberg’s Hit Job on Venezuela – and Me By Michael Hudson

3 April 2017 — Counterpunch

I just had a disastrous and embarrassing interaction with Bloomberg, and feel that I was ambushed and sandbagged by having my comments taken out of context in a hit piece Bloomberg’s journalists wrote on Venezuela – evidently trying to distort my own views in a two-for-one job. Continue reading this...

Conspiracy Theorists Welcome in Corporate Media–if They Have the Right Targets

29 March 2017 — FAIR

Louise Mensch on Real Time
Louise Mensch on Real Time

Former British Conservative MP Louise Mensch has become something of a celebrity of late in anti-Trump media. In the past two weeks, Mensch has been touted by former head of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile and prominent Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, and appeared on MSNBC (3/11/17), the New York Times op-ed page (3/17/17) and HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher (3/24/17). All this despite the fact that she routinely traffics in the most bizarre and unfounded conspiracy theories.

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Media: NYT Says Congress Has ‘Duty’ to Make War–Rather Than the Right to Reject It

27 March 2017 — FAIR

NYT: Congress’s Duty in the War With ISISThe New York Times argues that Congress has a duty to authorize war–rather than a responsibility to determine whether war should be fought.

As reports come in detailing the degree to which Donald Trump has escalated the “War on ISIS”—and killed hundreds more civilians in the process—this would seem like a good time for the country to sit back and examine the United States’ approach to fighting “terrorism” and its recent iteration, the so-called Islamic State. Continue reading this...

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Right-Wing Foundation, Scary Nuke Maps Drive Narrative on North Korea ‘Threat’

22 March 2017 — FAIR

Tensions between the United States and North Korea are making their way back into the news after a series of missile tests and presidential Twitter threats. Meanwhile, a conservative think tank—previously thought all but dead—has seen a resurgence in relevancy, thanks to its alignment with Donald Trump. The result is that the Heritage Foundation has provided much of the narrative backbone for North Korean/US relations in the age of Trump, making the rounds in dozens of media articles and television appearances.

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Pie in the Sky?

16 March 2017 — 38 Degrees

This is huge. You – along with thousands of other people – have helped throw a major spanner into Rupert Murdoch’s plans to take full control of Sky. Karen Bradley, the Culture Secretary, just announced an investigation into the takeover. [1]

This means that instead of getting waved through, Murdoch’s plan faces a fresh obstacle. Ofcom, the media watchdog, now has to look into Murdoch’s dodgy media empire. Spoiler alert: Rupert Murdoch probably won’t like what they say. [2]

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Media Fawn Over Trump’s Success at Saying Words in Semi-Coherent Fashion

1 March 2017 — FAIR

What came to be known as the “expectations game” during the George W. Bush years was wielded with notorious cynicism. The assumption behind this game in those days was that Bush was a bumbling doofus who could hardly string together a coherent sentence, so if he got to the level of a high school debate, media chalked it up as a “win.”

The game, successfully rebooted by Donald Trump over the past 18 months, was in full play during Trump’s speech to Congress last night: So long as Trump wasn’t his petulant, incoherent, race-baiting self, it would be considered a victory for the 45th president.

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Shotgun Pointed at Black Children Trivialized as ‘Confederate Flag Incident’

1 March 2017 — FAIR

Fox News: Man, Woman Sentenced for Terrorizing Partygoers With Confederate FlagWith a loaded shotgun, actually.

As FAIR has noted before (4/1/15, 3/8/16), how a story is framed is as important—if not more so—than the content of an article. Sixty percent of Americans don’t read past the headline and 60 percent of Americans share articles on social media without reading them. How a story is teed up to the reader is an essential element in how our media shape our understanding of the news.

One recent string of headlines on the conviction of two Georgia white supremacists over their racist menacing with a shotgun of an eight-year-old child’s party highlighted the extreme degree to which the media can fail in this capacity:

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