Posted by Janine Jackson on 05/06/11 at 4:13 pmElite media?s selective disdain for public activism is well known. Still, you?d think some things would garner a word or two. Like 300 disability rights activists, a couple hundred in wheelchairs, occupying the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The May 2 demonstration was organized by the rights group ADAPT to protest Republican budget plans for Medicaid. Ninety-one people were arrested and carted off by Capitol police.
Yet days after the rotunda protest, and another action the next day in which 300 demonstrators gathered outside the Longworth House Office Building, many getting inside to Rep. Paul Ryan’s second floor office where 10 were arrested, the country’s big media have taken no notice. Accounts in Politico (5/2/11) and the Hill (5/3/11) were all a search turned up. […] Read more»
Posted by Peter Hart on 05/06/11 at 3:10 pmTime magazine’s new issue (no link to the text is available) includes this weird explanation of how torture helped track down Osama bin Laden:
Interrogators grilled 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed for details about the courier. When he pleaded ignorance, they knew they were on to something promising. Al-Libbi, the senior Al-Qaeda figure captured in 2005, also played dumb. Both men were subjected to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including, in Mohammed’s case, the waterboard.
As best I can tell, the argument here is that they got no information about the Al-Qaeda courier from torturing these two detainees–which was just the crucial lead needed to crack the case. So the fact that torturing these two detainees did not produce information proves that torturing is a useful way to produce information.
The piece goes on to say, “The report that Mohammed and al-Libbi were more forthcoming after the harsh treatment guarantees that the argument will go on.” Does that make any sense at all? Or is this just more evidence that anything and everything can be used by torture proponents to claim vindication?
Posted by Peter Hart on 05/06/11 at 10:16 amToday it’s the New York Times (5/6/11) framing the story according to nonsensical GOP talking points:
House Passes a Bill to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling
WASHINGTON — With rising gasoline prices and skyrocketing oil company profits as a backdrop, the House approved a bill on Thursday to force the Obama administration to accelerate oil lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia.
The 266-to-149 vote, largely along party lines, was a skirmish in the larger battle between Republicans and Democrats to capitalize on consumer anger over the price of gasoline, which has now passed $4 a gallon in most parts of the country.
Once again: Domestic drilling will do next to nothing to affect gas prices. (Mostly) Republican politicians want people to believe the opposite, and push policies to that end. But journalists should question the premise of these political maneuvers, not merely reinforce them. […] Read more»
Posted by Steve Rendall on 05/05/11 at 5:55 pmToday’s New York Times profile of Christian right propagandist David Barton reports on how the self-styled historian wields a great deal of influence in conservative and Christian nationalist circles, spreading his gospel that the U.S. was founded on Christian principles.
The Times‘ Erik Eckholm reports that “many historians call his research flawed” and that “liberal organizations are raising the alarm over what they say are Mr. Barton’s dangerous distortions,” and he quotes Baylor University critic Derek H. Davis, who says that Barton’s work includes “a lot of distortions, half-truths and twisted history.”
So Eckholm tells us that Barton has critics who say he generally mangles history, but what is true? This is where journalism and the professional judgment it entails should intervene, but Eckholm is content to act the court stenographer, simply recording what the various parties say, rather than informing readers about the evidence for the conflicting views.
Nor is any mention made of Barton’s controversial role in the creation of public school history curricula and text books, or past links with extremist groups, including the Christian Reconstructionist movement and the racist and anti-Semitic Christian Identity sect (Church & State, 4/93).
It’s not that there’s a shortage of critical work on Barton. Online reports about his links to extremists are widely available, as are any number of solid factualdebunkings of his historical claims. Indeed, you can even read about how Barton himself conceded that a dozen quotes he’d attributed to U.S. founders and other prominent political figures were either false or unverifiable. […] Read more»