By Tom Blumer | May 28, 2011 | 10:01 AM EDT

I've seen Associated Press reporters make absurd assertions before, but a statement written by Julie Pace and Vanessa Gera, who covered President Barack Obama's trip to Poland yesterday, has to be at or near the top of the list of all-time humdingers.

Polish Solidarity hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa did not meet with Obama yesterday. Wait until you see the sheer speculation as to why there was no meeting in the bolded sentence in the fourth paragraph of the following excerpt from the AP pair's Friday evening report:

By Kyle Drennen | April 18, 2011 | 6:11 PM EDT

On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt marked the 50th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion as "one of the most infamous events in American history." In the report that followed, correspondent Mark Potter proclaimed: "This weekend Cuba is remembering a critical moment in history still felt today. Huge crowds have come out to celebrate in ways not seen here for years."

Sounding like he was reading a press release about the celebration, Potter declared: "In the Plaza of the Revolution, a massive display of military might and a celebration of Cuba's victory 50 years ago at the Bay of Pigs. The failed invasion planned by the CIA and backed by the US military is seen as a historic turning point for Fidel Castro." At no point in the story was the brutality of Castro's 50-year communist dictatorship mentioned.

By Clay Waters | April 13, 2011 | 3:28 PM EDT

New York Times reporter Mark Oppenheimer on Tuesday documented some of the strange conservative allies of African dictator Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, who is a Christian: “A Strongman Found Support in Prominent Conservative Christians in the U.S.

But some of the labeling was overheated: “A secretive evangelical Christian organization that some say has a right-wing agenda.” When the Times says “some say,” it almost always means “liberals say,” and indeed, Oppenheimer’s source, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) tends to target conservatives with their complaints.

The Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who was finally captured on Monday, defied nearly everybody: the United States, the European Union and the African Union. But right to the end, Mr. Gbagbo had defenders in the West, and they notably included several prominent conservative Christians.

By Tom Blumer | March 1, 2011 | 2:06 PM EST

Retired Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern was recently interviewed by Journolist organizer and Washington Post staff writer Ezra "the Constitution is confusing because it was written more than a hundred years ago" Klein.

In response to a question from Klein about "the animosity between unions and workplaces" (that is what Klein says he said), Stern made an interesting assertion that most readers probably took at face value:

We grew up in that culture. In the '30s, people didn't want us to exist. We had to do sit-down strikes . . . we had socialist and communist tendencies. We grew up, to speak in Marxist terms, in a world with a lot more class struggle. It's not viewed through that light anymore.

Really? "Permit" me to disagree.

By Brad Wilmouth | January 6, 2011 | 9:08 AM EST

 Uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, ABC’s World News on Wednesday informed viewers of display items for the National Archives planned for next month’s commemoration of President Reagan’s 100 th birthday. Anchor Diane Sawyer recounted that Reagan had made "handwritten changes" to his 1983 speech in which he called the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire." Sawyer:

By Clay Waters | January 5, 2011 | 8:53 AM EST

New York Times reporter Edward Wong took an inordinately cheery look at a Maoist tourist attraction in the Chinese city of Yan’an in Friday’s “Revolution Isn’t a Party, But It Draws The Tourists.” The online headline was clearer: “China’s Red Tourism Taps Communist Pride for Profit.”

Wong described a botched performance of a re-enactment of “a crucial moment in the Chinese civil war, when the Kuomintang tried to overrun the Communists in 1947 in their mountain redoubt here. The show, complete with live explosions and a fighter jet that swoops down on a wire, takes place every morning on the outskirts of Yan’an, a dingy city of two million in the northern province of Shaanxi.

Capitalism is thriving in China, but red is far from dead, at least in Yan’an. “The Defense of Yan’an” is a recent addition to tourist attractions that try to evoke the glory days of the Communist Party, after its leaders entered Yan’an in 1936 following the Long March. Local officials and businesspeople are profiting handsomely from a boom in “red tourism,” in which Chinese, many of them young professionals, journey to famous revolutionary sites to rekindle their long-lost sense of class struggle and proletarian principles.

By Tom Blumer | December 28, 2010 | 12:19 PM EST

A Christmas Eve report from Ian James at the Associated Press on developments in Venezuela caused me to go to the dictionary to make sure my understanding of the word "bold" is correct.

In context, here are the two most relevant definitions of the word found at

  • (first listing) "not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: a bold hero."
  • (third listing) "necessitating courage and daring; challenging: a bold adventure."

One thus has to take the following sentence, the first in James's report, as a virtually explicit expression of admiration for the latest authoritarian moves by the country's "El Presidente," Hugo Chávez:

By Tom Blumer | December 19, 2010 | 10:52 AM EST

Having been given the power to rule by decree for 18 months, Hugo Chávez appears to be in the midst of completing a de facto statist takeover of the country institutions and levers of power.

No journalist is daring to directly call it dictatorship. You won't find any form of the word at a December 15 New York Times story by Simon Romero ("Chávez Seeks Decree Powers" -- which, by the way, appeared at Page A13), or at a December 17 Associated Press item ("Venezuela congress grants Chavez decree powers") by Fabiola Sanchez.

In a Reuters story ("Venezuela assembly gives Chavez decree powers"), reporters Daniel Wallis and Frank Jack Daniel took note of outraged "opponents who accuse him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship," relieving them of the responsibility for stating the obvious themselves.

Romero's item at the Times is particularly galling in its borderline admiration for the tactics employed by the man who is now Venzuela's virtual dictator (bold is mine):

By Tom Blumer | December 13, 2010 | 2:24 PM EST

A useful guideline in evaluating the significance of a national security-related news story first revealed by someone in the establishment press is whether other media outlets pick it up. If they don't, it's probably significant.

Such is the case with the Washington Post's Saturday story about Venezuela acquiring 1,800 Russian antiaircraft missiles. That appears to be 1,700 more than originally thought.

The story has gone through two additional overnight news cycles. Yet it appears from relevant site searches that both the Associated Press (searches on Venezuela, Venezuela missiles [not in quotes], and missiles) and the New York Times (Venezuela, "Venezuela missiles," and missiles) have chosen to ignore the story.

The news relayed by the WaPo's Juan Ferero seems objectively very significant, and more than a little worrisome, based on the bolded paragraph in the following excerpt:

By Clay Waters | November 30, 2010 | 2:35 PM EST

More sympathy from New York Times reporter Simon Romero for Lori Berenson, the  American terrorist helper jailed in Peru, in a profile on Saturday’s front page, “Berenson Tries to Make Amends in Peru.” Romero attempted to make Berenson an object of sympathy, as he did in a profile earlier this year when she was released on parole.

Berenson was sentenced to life in prison in Peru in 1996 for being closely involved with the Marxist terrorists of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Berenson’s parole was greeted with public indignation, which Romero did his best to quell, calling her fiery claim at trial, that “There are no criminal terrorists in the M.R.T.A. It’s a revolutionary movement!” merely a “youthful outburst.” (Berenson was 26 at the time.) Instead Romero picked up on the angle of a poor, picked-on Berenson:

By Tom Blumer | November 23, 2010 | 7:22 PM EST

I heard Rush mention this Caucus Blog item at the New York Times on his program today.

It seems that the Times's Michael Shear is disappointed that Dear Leader is yet again caught up in a "distraction" ("Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Distraction"). It's headlined in the item's browser window as "Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Controversy." Interesting edit, don't you think? If it's a "controversy," the President owns it. If it's a "distraction," well, it's an unfair intrusion. Clever.

Shear wrapped it in a narrative whose theme was that "It all felt vaguely familiar." Well, yeah. What's more than vaguely familiar has been the press's tendency to lament the distractions our supposedly otherwise focused like a laser beam chief executive must endure. On April 9, 2009 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that "The words 'Obama' and 'distraction' have both appeared in 2,425 articles in just the past 30 days; excluding duplicates, it's about 450."

In his blog entry, Shear listed many other awful distractions the president has encountered. What's interesting are how many of them escalated because of Obama or people working directly for him:

By Clay Waters | November 10, 2010 | 1:04 PM EST

New York Times reporter Channing Joseph engaged in light-hearted humanizing of those stuffy Communists in Sunday’s Metro section, “Where Marxists Pontificate, And Play.” The worst thing Joseph can say about the gathering of supporters of tyrannical regimes at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan is that Communists have a reputation for “seriousness.”

There’s even a boring online slide show with cozy captions: “There are little hints of humor all around the Brecht Forum....” Judging by the photos, very little.

Try to imagine the Times getting so cozy among a group of mainstream Republicans, much less Tea Party supporters. Hanging out with the Communist group, Joseph posed no inconveniently challenging questions on the atrocities of Stalin, Mao, or Castro. Instead, “smiles abound” and gentleness reigns in this non-news news story.

If communists have a reputation for anything, it is seriousness. (And if you have seen old photos of Karl Marx, you know that he did not smile much.) But at the Brecht Forum, a community center on West Street where revolutionaries and radicals gather daily to ponder and to pontificate, they also play. (Smiles abound.)