Fake News

By Clay Waters | March 15, 2011 | 3:10 PM EDT

The New York Times provided decent front-page coverage of the emerging scandal that took down top executives at National Public Radio, a hidden-camera sting that caught top fundraiser Ron Schiller making prejudicial remarks against Republicans in general and the Tea Party movement in particular. The backlash resulted in the resignation of Ron Schiller as well as NPR President and chief executive Vivian Schiller (no relation).

But Times media reporter Jeremy Peters took an incomplete look at the recent rash of hidden-camera hoaxes on Saturday under the strongly worded headline “Partisans Adopt Deceit As a Tactic for Reports.” Peters falsely implied that "gotcha" journalism had faded from view, ignoring two recent examples in the mainstream media, one from NPR itself.

By Clay Waters | January 11, 2011 | 4:22 PM EST

On Sunday, New York Times political reporter/columnist Matt Bai wondered if we are at the start of a “terrifying new” moment in political violence in “A Turning Point in the Discourse, but in Which Direction?” Bai argued that the act of Republican politicians saying standard political things was somehow fueling the rhetorical flames.

He at least appeared evenhanded at the beginning.

Within minutes of the first reports Saturday that Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and a score of people with her had been shot in Tucson, pages began disappearing from the Web. One was Sarah Palin’s infamous “cross hairs” map from last year, which showed a series of contested Congressional districts, including Ms. Giffords’s, with gun targets trained on them. Another was from Daily Kos, the liberal blog, where one of the congresswoman’s apparently liberal constituents declared her “dead to me” after Ms. Giffords voted against Nancy Pelosi in House leadership elections last week.

By Tim Graham | September 13, 2010 | 8:04 AM EDT

The Washington Post has repeatedly featured a full-page ad in recent days for a Get Motivated! Business Seminar in Washington in October. One of the big names at the event (alongside Colin Powell, Steve Forbes, and Rudy Giuliani) is disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather, teaching "How to Communicate Effectively." Then the ad copy gets ridiculous:

Dan Rather, Legendary News Anchor and Journalist, has covered every major story of the last 50 years, with distinction and a fierce dedication to hard news. He is always ready to deliver the truth the way it is! [Emphasis mine.]

Hello, Better Business Bureau? Someone's misleading the public about Dan Rather's record of "distinction" in trying to sell fraudulent documents about President George W. Bush's military service in the fall of 2004. His "fierce dedication" wasn't to hard news. When his story was exposed as phony, he refused to admit he'd mangled the truth.

By Tim Graham | September 3, 2010 | 7:10 AM EDT

The Poynter Institute welcomed disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather to share his thoughts on his long career and on the media in general this week. In an interview with Poynter's Mallary Tenore, he complained "So often, particularly covering politics, enterprises that describe themselves as journalistic enterprises, and journalists who describe themselves as journalists, in fact just become transmission belts."

That's exactly what Poynter's interview was, a transmission belt for Rather's lamest hits, including how the press needs a "spine transplant" and his shameless insistence that his phony-documents Texas Air National Guard story is still true. If Poynter cared about the reputation of journalism, why continue to entertain and spread doubt about the falsehood of Rather's most atrocious "scoop"?

The only thing fresh here is Rather's growing socialism, as he insists (just like Bill Moyers) that money is corrupting politics and the government needs to break some alleged media monopoly where only four mega-corporations distribute most of America's news:

By Lachlan Markay | April 5, 2010 | 1:17 PM EDT
An April Fools prank designed to trick bloggers into running with a contrived story ended up snaring the Gray Lady.

New York attorney Eric Terkewitz told his blog's readers on April 1 that he had been hired as the White House's "official law blogger." Unlike the political bloggers at which the stunt was aimed, the New York Times apparently did not check the claim, and posted the story to its website.

The incident serves as a reminder that, as journos like to say, "if your mother says she loves you, check it out."

By Lachlan Markay | February 10, 2010 | 4:24 PM EST

Salon columnist Max Blumenthal continues to get flak for his slanderous, factually-challenged hit piece on conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe last week. The column, premised on a host of omissions and baseless assumptions, contended that O'Keefe's is a racist.

Blumenthal's latest critic is Columbia Journalism Review, Old Media's paragon of journalistic elitism. CJR has requested that he correct but one of the many errors that comprise his column.

But CJR really has a problem, it seems, that Blumenthal has given ammunition to critics who claim Old Media is rife with liberal bias. CJR contributor Greg Marx lamented that Blumenthal and other quasi-journalists, in ignoring facts to support their agendas,give "ready-made ammunition for that broader campaign."

By Lachlan Markay | December 15, 2009 | 3:03 PM EST
A former war correspondent for CNN is threatening legal action against bloggers who suggest that video of him reporting the first Gulf War from a television studio is "fake news." The video shows Charles Jaco and another correspondent dramatically recounting events from the Persian Gulf, and later shows Jaco and the camera crew joking around in what appears to be a television studio (video embedded below the fold).

"My attorneys intend to act immediately against those of you receiving this who have sent and forwarded these emails accusing me of falsifying coverage," Jaco wrote in a memo to a local blogger who circulated the video via email. He also announced his intention to demand that LiveLink and YouTube remove the video from their respective sites.
By Kyle Drennen | December 15, 2009 | 1:12 PM EST

Dan Rather, MediaBistro In a Monday interview on MediaBistro.com’s weekly video series Media Beat, disgraced former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather shared his concerns over the credibility of internet journalism: “The difficulty with some of the things on the internet...is transparency and accountability about who’s responsible for what’s on.”

TVNewser.com columnist Gail Shister sparked the discussion by asking Rather: “Are you concerned at all that there is the absence of quality control when it comes to so much of the modern platforms?” Rather went on to fret: “...you can put something on the internet that’s really terrible about your neighbor or about a friend or a competitor and it’s almost impossible to find out who the source is. And you can say anything about them. That part of it troubles me.”

Rather of course ended his tenure at CBS after using fraudulent documents to smear President George W. Bush just days before the 2004 presidential election. He showed little concern for accountability and proper sourcing as he used fabricated memos to claim that Bush had gone AWOL while serving in the Texas Air National Guard in the 1970s.

By Mark Finkelstein | December 4, 2009 | 7:58 AM EST

Fake but accurate rides again!  The same lame defense Dan Rather used in Memogate has been trotted out on ClimateGate by Columbia Univ. Prof. Jeffrey Sachs.  

Appearing on Morning Joe today, the author of Common Wealth [note play on words: your money is our money] alleged that the real victims in this scandal are . . . the number-fudging scientists. People are attempting to "Swiftboat" those poor CRU guys, sighed Sachs.  For good measure, the good professor asserted that what the fudgesters did "is not a very big deal."

By Mark Finkelstein | October 26, 2009 | 9:38 PM EDT

Give Ed Schultz credit for something: on his MSNBC show this evening, he hosted an amusing smackdown between Barney Frank and Ralph Nader, perhaps the two most morose public men in America.  For once, Barney was attacked from the left.  The gist of Ralph's rebuke was that Frank hasn't gone far enough in regulating the financial industry.

Frank was finally so provoked that he claimed/admitted that when it comes to regulation, Democrats are "trying on every front to increase the role of government."

By Clay Waters | October 26, 2009 | 3:30 PM EDT

One could almost predict the desperately "current" New York Times editor/columnist Frank Rich would devote his Sunday column to try and make Balloon Boy an anti-Republican symbol of something or other, and he doesn't disappoint.

The result, "In Defense of the ‘Balloon Boy' Dad," is even more silly than Rich's usual fare, playing devil's advocate for storm-chasing father Richard Heene. Rich found "some poignancy in [Heene's] determination to grab what he and many others see as among the last accessible scraps of the American dream....If Heene's balloon was empty, so were the toxic financial instruments, inflated by the thin air of unsupported debt, that cratered the economy he inhabits." Rich is being serious.

Certainly the "balloon boy" incident is a reflection of our time -- much as the radio-induced "War of the Worlds" panic dramatized America's jitters on the eve of World War II, or the national preoccupation with the now-forgotten Congressman Gary Condit signaled America's pre-9/11 drift into escapism and complacency in the summer of 2001. But to see what "balloon boy" says about 2009, you have to look past the sentimental moral absolutes. You have to muster some sympathy for the devil of the piece, the Bad Dad.
Nine months into Obama's presidency, everything is still officially about Bush:
Next to the other hoaxes and fantasies that have been abetted by the news media in recent years, both the "balloon boy" and Chamber of Commerce ruses are benign. The Colorado balloon may have led to the rerouting of flights and the wasteful deployment of law enforcement resources. But at least it didn't lead the country into fiasco the way George W. Bush's flyboy spectacle on an aircraft carrier helped beguile most of the Beltway press and too much of the public into believing that the mission had been accomplished in Iraq.
By Tim Graham | October 25, 2009 | 8:17 AM EDT

Disgraced former CBS anchorman Dan Rather continues to make the rounds, trying to rehabilitate his image and paint himself as a man wronged by an overcorporatized, politically neutralized media structure. That's no longer surprising. But why would schools of journalism gloss right over his embrace of fabricated National Guard records in 2004? Viviana Aldous at The Daily Texan reported on Rather's Thursday appearance at the University of Texas in Austin:

“Journalism continues to weather its profound changes as it transits into its digital future,” said Tracy Dahlby, director of the School of Journalism. “Rather has spent six decades getting the job done, telling people things they need to know about their world they otherwise wouldn’t. He’s done it with courage, style, wit and occasionally the controversy that [often] comes [with being a] journalist.”

Is Tracy Dahlby really expressing an opinion, or just taking politeness to an embarrassing extreme? But at least Dahlby didn't call Rather the "world's best journalist," as odd as that sounds: