The P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2012
They're back: The P.U.-litzers, FAIR's annual rundown of some of the stinkiest moments in American journalism.
As usual, there were more contenders than we could possibly consider. So think of this as just a sampling of the bias, spin and misinformation that we noted over the course of the year.
Without further ado...
-Factchecking the Dark Arts Award: Alex Altman, Time
When Time set out to compare Obama and Romney distortions, there was a big problem: Romney's campaign produced bigger, more substantive lies. How to "balance" that reality? Altman explained (10/3/12) that "sometimes the most effective lie is the one that is closest to the truth, and Obama’s team has often outdone Romney's in the dark art of subtle distortion."
-CEOs Know Best Award: CBS Evening News
With the Beltway media in full panic mode over the "fiscal cliff," CBS Evening News turned to some curious experts: Corporate CEOs. On November 19, the show presented Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs as a budget expert. The next night: Honeywell CEO David Cote. And the night after that? Why, more from Blankfein. The pair are part of the corporate-backed "Fix the Debt" campaign, pushing for cuts in social spending--along with tax breaks for themselves.
-Factchecking Your Friends Award: David Gergen, CNN
When a debate broke out over whether the Obama campaign was exaggerating claims about Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, the long-time TV talking head weighed in with a CNN.com column, "Facts Don't Support Obama's Charges Against Romney" (7/16/12). But Gergen admitted that he has "a past relationship with the top partners at Bain that is both personal and financial"-- including getting paid to speak at Bain events. So how did this conflicted factchecker investigate criticisms of his friends? He "reached two of the top people whom I know in the company." Well, that's one way to get at the truth.
-Half-Baked by the Heat Award: George Will, ABC
"How do we explain the heat? One word: summer. I grew up in central Illinois in a house without air conditioning.... Now, come the winter, there will be a cold snap, lots of snow, and the same guys...will start lecturing us, there's a difference between the weather and the climate. I agree with that. We're having some hot weather. Get over it." (This Week, 7/8/12)
-Killing Their Four-Year-Old Girls to Save Ours Award: Joe Klein, Time
MSNBC's Morning Joe (10/23/12) had an unusually blunt discussion about U.S drone attacks. When host Joe Scarborough talked about "four-year-old girls being blown to bits," Time's Joe Klein responded:
The bottom line, in the end, is: Whose four-year-old gets killed? What we're doing is limiting the possibility that four-year-olds here are going to get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.
-Hunky Wonk Award: Michael Crowley, Time
Reporters and pundits have spent years praising Rep. Paul Ryan, and his selection as Mitt Romney's running mate did little to temper their enthusiasm. The Washington Post's Dan Balz ( 8/14/12) wrote that Ryan "is a numbers person who likes to break down problems and solve them after digesting reams of data." But Time's Michael Scherer outdid him ( 8/27/12): "Ryan is to budget math what Carl Sagan was to the science of the cosmos."
-Anonymous Smears Award: Scott Shane, New York Times
When the British-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism released a report on civilian drone victims, the New York Times ( 2/6/12) felt compelled to quote an unnamed "senior American counterterrorism official" in response, who retorted: "One must wonder why an effort that has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has been subjected to so much misinformation. Let's be under no illusions--there are a number of elements who would like nothing more than to malign these efforts and help Al-Qaeda succeed."