The P.U.-Litzers: Here Are the Stinkiest Media Moments of 2013
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--Magical Politicians Award: Mark Halperin
On NBC's Meet the Press (11/10/13), Time reporter Mark Halperin had this to say about New Jersey's Republican governor: "Chris Christie is someone who is magical in the way politicians can be magical, like our last three presidents."
--The Sponsors Speak Award: PBS
The January 23 episode of PBS series Nova was a mostly upbeat report on drones and surveillance. What viewers may not have known about "Rise of the Drones" was that it was funded in part by Lockheed Martin--the giant aerospace corporation that just happens to be a major drone manufacturer.
--Perfect Weapons Award: Brooke Baldwin, Tom Foreman
When it appeared that the US would carry out a military attack on Syria, some CNN reporters stepped right into Pentagon PR mode. Anchor Brooke Baldwin (8/30/13) declared that US warships "can carry cruise missiles able to strike targets more than 1,000 miles away with pinpoint accuracy." A few days later, CNN correspondent Tom Foreman (9/2/13) told viewers: "Cruise missiles are extraordinary weapons. They're very reliable. They have pinpoint accuracy."
--The Richard Cohen Award: Richard Cohen
The Washington Post columnist attempted to write a piece about the GOP and racism--but wound up revealing his own (11/11/13): "People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York--a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.... To cultural conservatives, this doesn't look like their country at all." This wasn't Cohen's only racist outburst this year; this summer ( 7/16/13), he said that while he was sorry that Trayvon Martin had been gunned down, he was "wearing a uniform we all recognize."
--Misremembering Thatcher Award: David Ignatius, John Burns
When former conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died in April, pundits lined up to pay tribute. The Washington Post's David Ignatius (4/10/13) wrote that he saw Thatcher "take down the British class system." He cheered that "the upper classes became porous” and "life became a Ralph Lauren ad." And the New York Times' John Burns (PBS NewsHour, 4/9/13) recalled: “The Britain I grew up in, in the wake of the Second World War, was a country which was in precipitous decline, which had entirely lost its national self-confidence. And Mrs. Thatcher put that right." (In the actual England under Thatcher, inequality and poverty increased markedly--Guardian, 4/8/13.)
--'Both Sides' Want to Cut Social Security Award: David Brooks and Mark Shields
On the PBS NewsHour (4/12/13), conservative David Brooks thought Barack Obama's proposal to cut Social Security was "brave" and a "move to the center." And the PBS version of the left, Mark Shields, thought it was "gutsy…. He should get credit for doing something bold and difficult."
--Short Memory Award: Joe Scarborough
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough (3/19/13) marked the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion by heaping scorn on media outlets like the New York Times that failed to acknowledge their responsibility for leading the country into war: "The very same people who spent years beating up George Bush were the very ones beating the drum for Iraq’s regime change and Saddam Hussein’s ouster."
But 10 years earlier, Scarborough (4/9/03) criticized media for not being pro-war enough: “I doubt that the journalists at the New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks." The next day (4/10/03), he declared, "I’m waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.... Their wartime predictions were arrogant, they were misguided and they were dead wrong. Maybe, just maybe, these self-anointed critics will learn from their mistakes."
--Know Your Enemy Award: David Gregory, Michael Grunwald