FAIR

Palin v. NYT is just the latest salvo against free press protection

Sarah Pac: It's Time to Take a Stand

The ad from Sarah Palin’s PAC that prompted the New York Times (6/14/17) to write that in Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ 2011 shooting, “the link to political incitement was clear.”

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate who helped propel the right flank of the Republican Party into its current prominence, came to New York City with a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times. She lost in court, but her offensive against the paper is a symptom of a growing political campaign against a crucial legal centerpiece of US press freedom.

A Times editorial (6/14/17) used an ad from Palin’s political action committee that placed crosshairs over congressional districts as an example of partisan speech run amok, suggesting it had a connection to a 2011 shooting that maimed Rep. Gabby Giffords and left six others dead. The original text read:

In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs.

The paper later issued a correction (6/16/17), saying that the editorial “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric” and the shooting of Giffords, when “no such link was established.” A revised text replaced “the link to political incitement was clear” with “At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right,” and added: “But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.”

Following the standard

Palin said in court that the mistake caused her lasting damage (NPR, 2/10/22): “It’s hard to lay your head on a pillow and have a restful night when you know that lies are told about you, a specific lie that was not going to be fixed.”

The jury rejected her defamation claim, bringing the Times a legal victory against the former governor (CNN, 2/15/22). The jury’s role in the case, it turned out, was merely symbolic. Judge Jed Rakoff declared as the jury deliberated that he would dismiss the case regardless of what they decided, because Palin “failed to show the Times acted with ‘actual malice.’” And that, according to the precedent set in the 1964 Supreme Court decision New York Times v. Sullivan, is “the standard in lawsuits involving public figures” (Reuters, 2/14/22). (The “actual malice” standard requires public figures suing for libel to prove that falsehoods were made either intentionally or with “reckless disregard” for the truth.)

James Bennet, the editorial page editor at the Times at the time, took full responsibility for associating Palin’s ad with the Giffords shooting (New York Post, 2/8/22). The paper admitted that it made an error and issued a correction promptly (NPR, 2/12/22). Even looking at the editorial’s original form, however, it’s hard to prove that a vague word like “link” is factually false; it never came out and said that Giffords’ shooting was caused by Palin’s ad—a point Bennet made at trial: “If I thought it caused the violence, I would have used the word ‘cause,’” he said (Reuters, 2/9/22). It’s unsurprising that the jury found for the Times, even without the “actual malice” standard that public figures have to meet when suing for libel.

Cheering for weaker legal protections

Sarah Palin, the New York Times and the Oops Defense

The Wall Street Journal s James Freeman (2/9/22) would like to make it easier for politicians to sue journalists because the New York Times “continues to mention Ms. Palin in a negative light.”

But that protection for the press, once seen as a necessary shield to protect independent speech from powerful figures who could otherwise use legal might to crush dissent, is being turned into the bad guy in this case, less a shield than a weapon that the establishment press can use against anyone in the public eye that it wants to tar publicly.

Palin, a former governor and vice presidential candidate as well as a powerful icon in conservative movement, presented herself as a David to the Times’ Goliath (New York Times, 2/10/22). Her lawyer, Shane Vogt, asserted that Palin’s team was “keenly aware of the fact that we’re fighting an uphill battle” (Politico, 2/3/22). The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman (2/9/22) said that “Bennet is arguing that he didn’t mean to write what he clearly wrote,” and that if his “argument is credited, media outfits can publish almost anything and then run corrections while claiming they meant no harm.”

For many observers, these were crocodile tears and part of a public campaign to discredit the media and paint conservatives as victims of an unaccountable newspaper. Politico (2/10/22) said that Palin “knows the whole episode has enhanced, not damaged, her reputation with the partisans on whom her political and financial fortunes depend.” Her target is “the news organization her confederates on the right have seethed over since the Nixon era,” and others are “cheering her case” because they “hope to weaken the legal protections benefiting all journalists.”

‘Constitutional Brezhnev doctrine’

FAIR: The Judicial Right Is Coming After Freedom of the Press

FAIR.org (3/26/21): Right-wing judicial activism “has breathed new legal life into the prospect of making it easier for political and corporate leaders to use defamation suits to stifle the press.”

That last part is critical. Protections like those afforded under Sullivan have been considered sacrosanct by press and free speech advocates. When then-President Donald Trump vowed to make it easier for him to sue journalists, the press scoffed (CNBC, 1/10/18; LA Times, 9/8/18). But the Palin case is a reminder that this threat was not the random musing of a thin-skinned demagogue, but an idea gaining steam on the broader right.

Almost a full year ago, FAIR (3/26/21) pointed to a dissent written by circuit court judge, long-time conservative legal operative Laurence Silberman, which called the Sullivan standard a “constitutional Brezhnev doctrine” to defend the liberal press against the right. And that was just the tip of the iceberg: At least two Supreme Court justices have wanted to revisit the Sullivan standard, and legal scholar Richard Epstein has railed against it since the 1980s.

This has intensified. The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press (1/18/22) said that at the beginning of this year, the Supreme Court “called for a response to yet another petition asking it to overturn its decision” in Sullivan. Last year, Justice Neil Gorsuch cited “‘momentous changes in the nation’s media landscape since 1964’ as his reason to revisit Sullivan.”

The committee also noted that “Justice Clarence Thomas pointed to the ease with which the ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory spread online”—an odd argument for Thomas to make, given the fervent advocacy of his wife, right-wing activist Gini Thomas, on behalf of the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump (New York Times Magazine, 2/22/22).

WaPo: Is the legal standard for libel outdated? Sarah Palin could help answer.

Genevieve Lakier (Washington Post, 2/3/22) suggests making it difficult for public figures to sue “might have made sense” when it protected “large media organizations,” but it “makes no sense today, when anyone can spread misinformation so long as they have social media followers.”

University of Chicago law professor Genevieve Lakier (Washington Post, 2/3/22) cited these critiques of the “actual malice” standards. She noted that while Sullivan is “an emblem of American free-speech exceptionalism and a source of pride,” it is also “an accident of history”—one that “removes any legal incentive for those who write about public officials or public figures to vigorously fact-check their stories.”

The United States, Lakier said, should “not let Sullivan limit our imagination of how First Amendment law could better serve the public interest in a vastly different media environment” from 1964, when the decision was handed down. (Her “most obvious” suggestion as a replacement for Sullivan are “damage caps”—which would allow lawsuits by public figures to be a manageable expense for outlets with deep pockets, while making them potentially catastrophic to independent journalists.)

‘A perverse incentive’

Three years ago, the American Bar Association (2/27/19) noted:

With breaking news being delivered in a tweet, it is easier now more than ever for journalists to simply get it wrong. This raises two questions: (1) Should there be a more relaxed standard for public officials rather than actual malice, and (2) would doing so create a chilling effect? These questions may soon have answers if courts do what Justice Thomas urges, which is reconsideration of jurisprudence in this area.
In the end, Justice Thomas seems to go a step further than just arguing for a more relaxed standard; relying on common law, he deems libel against public figures, “if anything, more serious and injurious than ordinary libels.” His concurrence provides momentum for critics of [Sullivan] and room for courts to reexamine the standard, as the press continues to face increased scrutiny.

Noah Feldman said at Bloomberg (7/7/21) that, according to Gorsuch, “the Sullivan precedent creates a perverse incentive not to check facts—so that you can later say that you didn’t realize what you were saying was false,” and that therefore, “the Sullivan rule no longer serves its original objective of creating an informed public debate.” (Gorsuch is describing here what’s known legally as “reckless disregard”—precisely what is not protected by the Sullivan standard.)

Press advocates believe that false statements against a public figure come with the cost of celebrity, Feldman argued, but “it has become harder for such stories to be shunted aside.” For “non-celebrities who might still be deemed public figures,” the actual malice standard “makes it very hard for them to vindicate their concerns about their own reputation.” Feldman warned press advocates to brace themselves for this precedent to be revisited.

A partisan distrust

Public trust in media has fallen, although that trend is highly partisan. Gallup (10/7/21) noted that “68% of Democrats, 11% of Republicans and 31% of independents…trust the media a great deal or fair amount,” while “confidence in the media among Republicans over the past five years is at unprecedented lows.” Palin’s unsuccessful legal challenge against the Times will only solidify that skepticism among her political base, boosting the narrative that conservatives can be vilified in the court of opinion with no recourse in a court of law.

The consequences of that skepticism go beyond drops in subscriptions and the rise of more partisan, start-up media outlets. It is about building a political and legal case that media outlets enjoy too much free speech, and that a conservative Supreme Court should undo a precedent by the Warren court, the most liberal era of the high court’s history. Such a change could have an enormous stifling effect on the press—establishment and otherwise.

Trump donor John Malone could soon be calling the shots at CNN


John Malone told CNBC (11/18/21) he’d like to see CNN

What will CNN become under John Malone?

“I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,” the media billionaire Malone told CNBC (11/18/21) in November.

“I do believe good journalism could have a role in the future portfolio that Discovery/TimeWarner’s going to represent,” he went on.

In the interview with CNBC‘s David Faber, Malone also said:

Fox News, in my opinion, has followed an interesting trajectory of trying to have news news, I mean some actual journalism, embedded in a program schedule of all opinions.

Brian Flood of right-wing Fox News (11/19/21) said of Malone’s CNBC declaration:

Liberty Media chairman John Malone, who sits on the Discovery, Inc. board of directors, wants to see left-wing CNN revert back to nonpartisan journalism following the completion of a merger that would put the liberal network under the Discovery channel.

More than a board member

Malone, in fact, is more than a Discovery board member; he’s its chair and largest shareholder. CNN, started by Ted Turner and now owned by AT&T, is part of an $85 billion acquisition by Discovery, expected to be finalized this year.

Malone’s links to politics include being an active supporter—he’s currently a board member—of the Cato Institute, the Washington-based libertarian think tank that espouses the privatization of numerous US government agencies and programs, including Social Security and the Postal Service.

His Liberty Media empire was among the big contributors to Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration festivities in Washington, DC, with personal and corporate contributions adding up to $1 million.

However, in 2019, in another interview with Faber on CNBC (11/21/19), Malone said:

Look, I think a lot of things Trump has tried to do—identifying problems and trying to solve them—has been great…. I just don’t think he’s the right guy to do it. Half the people that he’s hired and thrown under the bus are now trying to kill him. I mean, what kind of thing is that?

Malone then said he would vote for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for president in 2020.

No ‘coward’s way out’

Newsmax: Billionaire John Malone: CNN Needs 'Actual Journalists'

Newsmax

Brian Freeman of right-wing Newsmax (11/21/21) said:

CNN will be the key news property in the merged company, one that will be dominated by entertainment programming. There had been rumors that CNN might be spun off or sold, but Malone indicated [in the CNBC interview] that’s not likely.

Malone, Freeman said, described such a move as a “coward’s way out.”

Freeman asserted that “Malone has cause to worry about the left-wing network,” because

CNN’s ratings have collapsed over 50% in the past year and may be suffering from a credibility gap with viewers…. Last March, a Hill/HarrisX poll found that 47% of registered voters believe CNN holds a liberal bias in reporting.

(In the same poll, 48% of respondents said they believed Fox had a conservative bias—but who’s counting?)

Steve Straub of the right-wing website the Federalist Papers (11/22/21) said of Malone’s CNBC comments:

CNN’s soon-to-be new owner just made a startling admission, one that has been obviously apparent to us and many others for some time, that the so-called news network has no actual journalists.

‘The most powerful man you’ve never heard of’

Gentleman's Journal: John Malone: everything you need to know about America’s single largest land owner

Gentleman’s Journal called Malone “one of the most powerful, yet unknown, individuals in America.”

“John Malone… Meet the Most Powerful Man That You’ve Never Heard Of,” was a heading of a 2018 piece on the website of the British-based Gentleman’s Journal. Malone owns

services and TV channels you’ve most likely used or watched…yet the name John Malone still draws a sea of blank faces…. One of the most powerful, yet unknown, individuals in America…as Liberty Media’s chairman and largest stakeholder, John Malone is one of the world’s most influential media magnates.

In addition to being part-owner of the Atlanta Braves, the website noted,

he currently owns more land in America than anyone else: 2.2 million acres to be precise…. Malone has a net worth of around $9.22 billion, and thanks to his buccaneering role in media deals and land ownership, he’s been nicknamed the “Cable Cowboy.”

The article related how Malone, born in Connecticut, has a Ph.D. in operations research from Johns Hopkins University, and

joined the worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in 1968. However, fatigued from the constant traveling his job required, he left after five years to join General Instrument; while at GI, he ran Jerrold—a subsidiary which produces minicomputers for the cable TV industry—and was eventually offered the role of CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc… [which] only had 400,000 subscribers and owed creditors $132 million…. Malone was only 29 at the time.
Within 17 years of snapping up smaller operators and acquiring minority stakes in other channels, TCI, under the management of Malone, had accumulated 8.5 million subscribers and grew into the second largest cable company after Time Warner. Because of his business deals in the byzantine world of cable TV, Malone was compared to “Darth Vader” by former US Vice President Al Gore….
At the helm of Liberty Media, the young American changed the organization from just providing cable services to actually owning the networks broadcast on its infrastructure, including the Discovery Channel, QVC and Virgin Media.

‘CNN could face a reset’

CNN: CNN Could Face a Reset Once Under Discovery Control

Variety (2/8/22) says former CNN president Jeff Zucker (left) “pushed CNN to be blunt and unstinting in its efforts to hold feet to the fire,” while Discovery‘s David Zaslav (right) is “behind the scenes a relentless operator.”

The headline last week in Variety (2/8/22): “CNN Could Face a Reset Under Discovery Control.” The article by Brian Steinberg spoke of how under its recently resigned president, Jeff Zucker, “CNN became more swashbuckling, more colorful…”

But Discovery is “a media company that tries to maintain a quieter corporate demeanor.” Zucker

changed the culture of the news outlet, shoving it into more direct competition with Fox News Channel and MSNBC…. Will Discovery change the recipe? There are signs that executives at the company see Zucker’s departure as an opportunity for a reset at CNN.

The piece spoke of those who “argue Zucker’s strategies have been good for CNN—and for people who have been helped by its aggressive accountability journalism in Washington.” The article concluded:

Executives charged with leading CNN in the wake of Zucker’s exit have vowed to staffers in internal meetings that his vision for the network will remain intact, but chances are Discovery will dim Zucker’s flash.

That would not be good news.

The future of democracy in the United States is at stake amid the polarization and deadlock of the political process in Washington. Media are increasingly under the control of right-wing zealots like Rupert Murdoch and those behind Newsmax, etc., who are poisoning communications.

Critically needed now is an independent, honest, credible press providing, yes, aggressive accountability journalism—a light to enable people to find their way out of this mess. Instead, the nation’s oldest cable news channel will soon be under the control of someone who appears to want it to follow the “interesting trajectory” of Fox News.

Defenses of Joe Rogan aren’t about free speech -- they’re right-wing solidarity

Fox News: Free speech advocates, journalists defend Joe Rogan from calls for censorship

These “free speech advocates” (Fox News, 2/2/22) were conspicuously silent when people actually lost their jobs for criticizing cops.

For right-wing and libertarian media, Joe Rogan, host of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, has become a symbol of resistance to censorship (New York Post, 2/2/22; Fox News, 2/2/22; Reason, 2/2/22; The Hill, 2/1/22).

Musician Neil Young had given the streaming service Spotify, which paid a reported $100 million for exclusive rights to Rogan’s show, an ultimatum: either cut Rogan and his constant misinformation about Covid-19, or lose Young’s music. Spotify—a corporate media service that has been accused of exploiting musicians financially (Guardian, 7/29/13)―chose Rogan.

Contrary to his media defenders, Rogan has not been threatened with censorship. His free speech rights were never in any kind of jeopardy. Young has not crossed into some kind of pro-deep state censorship mode; rather, he left Spotify because he disagreed with its policies, taking his business elsewhere because he has the right to do that.

Young’s departure has cost Spotify $2 billion in market value (Variety, 1/29/22), as other notable musicians, like Joni Mitchell, followed suit (Fortune, 2/3/22). Grammy Award–winning singer/songwriter India Arie made matters worse for Rogan “by sharing resurfaced footage to social media showing Rogan using the N-word” (Hollywood Reporter, 2/4/22).

Both Rogan and Spotify have responded to the outrage, as “Rogan apologized…for his use of a racial slur in past episodes,” and the streaming service removed dozens of his show’s episodes (New York Times, 2/5/22). Such pressure against right-wing, corporate media shock jocks has yielded results in the past: CBS fired Don Imus due to a public backlash against racist and sexist comments he made about the Rutgers women’s basketball team (CBS, 4/12/07; Extra!, 5–6/07). Sometimes it doesn’t, as two dozen advertisers left Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show after he made anti-immigrant comments (Hollywood Reporter, 12/17/18), and he still enjoys top ratings (AdWeek, 1/3/22).

Artists and media consumers free to engage in media activism like leaving a streaming service (a form of voting with one’s dollars and property, supposedly a democratic feature of the free market) or protesting a media company over its content. But these articles imply that the mere discussion of Rogan’s ability to spread misinformation about Covid is an affront to his constitutional right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Fox News (2/3/22) paraphrased former Mumford & Sons banjo player Winston Marshall saying that “the state of music censorship in the Soviet Union in 1984” was comparable “to the conditions that Spotify is facing today as calls for it to pull Rogan’s work mount.”

Speech limits for everyday workers

NY Post: LI woman with same name as Jacqueline Guzman, actress fired for NYPD funeral rant, makes tearful plea

The New York Post (2/1/22) expressed no sympathy for a woman fired for criticizing police–she was “widely condemned for her shameful online rant”–but does feel bad for someone with the same name who was mistakenly subjected to abuse.

Meanwhile, regular, everyday workers live with limits to their “work mount” and their free speech rights because they are at-will employees. And unlike Rogan, who still has the support of Spotify’s boss (New York Post, 2/7/22), these workers are treated as disposable.

A few recent examples: A Catholic high school teacher was fired for a private tweet that apparently questioned her school’s efforts to commemorate two murdered NYPD officers (Daily News, 2/4/22).

Related to the public funeral of one of these slain NYPD cops, a New York City “actress was fired this weekend after backlash over her viral TikTok complaint that the city didn’t need to be shut down for ‘one f—— cop’” (Fox News, 1/30/22). And someone who shares her name with that actor says she has “been harassed and threatened by people confusing her with the woman who made the vile rant” (New York Post, 2/1/22).

In Tennessee, Starbucks fired unionizing employees who had “allowed members of the media into the store as part of the public launch of their unionization effort” (CNN, 2/8/22). For unionists, these terminations aren’t just an immoral violation of labor rights, but an affront to the First Amendment freedom of assembly and, in this case, these workers’ right to publicize their organizing against an enormous and well-known company in the free press.

These are examples of the real predations on free speech in this country, and yet instances like these don’t seem to elicit the same hand-wringing about censorship from right-wing media.

Controversy as sellable brand

Atlantic: Why Is Joe Rogan So Popular?

Devin Gordon (Atlantic, 8/19/19): “If you look past the jokes themselves and focus on the targets he’s choosing, the same patterns emerge. Hillary, the #MeToo movement, why it sucks that he can’t call things ‘gay,’ vegan bullies, sexism.”

Rogan has been immune to this kind of pressure, largely because his controversial statements are exactly what makes his media brand sellable; the Atlantic (8/19/19) said in 2019 that his show has “been the No. 2 most-downloaded podcast on iTunes for two years running,” and “his YouTube channel…has 6 million subscribers.” LGBTQ groups like GLAAD (Twitter, 7/22/20) have criticized the host for promoting anti-trans viewpoints, but Rogan is protected from his critics because by all metrics, he’s a benefit for the corporate services like YouTube: The Hill (2/1/22) argues that with 11 million listeners, “Rogan’s popularity is precisely due to the fact that he is uncensored in what he says.”

That is a very different story for the 99 Percent, who can become victims of a very real cancel culture, because things like being critical of the police at the wrong time can be seen as beyond the bounds of free discourse. Corporate media haven’t focused on them as victims; in fact, the tabloids and Murdoch-owned media have painted them as extremists who got what was coming to them.

And libertarians haven’t made them a cause, either. That’s because these pieces that treat Rogan as a free speech warrior aren’t honest. Their defense of Rogan, who said he would vote for Donald Trump in the last election (Guardian, 4/20/20), is not about the sacredness of free speech; while he is facing a lot of public criticism, he is not being regulated or stifled as a result. In fact, these articles celebrate the degree to which protests by musicians haven’t actually silenced him, an admission that his speech was never really under threat.

These pieces, instead, are a political defense of Covid-19 misinformation and bro jock racism. Robust public health measures to control the pandemic are seen by the right as left-wing government overreach, and therefore someone who criticizes them, however inaccurately, is on their team.

The Rogan affair is a spectacle by right-wing media to paint an advocate for a right-wing political cause as a victim. Meanwhile, right-wing tabloid vitriol has celebrated the punishment of speech by regular working people.

What you should really know about Ukraine

The Washington Post (11/26/21) placed an article on “tensions between Ukraine and Russia” under the heading “Asia.” As the Post (4/7/14) has noted, “The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want US to intervene.”

As tensions began to rise over Ukraine, US media produced a stream of articles attempting to explain the situation with headlines like “Ukraine Explained” (New York Times, 12/8/21) and “What You Need to Know About Tensions Between Ukraine and Russia” (Washington Post, 11/26/21). Sidebars would have notes that tried to provide context for the current headlines. But to truly understand this crisis, you would need to know much more than what these articles offered.

These “explainer” pieces are emblematic of Ukraine coverage in the rest of corporate media, which almost universally gave a pro-Western view of US/Russia relations and the history behind them. Media echoed the point of view of those who believe the US should have an active role in Ukrainian politics and enforce its perspective through military threats.

The official line goes something like this: Russia is challenging NATO and the “international rules-based order” by threatening to invade Ukraine, and the Biden administration needed to deter Russia by providing more security guarantees to the Zelensky government. The official account seizes on Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula as a starting point for US/Russian relations, and as evidence of Putin’s goals of rebuilding Russia’s long-lost empire.

Russia’s demand that NATO cease its expansion to Russia’s borders is viewed as such an obviously impossible demand that it can only be understood as a pretext to invade Ukraine. Therefore, the US should send weapons and troops to Ukraine, and guarantee its security with military threats to Russia (FAIR.org, 1/15/22).

The Washington Post asked: “Why is there tension between Russia and Ukraine?” Its answer:

In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. A month later, war erupted between Russian-allied separatists and Ukraine’s military in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas. The United Nations human rights office estimates that more than 13,000 people have been killed.

But that account is highly misleading, because it leaves out the crucial role the US has played in escalating tensions in the region. In nearly every case we looked at, the reports omitted the US’s extensive role in the 2014 coup that preceded Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Focusing on the latter part only serves to manufacture consent for US intervention abroad.

The West Wants Investor-Friendly Policies in Ukraine

NYT: Ukraine, Explained

David Leonhardt (New York Times, 12/8/21) explains it all: “Putin believes that Ukraine — a country of 44 million people that was previously part of the Soviet Union — should be subservient to Russia.”

The backdrop to the 2014 coup and annexation cannot be understood without looking at the US strategy to open Ukrainian markets to foreign investors and give control of its economy to giant multinational corporations.

A key tool for this has been the International Monetary Fund, which leverages aid loans to push governments to adopt policies friendly to foreign investors. The IMF is funded by and represents Western financial capital and governments and has been at the forefront of efforts to reshape economies around the world for decades, often with disastrous results. The civil war in Yemen and the coup in Bolivia both followed a rejection of IMF terms.

In Ukraine, the IMF had long planned to implement a series of economic reforms to make the country more attractive to investors. These included cutting wage controls (i.e., lowering wages), “reform[ing] and reduc[ing]” health and education sectors (which made up the bulk of employment in Ukraine), and cutting natural gas subsidies to Ukrainian citizens that made energy affordable to the general public. Coup plotters like US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland repeatedly stressed the need for the Ukrainian government to enact the “necessary” reforms.

In 2013, after early steps to integrate with the West, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych turned against these changes and ended trade integration talks with the European Union. Months before his overthrow, he restarted economic negotiations with Russia, in a major snub to the Western economic sphere. By then, the nationalist protests were heating up that would go on to topple his government.

After the 2014 coup, the new government quickly restarted the EU deal. After cutting heating subsidies in half, it secured a $27 billion commitment from the IMF. The IMF’s goals still include “reducing the role of the state and vested interests in the economy” in order to attract more foreign capital.

The IMF is one of the many global institutions whose role in maintaining global inequities often goes unreported and unnoticed by the general public. The US economic quest to open global markets to capital is a key driver of international affairs, but if the press chooses to ignore it, the public debate is incomplete and shallow.

The US Helped Overthrow Ukraine’s Elected President

During the tug of war between the US and Russia, the Americans were engaged in a destabilization campaign against the Yanukovych government. The campaign culminated with the overthrow of the elected president in the Maidan Revolution—also known as the Maidan Coup—named for the Kiev square that hosted the bulk of the protests.

As political turmoil engulfed the country in the leadup to 2014, the US was fueling anti-government sentiment through mechanisms like USAID and National Endowment for Democracy (NED), just as they had done in 2004. In December 2013, Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European affairs and a long-time regime change advocate, said that the US government had spent $5 billion promoting “democracy” in Ukraine since 1991. The money went toward supporting “senior officials in the Ukraine government…[members of] the business community as well as opposition civil society” who agree with US goals.

The NED is a key organization in the network of American soft power that pours $170 million a year into organizations dedicated to defending or installing US-friendly regimes. The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius (9/22/91) once wrote that the organization functions by “doing in public what the CIA used to do in private.” The NED targets governments who oppose US military or economic policy, stirring up anti-government opposition.

The NED board of directors includes Elliott Abrams, whose sordid record runs from the Iran/Contra affair in the ’80s to the Trump administration’s effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government. In 2013, NED president Carl Gershman wrote a piece in the Washington Post (9/26/13) that described Ukraine as the “biggest prize” in the East/West rivalry. After the Obama administration, Nuland joined the NED board of directors before returning to the State Department in the Biden administration as undersecretary of state for political affairs.

One of the many recipients of NED money for projects in Ukraine was the International Republican Institute. The IRI, once chaired by Sen. John McCain, has long had a hand in US regime change operations. During the protests that eventually brought down the government, McCain and other US officials personally flew into Ukraine to encourage protesters.

US Officials Were Caught Picking the New Government

BBC: Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call

Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (BBC, 2/7/14) picks the new Ukrainian president: “I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.”

On February 6, 2014, as the anti-government protests were intensifying, an anonymous party (assumed by many to be Russia) leaked a call between Assistant Secretary of State Nuland and US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. The two officials discussed which opposition officials would staff a prospective new government, agreeing that Arseniy Yatsenyuk—Nuland referred to him by the nickname “Yats”—should be in charge. It was also agreed that someone “high profile” be brought in to push things along. That someone was Joe Biden.

Weeks later, on February 22, after a massacre by suspicious snipers brought tensions to a head, the Ukrainian parliament quickly removed Yanukovych from office in a constitutionally questionable maneuver. Yanukovych then fled the country, calling the overthrow a coup. On February 27, Yatsenyuk became prime minister.

At the time the call leaked, media were quick to pounce on Nuland’s saying “Fuck the EU.” The comment dominated the headlines (Daily Beast, 2/6/14; BuzzFeed, 2/6/14; Atlantic, 2/6/14; Guardian, 2/6/14), while the evidence of US regime change efforts was downplayed. With the headline “Russia Claims US Is Meddling Over Ukraine,” the New York Times (2/6/14) put the facts of US involvement in the mouth of an official enemy, blunting their impact on the audience. The Times (2/6/14) later described the two officials as benignly “talking about the political crisis in Kiev” and sharing “their views of how it might be resolved.”

The Washington Post (2/6/14) acknowledged that the call showed “a deep degree of US involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine’s to resolve,” but that fact rarely factored into future coverage of the US/Ukraine/Russia relationship.

Washington Used Nazis to Help Overthrow the Government

FAIR: Denying the Far-Right Role in the Ukrainian Revolution

Ignoring the fascist element in Ukrainian politics has been corporate media policy for some time now (FAIR.org, 3/7/14).

The Washington-backed opposition that toppled the government was fueled by far-right and openly Nazi elements like the Right Sector. One far-right group that grew out of the protests was the Azov Battalion, a paramilitary militia of neo-Nazi extremists. Their leaders made up the vanguard of the anti-Yanukovych protests, and even spoke at opposition events in the Maidan alongside US regime change advocates like McCain and Nuland.

After the violent coup, these groups were later incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces—the same armed forces that the US has now given $2.5 billion. Though Congress technically restricted money from flowing to the Azov Battalion in 2018, trainers on the ground say there’s no mechanism to actually enforce the provision. Since the coup, the Ukrainian nationalist forces have been responsible for a wide variety of atrocities in the counterinsurgency war.

Far-right influence has increased across Ukraine as a result of Washington’s actions. A recent UN Human Rights council has noted that “fundamental freedoms in Ukraine have been squeezed” since 2014, further weakening the argument that the US is involved in the country on behalf of liberal values.

Among American neo-Nazis, there’s even a movement aimed at encouraging right-wing extremists to join the Battalion in order to “gain actual combat experience” in preparation for a potential civil war in the US.

In a recent UN vote on “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism,” the US and Ukraine were the only two countries to vote no.

As FAIR (1/15/22) has reported, between December 6, 2021, and January 6, 2022, the New York Times ran 228 articles that refer to Ukraine, but none of them reference the pro-Nazi elements in Ukraine’s politics or government. The same can be said of the Washington Post’s 201 articles on the topic.

There’s a Lot More to the Crimean Annexation

The facts above give more context to Russian actions following the coup, and ought to counter the caricature of a Russian Empire bent on expansion. From Russia’s point of view, a longtime adversary had successfully overthrown a neighboring government using violent far-right extremists.

The Crimean peninsula, which was part of Russia until it was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954, is home to one of two Russian naval bases with access to the Black and Mediterranean seas, one of history’s most important maritime theaters. A Crimea controlled by a US-backed Ukrainian government was a major threat to Russian naval access.

The peninsula—82% of whose households speak Russian, and only 2% mainly Ukrainian—held a plebiscite in March 2014 on whether or not they should join Russia, or remain under the new Ukrainian government. The Pro-Russia camp won with 95% of the vote. The UN General Assembly, led by the US, voted to ignore the referendum results on the grounds that it was contrary to Ukraine’s constitution. This same constitution had been set aside to oust President Yanukovych a month earlier.

All of this is dropped from Western coverage.

The US Wants to Expand NATO

Der Spiegel: NATO's Eastward Expansion

A pair of maps from Der Spiegel (11/26/09) illustrates NATO’s drive toward Russia’s borders.

In addition to integrating Ukraine into the US-dominated economic sphere, Western planners also want to integrate Ukraine militarily. For years, the US has sought the expansion of NATO, an explicitly anti-Russian military alliance. NATO was originally billed as a counterforce to the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War, but after the demise of the Soviet Union, the US promised the new Russia that it would not expand NATO east of Germany. Despite this agreement, the US continued building out its military alliance,growing closer and closer to Russia’s borders and ignoring Russia’s objections.

This history is sometimes admitted but usually downplayed in corporate media. In an interview with the Washington Post (12/1/21), professor Mary Sarotte, author of Not One Inch: America, Russia and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate, recounted that after the Soviet collapse, “Washington realized that it could not only win big, but win bigger. Not one inch of territory needed to be off-limits to full NATO membership.” The US “all-or-nothing approach to expansionism…maximized conflict with Moscow,” she noted. Unfortunately, one interview does little to cut through the drumbeat of pro-NATO talking points.

In 2008, NATO members pledged to extend membership to Ukraine. The removal of the pro-Russian government in 2014 was a giant leap towards the pledge becoming a reality. Recently, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg announced that the alliance stands by plans to integrate Ukraine into the alliance.

Bret Stephens in the New York Times (1/11/21) maintained that if Ukraine wasn’t allowed to join the organization, it would “break the spine of NATO” and “end the Western alliance as we have known it since the Atlantic Charter.”

The US Wouldn’t Tolerate What Russia Is Expected to Accept

Putin 'Won't Stop' With Ukraine, Experts Warn

“A successful invasion of Russia…could embolden Russia” to engage in “cyberattacks, election meddling and influence campaigns,” says USA Today‘s “expert” (print edition, 1/26/22).

Much has been written about the Russian buildup on the Ukraine border. Reports of the buildup have been intensified by US intelligence officials’ warnings of an attack. Media often echo the claim of an inevitable invasion. The Washington Post editorial board (1/24/22) wrote that “Putin can—and will—use any measures the United States and its NATO allies either take or refrain from taking as a pretext for aggression.”

But Putin has been clear about a path to de-escalation. His main demand has been for direct negotiations to end the expansion of the hostile military alliance to his borders. He announced, “We have made it clear that NATO’s move to the east is unacceptable,” and that “the United States is standing with missiles on our doorstep.” Putin asked, “How would the Americans react if missiles were placed at the border with Canada or Mexico?”

In corporate media coverage, no one bothers to ask this important question. Instead, the assumption is that Putin ought to tolerate a hostile military alliance directly across its border. The US, it seems, is the only country allowed to have a sphere of influence.

The New York Times (1/26/22) asked: “Can the West Stop Russia From Invading Ukraine?” but shrugs at the US dismissal of Putin’s terms as “nonstarters.” The Washington Post (12/10/21) reported: “Some analysts have expressed worry that the Russian leader is making demands that he knows Washington will reject, possibly as a pretext for military action once he is spurned.” The Post quoted one analyst, “I don’t see us giving them anything that would suffice relative to their demands, and what troubles me is they know that.”

Audiences have also been assured that Putin’s reaction to Western expansionism is actually a prelude to more aggressive actions. “Ukraine Is Only One Small Part of Putin’s Plans,” warned the New York Times (1/7/22). The Times (1/26/22) later described Putin’s Ukraine policy as an attempt at “restoring what he views as Russia’s rightful place among the world’s great powers,” rather than an attempt to avoid having the US military directly on its border. USA Today (1/18/22) warned readers that “Putin ‘Won’t Stop’ with Ukraine.”

But taking this view is diplomatic malpractice. Anatol Lieven (Responsible Statecraft, 1/3/22), an analyst at the Quincy Institute, wrote that US acquiescence to a neutral Ukraine would be a “golden bridge” that, in addition to reducing US/Russia tensions, could enable a political solution to Ukraine’s civil war. This restraint-oriented policy is considered fringe thinking in the Washington foreign policy establishment.

The Memory Hole

WSJ: The Strategic Case for Risking War in Ukraine

John Deni (Wall Street Journal, 12/22/21): “The West ought to stand firm, even if it means another Russian invasion of Ukraine,” because even though “the human toll will be extensive… the long-term damage suffered by Moscow…is likely to be substantial as well.”

All of this missing context allows hawks to promote disastrous escalation of tensions. The Wall Street Journal (12/22/21) published an opinion piece trying to convince readers there was a “Strategic Advantage to Risking War In Ukraine.” The piece, by John Deni of the US Army War College, summarized the familiar hawkish talking points, and claimed that a neutral Ukraine is “anathema to Western values of national self-determination and sovereignty.”

In a modern rendition of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Afghan Trap, Deni asserted that war in Ukraine could actually serve US interests by weakening Russia: Such a war, however disastrous, would “forge an even stronger anti-Russian consensus across Europe,” refocusing NATO against the main enemy, result in “economic sanctions that would further weaken Russia’s economy” and “sap the strength and morale of Russia’s military while undercutting Mr. Putin’s domestic popularity.” Thus escalating tensions is a win/win for Washington.

Few of the recent wave of Ukraine pieces recount the crucial history given above. Including the truth about US foreign policy goals in the post-Cold War era makes the current picture look a lot less one-sided. Imagine for one second how the US would behave if Putin began trying to add a US neighbor to a hostile military alliance after helping to overthrow its government.

The economic imperative for opening foreign markets, the NATO drive to push up against Russia, US support for the 2014 coup and the direct hand in shaping the new government all need to be pushed down the memory hole if the official line is to have any credibility. Absent all of that, it is easy to accept the fiction that Ukraine is a battleground between a “rules-based order” and Russian autocracy.

WaPo: On Ukraine, Biden is channeling his inner Neville Chamberlain

If Biden is Chamberlain, as Marc Thiessen (Washington Post, 12/10/21) suggests, then Putin is of course Hitler.

Indeed, the Washington Post editorial board (12/8/21) recently compared negotiating with Putin to appeasing Hitler at Munich. It called on Biden to “resist Putin’s trumped-up demands on Ukraine,” “lest he destabilize all of Europe to autocratic Russia’s advantage.” This wasn’t the only time the paper has made the Munich analogy; the Post (12/10/21) ran a piece by former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen headlined “On Ukraine, Biden Is Channeling His Inner Neville Chamberlain.”

In the New York Times (12/10/21), Trump NSC aide Alexander Vindman told readers “How the United States Can Break Putin’s Hold on Ukraine,” and urged the Biden administration to send active US troops to the country. A “free and sovereign Ukraine,” he said, is vital in “advancing US interests against those of Russia and China.” Times reporter Michael Crowley (12/16/21) also framed the Ukraine standoff as another “Test of US Credibility Abroad,” after that credibility was supposedly damaged after ending the war in Afghanistan.

In a New York Times major feature (1/16/21) on Ukraine, the US role in bringing tensions to this point was completely omitted, in favor of exclusively blaming “Russian Belligerence.”

As a result of this coverage, the interventionist mentality has trickled down to the public. One poll found that, should Russia actually invade Ukraine, 50% of Americans support embroiling the US in yet another quagmire, up from just 30% in 2014. Biden, however, has said that no US troops will be sent to Ukraine. Instead, the US and EU have threatened sanctions or support for a rebel insurgency should Russia invade.

The past few weeks have seen several failed talks between the US and Russians, as the US refuses to alter its plans for Ukraine. The US Congress is rushing a “lethal aid” package to send more weapons to the troubled border. Perhaps if the public were better informed, there would be more domestic pressure on Biden to end the brinkmanship and seek a genuine solution to the problem.

NYT twists stats to insist we need more policing

The New York Times handed over its popular The Morning daily newsletter on January 18 to new hire German Lopez, formerly of Vox. His debut edition of the data-driven newsletter (usually helmed by David Leonhardt) was headlined “Examining the Spike in Murders.”

As criminal justice activist and expert Alec Karakatsanis (Twitter, 1/18/22) pointed out, the analysis presented as indisputable the notion that a rise in homicides demands a police-based solution—a position that is, in fact, highly disputed, and worth debunking in detail, since it’s a popular one these days, both in the Times and in other prominent outlets (FAIR.org, 6/24/21, 7/20/21).

More police as racial justice?

NYT: Examining the Spike in Murders

German Lopez (New York Times, 1/18/22) argues that the “short-term fixes” for a rise in murder involve “more focused policing, targeting the people and places most likely to be violent.”

Lopez describes an increase in the murder rate over 2020 and 2021 (which, it’s worth pointing out, is still lower than it was from 1970 through 1996) and explains that victims are disproportionately Black, framing his analysis in terms of racial justice:

The violence remains a grave example of racial inequality in the US. We have real solutions, with strong evidence, to deal with the problem, experts said. But those solutions need support from the public and lawmakers to go anywhere.

Lopez appears to see himself as working to right a wrong here, helping to inform the public about concrete solutions that will address racial inequality. And yet one of his central theories—that a policing “pullback” helped drive rising homicides, so police are a necessary part of the solution—not only rests on very shaky ground, its prescription entails heavy costs in terms of racial justice that Lopez refuses to consider.

Lopez cites zero Black sources about the causes or the solutions. Aside from a woman from Chicago who simply describes her experience of hearing gunshots in her neighborhood, his other three named sources are white professors of criminology and public safety.

Lopez says “experts” point to “three broad explanations” for the increased murder rate: “the pandemic,” “changes in policing” and “more guns.” Two of these are fairly straightforward: Gun sales and carrying greatly increased, which one would expect to increase the number of murders, since numbers of guns correlate with numbers of homicides. And the pandemic disrupted social services and safety nets that help prevent violence.

As for “changes in policing,” Lopez explains:

The fallout from the 2020 racial justice protests and riots could have contributed to the murder spike. Police officers, scared of being caught in the next viral video, may have pulled back on proactive anti-violence practices. More of the public lost confidence in the police, possibly reducing the kind of cooperation needed to prevent murders. In extreme circumstances, the lack of confidence in the police could have led some people to take the law into their own hands—in acts of street or vigilante violence.

It’s a theory (sometimes called “the Ferguson Effect”) that hinges on an awful lot of “could have”s, “may have”s and “possibly”s. It’s extremely popular among police chiefs and their boosters who, seeking to defend against movements challenging police violence, deflect blame back onto protesters.

Questioning the timing

After introducing the possibilities, Lopez turns to sorting out the likelihood of each. He argues that “timing” undermines the pandemic hypothesis, since “the murder spike took off in May and June 2020, months after Covid began to spread in the US,” and “other countries didn’t experience similar spikes during the pandemic.” Meanwhile, the same timing “supports” the policing explanation, because, he says, the murder rate rose “unusually quickly shortly after George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing protests,” and killings increased in 2015 and 2016 “after protests over policing during those years.”

The comparison to other countries is not terribly useful without much more fine-grained analysis, as it ignores their wide range of differences in terms of their governmental response to the pandemic and other factors that impact violent crime: inequality, lack of social safety nets and availability of guns.

As for timing, as Karakatsanis (Twitter, 1/20/22) points out, experts are very hesitant to speculate about short-term effects on crime because of the complex interacting factors. In fact, there’s even a great deal of uncertainty about the factors impacting historical, long-term crime rates. But there’s plenty to cast doubt on the protest/policing explanation. Murder rates are seasonal, lower when it’s cold (as when lockdowns started) and peaking every summer—the same time police protests have historically happened. Previous research hasn’t found an impact of “de-policing” on homicide. And there’s a great deal of diversity across cities when you take apart the data: NYC and LA, for instance, which both had major BLM protests, didn’t experience unusual homicide surges immediately afterwards.

Lopez inserts one of his experts, criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, to close out the brief discussion of the possible causes: “All three played a role. What’s difficult is to assign priority to one compared to the others.”

In other words, readers are to understand that it’s anyone’s guess whether “fallout” from racial justice protests was a bigger factor in the rising murder rate than the pandemic or a flood of new guns—and Lopez pretty clearly nudges readers toward guessing the answer is that it was.

‘No getting around’ more punishment

Correctly identifying causes is crucial, since the causes point to different solutions. “In the short term,” Lopez writes,

there’s solid evidence for policing—specifically, more focused policing, targeting the people and places most likely to be violent. With some of these strategies, the police work with other social services to lift violent perpetrators out of that life.

He then quotes another of his experts to leave no room for argument: “I’m as much a reformer as anybody, but the short-term solutions around high violence are mainly punitive. There’s no getting around that.” (In case you were wondering whether “proactive anti-violence practices” really meant anything but more punishment.)

Vox: Murders are spiking. Police should be part of the solution.

“Here’s proof that cops are good” seems like a good way to get a gig at the New York Times (Vox, 9/27/21).

The link Lopez uses to back up his claims of “solid evidence” behind policing directs readers to a piece he wrote for Vox in September (9/27/21) with a headline that made clear his position on this issue before the Times hired him: “Murders Are Spiking. Police Should Be Part of the Solution.”

One problem with Lopez’s argument in the piece—which is much longer and includes more nuance and caveats than his Times version—is that he used evidence about overall reductions in crime to make arguments about homicide, when in fact the two don’t move in tandem. (Indeed, overall crime rates have gone down during the pandemic, as Lopez has elsewhere acknowledged—Vox, 7/21/21.)

Two key studies he relied on, for instance, noted that they found no or minimal reductions in violent crime with increased policing. A third (NEBR, 12/20) emphasized that while it did find a small reduction in homicides,

reducing funding for police could allow increased funding for other alternatives. Indeed an array of high-quality research suggests that crime can, in certain contexts, be reduced through methods other than policing or its by-product, incarceration.

That’s particularly noteworthy, given that the study found that increased policing also resulted in more arrests for low-level crimes like loitering and drug possession, which in turn places more burdens on the most affected communities: crippling court fees and fines, plus the effects of even brief incarceration like loss of income, jobs or housing, breaking up of families and disruption of mental health and health services. And for all that, increased incarceration doesn’t even increase public safety or reduce recidivism.

In other words, if policing in some form can modestly bring down murder rates, it also incurs very real costs, above and beyond budgetary ones—which are rarely if ever measured in these studies.

In the Vox piece, Lopez did acknowledge many caveats to the bold argument made in the headline. He noted that the research suggests that not just any policing works, for instance. This is where the “proactive policing” idea comes in, a favorite of policing proponents, and a big part of the argument that a police “pullback” causes the rise in crime. It’s true that many studies have found that specific, focused policing practices have produced some (mostly small, short-term) decreases in crime. But a) that’s not what most police departments do, except in a few ad hoc short-term programs (Police Quarterly, 1/20), so it could be expected to have had next to no impact on the nationwide homicide rate, and b) the studies once again don’t take into account the costs of these programs, including the negative impacts on heavily policed communities, mentioned above.

Lopez admitted the latter issue in his Vox piece. And he raised the possibility of alternatives to policing, though he gave them less credence than the authors of the NEBR study, because they fail to clear an impossibly high bar: “These other approaches were all evaluated in a world where police exist, so even the positive research can’t demonstrate that these are necessarily true alternatives to police.” So even if it won’t hurt to try these other approaches, Lopez concluded, the data say we’ve got to push forward with increased policing.

This is the same conclusion he brings to his Times debut. Lopez wrote that long-term solutions include those that “enrich both individuals’ and communities’ socioeconomic standing over time,” as well as “gun control and higher alcohol taxes.” Both these and policing solutions are “likely necessary to reverse the murder spike and prevent future increases.” That’s just the expert consensus, Lopez suggests.

Alternatives to more police

NYT: ‘Re-Fund the Police’? Why It Might Not Reduce Crime.

Shaila Dewan (New York Times, 11/8/21) reports on the “downsides of adding more police officers, including negative interactions with the public, police violence and further erosion of public trust.”

In fact, many experts disagree.

As one should always remember, the New York Times is not a monolith. Another reporter at the outlet, Shaila Dewan (11/8/21), looking specifically at the impact on crime of increasing funding for police departments, drew very different conclusions based on her sources—four academics and two community activists. All but one offered some pushback or alternative to the “more policing = less crime” mantra, demonstrating that Lopez’s experts do not come close to representing a consensus.

And Dewan’s remarkable piece raised certain critiques that rarely appear in corporate media accounts of crime, such as the fact—pointed out by Tamara Nopper, an abolitionist academic—that crime statistics come from the police and do not include civil rights violations or police violence (nor do they highlight white collar crime, or corporate crimes like wage theft and illegal air pollution). Take, for instance, the fact that while there were some 25,000 homicides in 2020, more than one million people per year in this country are “threatened or subjected to police use of force” during encounters with police (Annual Review of Criminology, 1/22).

Perhaps one of the most striking pieces of evidence against Lopez is one he cited himself in his Vox piece. A “majority” of a panel of over 60 criminal justice experts agreed that increasing police budgets would improve public safety, Lopez told readers. “Most” also say the same of increasing social service budgets, he then noted, but “there’s no reason, if the goal is to fight crime, that communities shouldn’t expand both policing and social services,” he wrote.

Of course, the reasons to not expand policing are myriad, as I’ve already spelled out. And while his portrayal of the survey is technically true, it’s a twisted interpretation of the panel’s results, which strongly tilted toward increasing social service budgets, which 84% agreed with, versus 61% for increasing police budgets. And strong agreement found even greater disparities, at 41% for social service increases versus only 10% for police increases.

Survey on ways to improve public safety

Source: Criminal Justice Expert Panel: Policing and Public Safety

Policing also isn’t the only viable short-term solution, as Lopez would have readers believe. There are non-policing short-term approaches with evidence supporting their impact on gun assaults and other index crimes, as Dewan pointed out in her piece, such as increased street lighting and cleaning up vacant lots—which don’t come with the drawbacks of policing.

And given the clear links between violent crime and gun prevalence, surely “gun control” merits more than a name check in any discussion of solutions, however brief.

As Karakatsanis (Twitter, 12/29/21) observes, a central aim of “copaganda” is to distract the public from inequality:

The goal is to extract wealth from [the] working class, make them less safe, and then offer them only those “solutions” that increase the power and control over them by people who own things.

Corporate news outlets and their corporate sponsors obviously aren’t terribly interested in people being constantly bombarded with news about threats to their well-being that derive from the actions of major corporations. Air pollution was recently estimated to cause over 100,000 US deaths in a year, nearly five times higher than the homicide rate. But the Times has yet to hire a journalist for The Morning with a passion for investigating the causes of and solutions to the air pollution death rate.

Press response to ‘Tax the Rich’ dress proves AOC’s point

It's like Lenin said: There are decades when nothing happens, and there are dresses where decades happen.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Tax the Rich" dress at the Met Gala (Vogue, 9/16/21) might have passed through the media as a mere photo opportunity or act of class-conscious performance art, but given that it happened near the 10th anniversary of the first day of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the event may be an indicator of how much Occupy has moved the public toward policies of aggressively taxing the wealthy to pay for needed social programs, education, public employment and infrastructure.

And corporate media's response indicates that they are worried that history might be on Ocasio-Cortez and her dress's side.

'Wrong message'

NY Post: Sorry, AOC: The rich already pay their fair share

David Harsanyi (New York Post, 9/17/21) argues that the rich shouldn't pay more because our tax system is already progressive–which is neither logically nor empirically true.

The Murdoch-owned New York Post (9/17/21) led the charge against her protest, with David Harsanyi complaining, "Despite perceptions, the highest-income strata of taxpayers are the only ones who pay a larger share of taxes than their share of income." This message was echoed by television shock jock Bill Maher (Daily Mail, 9/18/21), even though a ProPublica investigation (6/8/21) found that the super-rich—like Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos—pay next to nothing in taxes, demolishing "the cornerstone myth…that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most."

The New York Post (9/21/21), on its front page, highlighted a response to AOC from Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams, whom the paper (5/10/21) had enthusiastically endorsed. Adams said that Ocasio-Cortez sent the "wrong message for New York City," offering austerity logic as an alternative: "Instead of impulsively advocating for raising taxes on rich Big Apple residents…the city should first find ways to trim fat in the city budget." In addition to endorsing Adams, the Post (7/27/21) eagerly broke the news that Adams told supporters that he has declared "war on AOC's socialists."

Matthew Yglesias (Bloomberg, 9/19/21), himself the product of Manhattan patrician society, chastised the second-term congressmember representing the Bronx and Queens for casting a broad net over the upper class, rather than focusing her message specifically on tax loopholes. The Washington Post's Megan McArdle (9/14/21) echoed Yglesias' criticism, adding that wearing such a dress to the Met Gala is "a bit like wearing a 'tax the rich' T-shirt to your job as a bespoke tax attorney," because taxing the rich just creates more tax attorneys, "so the walking billboard is less a case of 'speaking truth to power' than an endorsement of the whole enterprise."

The Washington Post's Kathleen Parker (9/14/21) denounced the gala's fall from its elegant past—"today's Met Gala is not the playground of Diana Vreeland, Pat Buckley and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis"—and said she was at a loss for words to describe the party's "parade of political demonstrators whose eccentric garb sometimes garbled the message," as the theme of the event was to explore the "lexicon" of fashion itself.

Numerous outlets (Forbes, 9/13/21; Daily News, 9/14/21; Fox News, 9/14/21; USA Today, 9/14/21) played up the criticism that Ocasio-Cortez was acting hypocritically by attending the gala, because it is a pricey event attended by the rich, a point that runs aground on the fact that bringing the message of taxing the rich to rich people was, in fact, the idea. As one Washington Post writer (9/14/21) correctly perceived, the gala's audience were now discussing "the embarrassment of undertaxed riches in a social season marred by disease and destitution."

Tax-allergic media

NYT: Taxing the Wealthy Sounds Easy. It's Not.

The idea of a wealth tax was unsurprisingly derided by "Wealth Matters" (2/1/19), a New York Times column offering "insights from Paul Sullivan on the mindset and strategies of the affluent."

While Ocasio-Cortez is hardly the first left-of-center politician calling for more taxes to fund social programs, as leader of the "Squad"—a group of House Democrats largely aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders—she has become the punching bag for the establishment media in a campaign to dampen pro-taxation rhetoric.

Since her ascendance in Congress, the New York Times (1/28/19, 2/1/19, 2/7/19) has responded to Ocasio-Cortez's tax rhetoric with a sort of "yes, but it's more complicated than that," embracing a watered-down version of progressive taxation, while Barron's (1/23/19) and the Wall Street Journal (1/21/19, 1/23/19) have gone further to suggest that her proposed 70% marginal tax rate would destroy the American economy. Factcheck: The US economy flourished with a 91% top marginal tax rate under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower (AP, 1/31/19).

McArdle, part of the recent AOC bashing, has scorned the idea of taxing the rich more generally in a piece (Washington Post, 6/9/21) that carried a photo of the paper's owner and world's richest human, Jeff Bezos.

This skittishness about new taxes in the media reflects a general anxiety about progressive taxation in the political class. Anti-tax ideology is perhaps the glue that unites the Republican Party's various factions, which passed sweeping tax cuts under the Trump administration (NBC, 12/22/17). Unlike Republicans, who can unite around keeping taxes low, though, Democrats have difficulty coming together when it comes to tax hikes for the rich (Bloomberg, 9/14/21).

Some Democrats besides Ocasio-Cortez are also onboard with new federal taxation (CBS, 9/13/21), and polling shows "taxing the wealthy" is a popular idea (Gallup, 6/4/21; Reuters, 1/10/20). But there has been resistance within her party to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposal for a new wealth tax (The Hill, 8/9/19). The Wall Street Journal (4/7/21) blasted then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for giving into state lawmakers who pushed for more state taxes, a move he had successfully resisted until his various scandals eroded his political capital.

FAIR has noted that the Washington Post (FAIR.org, 5/11/16, 12/11/17, 7/29/19) and the New York Times (FAIR.org, 2/25/20, 4/15/21)—newspapers owned wholly or in part by billionaires—have consistently taken the side of those politicians who resist aggressive taxation of the wealthy.

Occupy's powerful arguments

CNBC: AOC to introduce bill to extend pandemic unemployment insurance to 2022

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (CNBC, 9/15/21): "We've just simply allowed pandemic unemployment assistance to completely lapse, when we are clearly not fully recovered from the consequences of the pandemic."

It isn't solely "taxing the rich" that has become more popular with voters. Other social democratic ideas like single-payer healthcare (Pew Research, 9/29/20) and a $15/hour minimum wage (Reuters, 2/25/21) enjoy broad support, and "Americans view unions more favorably now than they have since 2003" (Reuters, 7/12/21).

Yet it's still hard for the political class and media to take notice that this is becoming the mainstream. That's why someone like Ocasio-Cortez, in addition doing things like introducing legislation to extend unemployment insurance (CNBC, 9/15/21), feels the need to call attention to the issue of taxing the rich in a very public way, to get corporate media talking about it. (Proposed tax increases for the rich have become a key stumbling block to passing the Biden administration's proposed $3.5 trillion social spending bill—New York Times, 9/7/21.)

When then–NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Guardian, 11/15/11) defended using brutal police force to evict OWS protesters from Zuccotti Park in the city's Financial District, he challenged the movement by saying "Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments." That AOC's publicity stunt around the slogan "tax the rich" near the tenth anniversary of OWS caused such an uproar is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the life and success of the power of Occupy's ideas. The ascendance of democratic socialist candidates around the country, and Bernie Sanders' impressive presidential primary performance in 2016 and 2020, are examples of how those arguments may be more powerful than Bloomberg—the media mogul who appeared in the aforementioned ProPublica report on billionaires who skirt paying taxes—might have realized.

The media erases the real lessons from the toppling of Kabul

This article originally appeared at FAIR.org.

Corporate media coverage of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the collapse of the country's US-backed government has offered audiences more mystification than illumination. I looked at editorials in five major US dailies following the Taliban's retaking of Kabul: the Boston Globe, LA Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. The editorial boards of these papers consistently trivialized South Asian lives, erased US responsibility for lethal violence, and made untenable assertions about Washington's supposedly righteous motives in the war.

Uncounted civilian cost

NYT: The Tragedy of Afghanistan

The New York Times (8/15/21) ran the next best thing to a photo of a helicopter taking off from the Kabul embassy roof: a photo of a helicopter flying over the embassy roof.

The editorials evince a callous indifference to the toll of the war on civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the war has also been fought. The New York Times (8/15/21) referred to "at least 2,448 American service members' lives lost in Afghanistan," and to "Afghan casualties so huge—60,000 killed since 2001, by one estimate—that the government kept them a secret." The link makes clear that the authors are talking about deaths among Afghan police and soldiers. Yet, as of April, more than 71,000 civilians—over 47,000 Afghans and more than 24,000 Pakistanis—have been directly killed in the US-initiated war.

The Boston Globe's piece (8/16/21) described "two decades of the United States propping up Afghan forces to keep the Taliban at bay at the cost of more than $2 trillion and more than 2,400 lost military service members." Tens of thousands of dead Afghan and Pakistani civilians evidently aren't significant enough to factor into "the cost" of the war.

"The war in Afghanistan took the lives of more than 2,400 American troops," said the Los Angeles Times editorial (8/16/21), which went on to add, "For decades to come, America will be paying the medical bills of veterans suffering from the emotional and physical toll of their trauma and injuries." The authors ignored dead, wounded and psychologically scarred South Asian civilians, though the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) logged 3,524 civilian injuries in the first half of 2021 alone, and 5,785 in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal (8/15/21, 8/16/21), meanwhile, didn't mention any deaths that took place during the war.

"Some 66,000 Afghan fighters have given their lives in this war during the past 20 years, alongside 2,448 US service members," the Washington Post (8/16/21) pointed out, declining to spare a word for noncombatants. US troops, the article assured readers, "endured very modest casualties, since 2014," without noting that the US inflicted a great many on Afghan civilians in that period: For instance, a 2019 Human Rights Watch report noted that, in the first six months of that year, the US and its partners in what was then the Afghan government killed more civilians than the Taliban did.

Forever war > withdrawal

WaPo: The debacle in Afghanistan is the worst kind: Avoidable

The "Afghan debacle" was "avoidable," the Washington Post (8/16/21) argued, if only Biden had been willing to commit to an indefinite military occupation.

Two of the editorials were clear that they would prefer continuous US war against Afghanistan to withdrawal. The Washington Post (8/16/21) claimed that

a small US and allied military presence—capable of working with Afghan forces to deny power to the Taliban and its Al Qaeda terrorist allies, while diplomats and nongovernmental organizations nurtured a fledgling civil society—not only would have been affordable, but also could have paid for itself in US security and global credibility.

Costs such as the harm the "US and allied military presence" does to Afghans did not enter into the Post's accounting for "affordability." No explanation is offered as to why Afghans should endure the lack of "security" entailed in "US and allied" bombs falling on their heads. Nor did the authors clarify why the US's "global credibility" is a higher priority than, say, stopping the US from killing Afghan children, as it did last October.

The Wall Street Journal (8/15/21) professed concern for the "thousands of translators, their families, and other officials who are in peril from Taliban rule and didn't get out in time," and said that what it sees as the impending "murder of these innocents" will be a "stain on the Biden presidency." Yet the authors argued that the US should continue bombing Afghanistan indefinitely, asserting that

Afghans were willing to fight and take casualties with the support of the US and its NATO allies, especially airpower. A few thousand troops and contractors could have done the job and prevented this rout.

Over the course of the war, that airpower tended to mean the mass death of Afghan civilians: In 2019, for example, US airstrikes killed 546 of them (Washington Post, 9/4/21). In advocating the continued American bombing of Afghanistan to stop the "murder of these innocents," the authors are calling for the "murder of…innocents," just by the US rather than the Taliban.

The 'American dream'

LAT: The Afghan government's collapse is tragic. It was also inevitable

The Los Angeles Times (8/16/21) praised the US's "noble hopes to build a multiparty democracy," insisting that "the people of Afghanistan were failed by their leaders."

The New York Times' editorial board (8/15/21) gushed about the purity of US values, saying that the Taliban's return to power is

unutterably tragic. Tragic because the American dream of being the "indispensable nation" in shaping a world where the values of civil rights, women's empowerment and religious tolerance rule proved to be just that: a dream.

The editors did nothing to explain how they square their view that the US's "dream" entails worldwide "civil rights" and "women's empowerment" with the US's carrying out torture in Afghanistan or its propensity for killing Afghan women (Guardian, 7/11/08).

The board went on:

How [the war] evolved into a two-decade nation-building project in which as many as 140,000 troops under American command were deployed at one time is a story of mission creep and hubris, but also of the enduring American faith in the values of freedom and democracy.

That faith in "freedom" was manifest by such practices as training warlords who killed and abused civilians, and propping up an Afghan state that included officials who sexually assaulted children—actions that US troops were told to ignore, as the New York Times (9/21/15) itself reported.

Similarly, the Los Angeles Times (8/16/21) claimed that

the US and its Western allies had noble hopes to build a multiparty democracy—with respect for the rights of women and minorities, an independent judiciary and a new constitution—but nation-building was not an appropriate goal.

It's anyone's guess how the paper reconciles the US and its partners' "noble hopes" for such things as "respect for the rights of women" with the US working with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to finance and arm extremely conservative forces in Afghanistan, so as to undermine progressives in the country while strengthening reactionary elements, a history (described in Robert Dreyfuss' book Devil's Game) that all of the editorials obscure.

Swallowing official justifications

WSJ: Biden's Afghanistan Surrender

The Wall Street Journal (8/15/21) argued that Mr. Trump's withdrawal deadline was a mistake, but Mr. Biden could have maneuvered around it"—meaning he could have ignored it.

Indeed, the editorials suffered from a basic failure to question the official justifications offered for the war and occupation. The New York Times editorial board (8/15/21) wrote that

the war in Afghanistan began in response by the United States and its NATO allies to the attacks of September 11, 2001, as an operation to deny Al Qaeda sanctuary in a country run by the Taliban.

There's no place in that narrative for the fact that eight days into the war, in October 2001, the Taliban offered to discuss turning over Osama Bin Laden (Guardian, 10/14/01). The Journal characterized the Taliban as "the jihadists the US toppled 20 years ago for sheltering Osama bin Laden." But it was in mid-November 2001 (Guardian, 11/17/01) that the US toppled the Taliban, a month after they had said they were willing to talk about extraditing bin Laden.

In the same vein, the Los Angeles Times editorial (8/16/21) said that

after the US ousted the Taliban—which had hosted the Al Qaeda terrorist network and refused to turn over terrorists such as Osama bin Laden — the George W. Bush administration expanded the goals of the mission in ways that in hindsight were never realistic.

This phrasing implies that the US overthrew the Taliban because they "refused to turn over terrorists such as Osama bin Laden." However, in addition to the Taliban signaling that it could be open to extraditing the Al Qaeda leader in October 2001, according to a former head of Saudi intelligence (LA Times, 11/4/01), the Taliban said in 1998 that it would hand over bin Laden to Saudi Arabia, the US's close ally; the Saudi intelligence official says that the Taliban backed off after the US fired cruise missiles at an apparent bin Laden camp in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, following attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania attributed to Al Qaeda.

The outlets thus failed to inform their readers that, had the US pursued negotiations for bin Laden's extradition, Afghans may have been spared 20 years of devastating war. That US planners might have drawn up their Afghanistan policies with a view to the country's vast resource wealth and strategic position—and there's evidence that they did (In These Times, 8/1/18)—is not a perspective that the editorials opted to share with their readers. Neither is the idea that the US doesn't have the right to decide who governs other countries.

Engineering forgetfulness about America's Afghan war, if left unchallenged, will make it easier to wage the next one.

The editorial reaction to the Ben & Jerry’s news insinuates that boycotting Israel is extreme -- and illegitimate


Daily News: Freezer burn: After attacking Israel, Ben & Jerry's is going to get its just desserts

Daily News (7/26/21) on Ben & Jerry's withdrawal from the Occupied Territories: "Very pleased are the BDS crowd, Israel-haters and assorted antisemites, but it's an ice-cream headache for Unilever."

Ben & Jerry's decision to halt its operations in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem has pro-Israel editors working overtime.

The New York Daily News (7/26/21) celebrated counter-boycotts of the ice cream brand, including the state's pension system considering cutting ties with the brand's parent company, Unilever, because of a 2016 executive order against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The tabloid's editorial board, sounding like a sidekick standing behind a gang enforcer, said, "No firm should want to be on that very naughty list."

The New York Post found a brand worker who quit over the West Bank pull out (7/22/21), and a grocery store that is taking the ice cream off its shelves (7/19/21). New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made waves as the first US governor to take executive action against the BDS movement, but the Post (7/24/21) complained that he's not attacking Ben & Jerry's swiftly enough.

In the Wall Street Journal (7/21/21), Scalia Law School professor Eugene Kontorovich gloated that several state pension funds could retaliate against Unilever, because Israel considers parts of the areas Ben & Jerry's is boycotting to be its sovereign territory.

The Boston Herald (7/21/21) went a step further, denouncing Ben & Jerry's decision to boycott the occupation as a part of a longer list of unacceptably progressive causes adopted by the brand, like opposing the Trump administration and celebrating racial justice advocate Colin Kaepernick. "If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran an ice cream company, this is what it would look like," the Herald fumed.

Who's got a double standard?

An op-ed in Newsweek (7/22/21), written by associates of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, invoked a double standard in regards to human rights concerns, saying, "Unilever is reportedly a major purchaser of tomato paste from state-owned factories in China's Xinjiang region, where the US State Department says China is engaged in 'horrific abuses.'"

Newsweek's supposed "gotcha" provides insight into the imbalance we're seeing in the press. China, like Israel, retaliates against brands that participate in boycotts against it—H&M, Nike and other brands were targeted for declining to buy cotton from Xinjiang (BBC, 3/26/21)—but the response from the US press is very different. Fortune (7/26/21) runs advice on "How US CEOs Can Stand Up to China," not calls for states to join China in punishing those CEOs.

While Israel's retaliation against Ben & Jerry's is framed as defending its sovereignty, the China situation is framed in Cold War language: The "latest China-versus-the-West dispute is getting ugly," because the Chinese state was offering "threat[s] to the likes of Adidas and Nike" (Deutsche Welle, 4/9/21).

Time-honored nonviolent tactic

What's striking about the editorial reaction to the Ben & Jerry's news isn't that it supports Israel, but that it insinuates that the tactic of boycotting Israel is extreme and illegitimate when, in fact, boycotts have long been considered one of the most effective nonviolent ways people and groups can have political agency beyond the ballot box.

LGBTQ activists famously led a boycott of Russian products because of the Russian government's treatment of sexual minorities (Guardian, 7/26/13). Civil rights activists in the state of Georgia threatened boycotts of the state's biggest companies unless they opposed that state's voter suppression moves (CBS, 3/29/21). Cuomo even barred state workers from nonessential travel to states that passed anti-LGBTQ laws (Vanity Fair, 3/29/16). When Hugo Chávez was still alive and leading the socialist government of Venezuela, anti-socialists called for a boycott of the Venezuela-owned oil giant Citgo (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/21/06).

The idea that Israel is being "singled out," as opponents of BDS often say, just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. The Delano grape boycott and the Montgomery bus boycott are celebrated in American history as examples of how nonviolent action has been used to address injustice. And the press has repeatedly called for a "Palestinian Gandhi" to emerge who can bring the movement for Palestinian rights away from suicide bombs and rocket attacks (FAIR.org, 4/7/10, 4/1/11, 7/18/12; Bloomberg, 12/27/21).

The move by Ben & Jerry's is part of that movement to use nonviolent measures to pressure the Israeli government to recognize democratic rights. To dub boycotts of the occupation as antisemitic (as some Jewish organizations have) or, in the case of Ben & Jerry's, terroristic (according to the Israeli government—New York Post, 7/21/21) shows that calls for Palestinians to protest nonviolently (FAIR.org, 3/29/19) were never made in good faith.

Absent Palestinian voices

AP: Ben & Jerry's to Stops Sales in West Bank, East Jerusalem

AP (7/19/21) was unusual in quoting a Palestinian perspective on Ben & Jerry's decision—that it was "an important step to help pressure the Israeli government to end the occupation."

Michael Brown, associate editor of Electronic Intifada, told FAIR:

Palestinian voices in mainstream US media reporting on Ben & Jerry's have been largely absent. Background on efforts from Vermont activists have received scant attention. There's been coverage of aggressive quotes from Israeli officials, particularly [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Foreign Minister Yair] Lapid, but very little on what BDS actually is…. Additionally, I would like to see more legal analysis with journalists reaching out to Palestine Legal to find out about the efforts to suppress First Amendment-protected speech on Palestinian rights.

As Brown pointed out, the initial coverage of the issue in the New York Times (7/19/21) didn't feature Palestinian voices or the greater perspective of BDS activists. Coverage at NPR (7/19/21), while featuring the company's reasoning for pulling out of the West Bank, similarly doesn't augment the news with voices from Palestinians or the BDS movement. AP (7/19/21), by contrast, offered a statement from an Arab Joint List lawmaker in Israel and from Palestine activists.

End of a taboo?

Israeli government supporters in the press fear that if Ben & Jerry's and its parent company don't suffer economically for their decision on the Occupied Territories, then support for this kind of political pressure will become less taboo, and other groups could follow suit. And those editorialists have reason to worry. Democratic voters are becoming more sympathetic to supporting Palestinians, an AP poll (6/23/21) suggests, while another poll indicates that a quarter of US Jews are willing to call Israel an "apartheid" state (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 7/13/21).

Given that Ben & Jerry's choice could be a sign of a shifting narrative, perhaps it's not so surprising that editors are having a meltdown over ice cream.

Featured Image: Ben & Jerry's outlet in Hollywood Beach, Florida (cc photo: Rob Olivera)

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WSJ likes ‘more money in taxpayers’ hands’ — only when they’re wealthy hands

WSJ: Two Wins for Tax Cutting in Ohio

The Wall Street Journal (7/5/21) was thrilled by an Ohio tax cut that mainly benefited the wealthy…

When Ohio's Gov. Mike DeWine signed a tax cut into law on July 1, the Wall Street Journal editorial board (7/5/21) was thrilled. It praised the Republican governor, saying he "lower[ed] income-tax rates for all Ohio taxpayers."

While this is technically true, it's also misleading. Average Ohioans get virtually nothing from the tax cut. The Dayton Daily News (7/4/21) thus advised its readers not to get too excited:

Hold off on popping open some fancy champagne—the money you save might not be enough to buy the bottle. The savings for a taxpayer with a taxable income of $50,000 a year is estimated at $34.

Compare that to the windfall to be enjoyed by Ohio's wealthiest. The average member of Ohio's 1% makes $1.45 million annually, and will receive a tax cut of $5,400. The top 5% get 58% of the benefits, and the bottom 80% receive an average cut of just $43. Unsurprisingly, the Wall Street Journal editorial board omits these crucial facts from their analysis, defending the tax cuts on the grounds that they will "leav[e] more money in taxpayers' hands."

WSJ: Didn't States Say They Were Broke?

…but New Jersey tax rebates targeted to the poor and middle class are "sending checks to buy votes" (Wall Street Journal, 6/30/21).

If that's the case, then the editorial board should also love what Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is doing in New Jersey: His most recent budget includes $500 tax rebates for parents making under $150,000. You might call that "leaving more money in taxpayers' hands," and assume the editorial board would be in favor. But you would be wrong.

Instead, the board (6/30/21) smeared the rebates and other social-welfare spending as an attempt to "buy votes." But New Jersey is a deeply blue state where Murphy won his last election by more than 14 percentage points. The next general election is this November—a race rated "Solid D" by the Cook Political Report. Polls show Murphy heavily leading his Republican opponent, Jack Ciatterelli, in a state Joe Biden carried by 16 points. In short, Democrats don't need to "buy" votes in New Jersey. They already have plenty.

More important, though, is the framing. When government helps the working and middle class, it's tantamount to corruption. Buying votes, after all, would be blatant electoral fraud. But when bought-and-paid-for politicians enact big giveaways to the ultrawealthy, the Wall Street Journal applauds them and considers their actions exemplary. It's clear where their sympathies lie: not with all taxpayers, or even the majority of them—just a select few.

Corporate media needs to look at their own role in how we got here: media critic

Media seem to have finally found the line they won't abide crossing. After both sides–ing the political situation for four years of Donald Trump, the storming of the Capitol by an armed rebellion incited by Trump himself has brought out swift and strong words.

WaPo: Trump caused the assault on the Capitol. He must be removed.Washington Post (1/6/21): "Those who sought to benefit from Mr. Trump's mob-stoking rage…will always bear the stigma of having contributed to the day's shameful events."


"Trump Caused the Assault on the Capitol. He Must Be Removed," declared the Washington Post editorial board (1/6/21). "Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to US democracy," they wrote. "He should be removed." They continued:

The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security. Vice President Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Mr. Trump is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."

The Post deplored GOP lawmakers like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley who continued to press their baseless attempt to overturn the election, and praised Mitch McConnell, who "to his lasting credit" did not join them, even if, as they noted, "almost all" GOP members "bear some blame for what occurred on Wednesday." The Republicans, the paper wrote, have an "overriding responsibility to the nation: stopping Mr. Trump and restoring faith in democracy."

It's a surprisingly forceful position. At the same time, imagine if the paper—and the rest of the establishment media—had taken the GOP's threat to democracy seriously before it reached the point of the president inciting an armed insurrection on Capitol Hill. Yesterday's events were the logical outcome of years of the GOP and Trump casting aside institutional rules and norms one by one with increasing boldness, as the press corps described this increasingly authoritarian behavior as "us[ing] all of the levers of his power" (FAIR.org, 10/15/20), and years of giving Trump and his allies space to make their bogus claims of election fraud (FAIR.org, 9/15/20). The media's long history of both sides–ing the issue of purported election fraud (Extra!, 11–12/08, 10/12; CounterSpin, 10/21/16) paved the way for Trump's mythology that has seduced a breathtakingly—and dangerously—large proportion of the public.

Imagine if corporate media didn't praise McConnell, Lindsey Graham or any other Republicans who propped up Trump's dangerous lies for so long, for finally turning on him. Do they really believe we could have gotten to this point if McConnell and the rest of the party hadn't gone along with Trump's dangerously escalating lies–not just for the last several weeks, but for the last four years? If you keep your foot on the gas as the car speeds toward a cliff, but jump out a few seconds before you reach the edge, do you really deserve "lasting credit" for that?

The real test of corporate media will be not whether they are able to forcefully condemn a president's seditious acts, but whether they go back to business as usual after Trump is gone, pretending that the GOP, a disturbing number of whose members in Congress still pushed to overturn the election after the armed insurrection, is a democratic party that can be counted on to restore faith in democracy.

NYT: Trump Still Says He Won. What Happens Next?


New York Times (1/5/20): "More than 150 Republican lawmakers have signed on to reject the votes of tens of millions of Americans."

The Times editorial board, while silent so far after the events of yesterday, did publish a fairly benign opinion the day before ("Trump Still Says He Won. What Happens Next?"—1/5/20), whose optimism clearly didn't take seriously the extensive planning underway in broad daylight on right-wing websites: "The Republican effort to derail Congress's electoral vote count on Wednesday will fail, and President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in at noon on January 20, as the Constitution commands."

The Times could only muster the courage to say that "there is a strong argument" for impeachment (linking to an op-ed they published on January 4) without actually making that argument themselves; the piece concluded by praising Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for resisting Trump's corrupt attempts at overturning the election results, and lamenting, "If only that weren't extraordinary in the Republican Party today."

What's missing so far is a mea culpa from the media for its own role in normalizing the GOP's long-term efforts to drag this country toward authoritarian rule—and their cynical enjoyment of the ratings bonanza provided by the enthralling spectacle of Trump's assault on democracy (FAIR.org, 3/1/16). Instead, we have the editor of Columbia Journalism Review (11/4/20) castigating the press for spending too much time in the past four years on Trump's "infinite faults," and not enough trying to understand Trump supporters (FAIR.org, 11/16/20).

Kudos to the Washington Post for finally calling for a political reckoning. Now it's time for you to call for a media reckoning.

Centrists lose again — and mainstream media blames the left again

Joe Biden hadn't even been declared the victor of the 2020 election before establishment Democrats, in the face of poorer-than-expected results in House and Senate races, began pointing fingers at the left—with corporate media giving them a major assist.

Democrats had been hoping for big wins on election night, with the possibility of winning not only the presidency but also the Senate, and increasing their majority in the House. But while Biden has come out on top, the party's most optimistic outcome in the Senate would be a 50/50 split (if they win both Georgia runoff seats), giving them a majority with the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. And rather than gaining in the House, Democrats lost several seats.

In the wake of these disappointments, the right wing of the party immediately blamed its left wing for the poor showing, airing their grievances in a private conference call among House Democrats that was leaked to reporters.

In a write-up about the call, the Washington Post's Rachael Bade and Erica Werner (11/5/20) quoted and paraphrased 14 sources blaming those who "endorse far-left positions" for Democrats' losses, counterbalanced by only four sources defending the left. All of the progressive sources were named; half of the establishment sources were either quoted anonymously or presented as unspecified "moderates"—or, twice, simply as "Democrats," committing the exasperatingly common journalistic sleight-of-hand that erases progressive Democrats as legitimate members of their party.

In addition to quoting a handful of participants on the call, Bade and Werner interviewed numerous "moderates" for the article ("Several moderate Democrats said in interviews…"), but only managed to interview two progressives: Alexandra Rojas, head of the leftist PAC Justice Democrats, along with Rep. Jared Huffman, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus—who took the side of the centrists.

Huffman's contrary position, while perhaps surprising to some readers, and serving to portray the "centrist" view as even more of a consensus position, would have been less surprising to Bade, who had quoted Huffman just a few days earlier (11/1/20) about his opposition to leftists' efforts to exert more influence within the party. In other words, the reporters appeared to seek out only one source who could have been expected to offer a forceful defense of bold leftist ideas, to balance a whole parade of attackers.

In its piece on the dust-up, in which "Democrats traded excuses, blame and prognostications," the New York Times (11/5/20) quoted South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, who "cautioned against running on 'Medicare for all or defunding police or socialized medicine,' adding that if Democrats pursued such policies, 'we're not going to win.'" What the article didn't mention was that Clyburn has taken more money from the pharmaceutical industry in the past decade than any other member of the House or Senate (Post and Courier, 12/16/18).

The piece then quoted Rep. Marc Veasey, who "warned his fellow members against anti-fracking talk." Veasey ranked fourth among House Democrats in taking oil and gas industry money in the 2020 election cycle, and got 70% of his total campaign contributions from PACs. (To put that into perspective, the two progressives quoted in the Times piece, Pramila Jayapal and Rashida Tlaib, got 13% and 3% of their campaign contributions from PACs, respectively.) Readers might have found such information useful in analyzing the motivations behind those quotes.

CNN's Chris Cillizza (11/6/20) jumped into the fray as well, praising Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA official (another piece of relevant context not mentioned by Cillizza) who had some of the harshest words for progressives, for speaking "some hard truth to her party"–like, "We need to not ever use the words 'socialist' or 'socialism' ever again," as if the McCarthy era had never ended (FAIR.org, 10/9/20).

After quoting Spanberger extensively and then printing some of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's rebuttal ("You can't just tell the Black, brown and youth organizers riding in to save us every election to be quiet or not have their reps champion them when they need us"), Cillizza wrote:

What's beyond debate is that Republican strategists took comments made by liberals within the Democratic Party and used them to blast everyone from Spanberger on down.

Though all of these pieces offered plenty of suggestions that the left wing's vocal support for things like socialism, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and defunding the police cost the party seats in 2020, they failed to provide any actual data that might have helped readers evaluate the veracity of those statements.

It's an important point, because understanding Democrats' lackluster performance should help guide their platform and messaging moving forward. But these articles aren't shedding light on the data—perhaps because it would thoroughly undermine the anti-progressive framing.

As the New York Times' Jim Tankersley (10/14/20) reported just last month in an unusually frank assessment of the popularity of left-wing ideas, the right's wall-to-wall attempts to bring down Democrats with the "socialist" label haven't been very effective, despite Cillizza's suggestion to the contrary. That's in part because Biden and other centrists deny them so forcefully, but in part because "many of the plans favored by the most liberal wing of Democratic leaders remain popular with wide groups of voters, polling shows." Tankersley pointed to a recent Times poll that found 2 in 3 respondents support a wealth tax, 3 in 5 favor Medicare for All (including 2 of 3 independent voters), and even higher numbers support free college tuition.

The Green New Deal is likewise broadly popular: One poll specifically of swing House districts (YouGov/Data for Progress, 9/19) found that respondents supported the idea by a 13-point margin, 49% to 36%—even when informed that it will cost trillions of dollars.

And with some races still not called, it's safe to say that Medicare for All and the Green New Deal didn't sink the Dems. Ocasio-Cortez pointed out (Twitter, 11/7/20) that every Democratic co-sponsor of Medicare for All in a swing district won re-election. And Gizmodo's Brian Kahn (11/9/20) found that of 93 Democratic incumbents who co-sponsored the Green New Deal—including five in swing districts—only one lost their race.

On the question of calls to "defund the police," it's important to clarify—as did the Intercept (11/6/20), but none of these establishment media reports—that such calls grew out of the Black Lives Matter protests, not the platform of progressive congressmembers, and that that movement led to a massive spike in Democratic voter registration. In other words, without the movement that gave us the slogan "defund the police," the Democrats would almost certainly have witnessed even greater losses– including, quite probably, the White House.

As the Intercept also pointed out, it appears likely that left-wing organizing in Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania resulted in decisive Democratic gains in key cities and suburbs in those swing states. And Ocasio-Cortez named many other problems with the establishment's campaign strategies, running from underinvestment in digital campaigning to a lack of a ground game to a lack of recognition of or outreach to communities of color.

Clearly the 2020 election contains many lessons for the 2022 midterms, but it's unlikely the right conclusions will be drawn from the fact-free centrist narrative presented by corporate media.

Julie Hollar is the managing editor of FAIR's magazine, Extra!. Her work received an award from Project Censored in 2005, and she has been interviewed by such media outlets as the L.A. Times, Agence France-Presse and the San Francisco Chronicle. A graduate of Rice University, she has written for the Texas Observer and coordinated communications and activism at the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. Hollar also co-directed the 2006 documentary Boy I Am and was previously active in the Paper Tiger Television collective.

Julian Assange: Press shows little interest in media ‘Trial of Century’

Labeled the media "trial of the century," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition hearing is currently taking place in London—although you might not have heard if you're relying solely on corporate media for news. If extradited, Assange faces 175 years in a Colorado supermax prison, often described as a "black site" on US soil.

The United States government is asking Britain to send the Australian publisher to the US to face charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. He is accused of aiding and encouraging Chelsea Manning to hack a US government computer in order to publish hundreds of thousands of documents detailing American war crimes, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. The extradition, widely viewed as politically motivated, has profound consequences for journalists worldwide, as the ruling could effectively criminalize the possession of leaked documents, which are an indispensable part of investigative reporting.

WikiLeaks has entered into partnership with five high-profile outlets around the world: the New York Times, Guardian (UK), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany) and El País (Spain). Yet those publications have provided relatively little coverage of the hearing.

Since the hearing began on September 7, the Times, for instance, has published only two bland news articles (9/7/20, 9/16/20)—one of them purely about the technical difficulties in the courtroom—along with a short rehosted AP video (9/7/20). There have been no editorials and no commentary on what the case means for journalism. The Times also appears to be distancing itself from Assange, with neither article noting that it was one of WikiLeaks' five major partners in leaking information that became known as the CableGate scandal.

Guardian: 'Politicising' and 'weaponising' are becoming rather convenient arguments

Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman (9/9/20) turned a reader's question about "liv[ing] in a time of so much insecurity" into a bizarre rant against Julian Assange and his partner, Stella Moris.

The Guardian, whose headquarters are less than two miles from the Old Bailey courthouse where Assange's hearing is being held, fared slightly better in terms of quantity, publishing eight articles since September 7. However, perhaps the most notable content came from columnist Hadley Freedman (9/9/20).

When asked in an advice article: "We live in a time of so much insecurity. But is there anything we can expect from this increasingly ominous-looking winter with any certainty?" she went on a bizarre tangential rant ridiculing the idea that Assange's trial could possibly be "politicized," also crassly brushing off the idea that his young children would never see their father again, and never answering anything like the question she was asked. Holding people to account "for a mess they could have avoided," she notes, "is not 'weaponizing' anything — it is just asking them to do their jobs properly." She also claimed that believing Assange's trial was politicized was as ridiculous as thinking antisemitism claims were cynically weaponized against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, which, she meant to suggest, was a preposterous idea. This was not an off-the-cuff remark transcribed and published, but a written piece that somehow made it past at least one editor.

Like the Times, the Guardian appeared to be hoping to let people forget the fact it built its worldwide brand off its partnership with WikiLeaks; it was only mentioned in a forthright op-ed by former Brazilian president Lula da Silva (9/21/20), an outlier piece.

The Guardian should be taking a particularly keen role in the affair, seeing that two of its journalists are alleged by WikiLeaks to have recklessly and knowingly disclosed the password to an encrypted file containing a quarter-million unredacted WikiLeaks documents, allowing anyone—including every security agency in the world—to see an unredacted iteration of the leak. In 2018, the Guardian also falsely reported that Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort had conducted a meeting with Assange and unnamed "Russians" at the Ecuadorian embassy (FAIR.org, 12/3/18). And, as former employee Jonathan Cook noted, the newspaper is continually being cited by the prosecution inside the courtroom.

Der Spiegel: Mögliche Höchststrafe: 175 Jahre Knast

Der Speigel's headline (9/7/20) reads: "Maximum Sentence: 175 Years in Prison."

There were only two articles in the English or French versions of Le Monde (9/7/20, 9/18/20) and only one in either of Der Spiegel's English or German websites (9/7/20), although the German paper did at least acknowledge its own partnership with Assange. There was no coverage of the hearings in El País, in English or Spanish, though there was a piece (9/10/20) about the US government thwarting a Spanish investigation into the CIA spying on Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London—accompanied by a photo of a protester against his extradition.

The rest of corporate media showed as little interest in covering a defining moment in press freedom. There was nothing at all from CNN. CBS's two articles (9/7/20, 9/22/20) were copied and pasted from news agencies AP and AFP, respectively. Meanwhile, the entire sum of MSNBC's coverage amounted to one unclear sentence in a mini news roundup article (9/18/20).

Virtually every relevant human rights and press freedom organization is sounding the alarm about the incendiary precedent this case sets for the media. The Columbia Journalism Review (4/18/19), Human Rights Watch and the Electronic Frontier Foundation note that the government includes in its indictment regular journalistic procedures, such as protecting sources' names and using encrypted files—meaning that this "hacking" charge could easily be extended to other journalists. Trevor Timm, founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told the court this week that if the US prosecutes Assange, every journalist who has possessed a secret file can be criminalized. Thus, it essentially gives a carte blanche to those in power to prosecute whomever they want, whenever they want, even foreigners living halfway around the world.

The United Nations has condemned his persecution, with Amnesty International describing the case as a "full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression." Virtually every story of national significance includes secret or leaked material; they could all be in jeopardy under this new prosecutorial theory.

President Donald Trump has continually fanned the flames, demonizing the media as the "enemy of the people." Already 26% of the country (including 43% of Republicans) believe the president should have the power to shut down outlets engaging in "bad behavior." A successful Assange prosecution could be the legal spark for future anti-journalistic actions.

Yet the case has been met with indifference from the corporate press. Even as their house is burning down, media are insisting it is just the Northern Lights.

Voters should be wary of USA Today’s false balance on Election 2020

One thing readers can count on every election season is false balance in the press (FAIR.org, 12/9/16, 10/3/12; Extra!, 11–12/08; FAIR.org, 9/30/04), and despite the current threats to democracy (FAIR.org, 9/15/20) that one might hope would lead journalists to up their game, this year is no different.

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Newsweek should disavow racist insinuation that Kamala Harris is not a citizen

Less than 24 hours after Kamala Harris became the first person of color to be chosen as a vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket, Newsweek ran an op-ed (8/13/20) insinuating that she was not a citizen and therefore ineligible to run.

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As Biden mulls VP pick, pundits vie for most substance-free forecast

As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s search for a running mate drags on, press coverage hasn’t failed to disappoint.

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How the media's 'cancel culture' debate obscures direct threats to First Amendment

A short and rather vaguely worded open letter published in Harper's Magazine (7/7/20) earlier this month caused an unlikely media storm that continues to rumble on. Glossing over right-wing threats to the First Amendment, the letter, signed by 150 writers, journalists and other public figures, decried a new intolerance to dissent and a threat to freedom of speech coming from the left.

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Corporate media teams with Trump to disparage public health experts

To the New York Times‘ Michael Powell (7/6/20), what’s interesting about public health experts’ recommendations about protests and Covid is not whether they were accurate, but what he saw as the experts’ “conflicted feelings.”

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Unemployment has already reached — or surpassed — Great Depression levels. Why won't media say so?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' eagerly awaited Friday morning Official Unemployment Rate report for April — what editors generally call the BLS' "headline" rate of unemployment — was definitely headline-worthy. This was especially evident in the next day's New York Times (5/9/20), which ran a bar chart of historic unemployment going back to 1946 across the top of the front page, and then a long red bar down the right-hand column of the entire page showing job losses for April.

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The speed of economic recovery depends on how soon we control the virus

There have been a number of pieces in major news outlets telling us what the recovery will look like from this recession. Most have been pretty negative. The important thing to know about these forecasts is that the people making these forecasts don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

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Can the US hold a free and fair election — especially this one — during a pandemic?

It might be easy to forget, given the crisis enveloping the world at the moment, that the United States is scheduled to hold a very important election in November. But with projections that the COVID-19 crisis isn't going away any time soon, what will this mean for voters' access to the polls, and the very legitimacy of the election? These are important questions, and journalists play a critical role in answering them.
CPI: The coronavirus supercharges vote-by-mail efforts, but barriers remain

"Expanding vote by mail for November requires careful crafting to preserve ballot access for minority and disabled voters," the Center for Public Integrity (3/23/20) notes.

Many have risen admirably to the task. For instance, the Center for Public Integrity, in partnership with Time (3/23/20), spoke with voting rights experts to lay out the possibilities and pitfalls of different responses. The primary action being floated is a bill, introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., that would require no-excuse vote-by-mail options and 20 days of early in-person voting in every state, as well as offering federal funding for the implementation of those measures.

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Pundits and reporters aren't being honest about the major issues driving Trump's response to the coronavirus

The front page of the New York Times (late) print edition for March 20, 2020, bore a large map of the United States, illustrating reported cases of COVID-19 by state and county, as of March 19, 4 p.m. EDT. Readers in the paper's home city might have been particularly interested in the count for the state of New York — which, according to the map, was up to 5,200+ cases:NYT Map of Covid-19 infection.

Curiously, the morning that paper was delivered, the online version of the map, with the supposedly latest figures, had cases in New York State at 4,100+ — 1,100 fewer, a reduction of almost 20% — with no explanation for the discrepancy. (Illustrating the exponential growth of the outbreak, by the afternoon of March 20, the online map had 7,100+ cases for New York State.)

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Elite media dismiss voter suppression on grounds that it’s ‘complicated’

Some voters—disproportionately black and brown ones—waited in line for several hours on Super Tuesday to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary, and media paid attention. But their love for a good visual doesn’t always correspond with a love for connecting the dots, and so most of the coverage downplayed any suggestion that there might be voter suppression going on in 2020.

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Did Chris Matthews reveal what the democratic establishment really fears?

Mainstream news outlets keep pounding home the same message -- that the “Democratic establishment” or “Democratic moderates” are worried sick that Bernie Sanders can’t beat Trump. They worry about a Trump landslide, and a “down-ballot disaster” in Congressional races.

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How the WaPo backing limited impeachment was constitutional disaster

FAIR (11/26/19, 2/4/20) has covered how one flagship ResistanceTM newspaper, the New York Times, trivialized the importance of the impeachment process as a check on authoritarianism by covering it as a partisan competition, littered with false equivalences, and underplaying the danger Donald Trump and the rest of the Republican Party poses to whatever tatters of democracy the US has left. Instead of raising critical questions about impeachment that would inform their audience of the ways the Democratic Party could function as an effective opposition party, the Times merely regurgitated uncritical “he said, she said” statements, without making the effort to determine whether one side had greater credibility.

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NPR's attempted takedown of Bernie Sanders wasn't just biased — it was driven by startlingly poor research

The Iowa caucuses officially began the Democratic primary, and even in this ongoing, extended battle for the White House, Iowa remains an important marker for candidates and the media. A close look at a piece by two of NPR's leading political reporters, which aired just before the caucuses, provides a view of how journalists speak with authority on issues they seem to know very little about. The conversation between Mary Louise Kelly and her partner Mara Liasson, headlined "Where Iowa Falls in the Big Picture of the 2020 Election" ("All Things Considered," 2/3/20), began with Kelly introducing the importance of Iowa for Democrats, but, she observed, it's been on the "back burner" after days of constant impeachment coverage.

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No. 1 sponsor of terrorism? US media names Iran -- but overlooks a candidate closer to home

After the illegal assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, FAIR (1/9/20) noted that the corporate media offered no moral objections to murdering another country’s high-ranking state official. The media consensus was that Soleimani was a despicable “terrorist” responsible for the deaths of “hundreds of Americans”—a formula that buried the crucial distinction between terrorism and armed resistance, presenting military combat against the US and its allies’ occupation forces in the Middle East as inherently illegitimate.

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‘The people with the least resources are now shouldering the greatest burden’

Janine Jackson interviewed educator Kevin Kumashiro about student debt forgiveness for the June 28, 2019, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

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From resistance to assistance: Corporate media has offered little pushback to Trump’s Iran assassination

After Donald Trump’s election, both the New York Times and Washington Post saw huge jumps in subscribers, all hoping that the outlets would hold the president to account. Both papers tapped into this sentiment: In February 2017, the Post adopted the motto “Democracy Dies in Darkness” on its masthead; Times ads have used the slogan, “The truth is more important now than ever.”

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How WaPo’s Afghan Papers propagated a colonial narrative of noble intentions gone awry

In an earlier article (FAIR.org, 12/18/19) regarding the Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers (12/9/19), I discussed how the Post’s exposé also exposed the Post as one of the primary vehicles US officials use to spread their lies, and why it’s impossible for corporate media outlets like the Post to raise more substantive questions about the deceptive nature of US foreign policy.

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Corporate media is finding all the wrong lessons for US progressives in Corbyn's defeat

Conservative leader Boris Johnson swept to power in the U.K.'s December 12 elections, winning 365 of a possible 650 seats. Labour's socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn announced his resignation, after a bitterly disappointing night for his party.

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