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Health Care & Environment
02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]
02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]
02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]
02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]
News Media Matters
02.16 We Shouldn't Stick Our Heads In The Sand, But We Do It Anyway [26:46 audio; Fear like Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]
02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
02.18 Dictator Trump
02.16 ‘A Parkland every five days’: project tells stories of the children lost to gun violence [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.16 Rambling Trump calls an emergency in speech that goes on and on and on [1:42 video; an incoherent president just paraphrases lies and distortion from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh...]
02.16 Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]
Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism
02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]
02.12 Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]
02.11 Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]
International & Futurism
02.18 Hate-Fest in Warsaw
02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]
02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]
02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]
Checking ABC's Factcheck
Scrutiny of This Week better in theory than practice
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Competitors have shown no interest in following ABC's lead; NBC's Meet the Press host David Gregory said that he was not interested: "People can factcheck Meet the Press every week on their own terms." CBS's Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer said that "everybody's welcome to factcheck us all they want,"
On its surface, the announcement by ABC's This Week that the website PolitiFact would monitor the show's content was a welcome development, despite the obvious downside that the Web-only factchecking would deprive the show's TV audience of needed correctives. But an evaluation of the record thus far suggests that even this limited attempt to test the accuracy of claims made on the show has focused largely on trivial points and ignored more substantive and controversial arguments.
So far, the PolitiFact assessments of This Week--which started on April 11, thanks to a suggestion from New York University professor Jay Rosen--have focused on relatively trivial matters. On one program, Bill Clinton said, "I never had a filibuster-proof Senate." PolitiFact determined this was true. Was anyone suggesting otherwise? Republican Sen. Jon Kyl noted (4/11/10) that Barack Obama had joined with other Democratic senators in an attempt to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, which PolitiFact also judged to be true (and which also is not subject to much debate). When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to a question about a Mideast peace plan by saying, "I don't answer hypotheticals," PolitiFact attempted to determine whether that stray comment was true.
Not every assertion analyzed has been so trivial. When Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared on the program (4/11/10), he was asked about a video released by Wikileaks that showed U.S. helicopters firing on a group of Iraqis in 2007, killing a dozen people. Gates responded by saying that "the video doesn't show the broader picture of the firing that was going on at American troops."
PolitiFact judged that statement "Mostly True," based in part on the military's previously disclosed investigation of the incident, which claimed that weapons were found near the victims' bodies. To its credit, PolitiFact quoted Salon's Glenn Greenwald, who argued that Gates' response was "sufficiently vague that it can't be called factually false, but is quite misleading." Greenwald noted, for instance, that a firefight somewhere else would not justify the attacks portrayed in the video, and that those killed in an apparent attempt to retrieve some of the victims could not plausibly be considered as posing a threat to U.S. forces. So what would make Gates' words "mostly true," then?
PolitiFact had weighed in on this question already (4/14/10), determining that Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's claims about bailouts were false: The language of the bill, as it was written at the time, concerned a special fund paid for by the industry that would be used to liquidate failing institutions--which is very different from being bailed out. So why not step in and clarify this argument between the panelists?
When host Jake Tapper interviewed former President Bill Clinton, he asked about regulation of Wall Street derivatives and the separation of banks' commercial and investment businesses. This led Clinton to bring up the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which critics argue led to some of the consolidation in the financial services industry over the past decade. Clinton, though, argued that the deregulation--championed by several Republicans and by the banking industry--actually increased regulation: "There was already a total merger, practically, of commercial and investment banking, and really the main thing that [the repeal of] the Glass-Steagall Act did was to give us some power to regulate it." This is an unusual suggestion--that a major deregulatory policy was in fact a move towards greater regulation--and something that deserved greater examination.
On the April 25 show, ABC pundit George Will declared his support for the construction of a wall on the U.S./Mexico border: "Build the fence, do what McCain suggests, and you'll find that the American people are not xenophobic, they are not irrational on this subject, but they do want this essential attribute of national sovereignty asserted." When pressed by panelist Cynthia Tucker about the cost of this project, Will quipped: "It's a rounding error on the GM bailout." The border fence project has been marked by delays and cost overruns; the Government Accountability Office released an evaluation last year (AP, 9/18/09) that found that it could cost $6.5 billion to maintain the fence over 20 years—on top of the $2.4 billion spent on 600 miles of fencing so far. A 2007 report by the Congressional Research Service estimated that a 700-mile fence could cost $49 billion over 25 years (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/8/07). ABC viewers could have benefited from some sort of clarification on this point.
It goes without saying that the ABC/PolitiFact effort could be a step in the right direction. Their network competitors have shown no interest in following ABC's lead; NBC's Meet the Press host David Gregory (Washington Post, 4/12/10) said that he was not interested: "People can factcheck Meet the Press every week on their own terms." CBS's Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer (Yahoo!News, 4/22/10) said that "everybody's welcome to factcheck us all they want," adding: "I kind of think that by the time we get around to factchecking...we'd already be factchecked."
Those dismissals are, at the very least, alarming. But it's little comfort that an effort that could in theory produce more rigorous factchecking has so far offered so little.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a nonpartisan media watchdog organization. Visit http://fair.org for more information, or share your opinion about this story by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Republished in the Chronicle with permission from F.A.I.R.
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This story was published on April 24, 2010.