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Health Care & Environment

11.20 Dead fish to power cruise ships [using dead fish to ultimately kill more fish, animals and plants but at a slower rate]

11.20 Indonesia: dead whale had 1,000 pieces of plastic in stomach [We have to stop killing everything!!!]

11.18 How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet

11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]

11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]

11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

News Media Matters

11.19 The Biggest Threat to Free Speech No One Is Talking About

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.20 New York City subway and bus services have entered 'death spiral', experts say [death spirals are the end-thing nowadays]

11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]

11.19 Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid

11.19 Trump’s Diminishing Power and Rising Rage

11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder

11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]

11.19 SNL explains Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s HQ2 strategy: trolling President Trump [2:55 SNL video]

11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]

11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]

11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]

11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]

Justice Matters

11.20 'He may not rewrite immigration laws': Trump's asylum ban blocked by federal judge [Has anyone thought about putting razor-wire around the White House?]

11.20 Legal Blue Wave? New Democratic AGs Could Change the Face of Climate Fight

High Crimes?

11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]

11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]

International & Futurism

11.18 New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in Brexit

11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]

11.17 Saudi crown prince's 'fit' delays UN resolution on war in Yemen

11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]

11.17 CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi killing – report

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  Checking ABC's Factcheck

ACTION ALERT:

Checking ABC's Factcheck

Scrutiny of This Week better in theory than practice

SOURCE: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
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?

This kind of analysis feeds the impression that everything else on these particular programs was more or less true or uncontroversial. But on many of these same episodes of This Week, guests and panelists have made puzzling comments that cried out for greater scrutiny or explanation. On April 18, for instance, Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel seemed to echo a right-wing talking point that the Democratic Wall Street reform bill will actually create additional taxpayer bailouts of financial giants. Fellow panelist Al Hunt disagreed. Was one of ABC's panelists wrong about this, or was it a simply a disagreement over a matter of opinion?

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 fair@fair.org. Republished in the Chronicle with permission from F.A.I.R.


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This story was published on April 24, 2010.

 

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