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Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media is a citizens' media watchdog whose mission is to promote accuracy, fairness and balance in news reporting. AIM exposes politically motivated media bias; teaches consumers to think critically about their news sources; and holds the mainstream press accountable for its misreporting.


AIM: Al-Jazeera’s “Exclusive” Relationship With Al-Qaeda

2011 May 18

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Cliff Kincaid:

Living up to its reputation as the “terror TV” channel, Al-Jazeera has run an “exclusive” story announcing the name of the new al-Qaeda chief replacing Osama bin Laden. He is Saif al-Adel, who is on the FBI’s list of Most Wanted terrorists.

He is wanted for “Conspiracy to Kill United States Nationals, to Murder, to Destroy Buildings and Property of the United States, and to Destroy the National Defense Utilities of the United States.” read more…

AIM: Senator McCain Becomes Shill for Al-Jazeera

2011 May 17

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Cliff Kincaid:

The Arab-funded Al-Jazeera is hosting a two-day inaugural “Al Jazeera U.S. Forum” in Washington, D.C., featuring Bob Woodward of The Washington Post among the celebrity journalists. But of particular interest is Politico’s revelation that Republican Senator John McCain showed up at the opening night of the forum to praise the channel’s coverage of the Middle East.

“Over dinner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. John McCain praised Al Jazeera’s role as a catalyst in the Arab Spring uprisings before a room of journalists…” the publication reported. In fact, the “Arab Spring” has resulted in a government in Egypt that is less friendly to the U.S. and more accommodating to the Iranians and the terrorist group, Hamas.

This was a shocker because the day before, on Sunday, The Washington Post had finally gotten around to publishing a semi-critical article on the channel, noting its double-standards and open bias on the matter of revolutions in the Middle East. The Post even acknowledged that WikiLeaks had released a U.S. cable describing the channel as a foreign policy instrument of Qatar, the Middle Eastern dictatorship which financially sponsors it and selects its personnel.

While ignoring evidence of Al-Jazeera’s links to al-Qaeda, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Post article by Thomas Erdbrink noted that the channel “built its reputation on its critical coverage” of the U.S. military intervention in Iraq—a war strongly supported by Senator John McCain. Al-Jazeera’s first managing director, Mohammed Jassem al-Ali, was exposed as an agent of the Saddam Hussein regime.

McCain’s praise of Al-Jazeera was also curious because the channel, during the 2008 presidential campaign, had savaged the McCain-Palin ticket by running a piece depicting Republican voters as country bumpkins and racists. Casey Kaufmann, the Al-Jazeera reporter who did the story, contributed $500 to the Obama-for-president campaign, a violation of basic standards of journalism ethics.

Last December Al-Jazeera published an article asserting, “McCain’s fervent opposition to [Obama’s] presidential policies, are and always have been, driven by spite and not statesmanship.” The author, a contributor to the Huffington Post, had written a book highly critical of McCain entitled, The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don’t Trust Him—And Why Independents Shouldn’t.

But on the matter of Libya, Al-Jazeera and McCain see eye-to-eye, and this has apparently made all the difference in the world. McCain granted an interview to Al-Jazeera English, telling anchor Tony Harris, a former CNN employee, that he supports the Obama policy of so-called humanitarian intervention. This policy, conducted without Congressional approval, has been criticized as illegal.

The interview with McCain was conducted in the Al-Jazeera headquarters in Doha, Qatar’s capital. In another story, Al-Jazeera favorably highlighted McCain’s call for official recognition of the Libyan rebels, who include members of al-Qaeda.

The Post article in advance of McCain’s praise of Al-Jazeera noted that Qatar, the channel’s funder, “was the only Arab state to actively join in NATO operations” against the Libyan regime and that Al-Jazeera Arabic’s presenters called Libyan rebels killed in the conflict “martyrs,” and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi were labeled “mercenaries.”

So Al-Jazeera’s coverage is hardly fair and balanced. Once again, the coverage is a reflection of the foreign policy of the regime that pays the bills.

A foreign media critic was quoted as saying that “Al-Jazeera Arabic changed from the most important Arab media voice against U.S. and European policies in the region to a champion and an apologist for such intervention.”

But the reason for this switch was not explained in adequate detail. It’s not because Al-Jazeera suddenly favors Western notions of human rights and real democracy in the Middle East. It’s because Gaddafi fell out of favor with more radical elements in the Middle East when he gave up his nuclear weapons program under pressure from the Bush Administration and started turning over the names of members of al-Qaeda to U.S. intelligence. This is one reason why Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a long-time Al-Jazeera TV personality and inspiration for the Muslim Brotherhood, called for Gaddafi’s death and issued a fatwa against him.

Politico reported that former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in remarks to the Al-Jazeera dinner in Washington, D.C. on Monday said, “I’m very delighted to be here with Senator McCain. When I accepted this invitation to speak here this evening, I didn’t realize that he was going to be here until I arrived. You can just imagine how happy I was to see him, because I was preparing for the onslaught of criticism that I was going to receive. But now I’m covered!”

Ignoring the views of those, including Judea Pearl, who have documented the channel’s pro-terrorist bent, McCain has indeed given the anti-American channel important “cover” at a time when it is anxious to obtain access to more American homes, including those of English-speaking Muslims susceptible to pro-Jihad propaganda messages.

The only explanation that makes any sense is that Al-Jazeera constitutes another channel that can give—and has given—McCain favorable publicity. The Arizona Senator has a reputation as a favorite of the press who is always anxious to get in front of a TV camera. In this regard, Al-Jazeera simply constitutes another outlet, albeit an unsavory one, that he can use to promote himself. He may, however, find that it will turn on him—and the West—after Gaddafi is overthrown and the Muslim Brotherhood takes power.

For the Leftist Media Food Stamps Equal Racism [2 Videos]

2011 May 17

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Don Irvine:

Former Speaker of the House and now GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich got caught in the liberal media’s desire to paint him as a racist for calling Obama the most successful food stamp president in American history.

This statement, which he first made in a speech to the Georgia Republican Party on Friday, was seized upon by the liberal media as a coded racially tinged message, since Obama is black.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Gregory: What, what about jobs? Jobless rate now at 9 percent. You gave a speech on Friday in Georgia, and you said the following about this president:

Gingrich: You want to be a country that creates food stamps, in which case frankly Obama’s is an enormous success. The most successful food stamp president in American history. Or do you want to be a country that creates paychecks?

Gregory: First of all, you gave a speech in Georgia with language a lot of people think could be coded racially-tinged language, calling the president, the first black president, a food stamp president.

Gingrich: Oh, come on, David.

Gregory: What did you mean? What was the point?

Gingrich: That’s, that’s bizarre. That–this kind of automatic reference to racism, this is the president of the United States. The president of the United States has to be held accountable. Now, the idea that–and what I said is factually true. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps. One out of every six Americans is on food stamps. And to hide behind the charge of racism? I have–I have never said anything about President Obama which is racist.

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz also chimed in and accused Gingrich of taking an ugly shot at Obama with the food stamp comment. Schultz added that when Gingrich was asked about it by Meet the Press’ David Gregory, he played the victim.

And exactly how does Schultz feel about all of this supposed racism?

Schultz: The Republican Party still can’t win on issues so their only chance is to play the race card, again.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Chris Matthews also couldn’t resist, calling Gingrich an alter cocker, saying that his ideas are  “so old, so yesterday that he’s still talking like Reagan and food stamps and welfare queens.”

Matthews went on to say that we all got tired of that language in the ’70′s and ’80′s and that it had the tinge to it that we didn’t like so we dropped it.

The media have never been fond of Gingrich and he has certainly made his share of mistakes over the years. He certainly deserves to be scrutinized and criticized now that he is running for president.

But what he and other conservatives don’t deserve is for the media to twist simple statements of fact into charges of racism.

What was missing from all of these discussions was the blatant racism practiced by Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright and other liberals. But since they’re black and Gingrich is white they wouldn’t possibly be accused of playing the race card or being racist themselves.

This is just another example of the hypocrisy and double standard by the mainstream media that conservatives have unfortunately grown accustomed to.

AIM: Anti-Boehner Protest Fizzles Despite Washington Post Backing

2011 May 17

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Cliff Kincaid:

The Washington Post noted that House Speaker John Boehner’s commencement speech at the Catholic University of America (CUA) was non-political. But the Post story about the speech was entirely political. The story slammed Boehner’s conservative Catholic views by using a student at the event—one of about 30 liberal “social justice” advocates—to argue that the Republican from Ohio isn’t compassionate enough toward the poor.

Here’s how the Post story by Katherine Shaver began:

“Katy Jamison strode toward her graduation from Catholic University on Saturday wearing the requisite black robe and mortar board—plus a neon green message to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). ‘Where’s the compassion, Mr. Boehner?’ said the 8-by-10-inch sign pinned to her chest.”

Jamison, it turns out, was one of “about 30” involved in this “protest,” out of 1,500 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral graduates. And this is what the Post decided to emphasize. It is a case study of liberal media bias through deliberate distortion. The purpose was to portray Boehner as not only heartless but out of step with the teaching of the Catholic Church. But the ploy failed, based on the paltry numbers of protesters, according to the paper’s own account.

Boehner was selected, CUA said, because he is “A strong supporter of Catholic education in the District of Columbia, particularly the inner-city Consortium of Catholic Academies, [and] he co-chairs an annual dinner to benefit the organization.”

Boehner has long been an advocate of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP) to provide poor or low-income students an opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend a D.C. private school of their parents’ choice. He invited some of the students benefiting from the program to be his guests at the State of the Union. One of the students, Lesly Alvarez, was described as an outstanding eighth-grade student who attends Sacred Heart School, a private Catholic school where 100 percent of eighth-graders graduated on-time during the past three years. “Without the OSP scholarship,” noted a report on WUSA in Washington, D.C., “Alvarez would not be able to attend the private school that charges around $8,100 per child.”

But President Obama, who sends his children to exclusive secular private schools, opposed the Boehner initiative.

Giving poor parents the ability to send their children to a private Catholic school so they can get a better education doesn’t qualify as “social justice” to the students and their faculty advisers putting on the anti-Boehner protest.

The attack was not unexpected; the Post had already run an article in advance of Boehner’s appearance noting that a group of liberal Catholic professors had taken issue with the House Speaker’s desire to cut government spending and debt. Not surprisingly, the Shaver article regurgitated what had already appeared, in order to make it appear that the protest of about 30 students was the dramatic culmination of what the professors had set in motion. In truth, the protest demonstrated that most students wanted no part of this political show.

The show was staged by a group of liberal professors, led by Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, who decided to use the university and manipulate students for the purpose of serving as cannon fodder against the Republican Party as 2012 rolls around.

The Post of course cannot be counted on to point out that Schneck is a board member of the George Soros-funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), a “progressive” front group that is designed to counter the conservative and pro-life tendencies that many Catholics, including John Boehner, embrace. Schneck, who does not include this outside affiliation on his official CUA bio, works closely with White House official Alexia Kelley, former executive director of CACG and a speaker at his recent conference.

The CACG has been described by some observers as inactive, but in fact it continues to organize support for “progressive” Catholic functions at places like CUA.

There was a new development, as far as the Post was concerned. “A letter signed by 83 students and sent to university president John Garvey on Thursday said Boehner was an inappropriate keynote speaker because the fiscal 2012 budget resolution that he had championed severely cut funding for food assistance, programs for low-income children and help for the homeless,” the paper said.

Out of a total enrollment of 3,470 undergraduate and 3,240 graduate students, the liberal-left could muster only 83? This was big news for the Post, desperate to make Boehner look bad.

The number of signers in fact “swelled” to 86 in the final version, which attacked Boehner for opposing illegal immigration and several federal welfare state schemes.

The Post failed to note that the campus student paper took a very different view than those 86, editorializing, “Finally, a speaker allowed to come to the University that we can be proud of.”

Less than two weeks earlier, Schneck and his allies had organized a campus forum in tribute to “social justice” featuring former AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, both of them members of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Sweeney accused university officials of union-busting—a charge that the university dismissed as a gross misrepresentation. Meyerson, a non-Catholic, told the forum that he was a follower of Michael Harrington, the Catholic-turned-atheist. He thought this was a good role model for students on campus to follow.

What the campus socialists tried to do under the nose of CUA President Harvey was to undermine and taint the commencement address by House Speaker Boehner and put this great Catholic University into the Obama-for-President camp. They failed, despite the Post’s feeble attempt to pump some life into this pathetic “protest.”

True to form, Boehner broke down in tears as he described to the CUA students his Catholic upbringing. For Harvey, however, it is not a time for tears but action. The politically “progressive” Obama supporters at CUA who masquerade as professors tried to ruin the university’s commencement ceremony. Harvey—and CUA alumni—may not forget that.

AIM: Post Chairman Questioned on Profits, Federal Subsidies, Lobbying, and Bias

2011 May 13

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Cliff Kincaid:

Washington Post chairman Donald E. Graham, a former police officer, said on Thursday at the company’s annual meeting that he had no comment on the White House hosting a rapper who had performed a song praising a convicted cop-killer, Joanne Chesimard, who escaped prison and fled to Cuba.

“Thank you for informing me of something that I didn’t know,” he replied. “The question is an interesting one.” But he had no comment.

For someone in the news business, it was an embarrassing moment. A story about the rapper’s White House performance was on the front page of the “Style” section in papers handed out to shareholders and others attending the meeting.

AIM, a Post shareholder, questioned Graham about various news-related matters.

Further embarrassment ensued when Graham essentially took the Fifth and refused to name the members of the House and Senate he has personally lobbied in order to stave off proposed federal regulations that will cut into the profits of a Washington Post Company subsidiary, Kaplan. “No,” Graham curtly responded, when asked if he would name members that he has met with.

Graham acknowledged that the Post has been hurt financially by recent congressional hearings and negative publicity over the controversial business practices of Kaplan and other for-profit colleges and universities, which are accused of ripping off students, many of them disadvantaged and poor. Kaplan “has provided the handsome profits that have helped to cover this newspaper’s operating losses,” admitted Post reporter Steven Pearlstein in an extraordinary August 11, 2010, column. “Although we in the Post newsroom have nothing to do with Kaplan, we’ve all benefited from its financial success.”

Hence, the need for Graham to personally lobby for the survival of his company.

The rapper controversy had been the subject of news reports on the preceding day, although the Post itself, in that front-page “Style” section story on the day of the annual meeting, played down the controversy, attributing the “noise” over the appearance to Fox News and conservatives such as Sarah Palin.

“My duties as chairman of this company at The Washington Post annual meeting of shareholders are grave and serious and many but they do not include commenting on the appropriateness of the invitation of entertainers at the White House,” said Graham. However, he said he would ask the editors of the paper to look into it.

Graham was a patrolman with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department from January 1969 to June 1970, his bio notes. Outrage over White House support for the rapper known as Common has come from law enforcement in general but especially from New Jersey police officers who still remember what happened to Trooper Werner Foerster back in 1973. He was 34-years-old and had two children.

The FBI’s “Wanted” poster for Chesimard says, “On May 2, 1973, Chesimard, who was part of a revolutionary activist organization known as the Black Liberation Army, and two accomplices were stopped for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike by two troopers with the New Jersey State Police. At the time, Chesimard was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery. Chesimard and her accomplices opened fire on the troopers, seemingly without provocation. One trooper was wounded and the other [Foerster] was shot and killed execution-style at point-blank range. Chesimard fled the scene, but was subsequently apprehended.”

The Black Liberation Army was an outgrowth of the Black Panthers, a black militant group that described police officers as “Pigs” and called for their deaths, supposedly in “self-defense.” A tribute to Foerster notes, “The BLA was responsible for the murders of more than 10 police officers around the country. They were also responsible for violent attacks around the country that left many police officers wounded.”

“In 1977, Chesimard was found guilty of first degree murder, assault and battery of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to kill, illegal possession of a weapon, and armed robbery,” notes the FBI. “She was sentenced to life in prison. On November 2, 1979, Chesimard escaped from prison and lived underground before being located in Cuba in 1984. She is thought to currently still be living in Cuba.”

The FBI is offering $1 million for information leading to the apprehension of Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur. Members of the Weather Underground, a group that included Obama associates Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, assisted in the escape.

The New Jersey State Troopers Non Commissioned Officers Association has asked that Chesimard and other fugitives be returned to the U.S. before President Obama normalizes relations with Cuba. White House sponsorship of Common would seem to suggest that justice for Chesimard is not high on the Obama Administration’s priority list.

The Post story about the rapper said, “Critics were swift to pinpoint lyrics that support such controversial figures as Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army leader who was convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper. On the other side, Common’s defenders asserted that such songs are civic-minded protests of corrupt law enforcement and unjust legal proceedings.”

Asked to explain this printed defense of a tribute to a cop-killer, Graham again declined to get involved. “We are obviously not going to comment on any given news story in today’s paper…”

The lyrics of Common’s “A Song For Assata” include:

In the Spirit of God.

In the Spirit of the Ancestors.

In the Spirit of the Black Panthers.

In the Spirit of Assata Shakur.

We make this movement towards freedom for all those who have been oppressed, and all those in the struggle.

Graham also clammed up and refused to say which members of the U.S. Senate and House he had personally lobbied in order to forestall federal regulations affecting Kaplan, a Post subsidiary and for-profit education business that had been contributing operating funds to the money- and circulation-losing Post newspaper. Kaplan has been under fire, even from the Obama Administration and liberal Democrats, for allegedly conning students into taking out federal loans for a worthless education or non-existent jobs. These federal payments had made Kaplan into a very profitable business.

Graham told the shareholders, including representatives of financial firms with huge stakes in the company, that Kaplan had changed its ways, making sure that its student clients don’t get saddled with too much debt for jobs that do not exist.

Graham confirmed that he personally lobbied members of Congress on the matter and would do what he can to protect a company business in this “unusual situation” of federal scrutiny.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to defeat the proposed regulations.

Roll Call had reported on May 2 that, “…Kaplan University, which is owned by the Washington Post Co., paid $110,00 to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in the first quarter of this year to lobby on the issue and $90,000 to Ogilvy Government Relations. Vic Fazio, a former Democratic Congressman from California, is a leader on the Akin Gump team, while GOP operative Wayne Berman leads the Ogilvy effort. The Washington Post Co. has also retained the Democratically connected firm of Elmendorf Ryan to make its case.”

The publication said that the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which includes Kaplan and represents for-profit schools, “spent $247,000 in federal lobbying in the first quarter of this year, more than double what it spent for the same period of 2010. As part of its lobbying effort the group has retained the Podesta Group, led by Tony Podesta, an influential Democratic fundraiser.”

Graham did not dispute these figures when they were read to him and other shareholders at the annual meeting. Instead, he launched into a defense of his personal lobbying.

He said, “You have cited all our lobbying expenditures [which] by law are made public and have been and we will continue to do that. This is an unusual situation for this company but an important business of ours is under challenge and we wish to be heard. And the way the debates are conducted in Washington, you are entirely right. I have gone to Capitol Hill and I will go anywhere to talk to people… I think that the regulations proposed by the Department of Education are misguided and I think they will have negative consequences not merely on our company but on students in the United States for years and years to come. I am pleased to have the opportunity to make the case personally to anyone who will listen. I have done so as a representative of shareholders of our company and I will continue to do so whenever given the chance. We will of course file accurate reports documenting every dollar we spend on lobbying as required by law.”

In regard to another controversial topic in journalism these days—the prospect of federal bailouts and subsidies—Graham said that he “couldn’t disagree more” with Post board member Lee C. Bollinger and Post at large vice president Leonard Downie Jr., who have advocated taxpayer payments to the news business.

Bollinger, president of Columbia University, wrote a Wall Street Journal column, “Journalism Needs Government Help,” proposing a federally-supported “American World Service” that he compared to Al-Jazeera, funded by the regime in Qatar in the Middle East.

Bollinger was re-elected to the Post company board at the annual meeting.

Downie co-authored, “The Reconstruction of American Journalism,” proposing a federal fund for reporting the news.

While rejecting these forms of federal interference and support, Graham claimed ignorance about a Daily Caller report by Matthew Boyle that The Washington Post Company has received Obamacare Early Retiree Reinsurance Program funding of $573,217 in taxpayer subsidies. The money was said to be for health benefits for early retirees from the company. Hal S. Jones, senior vice president for finance and chief financial officer of The Washington Post Company, said he was aware of the report but couldn’t supply any details.

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn has said that the Post and CBS, another company getting the federal subsidies, should have to disclose that “they are subsidiaries of the Obama Administration.”

But it is the Post battle with the Obama Administration over federal regulations on Kaplan that provided most of the fireworks at the meeting, as representatives of stockholders repeatedly asked about the future of the company if profits get further squeezed. One financial expert wondered if the Post would try to sell Kaplan in order to avoid further losses.

In a bizarre twist involving a company that claims First Amendment protections for itself, AIM was originally informed that the press would be banned from the stockholders meeting, except for Post reporters with stock in the company. Typically, Post business reporters focus on good news from such a meeting, ignoring questions to the top brass that go unanswered or dismissed. However, Matthew Boyle of The Daily Caller was subsequently allowed in to cover the proceedings, on the condition that no recording devices be used to produce videos or audios of what Graham actually said at the event.

AIM: New Olbermann Show Hits a Snag

2011 May 12

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Don Irvine:

Keith Olbermann’s new show on Current TV has hit an apparent snag as the New York Post reports that the former MSNBC anchor is having difficulty hiring staff and is now trying to raid his former network:

Gasbag Keith Olbermann can’t seem to wrangle staff for his Current TV show, “Countdown.” Still in need of an executive producer and other staff, famously difficult Olbermann has crawled back to his contacts at MSNBC, many of whom he offended while there, to beg for staff. “Everyone is laughing,” said a source. “They would never leave the network to work for him.”

A rep for Current TV disputed that report and told the Post that Olbermann is “assembling a first class team” and that they will be announcing the EP shortly, but the show is only five weeks away from its debut and not having a staff in place at this point does not bode well for Keith.

In the meantime, EP or no, Current did announce their first batch of contributors to the new program:

NEW YORK – MAY 11, 2011 – “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” the much anticipated week-nightly commentary show slated to launch on independently owned Current TV on June 20th, is announcing its first group of regular contributors, which will include notable policy-makers, documentary film makers, award-winning journalists, bloggers comedians and other progressive voices. Lending their views and voices to “Countdown” on a regular basis will be film maker Ken Burns, Nicole D. Lamoureux, Executive Director, National Association Of Free Clinics, comedian Richard Lewis, film maker Michael Moore and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.

“I’m delighted and honored that so many of my friends – who are not coincidentally among the top progressive and entertainment voices in the country today – will be joining me as contributors to “Countdown” on Current,” said Olbermann, Current TV’s Chief News Officer as well as the show’s host and Executive Producer. “I hope these talented individuals, and the others we are to announce in these weeks before the premiere on June 20 will give viewers a sense of the strength and depth of the franchise we’re assembling.”

In other words, they are going to find as many left-wing media and Hollywood types as they can to parade in front of viewers whether or not they actually know anything. But I find it hard to believe that Keith will actually give them much airtime based on his penchant for dominating his old program on MSNBC.

Current has bet heavily that Olbermann will be able to boost their average viewership from 25,000 to something more ratings worthy, but with limited reach, this is a bet that could easily go sour very quickly.

AIM: Media Largely Misses Yemeni Passenger Story

2011 May 10

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Don Irvine:

There was more to the story of the passenger who disturbed an American Airlines flight on Sunday than was reported by most of the media.

While these and most other media reports did state that Almurisi had a Yemeni passport and California identification card, they somehow managed to miss reporting on what he said on the plane that startled passengers as well. read more…

WaPo’s Earnings S(t)ink

2011 May 9

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Don Irvine:

The Washington Post Company continues to be battered by a generally weak advertising market and continued troubles at its Kaplan Higher Education Unit, as they reported that profits slid 67% from a year ago.

The Post reported first-quarter net income of $15.2 million, or $1.87 per share.  Revenue fell 6.9 percent to $1.06 billion.

Kaplan, which has been the main profit engine of the Post for years, saw operating income fall 73 percent on a 10 percent reduction in revenue. New student enrollment plunged 48 percent and overall enrollment was down 23 percent from the same period a year ago.

The unit, which has come under heavy scrutiny for recruiting techniques and the heavy debt load students carry, started a “Kaplan Commitment” program that allows students to withdraw after one month without paying. But that program has come at a heavy cost to the Post, which estimated that it would reduce revenues by $140 million in 2011.

With Kaplan sinking into oblivion profit-wise, the Post Company may be forced to deal with the ongoing struggles at their flagship paper.

The Post lost almost $13 million in the quarter as circulation at both the daily and Sunday editions continued to drop. Ad revenue also fell, dropping 8 percent from last year’s first quarter.

Yet despite the continued poor performance of the Post, CEO and publisher Donald Graham has done little to try and turn around the fortunes of the paper.

Shareholders, who have seen the stock price drop by more than half since 2007, are powerless to force Graham to do something about the struggling print business because his family controls 70 percent of the voting shares for Post directors.

It’s this stranglehold that allowed Graham to ignore a higher bid last year from the conservative news site Newsmax for the Post’s Newsweek magazine, and instead sold the ailing magazine to to Sid Harman who promised to keep it in the liberal fold.

What Graham is witnessing is the continuing decline of printed newspapers like The Washington Post. But rather than take bold, decisive action to compete in a new environment, he continues to cling to the notion that Washington wants and needs a liberal paper of record. The marketplace seems to be saying otherwise.

Deception: Situation Room Photo Staged

2011 May 6

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Don Irvine:

The photo of President Obama’s national security team watching the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound isn’t all that it appears to be.

According to the Telegraph, CIA director Leon Panetta admitted that there was no live video footage of the raid as the specially mounted helmet cameras had been cut off.

In an interview with PBS, Mr Panetta said: “Once those teams went into the compound I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we really didn’t know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information.

“We had some observation of the approach there, but we did not have direct flow of information as to the actual conduct of the operation itself as they were going through the compound.”

If that was the case what was the national security team looking at? As it turns out it was just another photo op staged by the White House for dramatic effect and it resonated around the world.

Women’s Wear Daily was duly impressed by the photo and asked other photographers for their reactions:

Here, photography editors and designers explain why the picture is destined to be one for the history books:

Richard Turley, creative director, Bloomberg Businessweek
“I don’t think it’s something that you would look at as an incredible piece of photography, but as a moment of time captured, it’s very powerful.…It’s quite a human picture isn’t it: The way Obama kind of tucked himself into the corner, the body language on everyone.…It’s weight is in your own baggage of the picture, your own prior knowledge about what’s going on and what they’re looking at.”

Dora Somosi, director of photography, GQ
“It really is the two faces, between Obama’s intensity and Hillary Clinton’s surprise and shock, or whatever the hand covering the mouth is. That’s where your eye goes. She may not have had her hand over her mouth a second later, but [the photographer] did catch a moment. I think it’s about those two people and catching their unguarded reaction.…I think it’s further validated by the document that’s in front of Hillary that’s been wiped out a bit because it’s classified information. That makes you feel that you have an insider view.”

Kira Pollack, director of photography for Time
“The Hillary Clinton expression is the one that holds the photograph fully. The reaction of her hand over her face. Her eyes. Clearly, she’s reacting to something she’s watching. She’s very unaware she’s being photographed. To me, the whole image is about Hillary. In some ways, she holds the image. You look at her first, and then you look at everyone else. That instinctive reaction that must have happened for her hand to go over her mouth like that? There must be something powerful on that screen.…The other thing about this picture that we all find fascinating is that the document that is blurred. It’s one more element of what’s in that room. How extraordinary is it that we’re seeing inside that room?”

History book alright. The book of fake photos.

And as for that dramatic reaction by Hillary Clinton, New York magazine got the real scoop:

“I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs,” she said. “So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever.”

Powerful  indeed. Next time bring along some cough drops.

Media to Andrew Breitbart: [Insert Insult Here]

2011 May 5

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Benjamin Johnson:

The word ‘war’ is overused.  There is a “war on drugs,” a “war on trans-fats” and “a war on Lindsay Lohan” (the latter I completely agree with). Seems every minor cultural conflict is hailed as a new war. So when new media mogul Andrew Breitbart tells us he is at war with the “establishment media” there is some time to pause. Does this title actually apply or is it ever so cheaply used? A quick YouTube or Google search of the name ‘Breitbart’ should answer that question.  The war against Breitbart is on. read more…

AIM: Comcast Reaffirms Opposition to Bin Laden’s Favorite TV Channel

2011 May 4

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From Accuracy in Media‘s Cliff Kincaid:

David A. Jensen, Vice President for Content Acquisition at Comcast, has reaffirmed that the cable giant is not negotiating to carry the late Osama bin Laden’s favorite TV channel Al-Jazeera. read more…

Bin Laden is Dead but His Network — Al Jazeera — Lives

2011 May 3

AIM on Facebook | Twitter

From Accuracy in Media‘s Cliff Kincaid:

Al-Jazeera’s obituary of Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda, calls him the man “allegedly” behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This odd formulation reflects the channel’s favorable coverage of the 9/11 “truth” movement, which pinned the attacks on the U.S. and/or Israeli governments. But even more significant is the fact that Al-Jazeera was bin Laden’s medium of choice and transmitted his anti-American message to millions of Arabs and Muslims. This is a fact that the network does not want to trumpet, especially because it has tried to soften its image in a drive to get more carriage for its English-language channel on American television cable and satellite systems. read more…

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