Watchdog Blog

Archive for October, 2006

Barry Sussman: Garry Wills, a Faith-Based America, and the Press

Garry Wills, the cultural historian and longtime tracker of zealotry, lays out in the current New York Review of Books how America under George W. Bush, in a few short years, has become a country ruled by faith. “Bush promised his evangelical followers faith-based social services, which he called ‘compassionate conservatism,’” Wills writes. “He went [...]

Mary C. Curtis: An Old, Ugly Tactic

Every election cycle, Republicans lament their party’s lack of appeal to African American voters. They apologize – as Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman did last year – for the GOP’s Nixon-era “Southern strategy” of welcoming white voters resentful of black progress. They vow to do better. But then, Election Day nears. Exploiting white fear [...]

Morton Mintz: Will We Stay Forever in Iraq? The White House Won’t Say

“On the rare occasions when officials have been pressed, usually in congressional hearings that garner little attention, Bush aides insist there are ‘no plans’ to build permanent bases,” Spencer Ackerman writes in The American Prospect. This is “a nondenial-denial that focuses attention on unprovable administration intent. But beyond intent is actual construction. That is, the [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Tell Us What They Say, Not What They Think

New York Times editorial writers figuratively cracked open George W. Bush’s skull, peered into it and in the lead Sunday editorial Oct. 22, “Blowing in the Wind,” revealed why Bush had a “sudden change of heart” and “very publicly consult(ed) with his generals to consider a change in tactics in Iraq.” He is “worried,” the [...]

Saul Friedman: Beware Those ‘Good’ Words

I propose that journalists who are pressed to use shorthand words to save space, and thus avoid complicated ideas, should be very suspicious of venerating as political virtues such simplistic expressions as “bipartisan,” “moderate” and “centrist.” These are said to be positive political attributes, the opposite of the more negative terms “partisan,” “extreme,” or “ideological.” [...]

Bob Garfield: Fair and Anguished: How One Watchdog Has Grown Heartsick of Barking

If you forced me to quantify, yeah, the biggest reason I despise the Bush Administration is for its systematic dismantling of the Constitution. Then I guess it’s the war — equally the lies behind it and the outrages at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, which have robbed me of the special righteousness I still clung to [...]

Morton Mintz: Off-the-Beaten-Track Questions for Candidates

Note to reporters covering House and Senate races: It’s not too late to raise some questions unrelated to the news-of-the-moment but very much related to people’s lives. For example: Is universal access to affordable, high-quality health care a human right and a public good, such as roads and fire and police protection? C.E.O.s of the [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Timidity at Work

When Jay Harris quit in 2001 as publisher of the San Jose Mercury News rather than make cuts he believed would harm the paper, he was invited to speak to the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, where he received an enthusiastic standing ovation. When the LA Times publisher and editor recently [...]

Mary C. Curtis: Conflict Under the ‘Big Tent’

By now, most everyone has a gay friend or relative. Does anyone alive still believe that bachelor Uncle Bernie – the one with the special friend – is just waiting for the right girl to come along? You would think that homosexuals would be considered simply human – good, bad, flawed – but ultimately human. [...]

Saul Friedman: On Behalf of Older Americans

When is the last time you heard someone in the well-heeled White House press corps ask the president or one of his flacks a question on behalf of older Americans? If you can’t remember, neither can I. And on behalf of older people I’ve been paying attention. But they should be asking penetrating questions on [...]