Category Archives: Journalism

Obama’s Victory In International Headlines: “The Best is Still To Come.”

A Reminder that the Whole world is watching and waiting:

Obama tras su reelección: “Para EE UU, lo mejor está por venir” El Pais, Madrid

(Obama after his re-election For the US, The Best is Yet to Come)

“Nate Silver, La Revanche du Geek” Le Monde, Paris
(Nate Silver, the Revenge of the Geek)

Obama wins four more years as Romney challenge is crushed The Independent, London

War-weary Afghans shrug off Obama re-election, http://dawn.com/2012/11/07/obama-says-best-is-yet-to-come-in-victory-speech/, Islamabad.

Iran to take center stage again on new-old President Obama’s agenda Haaretz, Jerusalem

US Daily: Iran’s Tourism Industry Prospering Despite Sanction Fars News Agency, Tehran, which announced Obama’s victory earlier.

Later additions:

Mediocre Mitt Crashes Out, Sydney Morning Herald.

Obama to continue his China policy, <em>China (English) Daily USA</em>

Thai-American elected to US Congress, The Nation, Bangkok

The U.S. Should Learn From Venezuela How to Hold Elections, The Daily Journal, Caracas

Sin los latinos, republicanos ven díficil regresar a la Casa Blanca, El Tiempo, Bogota
(WIthout Latinos, Republicans find it difficult to return to the White House)

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Filed under 1, Afghanistan, Elections, Journalism, Obama, Politics

The Election Horse Race Won’t Be a Photo Finish

A favorable jobs report four days before the election is good news for President Obama. Unemployment remains under eight percent.

Even before that, Nate Silver of the 538 blog, the guru of poll analysis, showed the president has more than an 80 percent chance of winning the election.

The news of the day—and watching the campaign swings these days–adds fuel to my argument that the president has never been in as much trouble as most news outlets have been telling us. My guess is that even after his poor performance in the first debate, President Obama has been in pretty good shape for re-election.

Political reporting focuses on the horse race, rarely on issues. The race narrative gets boring unless you sell the idea of a close finish.

The story about Romney and momentum is mostly a narrative created by Romney’s handlers then swallowed up by the news, then regurgitated by the campaign once more. If nothing else, the closed circuit narrative makes it easier for Romney to hop on and off his plane every day with a dream of winning.

Romney’s key attribute—“I’m not Obama”—plays to his constituency but isn’t enough to win. I think a majority of the electorate—in terms of popular vote and certainly in terms of electoral vote–sees through Romney’s shape-shifting candidacy.

One part of the final sprint will be dirty tricks, anything Karl Rove and company have left in their bag.

Voter suppression, voter turnout, intimidation. Still, likely the tricks won’t be enough to propel Romney to victory.

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We have witnessed the October surprise: right-wing extremism is on the way out.

We have witnessed the October surprise. Right-wing extremism is on the way out.

The surprise came in two forms – most visibly when the governor of New Jersey turned to the president of the United States and began working with him to rebuild the ruined New Jersey coast.

Chris Christie told Republican ideologue television anchors at Fox that he didn’t give a damn about politics – he cared about saving his state.

“I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the Shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”

In an October flash, the extremist Republican rhetoric about less government washed away in the reality of the storm called Sandy.

The other October surprise came earlier in response to John Sununu, Mitt Romney’s water bearer and a worthy Halloween ghoul. Sununu brought racism to the fore by saying that former Secretary of State Colin Powell supported President Barack Obama because of their skin color.

Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff, responded angrily. Wilkerson, a university professor and retired army colonel, who by the way is not African-American but is a registered Republican, said this on national television:

Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists, and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin, and that’s despicable.

The presidential election on Tuesday has to do with a return to sanity. The victory of President Obama and the sign of a new pragmatic wave – personified by the likes of Christie and Wilkerson – shows that progress can be made.

Christie found a mission – statesmanship over ideology. Wilkerson dared to voice an uncomfortable truth.

The election next week could restore balance. A victory for President Obama is now linked to new moderation in the Republican Party and a return to two-party politics that works. A vote for the president helps to sweep away the dogged ignorance that has captured the conservative spectrum in this country.

Much is at stake on Tuesday. Vote.

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Filed under #Sandy, 1, Elections, Journalism, Obama, Politics

Krauthammer: The Shrink of Romney-land

A friend of mine asked after the attacks in Libya and Egypt – and Mitt Romney’s mindless and mistimed and lying reaction – “is there any decorum left?”
In this strange divided land, there certainly isn’t.

The dividing lines among Democrats and Republicans are stark – have a look at the closed loop of talking heads. Consider Doctor Charles Krauthammer, the Fox television analyst and pundit and columnist (who happens to be a physician and psychiatrist), and witness the depths of self-delusion.

Rallying troops more ignorant than he himself, the doctor tells us today – predictably – that the attack on the U.S. embassy this week was the result of Obama policies. Doctor Krauthammer parrots Romney’s nonsense about “apologizing for America.”

“The substance of what Romney said at the time was absolutely right…The problem is he needs to make a larger argument. There is a collapse of Obama’s policy. It began with the Cairo speech, it began with the apologies to Iran. It began with regret for the Iraq war, it began with the so-called outreach and it completely collapsed. It has gotten nowhere on Iran. These are the fruits of appeasement and apology.”

The good doctor is not alone – the Romney spin masters have sent out Senator Rob Portman of Ohio; the former senator of Minnesota, Norm Coleman, Laura Ingraham and their ilk to spit bile, to lie and confuse.

Romney lied about events in the Middle East this week – by creating talking points untethered to reality. Is there decorum? Is there shame? No.
How can such bull permeate the airwaves?

American journalism bears some of the blame for the state of affairs. The rules of the game say that we must be balanced; newspapers and magazines report that “both sides” are exploiting events for their own political advantage. All would be well, but journalism doesn’t know how to place a flashing light under the visage of a liar. Newspapers publish lies and then place the fact-checking elsewhere in separate columns, even separate pages. There must be a better way.

The Republicans have been lying and deceiving and blocking legislation – hell-bent on taking power, waging war based on fraud and then taking power again — for at least a decade. With a more reliable front-man than Romney, some day too soon, a Reaganesque know-nothing smooth talker one day will win. Probably not this time, unless the Supreme Court-authorized multibillion dollar campaign spending spree works.

One always had the idea that a doctor, a psychiatrist, would be a healing force. That is why Doctor Krauthammer comes across as such strange apparition. The obvious thing to say is “doctor, heal thyself.” And then heal thy brethren.

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Filed under 1, Egypt, Elections, Journalism, Libya, Middle East, Obama, Politics

Health care decision: Key quotes from the ruling – Tim Grieve – POLITICO.com

Health care decision: Key quotes from the ruling – Tim Grieve – POLITICO.com.

Interesting sidelight, the NBC/MSNBC correspondent at the Supreme Court, Peter Williams, described this as a mixed victory at best and downplayed it, even as everyone else was declaring it a major victory for Obama. Williams, a former government official himself under Republican administrations, is also a former staff aide to former Vice President Richard B. Cheney. Wonder what he was thinking.

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Filed under Bush, Elections, Journalism, Obama, Politics

The past is always present. Nixon in 1972: “The Press is the Enemy”

A reprise forwarded by historian John M. Carland of an exchange between Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger on December 14, 1972. I’ve been talking to friends recently about the relationship between journalism and power.

Here, the President of the United States discusses an upcoming news conference about what later became known as the Christmas bombings of North Vietnam four days later. It comes from Volume 9 of FRUS series produced by the Office of the Historian of the Department of State. Volume 2, edited by John M Carland.

Nixon: Just say: “Except for Christmas Day, there will be no truce.”
I don’t want anybody flying over Christmas Day. People would not understand that. There’s always been a truce; World War I,World War II,
and so forth. All right, the main thing is for you to get rested and get ready for all this and go out there and just remember that when it’s
toughest, that’s when we’re the best. And remember, we’re going to be around and outlive our enemies. And also, never forget, the press is the
enemy.

Kissinger: On that, there’s no question—

Nixon: The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the
enemy. Write that on the blackboard 100 times and never forget it.

Kissinger: I, on the professors—

Nixon: Always—

Kissinger: —I need no instruction at all.

Nixon: Always—

Kissinger: And on the press, I’m in complete agreement with
you—

Nixon: It’s the enemy. So we use them, at times. But remember, with the exception, now and then, of a—I think Wilson, maybe—there
are two or three—Howard Smith. Yes, there are still a few patriots, but most of them are—they’re very disappointed because we beat ’em in
the election. They know they’re out of touch with the country. It kills those bastards. They are the enemy, and we’re just gonna continue to
use them, and never let them think that we think they’re the enemy. You see my point? But the press is the enemy. The press is the enemy.
That’s all.

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A Graceful Star is Lost, Anthony Shadid, 1968-2012

By Rick Gladstone
Anthony Shadid, a gifted foreign correspondent whose graceful dispatches for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Associated Press covered nearly two decades of Middle East conflict and turmoil, died, apparently of an asthma attack, on Thursday while on a reporting assignment in Syria. Tyler Hicks, a Times photographer who was with Mr. Shadid, carried his body across the border to Turkey.

Some impressions from the Washington Post days.
I was sometimes at the other end of the phone when he was filing from
Baghdad. The first thing you can say is that he had a mission and was
consumed by what he could do, and his work was larger than his place
of employment. He had incrementally created himself to become the
foreign correspondent he was. At AP in Egypt, he learned Arabic, which
his family did not much speak, second or third generation, back in
Oklahoma City. He saw his job as interpreting purely without a filter
the arcane world for an audience of Americans who needed to know and
were ignorant at their peril. He gave himself the tools to do his work
and few of his generation approached his level after that.

He looked to interpret a story by boring into the essential humanity,
listening to the barbers on the main drag talking about the war, or
sitting with a mother who had watched her son board a bus and go north
to war and death, or overhearing the booksellers who at all cost
needed to affirm and preserve their culture as it crumbled around
them. He gave his stories a universality — what country was this?—in
a sense it was the human story.

He lived close to death and that was implicit in his work. His family might not have
been able to stand it, weeks apart with the daily weight of his
possible death for having gone many steps too far. He was compelled to
work, nevertheless, family or not, and he returned to the field.

His writing was inspired, didn’t need much editing, was too long and
he got away with it. He was proud, smiled gently back in the office
and was diffident listening to praise. He was forgiving of editors who
weren’t with the program, top to bottom, argued for good sense and to
my view, only was happy when he was out the door and back in the
field.

In short, he was a a classic case of the stereotype of the foreign
correspondent, who then shot through that stereotype and created
a new standard, better than most.

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Filed under 1, Egypt, Journalism, Middle East