James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘Nancy Grace’

Juan gone: NPR, Fox and ‘news analysis’

Posted by James McPherson on October 21, 2010

National Public Radio has fired Juan Williams for making a remark that sounded too much like the only Jesse Jackson quote that conservatives like (well, maybe except this one).

I have mixed emotions about the firing, similar to those expressed by writers Glenn Greenwald and  Greg Sargent. But I also think it should never have come to this: NPR should have pushed Williams out long ago. After all, it’s not the first time he has been in trouble for comments on O’Reilly’s show.

Mostly, though, I’d have eased him out because I think his overall tone has changed over time to be more in line with Fox News/MSNBC-style “discussion” than with what his job was with NPR. After all, probably most people couldn’t name a regular commentator with NPR, while I think Williams likes being a celebrity.

Williams’ commentary in this case (and others) with Fox relied on personal feelings, rather than on political expertise. That made him inappropriate as a news commentator for NPR.

The Williams case also shows the difficulty of trying to be a rational and consistent commentator who works for markedly different audiences. One of my favorite conservatives, David Brooks, has the same problem.

By the way, I think CNN may have been trying to reclaim some NPR-style credibility with the firing of Rick Sanchez. But for the network that brought us Lou Dobbs and (via CNN Headline News) Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace, it’s probably too late.

Next day update: Williams defends his comments on Fox. His essay doesn’t change my mind, but it does illustrate some other key diversity-related problem similar to what I’ve discussed previously.

Posted in Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Something you’ve seen before

Posted by James McPherson on April 14, 2009

fake-newspaper-clipping4You probably haven’t seen the exact headline contained on the newspaper clipping here, though perhaps you would expect to by now.

Though it won’t win me a “Webby” (not to poke fun at the awards, since PBS, NPR and FactCheck.org have all been among the winners), for my 300th post I thought I’d do something a little different–or pretty much the same, as has become the case for much of American journalism.

I wrote the original post contained in the “clipping” here back on April 1. Sadly, unlike my other post of the same day, the information here is all too real.

You can make up your own fake clippings (or many other items, such as the one below) at the Clipping Generator. clapperboard-2

Posted in History, Journalism, Women, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Two booming businesses: Iraqi sex trade and pretty dead white woman porn

Posted by James McPherson on March 8, 2009

Though it may be hard to pick them out among the stories of economic devastation here, new kinds of bad news just keep coming from the  Iraq War. Now, also related to the economy, Time reports that the American occupation of Iraq apparently has benefited one kind of trade there: the buying and selling of girls for sex trafficking:

Nobody knows exactly how many Iraqi women and children have been sold into sexual slavery since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, and there are no official numbers because of the shadowy nature of the business. Baghdad-based activists …  and others put the number in the tens of thousands. Still, it remains a hidden crime; one that the 2008 US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report says the Iraqi government is not combating. Baghdad, the report says, “offers no protection services to victims of trafficking, reported no efforts to prevent trafficking in persons and does not acknowledge trafficking to be a problem in the country.”

The story also reminds us that a woman who is raped in that part of the world might well be killed for “dishonoring” their families. Those victims likely will receive no media attention there, let alone here. Yet in the U.S. the case of another pretty dead (or at least probably dead, since she has been missing for more than two years) American white woman has remained among the top stories for CNN for several days.

Meanwhile, some news media today have reported that the body of another woman was found in the trunk of her own car yesterday, several days after her uncle says she had been reported missing to “unhelpful” police. If only someone had thought to send an angelic prom photo of 22-year-old Denise Figueroa to crime porn whore Nancy Grace, Figueroa’s disappearance might have got some more attention, earlier. Though perhaps not, with that last name.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Women | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

A case in which conservatives might support abortion and liberals might favor welfare cuts

Posted by James McPherson on February 10, 2009

As the case of Caylee Anthony continues to draw an inordinate amount of attention from the media and others (the toddler’s funeral attracted more than 1,000 “mourners”), and even as Fox News is already breathlessly highlighting what its likely to be its next dead-kid story, the news media’s other family obsession, Nadya Suleman, now says she’ll use student loans to help support her 14 children (10 under the age of 2).

Suleman, who said she had no income and claimed to not be on welfare, but who admits to spending $100,000 for in vitro fertilization procedures, apparently gets almost $500 per month in food stamps along with untold amounts of money in disability payments for three of her first six children. She also received about $165,000 in disability payments after being injured in a riot at a state mental hospital (where she worked, not–as would seem appropriate–where she was a patient). You have to love the rationale offered by her “publicist” (and the fact that she has a publicist):

“In Nadya’s view, the money that she gets from the food stamp program … and the resources disabilities payments she gets for her three children are not welfare,” he said. “They are part of programs designed to help people with need, and she does not see that as welfare.” I suppose in a society where politicians can parse the definition of what “is” is, where oral sex with an intern is not “sexual relations,” where waterboarding is not torture and where leaders can lie us into a crippling war without facing legal consequences, Suleman is simply a product of her society–a good learner, so to speak.

I feel for Suleman’s kids, having a whacko as a mother, but beyond that I care very little about this story except for one concern: Especially at a time when the economy is so bad that it’s sending illegal immigrants home, boosting military enlistments and producing more new jobs for topless dancers than for auto workers, an unfortunate side effect of the Suleman case might be a crackdown in social programs and/or problems in reforming health care. After all, Ronald Reagan gained support for welfare cuts by exaggerating the extremely rare cases of “welfare queens in Cadillacs.”

Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly is on the case: Today he offers “a ‘Factor’ investigation you won’t want to miss,” asking the question, “Is the octuplet mother obsessed with trying to look and act like  Angelina Jolie?” Looking perhaps. Acting, not really: After all, Jolie is adopting most of her children while Suleman is having hers the old-fashioned way–if artificial insemination can be considered old-fashioned.

The cases would be more similar, of course, if Jolie were farming out her uterus to “adopt” so-called “snowflake babies” of the kind that surrounded George W. Bush when he vetoed the first bill of his presidency–especially if, like Suleman, she could get a doctor to implant enough “snowflakes” to form a snowball.

By the way, Nancy Grace and other dead-kid fetishists might take note of the fact that another 35,000 or so youngsters also died the same day as Caylee–and every day since.

Posted in Education, Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

25 Democrats & 30 Republicans who should ‘go away’

Posted by James McPherson on December 6, 2008

Blogger Ben Cohen apparently got such an overwhelming response (with lots of hate mail) to a column titled “10 Republicans Who Should Go Away,” he has now offered a Democratic version.

The Democrats: Joe Lieberman, Mark Penn, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Matthews, John Dingell, Robert Rubin, Steny Hoyer and Joe Lieberman (yes, Cohen hates Lieberman so much he put him on the list twice).

The Republicans: William Kristol, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, Dick Morris, Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Alan Greenspan, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and George Bush.

I would have rearranged the lists and bit and made a few changes, but having used this blog to criticize everyone on Cohen’s GOP list and almost everyone on the Democratic list (though often just through association, with such terms as “gutless Democratic Congress” (here, here, here and here), I can’t disagree much with Cohen’s rankings.

I might have put Lieberman on both lists, and can easily expand the Republican list to 30. Besides Lieberman, my list (alphabetically) might include Glenn Beck, Jerome Corsi, Ann Coulter, Lou Dobbs, James Dobson, Matt Drudge, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Nancy Grace, Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Rupert Murdoch, Darragh Murphy, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Pat Robertson, Karl Rove, Michael Savage and George Will.

The Democratic side is a little tougher for me to expand, perhaps in part because of personal bias but mostly because Dems haven’t had much power for quite a while. Still, even after eliminating the second mention of Lieberman, I can boost it to 25 by adding Bill Clinton, James Carville, John Edwards, Geraldine Ferraro, Al Franken, Christopher Hitchens, Jesse Jackson, Joe Klein,  Scott McClellan, Keith Olbermann, Ed Rendell, Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, Jerry Springer and Jeremiah Wright.

Cohen explains his reasons for each of his 19 nominees, though I won’t bother–other than to say the folks I’ve listed are among those who in my view have offered the least during the past year or so compared to the amount of visibility they’ve received. Obviously not all of those listed are formally affilitiated with the parties I’ve placed them with–but they might as well be.

Of course your picks might be different and others might be considered, including “Joe the Plumber,” “Obama girl,” and various filmmakers, political hacks, bloggers, and TV talking heads. And thankfully, many of those listed above are likely to disappear from public view in the near future, and from memory soon after.

Posted in Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »