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 ‘Nobel Peace Prize’

Poll puts Obama lower than Oslo’s temperature

Posted by James McPherson on December 9, 2009

Though often I wish that CNN would avoid editorializing and the sort of programming that I most disdain about Fox News and MSNBC (the departure of Lou Dobbs was a good step; if Nancy Grace and perhaps Jack Cafferty would follow Dobbs out the door I’d be even happier), I admit that I still appreciated the irony of this CNN lead today: “President Obama–fighting wars in two countries–will arrive in Norway on Thursday to accept the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.”

The story also reminds us, “Nominations for the prize had to be postmarked by February 1, only 12 days after Obama took office. The committee sent out its solicitation for nominations last September, two months before Obama was elected president.” After last week, and especially since the number of Americans who think Obama deserves the prize has dropped below 20 percent, I wonder if the Nobel Committee would like a recount.

By the way, the expected low temperature for tomorrow in Oslo, where Obama will pick up the prize, is 26 degrees. The expected high is 32 degrees (right at freezing, though not as chilly as the reception he might get from former supporters when he campaigns for re-election). Come to think of it, many Americans may be thinking of traveling to Norway to warm up.

On the other hand, another 35 percent of those surveyed think it likely that Obama will eventually do enough to deserve the prize. Based on that thinking, with this semester nearing an end, perhaps I should assign final grades based on what I think students will someday achieve. But I can’t, since I keep telling them that actual performance matters and that actions have consequences.

Obama and the Democrats who let us think that poor Americans wouldn’t have to risk getting shot in Afghanistan to get a job or decent health care may find out in 2010 and 2012 just how much their actions matter.

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

My formulaic bid for a Nobel Prize in economics

Posted by James McPherson on October 19, 2008

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics (along with about $1.4 million, which he no doubt was happy to have awarded in Swedish kronor rather than in dollars). When someone asked me why he won, I theorized that it was because he was the only economist left who hadn’t already won it and who hadn’t killed himself in the past couple of weeks.

The Nobel committee says Krugman won because of “his analyses of international trade and economic geography.” And though he has admittedly written 20 books and hundreds of articles, as far as I can see, basically Krugman’s win comes down to a formula he developed to explain international trade. He tried to explain that formula to Fareed Zakaria today on Zakaria’s CNN program, a program that my wife and I watch from time to time despite the fact that the host and almost all of his guests are intimidatingly intelligent.

Somehow I don’t foresee my books or blog earning me the Nobel Prize for literature (after all, we’ve heard about the anti-American bias in that category), nor are even my most bipartisan political efforts here likely to win me the Nobel Peace Prize. My time as a journalist probably demonstrates that I lack the scientific knowledge for the prizes in chemistry, physics or medicine.

Still, for 10 million kronor–without even having to pony up a buck for a lottery ticket–I’ll make a bid for a Nobel of my own by offering a simple formula that I think well explains the current economic situation:

$ + GOP = FU

To the Nobel committee: I’ll gladly take a check, as long as it’s not from an American bank. And to the New York Times: Yes, I’ll write a column for you, if I can do it from the Pacific Northwest.

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