Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s death yesterday brought waves of mostly flattering coverage of the divisive right-wing leader. It was striking to see the parallels between the way Thatcher was covered on the PBS NewsHour and Fox News Channel‘s most popular show, the O’Reilly Factor. Though some people like to think that PBS and Fox couldn’t be further apart, they were basically singing the same tune.
The main Thatcher segment on the PBS newscast was a discussion with two former Republican secretaries of State, George Shultz and James Baker. Of course, both were big fans of Thatcher’s foreign policy (which was closely aligned with their own priorities during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush years). It was more than that, too; as Baker put it, Thatcher “emphasized the private sector and got rid of the oppressive influence of the trade unions.” And Shultz explained that Thatcher “was a very attractive woman. So you were certainly aware of that.”
PBS had one other guest: former Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who cheered both Thatcher’s defeat of unions but also her humanity: “It’s kind of touching to be reminded of what a lovely woman she was.”
On the O’Reilly show, the host paid tribute to Thatcher’s leadership, contrasting it with Barack Obama’s tenure. As O’Reilly declared:
Her accomplishments are many, but she was always a very controversial figure in her own country and here in America, because the British press and the American media are liberal and always have been.
Later in the show, he was joined by conservatives Brit Hume and Bernard Goldberg; ironically, the latter segment focused on the alleged hostility to Thatcher in the mainstream media. So the guest line-ups were more alike than different. But so was some of the reporting. On Fox, Thatcher rescued Britain from the clutches of an oppressive union movement, and the record speaks for itself. As O’Reilly put it:
In Britain, 13 percent unemployment…. That’s a catastrophe, 13 percent, all right. When she leaves office eight years later, 5.8 percent unemployment. But if the unemployment rate drops 7 percent, which means all those millions of people are working under this woman, give her some credit.
And he put it a different way:
In 1982, about two and a half years into her term, unemployment in Great Britain was 13 percent. It’s chaos, absolute chaos there. When she left office in 1990, she was the longest serving prime minister in British history. It was at 5.8 percent.
On PBS, meanwhile, reporter Margaret Warner declared that Thatcher “brought a free market revolution to Britain, lowering taxes and privatizing state industries…. Britain’s economy rebounded from her tough medicine.”
Neither report gives viewers a good sense of Thatcher’s economic policy. (The wording in the PBS segment about rebounding from medicine is difficult to comprehend.) The Guardian compiled a list of economic indicators during Thatcher’s tenure; the short story is that inequality increased, and so did poverty–from 13.4 percent in 1979 to 22.2 percent in 1990.
O’Reilly is correct that unemployment dropped during part of Thatcher’s time in office; it also skyrocketed the first two years. When she left office in 1990, it was, according to the Guardian‘s figures, higher than when she took office. If that’s the record, then one would imagine it would be reflected somewhere–perhaps not at Fox News, for ideological reasons. But PBS is supposed to be about giving us the views that we’re not getting from the commercial media.
The New York Times‘ lengthy report (5/29/12) on Barack Obama’s drone “kill list” should provoke serious questions: Is such a program legal? How does it square with Obama’s criticism of the Bush administration’s “war on terror” policies? What does it tell us about how the administration identifies “militants” who are targeted for assassination?
But those questions have been raised only in fits and starts–and are basically absent from the liberal cable news channel MSNBC. In fact, a far more interesting discussion of these questions can be heard on Fox News Channel.
It’s not all good on Fox, naturally. Host Bill O’Reilly and guest Dennis Miller (5/29/12) joked about whether they were on the kill lists . Geraldo Rivera defended the program on Fox & Friends (6/1/12). Fox “liberal” Bob Beckel did the same on Fox‘s The Five (5/29/12):
To even suggest that somehow there is something wrong with a kill list, for you to suggest that shows you how rabidly anti-Obama you are.
Part of that discussion focused on what the reaction would be if we were reading about George W. Bush’s drone kill list–a contrast that was raised on other Fox shows, and a legitimate one.
It wasn’t just that angle that Fox covered, though. On Special Report (5/30/12), James Rosen looked at the White House’s “fuzzy math” at counting civilian deaths from drone strikes. A Special Report panel (5/29/12) used a soundbite from the ACLU to illustrate criticism from the left.
But what about the channel that would seem the natural place for some of that left-leaning analysis? MSNBC has been mostly quiet. A search of the Nexis news database turns up nothing on Obama’s kill list. The program Morning Joe had one discussion (5/29/12) where the panelists mostly supported the program, though host Joe Scarborough expressed some reservations.
What was more newsworthy? MSNBC‘s prime time shows seemed to have plenty of coverage of “birther” Donald Trump.
And it is worth noting one left-leaning TV host who did present a critical take on the Obama drone program was Current host Cenk Uygur (5/29/12). Some might remember that he briefly hosted a show on MSNBC but left amidst disputes over whether management wanted him to tone it down. Draw your own conclusions.
*Also: Kevin Gosztola has a good piece about drones and media coverage at FireDogLake (6/1/12). And it should be noted that ABC correspondent Jake Tapper (5/29/12) asked some strong questions to White House press secretary Jay Carney, particularly about civilian deaths and how the administration was defining “militants.” As best I can tell, Tapper’s exchange with Carney was not included in any ABC broadcasts, but can be viewed at the link above (starting around the 13:00 mark)
Jeffrey Goldberg’s Disingenuous Condemnation of Tucker Carlson
Today, the blogosphere was atwitter with the news that bow-tied super-douche Tucker Carlson, last night on Fox News, declared that “Iran deserves to be annihilated. I think they’re lunatics. I think they’re evil.”
He also, bizarrely, stated that “we are the only country with the moral authority [...] sufficient to do that” because, apparently, the United States, with its more than 1,000 military bases across the globe and penchant for bombing, remote-control murder droning, unaccountable worldwide torture regime, invading and occupying foreign countries, is “the only country that doesn’t seek hegemony in the world.”
Watch it here:
Carlson’s call for genocide was revealed to the non-Fox News-watching world by ThinkProgress‘s intrepid Eli Clifton and was quickly lambasted by numerous commentators. Even Jeffrey Goldberg has weighed in.
Goldberg, who has made a career of leading the charge for illegal war, didn’t much like Carlson’s comments. Writing on his blog today, Goldberg – after noting that he is “on friendly terms” with Carlson – condemns Carlson’s murderous outburst as “the sort of rhetoric that leads to war” and states that “language like this — careless or premeditated — is inhuman and sets back America’s interests.”
This is all very noble and humane of Goldberg, but it’s also completely disingenuous and hypocritical.
A mere four sentences after Goldberg quotes Carlson as saying, “I think they’re lunatics. I think they’re evil,” Goldberg himself writes:
It should go without saying that Iran does not “deserve” to be annihilated. I wish, of course, that Iranian citizens will one day soon be free of the evil regime that rules their lives, and that Iran’s neighbors, Arabs, Jews, everyone, will be able to live without fear of Tehran’s aggressiveness.
Get it? No, not the fact that Goldberg’s glorious hope for Iranians doesn’t transfer to Palestinians who live under a two-tiered Israeli legal system, both within Israel and under occupation. And no, not the other fact that Iran’s “aggressiveness” has translated into exactly zero military invasions of other countries in roughly two hundred years. The difference is that Carlson doesn’t specifically make clear that he’s referring to the “annihilation” of the Iranian “regime,” rather than all 74 million Iranian citizens. (If he is forced into doing so, one can assume Carlson will make this very distinction when back-peddling. [UPDATE: Or not.]
Yet, unsurprisingly, Goldberg doesn’t even play by his own rules, often using the shorthand term “Iran” to refer to the country’s government.
In his much-discussed and totally wrong September 2010 blockbuster, “The Point of No Return,” Goldberg hysterically referred to “the immediate specter of nuclear-weaponized, theologically driven, eliminationist anti-Semitism,” meaning, of course, the Iranian government.
In an interview with Stephen Colbert shortly after its publication, Goldberg repeated the long-debunked claims that “Iran says they seek the destruction of Israel” and is “trying to gain nuclear weapons.” He added:
Now, obviously, Iran poses threats to other areas of the Middle East and they pose a national security threat to the United States, but for Israel, they feel because of their history, because of their location, because of their vulnerability, they feel that this is an especially urgent threat.
Goldberg also described the Iranian government as “an unstable leadership, they are a crazy leadership” and explained, in the most paternal and patronizing manner possible, that “if they give up this path, if they stop seeking nuclear weapons, good things will happen to them.”
In a totally incoherent rant published last June and amazingly headlined “Iran Wants the Bomb, and It’s Well on Its Way,” Goldberg decided to discuss “the reality-based worry that bloody-minded mullahs bent on dominating the Middle East aren’t the sort of people who should have the bomb.“
(Incidentally, it may be instructive to note that Goldberg’s alarmist assumptions and assessments about Iran’s intentions are not shared by any of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies or Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Brigadier General Martin Dempsey or Director of National Intelligence James Clapper or Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ronald Burgess or even Israel intelligence estimates. In other words, he’s a liar and a fear-monger.)
Goldberg also rehashes the baseless allegations that the Fordo enrichment plant was “exposed by Western intelligence agencies in 2009″ and that “peaceful, internationally supervised nuclear program presumably would have no need for secret uranium-enrichment facilities buried inside mountains” Not only did Iran itself announce the existence of the site in accordance with its obligations under the safeguards agreement it has with the IAEA, but the site itself is under round-the-clock surveillance and subject to more intrusive inspections than nearly any nuclear site on the planet. Additionally, one might assume that with near daily threats of and rumors about an imminent, unprovoked Israeli or American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, even sites under safeguard (and in which the IAEA has repeatedly and consistently confirmed – multiple times a year, year after year – that there has been no diversion of nuclear material), should be defended from potential, illegal aggression. For Iran not to staunchly defend facilities and technology (in which it has invested billions) from attack would, in fact, be profoundly irresponsible, negligent, and dangerous.
On October 17, 2011, Goldberg described the Iranian government as “chaotic” and the Revolutionary Guard Corps as “protectors of Ayatollah Khomeini’s dystopian vision for a radicalized Muslim world, enthusiastic exporters of terrorism, and rulers of a state within a state” and wasted multiple paragraphs on the supposed threat to American warships in the Persian Gulf by “a couple of true believers in an explosive-laden speedboat.”
The next month, Goldberg wrote a piece for Bloomberg called “Why Obama Might Save Israel From Nuclear Iran.” In it, Goldberg claimed that the IAEA “is set to release a report…offering further proof that the Iranian regime is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.” Well, that didn’t actually happen.
Furthermore, Goldberg once again stated that “[t]he leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites” and “mystically minded, mesmerized by visions of the apocalypse” and who “have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction and worked to hasten that end” by backing resistance groups which, Goldberg declares, “specialize in the slaughter of innocent Jews.” In short, Goldberg sums up, “Iran’s leaders are men who deny the Holocaust while promising another.” Again, one assumes Goldberg doesn’t find his own absurd rhetoric to be “the sort…that leads to war.”
A few days later, in a blog post with the header “Is an Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Program a Bad Idea?“, Goldberg did his phony hand-wringing thing again. “As for me, well, I don’t know which one is worse: A preemptive attack, or a nuclear Iran,” he opined. “An attack would be disastrous on many levels, but I also think that a nuclear Iran would not be fully containable.”
On January 23, 2012, Goldberg declared, “It’s beyond a doubt that the Iranian regime would like to bring about the destruction of Israel.” In the same piece, embarrassingly entitled “How Iran Could Trigger Accidental Armageddon,” Goldberg concluded that “opponents of military action make a mistake in arguing that a nuclear Iran is a containable problem. It is not.” Reading this determination, one wonders whether Goldberg thinks “[t]his is the sort of rhetoric that leads to war” or not.
On February 6, 2012, Goldberg was back making his constant ridiculous and shameful analogies between Iran and Nazi Germany, replete with heavy-handed Auschwitz references, and speculating about Iranian intentions with no evidence to support his lurid claims. He wrote:
Iran represents the definitive, post-Nazi Jewish nightmare: a regime that openly argues for the destruction of Israel and is seeking nuclear weapons. The Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said just last week, “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor that should be removed and will be removed, God willing.” The regime seems bent on building weapons that could actually bring about the obliteration of Israel and its six million Jews.
Just the other day, Goldberg once again exploited the Holocaust, through around the Nazi analogy and decided that “Iran is run by a regime whose first, defining act was of mass hostage-taking.” Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the Iranian Revolution would know that the actual “first, defining act” of the Islamic Republic would better be described as the drafting and adoption a complex constitution which was approved by popular referendum mere months after toppling the quarter-century tyranny of the U.S.-backed Shah. But for Goldberg and others like him, Iranian history began on November 4, 1979. Goldberg continued to describe Iran as “comprehensively evil” and, more generally, “evil people.”
So, according to Goldberg, when an Iranian official uses the specific term “regime” (as in, say, “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”), he secretly means “every single Jew on planet Earth,” but when Goldberg himself uses the term he’s really only describing the “crazy” or “evil” or “bloody-minded” or “eliminationist” Iranian government.
So, let’s see here. Why might Goldberg be frustrated with Tucker Carlson’s outlandish verbal diarrhea? Perhaps it’s because he’s stealing Goldberg’s thunder.
- Fox News ‘commentator’ calls for an Iranian holocaust (lebanonspring.com)
- Tucker Carlson Wants to Annihilate 74 Million People. (tinfoilhatman45.wordpress.com)
- Warmongering Jeffrey Goldberg calls on Obama to use missile strikes against Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran takes protest to UNSC over Israeli crimes (alethonews.wordpress.com)