Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

How Lawless and Increasingly Violent is the Arizona-Mexico Border? Not Very.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I’m impressed with Jake Tapper’s handling of This Week in the interim before Christiane Amanpour takes over in August. Tapper seems committed to widening the opinions voiced on the show from the typical “Beltway” crowd to some of those voices most influential in the Beltway who are critical of it. Which means bringing on Glenn Greenwald and Bill Maher. I’m still waiting on his bringing in some conservatives similarly positioned as “outsiders” while being very influential in the Beltway. Maher and Greenwald substantially influence our political conversation while never before being given the opportunity to intrude on the polite Sunday morning territory and confront the people they so regularly criticize. In the same spirit, Tapper has added a fact check component to his show — in which Politifact evaluates the truthfulness of factual claims made in his interviews. This is a huge improvement given the churning of misinformation that seems to be the main purpose some leaders use it for.

The quality of Tapper’s program was brought to mind watching this clip of Mike Murphy, a Republican political operative and frequent guest on Meet the Press. (For what it’s worth, Mike Murphy seems a genuinely likable guy and often, even a straight-shooter — and I don’t mean this as an attack on him personally.) If David Gregory allowed a fact checker to go over the claims of his guests, then perhaps the above-moment with the very inside-the-Beltway figure of Mike Murphy would not have happened. Because you see that moment was entirely fact-free. Entirely. Yet, Mike Murphy’s statement represents an oft-repeated “fact” in the opinion media — especially on the right. And it is driving the actual policy of the state of Arizona.

Let’s look at Mike Murphy’s claims and the facts:

It’s a lawless frontier because of the failure of the Obama administration to protect the American border. People are getting killed and murdered.  It has become really bad in Arizona.

Describing illegal immigration in partisan terms as a “failure of the Obama administration” seems best explained as a fudge rather than a blatant lie. It’s been an ongoing problem that as a nation we do not control our borders and maintain a law which cannot be enforced. Gregory interjects as Murphy is speaking, “This goes back before Obama, though, to be fair.” However, by stating such, Gregory seems to be conceding Murphy’s general point.

But look at the stats on this “People are getting killed and murdered” bit — which “has become really bad in Arizona,” according to Murphy, as he voices the “Conventional Wisdom” accepted by David Gregory as well. Yet there have been exactly four (4) murders along this supposedly lawless frontier in the past year. One of them generated thousands of headlines about the scourge of illegal immigration, the death of the rancher Robert Krentz. These anti-immigrant activists who talk casually of “People getting killed and murdered” (as if to double the impact of each homicide) — of the overall situation being “really bad” — even of, specifically, many ranchers being killed — always seem to point to this single example — Robert Krentz. I’ve seen no news story or other evidence linking more than this one death to border crossing. I’ve asked a number of people who have said this to point to some statistic — and instead I get the story of Robert Krentz, being exploited for politics. Remember: Arizona’s border is supposed to be the worst example of a lawless border and yet there is this single example which is always pointed to in order to justify the claim of plural murders — and even huge amounts of violence. I do not doubt there are other deaths along the border — perhaps on the Mexican side — of people trying to make the illegal crossing themselves and dying of thirst or other privation.

Mike Murphy follows this up by doubling down on his above false claim in an attempt to both place the blame for this historic problem on the Obama administration and make the case that Arizona’s very violent crime rate along the border is getting worse:

[I]t’s gotten, it’s gotten worse and worse.

To be fair to Murphy, one could consider that he means that any level of violence is bad — and that it is getting worse. So, let’s take this as a separate claim — that Murphy is instead claiming that violence along the border is increasing. CNN reported:

According to FBI statistics, violent crimes reported in Arizona dropped by nearly 1,500 reported incidents between 2005 and 2008. Reported property crimes also fell, from about 287,000 reported incidents to 279,000 in the same period. These decreases are accentuated by the fact that Arizona’s population grew by 600,000 between 2005 and 2008.

Let’s give Mike Murphy the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant that the overall problem of illegal immigration into Arizona has “gotten worse and worse” under the Obama administration. Homeland Security helpfully provides statistics on this which I have compiled into this chart:

This drop in illegal immigration isn’t due to any Bush, Obama, or local level actions. It’s due to the recession.

However, another consequence of a recession is a surge in anti-immigrant sentiment.

Which explains why Mike Murphy along with much of the Republican establishment is out there demagoguing illegal immigrants by making false claims about all these murders and violence: Because during times of economic trouble, people look to scapegoat someone for their troubles — and immigrants, especially illegal ones, get some of the blame.

But let’s stop with this pretense of “violent illegal immigrants.” That is the stuff of demagogues and prejudice as it simply is not based on facts.

Instead, let us acknowledge forthrightly that the excitement over this issue is being drive by cultural and economic resentment rather than “violence.”

Campbell Brown Does the Best Journalism Ever!

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Last week Campbell Brown provided a perfect example of the total abdication of the main responsibility of the press in a short piece in which she discussed the debate over whether or not the stimulus had worked or was working. The story was done in a perfectly formulated “he said, she said” manner in which she made no attempt to perform her basic job as a journalist: figuring out who is right and who is not.

It is hard to think of a more basic description of what the job of a journalist is than to say, “He or she should try their best to state the facts, and when there is controversy to try to get to the bottom of it.” Brown though is clearly happy to merely play clips of two different sides saying entirely opposing things, and then to smirk and hold herself above these individuals by taking no position whatsoever. It is on the shoals of this irresponsibility that our public policy debates will be run aground:

Someone here is right; someone is wrong; and there are various sets of facts out there backing up each side. Showing these clips like this – without delving into the actual policy questions accomplishes nothing.

Of course, someone might take the position that there was limited time on the air – and Brown didn’t have time to go into the details of the actual debate. And you’re right. Brown needed time for this great montage a few minutes later:

At the end of this segment, it’s easy to see how Obama is personally so popular and why his policies are less so. The policies are ignored on this serious news show while his coolness under the pressure of an annoying gnat are replayed once again.

Regardless of your position on the political spectrum, an actual discussion of policy in which facts were discussed rather than accusations traded would be to everyone’s benefit.

The High Point of Web Journalism

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I’d like to echo Henrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker:

Iran’s Gandhian uprising is one of those mesmerizing stories that some of us want to follow minute by minute, like Watergate or the fall of the Berlin Wall. As many have noted, cable TV news has turned out to be useless; it’s little more than talk radio with pictures of the hosts…The best way I’ve found to stay informed has been Andrew Sullivan’s pioneering blog, the Daily Dish

He aggregates not just the news coming out of Iran but also the domestic debates over what it all means and what the President ought to be doing about it…What really makes the Dish’s coverage of this story so compelling, though, is that its impresario brings to it the same engagé passion that he has brought to the torture revelations and the gay marriage fight. This is a high point of Web journalism. [my emphasis]

For what it’s worth, Sullivan quotes another blogger who suggests CNN may have turned a corner:

After taking it on the chin from the blogosphere for several days, it’s time to applaud CNN.  Last weekend, CNN was basically dead air on Iran.  This weekend the full power of CNN is on display, in what amounts to a team effort to duplicate what only Andrew Sullivan and Nico Pitney have done from their laptops up to now.

The Obama I Remember

Monday, February 9th, 2009

This is the Obama I remember – the one I’ve been waiting to appear since his election back in November:

If you wonder where his urgency comes from, check out the following graphs:

This first one is from Nancy Pelosi’s blog, The Gavel:

[Click on the above image for a full size version.]

CNN released this graph at the beginning of this year, attempting to place 2008’s job losses in historical perspective:

What’s scarier is that before September, 2008 was not shaping up to be a bad year in terms of job losses. Instead, in the last four months of the year, almost 2 million jobs were lost. 

This final graph is from Stephen at Live Granades:

As you can see, the 1974 decline was steeper – and the economy was able to bounce back from that quickly – although that recession was controlled all the way by the Fed – which now has exhausted it’s power.

The escalating rhetoric out of Washington today actually reminds me a great deal of the Bush administration’s reaction to September 11. After the attack, Cheney and Bush and the rest of the team demanded unfiltered intelligence briefings regularly – and as they saw the scope and depth of the dangers that might be facing us, they panicked. Every moment, they were staring into the abyss – and they decided to take any measures possible to prevent “the next attack” which everyone saw as imminent. Their fear was an existential fear – which led them to mistake the threat from Al Qaeda for an existential threat. They weren’t entirely wrong – but where they went extremely wrong was in how they refused to back down from their emergency measures after it became clear that another attack was not imminent – or that we were not under constant assault. 

Today, Obama faces a similar crisis – one that seems – with it’s precipitious declines in economic and financial measures – to be existential. It may be so. No one knows exactly what to do to fix this problem – but they know they must do something. As with the George W. Bush administration, mistakes will be made – and given the size of the government, they will probably be large mistakes. 

But the difference will come in the next step. Responding to an unprecedented crisis, any administration will likely screw up. If you get it right, it will largely be by accident. But following the crisis – when things are beginning to improve and the imminence of the threat to the nation is no longer pressing – we must reevaluate our entire strategic framework, see what worked and what didn’t, what backfired and what might be able to be improved. The great tragedy of the Bush administration was that they refused to do this for the War Against Terrorism. They never took a step back from the emergency mentality that set in after September 11 to evaluate if our strategy was actually working – and instead attacked as weak and even traitorous anyone who suggested doing so. 

Obama will do well to remember that the measures he is taking now are emergency measures to rescue the economy – and to be prepared to re-think America’s financial and economic model as soon as this crisis has passed. He has indicated he plans to do so – with his talk of a Grand Bargain. We need to make sure he follows through.

Clinton inciting an “open civil war”

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

This is not very promising.

According to David Edwards from RawStory, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux is reporting that “Clinton insiders” are suggesting “open civil war” to get Senator Clinton the Vice Presidential slot.

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