The substance of Brian Cowen's pre-election budget had been almost universally predicted by media commentators. As the Independent put it, it was “carefully crafted” so that “each interest group emerged better off”. The thinking was simple – give everybody an appreciable rise in their take-home pay and they are more likely to re-elect the current government.
Daniel Ellsberg wanted to know why John F Kennedy had increased the number of US troops in Vietnam when it was obvious that their presence there was not the solution. After a two-year stint in Vietnam, Ellsberg was asked to participate in a top-secret US Department of Defence study on Vietnam. This gave him access to documents which proved the American people had been consistently misled by Kennedy and Nixon on Vietnam.
There was yet another extraordinary blast of outrage this week in the American press over a book that was supposed to be non-fiction. The new issue of Vanity Fair takes a deep swipe at Augusten Burroughs, who wrote the bestselling book Running with Scissors.
By Norman Solomon, AlterNet
The lead-up to the invasion of Iraq has become notorious in the annals of American journalism. Even many reporters, editors and commentators who fueled the drive to war in 2002 and early 2003 now acknowledge that major media routinely tossed real journalism out the window in favor of boosting war.
But it's happening again.
Time magazine named Frank Luntz among “50 of America's most promising leaders”. The Boston Globe said he was “the hottest pollster” in the US and he won the Washington Post's Crystal Ball award for being the most accurate pundit in the 1992 election. He has been fêted as a political heavyweight on Meet the Press, The Today Show and Good Morning America. He has conducted his famous focus groups for Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal and, in his spare time, has acted as a consultant to the TV soap The West Wing.
The power of Prime Time Investigates is that it forces the government to respond to issues such as care of the elderly and, more recently, mental-health facilities for young people
It's only a theory
The Irish Independent made an early Christmas gift to this column with its bizarre editorial (30 November) on “conspiracy theories”, wherein the newspaper intoned opaquely: “No fewer than three news reports today fall into that category.”
It is grimly ironic that the long-running debates in the media about university fees, school league tables and the relative merits of private education have been conducted through interpretations of statistical evidence which are riddled with the most elementary errors. On Monday 4 December, the Irish Independent published the figures for university enrolment in 2006, which revealed, once again, the class divide in education. Although only about 10 per cent of pupils attended fee-paying schools, they made up 25 per cent of university admissions.
Listening to the three different accounts on Bowman Sunday Morning (RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday 8.10am) of Ronnie Delany running the 1,500m race on 1 December 1956 in the Melbourne Olympics was good for the spirit.
Fianna Fáil TDs are some suckers if they buy into the trade-off of libel reform in exchange for the press council. The libel reform will be exploited by newspapers to engage in further recklessness, while the press council will be treated by many papers with the contempt it deserves.