Monday, March 01, 2004

Sachs on Haiti 

Columbia University economist (and Bono buddy) Jeffrey Sachs has an interesting take on the Haiti situation:

Mr Aristide won the presidential election later that year, in a contest the US media now reports was "boycotted by the opposition" and hence, not legitimate. This is a cruel joke to those who know Haiti, where Mr Aristide was swept in with an overwhelming mandate and the opposition, such as it was, ducked the elections. Duvalier thugs hardly constituted a winning ticket and as such, did not even try. (more...)

I really don't know even close to enough about Haiti to say whether this is right, but I have a lot of respect for Sachs, so I certainly can't dismiss what he has to say.
One thing that is clear is that the American media don't have any idea what's going on in Haiti, so they're just parroting what the Bush administration has to say. That's never a ticket to good coverage.

The Times on the Times 

I tend to sit out the Times-bashing sessions over at Atrios and elsewhere, not because I don't think the Times can be criticized, but because I think, by and large, its coverage is fair, and its reputation as the country's top newspaper is deserved.
Sometimes, though, the Times makes it difficult to be a supporter. Like when they put trash like this on their website. They had one of their political reporters, Katherine Seelye, do a running commentary on the Times-sponsored debate yesterday. A couple excerpts:

2.29 | 11:49 AM
On the matter of gay marriage, Kerry muddies the question of what is wrong with it. He refused to answer the question of who it hurts and what was wrong with it. This is a problem for Kerry because it underscores the underlying concern that he can be on all sides of an issue.

2.29 | 11:55 AM
Kerry stumbled over the question of whether God is on America's side. But Edwards hit it out of the park with his anecdote about Abraham Lincoln saying America is on God's side. He is the more nimble debater and conversationalist.

Ok, first of all, anyone with a modicum of intelligence realizes that the "Is God on America's side?" question was the single dumbest debate question ever. Kerry "stumbled" over the question, it seems to me, because he was reeling from how idiotic it was.
But that aside, what is the Times doing having one of its supposedly objective reporters give openly opinionated commentary on a debate? How am I or anyone else going to take this woman's work seriously after reading her comments?

So that's pretty bad, but then I read the Times' actual story on the debate. Now, anyone who watched the debate knows that the biggest story coming out of the debate, bigger than gay marriage, bigger than trade, was how terrible the panel was. The worst offender? The Times' own Elisabeth Bumiller, who kept interrupting the candidates with her increasingly combative followups. The candidates all ended up going after her, and to a lesser extent the other panelists, as much as they went after each other.
But you wouldn't know that from reading the Times' account of things. Only at the very end of the story does the Times acknowledge that "At times, the candidates seemed to spar with the debate questioners as much as they did with each other," and even then the only example they give is of Sharpton accusing the moderators of not asking him enough questions.

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