Greg Sargent

Recent Articles

Berman's Battle

Last spring, when the anti-fast-food documentary Super Size Me began opening in American theaters, an opinion writer named Richard Berman swung into action. He cranked out a scathing op-ed for the Chicago Sun-Times that blasted the film for "serving up a flawed premise: that we're powerless to stop Big Food from turning us into a nation of fatties." When legendary TV chef Julia Child died a few months later, Berman saw another opportunity. He wrote a piece for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that used her death as an occasion to debunk the idea that soft drinks are linked to diabetes. And last month, when a Cleveland hospital garnered national attention for trying to evict its in-house McDonald's, Berman was invited on CNN to critique the move. "I don't see anything wrong with giving people choices," he observed mildly. Why did these mainstream media outlets air Berman's opinions on such pressing health issues? Is he a doctor? A nutritionist? A health-policy wonk? None of the above...

The Next Phyllis Schlafly

With the attention of the political world now turning to the 2006 midterm elections, the GOP is already preparing one facet of their strategy: They're hoping to use the looming battles over judicial nominations to rile up their evangelical base and to paint Democrats as liberal obstructionists determined to block President George W. Bush's choices at any cost. Here's a name you'll hear more and more when that strategy kicks into high gear: Kay Daly. A blond, 38-year-old Virginia woman who describes herself, with disingenuous self-deprecation, as a “stay-at-home mom,” Daly heads a four-year-old conservative group called Coalition for a Fair Judiciary. The organization's goal is to boost judicial candidates she deems worthy, which coincide rather overwhelmingly with the ones Bush deems worthy. During Bush's first term, her dogged advocacy for the president's judicial picks largely passed under the radar of the biggest mainstream media outlets, but her zeal won applause from the...

Blaming the Victim

The torrent of campaign postmortems has begun, and, predictably, the media are allowing the winners to write the history of the race. It happens after every campaign: The winning camp declares that the primary cause of victory was the incompetence of the losing side, the shortcomings of the losing candidate, or some combination of the two. Exhibit A is Elisabeth Bumiller's lengthy front-page dissection of John Kerry's loss in Thursday's New York Times . Bumiller tells us that George W. Bush's advisers saw Kerry as a “dream opponent ... whose nuanced opinions on Iraq gave them an opening, day after day, to attack him as a flip-flopper.” She also describes Kerry's infamous line about his votes on the $87 billion supplemental as a gift to Bush. She catalogues a host of other Kerry failings, from his tendency toward caution to his inability to run a tight ship. And she quotes Karl Rove as saying that a key reason Bush won was that voters “had deep doubts about the other guy.” Yet...

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