Feb
27
2003

Followup Needed After Newsweek Story On Iraqi Weapons

You gotta hand it to America's mass media: When war hangs in the balance, they sure know how to bury a story. After devoting thousands of network hours and oceans of ink to stories about "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, major U.S. news outlets did little but yawn in the days after the latest Newsweek published an exclusive report on the subject — a piece headlined "The Defector's Secrets." It's hard to imagine how any journalist on the war beat could read the article's lead without doing a double take: "Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect […]

Feb
27
2003

Star Witness on Iraq Said Weapons Were Destroyed

Bombshell revelation from a defector cited by White House and press

On February 24, Newsweek broke what may be the biggest story of the Iraq crisis. In a revelation that "raises questions about whether the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist," the magazine's issue dated March 3 reported that the Iraqi weapons chief who defected from the regime in 1995 told U.N. inspectors that Iraq had destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles, as Iraq claims. Until now, Gen. Hussein Kamel, who was killed shortly after returning to Iraq in 1996, was best known for his role in exposing Iraq's deceptions […]

Feb
20
2003

'Globalization' and Its Malcontents

One of the big media buzzwords to emerge in recent years is "globalization." By now, we're likely to know what it means. That's unfortunate — because at this point the word is so ambiguous that it doesn't really mean much of anything. News outlets have reported that key international pacts like NAFTA and the World Trade Organization gained U.S. approval during the 1990s because most politicians in Washington favor "globalization." According to conventional media wisdom, those globalizers want to promote unfettered communication and joint endeavors across national boundaries. Well, not quite. These days, at the White House and on Capitol […]

Feb
13
2003

Playing the 'Terrorism' Card

These days, it's a crucial ace up Uncle Sam's sleeve. "Terrorism" is George W. Bush's magic card. For 17 months now, the word has worked like a political charm for the Bush administration. Ever since the terrible crime against humanity known as 9/11, the White House has exploited the specter of terrorism to move the GOP's doctrinaire agenda. Boosting the military budget, cutting social programs and shredding civil liberties are well underway. Like the overwhelming majority of politicians on Capitol Hill, most journalists in Washington are too timid to do anything other than quibble about fine-tuning and get out of […]

Feb
12
2003

Muted Response to Ashcroft's Sneak Attack on Liberties

In an attempt to further increase the government's surveillance and law enforcement powers, and decrease judicial review and protections of civil liberties, the Department of Justice has secretly drafted a sweeping sequel to the USA Patriot Act of 2001. Despite the draft legislation's authoritarian provisions-- including one that would empower the government to strip Americans of their citizenship if they participate in the lawful activities of any group that the attorney general labels "terrorist"-- mainstream U.S. media have responded with only a handful of news stories. The news was broken on February 7 by the Center for Public Integrity, which […]

Feb
12
2003

GE, Microsoft Bring Bigotry to Life

The latest hire by the cable news network MSNBC-- co-owned by General Electric/NBC and Microsoft-- is Michael Savage, a radio talkshow host noted for his unabashed bigotry. Savage is scheduled to have his own weekly one-hour show on MSNBC beginning in March. Savage routinely refers to non-white countries as "turd world nations" and charges that the U.S. "is being taken over by the freaks, the cripples, the perverts and the mental defectives" (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 9/20/00). In a recent broadcast he justified ethnic slurs as a national security tool: "We need racist stereotypes right now of our enemy in […]

Feb
10
2003

A Failure of Skepticism in Powell Coverage

In reporting on Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5 presentation to the United Nations Security Council, many journalists treated allegations made by Powell as though they were facts. Reporters at several major outlets neglected to observe the journalistic rule of prefacing unverified assertions with words like "claimed" or "alleged." This is of particular concern given that over the last several months, many Bush administration claims about alleged Iraqi weapons facilities have failed to hold up to inspection. In many cases, the failed claims--like Powell's claims at the U.N.--have cited U.S. and British intelligence sources and have included satellite photos […]

Feb
06
2003

Colin Powell Is Flawless--Inside A Media Bubble

There's no doubt about it: Colin Powell is a great performer, as he showed yet again at the U.N. Security Council the other day. On television, he exudes confidence and authoritative judgment. But Powell owes much of his touted credibility to the fact that he's functioning inside a media bubble that protects him from direct challenge. Powell doesn't face basic questions like these: You cite Iraq's violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions to justify the U.S. launching an all-out war. But you're well aware that American allies like Turkey, Israel and Morocco continue to violate dozens of Security Council resolutions. […]