Feb
04
2003

Iraq's Hidden Weapons: From Allegation to Fact

While teams of U.N. experts scouring Iraq have yet to find any hidden caches of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, some U.S. journalists seem to have already turned up their own smoking guns. Whether out of excess zeal or simple carelessness, the media's intensive coverage of the U.N. inspections has repeatedly glided from reporting the allegation that Iraq is hiding banned weapons materials to repeating it as a statement of fact. "The Bush administration is seeking to derail plans by the chief U.N. weapons inspector to issue another report," wrote the Washington Post's Colum Lynch (1/16/03), "fearing it could delay […]

Feb
01
2003

Spinning the Gulf War to Ignore the Cost in Lives

A dozen years after the Gulf War, pub­lic perceptions of it are now very helpful to the White House. That's part of a timeworn pattern: Illusions about previous wars make the next one seem acceptable. As George Orwell observed in 1984: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." It's not unusual to hear journalists and politicians say that the Gulf War had few casualties. Considering the magni­tude of media spin, that myth is hardly surprising. "When the air war began in January 1991," recalls Patrick J. Sloyan, who covered the Gulf War as […]

Feb
01
2003

The FCC

Asking the Wrong Questions

FAIR values the opportunity to comment on the rules currently under consideration in the FCC’s 2002 Biennial Review. Unfortunately, the complicated and technical nature of the FCC's public comment procedure does not encourage--and some would argue actually discourages--significant participation from the public, the citizens whose interests the FCC is supposed to safeguard. In addition, the specific questions under consideration by the FCC skew the inquiry in favor of deregulation from the start, presupposing that the media business is simply an industry like any other, best governed by a laissez-faire approach that maximizes profit. In a democracy, however, media occupy a […]

Feb
01
2003

As Others See Us

As the poet Robert Burns noted, it's hard to see ourselves as others see us--especially if we rely on the mainstream U.S. press. Here's a paragraph from an editorial in the Los Angeles Times--headlined "Lifesaving Trade Policies" (1/2/03): Yes, the $1.66 billion the Bush administration has earmarked for international development aid in fiscal year 2004 is a pittance compared with the $50 billion to $100 billion that a war against Iraq could cost. But the measure of altruism that foreign critics most often use to deride the United States--that it spends just 0.1 percent of gross national product on "official […]