Search Results for: John L. Hess


Who Pays for Think Tanks?

Corporate and foundation money often comes with an agenda

Pete Peterson

Think tanks are important institutions that provide information and analysis to both policy-makers and the public. But when they court donations, it can become unclear whether that analysis is tainted by donor agendas.


The Unexplored Questions of Affirmative Action

Coverage of admissions case a catalog of broadsides


Against the electric backdrop of electoral polemics, the October 10 Supreme Court session on the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas sent few sparks flying. Zeroed in on the election, the press dutifully reported the tit-for-tat and quips and quibbles around the case (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin), but left untouched the deeper implications of potentially overturning affirmative action. Reviewing the coverage felt like staring at an iconic three-dimensional chess match from Star Trek—only with all lower levels of the board disappeared from sight. An overview of the main pieces: Abigail Fisher, a white student […]



Hard to Imagine The New York Times (11/21/09) on Japan’s elite “press clubs”: a century-old, cartel-like arrangement in which reporters from major news media outlets are stationed inside government offices and enjoy close, constant access to officials. The system has long been criticized as anti-democratic by both foreign and Japanese analysts, who charge that it has produced a relatively spineless press that feels more accountable to its official sources than to the public. In their apparent reluctance to criticize the government, the critics say, the news media fail to serve as an effective check on authority. Parade’s Little Middle Claiming […]


Carrying a Torch for Anti-China Protests

When an official enemy is targeted, media take notice

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/mermaid99

For once, mainstream media have found an anti-government protest to embrace. When the Olympic torch arrived in San Francisco on April 9 and thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to decry human rights abuses by the Chinese government, journalists descended on the scene like ants at a picnic. CNN led the feeding frenzy. The cable network gave the torch and related stories more than 40,000 words of coverage throughout the day, according to a Nexis search, and it frequently played as the top story of the hour. During the three hours of Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room, five different correspondents […]


How the New York Times Blew My Lai

What if a massacre had been covered when it mattered?

John Hess

“I was in Paris with a delightful, interesting man who works for the Times, John Hess. John was in the Paris bureau, and hewas one of the people who sort of straightened me out about Vietnam. He bugged me about it and told me I had to learn more–and I did. –New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, interviewed in Harvard Magazine (11/76) It gave me a lift to learn that Tony Lewis thought I helped straighten him out on Vietnam, but I fear he flattered us both. I never did quite straighten him out, or persuade him to share my […]


Indirect From the Battlefield

EXTRA! Update NEW YORK CITY—If the first casualty of war is the truth, any dispatch from Afghanistan was likely to slay it in its very first word. The dateline says: We are there, we saw it happen. But they weren’t. They didn’t. Poor Geraldo Rivera got slugged for pretending otherwise. A crossover from MSNBC to Fox News in the rating wars, he was on his first combat mission for Rupert Murdoch (Extra!, 1-2/02). He let it be known that he was armed to the teeth, or at least to the ankle holster, raring to track the enemy into his cave. […]


The Uncovering and Reburial of a War Crime

exposé of Kerrey's massacre provokes media backlash

The last weekend of April marked a high point in American journalism, when the New York Times Magazine and 60 Minutes II exposed a dreadful war crime. It also marked a low point in American journalism, when the media denied the crime, minimized it, defended it and reburied it. The story had first been exhumed by Newsweek‘s Gregory L. Vistica in 1998. He established that in the Mekong Delta one night in 1969, in the village of Thanh Phong, a squad of Navy SEALs led by Bob Kerrey knifed to death an elderly couple and three children, then gunned down […]


Statistical Bias

Journalists find 'comfort' after the Diallo killing

When New Yorkers went into shock over the 41 bullets fired at Amadou Diallo, journalist Elizabeth Kolbert found “comfort”–her word–by recalling the sodomizing of Abner Louima. The business with the broomstick, she explained in the New Yorker (3/29/99), was not what we hire the police to do, whereas we do pay them to accost characters who fit a certain pattern. That fusillade, she said, “may not be racism at all but something new, a form of racial bias that is statistically driven and officially sanctioned.” She meant, of course, profiling, and it’s hardly new. Nor was there anything new in […]