It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader." The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.
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The Launch of Techno-Power
A story could start almost anywhere. This one begins at a moment startled by a rocket. In the autumn of 1957, America was not at war ... or at peace. The threat of nuclear annihilation shadowed every day, flickering with visions of the apocalyptic. In classrooms, “duck and cover” drills were part of the curricula. Underneath any Norman Rockwell painting, the grim reaper had attained the power of an ultimate monster. Dwight Eisenhower was most of the way through his fifth year in the White House. He liked to speak reassuring words of patriotic faith, with presidential statements like: “America […]
It is time for us to announce the winners of the P.U.-litzer Prize for 1995. Competition was intense for the fourth annual P.U.-litzers, which recognize some of the stinkiest media performances of the past year. And now, the envelopes please. UN-AMERICAN JOURNALISM PRIZE — Publisher Ted Owen, San Diego Business Journal According to his staff, publisher Ted Owen banned photos of individuals of certain ethnic backgrounds (including Vietnamese, Iraqis and Iranians) from prominent spots in his weekly business journal on the grounds that such visible coverage was "un-American." Asked about the ban by a local daily, Owen commented: "It is […]
Martin Luther King as an Opponent of Affirmative Action
In the last years of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, many mainstream journalists and conservative politicians treated him with fear and derision. In 1967, Life magazine (4/21/67) dubbed King's prophetic anti-war address "demagogic slander" and "a script for Radio Hanoi." Even years later, Ronald Reagan described King as a near-Communist. Today, however, a miracle is taking place: Suddenly, King is a conservative. By virtue of a snippit from one 1963 address--a single phrase about "the content of our character"--King is the most oft-quoted opponent of affirmative action in America today. "Martin Luther King, in my view, was a conservative," right-wing […]
As the presidential campaign marches on, certain media themes have become as stale and repetitious as the candidates’ stump speeches. Extra! looks at some of the more familiar frames, examining what reporters choose to highlight and what they ignore. Democratic Party 'Captured by Special Interests' In traditional political parlance, the term “special interests” referred to private economic interests that relied on dollars instead of numbers of supporters to exercise undue power over politics or government. In recent years, the media have turned the phrase upside clown, applying it almost exclusively to one party (the Democrats) and only to groups representing […]