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Steve Rendall interviewed on WNYC
Twenty-two years after the television show Roots dramatized slavery for the American public, public television aired a four-part, six-hour historical documentary on black people and slavery in the United States. The series, called Africans in America (10/19-22/98), builds upon the tremendous academic work that has been done recently in the fields of African-American and American history. It skillfully combines the eyewitness narratives of black and white people with seldom-heard facts about the history of slavery. Though the series has generally received critical acclaim, it was the subject of a strained, perverse gripe from the Washington Post’s Ken Ringle (10/19/98). Ringle […]
NEW YORK - Judging from the amount of coverage it has received, it would seem as if the CBS investigation into its flawed report on President Bush's Air National Guard service was the most important media issue facing the country. Shortly after the report about Mr. Bush's Guard service aired on 60 Minutes Wednesday in September, right-wing commentators and internet bloggers claimed that the documents supporting the CBS report were fraudulent and predictably pointed to the episode as evidence of "liberal media" bias. That the segment was presented by CBS anchor Dan Rather added fuel to the fire, since Mr. […]
"We have no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American people," proclaimed the League of Women Voters in abandoning sponsorship of a scheduled 1988 presidential debate. The League withdrew to expose the Democrats' and Republicans' attempt to dictate every detail-- down to camera placement-- of the "debates" that today deserve to be called infomercials. The LWV has not participated since, but was replaced by an entity with no such reservations about duopoly control-- or subjecting viewers to events that make watching professional bowling a more engaging alternative. To America's disgrace, a private corporation has since directed […]
Network newscasts, dominated by current and former U.S. officials, largely exclude Americans who are skeptical of or opposed to an invasion of Iraq, a new study by FAIR has found. Looking at two weeks of coverage (1/30/03-2/12/03), FAIR examined the 393 on-camera sources who appeared in nightly news stories about Iraq on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and PBS's NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. The study began one week before and ended one week after Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5 presentation at the U.N., a time that saw particularly intense debate about the idea […]
"A Creeping Indifference and a Silent Hollowing Out"
American journalism has devoted massive attention to reporting on business in recent years. Overall news outlets are enthralled with efforts in our society to maximize corporate profits and personal wealth. Top executives and shrewd investors are good bets to emerge as media heroes, unless or until they appear to be headed for prison. Insatiable avarice -- always pushing for more, more, more -- is unlikely to cause bad press. In fact, journalists are apt to cite enthusiasm for boosting "net worth" as evidence of sturdy character. Half a century ago, sociologist C. Wright Mills warned of "a creeping indifference and […]
Proving that irony is alive and well post-Sept. 11, a book deriding the national press corps for its flagrant liberal bias has been the subject of enormous attention in the same mainstream media that, the book argues, suppress conservative views. Bias, by former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg, is long on name-calling and vitriol, but short on substance. "Delusional," "hypocrites," "Lilliputians"-- these are just a few of the words Goldberg uses to describe journalists in general, and his old CBS colleagues in particular. He quips that if CBS News were a prison, many of its employees would be Dan Rather's "bitches." […]