On the Central Political Role of Modern Media

In a wide-ranging ZNet interview on both the history and future of U.S. media, Robert McChesney (8/11/09) gets to the kernel of reform activism: The media is one of the key areas in society where power is exercised, reinforced and contested. It is hard to imagine a successful left political project that does not have a media platform. The media was not a major political issue for earlier generations of the left. In the 19th century, a very different media system was in place. 19th century socialists wouldn’t be talking much about the need to criticize the New York Herald […]


A Look ‘Behind the Propaganda’ About Afghanistan

Johann Hari (ZNet, 8/6/09) has an in-depth write-up of “the story of Malalai Joya” that “turns everything we have been told about Afghanistan inside out”: In the official rhetoric, she is what we have been fighting for. Here is a young Afghan woman who set up a secret underground school for girls under the Taliban and–when they were toppled–cast off the burka, ran for parliament, and took on the religious fundamentalists. But she says: “Dust has been thrown into the eyes of the world by your governments. You have not been told the truth. The situation now is as catastrophic […]


Climate Bill Damned but Military Budget Untouchable

Reacting to media noise over the economic costs of the Waxman-Markey environmental bill currently before the U.S. Congress, Dean Baker (ZNet, 7/1/09) looks to the damages of a different annual spending bill, this one perpetually unexamined in corporate news: Global Insight projected that after 20 years of higher defense spending, annual car sales would be down by more than 700,000. Housing starts would be almost 40,000 lower. Exports would be 1.8 percent lower and imports would be 2.7 percent higher, leading to a trade deficit that was almost $200 billion larger. The model also projected that there would be nearly […]


‘Catch Phrase’ vs. Reality in Iran

Knowing how much “we reporters love a catch phrase,” Iran writer Reese Erlich (ZNet, 6/28/09) wants you to know that, despite “Twitter being all a flutter in the west,” current reporting is “highly misleading” in that “Iran is not undergoing a Twitter Revolution. The term simultaneously mischaracterizes and trivializes the important mass movement developing in Iran.” After tracing the concept’s origins back to self-obsessed Western media–“desperate to find ways to show the large demonstrations…reporters were getting most of their information from Tweets and YouTube video clips”–Erlich gives us the reality of the situation: First of all the vast majority of […]


Latin America Pundits Avoid Latin American Opinion

Observing that Latinobarometro’s 2008 report on Latin American public opinion again “went entirely unreported in almost all of the world’s major media outlets,” with “only small snippets selectively analyzed by writers at the Economist, Christian Science Monitor and Washington Times,” Latin American history major Kevin Young’s ZNet analysis of the survey (5/27/09) gives some probable reasons: Washington’s contempt for the Chavez and Morales governments is readily apparent given frequent Bush administration denunciations and threats directed at the two leaders, U.S. support for violent opposition groups and coup attempts in Venezuela and Bolivia, and its ongoing and well-documented (though still highly […]