Rashid Khalidi on Ariel Sharon, Drew Hudson on NPR and Fracking


Ariel Sharon died on January 11th, and media send-offs included a lot about the former Israeli prime minister's historic role and his dedication to Israel's defense and security. But they often glossed lightly over the darker aspects of Sharon's record. We'll talk with Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University's Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, about what was often missing in coverage of Sharon's death.

Also on the show: Many public radio listeners have been dismayed to hear puff pieces about hydraulic fracking on NPR, and then to hear ads from the fracking industry. One group recently took their concerns right to the source. We'll hear from Drew Hudson of Environmental Action about what happened at that meeting with NPR.


Stephen Pimpare on War on Poverty, Carl Hart on Marijuana


This week on CounterSpin: The 50th anniversary of the launch of LBJ's War on Poverty is generating a lot of press coverage of an issue corporate media tend to mostly ignore. But what's missing from these conservations? We'll ask author and professor Stephen Pimpare.
Also on CounterSpin today, In the wake of successful marijuana decriminalization efforts in Colorado and Washington state, pundit opponents of pot are forcefully objecting. New York Times columnist David Brooks says he smoked when he was young, and it wasn't so bad, but let's continue to criminalize it; and Fox's Bill O'Reilly says marijuana, texting, and video games are sending our youth down an escapist road to ruin. We'll be joined by Columbia University neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart, for a very different view.


Best of CounterSpin 2013


Every year around this time, we put together a mix of some of what we felt were the most important and compelling looks behind the headlines of the mainstream news. From NSA surveillance to Iran to the ongoing economic crisis, CounterSpin heard from an array of activists, commentators and journalists, all of whom had something to say about how corporate media covered these issues.


Max Blumenthal on 'Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel'


This week on CounterSpin: People watch how media cover an array of political issues, of course, but there is probably not a single issue that attracts as much scrutiny as coverage of Israel-Palestine. There are enormous sensitivities to how media cover Israel, and serious pressure campaigns have been directed at outlets that are deemed too negative about, or too critical of, Israel.

So it might not be a surprise that a book that is highly critical of the country is being more or less shunned by US media outlets. Today CounterSpin talks to Max Blumenthal, author of the new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. He'll tell us about the larger story he is trying to tell in the book-- a story that he thinks goes mostly unreported in US media. And he'll explain what the reactions to the book tell us about our own political culture.


Stephen Cohen on Ukraine, Jeff Chester on Corporate Surveillance


Ukraine signed a deal with Russia on Tuesday, defying the advice of the US press and Western elites. But would Ukraine have been better off making a deal with Europe? And is the US media portrayal of Russia as the regional troublemaker accurate? We'll talk with Russia expert Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus from NYU and Princeton.

Also on the show: the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs are taking a beating-- a court rules the collection of phone metadata unconstitutional, and major tech companies are pushing for some limits on the agency's reach. But what should we know about how those companies themselves are snooping on Americans? Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy will join us to explain.


Robin Kelley on Nelson Mandela, Dean Baker on Detroit


This week on CounterSpin: Since his death, Nelson Mandela has been portrayed in the media largely as a beloved, almost saintly figure. But Mandela was once feared and despised by some US elites, and the press mirrored that. What changed? We’ll speak with UCLA professor Robin D.G. Kelley about Mandela.

Also on the show: Detroit asked for bankruptcy, because it's $18 billion in debt, due largely to bloated public sector pensions. That might be the basic shape of the story you've heard; listeners won't be surprised to hear that every part of it is wrong. We'll talk with economist Dean Baker about the causes of Detroit's problems and the problems with the solutions.


Azadeh Shahshahani on Honduras, Esther Armah on Marissa Alexander

Castro, presidential candidate of the Liberty and Refoundation party (LIBRE)

fter a 2009 coup removed left wing president Manuel Zelaya, many were watching the elections in Honduras to get a sense of where the country—and US policy—might be heading. The early results said the elections were relatively clean, and the leading conservative candidate won the vote. But is that the whole story? Azadeh Shahshahani from the National Lawyers Guild will fill us in.

Also on CounterSpin today, Marissa Alexander is free on bond. But the Florida woman sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot in an altercation with her abusive husband still faces a retrial next year. How far has our legal system, and our society, really advanced in understanding domestic violence cases and are media helping? We'll talk with journalist Esther Armah about that.


Michael Dorsey on COP Climate Talks, Rick Perlstein on Tea Party


This week on CounterSpin: The COP 19 climate talks in Warsaw were filled with intrigue, secret memos and walkouts by green groups and delegations from developing nations. What was accomplished at the summit? We'll talk with Michael K. Dorsey, the director of the Joint Center’s Energy & Environment Program.

Also on CounterSpin: Is big business breaking up with the Tea Party? Some political observers and pundits seem to think so, seeing a growing divide between the Republican Party and its corporate backers. But historian and journalist Rick Perlstein suggests this storyline isn't all that it's cracked up to be.