Joel Berg on Food Stamps, Jules Boykoff on Olympics


This week on CounterSpin: Congress passed the nearly trillion dollar farm bill on Feb. 2nd—with more than $8 billion in cuts to food stamps, or the SNAP program as it is now known. What does this mean for people dealing with food insecurity, and where did the rest of the money go? We’ll talk to Joel Berg, the director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

Also on the show: When the Olympics begin in Sochi, US viewers are likely to hear at least a little about Russia's crackdown on LGBT people and protests against it. If so it will be a rare instance of media acknowledging that politics are part of the Olympics story and not a detraction from it. We'll talk about Olympic activism with author and political science professor Jules Boykoff.


John Schmitt on State of the Union, Dominique Apollon on Race & the Media


The president's State of the Union address was met with praise from liberal pundits and derision from conservatives, with precious little analysis of the content. Was it a turn real toward populism? We'll take a look at some of Obama's economic talking points with John Schmitt, a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Also on CounterSpin today, a new study of media coverage of race finds very little of it is what the researchers call 'systemically aware.' We'll ask Dominique Apollon from the group Race Forward to explain what that means, and what better coverage would look like.


Alfred McCoy on the NSA and History of Political Surveillance

FILE PHOTO  NSA Compiles Massive Database Of Private Phone Calls

This week on CounterSpin: An independent review board has concluded that the National Security Agency's surveillance program poses threats to citizens' civil liberties, isn't really working to catch terrorists and should be ended. But while much debate centers on the data collected being mis-used, what about what happens if it's used as intended? We'll talk with Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison about the history of spying by the US government-- and the actual reasons they do it.


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.