Extra! December 2012

    Democracy & Double Standards

    Amnesty International (10/1/12) describes it as a nation where ruling party officials have “abused public institutions and administrative re-sources to restrict the freedom of assembly, expression and association of opposition supporters,” many of whom have been “fined, fired, harassed or detained.” Free speech advocates condemned its president for shuttering an opposition TV station for alleged complicity in a coup plot, right before its 2008 elections. The region’s leading election monitor found those elections plagued by violence, intimidation and ballot box-stuffing. Its president has been criticized for changing the law to sidestep term limits and remain in power. Venezuela? No—U.S. ally ...


    Fear of a Venezuelan Example

    Over the past 30 years, the top 1 percent of the United States has experienced a 240 percent increase in its real annual income, while the median household income has barely budged (Economic Policy Institute, 6/18/12, 9/13/11). Imagine if this explosive, decades-long growth of inequality were somehow reversed—at an even faster rate than its original expansion. This has actually happened in Venezuela, and it goes a long way toward explaining why President Hugo Chávez was re-elected in October, despite many U.S. media pundits’ predictions of a victory by opposition leader Henrique Capriles (CounterSpin, 10/12/12). The likelihood of coming across an ...


    Time Gives Up on Factchecking

    Reporters appear to be wedded to a set of “rules” that say they are not allowed to convey reality to their readers and viewers.


    The 'Raising the Retirement Age' Scam

    It’s inevitable that “raising the retirement age” for Social Security benefits will be talked about by corporate media as an option that would save the government large amounts of money. Such talk, however, will be entirely misleading—and designed to mislead.


    Media Laugh Off Criticism of Drug War

    To those of a certain age, the image of eggs sizzling in a frying pan instantly evokes the Partnership For a Drug-Free America’s 1987 “this is your brain on drugs” ad. But any group that wanted to draw attention to drug use in the 1980s and ’90s didn’t really need to buy ad space; media coverage was already saturated with sensationalized reporting on crack cocaine and other drugs (Extra!, 9/92). This plentiful drug coverage served to support U.S. government policy, encouraging public embrace of a heavy-handed crack-down that began under President Richard Nixon and was expanded by Ronald Reagan. Government ...


    The Moderators’ Agenda

    The establishment media figures who moderated the 2012 major-party candidate debates confined the discussion to a remarkably narrow range of topics, a FAIR analysis of debate questions finds. A wide variety of topics were never brought up in questions during the six total hours of debate. Among economic subjects, no questions were asked about poverty, income inequality, the housing crisis, labor unions, agriculture or the Federal Reserve. Social issues were similarly truncated, with no questions raised about race or racism, gay rights (including marriage equality), civil liberties, criminal justice or drug legalization. Despite the fact that four Supreme Court justices ...


    'The People Who Supported Austerity Have Been Disproven By Facts'

    When there are austerity protests in Europe, New York Times headlines like “Markets Falter in Europe Amid Protests on Austerity” (9/27/12) and “Markets Tumble on Unrest in Greece and Spain” (9/27/12) accurately capture the reports’ primary concerns: how the protests might affect financial markets. Of lesser concern to the Times, it seems, is how austerity affects people. CounterSpin’s Steve Rendall spoke on September 28 with Costas Panayotakis, a professor of social science at the New York City College of Technology, who has been following U.S. media coverage of the economic crisis in Greece. CS: I wonder if you could briefly ...


    'Half the Sky' Tells Half the Story

    The PBS documentary Half the Sky is disturbing, and not just because the film depicts violence inflicted on women and girls around the world. A shuddering amount of information about the complexities of violence and human rights abuses was left on the cutting-room floor (or never filmed at all), creating a neat, American-friendly, tie-it-up-with-a-bow film that oversimplifies and misrepresents gender-based violence. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a four-hour “event” based on the book of the same name by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, investment banking executive and former Times reporter ...