Extra! January 2011

    SoundBites

    Bush’s Choice of an Interviewer Was a Slam Dunk Interviewing George W. Bush about his new book, NBC’s Matt Lauer (11/8/10) remarked: “He says he eventually decided to go to war based on Saddam Hussein’s defiance and what seemed to be rock-solid intelligence. On the subject of WMD, George Tenet famously said, ‘It’s a slam dunk.’” Defiance of what, Lauer didn’t say—U.N. weapons inspections were underway and were finding little support for U.S. claims about hidden WMDs, though Bush repeatedly misrepresents this bit of history (FAIR Action Alert, 12/2/08). Lauer went on to say that “not everybody thought you should ...


    USA Today Targets Government Workers

    In the midst of a major recession, one group of people is making out like bandits, and USA Today’s on the case. Wall Street bankers? CEOs? Guess again: It’s government workers. “Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time—in pay and hiring—during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector,” wrote reporter Dennis Cauchon in a front-page article on December 11, 2009. His string of public worker pay “exposés” goes back at least as far as February 1, 2008, when he announced that “better pay and benefits for public employees come as private-sector workers face stagnant ...


    'Blindly Accepting What U.S. Officials Were Telling Them'

    A military attack on Iran is under increasing discussion in U.S. corridors of power. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has called for a war to “neuter” the Iranian regime, and former CIA chief Michael Hayden says an attack on Iran “seems inexorable”—and may not be the “worst of all possible outcomes.” Media are doing their part, too. Washington Post columnist David Broder (10/31/10) suggested that “orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs” might be just what the U.S. economy needs, while other journalists seem to think they have found further justification for such a war in newly released WikiLeaks documents—documents they say ...


    Democrats Failing Media's Deficit Test

    Having concluded that the United States needs an austerity program to cure its economic ills (Extra!, 1/10), and having decided in advance that the 2010 midterms were a mandate for downsizing the federal government (Extra!, 12/10), the leading outlets of the corporate media fixed on the deficit commission created by Barack Obama as a test of how serious the Democrats were about doing what needed to be done. The initial verdict: They’re failing the test. Before the midterms, under the headline “Deficit Divisions Likely to Grow After Election,” New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes (10/26/10) asserted that dealing with the ...


    Pictures at an Execution Panel

    Security was tight at the Philadelphia Federal Courthouse for a November 9 hearing by the Third Circuit Appeals Court to consider the death sentence of local journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose 1982 conviction for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer has been widely questioned (Extra!, 11-12/95; Extra! Update, 2/99). Some 500 demonstrators calling for Abu-Jamal’s freedom were on the sidewalk outside the courthouse, and U.S. Marshals and officers from the Federal Protective Service had erected two parallel rows of metal gates to separate the crowd from the building, and to create an enclosed “cattle chute” to funnel spectators into the ...


    Media Don't Bite the Ruling That Feeds Them

    As major participants in and beneficiaries of the influence-buying orgy, it’s hardly surprising that television outlets did not seriously examine the impact of the Citizens United decision.


    Taking Media Mergers to the Next Level

    Over the last decade, dozens of media mergers and purchases have resulted in a media industry controlled by a handful of companies—and the cable giant Comcast wants to be one of them. After a failed attempt to purchase Disney in 2004 for $66 billion (Inter Press Service, 3/20/04), Comcast offered to take over NBC Universal for the bargain price of $30 billion—which would buy a 51 percent controlling interest from General Electric, with the expectation of acquiring the remaining stake over the next seven years (Globe and Mail, 12/3/09). While Comcast has so far been mainly a cable and Internet ...


    Letters

    PBS, Diversity & Public Media Your November issue’s analysis of PBS news and public affairs programs illuminated a pervasive lack of diversity and gender equity in guest appearances on those shows. While the conclusions to which your exposé point are valid concerns and well substantiated with empirical data, there is one ironic omission. Tavis Smiley on PBS is the only five-night-per-week news and public affairs program on PBS hosted by an African-American. Diversity and inclusion are central tenets that the show has established in its successful seven years of broadcast, as evidenced by the most diverse guestlist of any public ...


    Pushing Obama to 'Pull a Clinton'

    In the wake of the 2010 midterm elections, one of the more popular suggestions in the corporate media was that Barack Obama take a page from the Bill Clinton playbook and move to the right (Extra!, 12/10). But this narrative mistakes the problems of the current White House, and misremembers the history of Clintonian centrism. Right after the midterms, CNN viewers heard regular calls for a Clintonian right-ward lurch. Wolf Blitzer asked (11/3/10), “Does the president now need to go to the Bill Clinton playbook and deal with triangulation and all that if he wants to be re-elected?” Democratic strategist ...