Extra! January 2013

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    The Hall of Fame of Bad Ideas

    As usual when Democrats win elections, plenty of corporate media pundits advised them to act as though they lost.


    Covering Sandy Relief in Superhero Mode

    As soon as the water receded from the streets, media trucks and journalists descended upon coastal areas of New Jersey and New York City to report on Hurricane Sandy’s damage. But recovery efforts by public and semi-public officials were slow in developing, leading to a media portrayal of the response that was a far cry from what many residents and activists saw.


    The Unexplored Questions of Affirmative Action

    Against the electric backdrop of electoral polemics, the October 10 Supreme Court session on the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas sent few sparks flying. Zeroed in on the election, the press dutifully reported the tit-for-tat and quips and quibbles around the case (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin), but left untouched the deeper implications of potentially overturning affirmative action. Reviewing the coverage felt like staring at an iconic three-dimensional chess match from Star Trek—only with all lower levels of the board disappeared from sight. An overview of the main pieces: Abigail Fisher, a white student ...


    Talking About--but Not With--Latino Voters

    The Latino vote has been widely credited in the mainstream news media with playing a major role in securing Barack Obama’s re-election. According to the polling organization Latino Decisions, the president won 75 percent of the Latino vote, compared with 23 percent for Romney, a 3-to-1 margin (Foreign Affairs, 11/15/12). But while the stereotypical sleeping giant woke up, that does not mean that the mainstream media, especially television news shows, wanted to talk with the Latino electorate. They just wanted to talk about them. Extra! looked at hundreds of transcripts of post-election coverage and found that the majority of both ...


    Dark Money Dominates Election

    “Super PACs may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS.” CBS president Les Moonves’ candid comment at an entertainment law conference (Bloomberg, 3/10/12) was one of the few honest things said by someone so deeply involved in the post–Citizens United political ad frenzy. This past election season was dominated by a record amount of ads, including many that were alarmingly misleading, and which raked in record profits for the media corporations who covered the election. Moonves was celebrating what, according to Bloomberg (3/10/12), was a projected boost in profits “by $180 million this year from political advertising,” ...


    Sandy and Climate

    Hurricane Sandy may be remembered not only as the most powerful storm ever to strike the Eastern seaboard, but also as the moment when a large segment of the U.S. media first allowed itself to say the words “climate change” in relation to a severe weather event. And while sometimes the question was dismissed as soon as it was asked—as on NBC’s Meet the Press (11/4/12), where host David Gregory opened the show by asking, “Should more attention be paid to a changing climate’s impact on the severity of these storms?” then implicitly answered his own question by never addressing ...


    Hating the Oppressed in Gaza

    Malcolm X once said, “If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Nowhere is this warning more relevant than in the corporate media’s one-sided coverage of Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, which left 160 Palestinians dead, including 105 civilians and 34 children (Palestine Centre for Human Rights). In stark contrast, rockets fired into Israel claimed the lives of four Israeli civilians and two soldiers. One civilian death is one too many, no matter which side suffers, but a kill rate of nearly 27 Palestinians ...


    Lost in Translation

    When Quebec students went on strike last spring in protest over an announced 75 percent tuition hike—part of a package of austerity measures by Quebec’s provincial government—U.S. media paid scant attention. The six-month-long strike was the largest and longest student strike in North American history; hundreds of thousands of Québécois repeatedly took to the streets, with thousands arrested. Yet the strike elicited not a single story from any of the three major U.S. broadcast networks, PBS NewsHour or the Washington Post. In Morning Edition’s sole story on the Quebec student movement (5/15/12), NPR’s David Greene characterized the protests against the ...