Extra! January/February 2000

    Hail to the Chief

    If there’s a propaganda hall of fame, Newsweek has surely earned a place in it with its recent interview with George W. and Laura Bush (12/3/01). Written by Newsweek senior editor Howard Fineman and White House correspondent Martha Brant, the profile of the Bushes focused relentlessly positive attention on the “First Couple’s” emotional responses to the September 11 attacks. At the time of the interview, new details about atrocities by U.S.-backed forces in Afghanistan were emerging daily, but the central question in Newsweek exclusive was: “From where does George W. Bush–or Laura, for the matter–draw the strength for this grand …

    Harvard’s ‘Best and Brightest’ Aided Russia’s Economic Ruin

    A 1992 front-page story in the Boston Globe (9/22/92), “Red Square Turns to Crimson,” announced proudly that Harvard experts were advising Russia in its conversion to capitalism. “Privatization stands as the centerpiece of Russia’s economic-reform program,” wrote the Globe. It was an equation the “best and brightest” from Harvard would drum home again and again to the media: privatization equals reform. The piece quoted the head of the Harvard Russia project, Andrei Shleifer: “Once you work with Russians for two weeks, you become a free-market enthusiast.” As more becomes known about the laundering of Russian money in Western banks, many …

    The Family Behind the Times

    The Trust: The Powerful and Private Family Behind the New York Times By Susan E. Tifft and Alex Jones (Little Brown) On one memorable evening at the New York Times in mid-20th Century, a newly hired Hungarian charmer cried across the city room, “Darling, zay are changing my story!” When the echo reached the publisher of the New York Herald-Tribune, he garrumphed, “Drink is the curse of the Herald-Tribune, and sex is the curse of the New York Times.” We who toiled for the Good Gray Lady cherished that tale, implying that she was not as prissy as she looked. …

    Women Have Not Taken Over the News

    TV Guide‘s cover story on “How Women Took Over the News” (10/9/99) painted a pretty then-vs.-now picture of gender equity in the newsroom, in which “women are on every beat, in every aspect of news, as fixtures in jobs traditionally held by men.” Way back when, TV Guide reminisces, women were “second-class citizens in TV news,” subjected to age and gender discrimination, and Diane Sawyer “got into journalism…the old-fashioned way”–by wearing “pointy bras” and lots of hair spray. Not so anymore, TV Guide asserts, now that Sawyer shares the news media spotlight with Katie Couric, Christine Amanpour, Claire Shipman and …

    Anything but Racism

    Confronted by protests from the NAACP and others about discrimination in their primetime lineup, the four leading TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) did what powerful institutions often do in such situations: They feigned affront, denied the facts, made excuses and attacked the messenger, then offered patchwork “solutions” and returned to business as usual. The NAACP’s Kweisi Mfume denounced the big four’s slate of 26 new primetime shows, none of which feature people of color in lead roles, as a “virtual whitewash in programming,” and was immediately echoed by such groups as the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the …

    Prattle in Seattle

    As tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Seattle to shut down the opening conference of the World Trade Organization meeting last December, mainstream media treated protesters’ concerns with indifference and often contempt. That hostility translated into slanted coverage of both the demonstrations and the police reaction. A U.S. News & World Report headline, “Hell No, We Won’t Trade” summarized a recurring motif: “anti-trade” became a common–though wildly inaccurate–label for the demonstrators in mainstream coverage. “A guerrilla army of anti-trade activists took control of downtown Seattle today,” a Washington Post article (12/1/99) began. ABC News reporter John Cochran (11/30/99) said …

Articles in the print edition

Nation’s Top Columnists Still Lean Right

Free Trade Fables

Koppel’s “Biowar of the Worlds”

The Silencing of Poverty

The Family Behind the Times

Failing on Facts