Extra! July 2011

    Getting Arrested Without Getting Attention

    While it’s true elite media show no principled interest in citizen activism, you’d think some things would garner a word or two. Like 300 people, 200 or so in wheelchairs, occupying the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., to protest Republican budget plans for Medicaid. Dozens of protesters, organized by the disability rights group ADAPT, were arrested and carted off by Capitol police on May 2; the next day, another 300 gathered outside the Longworth House Office Building, many getting inside to Rep. Paul Ryan’s second floor office, where 10 were arrested—all to the profound disinterest ...


    Celebrating 25 Years of FAIR

    On April 28, at New York City’s Symphony Space, FAIR celebrated our 25th anniversary with a remarkable line-up: political columnist Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, MIT professor Noam Chomsky and filmmaker Michael Moore. It was a night we’ll never forget—from Greenwald’s stirring opening address to Michael Moore closing the evening by leading a sold-out audience of 700 people in singing “Happy Birthday” to the FAIR staff. The following are excerpts from the speeches given by each of our guests.   Glenn Greenwald: I realized very early on that if you’re someone who wants to meaningfully understand and analyze ...


    Letters to the Editor

    Clearing Up Nuclear Spin Phew! Karl Grossman's excellent article (5/11) on nuclear spin in the media following the Fukushima disaster in Japan is well worth the $20 one-year subscription rate. In a quick, easy read, he references a good many books, articles, reports, government information, and radio and television broadcasts, including Bill Nye the Science Guy, creating a clear, penetrating perspective on the nuclear question and its representation in the media. Andrew Lopez Philadelphia, Pa. Needed: A Better Renewables Conversation Miranda Spencer's article on renewable energy in the May issue is correct to point out the missed opportunity to have ...


    A Right-Wing Mole at ABC News

    Conservatives don’t just complain loudly, endlessly and inaccurately about liberal media bias. They also train right-leaning journalists to make their way into the supposedly hostile terrain of Beltway media. And one of the most famous alums of a conservative media training program is now a major star at a network news outlet: ABC’s senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl. Karl came to mainstream journalism via the Collegiate Network, an organization primarily devoted to promoting and supporting right-leaning newspapers on college campuses (Extra!, 9-10/91)—such as the Rutgers paper launched by the infamous James O’Keefe (Political Correction, 1/27/10). The network, founded in 1979, ...


    Coverage of Radiation Risks 'Astonishingly Irresponsible'

    “There will be cancers caused by the radiation that comes to this country from Japan,” University of North Carolina epidemiologist Steve Wing told Extra! in a May interview. Wing faulted news media for misinforming citizens about radiation risks: “What I’ve seen coming out for weeks were statements that there are no health concerns. That’s astonishingly irresponsible.” Wing is known for coauthoring a study on the health effects of the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident. In 1997, he and his colleagues (Environmental Health Perspectives, 1/1/97) analyzed data from a 1990 Columbia University study (American Journal of Epidemiology, 2/28/90) that found increased ...


    Fiction More Real Than What's 'Fit to Print'

    A timeline of the horrific events that unfolded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina hangs on the wall of the conference room in the Treme production offices in New Orleans. The skeletal framework is fleshed out by a team of writers, many of them locals, determined to bring to life the story of people who doggedly reinhabit New Orleans as a place, a state of mind and a culture that refuses to die. Though Treme is scripted entertainment by David Simon and Eric Overmyer, producers of HBO’s The Wire, the events and characters—especially the musicians—are drawn from the cultural traditions, ...


    Soundbites

    Bin Laden Raid, Revisited and Revised It didn’t take long for the White House account of Osama bin Laden’s killing (see p. 8) to be almost completely revised—under creative headlines like the New York Times’ (5/6/11) “Raid Account, Hastily Told, Proves Fluid.” The Times included this quote from a military official: “There has never been any intent to deceive or dramatize.... Everything we put out we really believed to be true at the time”—followed by a note that the official asked “that he not be named because of ground rules imposed by the Department of Defense.” We never lied or ...


    Industry Views Prevail on Radiation Risks

    U.S. media coverage of the nuclear disaster in Japan contains vanishingly little serious discussion of the human health risks posed by the radiation escaping from the Fukushima nuclear facility. In place of a discussion informed by experts on these risks, journalism largely conveys vague, industry-friendly reassurances, frequently including no sources with expertise on the health effects of radiation on humans. New York Times reporter William Broad reported (3/22/11) that “health experts” deemed a radiation plume that had reached the U.S. from Japan to be harmless: Health experts said that the plume’s radiation had been diluted enormously in its journey of ...


    Losing the Plot

    With Osama bin Laden dead, can the United States finally bring an end to the Afghan War, its longest-lasting foreign military conflict? It’s an obvious question, since the invasion of Afghanistan was largely portrayed as an effort to catch the leader of the group that carried out the September 11 attacks. Corporate media did sometimes address this issue. On ABC (5/4/11), Christiane Amanpour asked in regard to bin Laden’s killing, “And many people are saying, well, does this require the U.S. to leave Afghanistan right now?” She answered her question: “The job is not finished there. You’ll talk to the ...