Extra! July/August 1995

    Has Germany Confronted Its Past? Or Is the New York Times Ignoring Its Present?

    On May 1, a week before the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, the New York Times ran a front-page article by Stephen Kinzer under the headline, "Germans More Willing to Confront Nazi Crimes." Referring to "a month of observances at former Nazi concentration camps" in the lead of his 28-paragraph story, Kinzer claimed that "ordinary people" and "senior political leaders" have entered "a new phase in Germany's psychological history. No longer interested in repressing, denying or moderating the truth about Nazism, many Germans are for the first time confronting it directly without flinching." According ...


    Liddy's Lethal Advice

    The outrage over the remarks by syndicated radio talkshow host G. Gordon Liddy regarding the best way to kill BATF agents ("head shots" and the rest) overlooks an important point of the timing of those remarks--in the late summer and fall of 1994. In an election year where Republicans smelled political blood in the water, it was vital to encourage a massive voter turnout for their side. Tapping in to rising voter anger with government would be a key to victory, and few things made some in the public angrier than the debacle at Waco. Liddy places the blame for ...


    The Oklahoma City Bombing

    Seldom have so many been so wrong—so quickly. In the wake of the explosion that destroyed the Murrah Federal Office Building, the media rushed—almost en masse—to the assumption that the bombing was the work of Muslim extremists. "The betting here is on Middle East terrorists," declared CBS News' Jim Stewart just hours after the blast (4/19/95). "The fact that it was such a powerful bomb in Oklahoma City immediately drew investigators to consider deadly parallels that all have roots in the Middle East," ABC's John McWethy proclaimed the same day. "It has every single earmark of the Islamic car-bombers of ...


    Homophobia, Racism and Sexism?

    After the Oklahoma City bombing, the New York Times (4/24/95) reported surprise at the existence of right-wing terror-gangs: "New Images of Terror... A suspect, a white drifter, evokes new fear." But right-wing terror is hardly surprising to those who’ve been on the receiving end of it over the years; nor would the pale image of the suspect have been "new" to mainstream readers if media had been doing their job covering hate crimes. There were 2,064 homophobia-motivated acts of violence in nine U.S. cities last year; according to New York’s Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, anti-gay hate crimes are the ...


    TV Lets Corporations Pull Green Wool Over Viewers' Eyes

    "How come the cars on television commercials can't seem to find the road?" my Aunt Sue asked me a couple of years ago. Indeed, TV cars and trucks are found splashing through creeks, climbing rocky slopes, parked in wetlands, invading deserts and even perched on needlelike pinnacles, but rarely are they shown actually driving down a road. Chevrolet took this so far a few years ago that one of its print ads, with the title "Wetlands Conservation," proudly proclaimed, "Chevy S-10 Blazer 4-Door. It takes to wetlands like a duck to water." TV watchers everywhere must be similarly confused with ...


    Islam: Fundamental Misunderstandings About a Growing Faith

    There are approximately 5 million Muslims in the U.S. -- nearly as many as there are Jews, and more than there are Episcopalians. Early in the next century, Islam will probably be the largest non-Christian religion in the country (L.A. Times, 12/17/94). Yet there's rarely a mention of Muslims in the media that doesn't have to do with violence. In day-to-day coverage, they are largely absent; Muslim festivals like Ramadan often come and go with little note. The media is so full of reports on the "Islamic threat" from "radical Muslim terrorists" plotting "Islamic fundamentalist violence," one could excuse the ...


    The 'Experts' Speak

    Steve Emerson: Emerson is a journalist (late of U.S. News & World Report and CNN) noted for his anonymous U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources (Extra!, 10-11/92, 11-12/93). These sources led him to announce, in the wake of the World Trade Center explosion, that the "bomber or bombers may be from one of the former Yugoslav republics." (CNN, 3/2/93) That embarrassing error did not teach him caution: When the Murrah federal building was bombed, he immediately began insisting that all signs pointed to Muslim extremists. There’s more than a little bigotry in Emerson’s obsession with Muslim terrorists. To him, the fact ...


    The Myth of Social Security's Imminent Collapse

    Thirty years ago, when Barry Goldwater proposed making Social Security voluntary, he was dismissed as a lunatic. Now, however, the radical transformation of Social Security--essentially its privatization--is the consensus among the political class and the pundits who serve them. The strategy of the privatizers is proving quite successful. Sow doubts about the future solvency of the system. Chip away its near-universal political support by taxing benefits of "affluent" retirees, periodically lowering the definition of affluence. Encourage the "affluent" retirees of the future to provide for themselves, because of the system's wobbliness. And eventually turn the public pension system into welfare for ...


    SoundBites

    True Confession "I admit it -- the liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures." -- William Kristol, editor of the Standard, Rupert Murdoch's soon-to-be-launched conservative weekly (New Yorker, 5/22/95) Dole's True Lies Sen. Robert Dole condemns Hollywood for producing "nightmares of depravity," yet he's a regular guest on the talkshows of G. Gordon Liddy and Bob Grant -- hate mongers who don't produce fictional depictions of violence, but encourage real violence against real people. Many people have noted that the misogynistic, Arab-bashing gorefest True Lies, cited ...


    Far-Right Militias and Anti-Abortion Violence

    When the Oklahoma City bombing captured the attention of the mainstream media, some women's rights activists expected that the attack would end mainstream media's reluctance to report on violence against abortion-providers and other domestic terror threats. That reasonable hope was dashed. With its first reporting of the Oklahoma story, the New York Times (4/20/95) ran a list headlined "Other Bombings in America", which spanned four decades and included some attacks that claimed no injuries or lives. But none of the 40 officially documented bombings that have targeted women's clinics in that period was mentioned. Media investigations of where right-wing militants ...


    Library Activism: Promoting Diversity on the Shelves

    A good public library strives to offer balance, diversity and inclusivity in providing sources of information for all members of the community. Libraries do not always live up to this ideal, however. Often progressive alternatives to mainstream or right-wing publications are overlooked. Faced with cutbacks in funding in recent years, many public libraries have had to make deep cuts in their collections. Unfortunately, this often means cutting small, less popular alternative periodicals in favor of keeping bigger mainstream magazines. What can you do to protect and promote balance and diversity at your public library? Extra! July/August 1995


    Limbaughesque Science

    "Earth Day alarmists had it wrong," proclaimed conservative columnist Joseph Perkins of the San Diego Union in a pre-Earth Day commentary (5/1/95). Drawing on a New Yorker article (3/10/95) written by veteran Newsweek writer Gregg Easterbrook, Perkins takes to task liberals and "greenies" for "grossly overstating the prospects of global warming, the threat of species extinction and the health risk of pesticides." "We have heard similar alarmist rhetoric on Earth Day," wrote Perkins, a one-time aide to Dan Quayle. "The warnings of environmental calamity should be greeted with skepticism." Perkins is hardly alone in his use of Easterbrook's work to ...


    Talk Radio on Oklahoma City:

    "Talk radio was ahead of the pack because it's tied into the people," Michael Harrison of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts (NARTSH) told John Tierney of the New York Times (4/30/95). "The mainstream press is out of touch.... That's why it didn't see the Waco connection right away." According to Harrison, who edits the talk radio publication Talkers, while mainstream media were blaming the deaths in Oklahoma City on Arab terrorists, nearly as many talk radio callers were citing the Branch Davidian debacle as the probable motivation for the bombing. As evidence for this claim, Tierney cited ...


    The Spotlight's Influence Grows in the Dark

    Abstract Researchers who monitor hate propaganda have watched The Spotlight expandits emphasis from stories about Zionist banking conspiracies and the "myth"of the Holocaust to favorable coverage of the militias and neo-Nazi groupslike the Aryan Nation. "The Spotlight fosters and promotes and reflects themilitia's worldview," says one researcher of contemporary fascistmovements. The Spotlight is "a bridge between the racialist right and theparamilitary right and the far right in Congress." [ Next | Previous | July '95 | FAIR | Mail/Suggest | Index ] Extra! July/August 1995