Extra! May/June 2007

    Sidebar: Charity Cases

    [Note: This piece is a sidebar to Bono, I Presume?] Even when it’s not an entertainment celebrity that brings the cameras to Africa, nearly as many TV news Africa stories are about Americans or other Westerners “making a difference” in Africa. Whether it’s a high-profile figure like Bill Gates fighting malaria (ABC, 10/31/05), a 12-year-old American boy raising money for AIDS orphans in Africa (NBC, 12/8/06) or the wife and daughter of an NFL football coach missing his big day in the Super Bowl to volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (ABC, 2/3/06), these segments tell the story ...


    The Media's Mayor

    And Giuliani walks on. He walks from his bunker, up Barclay Street and went on television. Went on and announced his heroism and then came back every hour or so until he became a star, a great figure, a national hero, the mayor who saved New York. Most of this comes from these dazed Pekingese of the Press. . . . Giuliani was a hero with these news people.—Columnist Jimmy Breslin (Newsday, 3/7/04) On September 11, 2001, with George W. Bush in hiding for much of the day, mainstream journalists were desperately looking for a man on horseback. For many, ...


    CounterSpin Interview: Mahmood Mamdani on Darfur

    There is no doubt that intense war and human suffering exists in many places around the world. The war in Congo, for instance, escapes media scrutiny, but is probably the deadliest of our time, killing millions of people. It’s worth considering, then, which conflicts we are told to pay close attention to, and what we are told about those conflicts. The war in Iraq, of course, is heavily covered; the violence in Darfur, less so. But how we talk about these conflicts is very different. CounterSpin talked to Mahmood Mamdani, a professor of government and anthropology at Columbia University who ...


    Make Your Own Damn Sign!

    It did not surprise me, during the 2004 election, when Kerry/Edwards supporters called in to my show on Air America Radio—though it did surprise me when they called in seeking yard signs. I don’t have a yard, much less a sign. All I could think to do was to direct these callers to the Kerry campaign website, which is what I did until one exasperated caller protested that she could find no darn way to obtain a yard sign through www.johnkerry.com. The caller was right. Not only was there no apparent way to obtain a yard sign through the Democratic ...


    SoundBites

    Non-Euclidian Journalism "The parallels are striking," declared an April 4 New York Times article comparing the current dispute over Iraq War funding and the 1995 deadlock over Medicare and other federal spending, which resulted in a government shut-down. "Bold new congressional majorities swept into power by public dissatisfaction with White House policies. The administration and Congress digging in for a test of wills over federal spending. A watershed presidential election looming." The upshot: Yet another article warning the Democrats not stand up too much to George W. Bush, since the '95 shutdown is seen as a political debacle for House ...


    Letters to the Editor

    The Eichenwald Storm I appreciate Jessica Wakeman's coverage (1-2/07) of the storm provoked by my opinion piece that ran in Salon for several hours last summer until it was removed following Kurt Eichenwald's threats to sue Salon and me. Overall, Wakeman accurately reprised the issues. An omission and an error, however, need clarification. Wakeman mentioned that Salon's lawyer told me I libeled Eichenwald. But she didn't add that I disagreed with the lawyer. I wrote an open letter (published in CounterPunch, 9/23/06) protesting determinations that Salon made about my article without allowing me decision-making input. Wakeman erred when she quoted ...


    Transmission Accomplished

    While much has been written about how credulous reporting about the Bush administration’s bogus weapons claims paved the way for the Iraq War, it’s important to remember that media cheerleading for the war only intensified once the bombs started falling—a dismal performance documented here with examples from the first celebration of “shock and awe” to the swooning over George W. Bush’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished.” These quotes are excerpted from “Iraq and the Media: A Critical Timeline,” published on FAIR.org (3/19/07). An awesome performance “We don’t want to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq, because in a few days we’re gonna ...


    In Denial on Climate Change

    The prevailing body of scientific evidence for climate change more or less holds sway in news reports, but opinion journalism—where the policy agenda is defined and debated—is dominated by those who question or reject that evidence.


    Standing by Their Racist Friend

    In the aftermath of the racist, misogynist outburst that got talkshow host Don Imus dropped from CBS radio and MSNBC—referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos”—a Washington Post editorial (4/10/07) posed a question many critics have been asking for years: How do prestigious journalists defend their cozy relationship with a well-known bigot? As the Post put it: “But those who bask in the glow of his radio show ought to consider whether they should continue doing so. After all, you’re judged by the company you keep.” Since discovering Imus’ long record of bigotry, misogyny and homophobia is ...


    A Pinch of Fascism

    [Note: This piece is a sidebar to The Media's Mayor.] No national media figure has been more fawning toward Giuliani than MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews. On the Tonight Show in 2006 (7/18/06), more than two years before the national election, Matthews predicted that “the next president of the United States will be Rudy Giuliani.” Matthews has credited Giuliani with everything from being “the perfect candidate” (Hardball, 6/14/06) to getting “the pee smell out of the phone booths in New York” (Imus in the Morning, 2/7/07). Even a little fascism was to be welcomed in the capable hands of New ...


    Asleep at the Wheel

    On October 17, 2006, when George W. Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2007—a $538 billion military spending bill—he enacted into law a section called “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.” In the view of many, this Act substantially changed fundamental laws of the United States, giving Bush—and all future U.S. presidents—new and sweeping powers to use the U.S. military anywhere in the United States, virtually as he sees fit—for disaster relief, crowd control, suppression of public disorder, or any “other condition” that might arise. News coverage of these significant changes in ...


    A Jury of His Peers

    It turns out that the White House Correspondents Association does something besides holding banquets—it also gives out prizes. This year’s recipient of its Aldo Beckman Award, given for “repeated excellence in White House coverage,” was Kenneth T. Walsh of U.S. News & World Report. As Walsh is the only reporter to be twice honored with a Beckman, we have to assume that he represents what his peers see as the best of their profession. That’s what worries us. FAIR (Media Views, 6/13/06) described an article Walsh wrote last year (6/19/06) as a “cheerleading account” that “openly adopts the [White House’s] ...


    Bono, I Presume?

    "Africa is sexy and people need to know that,” declared U2 singer Bono (New York Times, 3/5/07), promoting his new (RED) line of products that propose to save Africa one iPod at a time. Celebrity interest in Africa is not particularly new, but today more stars than ever seem to be converging upon the continent, with television crews seldom far behind. But, as Bono clearly understands, what media tend to find sexy about Africa is not Africa itself, but the stars like himself who have taken up causes in the region. In television news in particular, with its typically cursory ...