Extra! November/December 2008

    Busted Bubble

    Over the summer, the country's two mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, collapsed, marking the definitive bursting of the housing bubble that began in the mid-1990s. Although it was the second major economic bubble in less than a decade, most in corporate media ignored the warning signs. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR) and author of the American Prospect blog Beat the Press, told Extra!: "It continues to be this sort of bad-event story," with corporate media and the select group of economists on whom they rely acting as though "a hurricane came ...


    'Secret Muslims,' Open Bigotry

    This article is the overview of FAIR's study, "Smearcasting, How Islamophobes Spread Bigotry, Fear and Misinformation." Visit the report's special micro-site at www.smearcasting.com or click here to download the full report. In the 1990 Polish elections a whispering campaign suggesting that Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a Roman Catholic, was a “secret Jew” attracted widespread attention in the U.S. press, as did a nearly identical rumor about the leading challenger in Poland’s 1995 election. In no uncertain terms, U.S. news reports called the rumors “ugly examples” (Washington Post, 12/31/90) of the “increasingly visible expressions of anti-Semitism” (New York Times, 1/21/91), ...


    SoundBites

    A Test of Faith? “Next time you meet an atheist, tell him or her that you know a bold, fresh guy, a barbarian who was raised in a working-class home and retains the lessons he learned there. Then mention to that atheist that this guy is now watched and listened to, on a daily basis, by millions of people all over the world and, to boot, sells millions of books. Then, while the non-believer is digesting all that, ask him or her if they still don’t believe there’s a God!” — Talkshow host Bill O’Reilly, offering his career as proof ...


    Making Islamophobia Mainstream

    This article is the overview of FAIR's study, "Smearcasting, How Islamophobes Spread Bigotry, Fear and Misinformation." Visit the report's special micro-site at www.smearcasting.com or click here to download the full report. A remarkable thing happened at the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) nominations in February 2007: The normally highbrow and tolerant group nominated for best book in the field of criticism a work widely viewed as denigrating an entire religion. The nomination of Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West From Within didn’t pass without controversy. Past nominee Eliot Weinberger denounced the book at the ...


    Huffington Post Mutes Women's Voices

    Women's voices have long been lacking in corporate media. As Internet outlets compete more and more with traditional media as a source for news and opinion, will women's voices be heard there more frequently than in print publications? If the Huffington Post, one of the most prominent and successful blogs today, is an accurate barometer, the answer is no. The Huffington Post is a left-leaning site that features opinion pieces by the site's founder and editor-in-chief, Arianna Huffington, as well as by a wide assortment of guest bloggers. According to the blog-tracking website Technorati, it is the single most-linked-to blog ...


    Letters to the Editor

    Where Is Nader? I’ve been reading Extra! for about 10 years now; picking it up at newsstands, browsing it in area stores, recommending it to family and friends, and subscribing as well. One thing in particular has been bothering me lately about your publication. If you’re so committed to unbiased and fair coverage of the issues, then why has there been no more than the faintest peep from your publication regarding Ralph Nader’s campaign for president? How serious can you possibly be about your focus issues—“corporate ownership [!!], advertiser influence, official agendas, telecommunications policy, the PR industry, pressure groups, the ...


    The Food Crisis and the Fear of Scarcity

    The rising cost of food was all over the news in the spring of 2008, from Fox News (“Food Prices Soaring World-wide,” 3/24/08) to CNN (“Rising Food Prices and Rising Concerns,” 4/21/08) to CBS (“Price of Rice Skyrockets,” 4/23/08). Everyone was covering the story. Many will never forget news clips of desperate Haitians rioting in anger and even forced to eat dirt to stave off hunger. Then in September came the grim U.N. assessment: The number of hungry people worldwide had shot up in one year by 75 million people—reaching 925 million at the beginning of 2008, declared Jacques Diouf ...


    As Usual, NYT Ignores Iraqi Opinion

    The New York Times failed spectacularly in its coverage of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, helping lead the country into war and only much later (5/26/04) publishing a half-hearted mea culpa. As the near-apology acknowledged, the paper's failure resulted in large part from its lack of skepticism regarding its sources, most notably exiled Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi. Despite the mea culpa, though, the Times continues to mislead on Iraq, particularly on the issue of whether or not Iraqis want the U.S. military to exit their country. Once again, that journalistic failure seems to be rooted in the same fundamental ...


    Outsourcing Journalism

    Brayden Simms had only five months to warm his seat as a copy editor at the Miami Herald before he joined the long list of journalists across the country losing their jobs faster and more suddenly than a breaking story. But while media companies are slashing their staff rosters, consolidating newsrooms and forcing those journalists left standing to take on the job responsibilities of their laid-off co-workers, there was something unique about Simms’ firing: He would be replaced. But the new copy editor doesn’t live in Miami, or Florida, or even the U.S. The McClatchy Co., parent of the Miami ...


    'Voter Fraud' Claims Unchecked by Media

    Among Republicans, it has been an “article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections,” declared Royal Masset, the former political director of the Republican Party of Texas (Houston Chronicle, 5/17/07). This religious faith in widespread voter fraud—or illegal voting—even in the absence of any persuasive evidence, has translated into successful campaigns in 25 states to pass restrictive voter identification laws (e.g., requiring photo ID at the polling place), with other states looking to follow suit. (Masset, a rare dissenter from this Republican creed, is an outspoken foe of what he calls “racist” and “barbaric laws”—Burnt ...


    Top Troubling Tropes of Campaign '08

    I mean, there are a lot of narratives that the press bought into in this campaign. Don't forget the inevitability of the Rudy Giuliani campaign and Fred Thompson's great appeal.... I think the number of times we've been wrong in this campaign is far greater than the number of times we've been right.--Time's Karen Tumulty (CNN's Reliable Sources, 5/11/08) Corporate media coverage of election 2008 has fallen into the well-documented pattern (Extra!, 5-6/08) of reporting on the election as if it were a horse-race rather than a democratic process in which real issues were at stake. Not only do journalists ...