Extra! Update August 2007

    Diagnosis: Michael Moore

    The coverage and commentary set off by the release of Sicko, Michael Moore's documentary about the failures of the U.S. healthcare system, was certainly enlightening--as an example of how corporate media continue to twist and restrict the much-needed debate on healthcare reform. Aside from an occasional concession that 46 million uninsured Americans are indeed problematic, the media's hype-filled conversation avoided the issues, echoes old myths and effectively marginalizes popularly backed proposals for change. One could almost get the sense, watching the reporting on the documentary, that the real problem facing Americans was...Michael Moore. On ABC's Good Morning America (6/13/07), Chris ...


    'Accidents' Will Happen

    When they’re discussed at all by corporate media, civilian deaths in Afghanistan are often presented as a tactical or public relations problem for U.S. military and political officials, or labeled as “accidental” or “errant.” The civilian deaths are not accidents, however; they are the predictable result of a deliberate decision to protect American troops by putting Afghan noncombatants at risk. A Chicago Tribune story on July 8 commented, “Such bombings and the allegations of civilian casualties, exaggerated or not, are now the biggest challenge facing foreign forces trying to prop up Afghanistan’s government.” This is an odd construction; U.S. media ...


    Why People Hate Politics

    A presidential campaign starting many months early isn't necessarily a bad thing. With a crowded field of candidates in both parties and no clear frontrunners, there could be ample time to discuss major policy differences on Iraq, healthcare and the like. But the early primary season has instead seen reporters fixated on campaign fundraising and the price one candidate paid for a haircut. Rather than welcoming a wide-ranging debate, many pundits have complained about the "lesser" candidates mucking up the television debates (Extra!, 7-8/07). And the public doesn't seem exactly revved up for the early election season. a July 9 ...


    SoundBites

    An Ill-Serving Survey MSNBC.com’s Bill Dedman’s story (6/21/07) on the political donations of journalists was headlined “Journalists Dole Out Cash to Politicians,” but Dedman found just 143 newsroom employees (out of more than 100,000 across the country) who donated to political campaigns. As Chris Daly (JournalismProfessor.com, 6/22/07) pointed out, a more accurate headline would have read, “99.9 Percent of U.S. Journalists Do Not Donate to Politicians.” Moreover, of those few who made campaign contributions, several had nothing to do with reporting on electoral issues—including the film and theater critics at the New Yorker, the Economist’s technology reporter, a medical writer ...