Jan 1 2005

Letters to the Editor

An Apparent Inconsistency

I know in these dangerous times it’s best to keep one’s head down and not pay too much attention, and better still to keep quiet if by chance one should happen to notice anything interesting or unusual. Most important of all, of course, no matter what one might observe, is not to think about it.

Still, reading Extra! (11=12/04), I could not fail to notice the interesting juxtaposition of two articles, “Journalistic Balance As Global Warming Bias,” and “Oil Calms Troubled Reporting.” Worse, I could not stop myself from thinking about it.

What struck me was that the first article criticized the media for balancing different views on global warming, as if the two views ought to be given equal weight, even though the vast majority of climate scientists agree that anthropogenic global warming is a serious problem. The second criticized the media for failing to balance pro- and anti-Chavista views, even though the vast majority of economists agree that free trade is good and right, so that Chavez’ anti=free trade policies therefore render him liable to valid critique. (Full disclaimer: I have a Ph.D. in economics.)

Why would the media bend over backwards to give conflicting views equal weight on the one issue, and bend over backwards again to deny both views equal weight on the other issue? How could media practices be so inconsistent?

What does not go unsaid in the two articles, but could perhaps bear greater emphasis, in order to render these two apparently contradictory articles coherent, is that in both cases it is the pro-corporate view of matters that is given inappropriate weight: In the case of global warming, discredited views that favor fossil fuel and automobile corporations are treated as if they deserve equal balance; in the case of Venezuela, views that favor elites and corporate profits are given disproportionate (excessive) weight.

I guess media practice is consistent after all.

Blair Alpert-Sandler

San Francisco, Calif.

Needed: Better Conversations

I’ve been a supporter for FAIR for a while, and I’m a former journalist.

Friday evening, our niece called with news we feared: Her husband, 21-year-old Wes Canning, USMC, was killed in Fallujah. I have been astonished at how much this hurts.

Having just read your concerns about the New York Times‘ coverage of Fallujah (FAIR Action Alert, 11/16/04), I’m writing simply to cheer you on. I don’t claim that our family’s loss gives us any voice than anybody else. I don’t know about that. But I do believe that our society needs to learn to have much better conversations, whether they are between two people at a coffeeshop or via the front pages of the New York Times. And I believe you are helping push things in that direction.

Nick Arnett

Santa Clara, Calif.

Saving Grace

I wanted to take a moment and thank all of you who work at this organization. You are one of the saving graces in an otherwise abysmal state. I am continuously amazed at the stories that aren’t reported, and thankful that someone out there is making an effort to get the truth to the public.

Tammy Ehrhart

Don’t Eat at His House

You guys are as full of shit as a Christmas turkey!

Richard H. Burns

Pocahontas, Ark.

At Stanford, Not of Stanford

In your most recent issue (9-10/04), you quoted someone saying that Stanley Kurtz was a Stanford professor who had done research on the harms of gay marriage. Stanley Kurtz is not a professor at Stanford, but instead a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a right-wing think tank located on the Stanford campus.

Aaron Swartz

Stanford, Calif.