Sep
01
2008

SoundBites

McCain’s Warm Sedate Reception

NPR guest Robert Traynham (7/16/08) described the “warm response” McCain received at an NAACP convention, including a “standing ovation” for his plan to promote school vouchers. But why would the NAACP, which opposes vouchers as a drain on public schools, be so enthusiastic about McCain’s proposals? Maybe they weren’t. The Baltimore Sun (7/17/08) reported that McCain received a “somewhat sedate reception—with only a smattering of applause for his education plan.” The discrepancy might be explained by Traynham’s perspective: Although NPR’s Farai Chideya introduced her guest only as “D.C. bureau chief for the Comcast cable network CN8,” Traynham is a prominent Republican who once worked for senators Rick Santorum and Fred Thompson—a background listeners might have found enlightening.

What They Want to Hear

Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon, Jr. (7/15/08) made it sound like Barack Obama was really stressing the personal responsibility themes in his NAACP speech. The piece started: “He told one of the nation’s most influential African-American groups that he will press his call for blacks to take more responsibility for their lives.” But near the end of the article, readers found this: “The bulk of Obama’s speech focused on the responsibility of government to help black families more and of corporate America to provide more support for reducing the pay gap between executives and employees.” Which would seem to be the main point of the speech, then—revealing once more that what’s deemed most important by corporate media is often simply the thing they most want to hear.

AP to Rove: ‘Keep Up the Fight’

A new congressional report on the cases of soldiers Pat Till-man and Jessica Lynch, “Mis-leading Information From the Battlefield” (7/17/08), included disturbing evidence of how close corporate journalists are to official Washington. As Talking Points Memo pointed out (7/14/08), the report quoted an email exchange about Tillman between Karl Rove and Associated Press reporter Ron Fournier, under the subject line “H-E-R-O.” In response to an email from Fournier, Rove asked, “How does our country continue to produce men and women like this?” To which Fournier replied: “The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight.” Fournier, who is now AP’s Washington bureau chief, later said he was just “interacting with a source,” although Fournier never wrote anything about Tillman (Media Matters, 7/22/08). Fournier did say he regretted the tone of the exchange, which he called “breezy,” though others might call it “wildly inappropriate.”

Media’s ‘Bush-Bashing Fatigue’

When the author of three No. 1 bestsellers comes out with a new book implicating a prominent public figure in murder, you’d expect the media to take notice. Yet book reviewers and TV bookers have studiously ignored Vincent Bugliosi’s new book. The problem might be the title: The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. The book, which argues that Bush is criminally responsible for the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, has not been reviewed in any major newspapers, nor has Bugliosi been interviewed about it on the usual TV chat shows. ABC Radio even refused an ad for the book (New York Times, 7/7/08). Newsweek editor Jon Meacham (New York Times, 7/7/08) blamed the media silence on the “Bush-bashing fatigue out there,” but while elite media may see questions about the legality of Bush’s war policies as passé, the book’s sales record suggests that public opinion differs. Despite the media blackout, the book made the New York Times bestseller list, selling over 130,000 copies in less than two months.

‘Hush Money’

Edward Wong’s New York Times article “China Presses Hush Money on Grieving Parents” (7/24/08) had harsh words for Chinese government efforts to push parents of earthquake victims to accept the official explanation of the earthquake aftermath as part of a compensation settlement, calling it “a coordinated campaign to buy the silence of angry parents” and asserting that “officials here are determined to create a facade of public harmony rather than undertake any real inquiry into accusations that corruption or negligence contributed to the high death toll.” You could also say that about U.S. government efforts to get September 11 survivors to accept compensation in exchange for giving up their right to sue, which means the loss of lawsuits as a tool to investigate what went wrong—but you couldn’t say that on the front page of the New York Times.

‘Nobody Has Any Idea’

“I thought, ‘Nobody in the U.S. has any idea what it means when they hear that 20 people died in a suicide bombing.’ I want people to be able to associate those numbers with the scene and the actual loss of human life. And to show why soldiers are suffering from PTSD.”

— photojournalist Zoriah Miller (zoriah@zoriah.com), who was expelled from Iraq for posting images of a bombing scene in Fallujah (Inter Press Service, 7/3/08)