May
01
2012

Soundbites

When Kids Die, War Is the Real Victim

When a U.S. staff sergeant was accused of killing 16 civilians in an Afghan village, nine of them children, corporate media treated it as a crisis—for the war and those waging it. The massacre was “a public relations headache” (AP, 3/12/12) and “a public relations disaster” (Reuters, 3/12/12). “Killings Threaten Afghan Mission” (3/12/12) was a USA Today headline; the NPR website labeled its reports “Killings a Blow to U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan” (3/13/12) and “Afghan Shootings Could Complicate U.S. Mission” (3/12/12). The New York Times (3/12/12) talked about “a feeling of siege here among Western personnel.” When the U.S. military carries out a massacre, it seems the real victim is the U.S. military.

Hiding the Real Budget Choices

Remember last year (Extra!, 6/11), when media fawned over the fake balanced-budget proposals of Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wisc.) while ignoring the Progressive Caucus plan that actually would balance the budget? Now would-be centrists are again applauding Ryan for having a new plan that pretends to reduce the deficit, and which economist Dean Baker (Truthout, 3/26/12) characterizes as “a piece of total garbage.”

Meanwhile, the Progressive Caucus released its “Budget for All” plan to a big media yawn; the only coverage we found was a report by the Bay Area News Group (3/26/12), a local newspaper chain whose region includes the district of Caucus member Rep. Mike Honda (D.-Calif.). The story quoted Honda: “If people knew what the choices were, I think they’d say, ‘Jesus, the progressive caucus budget looks pretty good.’” That’s a scenario corporate media seem bent on preventing.

‘Shared Sacrifice’ at the Country Club

David Gregory, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, and Bret Baier, host of Fox NewsSpecial Report, are “newly proposed candidates for membership” at the Chevy Chase Club, a country club that has served wealthy Washingtonians since 1892 (Politico, 3/20/12). Gregory’s sponsors are Joseph Stettinius and William M. Walker, two major real estate developers; one of Baier’s sponsors is Brit Hume, the previous Special Report anchor. According to Politico, the Club’s initiation fee is $80,000 and annual dues are $6,000. Something to keep in mind next time you hear Gregory talking about the need for “shared sacrifice” or “hard choices”—meaning cutting Social Security (FAIR Blog, 1/30/12).

O’Reilly Reinvents the Internet

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly (3/1/12) challenged guest Tamara Draut from the think tank Demos to name a green energy success story. She demurred, pointing out that the benefits of government funding can come much later, as with the Internet (which was launched by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1969). But O’Reilly was not about to let facts get in the way of his argument:

O’REILLY: Let me break this to you. The Internet—

DRAUT: It’s too short of a time frame.

O’REILLY: —private money.

DRAUT: No, it was public money. Department of Defense, federal money.

O’REILLY: Hold it. Have you never heard of Microsoft? You have never heard of Steve Jobs? That’s what did that.

DRAUT: But technology making Microsoft possible came from the Department of Defense.

O’REILLY: It came from the Department of Defense because they were doing space stuff and they discovered stuff that brought down which was then sold to

private.

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

‘Silencing’ Limbaugh

When Media Matters for America ran an ad campaign encouraging citizens to tell stations that carry Rush Limbaugh’s show that they object to his misogynistic comments about Sandra Fluke (Extra!, 4/12), the Associated Press (3/22/12) reported that “the group’s stance has provoked concerns that an effort to silence someone for objectionable talk is in itself objectionable.” Among those concerned was Limbaugh’s distributor Premiere, whose spokesperson declared:

This is not about women. It’s not about ethics and it’s not about the nature of our public discourse. It’s a direct attack on America’s guaranteed First Amendment right to free speech. It’s essentially a call for censorship masquerading as high-minded indignation.

If having a nationally syndicated radio show is guaranteed by the First Amendment, of course, there’s about 300 million people facing similar censorship.

Wanted: One Woman to Represent All Women

“Over the last 40 years, Gloria Steinem has almost always been at the other end of the phone when some member of the news media has sought comment about a pressing issue involving women’s rights,” declared a New York Times “Fashion & Style” article (3/18/12). “And that raises a question well worth asking in 2012: Where is the next Gloria Steinem, and why—decades after the media spotlight first focused on her—has no one emerged to take her place?”

But is it well worth asking? Why would anyone (besides lazy journalists) want there to be just one (white, straight, white-collar) woman speaking to the media about all things woman-related?

Nonetheless, the Times offered an explanation for why there’s no new Steinem: “It’s rare to find the introversion and intelligence required to be an author and thinker fused with the charisma and good looks to knock it out of the park on the Tonight show.” Seriously—why isn’t there a woman good-looking enough to be the sole spokesperson for feminism in the 21st century?