FAIR in the News
On Coverage of Iraq
—Atlantic Free Press (12/27/07)
On News Coverage of Poverty
—New York Metro News (1/1/08)
On Iraq War Coverage
—The Capital Times (12/12/07)
On Elections Coverage
by FAIR Activism Coordinator Peter Hart)
—Seattle Times, (12/11/07)
On Media Bias
His actions even prompted the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting to publish an expose called “Steven Emerson’s Crusade.”
—Las Vegas Review-Journal (12/2/07)
On the Fairness Doctrine
Download show to listen.
—Wisconsin Public Radio (11/26/07)
On coverage of politicians
—Utne Reader (11-12, 07)
On media monopolies
“The whole idea of freedom of the press implies that media are a check on powerful economic interests,” Isabel Macdonald, the communications director for the New York-based media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, told IPS. “When the media are incorporated into a powerful monopoly, it’s very disturbing.”
—Inter-Press Service (11/7/07)
On climate change coverage
Though journalists are always taught to strive for balance, science writing poses a modern conundrum, points out the New York-based Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.
“This canon causes problems when it is applied to issues of science. It seems to demand that journalists present competing points of view on a scientific question as though they had equal scientific weight, when actually they do not.”
So when it comes to global warming, “balance,” write Jules and Maxwell Boykoff, “may allow skeptics — many of them funded by carbon-based industry interests — to be frequently consulted and quoted in news reports on climate change.”
—Toronto Sun (11/4/07)
On Rupert Murdoch’s new business channel
There is a story and op/ed in today’s Seattle Times worth reading. The story found here is about Wednesday’s Federal Communications Commission’s localism hearing. The op/ed found here is part of the Democracy Papers and was penned by Peter Hart. He writes about News Corporation’s new business channel. Hart works for FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) and is the author of “The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly.”
Both are good pieces…I believe Hart is going to be proven right about the type of business reporting that will come from a FOX business channel.
—Seattle Times (11/1/07)
On the myth that Democrats can’t stop the war
In June, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s Extra! Magazine wrote: “If the Democrat-controlled Congress wanted to force the Bush administration to accept a bill with a withdrawal timeline, it didn’t have to pass the bill over Bush’s veto-it just had to make clear that no Iraq, War spending bill without a timeline would be forthcoming.”
—Boise Weekly, (09/25/07)
On media bias
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a progressive group, has documented that far-right opinions are more prevalent in the some mainstream media than far-left views.
—Rocky Mountain News, (09/15/07)
On FAIR’s poverty study
The hiding of the poor is systematic, according to a new study of 38 months of nightly news broadcasts on CBS, NBC and ABC by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a left-of-center organization devoted to media criticism.
—Washington Post, (08/31/07)
“With rare exceptions, such as the aftermath of Katrina,” the study found, “poverty and the poor seldom even appear on the evening news — and when they do, they are relegated mostly to merely speaking in platitudes about their hardships.”
In the period between Sept. 11, 2003, and Oct. 30, 2006, there were just 58 stories about poverty on the three network newscasts, according to the study. FAIR couldn’t resist noting that by contrast, in the same period, there were 69 stories about Michael Jackson’s legal woes — and that’s just one celebrity.
—Chattanooga Times Free Press
On Media Coverage of Africa:
According to a June report by Julie Hollar of the national media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), wrapping Africa stories in celebrity news is par for the course. For example, she notes, in the week that Blood Diamond, a Hollywood film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was released in theaters last December, ABC, CBS, and NBC news programs mentioned the role of diamonds fueling Sierra Leone’s bloody civil war 11 times. But during the entire length of that war, which lasted from 1991 to 2002, it was mentioned an average of twice a year.
—Christian Science Monitor, (08/22/07)
On Fox News’ Hannity helping Giuliani fundraise
“Fox’s in-kind contribution to Republican politicians in the form of softball
coverage is one thing,” said Steve Rendall, senior analyst at Fairness and
Accuracy in Reporting, a left-leaning media watchdog group. “But this is the
first time they have crossed this line into fund-raising.”
—New York Daily News, (08/19/07)
On Media Excluding “Second Tier” Candidates
Isabel Macdonald of the national media-watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting says the press bears a responsibility to “include all of the perspectives out there.”
Conventional coverage of money and polls, she says, is “contributing to rather than reporting on a political system.”
—Philadelphia Daily News, (08/17/07)
On Coverage of Climate Change:
Where U.K. media generally presented climate change as an urgent crisis that requires immediate action, in the U.S. it’s still widely portrayed as an unresolved debate,” says the article, written by Neil deMause in the July-August edition of Extra!.
—CanWest News Service, (08/06/07)
On Election Coverage:
In a media advisory about mainstream press coverage of the Democratic contenders, the watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting–FAIR–pointed out, “Left-wing ideas such as Kucinich’s and Gravel’s opposition to the Iraq war are shared by a majority of the U.S. population; it’s telling that this is insufficient to make them ‘serious’ for Broder.”
But as the media group notes, “Because the electoral process is about more than who takes office, but is also a chance to debate national priorities and policies, it’s healthy to allow as many legitimate candidates as possible a chance to make their case directly to the voters.”
—National Catholic Reporter, (08/06/07)
On the Fairness Doctrine:
I don’t think that we want the government to tell a station it can’t be predominantly conservative. But we might want to tell a station that it can’t 24 hours a day 7 days a week broadcast from a specific point of view to the exclusion of all others…The Fairness Doctrine was never about balance, about equal time…it was about balancing different points of view over the span of the station’s schedule.
—FAIR Senior Analyst Steve Rendall, interviewed on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks (08/06/07)
On Murdoch’s purchase of Dow Jones
FAIR Senior Analyst Steve Rendall interviewed by Scott Harris on WPKN’s Between the Lines (8/17/07)
On the proposed FOX Business Network:
[Media owner Rupert Murdoch and Fox News boss Roger Ailes’] “argument is that CNBC is too anti-business, but that’s hard to fathom if you’ve ever watched it,” Peter Hart, a media analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) told IPS.
—Inter-Press Service, (08/02/07)
On Coverage of Africa:
The broadcast network news organizations are covering Africa, albeit “scantily,” and a “disproportionate” percentage of that coverage revolves around celebrities, with little information about the continent or the people who live there, according to a study by the media monitoring organization, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).
—Media Week (07/12/07)
The lefty media critics at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have just issued a report on broadcast network news that’s appalling in many ways, not the least of which is that it suggest Hollywood political sloganeering is effective. Monitoring news coverage of Africa in 2005 and 2006, FAIR made two discoveries: The networks rarely do stories about the continent (unfortunate, though not exactly surprising) and when they do, it’s usually because a Hollywood celebrity is involved.
Miami Herald.com (07/12/07)
On the Fairness Doctrine:
Should the FCC mandate equal time for broadcast journalists on the left and on the right? Journalist Nat Hentoff and senior analyst for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting Steve Rendall debate the issue.
—WNYC Brian Lehrer Show (07/02/07)(Click here to listen OR
On early polling:
The nonprofit media watchdog, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, editorialized on the editorializing in an April article, saying, “Much of what voters are seeing is reporting and analysis of early polls. But if history is any guide, the polls are a complete waste of time.” … FAIR says, “The press attention to these early polls can amount to a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: Polls are primarily measuring name recognition, so high-profile candidates tend to do better. ‘Winning’ the polls encourages more media attention, much of it about how a given candidate is maintaining their lead.”
—The New Haven Advocate (07/05/07)
On Ronald Reagan:
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting reminds us, “During the first two years of Reagan’s presidency, the public was giving President Reagan the lowest level of approval of all modern elected presidents. Reagan’s average first-year approval rating was 58 percent — lower than Dwight Eisenhower’s 69 percent, Jack Kennedy’s 75 percent, Richard Nixon’s 61 percent and Jimmy Carter’s 62 percent.”
—In These Times (07/07)
In response to FAIR’s Alert “CBS’s Sicko Spin”:
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) posted an “Action Alert” complaining that the piece was flawed. Because the “Action Alert” told readers to write in to CBS and request a correction they felt warranted, we received more than 500 emails criticizing the piece.
—CBS Public Eye (06/27/07)
On Fox News:
The media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has assembled extensive documentation of Fox’s right-wing tilt, showing, among other things, Fox’s heavy reliance on conservative sources and pundits.
—Salt Lake Tribune (4/28/07)
On MSNBC reportedly offering Paris Hilton a million dollars for an interview:
—FAIR Activism Coordinator Peter Hart, American Public Radio Marketplace (6/25/07)(Download Real Audio file)
On Iraq War reporting:
I am thankful for the fine work done by the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Each month, FAIR examines the work of the major media and provides in-depth analysis of the media’s failure to get the story right.
I was particularly pleased to see in this month’s issue of FAIR’s magazine Extra! an analysis by Peter Hart cataloguing some of the major media’s most disturbing statements about the war, and a political cartoon by Tom Tomorrow that nicely complements Hart’s piece.
“I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week,” said FOX’s Bill O’Reilly. Then-journalist and current White House Press Secretary Tony Snow observed on April 13, 2003 that “The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered sceptics’ complaints.”
Three days earlier, Fred Barnes had made the amazing statement: “The war was the hard part… And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but not as hard as winning a war.” The always “expert” Bill Kristol informed us that “there is a certain amount of pop psychology in America that the Shiite can’t get along with the Sunni… There’s almost no evidence of that at all.”
And while the media today regularly derides Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, that was not the view at the time.
Given this, it is ironic that more members of the US Senate have publicly regretted their votes to authorise the war, than have journalists for their part in perpetuating the deception.
—Gulf News (6/25/07)
“Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a media watchdog group, did a study analyzing the major nightly newscasts for the two weeks surrounding then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech for war before the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003. On the major evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, FAIR found 393 interviews on the issue of war, of which only three were with anti-war leaders.”
—Amy Goodman, Salt Lake Tribune (5/29/07)
The ubiquity of those ever-postponed reckonings has even led some bloggers to use the term “Friedman Unit” to represent a six-month period. Liberal blogger Duncan Black (Atrios) coined the phrase about two Friedmans ago, inspired by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s revelation that New York Times columnist and talking head Thomas L. Friedman had been making six-month do-or-die forecasts about Iraq ever since November 2003.
—Washington Post (5/4/07)
On FAIR’s work:
“[FAIR]was born out of the different kinds of citizen and social activism, and the frustration with breaking into the mainstream media that a lot of activists felt,’ says Peter Hart, activism director. Founder Jeff Cohen believed that right-wing critiques had cowed the media into timidity, and he set out to promote his vision of balanced reporting. ‘I think the general media literacy of the progressive movement was improved by FAIR,’ Hart says, ‘and I think the major media hears a critique they weren’t hearing.”
—PR Weekly (5/28/07)
FAIR was established to combat and identify inaccuracies and biases in media outlets. Melchiore’s research found that the group’s liberal ideology hasn’t clouded its ability to identify biases from any political perspective.
—US States News (3/19/07)
On the narrow range of media debate:
“Liberal media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting concluded that NewsHour’s guest list had significantly more Republicans than Democrats”
—Public Broadcasting Report (3/2/07)
On global warming:
—Calgary Sun (2/25/07)
On the War in Iraq:
—Norman Solomon, Springfield News-Leader (2/23/07)
Solomon, a media critic for the watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, gave a soft-spoken but blistering 50-minute analysis of the national media’s role in the runup to the Iraq war four years ago and of its reporting since.”
—Springfield News-Leader (2/23/07)
On media sensationalism:
“The cable-news business deals in very small audiences, so little spikes in viewership are very important. You’re talking about a couple of million people,” said Peter Hart, a media analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
“If the numbers look good tomorrow when the executives at CNN, Fox and MSNBC are looking at ratings,” he said, then one can expect the story to capture a big percentage of air time over the next days and weeks.
—Globe and Mail (8/18/06)
On coverage of Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth:
“The political press corps seems to have a limited range of interests,” Naureckas said. “Who’s up-who’s down is much more fascinating that what people are proposing to do.”
…The Gore phenomenon is “politics as a popularity contest, rather than in how it will affect the public,” said Naureckas, the Extra! editor. “The idea that Manhattan might be under water in 100 years is much less interesting than whether Gore will run for the presidency in 2008,” Naureckas said.
—Baltimore Sun (6/11/06)
On Iraq War reporting:
“Obviously, doing any sort of reporting in Iraq is extremely dangerous,” Hart said. However, the level of danger in Iraq has led more reporters than ever to work under military protection, which, while wise from a security standpoint, “can put serious limitations on what stories reporters will be able to tell about the war,” Hart said.
—Baltimore Sun (5/31/06)
—Fox News Watch (3/18/06)
On Donald Rumsfeld’s “battles” against the press:
“When people talk about the ‘home front’ they do not realise what sinister implications that has. The public is seen as another front that the military is fighting out.”
—Inter Press Service (2/21/06)
On the Dick Cheney hunting accident:
STEVE RENDALL, FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING: Well, I`m not sure it`s over.
I think the thing that you have to take into account here is, you have the most secretive official in what might be the most secretive administration ever, who appoints a private citizen, Katharine Armstrong, to take care of the press business of the White House.
Armstrong goes out and tells the press that, one, Harry Whittington is fine; he`s not seriously hurt, that these kinds of accidents happen all the time, that no alcohol was involved whatsoever, that only Dr. Pepper was served at lunch.
And, most importantly, she suggests that Harry Whittington, the victim, was to blame for the shooting. Now, I would say any astute reporter, not the sort of palace court reporters they have over at FOX News, would want to ask the vice president, Mr. President — Vice President, if you take responsibility for this shooting, how can you stand by that press policy, a press policy that left your friend, the friend you shot, Harry Whittington, hanging out to dry for three days, blamed by the account?
On stories about trends in women’s lifestyles:
As Julie Hollar, the communications director of media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, says in a phone interview, “Women’s lifestyle choices are subjected to greater scrutiny. In fact, the only other group that I can think of that get so many trend stories are youth.
“These articles are more about sparking debate and being controversial than about getting at some real truth, which is what we want them to do,” says Hollar. “Everyone wants the man-bites-dog trend story, but that’s truly more rare than the dog-bites-man one.”
—San Francisco Chronicle (1/4/06)
On Rumsfeld accusing the media of focusing on bad news in Iraq:
“It’s a classic case of blaming the messenger,” said Steve Rendall, a senior analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a media watchdog group in New York. “When the news is bad, blame the journalists for ignoring the good news. Rumsfeld is confusing bias with bad news. Reporting bad news is not bias.”
—Associated Press (12/5/05)
On the Downing Street Memo:
…Peter Hart of the liberal group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), which sent out several “action alerts” urging members to contact news organizations, said, “Any story that reminds readers that the political and journalistic establishments spectacularly failed on Iraq is a difficult story for the media to report.” Now, he said, in conjunction with groups such as MoveOn.org, “activists have pushed this into the media, much to the chagrin of reporters, who have no love for getting e-mails constantly telling them to do the story.”
—Washington Post (6/16/05)
Although the story was picked up by some North American newspapers (including The Globe and Mail) it attracted little attention and failed to grab widespread interest.
Finally, [FAIR], along with other activist websites and interested bloggers, successfully pursued the major U.S. news media to take note of the story. A new site — AfterDowningStreet.org — appeared solely to press the case that the memo needed investigation.
“Raising hell on the Internet,” is how Mr. [Jim] Naureckas described the effort yesterday, adding “if there hadn’t been that activism, no one in the United States would know anything about the memo.”
—The Globe and Mail (6/9/05)
On Fox’s Chris Wallace:
“Anybody trying to make the case that Wallace is not a Fox company man will fail,” declares Steven Rendall, a senior analyst for the lefty media-monitor group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. “This show is shot through with the Fox sensibility.” The show’s rightward tilt, Rendall declares, is obvious from the guest list: Over the last five months, Wallace’s in-depth one-on-one interviews have featured Republicans over Democrats by a margin of more than seven to one.
—Miami Herald (5/8/05)
On coverage of the British Lancet study of Iraqi deaths:
By continuing to ignore the most reliable estimate yet produced, media are contributing to the U.S. public’s lack of awareness concerning the human cost of the war, said Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, a bimonthly magazine published by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
“There’s a great deal of sensitivity in the American news business about how they’re viewed politically, and the last thing they want to do is be seen as critical of the war,” he told IPS.
If the news media were reporting on Iraq as intensively as they reported on last year’s Asian tsunami, a much higher percentage of the public would be against the war, he added.
—Inter Press Service (4/22/05)
On the lack of women on op-ed pages and pundit panels:
Conservatives often argue that the only things that should matter in hiring are qualifications, competence and ability. But those standards are not so easily applied to commentary.
“I often hear this question, why should there be more women, what difference would it make?” said FAIR communications director Julie Hollar, author of the report. “But I think it’s the wrong question. Shouldn’t the question be turned around? Why should we have nine men for every woman who writes an opinion column? Why should there be three men’s opinion for every woman’s opinion on TV?”
On coverage of vigilante border patrols:
Steve Rendall, a senior analyst with the Washington, D.C.-based Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, said radio talk shows have devoted a substantial amount of airtime to anti-illegal immigration advocates for more than a decade, but the movement is now making it into more mainstream media, driven by conservative cable shows. He said the hosts asked “softball questions” and basically had the project’s spokesmen on unopposed.
“It was basically a frictionless public-relations outing for the Minuteman Project,” he said.
—Arizona Republic (4/2/05)
On journalist access to public officials and employees:
The mayor of a small town in Southern Oregon has barred all elected officials and employees from discussing the city’s business with reporters.
Jim Naureckas, an editor with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a national media watchdog group, said in his opinion, the mayor’s idea was not in the best interest of the residents of Phoenix.
“It creates the illusion that there is only one point of view,” Naureckas said. “The public has a right to get a variety of viewpoints from their government. If there are a variety of people discussing the issues, it is more likely the public will get a better idea of what is going on.”
Naureckas said such a directive might make it difficult for a whistleblower to step forward and alert the public to any government corruption, and the order might infringe on the free speech rights of city employees.
—Associated Press (3/2/05)
On a study showing Republican offices on Capitol Hill prefer Fox:
Steve Rendall, a senior analyst for a national media watch group called Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, said, “The survey shows that Republicans like to watch themselves. … People like to consume media that shares their ideology.”
—The Hill (2/15/05)
On showing the war dead on television:
The standards for war coverage also shift according to whose war it is.
Early in the invasion of Iraq, Iraqi forces put American POWs and dead soldiers on public display. The US government declared it a war crime, citing the Geneva Convention. When Saddam Hussein’s sons were killed and their corpses displayed by the US military, much of the media praised the move.
“[In one case], showing off dead bodies was considered something so brutal that only a monstrous dictator would do it,” Naureckas says. “In the other case, it was shown as something that was a shrewd PR tactic.”
—Christian Science Monitor (1/19/05)
On the 9/11 intelligence bill:
(Jim) Naureckas from FAIR agrees, finding that “The press has overwhelmingly portrayed the 9/11 bill as little more than a question of ‘will Bush control his Republicans’ as opposed to what happens to civil liberties under the plan.”
—New York Press (12/21/04)
On media coverage of the 2004 presidential election:
PETER HART, FAIRNESS & ACCURACY IN REPORTING: A better way of thinking about elections is, were they fair to the voters. In other words, did they give voters the information that we needed to make an informed decision.
On Tavis Smiley’s departure from NPR:
A fall 2002 study of NPR affiliates by the progressive media-watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found a “dominance of white male voices” that it called “troubling.”
Steve Rendall, a co-author of that study, said yesterday, “Tavis is talking about putting the ‘public’ into ‘public radio,’ with all the colors that implies, and NPR has done a poor job of it. If anything, he’s understating NPR’s institutional problem.”
—New York Daily News (11/30/04)
On debate fact-checking:
“CNN’s fact-checking after the first two debates was pretty poor,” says Peter Hart, a media analyst for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
Specifically he’s referring to CNN’s Bill Schneider, who focused on statements made by President Bush, and David Ensor, who watched for inaccuracies or exaggerations by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
“Schneider only came up with one exaggeration from the Bush camp, and it’s one that Kerry noticed and rebutted [during the debate],” says Hart. “If you picked up a newspaper the next day, you saw a handful of things he could have done. Ensor picked up on four things, but two of them were taken out of context, and it wasn’t quite accurate. The other two were rather minor. It was kind of unfulfilling if you were hoping to get real analysis.”
—Hartford Courant (10/13/04)
On CBS holding its story about Iraq’s WMD capabilities:
The decision to put it off troubles media critics who were watching CBS News for signs of timidity following the Guard controversy.
“The idea that you would withhold journalism because you think it would have an effect on the world runs contrary to the whole idea of what journalism should be,” said Peter Hart, a FAIR analyst.
—Associated Press (10/4/04)
Both MoveOn.org, a liberal, online advocacy group, and Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal, New York-based media watchdog group, demanded the Bush/Iraq story be broadcast before Nov. 2. Both also suggested that CBS had decided not to do so because Sumner Redstone, chairman of its parent company Viacom, supports Bush.
This theory fits with liberals’ insistence that it doesn’t matter if most reporters, editors and other news executives are liberal because most media owners, like most owners of other big companies, are conservative, and in any serious showdown, it’s the man who signs the paychecks who prevails.
FAIR quotes Redstone as saying, “From a Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal,” and the organization goes on to say it’s “journalistically indefensible for CBS to withhold a story due to embarrassment incurred by another, unrelated piece. It is particularly unacceptable when the shelving of a story benefits a candidate that CBS’ boss has just publicly endorsed. If CBS wants to restore trust in its news judgment, it can begin by applying journalistic standards, not political calculations, to the decision on when to air its report on the origin of the forged Niger documents.”
If FAIR and its sympathizers on the left are correct about CBS’ motivation, the decision to withhold the story is reprehensible, a worse abdication of the network’s journalistic responsibility than even Rather’s careless rush to judgment. But Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, “categorically” denies that Redstone had anything to do with that decision.
—Los Angeles Times (10/10/04)
On the bad news from Iraq:
Peter Hart, an analyst for the self-described liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, said facts on the ground are driving the news coverage and said those facts aren’t positive.
“The problem with the military’s argument is that the media has covered some of the positive stories and that Iraq is a violent place with a growing insurgency,” said Hart during a telephone interview from New York City.
“To wonder why the media coverage isn’t uniformly positive is frankly bizarre,” Hart said. “It sounds like what the critics want is propaganda, and journalism obeys different rules. You can’t fault journalists for reporting what they see.”
—San Diego Union-Tribune (10/4/04)
On economic reporting:
Although many news-media watchdogs take business reporters to task for biases, few say the problem stems from a political slant. “One of the main biases we’ve found in business reporting is cheerleading,” said Jim Naureckas, an editor at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, which is on the left side of the political spectrum. He argues that the news media tend to favor the point of view of business because they depend on advertising from business.
—New York Times(9/12/04)
On the Swift Boat Vet ads:
“It was a juicy story but patently misleading and based on lies,” said Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, a publication sponsored by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, which has staunchly criticized Bush’s campaign tactics.
Naureckas was bothered by “the media’s lack of consistency in dealing with these kinds of stories. Imagine if these kinds of charges were made against Bush, from these kinds of sources. Would they have received this kind of coverage?”
Kerry was criticized in the media for not quickly and forcefully responding to the Swift Boat charges.
“How do you respond to lies?” Naureckas said. “Then, when you do respond, it becomes a bigger story.”
—Buffalo News (9/6/04)
On the March on the Media:
Demonstrators haven’t come to Manhattan solely to denounce President George W. Bush and his policies. At least two protest events are scheduled for the headquarters of big media companies later this week.
Organizers of the “March on the Media” hope to draw attention to what they said is uncritical coverage of corporate scandals, terrorism prevention and the war against Iraq. “Corporate media have failed to provide the public with critical, probing coverage of this administration,” said Peter Hart, a media analyst at Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, one of the march’s sponsors. “The public needs a watchdog, not a lapdog.”
On PBS’s new conservative programming:
PBS’s ideological critics on the left and right don’t agree on much. But they do suspect a link between politics and programming. Says Jim Naureckas, an official at the liberal watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting: “They are, to a large extent, a business, and they understand where their mone
y’s coming from — it’s a Republican-controlled Congress.”
—Boston Globe (8/30/04)
On terror warnings:
“It’s very clear that intelligence has been manipulated by the Bush administration (in the past). And part of the job of the media, as much as to repeat what officials tell you, is to evaluate the credibility of those claims,” says Jim Naureckas, editor of ‘Extra’, a magazine published by the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).
“That’s really why you have the freedom of the press guarantee in the constitution, because that function is so critical for a democracy,” Naureckas added in an interview from New York.
Naureckas argues that in this pre-election period, when the public is increasingly divided between those who are “very much frightened” by terror warnings and others “who don’t have any faith left in the Bush administration,” journalists must press officials harder to back up their claims.
“Particularly when you have problems of trust with the government, you need the media to do more to separate factual information from political spin, from manipulation, and I don’t think they’ve been doing enough to make that happen.”
—Inter Press Service (8/6/04)
On covering the Democratic and Republican conventions:
“Complaining about the lack of news seems like a convenient way to avoid talking about substantive issues,” said Peter Hart, analyst for the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. “What’s in the party’s platform? How about a realistic assessment of the rhetoric coming from the convention stage? These are questions reporters should be investigating. The fact that the conventions are staged shouldn’t give reporters a sense that there’s nothing there for them. That sounds like a cop out.”
—Austin-American Statesman (7/23/04)
On Outfoxed and Fox News bias:
More damning to Fox News is the study commissioned from FAIR for the film. In “Special Report With Brit Hume,” the balance of one-on-one guests in a 25-week period was outrageously in favor of Republicans, by a 5-to-1 margin. That’s on the flagship news program, not one of the prime-time opinion shows.
—Chicago Tribune (7/20/04)
On right-wing accusations of media bias against Bush:
Steve Rendall of the liberal group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting scoffs at the indictment, saying that “things are going badly for the White House in Iraq. Accurately reporting that isn’t bias. As for the economy, positive indicators are reported every day. That many Americans still see a net loss of jobs, wages lagging behind inflation and rising health care costs, well, reflecting their views is basic journalism.”
From 9/11 through last summer, Rendall says, “journalism was largely in the tank for the White House.”
—Washington Post (6/28/04)
On media memories of Reagan:
The liberal media analysis group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, has decried early coverage declaring Reagan the most popular president ever to leave office, citing Gallup poll data showing Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush among five former presidents with higher approval ratings upon retirement.
“We’re seeing a regular syndrome . . . a media that is far too uncritical of the powerful, coming out afterward like a drunk on a bender, saying “Woe is us, we didn’t ask enough tough questions,’ ” said Steve Rendall, a senior analyst at FAIR.
—St. Petersburg Times(6/11/04)
On the NY Times editors’ note on WMD reporting:
Though many critics of the Times’ coverage have singled out articles written by Times reporter Judith Miller, the newspaper’s editors said the problem of insufficient oversight “was more complicated.” They said that “editors at several levels” should have been challenging reporters more skeptically but may have been “too intent on rushing scoops into the paper.”
Nonetheless, Chalabi, widely believed to be Miller’s most prominent source, was all but officially discredited last week following a raid by U.S. and Iraqi forces on his Iraqi National Congress offices.
“The stories Judith Miller wrote were incredibly important in selling the idea that Iraq posed an immediate threat to the world,” said Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, a magazine published by the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.
Although some news organizations did publish stories questioning the administration’s claims that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, most coverage did not emphasize a critical examination. That helped build an atmosphere in public opinion that was difficult to counter.
—Chicago Tribune (5/27/04)
On the blurring line between journalism and advertising:
“It’s across the culture,” says Peter Hart, media analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) in New York. “You’re seeing these tendencies everywhere, whether it’s product placement on a sitcom or in the news.”
During the ad-sales slump of the early 1990s, a few consumer magazines faced lawsuits – and editors were fired – amid allegations that they blurred the line between editorial content and advertising.
In 1999, Times-Mirror Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times, cut a deal with the owners of the Staples Center to share ad revenue generated by a Times Sunday magazine that dedicated one issue to the arena.
“That was scandalous at the time,” says Mr. Hart. “If it happened now, I don ‘t know. I think the bar has been lowered.”
Tolerance for mentioning specific products in a publication’s articles has risen significantly in this fourth year of another ad slump, experts say, with product placement today spilling out of the entertainment realm and deeper into zones of supposed objectivity.
“They’re failing to inform their readers, their viewers, about how these relationships really work,” says Hart, who hadn’t seen the June/July issue of Ski.
Any “implied endorsement” flouts the guidelines of the American Society of Magazine Editors, says Marlene Kahan, ASME’s executive director. Though many editors work to hold the line, she and others say, marketers are turning up the pressure on publishers to get “added value.”
“The more they can make advertising look like journalism, the better suited they are to sell their products,” says Hart. “Those boundaries have steadily been getting fuzzier,” he adds. “It’s not clear anymore, which is exactly what advertisers want.”
“Whether you call it advertising or public relations really doesn’t matter,” says Hart. “[Publications are] still pulling one on the readers, and the end effect is the same: You’re promoting a product.”
—Christian Science Monitor (5/27/04)
National Public Radio, which conservatives have long labeled “liberal,” relies on largely the same range of sources that dominate mainstream commercial news, airing more Republican than Democratic voices, and with male sources outnumbering female sources by nearly four to one.
So says left-leaning Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, which finds that nine of the top 10 most frequently used sources on NPR were white male government officials. (Secretary of State Colin Powell was the one exception.
) The top seven were Republicans.
FAIR’s study looked at on-air sources in June 2003 on NPR’s four main news shows.
“We wanted to find out how ‘public’ is National Public Radio,” FAIR’s Steve Rendall says. He says NPR programmers quote a “preponderance of people from right-leaning and centrist-leaning think tanks and generally ignore left-wing think tanks.”
Rendall says that as NPR has grown, the environment has become more “corporate” and programming more conservative. NPR’s removal of longtime Morning Edition host Bob Edwards hinted at a shop where “numbers crunchers are saying NPR has to shoot for a younger demographic that commercial stations have always searched for.”
On Disney and Fahrenheit 911:
Miramax Films, a Disney subsidiary, had planned to distribute the film. Disney’s decision to block distribution provoked criticism from several media organisations.
“The idea that Disney is declining to release the film because it is political does not bode very well for democratic debate in this country,” says Jim Naureckas, a spokesman for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal watchdog group.
“We rely on companies like Disney to distribute information and entertainment in this country.”
On Iraq casualties:
Asked to estimate the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the war in March and April of last year, 41 percent of respondents guessed below 500. Nearly 75 percent said 2,000 or below. No official toll exists, but even the lowest estimates put the number of Iraqi civilian deaths in the month after “major combat” began at more than 3,000. Last June, The Associated Press guessed that 3,240 Iraqi civilians died in March and April of last year. Iraq Body Count, an independent group tracking reports of civilian casualties, puts the number at more than 7,000.
Some say the American press has contributed to this hazy picture.
“To cover war without noticing death is like covering a sporting event without noticing the ball,” said Jim Naureckas, an editor at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a left-leaning group.
—New York Times (5/9/04)
On the bad news from Iraq:
The changing mood means newspapers and TV networks may not be risking economic hardship if they publish bad news. “There’s a great fear that news outlets will be seen as unpatriotic by advertisers, who are the people who pay the bills in American media, and they are the ones who determine what the limits of acceptable expression are,” said Jim Naureckas, a magazine editor at the liberal media watchdog FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
But media organizations have to watch their flanks and maintain the trust of their audience that they are still interested in delivering the news. If a story breaks on Al-Jazeera or the BBC — both available in the U.S. via cable, satellite and the Internet — it can’t easily be ignored. Similarly, private citizens operating websites that release information against government wishes put pressure on the mainstream press to follow the stories.
Some see the questioning as anti-American, but not everyone agrees. “It’s good for people to know reality,” says FAIR’s Jim Naureckas. “Certainly a nation that thinks it should ignore reality if it might change minds about political policy, is going to wind up supporting some policies that will run it into very serious problems in the world.”
—The Globe and Mail(Ontario) (5/8/04)
On the Abu Ghraib photos:
Peter Hart, an analyst with the U.S. media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, points out CBS had the images for two weeks before broadcasting them at the request of Gen. Richard Myers, who cited the safety of American hostages. CBS confirmed this yesterday, saying the circumstances were “unusual.”
“We could be talking about the story that changed the course of the whole occupation,” said Mr. Hart.
“You see people losing faith in the occupation. But you also see a hardening of resolve. The same story can have opposite effects on people.”
—Ottawa Citizen (5/4/04)
On Iraq coverage:
TAVIS SMILEY: How bad has it gotten? And I ask that of you because if anybody would know, you would. But I have been bothered by it and have talked about it on this program and other places in a variety of ways about I think the kind of work that the media should have been doing since 9/11, it just hasn’t been done quite frankly.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, no question about it. I mean, the media watch group, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, called FAIR, did a study of the week leading up to Colin Powell giving his address, his push for war at the UN on February 5th, 2003, and the week after, that two-week period, that was right before the mass global protests. They looked at the four major nightly newscasts, CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” There were 393 interviews done around war. Only three of almost 400 interviews were with anti-war representatives. That is not a fair and balanced media at a time when more than half the people were opposed to the invasion. That is a media beating the drums for war and it’s got to change.
—NPR, the Tavis Smiley Show (4/26/04)
On Bob Woodward, author of “Plan of Attack”:
Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra, the magazine of the liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Media, says it’s hard to describe what Woodward is doing as journalism.
“What he does is much more akin to that of a historical novelist, except he’s writing about a more recent period of history,” Naureckas says. “The clearest way he differentiates himself from journalism is the way he uses quotations. He creates verbatim accounts of conversations from meetings he didn’t attend.”
On showing images of corpses in war coverage:
Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra, a media criticism magazine published by FAIR, a national media watchdog group, questioned whether people would have a chance to react if major media outlets censored the pictures.
“During the invasion of Iraq, there was a great concern by journalists not to show any kind of imagery that could be upsetting or disturbing to people,” he said. “They particularly didn’t want to show a dead American soldier. It almost became a taboo to show such a thing.”
Naureckas said the mood has changed, but he predicted the pictures of dead civilians would not receive widespread coverage.
“If so, it would reflect a real sea change in media attitudes,” he said.
—Tampa Tribune (4/1/04)
On the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq:
The liberal group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) noted that while the Sunday morning talk shows of March 14 all focused on the anniversary, only NBC’s “Meet the Press” offered competing perspectives.
“Meet the Press” featured separate interviews with national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice and former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, an outspoken critic of the U.S. presence in Iraq.
ABC’s “This Week” and “Fox News Sunday” each had the same sole guest: Secretary of State Colin Powell. CBS’ “Face the Nation” had Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
—Seattle Times (3/24/04)
On partisanship in TV news:
So when did the conventional news hour splinter into a thousand points of fight? Peter Hart, a media analyst for Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, says partisan debate always existed beneath the surface of broadcast news, but now has become “the dominant programming model” in cable news. “Programmers were looking for a way to make sure people don’t change the channel,” Hart says, “and they settled on a solution: Tease the audience with a fight, rather than provide reasonable dialogue or timely information. In the end, they seek to inflame the passions that already exist in those viewers.”
—USA Today (2/4/04)
On John Stossel:
One media critic says he has no problem with the topics Stossel chooses, just the message he espouses.
“He often approaches stories with a conclusion and looks for evidence to support that conclusion,” says Peter Hart of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a media watchdog group. “He often excludes evidence that doesn’t support his point of view. That makes it propaganda for his side, and that’s not good journalism.”
As an example, Hart cites a Stossel report on organic vs. conventional produce.
“He made a series of errors and actually concocted evidence to support his point of view, referring to research that he said ABC had done but that didn’t exist.”
—Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2/2/04)
On journalists’ campaign contributions:
Rhonda Schaffler, CNNfn Anchor: The whole issue here really is, can you give money to a candidate or campaign and cover without any bias?
Jim Naureckas (editor, Extra!): I think that it’s fair to ask journalists who are working in covering politics not to become unnecessarily involved with the issue that they ‘re covering, which is the electoral process. When you’re giving money to a campaign, you are, almost literally, investing in that campaign and it makes it more difficult for you to separate yourself.
Every journalists has opinions. You can’t cover politics, learn about the process without developing your own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. But it’s the journalists job to try to report all sides fairly. And I think it makes it more difficult to do that when you’re actively participating in the story. ***
Schaffler: How about the actual media organizations themselves?
Naureckas: That’s an issue that I think doesn’t get enough attention. People talk about the individual journalists. And, to a large extent, journalists understand that they aren’t supposed to be giving money. But the bosses of the journalists, the executives of the media corporations, often do give money and there’s often no rules against that. And I would say that it’s often more of a issue, in terms of influencing coverage, to know that your boss has a strong interest in one party or the other coming out on top.
Molly Ivins, columnist, on FAIR:
Two outfits I especially like that watch the media are the Center for Media and Democracy, which specializes in analyzing public relations and propaganda campaigns, and FAIR, the overworked folks trying to keep up with right-wing lies in the corporate media.
—Chicago Tribune (12/18/03)
On Alan Colmes:
The liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Media studied two weeks of “Hannity & Colmes” this summer and found that between the co-hosts and their guests, conservatives spoke 2,768 lines to 2,004 for liberals.
FAIR has likened Colmes to the Washington Generals, the hapless basketball team hired to lose to the Harlem Globetrotters every night.
“Hannity gives no quarter,” said Steve Rendall, a FAIR analyst. “Colmes is often giving points when he should be fighting. When the chips are down, Colmes often concedes.”
—Associated Press (10/17/03)
On FAIR on Wesley Clark:
It’s worth one’s while to walk through a sampling of Clark’s statements and writings about Iraq. I must note that it was the website of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (fair.org) that brought this sampler to my attention, in particular a valuable article by FAIR’s Peter Hart posted on September 16, the day before the general declared his candidacy.
—The Village Voice (9/30/03)