The news that a U.S. Army sergeant killed 16 civilians, most of them children, in southern Afghanistan early Sunday morning was treated by many media outlets primarily as a PR challenge for continued war and occupation of that country. "Afghanistan, once the must-fight war for America, is becoming a public relations headache for the nation's leaders, especially for President Barack Obama," explained an Associated Press analysis piece (3/12/12). Reuters (3/12/12) called it "the latest American public relations disaster in Afghanistan." On the NBC Today show (3/11/12) the question was posed this way: "Could this reignite a new anti-American backlash in […]
Media treat killings as PR problem for occupation
This year has given us simply too many worthy contenders for FAIR's annual P.U.-litzers--recognizing the stinkiest journalism of the year. A big part of the problem was that so many outlets were striving to distinguish themselves with especially awful coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. So to note those lowlights, we bring you a special installment of P.U.-litzers: The OWS edition. --Early Warning System Award: CNN's Wolf Blitzer On September 19: "Protests here in New York on Wall Street entering a third day. Should New Yorkers be worried at all about what's going on?" --We Could Do It […]
It's that time of year again--when FAIR goes through the year's archives to collect a sampling of the worst moments of corporate media spin and malfeasance. The competition was, as always, fierce. And in special recognition of the media's befuddled approach to the Occupy Wall Street movement, next week will see the release of a second round of OWS-related P.U.-litzers. --Wacky Conspiracy Award: CBS's Steve Kroft Kroft (60 Minutes, 1/30/11) explained the apparently demented worldview of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange: Julian Assange is not your average journalist or publisher, and some have argued that he is not really a journalist […]
Iraq all over again?
Much of the corporate media coverage of a new UN report on Iran strongly asserts that Iran is close to building nuclear weapons. But the International Atomic Energy Agency report does not actually arrive at that conclusion, and many critics contend that the speculations that are in the report are misguided. A USA Today piece (11/9/11) was headlined "UN Agency Issues Red Alert Over Iran's Secret Nuke Program"--with the "red alert" hype coming from a source in the piece, Rep. Ed Royce (R.-Calif.). On CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley reported (11/7/11), "The U.N.'s nuclear agency is expected to report later […]
Media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests started out exactly as one might expect. There was little coverage at first (FAIR Action Alert, 9/23/11), and as it expanded, much of it consisted of snide dismissals of demonstrators'' ignorance, hygiene and so on. But then something happened. Following incidents of police abuse, including the unprovoked pepper-spraying of several demonstrators on September 24, media coverage began to pick up (FAIR Activism Update, 9/29/11). NPR executive editor Dick Meyer explained that the protests were not covered early on because they "did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great […]
A return to public broadcasting--but not to PBS
According to a report in the New York Times (8/22/11), public television icon Bill Moyers will be back on the public airwaves next year--but not on PBS. The new show, Moyers & Company, will be distributed to stations for free by American Public Television. The Times reports that "PBS told Moyers it couldn’t find an appropriate timeslot." The Times adds that the show "will focus on one-on-one interviews with people not often heard on television." Showcasing viewpoints not often heard on commercial media is precisely the point of public broadcasting. But few of the shows distributed by PBS aspire to […]
Were Dozens Killed in Majer NATO Airstrikes?
Allegations of Libyan civilian deaths as a result of NATO bombing have often been covered in the corporate media as an opportunity to scoff at the Gadhafi regime's unconvincing propaganda (FAIR Blog, 6/9/11). But dramatic new allegations that dozens of civilians were killed in Majer after NATO airstrikes on August 8 have been met with near-total media silence. According to Libyan officials, 85 civilians were killed in Majer--a town south of Zliten, a site of frequent clashes and NATO airstrikes. There is no reason journalists should take this claim at face value. But reports from the scene suggest that something […]
Five ways media misreported deficit debate
There are specific patterns in corporate media coverage of political debates: Progressive ideas are generally marginalized. "Compromise" between the major parties is encouraged. Democrats should "move to the center," which in practical terms actually means moving to the right. All of these tendencies have driven the discussion over the federal debt and the debt ceiling. In the end, the political process has produced an agreement that can be cheered by pundits and analysts for adhering to media's built-in bias for center-right economics and bogus ideas about centrism and political compromise. Of the criticisms one can make of the media's coverage […]