Nov
16
2011

Iran, Nukes and the Failure of Skepticism

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 […]

Oct
18
2011

Have Corporate Media Warmed to Occupy Wall Street?

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 […]

Aug
23
2011

Bill Moyers Is Back

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 […]

Aug
18
2011

Libyan Deaths, Media Silence

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 […]

Aug
01
2011

Media Malpractice on Debt Ceiling

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 […]

Jul
25
2011

Seeing 'Islamic Terror' in Norway

Learning no lessons from Oklahoma City mistakes

Right-wing terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik reportedly killed 76 people in Norway on Friday, by all accounts driven by far-right anti-immigrant politics and fervent Islamophobia. But many early media accounts assumed that the perpetrator of the attacks was Muslim. On news of the first round of attacks--the bombs in Oslo--CNN's Tom Lister (7/22/11) didn't know who did it, but knew they were Muslims: "It could be a whole range of groups. But the point is that Al-Qaeda is not so much an organization now. It's more a spirit for these people. It's a mobilizing factor." And he speculated confidently about […]

Jun
23
2011

Defining 'Withdrawal' From Afghanistan

Media's selective memory on Obama escalations

Barack Obama's June 22 announcement of a phased troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was often portrayed as a major step towards ending the war, with many outlets neglecting to accurately explain the pace of escalation that has happened under his watch. When Obama took office in 2009, the U.S. had about 34,000 troops in Afghanistan. Obama has initiated two major troop increases in Afghanistan: about 20,000 additional troops were announced in February 2009, followed by the December 2009 announcement that an another 33,000 would be deployed as well; other smaller increases have brought the total to 100,000. Much of the media […]

May
23
2011

Libya and the Law

Media Show Slight Interest in War Powers, Geneva

Media debates over the U.S./NATO war in Libya have often amounted to proponents arguing for "humanitarian" intervention while conservative critics worry about Barack Obama's management of the war. But the question of the war's legality should be a front and center concern. Obama's decided to wage war on Libya without seeking congressional approval. Under some interpretations of the War Powers Act, a president can do this for 60 days, a deadline that passed on Friday, May 20. After this, according to the law, military action without Congress's authorization is illegal. The approaching deadline attracted little media coverage. The most prominent […]