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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Will NewsHour do more to fulfill PBS mission?
PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer announced on Thursday that he would step down as anchor of the nightly newscast early next month. Will the change lead to improvements at the program? As FAIR has documented in several major studies, the NewsHour falls well short of fulfilling the mission that should guide public broadcasting: the promotion of ideas and viewpoints that are too often excluded from discussions in the commercial media. The founding mandate of public television is to "be a forum for debate and controversy" and to "help us see America whole, in all its diversity." Unfortunately, the NewsHour's programming […]