The Washington Post may be violating its own conflict of interest rules by hiring a Jerusalem correspondent whose spouse works for an Israeli government-linked public relations firm. As the website Electronic Intifada (9/18/13) pointed out, correspondent Ruth Eglash's husband, Michael Eglash, is a founding partner of the pro-Israel advocacy group Upstart Activist and is the president of its affiliated PR consulting firm, Upstart Ideas. EI reports that Upstart Ideas has been "deeply involved in efforts to promote Israel and Israeli government policy for years," adding that pro-Israeli propaganda is now Upstart's "main business." A 2010 Jerusalem Post profile ("Zionist Start […]
Family tie to Israeli PR poses major conflict of interest
Is Stephanie Cutter 'from the left'--or from the White House?
This month, CNN brought back its left-right debate show Crossfire. But is one of the left co-hosts representing the progressive viewpoint--or the White House? Stephanie Cutter was a campaign strategist for the 2012 Obama campaign, and currently heads up a PR firm called Precision Strategies. But while the premise of the CNN show is that Cutter is "from the left," she still maintains working ties to the White House. According to a Fox News report (9/3/13), Cutter was part of a PR strategy session on selling the White House's Syria policy. If so, Cutter was meeting with the White House […]
NPR, USA Today misrepresent nuclear story
While investigators try to establish the facts around what may be a horrific chemical attack in Syria, some media outlets are using the situation as an opportunity to make inaccurate claims about Iran. On NPR's All Things Considered (8/27/13), correspondent Mara Liasson claimed that Barack Obama "has done everything he can to avoid another foreign military involvement, but he can't avoid it after the widespread use of chemical weapons on this scale." Putting aside Liasson's declaration that non-military options are impossible, how does she know Syria launched the attack? Liasson explained: We now hear that U.S. intelligence officials are getting […]
Some media figures applaud the criminalization of investigative reporting
U.S. soldier Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning's 35-year sentence represents the harshest punishment issued to date for providing media with evidence of government wrongdoing (Forbes, 8/21/13). She is the first whistleblower to be convicted under the Espionage Act, ratifying the new reality that those who give the press information that the government wants to keep secret will henceforth be treated as spies. Manning's sentence is only the latest example of the criminalization of investigative journalism that has greatly intensified in the Obama era (Extra!, 9/11). While whistleblowers have been the chief targets of the harsh crackdown on media challenges to official […]
Why can't Face the Nation face dissent on NSA spying?
The CBS Sunday morning show Face the Nation featured a discussion of NSA surveillance with the former head of the agency and two politicians who vigorously defend the agency's mass surveillance programs. The August 11 show featured a softball interview with Michael Hayden, who oversaw some of the most controversial Bush-era tactics at the NSA, including the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens (New York Times, 12/16/05). As Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald (8/12/13) observed, that eavesdropping was repeatedly found by federal judges to be unconstitutional and a felony. But the person in charge of overseeing that program was not brought on […]
Media present dubious official claims as fact
The United States has reportedly carried out nine drone attacks in the last few weeks in Yemen, generating headlines about the targeting and killing of suspected Al-Qaeda militants in the impoverished country. But how can media know for sure who is being killed? The uptick in attacks is apparently related to the alleged terrorist chatter that prompted the U.S. government to close down embassies and diplomatic offices. To hear the media tell it, the U.S. is striking at terrorist fighters. "An American drone delivers a deadly message to Al-Qaeda," announced the CBS Evening News (8/7/13). Correspondent Bob Orr reported, "For […]
But ombud glosses over conflicts of energy industry sponsors
America Abroad Media has responded to FAIR's recent Action Alert (5/31/13) about the public radio service's pro-fracking public documentary (4/13) that was backed by funders with a financial interest in promoting natural gas. AAM acknowledged the need for a clearer explanation of fracking's environmental risks, but unfortunately almost completely ignored the funding conflict in its response. “The action alert from FAIR generated 477 emails from FAIR supporters, at the time of this writing,” AAM ombud Jeffrey Dvorkin reported (6/5/13). (Twenty-five of those messages were shared in the comments section of this FAIR Blog post.) The flood of reader messages prompted […]