Mar
01
2008

Truth in Advertising 'a Business Disaster'

Most “fear and favor” shown by media outlets takes the form of slanted or incomplete news coverage. But media companies’ zeal to please the advertisers, who are, after all, their main client, goes beyond covering news to making it. In 2007, congressional debate on a big Food and Drug Administration bill touched on pharmaceutical ads, a fast-growing source of media revenue. As recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, an early draft of the bill would have given the FDA the power to impose a moratorium on consumer advertising for a drug that had serious safety concerns. That provision was […]

Aug
24
2007

Arianna Huffington on Utah mining disaster, Ralph Nader on talk radio payola

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: the six coal miners buried in Crandall Canyon in Utah are presumed dead. With three additional miners killed in the rescue attempt, the question now is whether media will call the story a tragedy and move on, or track responsibility for the disaster, no matter how high it goes. We'll speak with Arianna Huffington of the blog the Huffington Post about media's record on the story so far. Also on the show: a potential new payola scandal involving talk radio hosts receiving perks from General Motors, including free use of cars, in exchange for […]

Aug
22
2007

NPR Touts Pro-Nuke 'Environmentalists'

Network's own nuclear links undisclosed

An August 15 NPR Morning Edition segment touted the benefits of nuclear power, suggesting it was gaining popularity with many environmentalists who once opposed it. The segment was an interview with Fortune magazine editor David Whitford, who has written a series of articles about the debate over nuclear power. The piece was introduced by NPR anchor John Ydstie, who asserted that "with fossil fuel carbon emissions in the environmental bull's-eye, nuclear power is starting to shake off its bad reputation." Whitford elaborated on the claim that nuclear power's image is improving: "There are many environmentalists now who began their careers […]

Aug
03
2007

Laila al-Arian on 'The Other War,' Ann Toback on broadcast news survey

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: while media watchers and right-wing bloggers went on the attack over a New Republic columnist's writings about the behavior of U.S. troops in Iraq, an exposé in the Nation magazine has gone relatively unnoticed. The magazine spoke to 50 combat vets about things they had seen—and done—in Iraq; we'll speak to Laila al-Arian, co-author of the Nation report "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness." Also on CounterSpin today: "I must have done ten stories in a day about Britney Spears shaving her head." That's just one of the complaints voiced by broadcast journalists […]

Mar
01
2007

The Trials of Air America

The unlearned lessons of right-wing radio

Shortly before the launch of the liberal talk radio network Air America in March 2004, Jon Sinton, an executive with the network’s corporate parent, Progress Media, explained to the New Republic (2/10/04) why talk radio was dominated by conservative hosts. It was all about Rush Limbaugh’s success, said Sinton: “If Limbaugh had been a flaming liberal, then today there’d be a bunch of conservatives complaining about all the liberals who are on the radio.” Sinton suggested that Limbaugh’s conservative politics were immaterial to his initial success: “Limbaugh being a conservative was almost beside the point. . . . He was […]

Oct
31
2006

Air America on Ad Blacklist?

ABC document: Sponsors shun liberal network

An internal memo from ABC Radio Networks to its affiliates reveals scores of powerful sponsors have a standing order that their commercials never be placed on syndicated Air America programming that airs on ABC affiliates. The October 25 memo was provided to FAIR by the Peter B. Collins Show, a syndicated radio show originating on the West Coast. Headlined "Air America Blackout" and addressed "Dear Traffic Director"—referring to the radio station staffer who coordinates programming and advertising—the memo gives the following order to affiliates: Please be advised that Hewlett Packard has purchased schedules with ABC Radio Networks between October 30th […]

Jun
08
2006

CPB Funding Threatened...Again

Time to fight for an independent funding source

On June 7, Congressional Republicans launched their latest assault on public broadcasting when a House Appropriations subcommittee voted to cut $115 million from the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The cuts would affect PBS, NPR and other non-commercial media like Pacifica Radio. The latest GOP attack is a reminder that without fundamental changes in the way it is funded, public broadcasting will continue to be vulnerable to the political whims of Congress. This is the second time in less than nine months that the GOP has attempted to slash the CPB budget. As FAIR pointed out the last […]

Apr
01
2006

Fear & Favor 2005 -- The Sixth Annual Report

Outside (and inside) influence on the news

In 1896, New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs laid out standards by which journalism is still judged today, declaring that his paper would “give the news, all the news . . . impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect or interest involved.” Unfortunately, mainstream media often fail to live up to that goal; demands from advertisers, government, media owners and other powerful people frequently manage to blur or breach the wall between the editorial and business ends of the newsroom. In survey after survey, journalists report that they feel outside—or inside—pressures to avoid, slant or promote certain stories […]