Jan 1 2013

The Unexplored Questions of Affirmative Action

Coverage of admissions case a catalog of broadsides

Source: Cnn.com

Against the electric backdrop of electoral polemics, the October 10 Supreme Court session on the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas sent few sparks flying. Zeroed in on the election, the press dutifully reported the tit-for-tat and quips and quibbles around the case (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin), but left untouched the deeper implications of potentially overturning affirmative action. Reviewing the coverage felt like staring at an iconic three-dimensional chess match from Star Trek—only with all lower levels of the board disappeared from sight. An overview of the main pieces: Abigail Fisher, a white student […]

Oct 19 2012

David Roberts on coal, Julianne Hing on affirmative action

If you were unnerved to see Democratic and Republican presidential candidates competing over which was a bigger fan of coal, you weren’t alone. And: Is affirmative action in danger?

Nov 1 2007


The media and the Supreme Court on race and public education

The June 2007 Supreme Court decision sharply limiting the use of race in public school admissions was viewed with dismay by many educators, civil rights activists and others who support diversity in our nation’s public schools. As Ted Shaw, the director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, explained, “In the context of segregated public schools in this country, our experience, almost without exception, is that segregation has always been a prelude to other forms of deprivation, educational and otherwise, for black [people]” (Black Enterprise, 9/07). While segregated public schools mean unequal resources and opportunities, education researchers and social […]

Jul 20 2007

Tammy Johnson on affirmative action and the Supreme Court, Rachel Morris on Sami al-Haj


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: coverage of the June 28 Supreme Court ruling striking down a key element of affirmative action that promoted racial diversity in American schools featured opponents and supporters of the decision, but did it succeed in accurately describing the real extent of continuing discrimination? Or probing the meaning behind loaded terms like colorblindness, embraced by affirmative action opponents? We’ll talk to Tammy Johnson of the Race and Public Policy Program at the Applied Research Center in Oakland California . Also on CounterSpin today, the Bush administration has lost several key legal battles over the past […]

Jan 1 1999

Affirmative Action Coverage Ignores Women–and Discrimination

A six-month study of media coverage

Mainstream news media are shortchanging the public–especially women–in their coverage of affirmative action. Consideration of affirmative action’s impact and meaning for women of all colors is largely missing from news stories, and women are severely underrepresented on opinion pages. Worse–with a few exceptions, major media are reporting the debate on affirmative action without reference to the continued existence of racist and sexist practices. Severed from the context of the discrimination to which it is a response, affirmative action is presented as a confusing, “hot-button” issue, about which few facts can be known. The persistent use of the problematic terms “preferences” […]

May 1 1998

‘Spinning the Press’

Even after the California and Houston ballot initiatives demonstrated how language makes a difference in characterizing affirmative action, and despite ample proof in polls of the prejudicial effect that calling affirmative action “preferences” has on the American public (especially whites), the mainstream media continues to equate “preference” with affirmative action and to use the two terms interchangeably. A survey of recent headlines even after the Houston vote exemplifies the persistence of the problem. From the New York Times (11/7/1997): “Panel Holds Up House Measure on Preferences.” Time magazine (11/10/97): “The Next Great Battle Over Affirmative Action: A Lawsuit against the […]

May 1 1998

Media Preferences

The Myth of Popular Opposition in the Affirmative Action Debate

“Houston Slows the Tidal Wave.” So said a recent headline in the U.S. News and World Report (11/17/97). But the notion that there is a popular, tidal wave-like movement in the United States, moving inexorably to erase affirmative action for women and racial minorities from the landscape of American life and law, is a myth. And at the heart of this myth is an image of outraged citizens expressing their disapproval of affirmative action through opinion polls, the ballot box and their legislators. The real impetus for the attempt to roll-back affirmative action policy comes from a federal judiciary still […]

Sep 1 1995

White Man’s Burden

How the Press Frames Affirmative Action

“Quotas Quashed,” crowed the front page of the June 13 New York Post. “High Court Sinks Most Affirmative Action Programs.” Inside, Post writers described the Adarand v. Pena ruling, in which the Supreme Court tightened criteria for some race-conscious federal programs, as a “bombshell decision” that “dealt a crippling blow to affirmative action.” All the June 12 ruling really said was that federal programs must meet the same narrower requirements already established for the states. Some specific programs were challenged, but the court explicitly acknowledged the ongoing existence of racism and sexism and the continued need for remedies. The mainstream […]