Mar
14
2014

No More Media Silence on TPP

Networks Skip Controversial Trade Deal

TPP

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal has drawn heavy criticism. Over 500 labor, environmental and farm groups oppose granting the White House "fast track" authority to speed the pact through Congress. The deal, still being negotiated in secret, has spawned protests around the world.

But there's one thing that TPP hasn't generated: news. Let's try to change that.

Aug
14
2013

Little NSA Debate at CBS

Why can't Face the Nation face dissent on NSA spying?

Bob Schieffer (right) interviews former NSA chief Michael Hayden.

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 […]

Aug
01
2012

Not So Fast on Fast and Furious

Fortune investigation shoots holes in scandal narrative

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Gregory Wild-Smith

When it comes to ginning up scandals, the Obama administration has been a disappointment for the right-wing media, which had much more luck in the Clinton era. But they’ve found some red meat with “Fast and Furious”—thanks in large part to CBS Evening News, the story’s most prominent platform. Like most Clinton scandals (Extra!, 9–10/95, 11–12/96, 1–2/97), however, the story looks far less scandalous when you learn the details left out of most media accounts. The “Fast and Furious” story, as peddled by the right, tells us that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)—a perennial target of pro-gun […]

Dec
13
2011

CBS Revises Iraq Death Toll

New tally still lower than other estimates

After a FAIR Action Alert (12/2/11), the CBS Evening News has changed its count of civilian deaths--citing a new figure that is roughly twice their original count. On December 1 the CBS Evening News reported: It is estimated that more than 50,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the war. As FAIR pointed out, this was totally inadequate--even the source for the network's claim (iCasualties.org) warned that this was not a comprehensive count. On December 12, CBS anchor Scott Pelley closed a segment about "how life has changed inside Iraq" with this: We looked into the human toll of the Iraq […]

Dec
02
2011

CBS Undercounts Iraqi Deaths

Rewriting Iraq War history

A December 1 CBS Evening News report about the Iraq War managed to mislead viewers about the start of the war and severely diminish the loss of civilian lives. Reporting on the handover of the U.S. military headquarters to Iraqi forces, anchor Scott Pelley announced: What began in 2003 as an effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein became a vicious religious war, pitting Iraqi against Iraqi--with the U.S. caught in the middle. Of course, the United States invaded Iraq with the stated aim of disarming Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, which did not exist. ("The opening stages of the disarmament of […]

Apr
01
2010

Will Face the Nation Factcheck Guest's Healthcare Lies?

CBS's Schieffer owes TV audience the truth

CBS's Face the Nation (3/28/10) covered the passage of healthcare reform by inviting Democratic National Committee chair Tim Kaine and two Republican critics on the program--one of whom spread misinformation that went unchallenged by host Bob Schieffer. What's notable about this is that CBS has since posted on its website a debunking of the two claims made by the guest, conservative Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota. At the very beginning of the interview, Bachmann explained her opposition to the new healthcare law: "Now we have the federal government, Bob, taking over ownership or control of 51 percent of the […]

May
12
2009

CBS Pro-Drone Propaganda

60 Minutes slights critics of controversial weapons

On May 10, CBS's 60 Minutes presented a remarkably one-sided report on unmanned Air Force drones firing missiles into Afghanistan and Iraq. Though the drones have been criticized for killing civilians in both countries, CBS viewers heard from no critics of the weapons. Instead, correspondent Lara Logan seemed awed by the drones from the very start of the broadcast: "Every so often in the history of war, a new weapon comes along that fundamentally rewrites the rules of battle. This is a story about a revolution in unmanned aviation that is doing just that." She described the drones as "hunting […]

Mar
01
2008

Saddam's 'Secret'

Hussein told CBS about WMDs--but CBS wasn't watching

Of all the strange stories to come out of the media's debacle in Iraq, one of the most Orwellian is the fable in which Saddam Hussein tricked America into invading Iraq by making us believe that he had weapons of mass destruction (Extra!, 1-2/04, 5-6/04). Of all the lies, hypocrisies and half-truths of this war, this one may be the most extravagant: a falsehood whose speciousness doesn't even require any checking--at least for anyone whose memory goes back earlier than March 2003. The latest incarnation of this story appeared in January, when CBS's 60 Minutes (1/27/08) aired an interview with […]