Feb
01
2011

When Journalism Becomes 'Terrorism'

The dangerous sport of calling WikiLeaks names

“Let me be very clear,” declared Sen. John Ensign (R.-Nev.), “WikiLeaks is not a whistleblower website and [Julian] Assange is not a journalist.” Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin concurred: “Assange is not a ‘journalist,’ any more than the ‘editor’ of Al-Qaeda’s new English-language magazine Inspire is a ‘journalist,’” she wrote on her Facebook page, adding that the WikiLeaks founder was “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” who should be “pursued with the same urgency we pursue Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Meet the Press, 12/5/10) likewise dubbed Assange a “high-tech terrorist”—a designation endorsed by […]

May
14
2010

Glenn Greenwald and Marjorie Cohn on the Elena Kagan nomination

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Barack Obama has announced his pick for Supreme Court justice—former Harvard Law School dean and Solicitor General Elena Kagan. And the media debates have begun: about her record, her credentials and her likely impact on the court. We'll sort through some of what you're hearing and perhaps what you aren't hearing in a conversation with court watchers Glenn Greenwald, of Salon.com and author and law professor Marjorie Cohn. That's coming up but first, as usual, we'll take a look back at the week's press. —With a story like the ongoing environmental disaster in the […]

May
01
2010

Dissent an Olympic Non-Event

Vancouver protests give way to games as 'unifying force'

Alissa Westergard-Thorpe--Photo Credit: Straight.com

For many people, the Olympics rank high on the Happy Meter, right up there with cuddly kittens and free beer. But those who take a closer look at the Olympics’ political-economic underbelly often end up seeing less feline and more freight train, a corporate juggernaut whizzing through town at taxpayer expense and leaving public debt and social dislocation in its wake. Early on, activists in Vancouver, Canada, identified the perils of the Olympic industrial complex, beginning their organizing even before the city was granted the bid by the International Olympic Committee in 2003. Anti-Olympic activists put forth spirited, wide-ranging criticism: […]

Jan
01
2010

Freedom Forum CEO Tied to For-Profit Prisons

An advocate for--and against--freedom of information

Al Neuharth (cc photo: Scott Henrichsen/Knight Foundation)

Charles Overby has a foot planted firmly in two very different worlds. In one, he is a champion of the free press. In the other, he is part of a group at the helm of a corporation that has worked hard to limit freedom of information and the ability of the press to inform the public. In one world, Overby is chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, a foundation created by former USA Today publisher Al Neuharth, and its Newseum—located on Pennsylvania Avenue, blocks from the Smithsonian and the Capitol, and which literally has the First Amendment etched onto […]

May
01
2009

When the White House Says Hush

Treating the ‘state secrets privilege’ as classified information

When Barack Obama’s Justice Department announced that it was taking the exact same position as the George W. Bush administration on the state secrets privilege (New York Times, 2/10/09), many civil liberties experts were alarmed. Many avid news consumers, on the other hand, were asking themselves: What’s the state secrets privilege? Even on the rare occasions when corporate media mention this legal gambit, they don’t always get it right. A USA Today op-ed (7/5/06) described it like this: “The military and state secret privilege requires a court to dismiss a lawsuit just because the president says it involves important secrets.” […]

Apr
24
2009

Glenn Greenwald on torture, Rose Aguilar on tent cities

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: While it’s pretty clear that Bush-era torture occurred, and that U.S. and international treaties oblige the U.S. to investigate, the hot media discussion centers not on when investigations will begin, but on whether President Barack Obama—not the Justice Department—thinks they should go forward. We’ll talk to Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com about the torture story. Also on CounterSpin today: Media are flocking to so-called tent cities to try and put a human face on the recession and housing crisis. That sounds laudable, but are the media getting the story wrong? We'll talk to journalist Rose […]

Apr
01
2009

Dangerous Revisionism Over Guantánamo

Citing dirty evidence to defend dubious detentions

On the eve of the 2008 presidential election, the New York Times (11/3/08) published a front-page article headlined “Next President Will Face Test on Detainees,” which attempted to highlight the problems that Barack Obama will face in pursuing his pledge to close the Guantánamo prison camp. “The next president will have to contend with sobering intelligence claims against many of the remaining detainees,” reporters William Glaberson and Margot Williams warned, picking out examples from the cases of some of the 255 prisoners who are still held at the prison. Unfortunately, the quality of the supposed evidence against the Guantánamo prisoners […]

Apr
01
2009

Hate Speech, Media Activism and the First Amendment

Putting a spotlight on dehumanizing language

In just over a month last winter, two Latino men were beaten to death in New York state while their attackers shouted racial slurs and epithets (Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/25/09). Such hate crimes, motivated by anti-immigrant prejudice and other bigotries, have spurred a media justice campaign to reveal the potential human costs of hate speech. When the FBI reported that hate crimes against Hispanics had increased by an astonishing 40 percent between 2003 and 2007 (FBI: Hate Crime Statistics, 2003 and 2007), UCLA professor Chon Noriega began to ask “whether the media plays a role in the persistence of hate speech […]