Apr 1 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 […]

Dec 26 2008

Kali Akuno, Andy Worthington and Francesca Grifo on Bush legacy


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: December 2008 marks not just the conclusion of another calendar year, but the end of eight years of the George W. Bush administration—an era notable for, among other things, particular predations on civil liberties, the free flow of information and the public’s right to know. Other administrations have been wary of the press corps, to be sure. But it was the Bush White House whose first attorney general instructed federal agencies to drag their feet on FOIA requests; whose Defense Department orchestrated the pulling down of a statue of Saddam Hussein—supposedly by joyous Iraqis—as […]

Nov 21 2008

Kai Wright on the Proposition 8 vote, Andy Worthington on Guantánamo


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The victory of Proposition 8 in California has, at least for the moment, put the brakes on gay marriage in that state. The post-election recriminations are flying, but the main story we’re hearing is that black voters turned out in droves—to support Barack Obama, and to defeat gay marriage rights. Is that narrative correct? We’ll ask journalist Kai Wright. Also on CounterSpin today: According to the New York Times, Newsweek and NPR, for Barack Obama to keep his promise to close the Guantánamo detention camp, will be next to impossible, extremely complicated and easier […]

Sep 5 2008

Heidi Boghosian on convention protests, David Moore on polling


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Most of the coverage of the political conventions focused on what was going on inside the arenas; so what about what was happening outside? Crackdowns on protests, arrests of journalists, and pre-emptive house raids could provide a very different measure of the state of American democracy. Heidi Boghosian of the National Lawyers Guild will join us to tell us what she saw. Also on the show: A new book attests to what some have long suspected: that opinion polls can distort understanding of public opinion more than illuminate it– ginning up controversy where none […]

Jul 31 2008

CNN Scoffs at White House Critics

Anchor with Bush ties dismisses abuse-of-power hearings as 'stagecraft'

CNN‘s Election Center program devoted a July 25 report to mocking a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee investigating White House abuses of power. “Believe it or not, there was a congressional hearing today about impeaching the president,” scoffed host Campbell Brown, who added: “It was all stagecraft, though.” Brown went on to introduce the report by CNN correspondent Erica Hill by saying, “Tell us about this piece of Kabuki theater, Erica.” Hill explained: “From the beginning it was pretty clear this was all just stagecraft, for what one Republican lawmaker deemed impeachment light.” Hill underscored this notion by claiming: […]

Jul 25 2008

Michael Ratner on Ali al-Marri, Jonathan Tasini on minimum wage


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Many people have probably never heard of Ali al-Marri. A search of major media turned up a scant handful of mentions. Arrested after September 11, 2001, al-Marri was declared an enemy combatant before his trial—and he has been in a legal black hole and solitary confinement ever since. A recent court ruling upheld George Bush’s ability to detain U.S. residents or lawful immigrants as “enemy combatants”—indefinitely—without trial. If it sounds nightmarish our guest says it is. So where is the reporting on what is being called a dangerous departure from fundamental rights—not of “terrorists” […]

Jul 15 2008

Obama Moves Right? Pundits Cheer

Recent campaign coverage has scrutinized the ideological positioning of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, with corporate media reporting that he has shifted toward the center on numerous issues in order to improve his chances in the November election. While some of the “flip-flops” are debatable–with media sometimes treating longtime Obama positions as new stances–what is undeniable is that for years corporate media have advised Democratic candidates to make just this sort of ideological shift (Extra!, 9/92, 1-2/95; Extra! Update, 10/00; Extra!, 7-8/06). The shifts cited by media included clear examples of Obama switching to a more rightward position, such as […]

Jun 24 2008

Talk Show Host Calls for Murder

Michael Reagan says activist should be killed for treason

Nationally syndicated conservative radio host Michael Reagan called for the murder of a political activist on June 10. Reagan, a frequent guest on cable news shows and the son of President Ronald Reagan, singled out 9/11 activist Mark Dice by name and called several times for his assassination. (Click here to listen to a 3 minute audio clip.) Reagan had learned that political activists had reportedly been sending letters and DVDs to troops in Iraq, advancing the theory that the U.S. government had carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks. For promoting this unpopular view, the talkshow host advocated that […]