Feb
01
2010

Voices from the Hellmouth

For convict journalists, freedom of the press is not so black and white

On January 31, 2009, John Dannenberg, Prison Legal News’ California correspondent, was released from California State Prison, San Quentin, where he had spent the past 23 years serving a life sentence for murder. Although by Dannenberg’s recollection he has written more than 1,000 articles for PLN since he began working with the publication in 2000, the majority of his writing does not bear his name. As a prisoner, anonymity was a condition of Dannenberg’s role as a journalist—something he learned with his first PLN story. “I had written something that was uncomplimentary about the guards’ union and somebody apparently on […]

Jan
15
2010

Bill Fletcher on Haiti, Beau Hodai on Charles Overby

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Haiti's status as the poorest nation in the hemisphere has been mentioned time and again by journalists covering the current catastrophe, but where were journalists before the earthquake hit? And how are they doing in explaining the larger context of how Haiti got to this point? We'll talk to Bill Fletcher, former president of TransAfrica Forum and executive editor of The Black Commentator. Also on the show: Charles Overby is CEO of the Freedom Forum, a foundation ostensibly dedicated to principles of free speech and a free press. He's also a director and shareholder […]

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 […]

Aug
28
2009

Spencer Ackerman on CIA torture documents, Ed Herman on Lockerbie

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: A few months ago it seemed like Dick Cheney wouldn't get off your television screen, insisting that secret CIA documents would prove that Bush torture policies saved the United States from further terrorist attacks. Well those documents have surfaced, along with a 2004 CIA inspector general's report. So what's in these documents? And has Cheney been vindicated? We'll speak with reporter Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent about that. Also on CounterSpin today, "Outrageous and disgusting" is how White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs described scenes in Tripoli where Abdel al-Megrahi was greeted on his […]

Jul
03
2009

Greg Grandin on Honduras coup, Nomi Prins on Madoff verdict

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Coverage of the Honduran coup ousting president Manuel Zelaya has often included the claim that the coup was prompted by Zelaya’s move to change the constitution, so that he could stay in power. The fact that this central claim is untrue shows how confusing that coverage can be. We’ll talk to New York University Latin American history professor Greg Grandin about the real reasons certain sectors of Honduran society wanted Zelaya out of the picture. Also on the show: The sentence of 150 years for convicted Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff is gratifying on […]

May
01
2009

Marketing the Media's 'Toughest Sheriff'

Joe Arpaio hyped by cable, exposed by locals

The East Valley Tribune’s Pulitzer-winning series (7/9-13/08) exposing the soaring crime rates that followed from Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s redeployment of law enforcement resources into a campaign against undocumented immigrants (see Extra! 6/1/09) offers a fine example of journalism holding the powerful to account. It’s a model of journalism that has been all too rare in much of the news coverage of the official who—often with the help of cable news outlets—markets himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” Under Arpaio’s leadership, Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metropolitan area, has faced record numbers of lawsuits and has had to […]

May
01
2009

A Dishonest Villain's Worst Garbage

Editor's Note

Fox News' O'Reilly Factor has become notorious for its ambinterviews of those who cross host Bill O'Reilly. The best-known recent example was Factor producer Jesse Waters' trailing Amanda Terkel, managing editor at Think Progress, for two hours across Virginia to badger her about a blog post she had written. Terkel's post (3/1/09) had noted that the Fox host was speaking at a fundraiser for a foundation for rape survivors, then quoted O'Reilly's suggestion (Radio Factor, 8/2/06) that a "moronic" rape/murder victim had invited assault by drinking and dressing provocatively. Terkel let the quote speak for itself; the most critical thing […]

May
01
2009

Does Violence 'Spill Over' or Come Home to Roost?

The U.S. media and the Mexican drug conflict

Protest against violence caused by the drug war.--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Fronteras Desk

From the New York Times to Fox News, corporate media interest in Mexico’s drug-related violence has risen recently to an almost fever pitch. Initially this was a welcome sign: U.S. media were finally taking notice of a security and political crisis that had been festering for years, and seemingly worsening by the day, right at “our doorstep.” What has emerged, however, is a portrait of Mexico as an out-of-control orgy of violence at the hands of the narco-trafficking cartels, criminal organizations that annually feed billions of dollars worth of drugs to consumers in the United States. Realities on the ground—and […]