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 […]

Sep 01 2008

The Illusion of Immigrant Criminality

Getting the numbers wrong

Photo Credit: Democracy Now!

Immigrants aren’t a crime problem. “The foreign-born commit considerably fewer crimes than the native-born,” as President Herbert Hoover’s National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement concluded in 1931 (National Lawyers Guild Quarterly, 10/39; Immigration Policy Center, Spring/07). While noncitizens now make up more than 8 percent of the U.S. population, the available evidence indicates that they account for no more than 6 or 7 percent of the people incarcerated for crimes in the United States, less than 170,000 of the 2.3 million inmates currently in our federal, state and local penal systems–not including some 30,000 immigrants in administrative detention on […]

Mar 14 2008

Robert Dreyfuss on McCain’s foreign policy, Michael Jacobson on incarceration rates

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: You probably heard about Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s little “joke,” singing “Bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann. But our guest suggests that that incident wasn’t so much a gaffe, as a pretty clear illustration of McCain’s foreign policy vision. Robert Dreyfuss is an independent journalist, one of few who have actually examined McCain’s record and his plans on issues of international engagement. We’ll hear what he has to say. Also on the show: The number is startling: 1 in 100 adult Americans is now in jail or […]

Nov 01 2007

Enabling False Convictions

Exoneration coverage overlooks media role

“The science of DNA on Monday cleared the 200th person wrongfully convicted of a crime in the United States, a record that demands that the criminal justice system fix its serious flaws,” editorialized the Philadelphia Inquirer (4/25/07), after Jerry Miller of Illinois became an American exoneration milestone. As milestones often do, Miller’s exoneration gave the press an easy “news peg” to report on DNA testing and the troubled U.S. criminal justice system. And report they did. Most major news organizations filed at least one piece on Miller’s exoneration, with some editorializing for significant reform and others raising specific questions about […]

Jul 20 2007

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

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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 […]

Jun 15 2007

David Bryden on Bush & AIDS funding, Lew Koch on Padilla trial

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: perhaps it was because both Democrats and Republicans supported it, perhaps it was just an eagerness to tell some good news, but mainstream media were all together in cheering the Bush White House’s renewed commitment to fighting AIDS. The only trouble was, the key numbers at the center of the conversation turn out to be not as they appear. We’ll talk with David Bryden of the Global AIDS Alliance about that “Bush doubles AIDS funding” storyline. Also this week: the trial of Jose Padilla is underway, but the not-quite-a-dirty-bomber’s case is hardly getting any […]