Dec 1 2012

Media Laugh Off Criticism of Drug War

Journalists make pot jokes while victims suffer

Partnership for a Drug-Free America's famous 1987 anti-drug ad

To those of a certain age, the image of eggs sizzling in a frying pan instantly evokes the Partnership For a Drug-Free America’s 1987 “this is your brain on drugs” ad. But any group that wanted to draw attention to drug use in the 1980s and ’90s didn’t really need to buy ad space; media coverage was already saturated with sensationalized reporting on crack cocaine and other drugs (Extra!, 9/92). This plentiful drug coverage served to support U.S. government policy, encouraging public embrace of a heavy-handed crack-down that began under President Richard Nixon and was expanded by Ronald Reagan. Government […]

Sep 1 2012

Radicals, Terrorists and Traffickers–Oh My

Creating a potpourri of enemies south of the border

Rafael Correa--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador

In May, a New York Times story (5/6/12) discussed plans to militarize the U.S. presence in Latin America. For some, this might sound redundant, given U.S. history in the region. Others might be struck by the notion that a nation embroiled in two major wars–and threatening to start another–could find the resources to escalate efforts south of its border. The article, which focused on U.S. efforts to strengthen its anti-drug campaign in Honduras, provided a glimpse of the evolution of the U.S. military’s role in the world as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down. That role, the Times […]

Apr 2 2010

Alfred McCoy on Afghanistan, Richard Kim on The Mad Tea Party

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The DEA made a high profile announcement of massive seizures of opium in Afghanistan, reminding us of the centrality of opium production to the country’s economy. But most stories on the occupation and on Afghan ‘hearts and minds’ include marginal mention of the narcotic. How would really understanding the role of opium shift our understanding of US policy in Afghanistan? We’ll hear from historian Alfred McCoy, author of the classic The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, now updated as The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. Also on CounterSpin […]

Aug 14 2009

Trudy Lieberman on healthcare reform, Gary Schwitzer on health news study

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Healthcare reform is still the top political story of the moment. But the coverage seems to have gone from bad to worse, with noisy town hall meetings standing in the way of any coherent discussion of the dysfunctional healthcare system in this country, and what can be done about it. Trudy Lieberman has been watching healthcare coverage for Columbia Journalism Review; she’ll join us to talk about what she’s found. Also on CounterSpin today: An ongoing review of network morning news coverage of health issues finds a dangerous pattern of coverage providing faulty information, […]

May 1 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 […]

Mar 20 2009

Robert Johnson on AIG bonuses, Laura Carlsen on Mexican drug wars

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The AIG executive bonuses account for less than one percent of the money taxpayers are turning over to the insurance giant in the largest of the corporate bailouts. But it’s the bonus story that has riveted the public attention and outrage. We’ll talk to Robert Johnson, formerly the managing director at Soros Funds Management and chief economist of the Senate Banking Committee, about AIG and the power of the bonuses story. Also on the show: CNN has been telling viewers that “regardless of where you are in the country,” that’s this country, the war […]

Oct 1 2007

City of Terror

Painting Paraguay's 'casbah' as terror central

When we arrived in Ciudad del Este, we were petrified. After all, we were in the Paraguayan city known in the American press as a “Jungle Hub for World’s Outlaws” (L.A. Times, 8/24/98), and a “hotbed” “teeming with Islamic extremists and their sympathizers” (New York Times, 12/15/02). The U.S. media’s portrayal of this city, the center of a zone on the frontiers of Argentina and Brazil known as the Tri-Border Area, left us expecting to see cars bombs exploding, terrorists training and American flags burning. We soon realized that picture painted by U.S. media was inaccurate. In the Cold War, […]

Mar 1 2007

Media on Medicare

Don’t mess with success—or corporate profits

With the new Democratic Congress promising to let the Medicare prescription drug program negotiate lower prices from drug companies, those companies have gotten their friends in the media to find some reason—any reason—why this would be a bad idea. The Washington Post, happy to defend corporate profits, declared in the lead paragraph of a front-page November 26 article that Democrats were in danger of “wrecking a program that has proven cheaper and more popular than anyone imagined.” “Anyone” clearly doesn’t include Congress, which barely passed the program in 2003 based on the White House’s 10-year cost projection of less than […]