May 1 1998

Shams and Triumphs

The New York Times follows the official line on international elections

In an editorial on “Election Risks in Cambodia” (11/28/97), the New York Times warned that “flawed elections are worse than none,” and that “the international community must proceed cautiously, lest a rigged election give Mr. Hun Sen a veneer of legitimacy.” Similarly, in writing on “Kenya’s Flawed Election” (12/31/97), the Times‘ editors noted that “holding elections is not enough to assure demo­cratic government,” pointing specifical­ly to the need for “an independent elec­toral commission less bound to political parties” and “independent broadcast media, allowing opposition voices to be heard outside election periods.” These are very good points, but regrettably the New […]

May 1 1994

Look for the Corporate Label

When citing the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, mainstream journalists often affix the label “union-backed” or “labor-supported” (e.g. New York Times, 3/13/94). By contrast, these reporters rarely if ever refer to the American Enterprise Institute as “corporate-backed” or “business-supported.” (A search on the Nexis database turned up 73 instances where major papers use such labels with EPI, whereas similar terms were used with AEI–which is cited far more frequently–only 4 times.) As it happens, only about a quarter of EPI’s money comes from labor, whereas more than half of AEI’s funding comes from corporations and corporate foundations. […]

Nov 1 1993

The Selling of Savimbi

Book Review

The Cold War Guerilla: Jonas Savimbi, the U.S. Media and the Angolan War By Elaine Windrich (Greenwood Press) Elaine Windrich dedicates her book to “the Angolan vic­tims of the Reagan Doc­trine,” whose numbers con­tinue to escalate as “freedom fighter” Jonas Savimbi ravages the country after refusing to abide by the re­sults of a U.N.-organized election. Meanwhile the West looks the other way, after having armed him in the al­leged interest of “bringing the Angolan government to the bargaining table.” The Cold War Guerilla is about the selling of Savimbi to the U.S. public from 1976 through 1990, a joint effort […]

Oct 1 1991

Balance a Foreign Concept in International News

When reading U.S. news coverage of international affairs, it pays to be alert, skeptical and familiar with alternative news sources. The mainstream media present the news with great assurance and glibness, moving together in the solid phalanx known as “pack journalism,” so their choices and formulations of the news seem natural and inevitable, even when their bias is extreme. Selecting What’s News Perhaps the most important source of bias is the hidden and implicit political basis of what is “newsworthy.” These choices often reflect a fairly mechanical transmission of what the government chooses to emphasize. This, the crackdown on the […]