Jan 28 2005

Phyllis Bennis on Bush’s inauguration speech, Bob McChesney on Michael Powell

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: presidential inaugurations offer the press corps a chance to chatter on about lavish dinners and expensive parties. This year was no different. But considerable attention was paid to George W. Bush’s speech, where he vowed to spread freedom and liberty to all corners of the world. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies joins us to examine the speech, and the media reaction to it. Also this week: Michael Powell’s announced departure as FCC chair might be cause for celebration for activists who opposed his pro-industry policies and disdain for media democracy and […]

Jan 1 2005

The Emperor’s New Hump

The New York Times killed a story that could have changed the election—because it could have changed the election

In the weeks leading up to the November 2 election, the New York Times was abuzz with excitement. Besides the election itself, the paper’s reporters were hard at work on two hot investigative projects, each of which could have a major impact on the outcome of the tight presidential race. One week before Election Day, the Times (10/25/04) ran a hard-hitting and controversial exposé of the Al-Qaqaa ammunition dump—identified by U.N. inspectors before the war as containing 400 tons of special high-density explosives useful for aircraft bombings and as triggers for nuclear devices, but left unguarded and available to insurgents […]

Jan 1 2005

Suppressing the Vote, Suppressing the News

Stories on pre-election manipulation took false balance to absurd lengths

In the run-up to the pivotal 2004 presidential election, reports of an unprecedented flood of new voter registrations (especially in electoral vote-rich swing states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania) filled papers and newscasts in local media and the national mainstream press. But looming over this exercise in democracy was the shadow of the disputed 2000 election. Irregularities were alleged among some of the new registrations—such as multiple forms bearing the same name, or monikers like “Jive Turkey”—prompting pledges to purge the rolls and even challenge specific voters at the polls on November 2. There were also reports of flyers and […]

Jan 1 2005

‘You Can’t Just Say the President Is Lying’

The limits of honesty in the mainstream press

George W. Bush (photo: White House/Eric Draper)

Audience Member: I was wondering if you felt there was a difference between balanced reporting and objective reporting? And the thing that kind of sticks in my mind frequently is when President Bush on the stump would frequently pull out the “global test” that John Kerry mentioned in the debate, but he would completely twist the meaning of the whole phrase around. . . . Essentially, what I feel like was a lie that the president just stated . . . was never objectively reported on. . . . Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times): Yeah, this was an issue we […]

Jan 1 2005

With Respect to Mary Cheney

Pundits use Kerry’s lesbian “gaffe” to rewrite debate

Media have a funny way of rewriting the history of presidential debates. After the first debate in 2000, all five network polls that night showed most viewers agreeing that Vice President Al Gore had beaten George W. Bush (Daily Howler, 8/19/04). But as the debate worked its way through the media echo chamber, the outcome quickly morphed into the story of Gore’s exasperated sighs and unlikeability, and an event that initially seemed like a victory for Gore had suddenly become a serious liability. Fast-forward to 2004. On October 13, after the third and final presidential debate, all the immediate polls […]

Dec 31 2004

Best of CounterSpin 2004

Download MP3 On this special CounterSpin program we’ll take a look back at some of the stories of the past year, hearing from just some of the range of journalists, activists, researchers and critics that joined us on the program, to help us decipher those stories, as well as to talk about the way those stories were covered and what that said about journalism. The continued violent occupation of Iraq, despite what was called a “handover of power” in June, is so dangerous to cover that many journalists never seem to leave the Green Zone, yet the Bush White House […]

Dec 1 2004

Kerry’s Final ‘Flip-Flop’

The Bush campaign’s accusations of John Kerry’s “flip-flopping” were, for the most part, uncritically echoed by a media not prepared to challenge Bush’s misleading rhetoric. The media’s rule seemed to be that journalists could not accuse Bush of deception without finding a balancing example–however trivial or far-fetched–of Kerry stretching the truth (FAIR Action Alert, 9/3/04). Figuring out that the media were thus giving him carte blanche to fabricate as much as he wanted to, Bush stepped up his game in the final days of the campaign, discovering new instances of Kerry shifting his position on the war in Afghanistan. Kerry […]

Nov 12 2004

Rick Perlstein on ‘moral values,’ Richard Garfield on Iraq’s civilian casualties

Download MP3 By now you know the conventional media wisdom on how Bush won the election: voters put ‘moral values’ above all else, and that swung the vote in Bush’s favor. But is that analysis correct? And what does this quick conclusion about the American electorate mean for the media? We’ll ask Rick Perlstein of the Village Voice about that. Also on the program: Listeners may recall the pronouncement by General Tommy Franks that “we don’t do body counts.” That attitude explains why the Pentagon isn’t releasing figures on Iraqi civilian casualties; but what’s the media’s excuse? We’ll talk about […]