Oct
26
2004

Bush's Kerry Comments Go Unchecked

George W. Bush's new claims about Kerry "flip-flopping" on the war in Afghanistan quickly moved yesterday from the campaign trail to the nightly news. But some journalists who repeated Bush's charges made no effort to examine the truth behind Bush's claims-- claims which turn out, like many other Bush lines of attack, to be deceptive. Bush charged that while Kerry now criticizes how the administration managed the search for Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora, Kerry made comments at the time that were much different. "In the fall of 2001," Bush charged, on national TV, he said this about Tora […]

Oct
22
2004

Anne-Marie Cusac on voting rights, Dave Lindorff on the military draft

Download MP3 The election is less than two weeks away. But while media watch the candidates, who's watching the process? Allegations of voter intimidation and suppression are popping up all over-- but are the press shining a light on them or sweeping them under the rug? We'll hear from investigative reporter Anne-Marie Cusac of The Progressive magazine. Also on the show: Bush denies any possibility of a new military draft, while Kerry says there is great potential for a draft. But the draft questions didn’t spring up out of thin air. We'll talk to journalist David Lindorff, whose story Oiling […]

Oct
18
2004

Viacom Blocking Independent Political Ads

October 18, 2004 In the wake of the CEO of Viacom's declaration of support for George W. Bush, the media giant that owns both CBS and MTV Networks is refusing to air political advertising from advocacy organizations on its cable channels (MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central). The independent progressive group Compare Decide Vote produced an ad comparing the presidential candidates' policy positions on issues important to young people, which the group says was accepted for placement by MTV Network's Comedy Central. Two days later, the station rejected the ad, citing an MTV Networks policy against running advocacy ads (Washington Post, […]

Oct
15
2004

Jim Naureckas on debate fact-checking, Ben Scott on Sinclair

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: the presidential debates are history. The ratings seem to indicate that more Americans were tuning in than in recent years, so obviously the stakes are high. So how did the media do its job in sorting out truth from fiction? We'll ask FAIR's own Jim Naureckas about the fact-checking of the presidential debates. Also on the show: The largest owner of TV stations in the country is forcing its stations to carry an anti-Kerry film, in primetime, commercial-free, during the last days of the election campaign. The owner, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, says the film […]

Oct
12
2004

Sinclair's Partisan Ploy Cries Out for Equal Time

October 12, 2004 In an unprecedented move, the Republican-friendly Sinclair Broadcasting company has ordered its 62 television stations to preempt regular prime-time broadcasting to air the anti-John Kerry documentary "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" just two weeks before the election. The film is to be shown in several swing states, including Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. "Stolen Honor"-- much like the discredited Swift Boat Veterans ads-- offers unsubstantiated claims by alleged Vietnam POWs that their Vietnamese captors used Kerry's anti-war statements against them. In fact, the organization that paid for "Stolen Honor"-- called POWs for Truth-- recently merged with the […]

Oct
12
2004

MSNBC's Rightward Slant on Debate Coverage

After standing virtually alone among mainstream media outlets in declaring Dick Cheney the clear victor in his October 5 debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, MSNBC made an odd decision about its coverage of the subsequent Bush-Kerry debate: It added more conservative voices to its panel discussion. MSNBC's panel for the October 9 Bush-Kerry debate consisted of host Chris Matthews, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan and Ben Ginsberg, a Republican election lawyer who had to leave Bush's campaign when his links to anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans were revealed. Providing "balance" was Ron Reagan Jr., an […]

Sep
30
2004

Finding Fault on Both Sides Can Be False Balance

While fact-checking is an essential media function, particularly during an election year, it's a hollow exercise if journalists start with the assumption that both sides must be found equally guilty of falsehoods. It is, in fact, not always the case that both campaigns are responsible for deceptive claims to the same degree; coverage that insists on a false even-handedness, while pretending to expose political mendacity, actually gives cover for it by neutralizing criticism with the "they all do it" defense. Such coverage may protect news outlets from charges of bias, but it does a disservice to voters. This kind of […]

Sep
29
2004

Post-Debate Fact-Checking Is Media's Main Job

September 29, 2004 Who "wins" the presidential debate on Thursday may well depend on how well media do their job on Friday. In past debates, post-debate commentary has frequently focused on the candidates' style, body language and other cosmetic issues. The L.A. Times (9/29/04) suggested that these seemingly unimportant details can swing a campaign: "Who could have predicted that in 1992 the camera would catch an apparently unengaged President George H.W. Bush checking his watch during a debate with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton? (Bush lost the election.) That in 2000, Gore would be remembered for inappropriately grimacing and sighing during […]