Nov
01
2012

SoundBites

Extra! November 2012

Don’t Look to NYT  to ‘Litigate’ the Facts Margaret Sullivan, the new New York Times public editor (9/16/12), used the topic of “voter fraud” to illustrate the concept of “false balance”―when two sides are treated as equivalent even when one side has reality on its side. Despite Republican efforts to pass laws to prevent voting by the ineligible, research finds next to no examples of this problem―but coverage often treats the absence of fraudulent voting as a partisan assertion (Extra!, 10/12). While Sullivan rightly observed that “journalists need to make every effort to get beyond the spin and help readers […]

Nov
01
2012

The Need to Decode GOP's Coded Messages

The ink of racism can't be factchecked away

Mitt Romney filmed in secret at a fundraiser--Photo Credit: Mother Jones/Google Images

Lamenting the state of political writing, George Orwell once observed that “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity”: When there is “a gap between one’s real and declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” In modern politics, of course, limited media time and attention spans make no allowance for florid language, so thinly veiled appeals to racism have become the “ink” of choice. Amid the national elections, the GOP machine has been one very busy cuttlefish indeed. Most infamous is Mitt Romney’s off-the-cuff remark to millionaire […]

Oct
26
2012

The Moderators' Agendas

What was--and wasn't--asked at debates

The establishment media figures who moderated the 2012 major-party candidate debates confined the discussion to a remarkably narrow range of topics, a FAIR analysis of debate questions finds. A wide variety of topics were never brought up in questions during the six total hours of debate. Among economic subjects, no questions were asked about poverty, income inequality, the housing crisis, labor unions, agriculture or the Federal Reserve. Social issues were similarly truncated, with no questions raised about race or racism, gay rights (including marriage equality), civil liberties, criminal justice or drug legalization. Despite the fact that four Supreme Court justices […]

Oct
01
2012

Actual Suppression vs. Imaginary Fraud

Media won't ID voter ID myths

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Madison Guy

As usual, comedian Jon Stewart explained reality on a fake news show better than most "real" news outlets. On the August 16 broadcast of Comedy Central's Daily Show, Stewart imagined a world where peanut butter was treated with "huge amounts of hydrochloric acid to dissolve any potential dragon bones." Sure, people die from the acid--but the dragon bone problem is solved once and for all. That absurd metaphor was used to illustrate the wave of "voter ID" laws in states like Pennsylvania--where, as Stewart put it, the possible disenfranchisement of over 700,000 legal Pennsylvania voters is "the price you pay to prevent something that doesn't […]

Oct
01
2012

SoundBites

Extra! October 2012 Volume 25, Number 10

Deep Throat Not What He Used to Be The Washington Post’s Dan Balz (8/14/12) somehow convinced a “senior Romney advisor” to reveal a stunning secret that could only be disclosed “on the condition of anonymity”—that Mitt Romney felt good about his vice presidential pick: “He was very confident in himself, in Paul Ryan, in the campaign and in the direction of the campaign he wanted to take.” Believe it or not, the Post’s Felicia Sonmez (8/17/12) topped this scoop by talking to “a senior Republican adviser”—no doubt in a deserted parking garage—who admitted anonymously that Ryan likes Romney too: “He […]

Oct
01
2012

Guide to Election Coverage 2012

Tropes, tricks and tics of campaign journalism

Every four years, U.S. media spend untold time and energy covering the presidential campaign. And every election cycle there are certain media themes that keep coming back. Extra! has compiled a guide to the most popular recurring tropes, as well as some new additions to keep an eye on in 2012. Candidate Caricatures In 2008, journalists gave us McCain the maverick vs. Obama the snob (Extra!, 5–6/08, 7–8/08): easily digestible caricatures that the candidates’ every action could be forced into. It didn’t matter that McCain toed the party line more than your average Republican, or that Obama’s middle-class, community activist […]

Sep
21
2012

Vijay Prashad on "Muslim Rage," Imara Jones on 47 percent and race

newsweek-rage2

This week on CounterSpin: In the wake of the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and angry demonstrations in several other Muslim countries, corporate media are largely fingering religious differences and the peculiarities of Islam as the reason.

May
04
2012

Jonathan Chait on Paul Ryan, Brentin Mock on vote fraud

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, we're told over and over again, is a serious budget wonk on a mission to reduce the deficit. Not quite, says New York magazine reporter Jonathan Chait. He argues that Paul Ryan's political history doesn't really resemble the Paul Ryan you hear about in the media. He'll join us to talk about that. Also on CounterSpin today, Voter fraud is almost non-existent in the U.S. but conservatives continue to brandish it as a major threat, in order to advance voting policies that many say threaten democracy. Brentin Mock is the […]