Sep
01
2001

When a Media Mogul Runs the State

U.S. press unconcerned about fascist ties of Italy's Berlusconi

It's no great wonder that much of the Italian media did not report critically on the electoral campaign of multi-billionaire Silvio Berlusconi. After all, he owns Italy's three main private TV networks and other major media outlets. But what excuse does the U.S. press have for its flaccid coverage of Berlusconi, Italy's richest man, who is now prime minister of that country's 59th government since World War II? U.S. journalists repeatedly refer to the Italian TV tycoon as a "self-made" success story. George Will called the Italian TV tycoon a "gaudy self-creation" (Newsweek, 5/21/01) and a Scripps Howard editorial (5/15/01) […]

Mar
01
2000

As Europe's Far Right Surged, U.S. Press Shrugged

Playing down the fascist ties of Austria's Haider

The electoral breakthrough of the extreme-right Austrian Freedom Party—which came in a close sec­ond with more than a quarter of the vote in that country's national elec­tions last October—generated front-page coverage in most European news­papers. Editorial commentary empha­sized the importance of keeping the Freedom Party, led by Jörg Haider, from joining a new governing coalition. (Despite threats of siplomatic sanc­tions, the Freedom Party did form a governing coalition with the Austrian People's Party in February.) The Times of London (10/4/99) warned that "Haider's result has thrown [Austrian] politics into turmoil, frightened investors and brought closer to power the largest and […]

Mar
01
1999

Something Stinks

Francophobia at the New York Times

For the Times of London and the Times of New York, it is still quite proper to say the natives stink-- provided they are French. When French soap merchants followed the lead of ours to persuade their public that it had B.O., the Timeses were happy to confirm it. The one in London (11/21/98) whinnied: "It's True!: The French Really Are the Smelliest in Europe." In fragrant New York, it was "Hygiene Poll Bares Source of the French Je Sais Quoi" (11/24/98). Craig Whitney's lead chortled: "The French invented perfume because they had to. In the 17th Century, even Louis […]

Sep
01
1993

Importing British Censorship from Northern Ireland

An executive order bans from the BBC's airwaves direct statements by members and apparent sympathizers of groups the British government considers "terrorists." The broadcast ban was applied to three legal organizations, including one whose president was elected member of the British Parliament. When soliciting pledges, U.S. public TV and radio hosts often boast about the British news programming that they bring to U.S. airwaves. What they don't say is that such programming sometimes comes with British censorship. The British Broadcasting Corporation is a fully funded government agency, with a board of directors appointed by the Queen (under government recommenda­tion). No […]

May
01
1990

Northern Ireland from London's Perspective

In October 1988, British Home Secretary Douglas Hurd announced a ban on broadcasting statements by members or appar­ent sympathizers of eleven political and paramilitary organizations (three of them legal). "This is not censorship," Hurd announced. Affected journalists tried to adapt to the new conditions. Some news reports in Britain and Ireland now declare that stories have been affected by govern­ment restrictions. Silent images of for­bidden speakers appear with their words subtitled or dubbed in by an announcer. But as East German writer Christa Wolf once said, the government censor you can escape; it's the censor in your head you have […]

Mar
01
1989

U.S. Media on a Terrorist Tirade

No sooner was it established that Pan Am Flight 103 had been destroyed by a bomb than the U.S. media went into its predictable ritual. Journalists prepared President Reagan and President-elect Bush with all the usual questions: How can we bring terrorists to justice? Will we retaliate against any country harboring those responsible for bombing passenger planes? Reagan and Bush responded with the expected tough-sounding rhetoric, Reagan: "We're going to make every effort to find out who was guilty of this savage thing and bring them to justice." Bush pledged to "seek hard and punish firmly, decisively, those who did […]