May
01
2012

Letters to the Editor

Extra! April 2012

Journalists, Teachers and the War for Truth Journalists like Robert Jensen certainly do “rock” (Extra!, 3/12) but like we teachers are caught between that and a hard place. After 25 years of teaching “in the trenches,” I’ve always understood how the war for truth goes: Journalists are in the front lines and we teachers are the support troops. Both of our professions are fighting for truth in a world filled with lies and, as always in war, truth is the first casualty. Ray Peterson Buffalo, N.Y. Kettle Owes Pot Apology In the April 2011 edition of Extra!, a Soundbites piece […]

May
01
2012

Soundbites

April 2012

Mostly Ridiculous Many observers wrote off PolitiFact, a group that claims to rate the relative accuracy of political claims, when it declared (12/20/11) that the “Lie of the Year” in 2011 was a statement—”Republicans voted to end Medicare” —that was actually true (Political Animal, 12/20/11). The group provided more evidence that it has jumped the shark when it evaluated Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s claim that “the majority of Americans are conservatives.” PolitiFact Florida (2/14/12) cited Gallup polls showing that 40 percent of Americans describe themselves as conservative—and, based on this, declared Rubio’s statement to be “Mostly True.” The group’s Bill […]

Apr
01
2012

Right and Early

Sunday morning shows are GOP TV

Bob Schieffer--Photo Credit: Michael Foley

If the Sunday morning TV chat shows seem like a sea of Republican politicians and conservative spinners lately, it’s not your imagination. While you might expect to see a lot of Republican candidates and their surrogates in the thick of a Republican primary contest, the four Sunday morning talk shows—ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday—have been extraordinarily friendly terrain for the right, as a new FAIR study documents. Evaluating the guest lists for the eight months from June 2011 through February 2012, FAIR found a distinct conservative skew in both one-on-one […]

Apr
01
2012

12th Annual Fear & Favor Review

Power and profit continue to twist the news

At a mandatory-attendance office party celebrating his first year as publisher, the Daytona Beach News Journal’s Michael Redding announced a new idea over marble cake and fruit: The paper’s newsroom staff, including reporters and editors, should also start selling advertising and subscriptions (Flagler Live, 3/31/11). Redding offered incentives to staffers who haven’t had a raise in four years: a $25 bonus for selling a three-month subscription, $50 for selling $100 worth of ads. This bold contempt for the idea that journalists should be insulated against the explicitly profit-motivated side of media is every day more prevalent. For every journalist who […]

Apr
01
2012

Losing Patients

Making Medicare a story about doctors—not those they treat

Photo Credit: thinkprogress.org

For the elderly and disabled, catching up on the daily news during the latest Beltway brinkmanship—the deal to extend payroll tax cuts, unemployment benefits and current Medicare doctor fees—could be an exercise in frustration. Dodging persistent (and justified) rumors of forthcoming Medicare cutbacks, politicians and the medical lobby controlled coverage of 2012’s first serious budget debate, while the 47.5 million dependents of that program were left to eavesdrop from the wings. Lack of press scrutiny during the scramble for a payroll tax compromise meant typical Medicare users learned nothing about billions of dollars in program reductions slipped into the package […]

Apr
01
2012

Women's Bodies, Men's Voices

All-male contraception debates signal rollback of reproductive rights

Photo Credit: L.A. Times

In mid-February, Congress convened an all-male panel to discuss “religious freedom” (read: birth control), and rejected a woman who attempted to testify. The next day, a gaggle of only men appeared on the MSNBC talkshow Morning Joe (2/17/12) to consider the atrocity of an all-male panel weighing women’s reproductive rights. The irony was lost on the fellas, but not on this broad, though I did consider asking four celibate men to write this column for me while I blushed demurely in the corner every time the word “contraception” was mentioned. Then I remembered it’s not 1950. Here’s what’s really got […]

Apr
01
2012

Top Op-Ed Pages Offer Choice of Elites

On reigning issues, convergent perspectives

While it would be naive to accept the newspaper business’s implication that it keeps its news entirely factual by segregating opinion to its own section, the op-ed pages do state opinion more explicitly and help make visible the range of opinions allowed in the rest of the paper. What kind of writers do the major papers put on their staff? Who gets to speak on these pages, and who gets left out? Extra! looked at the writers represented on the op-ed pages of three major, nationally significant newspapers: the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The time […]