Apr
01
2013

Letters to the Editor

'Rising Standard' in Venezuela? Extra! (Soundbites, 3/13) disparages Jon Lee Anderson’s article in the New Yorker by ignoring the fact that the New Yorker is not in the business of stretching the truth and is known for very thorough factchecking. I have always had a great deal of respect for the New Yorker, as I do Extra!. You mention a “rapidly rising standard of living” in Venezuela. That may be true, or it may not be true, but it is definitely not rising rapidly for everyone, as you can see from reading Anderson’s article, which tells of a nightmare existence […]

Apr
01
2013

In Death as in Life, Chavez Target of Media Scorn

His independence, help for Venezuela's poor will not be forgiven

Venezuela’s left-wing populist President Hugo Chávez died on Tuesday, March 5, after a two-year battle with cancer. If world leaders were judged by the sheer volume of corporate media vitriol and misinformation about their policies, Chávez would be in a class of his own. Shortly after Chávez won his first election in 1998, the U.S. government deemed him a threat to U.S. interests—an image U.S. media eagerly played up. When a coup engineered by Venezuelan business and media elites removed Chávez from power, many leading U.S outlets praised the move (Extra!, 6/02). The New York Times (4/13/02), calling it a […]

Apr
01
2013

Soundbites April 2013

Spinning the Sequester  "Sequester Spin Gets Ahead of Reality" was the headline on a Washington Post piece (2/28/13) that cautioned that "no one really knows how bad things are likely to get" if the forced budget cuts go through. Take claims about, say, teacher layoffs with a grain of salt, the Post advised, and remember that state and local governments could "shift money around" to blunt the impact on, for instance, the Meals on Wheels program that delivers food to the homebound elderly. The paper's Karen Tumulty and Lyndsey Layton explained that such concerns mainly reflect "the impulse of officials […]

Apr
01
2013

Year of the Woman, Take Two

Media define 'progress' as 1 Senate seat in 5

If you relied on major media outlets for coverage of last November’s elections, you could be forgiven for thinking women were poised to rule the country in 2013. “From Congress to Halls of State... Women Rule,” the New York Times (1/1/13) trumpeted. “Big Gains for Women in 2012,” shouted CNN (11/7/12). “113th Congress Welcomes Benches Full of Women,” PBS (11/16/12) declared. Salon (11/6/12) was confidently matter-of-fact—“Another Year of the Woman”—as was Mother Jones (11/6/12): “2012: The Year of the Woman Senator.” MSNBC (“Is 2012 the Year of the Woman?,” 3/15/12) and the Washington Post (“With Senate Wins for Elizabeth Warren […]

Apr
01
2013

Keeping the Government's Secrets

Official/press collusion to keep public uninformed

Secrets and censorship, a redacted CIA document--Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Withholding important news over supposed national security concerns is nothing new. And in many cases, no official request is even needed—the decision-makers seem to have internalized the notion that keeping the government’s secrets is part of their job.

Apr
01
2013

Celebrating French Intervention in Mali

Media overlooked role of 'War on Terror' in sparking crisis

Ali Ould Ahmed, Malian refugee, in Mentao camp, Burkina Faso: "The intervention of the French army has accelerated our departure, because we are convinced that the Islamists, after losing the battle against the French army, will retreat into the villages and they could kill people."

The French military commenced Operation Serval against separatist rebels in Northern Mali on January 11, 2013. The air and ground intervention was undertaken with the cooperation and support of the United States, as well as several European and African states. U.S. press reporting has provided a simplistic account of the intervention as a heroic effort to protect the civilized world against Islamic terrorist threats. What is missing from this image is how the past interventions of the “War on Terror” helped cause the Malian crisis in the first place. A Washington Post editorial (1/12/13) claimed the French were simply trying […]

Apr
01
2013

It's Only the Future of the Planet

Keystone coverage treats climate change as at best a side issue

Tar Sands--Photo Credit: Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

Issues like oil spills, land use rights, groundwater pollution etc. are all complaints made by critics of the Keystone XL pipeline. And looming over all of them is the way that tapping the tar sands will exacerbate climate change. But the media doesn't seem to care.

Apr
01
2013

Joe Biden, Aesthetic Populist

A track record of screwing the little guy

Biden breaking from Secret Service to shake NBC's Al Roker's hand during the 2013 inaugural parade.--Photo Credit: NBC

Joe Biden’s popularity stems from his perception of “folksiness.” In reality, though, Biden’s record is anything but working class–friendly.