Aug
01
2009

Letters to the Editor

9/11 Conspiracy Let me start by saying thanks for what you guys do. Of all the alt-media/info groups, FAIR is my favorite. To get quickly to the point, I’ve been introduced very recently to 9/11 conspiracy information. Let me say that I’ve never “believed” in any conspiracy whatsoever. I’ve intentionally steered clear of such things, knowing that there’s plenty of issues where there’s “no conspiracy needed,” to use the phrase, and that I’d lose all credibility with every-thing else—stances on war, poverty issues, water issues, torture issues, etc.—by even mentioning having read about such a subject. Nonetheless, it seems that […]

Aug
01
2009

Iran vs. Honduras

The Times’ selective promotion of democracy

When the results of the June 13 Iranian elections were decried as fraudulent (charges that were later backed up by a detailed study by Chatham House—6/21/09), U.S. media instantly became the champions of the oppressed Iranians who took to the streets in protest. Cries of righteous solidarity echoed from virtually all mainstream outlets, and the large demonstrations were front-page news on every newspaper in the country each day. The Islamic regime’s harsh suppression of demonstrations was rightfully the focus of prolific news coverage and vigorous editorial discussion. As the pages of the New York Times informed Americans, a “genuine democratic […]

Aug
01
2009

NYT Grades Charter Schools on the Curve

Covering the official spin on education 'reform'

There was something particularly Timesian about the New York Times’ response to an important new study on charter schools—public schools that operate under special rules, seen by some as the main engine of reform for a fundamentally dysfunctional educational system and by others as a thinly veiled effort to drain resources from existing public schools and disempower teachers’ unions. The paper demonstrated both its blinkered deference to official spin and the so-called “liberal” media’s desire to have it all ways editorially, earning conservative credits for supporting “reform” while attaching a fig leaf of concern for any harmful fallout. The peer-reviewed […]

Aug
01
2009

Ineffective--Or Illegal and Unjust?

Cuba embargo opposed as well-intentioned mistake

The handclasp between U.S. President Barack Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at the Summit of the Americas grabbed U.S. media attention in April. But at the summit itself, there was a more pressing issue: the U.S.’s nearly 50-year-old embargo against Cuba. Before the meeting, Obama had made some moves to ease its impact, including lifting travel restrictions for Americans wishing to visit family members in Cuba, and allowing them to send more remittances to the island. In so doing he hoped to avoid criticism from Latin American heads of state on the maintenance of the embargo. Many U.S. media […]

Aug
01
2009

SoundBites

Immune-From-Criticismism at the Washington Post Writing about the firing of Dan Froomkin, author of the “White House Watch” column on Washington Post.com, Post ombud Andy Alexander (6/26/09) confidently asserted that “first, it’s not about ideology”—before acknowledging that Froomkin “was urged not to do media criticism.” Clearly, though, the notion that the Post should not be subjected to criticism is a central tenet of the paper’s ideology (FAIR Action Alerts, 3/2/01, 5/2/06). Alexander also quoted with a straight face Post columnist Gene Weingarten questioning whether Froomkin “was as informed and qualified to opine as people who had been actively covering the […]

Jul
01
2009

For Media, 'Class War' Has Wealthy Victims

Rich getting richer seldom labeled as belligerents

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/eyewashdesign: A. Golden

During an ABC Nightline interview on May 21, 2003, host Ted Koppel suggested that his guest was engaging in “class warfare” by arguing that the wealthy should pay increased taxes. While the exchange was not unusual—Koppel’s use of the term “class war” to characterize bottom-up or populist economic rhetoric is the norm—what was unusual was that his guest was the second-richest man in the world, Warren Buffett. The interview is worth remembering primarily for Buffett’s commonsense response: “Well, I’ll tell you, if it’s class warfare, my class is winning.” The brief comment serves as one of the very few prominent […]

Jul
01
2009

Single-Payer & Interlocking Directorates

The corporate ties between insurers and media companies

How often are employees allowed to work on projects that might put some of the people they work for out of business? That’s the conflict of interest that journalists reporting on the healthcare reform debate are often put in by the boards of media corporations they work for, which frequently include representatives of the insurance industry. While a recent New York Times/CBS poll (6/20/09) has found yet again that the majority of Americans believe the government would both provide better coverage and keep costs lower than private insurance companies, a single-payer plan as an option for healthcare reform continues to […]

Jul
01
2009

Sotomayor vs. Bork

NYT by the Numbers

Sonia Sotomayor--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Talk Radio News Service

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Misjudging Sotomayor Coverage] Following President Barack Obama’s announcement of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for the Supreme Court, Extra! compared the New York Times National Desk’s coverage of the two weeks following Sotomayor’s nomination (5/27/09-6/10/09) to the first two weeks of coverage of Ronald Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork (7/1-14/87). Both nominations were reported as controversial—Bork’s nomination was ultimately rejected by the Senate—and the Times devoted 36 stories to Sotomayor and 25 stories to Bork in the two weeks after each pick was announced. (The paper’s coverage of Sotomayor was more […]