Aug 1 2010

Who Gets to Review and Be Reviewed?

Authors, book critics drawn from narrow pool

When it comes to political books, the New York Times Book Review and the C-SPAN book show After Words share an exceedingly narrow view of whose books deserve review—and who is fit to discuss them. A FAIR study found that these important media venues for discussion of newly published books were overwhelmingly dominated by white and male authors, reviewers and interviewers. FAIR’s study examined every episode of After Words from March 2008 to January 2010, and the reviews of politically themed books in the New York Times Book Review from January 2009 to February 2010. In total, the study counted […]

Aug 1 2010

Stolen Books

Great works that should belong to you but don’t

Think of the great robbery teams: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid…Bonnie and Clyde…Bill Clinton and Orrin Hatch? Yes, Clinton and Hatch pulled off one of the greatest robberies of all time—stealing billions of dollars worth of cultural treasures from the public for the benefit of corporations via the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act—written by Sen. Hatch (R.-Utah) and signed into law by President Clinton in 1998. (The bill was given the name of the variety show host-turned-lawmaker after he died in a skiing accident.) Roughly speaking, the Bono Act lengthened copyright terms by 20 years: New corporate works […]

Aug 1 2010


Newsweek Blames the ‘Left’ for Bush-Era Disasters Jon Meacham’s editor’s note in the June 7 Newsweek, looking back on the failures of the last decade, made a fervently centrist point: “The history of these years fails to fit neatly into the ideological categories of left or right, for both public and private enterprises have managed to miss the mark in hours of crisis. Government is not the root of all evil; neither are corporations.” His examples: From the financial sector to the Roman Catholic Church, it has been a bad couple of years for—to borrow a phrase from a BP […]

Aug 1 2010

Letters to the Editor

‘Progressive Farmer’ an Agri-Business Front I am from Blair, Nebraska, a short 10-minute drive from Omaha. When I read the letter (6/10) from Todd Neeley, “staff reporter for DTN/The Progressive Farmer; A Telvent Brand,” I was amazed to find this person and organization treated as if they were somewhat as claimed. Todd Neeley should be listed as a propagandist for the ethanol industry along with his so-called organization “The Progressive Farmer.” When he takes you to task for your reporting on ethanol and agriculture he is siding not with “progressive” farmers but with Agri-Business, which has a huge stake in […]

Aug 1 2010

Honduras Down the Memory Hole

U.S. media ignore the aftermath of dubious elections they praised

Manuel Zelaya--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/     Presidencia de la República del Ecuador

A year after a military coup removed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from office, Hondurans are still living under a repressive government—but the U.S. is pushing Latin American countries to join it in normalizing relations with the regionally ostracized nation. Reporting from a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), the New York Times (6/8/10) dutifully relayed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assertion that “we saw the free and fair election of President [Porfirio] Lobo,’’ noting on the other hand that “several foreign ministers inveighed against Mr. Lobo’s government, which they said had violated human rights.” The Times left […]

Aug 1 2010

Writing a Villain’s Role for Amazon

A sinister plot to sell e-books for less

E-book skullduggery is afoot, warned New York Times reporters Motoko Rich and Brad Stone (3/18/10), reporting that “ has threatened to stop directly selling the books of some publishers online unless they agree to a detailed list of concessions regarding the sale of electronic books.” Tabbed on the website as “Amazon May Impede Access to Some Publishers’ Books,” the story described the online bookseller as “pressuring publishers” with its “hardball approach”; Amazon had been “widely accused of abusing its position” with similar tactics that “shocked the publishing world.” If Amazon kept it up, the reporters warned, “it could harm its […]

Aug 1 2010

‘Spotlight’ on Police Violence Fails to Illuminate

Media connection sparks interest, not introspection

Seattle freelance videographer Jud Morris thought he saw news April 17 when he found a police officer standing over a man lying on the sidewalk, telling him, “I’m going to beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you, homey. You feel me?” and kicking him in the head. Morris captured the incident, including the next moment when a second officer stomped on 21-year-old Martin Monetti’s leg—and the next, when the officers realized they had the wrong guy and let Monetti up, bloodied, without offering medical assistance—and brought it immediately to local Fox affiliate KCPQ (known as Q13), where he was […]

Aug 1 2010

Finishing School for Elena Kagan

Policing the gender and sexuality of a high court nominee

When Barack Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, her status as an unmarried professional woman did not go unnoticed—nor did her disregard for stereotypically “feminine” dress and behavior. Policing of Kagan’s gender and sexuality worked its way through the media like a whispering campaign, proving that conforming to rigid gender norms is still an expectation for smart, powerful women. On April 15, re-printed an opinion article originally published on the website of right-wing blogger Benjamin Domenech (New Ledger, 4/11/10). In the piece, Domenech wrote that Kagan was “openly gay” yet somehow “still closeted,” claiming that […]