Aug
01
2011

'Humanitarian War' in Libya-or the Regular Kind?

Factchecking the case for bombing

Most wars--initiated by the United States or otherwise--require an official rationale. The stated reason for going to war needn't be the real reason, and it can change over the course of the conflict, as the Iraq War ably demonstrated. As the Iraq War also proved, the media rarely apply much skepticism to the rationale given, or look for additional or alternative motivating factors. NATO's war in Libya is no exception. The Libya War is an "allied air war to protect civilians," as USA Today put it (5/23/11), in language pervasive in corporate media coverage. The notion that civilians were being […]

Aug
01
2011

Desperate for Democracy in Iraq

Protesters fight for what U.S. media say they already have

The U.S.-based women’s rights group MADRE (6/10/11) reported that members of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq—its partner organization in Baghdad—and other protesters were brutally beaten and sexually assaulted in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on June 10 by government-sponsored mobs. What were they demonstrating for that so threatened Iraq’s government? Democracy. “For months, young women have been demonstrating for democracy in Tahrir Square, joining thousands of others who believe in a vision of an Iraq that is democratic and rooted in human rights,” OWFI director Yanar Mohammed told MADRE. “But instead of being heard, they have been viciously attacked in […]

Aug
01
2011

Libyan War Not About Oil-Unless It Should Be

That Libya has oil is not lost on the media; network newscasts occasionally mentioned oil in the context of the war. But it often came up as as by-product of some consumer concern: "Oil and gas prices are on the rise this morning. Military action in Libya pushed crude prices up more than $2 today to $103 per barrel, due to concerns over possible supply disruptions" (ABC's Good Morning America, 3/21/11). It would be difficult not to notice that NATO's direct military intervention in a pro-democracy uprising just so happened to take place in a country with massive oil reserves. […]

Aug
01
2011

Soundbites

August 2011

Austerity Stops at the Top Gannett will be laying off another 700 employees, about 2 percent of its workforce (Poynter.org, 6/21/11), after shedding 2,400 jobs last year. “The economic recovery is not happening as quickly or favorably as we had hoped and continues to impact our U.S. community media organizations,” Gannett U.S. Community Publishing division president Bob Dickey explained in a memo. That slow pace of recovery didn't stop Dickey from upping his total pay to $3.4 million in 2010, from $1.9 million in 2009. Nor did it prevent Gannett CEO Craig Dubow from doubling his 2009 salary, to $9.4 […]

Aug
01
2011

The Fires This Time

In coverage of extreme weather, media downplay climate change

On April 14, a massive storm swept down out of the Rocky Mountains into the Midwest and South, spawning more than 150 tornadoes that killed 43 people across 16 states (Capital Weather Gang, 4/18/11). It was one of the largest weather catastrophes in United States history—but was soon upstaged by an even larger storm, the 2011 Super Outbreak that spread more than 300 tornadoes across 14 states from April 25 to 28 (including an all-time one-day record of 188 twisters on April 27), killing 339 people, including 41 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (CNN, 5/1/11). Ensuing weeks saw Texas wildfires that had […]

Aug
01
2011

Letters to the Editor

August 2011

State Budget Shortfalls In his piece "Misrepresenting State Budget Crises" (Extra!, 6/11), Neil deMause lays blame for states' budget shortfalls to the recession and tax cuts. However, he neglects to mention another big cause, the loss of federal revenue-sharing. Reagan ended that program, and with huge federal deficits, it's probably never coming back. But deMause also misses the point that if 50 percent of our federal tax payments weren't eaten up by defense-related costs, including all these wars of choice, we could balance the federal and state budgets without cutting vital services. If we cut these unnecessary defense costs, there […]

Aug
01
2011

On Lockout, NFL and Media Play on Same Team

TV deals give networks billions of reasons to root for owners

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/RMTip21

When it comes to reporting on labor disputes, corporate media don’t exactly have a track record of even- handedness. (See, e.g., Extra!, 4/11.) Throw in a $4 billion media investment, and you’ve got a story ripe for misreporting: the recent dispute between the NFL Players Association and the owners of what Forbes magazine (9/13/07) called “the richest sports league in the world.” The NFL labor conflict dates back to 2006. In March of that year, the owners—desperate to avoid a work stoppage—voted at the 11th hour to accept a new six-year collective bargaining agreement with the players. Two years later, […]

Jul
01
2011

The End of the Bill Keller Era

NYT chief did not challenge state power—he served it

When Bill Keller announced that he would soon be stepping down as the New York Times’ top editor, he was hailed as the man “who rebuilt the confidence of the New York Times newsroom after the Jayson Blair scandal” (Forbes, 6/2/11). Rem Rieder of American Journalism Review (3-4/11) wrote that Keller “righted the ship” and “deserves major credit for steering our most important news organization in an immensely challenging time, for the most part avoiding the icebergs.” Hendrik Hertzberg (New Yorker, 6/3/11) commended his tenure: “The quality and quantity of Times journalism remain unsurpassed on Planet Earth.” Despite all the […]