Aug
01
2012

Congress’s Missing Coverage

Local papers little help in casting an informed vote

Rep. John Murtha--Photo Credit: legis.wisconsin.gov

Citizens need thorough coverage from local media outlets of their potential representatives to make an informed decision about who will best serve their interests. It’s unfortunate that quality news on congressional elections is so hard to come by.

Aug
01
2012

Putting Consumers Back in Their Place

After ‘pink slime’ victory, reminders that corporations do know best

Pink Slime--Photo Credit: Pinkslime.biz

Corporate news media paid what looked like sympathetic attention to consumer activism that, within weeks, saw the ingredient known as “pink slime” removed from ground beef sold in major supermarkets and fast food chains and provided to public schoolchildren in their lunch. Reporters seemed as compelled and repelled as many consumers by the realization that trimmings “made from cattle parts once considered too contaminated for human consumption” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/20/12) can now be found in some 70 percent of beef sold in the U.S.—that is, after “slow cooking, a trip through a centrifuge and an ammonia hydroxide spray to kill […]

Aug
01
2012

SoundBites

Strange Problems in Distant Lands Some shows have given an unchallenged platform to extremists.... Conservative clerics have used the airwaves to reinforce prejudice and even urge violence against minorities. Editorial independence is sometimes curtailed by the businessmen who own the stations and unashamedly use them to peddle their interests. Controversy also surrounds the anchors, some of whom view themselves as players on the national stage rather than impartial observers of its machinations. —New York Times (6/18/12) on how “the television revolution has...in some respects been bad news for Pakistan” A Stacked Deck for Obamacare Discussion After the Supreme Court mostly […]

Aug
01
2012

Gender Focus: Put Women at the Presidential Debate Podium

Two decades since last female moderator

League of Women Voters--Photo Credit: lwvia.org/Google

It’s been 20 years since a female journalist has been chosen to moderate a presidential debate. Yes, women have held the post for vice presidential debates, but that’s hardly the real deal. ABC News’ Carole Simpson was the last woman to lob questions at presidential candidates, back in 1992. What is going on? Well, I guess I get it. After all, imagine what would happen if a woman was tasked to broker a conversation between the two most important people in U.S. politics. Why, she just might ask for the candidates’ favorite pie recipes, or not know about the economic […]

Aug
01
2012

Fox and Furious

Michelle Malkin--Photo Credit: Michellemalkin.com

Though Fast and Furious was basically born on network television, cable’s Fox News Channel took up the cause with vigor, often hyping the more conspiratorial angles. Near the beginning, right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin (6/22/11) told Sean Hannity that it might make sense to see the story through another popular right-wing lens: “You have government malfeasance at the worst level possible.... Tens of millions of dollars in stimulus money have gone to expand ‘Fast and Furious.’” But the real scandal, for people like Malkin, lay in the possibility that the Obama White House, while overtly doing next to nothing to promote […]

Aug
01
2012

Not So Fast on Fast and Furious

Fortune investigation shoots holes in scandal narrative

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Gregory Wild-Smith

When it comes to ginning up scandals, the Obama administration has been a disappointment for the right-wing media, which had much more luck in the Clinton era. But they’ve found some red meat with “Fast and Furious”—thanks in large part to CBS Evening News, the story’s most prominent platform. Like most Clinton scandals (Extra!, 9–10/95, 11–12/96, 1–2/97), however, the story looks far less scandalous when you learn the details left out of most media accounts. The “Fast and Furious” story, as peddled by the right, tells us that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)—a perennial target of pro-gun […]

Aug
01
2012

Prioritizing Politics Over Paycheck Fairness

Journalists focus on bill’s impact on parties—not women

Signing of Lilly Ledbetter Act--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/House Committee on Education and the Workforce Dem

When the Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate on June 5, journalists reported the story. But instead of focusing on the consequences of the act’s defeat, and how this could impact women’s lives, most major news outlets treated that as secondary to the political question of why it failed—even if those reasons had nothing to do with the bill itself. The act would build on the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed in 2009, which extended women’s time limits for filing lawsuits over paycheck discrimination; the new act would include measures to make filing those lawsuits more feasible for women, by […]

Aug
01
2012

Islamophobia, Antisemitism and the Demonized 'Other'

Parallels among bigotries reflect the conspiratorial mindset

Salman Rushdie--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/David Shankbone

Republican hopeful Mitt Romney is portrayed by online bigots as a Manchurian Candidate for a secretive cabal of Mormon elites—echoing anti-Catholic conspiracy theories about John F. Kennedy being a wind-up toy for the Vatican. Meanwhile, a chain letter currently being circulated warns that the “American Government is under the command and control of…the Freemasons and Leadership of the Catholic Church.” There are right-wing websites and blogs warning that if President Barack Obama is re-elected, hordes of scheming fanatic Muslims plan to impose Sharia law and turn America into a totalitarian socialist/Nazi theocratic state. Other websites and blogs warn that Obama […]