White House interim communications director Anita Dunn’s characterization of Fox News Channel as “a wing of the Republican Party,” and her announcement that the administration would henceforth treat Fox News as part of the “opposition,” created a media stir. Washington Post columnist (and Fox contributor) Charles Krauthammer announced, “The White House has declared war on Fox News.” Krauthammer’s more centrist colleague, Ruth Marcus (WashingtonPost .com, 10/19/09), wrote that “picking a fight” with Fox News “makes the White House look childish and petty at best, and it has a distinct Nixonian—Agnewesque?—aroma at worst.” As Joe Conason pointed out (Salon, 10/22/09), comparisons [...]
Which march matters for media?
“How do you, by and large, miss a gigantic rally?... America is waking up to the fact that our media is just not biased. They’re not giving us the truth.” —Glenn Beck (Fox News, 9/14/09) “When at least 75,000 Americans gather to protest something, you’d think it was news. But some media played down the huge anti-Obama protests on the nation’s capital this weekend.” —Bill O’Reilly (Fox News, 9/14/09) After the anti-Obama “Tea Party” protest in Washington in September, Fox News and other conservatives professed outrage that the rest of the media ignored an event that drew so many people. [...]
For convict journalists, freedom of the press is not so black and white
On January 31, 2009, John Dannenberg, Prison Legal News’ California correspondent, was released from California State Prison, San Quentin, where he had spent the past 23 years serving a life sentence for murder. Although by Dannenberg’s recollection he has written more than 1,000 articles for PLN since he began working with the publication in 2000, the majority of his writing does not bear his name. As a prisoner, anonymity was a condition of Dannenberg’s role as a journalist—something he learned with his first PLN story. “I had written something that was uncomplimentary about the guards’ union and somebody apparently on [...]
Quietly changing the rules of democracy
The United States has made a dramatic change in its system of governance—with little debate or even attention paid in corporate media. The change is the vastly increased importance of the filibuster, a parliamentary maneuver that allows a minority of lawmakers—under current Senate rules, 41 out of 100—to indefinitely extend debate and prevent a final vote. Once a curiosity invoked a handful of times during any two-year congressional session, the filibuster became more common starting in the 1970s; in the Clinton administration and early in the George W. Bush years, the Senate had to move to take a vote on [...]
Fairness Doctrine an Essential Tool Thanks for all you do to open and keep open America’s lines of communication. FAIR’s Extra! is itself an important channel of information on which I and many rely. Jim Naureckas’ “Public Media and the Decommodification of the News” and Julie Hollar’s “Putting the Public Back in Public Media” (11/09) provide a good cataloging of problems with getting “public” media to serve the public interest. But, of course, all radio and television was originally required by law to be “broadcast in the public interest.” That law, the Communications Act of 1934, is still on the [...]
John Stossel, Free at Last Rupert Murdoch’s latest hire, John Stossel, speaking at a Michigan college (TVNewser, 10/6/09): "I quit ABC a couple weeks ago partly because they didn’t like what I was doing. They viewed it as too biased." Yes, ABC execs promoted Stossel to 20/20 anchor, gave him regular "Give Me a Break" commentary segments and one-hour, factually challenged primetime specials (Extra!, 3-4/03)...all because they didn’t like him. It’s scary to think what his bosses would have done for him if they did like him. Surprisingly Surprised by Public Option Support The Washington Post October 19 headline over [...]
The press & Iranian nuke allegations
There have been recent discussions (e.g., New York Times, 9/29/09) about whether the press is doing a better job covering allegations about Iran's nuclear program than they did during the run-up to the Iraq War. But in some crucial and very basic ways, many in the media are performing just as poorly as they did in 2002 and 2003. The core concern is whether Iran's nuclear enrichment program is intended for weapons. Pundits and reporters seem to think they have the answer. "As if Afghanistan were not enough, now there's Iran's move to get nuclear weapons," declared NBC's Chris Matthews [...]
'Combating extremism'—or intervening in an internal conflict?
On October 27, the Washington Post reported the resignation of Matthew Hoh, a top U.S. civilian official in Afghanistan, in protest of the continuation of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In his letter of resignation, linked to on the Post website, Hoh wrote, "I fail to see the value or the worth in continuous U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war." "The Pashtun insurgency," Hoh asserted, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on [...]