Dec 1 2010

Dictating the Press

U.S. media defend Argentine media’s connection to military junta

Latin American efforts to democratize media access have been treated as an assault on the press in U.S. corporate media. The latest supposed offender against freedom of the press is Argentina’s center-left government, headed by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Following her government’s decision to open investigations into the nation’s two largest newspapers’ collaboration with the bloody 1976-83 military dictatorship, outlets in the U.S. characterized her as a ruthless tyrant harboring a grudge against the nation’s most important media group. Fernández de Kirchner’s government has made a number of radical moves to curb corporate control of the media and to […]

Dec 1 2010

Unfrozen Settlements in Palestine

Portraying Israeli ‘PR stunt’ as peace offer

Corporate media coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict does not suffer from a lack of creative use of language: the “generous” offer the Palestinians rebuffed at Camp David in 2000, for example (Extra!, 7-8/02), or references to illegal West Bank colonies as “neighborhoods” (Extra! Update, 8/02). The current round of U.S.-backed negotiations brought a new kind of misdirection: the Israeli “freeze” or “moratorium” on settlement building, a move ostensibly intended to help lay the foundation for negotiations. But if you thought “freeze” meant “stop,” think again. The settlement “freeze” was announced in December 2009 as a 10-month time frame during which […]

Dec 1 2010

Hoover Wins!

Media spin election as victory for austerity

While we had to wait until Election Night to find out that John Boehner eclipsed Nancy Pelosi, and that Harry Reid withstood Sharron Angle, one politician’s success was pre-ordained by corporate media long before the votes were cast: Herbert Hoover. Although pundits rarely if ever named the long-dead former president as a winner of the midterms, the way they framed the election made it inevitable that his once-discredited policy of responding to economic crisis with austerity would come out on top on Election Day. That framing was perhaps best summarized the day after the election by the New York Times’ […]

Dec 1 2010

Creating the Illusion of Popular Demand

Corporate realities behind ‘reality TV’

Flavor of Love/Public Enemy's Flava Flav--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Jnforte

Former VH1 programmer and Flavor of Love creator Michael Hirschorn has said of reality TV, “If women didn’t want these shows, they wouldn’t get made.” This gender-specific variant on Fox programmer (and Joe Millionaire mastermind) Mike Darnell’s “giving people what they want” mantra ignores a central truth: Marketing plays a mammoth role in generating the illusion of populist demand. Without 2000’s Survivor, the reality genre may not have become a network mainstay. But behind Survivor’s long-term, landscape-shifting impact was the relentless promotion of the series by Viacom, which had recently merged with CBS and Infinity Broadcasting. Survivor wasn’t only a […]

Dec 1 2010


December 2010

Heads GOP Wins, Tails Dems Lose The Sunday after the midterm elections (11/7/10), Meet the Press featured two conservative Republican guests, Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.). That’s only natural, right, because the GOP did so well in the elections? Flash back to November 12, 2006, when Meet the Press’s then-host Tim Russert announced: Our issues this Sunday: The voters send a loud and clear message to the White House, and give the Democrats control of the House and the Senate for the first time in 12 years. What now for the Republicans? We’ll ask a man […]

Dec 1 2010

Product-Themed Programs Are New Low for Kids TV

Shows aimed at selling, not storytelling

Photo Credit:

The Hub, a new cable TV channel co-owned by a toy company whose toys star in its shows, and Zevo-3, a new TV show with characters based on a shoe company’s ad campaign, are signs of the cost of leaving the creation of cultural and educational content mainly to profiteers. The makers of this programming are unapologetic about marketing to children, while the journalists reporting the developments offer little beyond rote expressions of concern. It’s as if it’s been decided that there is no public interest value broadcasters need honor if there is money to be made. The Hub is […]

Dec 1 2010

Suing Your Readers for Spite and Profit

Copyright suits final hope or last gasp of print media?

Righthaven LLC has emerged from the ongoing meltdown of the newspaper industry with a new business model: sue the hell out of every person who reprints, in part or in full, any article without the express consent of the article’s copyright owner. From March through November 2010, Righthaven has filed over 160 suits against individual bloggers, Web domain registrants and non-profits such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Second Amendment Foundation, as well as political organizations and candidates. Suits brought by Righthaven have three key […]