Feb 1 2012

Letters to the Editor

February 2012

The Shadow of Al Jazeera It’s a bit ironic that FAIR chooses to explore the American blackout on Al Jazeera English (Extra!, 12/11) now that the network is becoming a shadow of its former self. Your article itself (in a sidebar) notes how AJE not only altered coverage of the Iraq War under American pressure, but has consistently downplayed the resistance in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, right in line with the wishes of the U.S. government. What you didn’t note was AJE’s even more egregious coverage of Libya, where the network’s campaign of mis- and disinformation played a key role […]

Feb 1 2012


February 2012

Why Can’t Ron Paul Look More Like Gingrich? So why, with his long-held views and an enthusiastic base of support, does [Ron] Paul get so little attention? It’s not only his anti-establishment message. Part of his acceptance issue is the way he presents himself. As much as he is a refreshing departure from the mold, he also comes across as a gadfly. Consider if Paul had the heftier, more serious bearing of a Romney or a Gingrich. Would he be so easy to dismiss? In the Darwinian world of public perception, it’s easy to discount what you hear from someone […]

Feb 1 2012

The Trade Debate That Wasn’t Reported

Critics of deals outnumbered more than 4-to-1 in NYT, WSJ

Photo Credit: Public Citizen

In the 16 months leading up to the congressional vote on a set of trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama in mid-October, news reporting on the agreements scarcely mentioned that critics existed; when they were acknowledged, their objections were frequently mischaracterized. With media doing little to evaluate misleading claims made by the trade pacts’ proponents, all three were approved by Congress by considerable margins. There were two major points that opponents of the trio of deals—including labor, environmental, consumer and even Tea Party groups—consistently emphasized in reports, press releases, letters and direct outreach to reporters. First, these trade deals […]

Feb 1 2012

The Colonial Roots of Media’s Racial Narratives

‘Sculking Indians’ and ‘rebellious negroes’

News For All The People--Photo Credit: Verso Books

Colonial printers, as we would expect, reported domestic events entirely from the perspective of the European settlers who were their only readers. They did, however, devote considerable space to two groups of non-Europeans who warily coexisted in the New World with the settlers: the Native American tribes and African slaves. The lone edition of Benjamin Harris’ Publick Occurrences (commonly regarded as the first newspaper in the New World, with a publication date of September 25, 1690), contained five separate news items about the Native population in just three pages of text. In one entry, Harris wrote of two white children […]

Feb 1 2012

Natural Gas and the News

Most messages on fracking ‘brought to you by our sponsors’

When it comes to natural gas extraction via “fracking,” TV journalism has some serious competition: energy industry commercials. Like ads for political candidates that run concurrently with broadcast news coverage of the presidential race, ads promoting natural gas (and other fossil fuels) have long been running in concert with news segments about the topic, most recently touting the prospect of a “boom” made possible by the controversial extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing of the shale sprawling beneath more than 30 U.S. states. During the past three years, Extra! found, there has been exponentially more propaganda for the wonders of […]

Feb 1 2012

The 1 Percent President

Americans Elect’s hypothetical ‘centrist’ candidate wins plaudits from pundits

Think big money and Wall Street have too much influence over national politics? Not to worry: A hedge fund-backed third-party presidential candidate will fix all of that. That’s the pitch coming from a group called Americans Elect. And some of America’s top pundits are loving it. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (7/23/11) gushed: What Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what Drugstore.com did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life—remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and […]

Feb 1 2012

Ignoring Monetary Stimulus as Economic Policy

U.S. media offer austerity as nonsensical solution

With the United States now years into a crippling economic downturn, and Europe facing a looming economic crisis, media have been covering the economy more than any other issue. The two most recent annual reports on U.S. media coverage from the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism (2009-10) conclude that “the No. 1 story of the year was the weakened state of the U.S. economy.” Despite this enormous amount of coverage, corporate media present only a narrow range of possible policy prescriptions for the economic crisis. While reducing entitlement spending and otherwise cutting the deficit tend to worsen economic downturns, […]