Apr
01
2009

Studs Terkel, 1912-2008

A Note From the Editor

Studs Terkel--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Martin Beek

In this first issue of the new monthly Extra!, FAIR has to say goodbye to an old friend: Studs Terkel, the independent journalist and historian, who served on our advisory board from our founding in 1986 until his death on October 31, 2008, at the age of 96. Studs used his mastery of the art of the interview to have a conversation about the things that matter. His books addressed some of the biggest subjects there are: work, war, race, class, death, hope. His real subject, though, was people—our real lives and what they really mean. And that’s what great […]

Jan
01
2009

Going All Out for Bank Bailout

Media paint crisis as too ‘urgent’ for skepticism

During the week of September 15, the country’s economic leaders did a quick 180-degree turn: They went from assuring us that the economy was just fine to telling us that the bottom was about to fall out and a second Great Depression loomed just over the horizon. The one hope was a massive $700 billion bailout package for the banking industry that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson put forward in a three-page document the following weekend. Once this document was put on the table, corporate media abandoned any pretense of neutrality. With few exceptions, they refused to raise questions about whether […]

Jan
01
2009

Letters to the Editor

Frightened and Sickened by Islamophobia Just had to contact you after reading both “Smearcasting” (Extra!, 11-12/08) as well as your article in Friday’s Huffington Post (10/10/08)—great job! I only wish you had included Ayan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel, in your list of Islamophobes—I think she’s single-handedly smeared Islam among so many average American women book club members. My two teenagers and I have been busy giving presentations about Islam all over Arizona. We find ourselves repeating the most basic facts, usually in response to the audience questions about spurious information about Islam obtained from Fox News, Glenn Beck or […]

Jan
01
2009

Beyond Clinton & Palin

Coverage of women in election misses real women’s issues

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/sskennel

With Sen. Hillary Clinton’s historic bid for the presidency and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s subsequent VP nomination on the GOP ticket, women were in the national spotlight in the 2008 election as never before. But while Clinton and Palin generated a good deal of media discussion around the problems facing female candidates, coverage of women voters remained narrow and mired in stereotype, shedding remarkably little light on the issues important to them. During the Democratic primaries, the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton matchup led corporate media to discover the existence of black women voters and race and gender as election issues—superficially, anyway. […]

Jan
01
2009

Dalliance & Double Standards

Under Hannity’s rules, conservatives’ affairs don’t count

You’re a politician who’s just been exposed for cheating on your spouse. Your political career is over, right? These days, that might depend on your politics—and your relationship with a certain right-wing cable news show. After revelations of an affair with an aide during the 2008 primaries, John Edwards’ career fell off the face of the Earth. The former Democratic presidential hopeful—who’d been talked about as a possible VP pick or as attorney general in an Obama administration—was not only shunned and condemned by Republicans and fellow Democrats alike, he also came in for harsh treatment from media figures. As […]

Jan
01
2009

SoundBites

When a Mandate Isn’t a Mandate Columnist Robert Novak (Chicago Sun-Times, 11/5/08) wrote that Barack Obama’s victory didn’t measure up to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first re-election in 1936, when “the defeated Republican candidate, Gov. Alf Landon of Kansas, won only two states, Maine and Vermont, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by wide margins.” Obama’s win, Novak continued, “was nothing like that. He may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities.” OK, you say, Novak has a strict definition […]

Jan
01
2009

Misleading Indicators

Media’s concern with the welfare of the wealthy

“The start of a new year is a good time to take stock,” wrote the Washington Post on January 3, 2007, “and there are few better indicators of our long-term economic prospects—and also our prospects for political and social peace—than productivity.” Yet while productivity, or output per hour, rose an average 2.5 percent annually between 2000 and 2007, compared to just 2 percent in the 1990s (Economic Policy Institute, 8/26/08), real median household income declined by 0.6 percent, or $324. During that same period of “growth,” poverty rose from 11.3 percent to 12.5 percent. Unqualified reliance on output figures like […]

Jan
01
2009

Scapegoating Minorities for Failures of Banking

Blaming CRA makes little sense, but gets finance industry off the hook

Charles Krauthammer

It seems, on the face of it, a theory too absurd to even be taken seriously: A ragtag band of anti-poverty activists pushes the White House into forcing lenders to make bad loans to poor and minority borrowers, setting off a subprime loan crisis that puts the entire global economy at risk. Yet in the frenzy of coverage as a financial markets collapse loomed in mid-September, the idea that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was somehow responsible took off in the media—in the mainstream press as well as on the conservative fringe. One of the most prominent proponents of the […]