Jan 01 1990

Swallowing Hokum in Central America

During the height of the civil rights movement, Southern authorities frequently reacted to the bombing of a black church or a civil rights leader’s home by blaming the act on the Movement: “The Negroes did it themselves. It’s a stunt to win sympathy.” While the innuendo that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have fire-bombed his own home while his children slept was prominently and uncritically reported in Southern dailies, journalists from national media ignored such hokum or reported it as a way of highlighting how depraved or dishonest the authorities were. Ironically, the same absurd scenarios dismissed by journalists when […]

Jan 01 1990

The Press and the Shrinking American Electorate

Press treatment of low voter turnout in American society has become schizophrenic. On the one hand, the press is giving strong support to voter registration reform as a way of increasing voting; on the other, press coverage suggests–incorrectly–that registration reform will not increase voting because so many registered voters don’t bother to go to the polls. Many states have been easing the registration process by making it possible for people to register by mail, or at government agencies such as motor vehicle, unemployment and welfare offices. Congress is considering similar reforms. The Sacramento Bee (4/14/88) likes the fact that 20 […]

Jan 01 1990

How Television Sold the Panama Invasion

The media go to war


The media go to warTwo weeks after the Panama invasion, CBS News sponsored a public opinion poll in Panama that found the residents in rapture over what had happened. Even 80 percent of those whose homes had been blown up or their relatives killed by U.S. forces said it was worth it. Their enthusiasm did not stop with the ousting of Gen. Manuel Noriega, however. A less heavily advertised result of the poll was that 82 percent of the sampled Panamanian patriots did not want Panamanian control of the Canal, preferring either partial or exclusive control by the U.S. (“Panamanians […]