Jan 1 1998

Cato Pads The Poor

Note: This article is a sidebar to “Media Moguls on Board: Murdoch, Malone and the Cato Institute“ In 1995, during the national debate over welfare reform, the Cato Institute released a study called “The Work Vs. Welfare Trade-Off.” The report was packed with statistics culled from Cato’s research: “In 40 states wel­fare pays more than an $8 an hour job.. .. In nine states welfare pays more than the aver­age first-year salary for a teacher. . . . And in the six most generous states it pays more than the entry-level salary for a computer programmer.” On average, the study […]

Jan 1 1998

Forgotten Behind Bars

Abuse of women in prison doesn't "set off" media

When the Supreme Court upheld a judge’s decision to cut by more than half the suggested prison sentences of the police officers who beat Rodney King (to 30 months), there was no media outcry calling the justices, or the public, “soft” on cops who commit crimes. Yet when a Cambridge judge decided to let Louise Woodward go free on time served, the same media that had blanketed the nation with emotive reporting on the British au pear lashed back at the public. “There’s just something about a woman behind bars that sets people off,” suggested Laura Mansnerus in a front-page […]

Jan 1 1998

Schoolhouse Crock

Right-wing myths behind the 'new stupidity'

How much change should you get back after putting down $3 to pay for a 60-cent cup of soup and a $1.95 sandwich? Would you believe that exactly 56.3 percent of American college graduates were unable to figure this out? Would you believe more than half can’t even read a bus schedule? Syndicated columnist John Leo, writing for U.S. News & World Report (4/21/97), thinks you should. He says it’s all a consequence of the “new stupidity.” Last April, copies of Leo’s “The Answer is 45 Cents” began showing up in teachers’ mail slots. My wife got one. All the […]

Jan 1 1998

Film Rejection Highlights PBS Bias

Union funding "problematic"; corporate dollars A-OK

The Public Broadcasting Service last year refused to air Out At Work, a film about workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians, because it was partially funded by unions. The rejection was an unsettling example of the obstacles labor advocates face in participating in media discussion. PBS‘s defense of the funding double standard—which penalizes not just labor unions, but anyone who wants to hear vigorous economic debate—is the latest indication of that network’s seeming disdain for the journalistic mission it’s charged with. Out At Work is a straightforward, compassionate look at the lives of three workers facing bias on the job, […]

Jan 1 1998

Media Moguls on Board

Murdoch, Malone and the Cato Institute

Last fall, when News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch joined the board of directors at the Cato Institute, the announcement went unreported in major media. Perhaps it seemed routine for one of the world’s most powerful media moguls to take a leadership post at one of the most influential think tanks in Washington. At future meetings, Murdoch can count on rubbing elbows with his fellow media titan, John C. Malone–president and CEO of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), the largest U.S. cable operator–who has been on the Cato board since 1995. The two men are well acquainted, and their companies have long been […]

Jan 1 1998


Teen 'superpredators' hype set stage for draconian legislation

Criminalization of youth of color by the media is not a new problem. But lurid press reports of teen “superpredators” have recently spawned federal legislation that may soon extinguish the rehabilitative intent of the juvenile justice system. Proposed laws have passed the House and are now pending in the Senate that would try 13- and 14-year-olds as adults and route people as young as 13 into adult prisons. Princeton professor John DiIulio invented the myth of the “juvenile superpredator” in the early 1990s, forecasting that 270,000 of these menaces to society will be out on the streets by 2010 (City […]

Jan 1 1998

Rumors of Homophobia

Coverage of Promise Keepers failed to check the record

The “Promise Keepers” rally in Washington, D.C., was, if nothing else, a victory of public relations over professional journalism. Media coverage was decidedly skewed toward the shallow end of the press pool. At best, both print and broadcast journalists glossed over the Keepers’ homophobic agenda. At worst, they supported it. Promise Keepers was founded nearly a decade ago by former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney. A notorious homophobe, McCartney championed Colorado’s Amendment Two—a 1992 measure that, had it not been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, would have denied basic civil rights to lesbian, gay and bisexual […]

Jan 1 1998

Criminal Communities

'Racial dualism' puts white supremacy in the media crime frame

“It is a crisis of staggering proportions.” So says ABC News‘ Ted Koppel at the beginning of a Nightline segment (8/27/97) on the most recent of a series of reports on the alarmingly high—and rising—numbersof African-Americans under the control of the criminal justice system. (See The Sentencing Project’s “Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System”—1990, 1995—and “Intended and Unintended Consequences: State Racial Disparities in Imprisonment”—1997.) The segment opens with George Washington University professor Paul Butler stating that “one out of three young African-American men is under criminal justice supervision.” In voice-over, Koppel asks if the statistics “reflect reality,” while […]