Jan
01
2003

Dead Letter Office

Flood of anti-war mail to Congress fails to register in press

DC peace demonstrator, 9/02 (Photo: Elvert Barnes)

  In the weeks preceding the congressional vote on the Iraq war resolution, media reports continually emphasized poll results showing apparently solid support for the Bush administration. But below the radar screens of the pollsters and the Washington press corps, something else was happening. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were writing letters and e-mails, making phone calls, holding vigils, marching, meeting in anxious groups both small and large, and signing electronic and paper petitions--all to convey a very different message: no war with Iraq--certainly not unilaterally. While not entirely unprecedented, the outpouring showed a citizenry defying stereotypes of apathy, using […]

Jan
01
2003

Where the Gray Lady Goes Radical

The New York Times' peculiar German fixation

Election season came to Germany last fall, and in time-honored fashion, the New York Times spent the campaign bemoaning the high wages of German workers. Whether workers in a distant country are overpaid may seem like an odd fixation for an eminent newspaper, but for years the Times has treated no other factor as more crucial to the politics and economics of contemporary Europe. "It's hard to think of a cushier place to live through a recession than Germany," wrote Berlin economic correspondent Mark Landler in a "Week in Review" essay (9/29/02). "With Germany's welfare payments, unemployment compensation, not to […]

Jan
01
2003

The FTAA Is None of Your Business

A challenge to democracy

Trade ministers from across the Western Hemisphere gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Quito, Ecuador from October 31-November 1. The occasion: the 2002 ministerial meeting on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Thousands of other people gathered in Quito that weekend too--in the streets. Organized by a coalition of indigenous, labor, environmental and student groups, approximately 10,000 people marched to protest the FTAA. After enduring tear gas and intimidation, the protesters won a meeting to present their demands to the assembled trade ministers. At the confrontational meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick was told he should be […]

Jan
01
2003

Wolf Blitzer for the Defense (Department)

Making sure the official line is the last word

On the rare occasion when a mainstream news program interviews a forthright critic of U.S. policy, the interviewer often seems less like a journalist and more like a government spokesperson. That's what happened when CNN's Wolf Blitzer (11/7/02) interviewed Dr. Helen Caldicott, a nuclear critic (and a member of FAIR's advisory board), about the connection between the U.S.'s use of so-called depleted uranium in anti-tank shells during the 1991 Gulf War, and the dramatic rise in birth defects in southern Iraq. Blitzer at first challenged her facts, appropriately enough: "Dr. Caldicott, let me interrupt and point out what the Pentagon […]

Jan
01
2003

'Making the Invisible Visible'

Antipoverty activists working to make their own media

"We’d like to thank the mainstream media for showing up," quipped Cheri Honkala, adjusting her baby son on her jeans-clad lap. The executive director of the Philadelphia-based Kensington Welfare Rights Union, a multiracial organization of, by and for poor and homeless people, Honkala was opening a Saturday press conference last October in a claustrophobic classroom at Temple University. The occasion: "Break the Media Blackout: A Conference on Media Democracy and the Struggle to End Poverty," of which KWRU was a co-sponsor. The absence of mainstream reporters only reinforced one reason the meeting was taking place: to address and remedy what […]