Jan
01
2007

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Highlights from FAIR’s 20th anniversary event

I did a public forum in New Haven last week, and someone noted that FAIR was formed before even the Internet was big, and I corrected her and I said, actually, we were formed before the fax machine was big. And I remember when we got our first fax machine, how it made it so much easier to get under the skin of the Tom Brokaws and the Ted Koppels and the New York Times editors. So imagine how well FAIR is doing on that score now that we have 45,000 people on the activist e-mail list, and if you’re […]

Jan
01
2007

Letters to the Editor

Truly Perplexed I am truly perplexed by your six-page bombardment, “Are You on the News-Hour Guestlist?” (9-10/06), which argues the program represents “those in power rather than the public PBS is obliged to serve,” that it “mocks the original mandate of public television . . . to be as a forum for debate and controversy . . . and provide a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise be unheard.” Who better to discuss issues of the day than those intimately involved—as long as both sides are presented? Which NewsHour does, in just one hour of the PBS […]

Jan
01
2007

Yesterday's Tomorrows

A cartoon history of two decades of media criticism

So, happy 20th birthday to FAIR. Time really flies when you’re trying to counter an inexhaustible onslaught of lies and distortions, doesn’t it? Because that’s essentially what FAIR does: They try to set the record straight. Which sounds really simple in theory, but how do you even begin to have the most basic conversation about corporate media bias when a substantial number of Americans believe the media are controlled by a far-left conspiracy funded by George Soros, whose only objective is to destroy our very way of life? Why do you all hate America so much? And could somebody let […]

Jan
01
2007

Victorious Dems Lectured by Media Establishment

Morning-after pundits take winners to task

Right after Democrats won back control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections, pundits from major news outlets had, as one would expect, substantial amounts of political criticism for the party that faced major losses. What was most remarkable was the amount of tactical criticism and caution directed at the party that won major gains. The center wins Expanding upon a preferred theme of their pre-election coverage (Extra! Update, 12/06), political commentators providing the initial analyses of the election for the nation’s most influential news outlets downplayed the progressive aspects of the victory, characterizing the large new crop of Democrats […]

Jan
01
2007

Sidebar: Liberals Can't Cut Talk Radio?

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Rough Road to Liberal Talk Success.] One talk radio talking point for conservatives and establishment observers alike is that progressive politics don’t “work” on talk radio because they are too nuanced and therefore not reducible to the sort of clear-cut moral terms that get talk radio audiences fired up. Anyone who believes this has never heard the likes of Michael Moore, Barbara Ehrenreich, Molly Ivins or Michael Eric Dyson (himself a successful local talk radio host in Chicago). While touring in support of FAIR’s book The Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of […]

Jan
01
2007

A Note of Bias

ABC’s Mark Halperin calls for a purge of newsrooms

Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News and the main author of the widely read daily online briefing the Note, has more influence over the political tone of mainstream journalism than virtually any other individual. In his book Lapdogs, press critic Eric Boehlert called the Note “the agenda-setting morning round-up for the political class. . . . It’s impossible to overstate the behind-the-scenes influence of the Note.” Nevertheless, when Halperin showed up to plug his new book on the show of second-string right-wing talk radio host Hugh Hewitt (10/30/06), he sounded less like a powerful media executive and more like […]

Jan
01
2007

SoundBites

Bush’s Supportive Opponents New York Times military correspondent Michael Gordon claimed (12/4/06) that “no military expert was more forthright in opposing the Iraq War than [retired marine Gen.] Anthony C. Zinni”—who now wants more troops sent to Iraq. But Zinni was quoted in the Washington Post (2/2/03) shortly before the invasion as saying, “I don’t object to military action against Saddam; in fact, we should have done it a long time ago.” He characterized his objections to the Bush administration’s strategy as based on timing. Earlier (11/15/06), Gordon wrote a piece headlined “Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, […]

Jan
01
2007

The Pitfalls and Promise of Progressive Talk

Surviving and thriving on the left end of the radio spectrum

Although progressive hosts like Michael Jackson and Bernie Ward have been around for years, progressive talk as a recognized format began in 2004, when Air America Radio was born and the Jones Radio Networks began to syndicate Fargo, N.D.-based Ed Schultz nationally. Since then, the format has attracted major newsmakers, big-name politicians and famous authors. But it hasn’t won over many media critics, who keep insisting the format has no future. Other than an occasional profile of a well-known host like Schultz or Al Franken, what little mainstream media attention progressive talk has received tends to be negative—dismissive comments by […]