Jan
01
2007

From Official Claims to Media Reality

Editor's Note

The Washington Post website early on December 9 featured three headlines that committed the same journalistic error: They treated as fact things that were revealed in the articles that they linked to as disputed claims. In each case, the effect was to treat assertions made by U.S. government officials as undisputed reality. One headline was “Officials Not Liable for Detainee Torture.” When you clicked on it, you found the more accurate headline “U.S. Denies Liability in Torture Case: Attorney Urges Dismissal of Detainee Suit Against Officials.” In other words, officials said they don’t want to be liable for detainee torture. […]

Jan
01
2007

BOOK EXCERPT: Invading Grenada

Selling the modern era’s first ‘pre-emptive’ war

“It isn’t nutmeg that’s at stake in the Caribbean and Central America; it is the United States’ national security.” —President Ronald Reagan, March 10, 1983 On October 23, 1983, U.S. combat troops began Operation Urgent Fury in the eastern Caribbean, invading the sovereign state of Grenada, an island of 113 square miles with approximately 110,000 inhabitants. It was the first time the U.S. military had committed combat troops since Vietnam. Over the course of a year, the Reagan administration had argued vigorously that Grenada posed a threat to U.S. national security. Unlike the unlimited access journalists had in Vietnam, the […]

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 […]