Feb
01
2008

The Humanitarian Temptation:

Calling for war to bring peace to Darfur

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Genocide Intervention Network

In the Darfur region of Sudan, truly horrific atrocities have taken place in recent years: Roughly 200,000 people have died from violence, disease or hunger (Science, 9/15/06), and well over 2 million have been driven from their homes, resulting in a severe humanitarian crisis. Such crises often go criminally ignored by a mainstream media seldom interested in the plight of those who suffer the double invisibilities of being distant and dark-skinned. But Darfur is a little different: Propelled by a well-developed activist campaign and persistent appeals from both major celebrities and the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, Darfur has managed […]

Feb
01
2008

The NYT's Nuclear 'Promised Land'

Note: This is a sidebar to "Money is the Real Green Power" (Extra!, 1-2/08). The New York Times is not alone in promoting a revival of nuclear power. But as the U.S. paper of record, it sets the media tone. Its pro-nuclear editorial culture began decades ago when the Manhattan Project and its corporate contractors (notably General Electric and Westinghouse, which became the major manufacturers of nuclear power plants) sought to perpetuate what was established during World War II, by making other things atomic. Because of the Times’ importance, Manhattan Project director Gen. Leslie Groves personally arranged for its reporter, […]

Feb
01
2008

Money Is the Real Green Power:

The hoax of eco-friendly nuclear energy

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/EnvironmentBlog

Nuclear advocates in government and the nuclear industry are engaged in a massive, heavily financed drive to revive atomic power in the United States—with most of the mainstream media either not questioning or actually assisting in the promotion. “With a very few notable exceptions, such as the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. media have turned the same sort of blind, uncritical eye on the nuclear industry’s claims that led an earlier generation of Americans to believe atomic energy would be too cheap to meter,” comments Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “The nuclear industry’s public […]

Feb
01
2008

Media on Healthcare

Saying what they don’t mean

At the end of an unusually long editorial headlined “The High Cost of Healthcare,” the November 25 New York Times dismissed the idea of publicly funded universal healthcare, which all other industrialized countries use to provide medical treatment to all of their citizens while spending much less per capita than the U.S. Framing a public health insurance system as a sentimental lefty dream, the paper’s editorialists wrote that “deep in their hearts, many liberals yearn for a single-payer system.” But single-payer, the paper assures us, is “no panacea for the cost problem” and has “limited political support.” Knocking down the […]

Jan
01
2008

Hollywood's Media--and Washington's

Rendition highlights the limits of torture discussion

“Guantánamo, a prison in no way ready to close, is at the heart of a conversation that almost no one seems willing to open.” Since September 27, 2007, when Karen Greenberg closed an article on TomDispatch.com with that observation, a media conversation about torture has unexpectedly taken off. The New York Times (10/4/07) published a lengthy exposé about the long turmoil at the Department of Justice caused by the Bush White House’s insistence that “enhanced interrogation” was key to fighting its “war on terror.” PBS’s Frontline (10/16/07) explored how Dick Cheney's office secretly pushed the idea that the president could […]

Jan
01
2008

How to Lose Friends and Influence No One

A Wall Street Journal news analysis on November 13 had a familiar refrain: The Democrats are in trouble because Congress is unpopular, and the solution is to be nicer to the Republicans. After quoting Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) saying, “if you try to be too political there’s a backlash,” reporter David Rogers wrote, “That backlash is evident: Congress’s approval rating has fallen from 31 percent in March to 19 percent this month in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.” Rogers went on to offer advice on how the Democrats can “soften the tone” and “overcome . . . the […]

Jan
01
2008

SoundBites

Crying Wolf A Washington Post op-ed column by Naomi Wolf (11/25/07) complaining that young people are woefully ignorant of the workings of democracy displayed some remarkable historical lapses of its own. “When New Left activists of the 1960s started the antiwar and free speech student movements,” Wolf wrote, “they didn’t get their intellectual framework from Montesquieu or Thomas Paine: They looked to Marx, Lenin and Mao.” Actually, the free speech movement did not draw inspiration from Communist philosophers, who tend not to be particular fans of free speech. And the antiwar movement owed much more to Thoreau, via Gandhi and […]

Jan
01
2008

Letters to the Editor

‘Transforming Coverage’ I want to thank you for your superb recent article in Extra!, “Transforming Coverage” (11-12/07). I can’t imagine improving on your coverage of the current state of media coverage of transgender issues. I was particularly glad to see you remind us all how media coverage has focused almost exclusively on highly successful, white male-to-female individuals undergoing transition. Even though I am a white MTF, and more or less professional, I am not terribly successful for my years, but rather I have watched my career erode mostly because of my gender identity issues. I am just beginning my transition. […]