Jan 01 2008

Mark Weisbrot on the Venezuelan Referendum

'It wasn't any surprise when Chávez conceded'

It isn’t easy to find U.S. press coverage of Venezuela that isn’t colored to some extent by the official U.S. distaste for President Hugo Chávez and his populist policies. Coverage of Venezuela’s recent referendum (12/2/07) on proposed constitutional amendments was no exception. In the wake of the narrow defeat of the reforms by a national vote, viewers could find Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC‘s Hardball (12/4/07) crowing that Chávez “getting it thrown back in his face this week” made them feel like “it’s Christmas three weeks early.” CounterSpin host Janine Jackson interviewed Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center […]

Jan 01 2008

Get Carter

NY Times punishes an ex-president for criticizing Israel

Though the New York Times ignored Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid when it was first published–it didn’t review the book until it had already been on the Times’ bestseller list for five weeks–that didn’t stop the paper from running an article about a former Carter employee who didn’t like the book. The December 7, 2006 article began by reporting that Kenneth W. Stein, a former executive director of the Carter Center in Atlanta, had resigned, “citing concerns with the accuracy and integrity of Mr. Carter’s latest book.” It quoted Stein charging the book was “replete with factual errors, […]

Jan 01 2008

Are People a ‘Special Interest’?

Media language equates citizens and money

We are raised on the notion that people are paramount in democracy–that it’s all about citizens who, through public discussion, campaigns and elections, decide who will lead and which policies will be pursued. But that notion is often undermined by political reporting and commentary, which often seems designed to get people out of the process and into a spectator role. One way this happens is when media use labels that disparage popular political involvement, while often giving corporate and moneyed political players a pass. In the media’s lexicon of political pejoratives, “pander” and “special interests” are in common usage. Examining […]

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 […]