Jul
01
1994

Radio Days

A Struggle From the Past With a Message for Today

Telecommunications, Mass Media and Democracy: The Battle for Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928-1935. By Robert McChesney (Oxford University Press, 393 pp.) Revisionist historians tell us stories that debunk dominant myths, discover new kinds of heroes and illuminate oppositional movements hidden beneath hegemonic tales of the status quo. In Telecommunications, Mass Media and Democracy, journalism professor Robert McChesney uncovers a coherent media reform movement that decried the corporate-controlled, advertising-sponsored broadcasting system whose programming and purposes debased democratic thought and citizen action. The book recaptures the unequal struggle between the powerful commercial interests and the public interest in the early days of […]

Jul
01
1994

Koppel Covers for Limbaugh's Rumor-Mongering

Koppel Covers for Limbaugh's Rumor-Mongering Ted Koppel's special (ABC Viewpoint, 4/19/94) on press coverage of Whitewater was a perfect opportunity to take Rush Limbaugh to task for spreading unfounded conspiracy theories. But instead, ABC journalists Koppel and Jeff Greenfield let Limbaugh off the hook. On his March 10 radio broadcast, Limbaugh had announced the following in urgent tones: OK, folks, I think I got enough information here to tell you about the contents of this fax that I got. Brace yourselves. This fax contains information that I have just been told will appear in a newsletter to Morgan Stanley sales […]

Jul
01
1994

Superhighway for Sale

Will the Public Have Room on the Road?

Ever since Vice President Al Gore propelled the metaphor of the"information superhighway" into the public consciousness, Americans have been repeatedly assured that the digital communications revolution will enhance the lives of everyone--rich and poor--by creating instant, low-cost access to the world's greatest information resources. Yet to observe the continuing feeding frenzy among the world's most powerful media corporations, the real prospect of the superhighway is starting to resemble an endless, ad-cluttered strip mall through cyberspace. The intense in-fighting among cable, telephone, broadcast, computer,publishing and other corporate power brokers is focused on how to slice the huge new media pie among […]

Jul
01
1994

As Rwanda Bled, Media Sat on Their Hands

As a genocide it ranks with the century's biggest--the Armenians, the Jews, the Cambodians. But this spring, as Western officials marked the 50th anniversary of the Nazi Holocaust, no one--least of all the U.S. government--lifted a finger to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans. And U.S. media coverage played along with the Clinton administration's policy of handwringing. Almost daily since the Rwandan genocide began on April 6, broadcast media have aired horrific accounts and the major papers have featured the story on their front pages. The media seldom wavered, however, from their habitual racist portrayal of African […]

Jul
01
1994

A Hell of a Nice Murderer:

Double Standards in Domestic Violence Coverage

Tired of reporting fraught with double standards and a blame-the-victim mentality, a coalition of women's rights advocates in San Francisco decided to study daily press coverage of violence against women. Barbara Johnson, an independent media critic who frequently works with FAIR, conducted an eight-month study of the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner's coverage of domestic violence cases that resulted in death. The survey documented that "many myths about domestic violence are perpetrated in news reports" and that most reporting focuses only on the most sensational details. One disturbing pattern uncovered was that white male perpetrators were frequently described […]

Jul
01
1994

Paula Jones and Sex Harassment:

From the Women's Desk:

It seemed like May madness had hit--at least as far as sexual harassment was concerned. Hoards of previously unreconstructed misogynists supported a working-class female who charged a powerful man with grimy sexual misconduct. New Republic editor and PBS pundit Fred Barnes, who once derided Anita Hill as"delusional," claimed that Arkansas state employee Paula Jones' accusations against Bill Clinton were "credible." (McLaughlin Group, 5/8/94) Rush Limbaugh, who'd previously boasted of a sign on his office door that read,"Sexual harassment at this work station will not be reported.... It will be graded," evinced sympathy for a woman who said she'd been harassed. […]

Jun
01
1994

Religion and Politics

The Media's One-Dimensional View

In a recent keynote address to the Religion Newswriters Association, Bill Moyers noted, "For broadcast executives, news of the soul is no news at all." Such dissatisfaction with religion coverage seems to be shared by many Americans. Stewart Hoover has found that newspaper readers rated religion as an important topic for papers to cover (above sports, below education), but rated religion coverage as the one with which they were least satisfied (Nieman Reports, Summer/93). In years past, religion coverage, or the "church page," has largely been the domain of cub reporters. The New York Times, according to Gay Talese's The […]

Mar
08
1992

The Way Things Aren't

Rush Limbaugh Debates Reality

Most of us here in the media are what I consider infotainers.... Rush Limbaugh is what I call a disinfotainer. He entertains by spreading disinformation. --Al Franken at the White House Correspondents' Dinner (4/23/94) Rush Limbaugh has gotten a lot of mileage out of his claim that volcanoes do more harm to the ozone layer than human-produced chemicals. He featured it in his best-selling book, The Way Things Ought to Be (paperback edition pp. 155-157): "Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines spewed forth more than a thousand times the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals in one eruption than all the fluorocarbons manufactured […]