Jul 1 1999

Chris Matthews: Testosterone Overdose?

From CNBC's Hardball (5/4/99)

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Has a country ever won a war by avoiding enemy casualties? Isn’t that what we’re doing? We’re blowing up bridges that are dark and buildings that are empty, and killing a few night watchmen who are dumb enough to show up for the midnight shift. But it’s a strange war we’re fighting – why is [President Clinton] avoiding casualties on the other side? *** MATTHEWS: [Clinton] is about to dump this war on Madeleine Albright. He’s about to blame this war on this poor secretary of state, who basically is his staffer. SEN. JOHN McCAIN (guest): Yeah. MATTHEWS: […]

Jul 1 1999

Columbine Copycats: Is News to Blame?

Detail from This Modern World's High School Horrorfest (TM)

Virtually unheard from in coverage of copycat events were people like Park Dietz and David Phillips, whose studies have found that news reports–not movies or video games–are the prime media mover in begetting copycats.

Jul 1 1999

Legitimate Targets?

How U.S. Media Supported War Crimes in Yugoslavia

Belgrade street struck by NATO bombing (cc photo: Snake bgd/Wikimedia)

NATO justified the bombing of the Belgrade TV station, saying it was a legitimate military target. “We’ve struck at his TV stations and transmitters because they’re as much a part of his military machine prolonging and promoting this conflict as his army and security forces,” U.S. General Wesley Clark explained–“his,” of course, referring to Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic. It wasn’t Milosevic, however, who was killed when the Belgrade studios were bombed on April 23, but rather 20 journalists, technicians and other civilians. Clark’s logic is exactly the same as that of the death squad commander who orders the assassination of […]

Jul 1 1999

‘Perp Walks’ and Ride-Alongs

Staples of crime coverage face legal challenges

The “perp walk,” in which recent arrestees are paraded for news cameras, and the “ride along,” in which media accompany cops on the job, are standard features of mainstream media’s reporting on crime. But both practices, which involve close relationships between reporters and police, have been challenged by courts in recent months. Media aren’t dedicating much coverage to these legal questions about how they do their job. What reporting has appeared has been an oddly theoretical discussion, sidestepping basic questions and relying on frequent references to a “watchdog” press corps: intrepid, critical, responsible–and wholly unrecognizable to any regular consumer of […]

Jul 1 1999

A Mote in Their Eye

Felicity Barringer, the New York Times media reporter (“Week in Review,” 4/25/99), scolded editors for publishing an Agence France Press photo of a corpse in Kosovo, an Albanian refugee killed by a NATO bomb, without adequately warning that the Serbs could have arranged the body for dramatic effect. She quoted a CBS news executive who pointed out that with regard to news put out on our side, “You’re able to challenge and question and dig back and check in with sources.” The front page of the same “Week in Review” section carried a handsome color photo, also from AFP, taken […]

Jul 1 1999

‘I’d Take Them Out With Sex’

Journalists Trivialize Howard Stern's Advocacy of Rape as 'Insensitivity

It’s hard to find a way to worsen the horror of the school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, but Howard Stern found it–just one day after the murders, on his April 21, 1999 radio show (syndicated by Infinity Broadcasting, a CBS subsidiary). While considering the motives of the male students who murdered 12 classmates and one teacher, the “shock jock” mused: “There were some really good-looking girls running out with their hands over their heads. Did those kids try to have sex with any of the good-looking girls? They didn’t even do that? At least if you’re going to kill yourself […]

Jul 1 1999

Redefining Diplomacy

Press rewrites history to paint Belgrade as 'hard line'

On March 23, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke was in Belgrade to deliver a final ultimatum to Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic: Sign the Rambouillet plan–the document that emerged from the three-month-long talks in France between the Yugoslavian government, ethnic Albanians and the five-nation Contact Group–or be bombed. Milosevic’s government refused to ratify the plan, which envisioned a very high degree of autonomy for Kosovo, enforced with NATO troops. On March 24 the bombing began. But in the media, March 24 also marked the beginning of a remarkable process of historical revision in which the picture of the previous three months of […]