Jul 1 2000

Pulp Facts

Paper, pollution & the press

When people think of the most environmentally devastating industries, the print media may not come immediately to mind. But unfortunately for everyone who gets their news this way, the cost of the morning paper that lands on our stoop—and even the magazine you are now reading—may include “denuded landscapes, toxic rivers, foul air, bulging landfills and belching incinera­tors,” according to Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape, a 1999 World Watch Institute report. About 5.8 billion magazines and 24 billion newspapers are published each year, according to trade figures. And the report, which culled statistics from such mainstream sources as industry […]

Jul 1 2000

Booknotes’ Slanted Shelf

C-SPAN slights left-wing authors

Booknotes is an entertaining program on the C-SPAN cable network. Hosted by general manager Brian Lamb, the show features hour-long author interviews every Sunday evening. Lamb is an intelligent interviewer, choosing guests who have written informative, politically interesting non-fiction and presenting them in a conversational, audience-friendly format. Unhappily, Booknotes also displays a pronounced conservative bias in its choice of guests. Lamb’s interests, reflected in the authors and books he chooses, tend toward American politics and history. He seems on a crusade to explain our national history, especially that of his own lifetime, to viewers of a younger generation. It’s a […]

Jul 1 2000

Inside the News Shapers

New book exposes right-wing think tanks' media strategy

The dominance of right-wing think tanks and policy analysts in the media is a quantifiable fact. (See Extra!, 5-6/00.) But how does this happen, and what are the consequences? Those questions are explored by Trudy Lieberman in Slanting the Story: The Forces that Shape the News (New Press). Lieberman, the director of the Center for Consumer Health Choices at Consumers Union and a contributing editor at Columbia Journalism Review, collects case studies that exemplify the strategies of some of the most powerful institutions on the right (Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute). She demonstrates their ability to turn legislative priorities into media […]

Jul 1 2000

Whitewash in Washington

Media provide cover as police militarize D.C.

If any groups deserve high marks, they are the disciplined men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department. . . . The city should be grateful for the professional manner in which they handled the week-long protests. — “Hail to the Chief—and His Cops,” Washington Post editorial (4/19/00) Police sought to create an atmosphere of palatable fear. Anyone who wanted to hear about the demonstrators’ political views knew that she ran a severe risk of being tear gassed, pepper sprayed, or arrested just for being in the area where speech was taking place. Anyone identified as an activist risked a […]

Jul 1 2000

Solid Ratings Don’t Protect Progressive Radio Voices

Are 'controversial' and 'mean-spirited' code words for 'left'?

Commercial talk radio, like television punditry, is politically lopsided, dominated by the likes of Dr. Laura Schlesinger and Rush Limbaugh. The airspace for voices that tackle political issues from a progressive perspective even seems to be shrinking; two progressive shows–Pat Thurston of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Chicago’s Mike Malloy–were canceled earlier this year. The February 15 firing of Pat Thurston by Santa Rosa’s KSRO sparked protest rallies and letters to the local paper lamenting the loss of “the voice of Sonoma County” and “the only widely accessible interactive debate on local issues” (Press Democrat, 2/17/00; 2/27/00). Project Censored’s Peter Phillips […]

Jul 1 2000

PBS’s National Desk

Public Broadcasting Gone Wrong?

Last year, FAIR’s Women’s Desk organized the Feminist Coalition on Public Broadcasting, an ad-hoc coalition of public interest groups whose representatives met with PBS executives in November 1999. The topic on the agenda: the journalistic inaccuracies and conflicts of interest in PBS‘s National Desk, a public affairs series whose three-part documentary on the so-called “gender wars” argued that advances for women and girls are leading to a “gender Armageddon” for boys and men. Produced by the conservative Whidbey Island Films and funded by the right-wing Lynde and Harry Bradley, John M. Olin, and Sarah Scaife foundations (along with PBS and […]

Jul 1 2000

Out of School

PBS's National Desk showcases education myths

A funny thing happened on the way to the PBS National Desk episode “Education: A Public Right Gone Wrong”: After inviting more than three dozen free-market enthusiasts, the production crew seems to have run out of invitations. The show’s version of investigative reporting is to pit 38 conservative foundation wonks, for-profit and religious school employees, and assorted voucher recipients speaking in favor of privatizing public education against four people defending public schools. Of these four, one is the president and another the chief counsel of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union, leaving the impression that only an organization […]

Jul 1 2000

For Press, Magenta Hair and Nose Rings Defined Protests

The success of the Washington, D.C. demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank can be measured in part by how well activists communicated their message to the general public. Without a doubt, the Mobilization for Global Justice succeeded in intensifying the national debate on globalization. This April, mainstream media featured a more sustained and substantive discussion of World Bank/IMF structural adjustment policies than ever before. That said, serious investigations of World Bank/IMF policies were still the exception rather than the rule. What’s more, this small broadening of coverage was accompanied by a formidable backlash on op-ed pages, and by a […]