Aug 1 2001

Think Tanks Y2K

Progressive groups gain, but right still cited twice as often

While 2000 was an unsettling year for electoral democracy and the stock market, it was a good time to be a think tank. Overall, media citations of think tanks grew 29 percent in 2000. Progressive or left-leaning organizations obtained 20 percent of those citations, an 79 percent gain over 1999. Some think tanks saw a dramatic increase in the number of references they received in electronic media, including many progressive groups, such as the Economic Policy Institute, Urban Institute and Justice Policy Institute. While this represents a step toward diversity, the debate is still largely conducted on a center-right continuum, […]

Jul 1 2001

Nuclear Power Gets Media Makeover

Energy crisis sparks atomic hype

“Nuclear Follies,” a February 11, 1985 cover story in Forbes, declared U.S. nuclear power “the largest managerial disaster in business history.” With $125 billion invested, the magazine wrote, “only the blind, or the biased, can now think that most of the money has been well spent. It is a defeat for the U.S. consumer and for the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program and for the private enterprise system that made it possible.” Pretty strong words. But now, a mere 16 years later, nuclear power is being widely reported in the mainstream media as not […]

Jul 1 2001

The Most Biased Name in News

Fox News Channel's extraordinary right-wing tilt

Rupert Murdoch at Davos (photo: Monika Flueckiger/World Economic Forum)

“I challenge anybody to show me an example of bias in Fox News Channel.”–Rupert Murdoch (Salon, 3/1/01) Years ago, Republican party chair Rich Bond explained that conservatives’ frequent denunciations of “liberal bias” in the media were part of “a strategy” (Washington Post, 8/20/92). Comparing journalists to referees in a sports match, Bond explained: “If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs.’ Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack next time.”   But when Fox News Channel, Rupert Murdoch’s 24-hour cable network, debuted in 1996, a curious thing happened: Instead of denouncing it, […]

Jul 1 2001

The Uncovering and Reburial of a War Crime

exposé of Kerrey's massacre provokes media backlash

The last weekend of April marked a high point in American journalism, when the New York Times Magazine and 60 Minutes II exposed a dreadful war crime. It also marked a low point in American journalism, when the media denied the crime, minimized it, defended it and reburied it. The story had first been exhumed by Newsweek‘s Gregory L. Vistica in 1998. He established that in the Mekong Delta one night in 1969, in the village of Thanh Phong, a squad of Navy SEALs led by Bob Kerrey knifed to death an elderly couple and three children, then gunned down […]

Jul 1 2001

Bill O’Reilly’s Sheer O’Reillyness

Don't call him conservative-- but he is

Fox News Channel‘s star performer is undoubtedly Bill O’Reilly. Host of the nightly talk-show The O’Reilly Factor and author of the best-selling book of the same name, O’Reilly epitomizes Fox‘s in-your-face style. A former anchor for the tabloid Inside Edition whose upcoming contract is reportedly worth $20 million (Boston Globe, 3/14/01), O’Reilly poses nightly as an outraged common man speaking out against the corruption of the liberal elites who run the country from Hollywood and Washington. “We’re the only show from a working-class point of view,” he once told the Washington Post (12/13/00). “I understand working-class Americans. I’m as lower-middle-class […]

Jul 1 2001

Power Shortage for Media Women

Studies document absence from influential roles

The New York Times (8/22/99) declared the glass ceiling “shattered” when Hewlett Packard’s Carly Fiorina became the third female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. But if they were looking for conflicting evidence, they could start in their own backyard. As a variety of recent studies show, women continue to face a substantial glass ceiling in the media industry itself. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors 2001 Newsroom Census, women are only 34 percent of daily newsroom supervisors; women of color hold a mere 3 percent of these positions, ASNE’s Bobbi Bowman told Extra!. There are even fewer […]

Jul 1 2001

Free Trade = Freedom

FTAA coverage spins pro-business as pro-democracy

In coverage of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the tens of thousands of people who rallied outside the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City this April to oppose it, U.S. media went to remarkable lengths to promote corporate and government spin on the liberating powers of trade. The FTAA is a trade agreement negotiated in secret by trade ministers, heads of state and business executives with virtually no input from civil society. It is meant to extend and even expand NAFTA’s pro-business provisions “from the high Arctic to the Argentine pampas” (New York Times, […]

Jul 1 2001

Fox’s Slanted Sources

Conservatives, Republicans far outnumber others

Perhaps the most reliable method of gauging an outlet’s perspective is to study its sources. If Fox News Channel is the bastion of balance that it claims to be, then its pool of guests should reflect a full spectrum of debate, from left to right, and neither major party should dominate over the other. To test Fox‘s guest list, FAIR studied 19 weeks of Special Report with Brit Hume (1/1/01-5/11/01), which Fox calls its signature political news show looking specifically at the show’s daily one-on-one newsmaker interviews conducted by the show’s anchor. The interview segment is a central part of […]