Aug
01
2007

Media and Impeachment

Not for discussion, only for derision

Ocean Beach in San Francisco was abuzz with 1,500 people who showed up to spell out a giant “Impeach Now” with their bodies on April 28, all in the home district of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi made a splash prior to the November 2006 election by saying that a Bush impeachment was “off the table” (Washington Post, 5/12/06). Several scandals later—the Libby conviction, failing Iraq “surge,” U.S. Attorneys’ purge and missing White House e-mails—people across the nation served up their own impeachment proposals. But “impeach” is barely in the lexicon of major national media; on the rare occasion […]

Aug
01
2007

Clear the Stage

Media have little time, tolerance for ‘second-tier’ candidates

With the public still many months away from choosing major-party presidential candidates, robust public debates with a wide sampling from across the political spectrum would seem to be an empowering democratic exercise. And for a press corps so often complaining about the scripted and stilted tedium of day-to-day political campaigning, wide-open debates and a freewheeling exchange of ideas might make for good TV. But many journalists seem not to agree. In the coverage of the early candidate debates, the media have fallen into a familiar pattern of trying to “weed out” candidates who do not meet the press corps’ ideological […]

Aug
01
2007

Framing the Abortion Ruling

Religious right’s terms leave women out of issue

After the Supreme Court’s Gonzales v. Carhart decision upheld federal legislation that restricted abortion procedures without providing an exception for the woman’s health, CNN correspondent Candy Crowley (4/23/07) voiced a popular media refrain: “What’s interesting is whoever frames this issue the best is who is going to benefit from it politically.” Crowley was correct in the sense that the way an issue is presented critically impacts how people understand that issue. Therefore, presentation affects how we vote and what sort of demands we make of our political representatives; it’s something political operatives have long understood and tried to exploit. But […]

Jul
01
2007

The Poisoned Chalice

Media and double standards

U.S. Justice Robert Jackson, the chief of counsel for the prosecution at the Nuremberg Tribunal, addressed the Tribunal on the principle of universality, which is the foundation of any moral code that can be taken seriously. It’s the principle that we apply to ourselves the same standards that we apply to others, if not more stringent ones. Justice Jackson admonished the Tribunal that this elementary principle must be its guide, or else its proceedings would be nothing but legal farce, an act of vengeance, victor’s justice. To quote Jackson’s memorable words: If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, […]

Jul
01
2007

SoundBites

O’Reilly: NBC “Jazzed” About Kids’ Deaths A new study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism (5/25/07) found that over a 10-week period in 2006, Fox spent less time covering the Iraq War than either CNN or MSNBC—half as much time compared to the latter. In response to the “big deal” that “the liberal press has made” out of this finding, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly retorted (6/19/07), “I want the USA to stabilize that country and deal a huge blow to terrorism worldwide, but not everybody in the media feels that way.” As an example, O’Reilly claimed NBC Nightly News […]

Jul
01
2007

CounterSpin Interview: Ali Abunimah on Gaza

'It's the exact opposite of a coup'

In November 2004, a New York Times article on Palestinian elections (11/14/04) stated, “The post-Arafat era will be the latest test of a quintessentially American article of faith: that elections provide legitimacy even to the frailest institutions.” The "faith" that elites in the press and in government have in such elections is tested when the results cut against U.S. wishes, as happened when Hamas prevailed over Fatah in Palestinian elections in 2006. As a result, the White House pursued a policy of punishing Palestinians for their disobedience by attempting to prevent Hamas from participating in the Palestinian government. That only […]

Jul
01
2007

Letters to the Editor

A Little Learning I am struck by the fact that George Will referred derisively to those who believe in global warming (which includes, of course, the vast majority of scientists) as “climate Cassandras” in a February 12 Newsweek column (Extra!, 5-6/07). Can it be that Will doesn’t know that in Greek mythology, Cassandra was endowed with the gift of accurate prophecy—but cursed by the gods never to be believed? Joanne Gruber New York, N.Y. Something to ANSWER For Did a bit of the New York Times rub off on its former reporter Frances Cerra Whittelsey? I don’t know, but it […]

Jul
01
2007

The Climate Change Gap

U.S. media fiddle while Earth burns

If 2006 was the year that the issue of global climate change broke through into greater public consciousness—thanks in large part to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, plus books like Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe—2007 could be the year that it becomes old news. Between February and May of this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a joint project of the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization, issued a series of three comprehensive reports designed to present the scientific evidence for climate change, as well as the likely consequences and how the most catastrophic effects can […]