May 1 2009

Letters to the Editor

Ashamed to Be a Subscriber As a FAIR subscriber and one who has given gift subscriptions to friends and family, I want you to know that “The Online Predator Scare: Profiting From the Panic” by Steve Rendall (4/09) is possibly the worst thing you have ever published. This piece makes me ashamed to be a FAIR subscriber. Your complaints and criticisms are backed up by nothing except the University of New Hampshire study which apparently showed—your expression of those findings is sloppy—that “the actual instance of minors [aged 10 to 17] who were aggressively sexually solicited by adults on the […]

Mar 1 2009


Lessons of Lebanon On January 4, the L.A. Times published a piece on the Gaza conflict (1/4/09) co-authored by Michael Oren, who was identified as “a distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center and a professor at the foreign service school of Georgetown University.” Unmentioned was Oren’s other job; he’s currently serving as a reservist in the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza. As he explained in the New Republic (1/4/09), his work involves “fostering a sympathetic press,” adding: “The IDF has learned many lessons from its bitter Lebanon experience and the need for effective PR is one of them. I believe […]

Mar 1 2009

The ‘Right to Exist’ as an Arab Israeli

U.S. papers of record regularly erase Israel’s Palestinian citizens

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/nealunger

On January 11, 2009, a Washington Post article (“The View from Israel: Victors in a Necessary War”) declared that “Israelis have been . . . resolute” in their support of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza. What the piece did not mention was that some 20 percent of the citizens of Israel are Palestinians. While a common criticism of Palestinian political groups is their refusal to recognize Israel’s “right to exist,” U.S. corporate media repeatedly fail to recognize the existence of Palestinian Israelis. During Cast Lead, from December 27, 2008, until the tentative cease-fire unilaterally declared by Israel […]

Mar 1 2009

Stimulus Snake Oil

Media promote nonsensical GOP talking points

Stimulus funds paid for replacement of a root-bound storm drain at Tigard Transit Center.--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Thomas Le Ngo

As debate over the White House’s economic stimulus plan took center stage in corporate media in February, citizens who wished to understand the details had to swim upstream against a current of Republican spin and misinformation. A study from Think Progress (1/28/09) found the lawmakers who appeared on cable news channels (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business Channel and CNBC) to discuss the stimulus from January 26-28 tilted Republican by a 2-to-1 margin. A subsequent analysis by the online outlet (2/6/09) showed much the same tilt, and pointed out that many of TV’s Democratic legislative sources were right-leaning legislators who […]

Mar 1 2009

Gaza as ‘PR Battle’

Civilian deaths seen as public relations problem

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Michael Loadenthal

The three-week Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip that began December 27 was accompanied by aggressive public relations strategies intended to improve the assault’s portrayal in international media. “In the war of the pictures we lose, so you need to correct, explain or balance it in other ways,” said Israeli public affairs official Aviv Shir-On (London Guardian, 1/2/09). In U.S. corporate media, that effort faced little resistance. Israeli control of information was described as unusually disciplined—Israel was said to have “revamped its information operations, presenting a unified message, bottling up leaks from the field and working to drive a wedge […]

Mar 1 2009

Decoding the Media’s Ideological Spin

‘Bipartisan’ warnings and ‘pragmatic’ praise

Even before Barack Obama won the November elections, Newsweek (10/27/08) was warning, “America remains a center-right nation—a fact that a President Obama would forget at his peril.” (See FAIR Blog, 10/19/08.) If Obama reads corporate media, that’s a warning he won’t likely forget. The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib—one of’s “25 Most Influential Liberals in Media” (1/22/09; FAIR Blog, 1/24/09)—lectured Obama right after the election: Some Democrats, seeing the margins of victory they have rolled up, doubtless now will start pushing for new economic policies, new financial regulatory structures, new government plans for healthcare and a new strategy for […]

Mar 1 2009

When ‘We’ All Supported Torture

Amidst the many calls for Barack Obama to abandon campaign promises and move to the right, one set stood out for its ghoulishness: the media pleas for Obama to keep torturing (e.g., Washington Post, 1/10/09; Newsweek, 1/19/09; Wall Street Journal, 1/29/09). News accounts of the new administration’s intelligence plans have tended to leap hopefully on any sign, real or imagined, that Obama didn’t really mean it when he promised to abide by laws and treaties banning torture (CounterSpin, 1/30/09). Why does torture have such appeal for so many in corporate media? A Washington Post column by Richard Cohen (1/27/09) provided […]

Feb 1 2009

The Recession and the “Deserving Poor”

Poverty finally on media radar—but only when it hits the middle class

As the economy crumbles, issues of poverty and economic need have begun to make more frequent appearances in the news media. From October through December 2008, for example, the three nightly TV news shows ran 20 stories—about one every four or five days—addressing poverty or related issues such as homelessness or food stamps. A previous FAIR study of nightly news coverage (Extra!, 9-10/07), by comparison, found an average of one poverty story on the evening news every three weeks. More coverage, though, does not necessarily mean better coverage. And while swelling food-stamp rolls and unemployment lines may become media staples […]