Mar 1 1990

Capital Cities/ABC

No. 2, and Trying Harder

Thomas Murphy

In 1985, Capital Cities, a company with interests in TV, radio and publishing, spent $3.4 billion to take over the American Broadcasting Co., a company four times its size. At the time, ABC employees feared their new parent’s tight fists and sharp eyes. Cap Cities management has certainly lived up to its advance billing; the acquisition, which looked a little grandiose in 1985, effectively paid for itself in four years. Cap Cities/ABC is a diversified media conglomerate with little debt and $1.1 billion in the bank. just tinder 80 percent of 1989 sales (which totaled $4.96 billion), and 86 percent […]

Mar 1 1990

Panama Revisited

Buildings destroyed by the invasion of Panama (cc photo: Beau Finley)

Though Panama has largely disappeared from the news in the months since the invasion, what coverage remains has not significantly improved in accuracy. Time’s March 5 “Grapevine” column reported: Under Manuel Antonio Noriega, bank-secrecy laws prevented American agents from tracing hundreds of millions of narcodollars that were laundered through Panamanian banks. Now the U.S.- installed Endara government is cooperating with U.S. prosecutors and investigators seeking to discover what happened to drug profits stashed in more than 300 bank accounts. As Extra! pointed out last issue, President Endara and numerous other leaders of Panama’s new government have close ties to the […]

Mar 1 1990

Post-Mortem on Nicaragua’s Election

Daniel Ortega at a 1990 campaign rally (cc photo: Robert Croma)

Not everyone was unprepared for the Nicaraguan election results. In his 1985 book Turning the Tide, Noam Chomsky predicted that the US would not overthrow the Sandinistas through an invasion as long as “the dream that there might be a more just and decent society remains.” “A wiser strategy,” Chomsky wrote, is first to kill the dream by a campaign of terror, intimidation, sabotage, blocking of aid and other means available to a superpower that is immune to retaliation, until the errant society cracks under the strain and its people recognize that in the shadow of the enforcer, there can […]

Mar 1 1990

CIA Role in Mandela’s Capture?

Nelson Mandela in prison. He was released in 1990, after being incarcerated for 27 years.

While the mass media devoted hours of broadcast time and scores of articles to Mandela’s release, they missed a key part of the story on how he got to prison in the first place–namely, the CIA’s reported role in luring Mandela to his capture. Mandela was arrested in August 1962, while traveling disguised as a chauffeur. According to 1986 reports in the South African press, Mandela had been on his way to a top secret meeting with the U.S. consul in Durban, South Africa–Donald Rickard, a diplomat reputed to be a CIA officer. Rickard, the reports said, had tipped off […]

Mar 1 1990

Mandela’s Walk to Freedom

Nelson Mandela (cc photo: Archives of the City of Montreal)

The New York Times and the Washington Post gave coverage unprecedented for an African issue to the events surrounding the release of Nelson Mandela. In the week following the February 10 announcement of the release, both newspapers carried an average of three articles daily. (On one day, February 13, the Times carried nine articles on the release.) But this attention only provided more opportunity for omissions, distortions and racism by the nation’s two most prominent newspapers. A recurring theme in both papers was “sharing power,” a euphemism for an arrangement that avoids the “one person, one vote” solution called br […]

Mar 1 1990

Unreliable Sources: Slick Coverage of the Exxon Valdez Spill

Workers at the Exxon Valdez disaster

Months after the Exxon Valdez spill, national media began to focus on the damage not done by Exxon’s blunder, heralding Big Oil’s efforts to preserve Alaska’s environment. Out of the jaws of catastrophe, Exxon snatched a news spin increasingly to its liking.

Mar 1 1990

No Hope for the Homeless at the New York Times

The New York Times‘ campaign against the homeless, begun in 1988 with an article charging beggars with “hardening New Yorkers against their fellow citizens” (7/29/88), has recently heated up. The latest barrage began with a January 26 op-ed column by Myron Magnet, a Fortune magazine editor, who was given nearly half the page to make the point that growing numbers of homeless do not reflect “rising injustice and inequality in the social order.” “Anyone who goes home by train or subway and trusts the evidence of his senses,” Magnet wrote, “knows this just isn’t so. What you see, if you […]