Mar 1 1999

Withholding the News

The Washington Post and the UNSCOM Spying Scandal

On January 6, the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman revealed in a front-page article, sourced to “advisors” and “confidants” of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, that Annan had “obtained what he regards as convincing evidence that United Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in American efforts to undermine the Iraqi regime.” A similar story appeared in the same day’s Boston Globe. Gellman’s article, along with the Globe story, was widely credited with “breaking” the UNSCOM-spying story–a story that touched on a highly contentious issue at the U.N. Iraq had frequently accused UNSCOM arms inspectors of being conduits for American […]

Mar 1 1999

The Right’s ‘Race Desk’

American Enterprise Institute finds profit in prejudice

Anyone remotely familiar with conservative think tanks’ diatribes regarding such hot-button race issues as affirmative action (they’re against it), bilingual education (they’re against it), multiculturalism (they’re against it), welfare “reform” (they support it) or tougher criminal sentencing (they support it) would not be surprised by the American Enterprise Institute’s analyses of race issues in the United States. Still, even for the initiated, the ferocity of AEI’s work on race is quite breathtaking. Although the mainstream media are now deploring the overt racism of hate groups such as the Council of Conservative Citizens (see this issue of Extra!), the fact is […]

Mar 1 1999

Secular Liberal Media?

Newsweeklies get religion

Conservative critics often accuse mainstream media of being hostile to religion. But a quick survey of cover stories in the leading newsweeklies puts an end to that notion. Religion is one of the favorite cover subjects of Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. Religion is an important force in social life that deserves regular coverage. There seems to be an element of pandering, however, in the newsweeklies’ frequent return to cover stories like Time‘s “The Search for Jesus” and U.S. News‘ “In Search of Jesus” (both 4/8/96). Often religious topics are handled with kid gloves to avoid offending […]

Mar 1 1999

A Sex-Free Scandal

When racism is the issue, media are slow to dig

Trent Lott's Sex-Free Scandal

The current scandal involving Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s long-term association with a white supremacist hate group, the Council of Conservative Citizens, arose almost by accident. Its emergence as a major story is the result of the dogged reporting of one Washington Post reporter and a handful of mostly African-American columnists, with help from independent researchers (including FAIR). When Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz clashed with U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) during the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearings on Dec. 1, he accused Barr of using rhetoric laced with “bigotry” and “racism.” Barr had repeatedly referred to “the real America” […]

Mar 1 1999

Something Stinks

Francophobia at the New York Times

For the Times of London and the Times of New York, it is still quite proper to say the natives stink– provided they are French. When French soap merchants followed the lead of ours to persuade their public that it had B.O., the Timeses were happy to confirm it. The one in London (11/21/98) whinnied: “It’s True!: The French Really Are the Smelliest in Europe.” In fragrant New York, it was “Hygiene Poll Bares Source of the French Je Sais Quoi” (11/24/98). Craig Whitney’s lead chortled: “The French invented perfume because they had to. In the 17th Century, even Louis […]

Mar 1 1999

‘Old Days’ Slow to Haunt Lott

Press missed tips on racist ties

Long-standing ties between Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens are finally, if hesitatingly, coming to light. But at a time when the politics of impeachment have produced a number of related scandals involving a variety of Congress members, mainstream media have been slow to recognize Lott’s involvement with the CCC as scandalous. In fact, the real scandal is how the mainstream media, until recently, have all but ignored Lott’s many connections with the racist right. When Lott became Senate Majority Leader in 1996, Village Voice reporter Claire Saliba did what one might […]

Mar 1 1999

Don’t Believe Everything You Read:

New York Times Editorialists Doubt the Times

The same day the Washington Post was hyperventilating about the U.N. being excessively candid with its own reporter (1/7/99), the New York Times advanced the UNSCOM-spying story with a front-page article by Tim Weiner. Weiner’s piece went further than the previous day’s story in the Post, reporting that “American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors…using diplomatic cover or other professional identities.” The Times ran an editorial that day, too. Called “A Spy Enigma in Iraq,” the editorial bent over backwards to cast the allegations–which were made by the Times‘ own intelligence reporter in that day’s […]