Apr
01
2005

America's Broken Electoral System

Get over it, says mainstream press

Throughout 2004, the “swing state” of Ohio was in the media spotlight. Prior to the election, it was a site of alleged voter fraud and suppression; as Extra! reported (12/04), the news media tended to portray the charges as partisan ploys rather than significant threats to the electoral process. Then, on November 2, Ohio became this election’s Florida: Once again a tight race hinged on the electoral votes of a state too close to call. At the end of the night, with only about 130,000 votes separating Democrat John Kerry and Republican George W. Bush, Kerry refused to concede. The […]

Apr
01
2005

Academic Racists Make Mainstream Inroads

From National Review to the New York Times

Resurgences of biological determinism correlate with periods of political retrenchment and destruction of social generosity. —Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man. ''If the black man wins,'' warned a New York Times editorial on the eve of the historic 1910 fight between Jack Johnson and ''Great White Hope'' Jim Jeffries, ''thousands and thousands of his ignorant brothers will misinterpret his victory as justifying claims to much more than mere physical equality with their white neighbors'' (New York Times, 7/3/1910—as cited on PBS’s Unforgivable Blackness, 1/17/05). In an earlier editorial (11/1/1909), the editors worried over the fight while revealing what passed […]

Mar
01
2005

America's Broken Electoral System

Get over it, says mainstream press

Throughout 2004, the "swing state" of Ohio was in the media spotlight. Prior to the election, it was a site of alleged voter fraud and sup­pression; as Extra! reported (12/04), the news media tended to portray the charges as partisan ploys rather than significant threats to the electoral process. Then, on November 2, Ohio became this election's Florida: Once again a tight race hinged on the electoral votes of a state too close to call. At the end of the night, with only about 130,000 votes sep­arating Democrat John Kerry and Republican George W. Bush, Kerry refused to concede. The […]

Mar
01
2005

Fear & Favor 2004 -- The Fifth Annual Report

How power shapes the news

“We can get five reporters a month to do news stories about your product. If you want to be interviewed by 10 to 20 reporters per month, we can arrange that, too. . . . Media Relations, Inc. has placed tens of thousands of news stories on behalf of more than 1,000 clients.—Media Relations, Inc. solicitation The PR agency’s promises are a stark reminder that the news is, in many ways, a collision of different interests. The traditional tenets of journalism are challenged and undermined by other factors: Advertisers demand “friendly copy,” while other commercial interests work to place news […]

Mar
01
2005

America's Debt to Gary Webb

Punished for reporting the truth while those who covered it up thrived

In 1996, journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of articles that forced a long-overdue investigation of a very dark chapter of recent U.S. foreign policy—the Reagan/Bush administration’s protection of cocaine traffickers who operated under the cover of the Nicaraguan Contra war in the 1980s. For his brave reporting at the San Jose Mercury News, Webb paid a high price. He was attacked by journalistic colleagues at the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, American Journalism Review (11/96, 1-2/ 97, 6/97) and even the Nation magazine (6/2/97). Under this media pressure, his editor, Jerry Ceppos, sold out the story […]

Mar
01
2005

John Hess, 1917-2005

Editor's Note

John Hess

This issue's cover story concerns the late journalist Gary Webb, but another reporter's recent death was just as great a loss. John Hess, a great reporter and a great friend of FAIR, died on January 21 at the age of 87. John used to say that the term "investigative reporter" was redundant, because all reporters are supposed to be investigators, rather than simply parroting what people in power were saying. On one issue he was nearly alone in showing skepticism: As far back as the 1980s, John was debunking claims of a "crisis" in Social Security, pointing out how such […]

Mar
01
2005

The Return of Deep Throat

Now he's a mainstream journalist, leaking stories to the alternative press

I remember the excitement I felt some years ago, working in Los Angeles at the L.A. Daily News or at TV station KCET, as I’d pursue a hot story—the corruption of a blatantly racist school board member, say, or the shooting of unarmed people by the LAPD. There was always the story itself, of course, but there was also the sense that if you didn’t get it in and get it right, you’d be beaten by the competition—usually the L.A. Times, in my case, or one of the local TV stations, which back in the 1970s still did a little […]

Mar
01
2005

SoundBites

If I Do Say So Myself Fox News’ commentary on George W. Bush's second inaugural address (1/20/05) included Weekly Standard editor William Kristol praising Bush for “a very eloquent speech...one of the most powerful speeches, one of the most impressive speeches, I think I’ve seen an American president give.” Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer was also on hand to call the speech “revolutionary” and compare Bush to John F. Kennedy. Somehow both Kristol and Krauthammer forgot to mention that they had been called in as advisers to help craft the speech they now marveled at as a work of genius, […]