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

Letters to the Editor

The Emperor's New Hump: An Exchange Having been directed to it by many of your readers, I have read Dave Lindorff's article about the Times' spiking of the John Schwartz/Andrew Revkin article on the apparent bulge beneath President Bush's suit during the first presidential debate. I consequently retrieved the original version of the story Mr. Lindorff mentions in his Extra! article, as it was submitted to the paper's top editors. At no point does it come anywhere near to "exposing how George W. Bush had worn an electronic cueing device in his ear and probably cheated during the presidential debates," […]

Mar
01
2005

Taking a Dive on Contra Crack

How the Mercury News caved in to the media establishment

At 2 a.m.—midnight in San Jose—on August 18, 1996, I was at a party at my best friend’s house in Indianapolis. I excused myself, went into a bedroom, plugged into my laptop, and dialed into the Mercury’s website. A picture of a man smoking crack, superimposed upon the seal of the CIA, drew itself on the screen. After more than a year of work, “Dark Alliance” was finally out. The Mercury News executive editor, Jerry Ceppos, called and congratulated me. The TV networks were calling the paper. We were getting phone calls from all over the world. “Let’s stay on […]

Mar
01
2005

'The World Little Noted'

CBS scandal eclipses missing WMDs

There was much journalistic hand-wringing and finger-pointing during the week of January 10, after CBS News’ official report on its dubious story on George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era service record. (See Extra! Update, 2/05.) But another story released that week suggests that media self-criticism has its limits—especially when the press’s failures involve being too credulous rather than too critical. The final announcement that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq came on January 12, two days after the CBS report was released. The official evaporation of the Bush administration’s chief rationale for a war that has killed more than […]

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

Gary Webb: His Unknown Gift to America

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 […]