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 […]