Apr
01
2006

Now It's a Chemical Weapon, Now It's Not

White phosphorus and the siege of Fallujah

U.S. Air Force dropping white phosphorus on NLF guerrillas in Vietnam, 1966. (photo: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force)

  Gearing up for an invasion of Iraq in 2002, U.S. media vividly evoked the cruel effects of unconventional weapons. Washington Post foreign affairs columnist Jim Hoagland referred repeatedly to Saddam Hussein’s imagined stockpiles of “horror weapons” and “weapons of horror,” and later to the “horrors” of Saddam’s past use of chemical weapons (7/11/02, 10/25/02, 9/24/03). Leading outlets had their correspondents produce feature stories on former Iranian soldiers and Kurds still suffering from Iraqi mustard gas and other agents used in the 1980s. “We came under heavy bombardment, but there was no shrapnel,” Newsweek (3/19/03) quoted an Iranian veteran. “Then […]

Mar
01
2006

Sidebar: Strictly Personal

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to "Fear & Favor 2005—FAIR's Sixth Annual Report."] Sometimes the conflict of interest isn’t with advertisers or owners, but with reporters themselves. It isn’t that journalists aren’t allowed to have private lives. But readers and viewers do have to wonder, in some cases, whether someone with fewer entanglements couldn’t have been found to report certain stories—and in other cases, whether some folks are just plain overentangled. In describing the qualities you’d want in a reputable news reporter and anchor, “has taken money to promote powerful interests” would not be high on the list. But […]

Mar
01
2006

Sidebar: Prepackaged News

Straight From the Source, No Journalism Required

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to "Fear & Favor 2005—FAIR's Sixth Annual Report."] At the beginning of the year, the Armstrong Williams scandal highlighted the disturbing practice of the Bush administration’s using taxpayer dollars to fund media that uncritically promote government policies and programs, without disclosing the source of the funding to readers or viewers. (Journalist Williams was revealed to have received some $240,000 from the White House to promote George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act.) But no scandal arose just a short while later, when an inspector general’s report found that the Williams deal was just […]

Mar
01
2006

SoundBites

Media vs. Workers ABC's George Will, interviewing General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner (This Week, 1/8/06), complained that people who buy GM cars are “paying a lot of money for a welfare state that you're running. Someone recently said you buy a Hyundai, they give you a satellite radio. You buy a General Motors car, or Ford, you're buying pensions, medical care and all the rest, adds an enormous premium on the cost of a car.” (Will surely understands that such benefits aren’t charity, but contractual obligations--and that Hyundai workers also receive health and retirement benefits.) NBC Nightly News' Anne Thompson […]

Mar
01
2006

Letters to the Editor

Anniversary Wishes Kudos on your 20th anniversary issue of Extra!, and thanks for all I have learned and benefited from. Best wishes for the next 20 years or until there is a free press doing its job in the USA. (If there was one thing missing in the issue, it might have been mention of Fred J. Cook, one of my favorite muckrakers.) Bob Goldberg Jericho, N.Y. . Thank you for the wonderful review of those 20 very important stories and how the media handled them. We need to have such reminders. Leonore Johnson Toledo, OH . I wish you […]