Apr
01
2006

George Gerbner, 1919-2005

From anti-fascist fighter to cultural environmentalist

George Gerbner was born in Budapest in 1919 and fled to the United States to escape fascism in 1939, but he never lost his Hungarian accent. What he said about U.S. media culture often sounded as foreign as the way he said it. Gerbner spent his life in an adopted country saturated with graphic depictions of violence, a culture where the apex of expression often seemed to be focused through the crosshairs of a weapon. But he did not like media violence. I sat next to him at a dinner party while attending a conference in Istanbul, and the topic […]

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 […]

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 […]