Apr 01 2007

Sidebar: Hannity Finds the Hate

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Can You Hear Us NOW?] The most mean-spirited portrayal of the protest as a Vietnam echo came from Fox’s Sean Hannity. “I see you brought Jane Fonda back for this one,” Hannity said to protester Anne Roesler, asking if she were proud of Fonda, whose picture was taken in Vietnam sitting on “the very equipment used to kill our troops.” When Roesler started to answer that she was a member of Military Families Speak Out with a son serving in the war, Hannity cut her off, saying, “I’m not interested in that.” He […]

Apr 01 2007

From Self-Censorship to Official Censorship

Ban on images of wounded GIs raises no media objections

Ban on images of wounded GIs raises no media objections This photo of mortally wounded Sgt. Hector Leija, taken by Robert Nickelsberg, was pulled from the New York Times website after being called “offensive” and contrary to new censorship regulations by a U.S. military official. A letter in February to the New York Times (2/3/07) from the commander of the Multinational Corps in Iraq revealed new censorship regulations prohibiting portrayals of U.S. casualties in the media. The tightened rules have been in effect since May 2006, but no media outlet with embedded photographers reported on or objected to the censorship […]

Apr 01 2007

Can You Hear Us NOW?

Anti-war march gets more coverage—but the message is still muted

Anti-war march gets more coverage—but the message is still mutedThe stage had been set up in front of the reflecting pool below Capitol Hill, facing the length of the Mall and the Washington Monument. Just behind the stage, in a space set aside for media interviews, huddles of reporters moved scrum-like from the Rev. Jesse Jackson to actress Susan Sarandon to Rep. John Conyers before each took their turn addressing the January 27 antiwar rally and march in Washington D.C. Out in front of the stage, two multi-step risers held a phalanx of TV cameras and their operators. Still photographers […]

Mar 01 2007

Letters to the Editor

PBS: A Guide to the Perplexed I write to provide a personal testimony to that portion of your study (Extra!, 9-10/06) on the lack of black experts invited to appear on PBS. I appeared on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour once about 12-14 years ago. For several years now, I have been frequently contacted by bookers at the NewsHour and interviewed preliminary to appearing on the show. However, for some reason, they always cancelled. This has happened so frequently that I concluded either my views were too progressive for the stories being presented, or that they had some sort of racial quota […]

Mar 01 2007

The Real ‘Masters of Space’

Warfare in orbit is only news when China does it

Warfare in orbit is only news when China does itAs a graphic proclaiming “Red Storm” flashed on the screen, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs intoned: “Communist 5China tonight refusing to explain its motives for conducting its first-ever anti-satellite missile test. That test, the latest in a series of dangerous new challenges by the Chinese military to this country’s interest.” He threw it to correspondent Christine Romans, who declared, “Defense experts see a pattern of behavior that highlights China’s strategy to exploit American weakness.” Romans went to John Tkacik of the Heritage Foundation, who, she reported, “says that American policymakers refuse to […]

Mar 01 2007


How loving Barack Obama helps pundits love themselves

How loving Barack Obama helps pundits love themselvesThe day after he formally announced he was a candidate for the 2008 presidential race, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) took a shot at the media. Alluding to the perception that he avoids taking strong positions on important political issues, Obama told reporters (Washington Post, 2/12/07): “The problem is that that’s not what you guys have been reporting on. You’ve been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit.” It’s not often that politicians complain that they get coverage they deem too “soft,” but Obama could make the charge with a straight face. In […]

Mar 01 2007

Fear & Favor 2006 — The Seventh Annual Report

Encroachment without apology

Encroachment without apology“Fear and favor” describes the various pushes and pulls on journalists to use something other than journalistic values in producing the news. The intense corporatization of media makes the precise contours of such compromise difficult to trace. Pressure to cut costs and please financially powerful players is, as it were, “in the air” in corporate America; who can say how far into the journalistic process such budgetary concerns intrude? Ad salespeople drumming up sponsors for an upcoming story in the Ft. Myers, Fla., News-Press will be accompanied on sales calls by the reporter, reports the Washington Post (12/4/06): […]

Mar 01 2007

Here We Go Again

NYT's Gordon still peddling dubious claims by unnamed sources

NYT’s Gordon still peddling dubious claims by unnamed sourcesIn the wake of its disastrous pre-war reporting on Iraq, the New York Times announced new rules governing its use of unnamed sources. Its lead story on February 10, promoting Bush administration charges against Iran, violated those rules. In the report, “Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says,” Times reporter Michael R. Gordon cited a one-sided array of anonymous sources charging the Iranian government with providing a particularly deadly variety of roadside bomb to Shia militias in Iraq: “The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is […]