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

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 of images. In his letter, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno […]

Apr
01
2007

Can You Hear Us NOW?

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

The 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 and reporters edged in for a few inches of […]

Mar
01
2007

The Real 'Masters of Space'

Warfare in orbit is only news when China does it

As 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 recognize China’s hostile intentions toward this country.” The segment […]

Mar
01
2007

Obamamania

How loving Barack Obama helps pundits love themselves

The 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 a sense, Obama’s complaint and the press […]

Mar
01
2007

Fear & Favor 2006 -- The Seventh Annual Report

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): “The logic: […]

Mar
01
2007

Here We Go Again

NYT's Gordon still peddling dubious claims by unnamed sources

In 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 an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts […]

Mar
01
2007

SoundBites

Broder and ‘His President’ In “Bush Regains His Footing” (2/16/07), Washington Post columnist David Broder told readers that, “perverse” as it may seem, Bush may actually be “poised for a political comeback.” He “shows signs of renewed energy and is regaining the initiative on several fronts.” And, “more important, he is demonstrating political smarts that even his critics have to acknowledge.” Challenged in an online discussion (WashingtonPost.com, 2/16/07) about whether he was perhaps too “deeply invested” in the Bush White House, Broder bristled, writing, “The notion that I am invested in him is bizarre—unless it is meant to suggest that […]