Mar
01
2008

What National Intelligence Estimate?

Good news fails to slow anti-Iran campaign

For a moment it looked like the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that Iran had halted its alleged nuclear weapons program might put a crimp in the White House’s campaign to portray Iran as a menace to the U.S. and its Mideast neighbors. The Washington Post (12/4/07) summarized the NIE’s impact: The new intelligence report released yesterday not only undercut the administration’s alarming rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but could also throttle Bush’s effort to ratchet up international sanctions and take off the table the possibility of preemptive military action before the end of his presidency. CBS News’ Bob […]

Mar
01
2008

Giuliani's Winning Strategy of Losing

'Front-runner' spent millions in states he 'skipped'

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/VictoryNH: Protect Our Primary

Many political reporters and pundits would probably like to forget the months they spent talking about how Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani was a strong front-runner amidst a relatively weak field. Giuliani enjoyed remarkably upbeat coverage for much of his campaign (Extra!, 5=6/07, 11=12/07), and even as he exited the race media continued their mythologizing, with many excusing his remarkably weak performance as just part of his strategy. On the eve of the Florida primaries, the new line on the Giuliani campaign coming from many pundits and reporters was that the candidate never really tried to win the early Republican […]

Mar
01
2008

Perilous Journalism in the Persian Gulf

Strait of Hormuz incident's uncritical coverage

HMS Middleton in the Straight of Hormuz--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Defence Images

Given that one of the stated goals of George W. Bush's January 8-16 Mideast trip was to "remind" allies in the Persian Gulf that "Iran is a threat'' (New York Times, 1/9/08), it should have at least struck journalists as a strange coincidence when a January 6 encounter between the U.S. Navy and five small Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the Persian Gulf, was characterized by the Pentagon as "evidence that Iran is unpredictable and remains a threat" (CNN, 1/7/08). Yet several news media outlets swallowed the White House's alarmist account of the incident hook, […]

Mar
01
2008

Truth in Advertising 'a Business Disaster'

Most “fear and favor” shown by media outlets takes the form of slanted or incomplete news coverage. But media companies’ zeal to please the advertisers, who are, after all, their main client, goes beyond covering news to making it. In 2007, congressional debate on a big Food and Drug Administration bill touched on pharmaceutical ads, a fast-growing source of media revenue. As recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, an early draft of the bill would have given the FDA the power to impose a moratorium on consumer advertising for a drug that had serious safety concerns. That provision was […]

Mar
01
2008

The Incredible Shrinking Think Tank

Third year in a row of declining citations

The 25 most media-prominent think tanks were cited 17 percent less in 2007 than they were the year before, FAIR’s annual survey of think tank citations found. The decline was felt across the board among centrist, conservative and progressive think tanks. Once again, the centrist Brookings Institution garnered the most citations, with the general decline affecting them less than the average think tank. They accounted for 16 percent of all citations counted, with almost twice as many as the next-most-frequently cited think tank, the centrist Council on Foreign Relations. The American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation and the Center for Strategic […]

Mar
01
2008

Letters to the Editor

‘Truthful’ or ‘Alarmist’ on Nuclear Power? I would like to comment on the excellent story Karl Grossman wrote on the horrors of nuclear power (1-2/08). Too many people don’t understand the dangers associated with nuclear power, and Karl Grossman did a wonderful job detailing some of them. Nuclear power is dead, or at least should be. It’s probably the worst idea man has ever come up with. Thank you for printing such a truthful and informative article. Mark McKelvey Pasadena, Calif. . It seems rather ironic that Karl Grossman’s article on nuclear power should appear in an issue of FAIR. […]

Mar
01
2008

Fear & Favor 2007

How power still shapes the news

U.S. journalists seeking to fulfill the profession’s traditional goal of telling the truth and “letting the chips fall where they may” have powerful forces to contend with, starting with the corporate owners who employ them, and the corporate advertisers who fuel the enterprise, both of whom have an investment in maintaining a political conversation and climate favorable to their profitability. There are also legislators who maintain the pro-corporate policy media owners rely on to thrive, local political players with axes to grind, and well-funded PR campaigns from all corners. Each year these renew and refine their efforts to shape news […]

Mar
01
2008

Barbara Seaman, 1935-2008

Editor's Note

The New York Times doesn’t forgive and it doesn’t forget. We saw this when one of its most eloquent critics, John Hess, died and was given an error-filled obituary (1/22/05) that called him “cranky,” “curmudgeonly” and “grudging.” (See Extra!, 3-4/05). Now another of FAIR’s journalistic heroes has died, another groundbreaking investigative journalist who also had the temerity to challenge the Times’ sense of self-righteousness—and she too got a posthumous smear from the paper. Barbara Seaman revolutionized the field of health reporting, treating the medical establishment as an object of skepticism and focusing on the need to inform patients of their […]