May 1 1995

Limbaugh Out to Lunch in Budget Debate

“Today, my friends, we’re going to do everything the media accuses us of doing, that we never have done, but we’re going to do it,” Rush Limbaugh announced on his March 10 radio show. “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, today we’re going to give you marching orders, and today we will ask you to follow us in lock-step.” Actually, Limbaugh urges his followers to take political action with some regularity (Extra!, 9-10/94). But what issue was so important that it would make Limbaugh claim that he was breaking his rule? The school lunch program. “My friends,” Limbaugh declared, for the last […]

May 1 1995

Five Media Myths About Welfare

Money/Photo: Flickr of 401(k) 2012

1. Poor women have more children because of the “financial incentives” of welfare benefits. Repeated studies show no correlation between benefit levels and women’s choice to have children. (See, for example, Urban Institute Policy and Research Report, Fall/93.) States providing relatively higher benefits do not show higher birth rates among recipients. In any case, welfare allowances are far too low to serve as any kind of “incentive”: A mother on welfare can expect about $90 in additional AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) benefits if she has another child. Furthermore, the real value of AFDC benefits, which do not […]

May 1 1995

Seeing the Bright Side at the New York Times

For those fearing inflation, analysts said, one of the most reassuring elements of today’s report [of rising employment] was that average hourly earnings declined by 2 cents, after an October surge of 7 cents. —New York Times, Dec. 3, 1994 A common complaint is that the media favor bad news, but that isn’t fair. Given that news, as Voltaire says of history, is “indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind,” it’s hard for mainstream reporters to be upbeat, but they do try. One way is by euphemism, like calling the military budget “defense […]

May 1 1995

Angry Rewrite Man

Tells the story of one unemployed lab technician widely cited in media reports as an example of the “angry white male” who ushered in the Republican victory last November. When Hirshman followed up on the story for EXTRA!she discovered that Sidney Tracy voted Democrat not Republican and actually blamed corporate downsizing — not women and people of color — for the loss of his job. Extra! May/June 1995

May 1 1995


Over Newt’s Dead Body The Corporation for Public Broadcasting will get no more money from the federal government, Newt Gingrich declared in February (Washington Post,2/17/95). “They still don’t realize that the appropriation is gone, that the game is over,” the House speaker told fellow Republicans. “The power of the speaker is the power of recognition, and I will not recognize any proposal that will appropriate money for the CPB.” Did Gingrich’s resolve have anything to do with the fact that Gingrich’s close friend, Vin Weber, had just been fired as a lobbyist for CPB? “He wasn’t fired because it looked […]

May 1 1995

Milking a Story

How the Makers of Bovine Growth Hormone Manipulate the Media

Like a sick cow, the mainstream press has lain down and closed its eyes to growing criticism of the drug rBGH since it reached the U.S. market lastyear, including the failure to report on the European Union’s December decision to extend its ban on rBGH use until the year 2000. Extra! May/June 1995

May 1 1995

Desperately Seeking Difference:

ABC Finds Biology Is Destiny

With the February 1 ABC News special, Boys and Girls Are Different: Men, Women and the Sex Difference, reported by correspondent John Stossel, hormonally induced haircut prices joined gay brains and race-based IQ as the politically charged science of the media moment. The show asked the eternal question, “Are men and women supposed to be the same, or are we different creatures right from birth?” Stossel argues that any remnants of sexism in today’s egalitarian society can’t explain noticeable sex differences in our behavior (“men are obsessed with sports, women have more friends”), nor account for women’s failure to reach […]

May 1 1995

Iraqgate: Confession and Cover-Up

While the O.J. Simpson trial gobbled up endless TV hours and countless news pages, a concurrent criminal trial in Miami went almost unnoticed by the national media, even though it called into question the judgment of three U.S. presidents. President Clinton’s Justice Department had put on trial Teledyne Industries, a major military contractor, and two of its mid-level employees, on charges of selling cluster-bomb parts to a Chilean arms manufacturer, Carlos Cardoen. Cardoen, in turn, allegedly shipped finished bombs to Iraq. Defense attorneys for the Teledyne employees argued that the CIA, as part of a secret operation that has come […]