May
01
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
01
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
01
1995

SoundBites

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
01
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
01
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
01
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 […]

May
01
1995

The Right Has a Dream

Martin Luther King as an Opponent of Affirmative Action

In the last years of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, many mainstream journalists and conservative politicians treated him with fear and derision. In 1967, Life magazine (4/21/67) dubbed King's prophetic anti-war address "demagogic slander" and "a script for Radio Hanoi." Even years later, Ronald Reagan described King as a near-Communist. Today, however, a miracle is taking place: Suddenly, King is a conservative. By virtue of a snippit from one 1963 address--a single phrase about "the content of our character"--King is the most oft-quoted opponent of affirmative action in America today. "Martin Luther King, in my view, was a conservative," right-wing […]

May
01
1995

The Mexican 'Miracle'

What U.S. media missed

On May 22, 1993, soldiers from the Mexican army accidentally ran across a guerrilla training camp in the jungles of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. One army officer and one civilian were killed in the clashes that followed, according to the military. The incident was given prominent coverage in La Jornada, a popular, moderately leftist Mexico City daily. The reports of a skirmish were greeted with some skepticism in Mexico, but Gen. Rigoberto Castillejos Adriano, a sub-commander in the National Defense Secretariat, indignantly defended the army's account in a letter featured on the front page of the July 11 […]