May 1 1995

Your Life Is Brought to You By…

It’s been estimated that a typical American TV viewer sees 100 commercials a day. That’s 36,500 a year, or perhaps 2.5 million over the course of the viewer’s lifetime. Just about every one of those commercials is carefully crafted to convey the message: If you buy our product, you will be complete. Part reviewer, part consumer reporter, Village Voicecolumnist Leslie Savan examines commercial role in shaping our lives and selves. Extra! May/June 1995

May 1 1995

Readers for Sale!

What Newspapers Tell Advertisers About Their Audience

Examines how newspapers sell their readership to advertisers. Reveals how bottom-line demands of corporate owners have resulted in papers putting the selling of “quality” audiences above quantities of papers to readers. How the Wall Street Journal views its readers. Extra! May/June 1995

May 1 1995

Are Disabled Children Ripping You Off–Or Did PrimeTime Live Tell a Big Fib?

Few targets of the “welfare reform” campaign are more vulnerable than disabled children. Yet funds for those children, in the form of the Supplemental Security Income program, were under attack on PrimeTime Live‘s Oct. 13, 1994 broadcast. “It’s a program designed to help disabled children, but parents are helping themselves,” ABC‘s Diane Sawyer announced. “Chief correspondent Chris Wallace discovers all you need is a child willing to tell a big fib.” Co-anchor Sam Donaldson echoed her: “Chief correspondent Chris Wallace discovered just how easy it is to get on the receiving end of what some are calling ‘crazy checks.’” Wallace […]

May 1 1995

Crying Over Spilled Coffee

Media Deform the Legal Reform Debate

The Republicans’ “Contract With America” proposed to drastically alter the U.S. legal system to curtail a flood of “frivolous lawsuits and outlandish damage rewards [that] make a mockery of our civil justice system.” What “frivolous lawsuit” problem is the Contract talking about? Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, provided a clue (KPFK, 2/22/95): “Whenever the public reads about a woman who spills coffee in her lap and gets $3 million, most people say this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.” You’ve probably heard about this case. From Jay Leno to your local radio […]

May 1 1995

Public Enemy Number One?

Media's Welfare Debate Is a War on Poor Women

In a bizarre column blaming TV talkshows, in part, for the “sexually irresponsible culture of poverty,” Newsweek‘s Joe Klein (2/6/95) provided telling insight into how some in mainstream media see their relationship to poor people: “Television is the only sustained communication our society has with the underclass,” Klein wrote. “It is the most powerful message we send.” Recent mainstream news reporting on welfare and its “reform” has been full of messages about “us” and “them,” with reporters leaving little doubt about who “we” and “they” are. In a vivid example, ABC PrimeTime Live‘s Diane Sawyer (annual salary: an estimated $7 […]

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 […]