May
01
2007

In Denial on Climate Change

Leading pundits reject science on global warming

Mongolian drought (cc photo: Asian Development Bank)

The prevailing body of scientific evidence for climate change more or less holds sway in news reports, but opinion journalism—where the policy agenda is defined and debated—is dominated by those who question or reject that evidence.

May
01
2007

Standing by Their Racist Friend

Before firing, pundits defended Imus

In the aftermath of the racist, misogynist outburst that got talkshow host Don Imus dropped from CBS radio and MSNBC—referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos”—a Washington Post editorial (4/10/07) posed a question many critics have been asking for years: How do prestigious journalists defend their cozy relationship with a well-known bigot? As the Post put it: “But those who bask in the glow of his radio show ought to consider whether they should continue doing so. After all, you’re judged by the company you keep.” Since discovering Imus’ long record of bigotry, misogyny and homophobia is […]

May
01
2007

A Pinch of Fascism

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to The Media's Mayor.] No national media figure has been more fawning toward Giuliani than MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews. On the Tonight Show in 2006 (7/18/06), more than two years before the national election, Matthews predicted that “the next president of the United States will be Rudy Giuliani.” Matthews has credited Giuliani with everything from being “the perfect candidate” (Hardball, 6/14/06) to getting “the pee smell out of the phone booths in New York” (Imus in the Morning, 2/7/07). Even a little fascism was to be welcomed in the capable hands of New […]

May
01
2007

Asleep at the Wheel

Press ignores congressional OK for martial law

On October 17, 2006, when George W. Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2007—a $538 billion military spending bill—he enacted into law a section called “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.” In the view of many, this Act substantially changed fundamental laws of the United States, giving Bush—and all future U.S. presidents—new and sweeping powers to use the U.S. military anywhere in the United States, virtually as he sees fit—for disaster relief, crowd control, suppression of public disorder, or any “other condition” that might arise. News coverage of these significant changes in […]

May
01
2007

Sidebar: Charity Cases

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Bono, I Presume?] Even when it’s not an entertainment celebrity that brings the cameras to Africa, nearly as many TV news Africa stories are about Americans or other Westerners “making a difference” in Africa. Whether it’s a high-profile figure like Bill Gates fighting malaria (ABC, 10/31/05), a 12-year-old American boy raising money for AIDS orphans in Africa (NBC, 12/8/06) or the wife and daughter of an NFL football coach missing his big day in the Super Bowl to volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (ABC, 2/3/06), these segments tell the story […]

May
01
2007

A Jury of His Peers

Editor's Note

It turns out that the White House Correspondents Association does something besides holding banquets—it also gives out prizes. This year’s recipient of its Aldo Beckman Award, given for “repeated excellence in White House coverage,” was Kenneth T. Walsh of U.S. News & World Report. As Walsh is the only reporter to be twice honored with a Beckman, we have to assume that he represents what his peers see as the best of their profession. That’s what worries us. FAIR (Media Views, 6/13/06) described an article Walsh wrote last year (6/19/06) as a “cheerleading account” that “openly adopts the [White House’s] […]

May
01
2007

The Media's Mayor

Mythologizing Guiliani and 9/11

And Giuliani walks on. He walks from his bunker, up Barclay Street and went on television. Went on and announced his heroism and then came back every hour or so until he became a star, a great figure, a national hero, the mayor who saved New York. Most of this comes from these dazed Pekingese of the Press. . . . Giuliani was a hero with these news people.—Columnist Jimmy Breslin (Newsday, 3/7/04) On September 11, 2001, with George W. Bush in hiding for much of the day, mainstream journalists were desperately looking for a man on horseback. For many, […]

May
01
2007

Bono, I Presume?

Covering Africa Through Celebrities

"Africa is sexy and people need to know that,” declared U2 singer Bono (New York Times, 3/5/07), promoting his new (RED) line of products that propose to save Africa one iPod at a time. Celebrity interest in Africa is not particularly new, but today more stars than ever seem to be converging upon the continent, with television crews seldom far behind. But, as Bono clearly understands, what media tend to find sexy about Africa is not Africa itself, but the stars like himself who have taken up causes in the region. In television news in particular, with its typically cursory […]