Jun 01 2008

From Water Torture to ‘Waterboarding’

Media rehabilitate torture as aquatic sport

Media rehabilitate torture as aquatic sportOn May 13, 2004, a novel euphemism was delivered into the public lexicon by anonymous “counterintelligence official” sources cited in a New York Times article. The piece reported the CIA had been using “a technique known as ‘water boarding,’ in which a prisoner is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water and made to believe he might drown.” The technique was described by the Times as one of several “methods [that] simulate torture.” Before long, Alan Dershowitz (Boston Globe, 5/15/04)—the Harvard law professor who advocates for a system of “torture warrants” (San Francisco Chonicle, 1/22/04)–had coined […]

May 01 2008

Total mentions on Nightly Network News

Chart accompanying TV’s Low-Cal Campaign Coverage Number of times each candidate appeared on World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News (12/26/07-2/5/08). An appearance was tallied each time a candidate was mentioned, had a soundbite or interview, or had a campaign ad included in the newscast. Barack Obama: 1,204 Hillary Clinton: 992 John McCain: 931 Mitt Romney: 904 Mike Huckabee: 503 John Edwards: 392 Rudy Giuliani: 238 Fred Thompson: 62 Chris Dodd: 22 Mike Bloomberg: 21 Bill Richardson: 16 Joe Biden: 10 Ron Paul: 10 Dennis Kucinich: 7 Extra! May/June 2008

May 01 2008

NPR Disappears Iraqi Dead

Editor's Note


Editor’s NoteIn a segment looking back on five years of the Iraq War, NPR anchor Scott Simon reported (3/15/08), “Estimates on the number of Iraqis killed range from 47,000 to 151,000, depending on the source.” But what sources are those? The New England Journal of Medicine (1/31/08) had a write-up of a survey, conducted by the Iraqi government for the World Health Organization, that estimated that 151,000 Iraqis had died by violence between the invasion and June 2006—so there’s NPR’s top figure. The NEJM write-up began: “Estimates of the death toll in Iraq from the time of the U.S.-led invasion […]

May 01 2008

Letters to the Editor

Polls Apart Peter Hart’s excellent article (Extra! Update, 2/08) on the over-reliance by political pundits on polls missed only the follow-up: Despite the polls having been grossly incorrect in New Hampshire, and again and again repeatedly in subsequent primaries, the overemphasis on polls has remained undiminished! The pundits hadn’t even caught their breath talking about the inaccurate New Hampshire polls before they started touting the next round. As Bill Kristol has demonstrated so powerfully, an almost unblemished record of inaccuracy is no impediment to continued employment in the media, as long as the message is the “right” one. Eli Stephens […]

May 01 2008

News Frames in Election Coverage

ABC, CBS and NBC Nightly Newscasts, 12/26/07-2/5/08

ABC, CBS and NBC Nightly Newscasts, 12/26/07-2/5/08 Frame Dominant Stories/Percent Present Stories/Percent Campaign Analysis/Strategy 252 / 65% 333 / 86% News 45 / 12 58 / 15 Polls/Voter Mood 39 / 11 119 / 31 Human Interest/Local Color 23 / 6 27 / 7 Issues 19 / 5 159 / 41 Media/Advertising 5 / 1 83 / 22 Biography 1 / 0.3 2 / 1 Extra! May/June 2008

May 01 2008


Conspiracy Theories In a piece purporting to explain how the press really works, Newsweek’s Evan Thomas (3/10/08) wrote that “conspiracies abound” among those accusing media of bias: “Right-wing talk-show hosts love to go on about the liberal media establishment,” while “lefty commentators accuse the press of rolling over for George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq.” Crazy, right? (Thomas is the guy who wrote that “it is up to U.S. armed forces to stop” the “demonic” Saddam Hussein for fear he “could decide to take Baghdad with him” in a “green mushroom” cloud—Newsweek, 3/17/03.) Back in the real world, […]