Nov 1 2011

But You Didn’t Hear It From…Anyone

Anonymity abuse in the corporate press

It’s hardly necessary for a critic to argue that the country’s major daily newspapers, the New York Times and Washington Post, routinely ignore their stated principles on anonymous sources (however vague such standards may be to begin with), the outlets make the case so vividly themselves. The New York Times rules state, for instance, that anonymity is “reserved for situations in which the newspaper could not otherwise print information it considers reliable and newsworthy,” and “should not be invoked for a trivial comment, or to make an unremarkable comment appear portentous” (“Confidential News Sources Policy,” Times readers, nonetheless, regularly […]

Nov 1 2011

GOP Reality TV

Running for president--or dancing with the stars?

Rick Perry--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/eschipul

After kicking off the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination by devoting serious time to real estate developer Donald Trump’s publicity-stunt non-campaign (FAIR Blog, 4/26/11), corporate media election coverage had nowhere to go but up—right? Never underestimate the power of establishment media to make electoral coverage ever more trivial and undemocratic. Early coverage of this cycle’s Republican candidates looks less like an effort to observe and evaluate potential presidents and more like a semi-scripted reality TV show, where media “judges” pick participants according to entertainment value, express disappointment with the cast and desperately troll for new characters or storylines […]

Nov 1 2011

They Are the 1 Percent

Corporate media slow to wake up to Wall Street protests

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Ed Gaillard

Occupy Wall Street marched into Lower Manhattan on September 17, with thousands of demonstrators shutting down the heart of the Financial District to protest political and economic inequality and highlight the need for an American democracy movement. In the days that followed, activists formed an ad hoc community in New York City’s Liberty Plaza, an experiment in collective politics that called for putting the needs of the 99 percent above the greed of the 1 percent (Adbusters, 9/19/11). The initial response of corporate media to these remarkable developments? To call it a yawn would be overstating their enthusiasm. In the […]

Nov 1 2011

MisEducation Nation

Corporate media and corporate education reform

This September at New York City’s Rockefeller Center, NBC put on its second annual Education Nation conference—a series of events and broadcasts bankrolled by the corporate interests and foundations aligned with the so-called “education reform” movement. On September 27, the second day of the conference, FAIR convened our own discussion of education and corporate media coverage at New York’s School of the Future. The panel, moderated by journalist Laura Flanders, featured former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, NYU education professor Pedro Noguera, parent/activist Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters and New York City public schoolteacher Brian Jones. Here are […]

Nov 1 2011


Headline Writing Made Simple “Diplomatic Efforts Unable to Derail Palestinians’ UN Gambit” —Washington Post headline (9/9/11) “U.S. Gambit Unable to Derail Palestinian Diplomatic Efforts” —Not a Washington Post headline, ever Documents & Disingenuousness The New York Times (9/3/11) reported that documents found by rebels in Libyan intelligence offices indicated that “the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country’s reputation for torture.” The Times repeated on September 6 that prisoners had been sent to Libya “despite the country’s reputation for torture.” Surely the paper is aware that the countries the CIA shipped prisoners […]

Nov 1 2011

Letters to the Editor

Overfishing Factor in Somali Famine Julie Hollar’s article on Somalia (10/11) missed one contributing factor to the famine. Overfish-ing in the North Atlantic pushed the Atlantic commercial fishing into the Indian Ocean, where they steal fish from Somali waters with impunity—which links, of course, with Somali pirates. How does a fisherman make a living when the fish are gone? D.L. Berry Grants, N.M. Media Fail on Gitmo Andy Worthington’s “Worst of the Worst?” (9/11) points out that media was also focused much on “recidivism,” just because 4 percent (22 of 534) released were alleged to have taken up arms against […]

Nov 1 2011

Uygur Out at MSNBC

Another progressive show canceled for political reasons

Cenk Uygur--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Streamys

When talkshow host Cenk Uygur announced that his short tenure at MSNBC had come to an end due to his criticism of “those in power” (Young Turks, 7/20/11), it highlighted an unsettling pattern at the channel. Uygur’s ouster represented the third time in recent years that a show hosted by someone with progressive ideals and a willingness to challenge the status quo was canceled, despite good ratings. In January of this year Keith Olbermann, well known for his public disputes with right-wing figures, was terminated by MSNBC, just after control of the channel was sold by General Electric to Comcast […]