Nov
01
1994

Media Turned Population Debate Into Pope vs. Veep

From the Women's Desk

"The Cairo Conference will probably be remembered as the Great Abortion Showdown," exclaimed a Wall Street Journal report (9/13/94) as the International Conference on Population and Development drew to a close this September. But whose fault is that? For all the "isn't it a shame" tone of journalistic commentary, most of the mainstream media allowed that debate to dominate coverage of Cairo. United Nations conferences are bureaucratic affairs; the anti-contraception dogma of the Pope against a most-of-the-world, pro-choice chorus provided a dramatic angle on the "Clash of Wills in Cairo", headlined Time magazine (9/12/94); "Population Wars", U.S. News & World […]

Nov
01
1994

The Case of the Disappearing Elections

Why Didn't the Press Bark When Yeltsin Forgot Vote?

On June 12, the Washington Times ran an editorial noting that presidential elections had been scheduled to take place in Russia that day, but were in fact not going to be held. "So, the Russians will not be going to the polls today," it began. "After the turmoil of the past year, it's unlikely that many of them will be sorry to see that opportunity slip." A search of the Nexis database found no other stories in U.S. newspapers noting this non-event. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post ignored the occasion. As Bernard Gwertzman, foreign editor at […]

Nov
01
1994

Fraudulent Reporting

U.S. Media on the Mexican Election

The August 21 Mexican elections, which the U.S. media have characterized as "generally fair and clean" (New York Times, 9/27/94) despite widespread protests to the contrary, have presented establishment media in the U.S. with a serious problem: how to make people believe that a ruling party, which could only win elections through massive fraud in good times, could suddenly win an honest election by a landslide -- after reducing workers' real wages by 30 percent in the six-year administration of incumbent President Carlos Salinas, as the New York Times itself has quietly acknowledged in articles in its Business section (9/27/94). […]

Nov
01
1994

Corrections

The article "The 'Stolen Feminism' Hoax" in the September/October '94 issue of Extra! misstated the number of seats on the National Council on the Humanities board. There are 26 seats on the board. President George Bush made eight appointments to the board, of whom three were members of the National Association of Scholars. The September/October issue also stated that the U.S. Constitution was written in 1789. It was actually written in 1787, and ratified in 1789. In the same issue, a City Paper reporter was incorrectly identified. His name is Bill Gifford. Extra! November/December 1994

Nov
01
1994

Trade Reporting's Information Deficit

It would be hard to imagine more inaccurate and biased economic reporting than the coverage of international trade issues. Those who get their information on trade issues solely from the major media outlets are almost certainly more misinformed and confused than those who never pay any attention to trade issues at all. This is not a situation where reporters can claim that the complexity of the underlying issues makes it difficult for a non-expert to follow the debate. Mainstream reporting has failed due to outright deceptions (by either reporters or their sources) and insufficient familiarity with arithmetic and simple logic. […]

Nov
01
1994

Wines' World: The Tie-Dyed Clinton

The front page of the New York Times Week in Review section is a platform that both reflects and helps set the conventional wisdom. Michael Wines, one of the Times' top political reporters, used that space on September 11 to amplify the claims by "Mr. Clinton's loyal critics in Congress and Democratic research circles...that only a basic change of direction will revive his political fortunes." Wines' unnamed sources call on Clinton to "govern from the center." "They fear that his handling of many major issues has enabled Republicans to persuade the public he is the sort of tie-dyed, union-label liberal […]

Nov
01
1994

'Workplace' Coverage No Substitute for Real Labor Reporting

Labor Media Watch

As corporate concentration of media ownership has increased, the labor beat has all but disappeared in the U.S. press. Very few media outlets have a reporter dedicated to regularly covering workers' issues, unions and the labor movement. When working people do find their way into mainstream news, it's often in the form of "workplace" coverage -- a brand of soft, nonpolitical reporting that describes the problems workers face as lifestyle issues, not as economic disputes. Many people, grateful to see workers mentioned at all, think workplace stories are better than nothing. But this style of coverage has serious drawbacks. Take, […]

Nov
01
1994

The 'Hush Rush' Hoax

Limbaugh on the Fairness Doctrine

"I, Rush Limbaugh, the poster boy of free speech, am being gang muzzled." The broadcaster was crying censorship (Limbaugh Letter, 10/93) over congressional efforts in 1993 to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine -- which he labeled "The Hush Rush Bill," "The Get Limbaugh Act" and "The Rush Elimination Act of 1993." Limbaugh's daily on-air crusade generated thousands of calls to Washington, and helped derail congressional action. As usual, Limbaugh's followers were mobilized through misinformation and deception. The Fairness Doctrine--in operation from 1949 until abolished in 1987 by Ronald Reagan's deregulation-oriented Federal Communications Commission--calls on broadcasters, as a condition of getting their […]