Nov
01
1994

Back-Talk Radio

Aiming to Empower

From Rush Limbaugh to G. Gordon Liddy, commercial radio has long been a megaphone for right-wing talk-show hosts. And even NPR mostly mirrors mainstream news (Extra!, 4-5/93). But now some left/populist static for Limbaugh and his ilk is as close as your AM dial. We the People with Jerry Brown airs the renegade former California governor and three-time presidential candidate live from Oakland, Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m. Pacific time. Syndicated by Talk America, it's now heard on 26 stations nationwide following its January debut. Hightower Radio, hosted in Austin by feisty former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, premiered May […]

Nov
01
1994

David Broder and the Limits of Mainstream Liberalism

Several years ago, a Central America activist asked the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer: Who on his opinion page was the leftist who offset his regular offerings of George Will and Charles Krauthammer? David Broder, the editor replied. Broder himself would quite properly deny this designation of "leftist." But it is true that in the spectrum of opinion of leading syndicated columnists he is on the left. In Sound and Fury: The Washington Punditocracy and the Collapse of American Politics, Eric Alterman points out that "Broder is the only non-right-wing pundit who begins to challenge the circulation numbers of the […]

Nov
01
1994

A Question of Fairness: Will FCC Let Both Sides Be Heard on Smoking Initiative?

The Bork-Scalia Decision

As this issue of Extra! reaches subscribers, Californians will be going to the polls, voting not only for political candidates but on a variety of ballot initiatives. One of these initiatives, Proposition 188, was placed on the ballot by a group with the healthy-sounding name of "Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions." But don't let the name fool you: These "anti-smoking" Californians are a front for the Philip Morris Company -- displaying the same flair for packaging that it shows when it markets the Marlboro Man. Philip Morris' initiative would eliminate local smoking ordinances, replacing them with a watered-down statewide standard. […]

Nov
01
1994

SoundBites

Fund-Raising Tall Tales "If you enjoyed Tales of the City and you'd like to see more programming like that, please become a member," host Rafael PiRoman declared during a fund drive for New York PBS affiliate WNET (9/13/94). PiRoman didn't mention that PBS, in the face of right-wing attacks, has refused to fund the sequel to Tales of the City, the popular drama about San Francisco life -- gay and straight -- in the '70s. Nor did he say that Tales fans might be better off saving their money to pay for cable: The show's producers had just announced (Boston […]

Nov
01
1994

A PBS Quiz

Both are nationally recognized. Both have written best sellers. Both are articulate and at the top of their fields. Which woman did PBS choose to host a show? Charlayne Hunter-Gault or Peggy Noonan One has 16 years of PBS experience. The other has no PBS experience. One is an award-winning journalist. The other is a partisan political flak. One has been identified with universal human rights. The other has been identified with narrow Republican politics. One came to national attention as a civil rights hero. The other came to national attention as a Reagan-Bush speech writer. One has a show, […]

Nov
01
1994

Editor's Note

Who's to blame for the failure of healthcare reform? Robin Toner, who wrote a post mortem on the debate for the New York Times (9/25/94), likened the situation to Murder on the Orient Express, where every suspect had a hand on the knife: "a divided Democratic Party on Capitol Hill, an overreaching Clinton administration, a fiercely partisan class of Republicans, an insatiable collection of interest groups." While naming candidates who do deserve their share of blame, Toner overlooks one of the likeliest suspects: the opinion-shaping media, led by the New York Times. Before Bill Clinton was even elected, a New […]

Nov
01
1994

Is the Entire Press Corrupt?

Editor's Note: George Seldes is one of the premier journalists and press critics of the 20th Century. In his reporting on World War I, the Russian Revolution, the rise of Fascism and the Spanish Civil War, he always displayed a commitment to telling the whole truth -- which often got him into trouble. From 1940 to 1950, he published In fact, the first American magazine of media criticism, which inspired I.F. Stone's Weekly. A member of FAIR's advisory board, Seldes at 103 years of age is still raising hell. A collection of his writings, The George Seldes Reader, has just […]

Nov
01
1994

Felons on the Air

Does GE's Ownership of NBC Violate the Law?

General Electric's ownership of the NBC TV network has been in the news in recent months. As Extra! went to press, companies like Time Warner, Disney, ITT and Turner Broadcasting have reportedly been negotiating to either buy NBC outright or enter into some kind of partnership with GE. But a little-noted aspect of communications law raises questions about GE's ownership of NBC's broadcast licenses -- and its ability to sell those licenses to another company. Shady Characters The Federal Communications Act of 1934 created the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the airwaves, which are considered public property. The act states […]