Nov 1 1998

To Press, Lower Profits Are Not an Option

In mainstream media accounts, the relationship between higher wages for workers (“wage pressure” or “labor costs”) and inflation is simple and certain—as when the New York Times flatly reports (6/5/98) the “concern among investors” that “inflation could increase this year because of rising wage pressures.” A typical story (Boston Globe, 4/5/98) explains that “businesses react to tight labor markets by raising wages, which in turn can force them to raise prices and spark inflation.” Or in the Orlando Sentinel’s version (6/7/98), “fewer unemployed workers means job-seekers can demand higher wages. That in turn causes companies to hike prices, starting the […]

Nov 1 1998

Inflated Fears of Full Employment

That jobs cause higher prices is a media article of faith

In an article this summer celebrating good economic news (7/31/98), the New York Times’ Sylvia Nasar paused to caution readers that even amid what she has called “the best economy since the 1960s” (8/2/98), a specter lurked: “Ever since the unemployment rate first slipped below the level that most economists regard as consistent with steady inflation, the Federal Reserve has been on the lookout for any hint that wage pressures are getting out of hand.” While those who earn their living from wages will likely puzzle over the notion that their pay might be getting out of hand, Nasar’s trope […]

Nov 1 1998

Clinton Worse Than Reagan, Nixon…Everyone

Clinton Worse Than Reagan “Clinton used his office to thwart an investigation sanctioned by his own attorney general…. Ronald Reagan waived all executive privilege…[and] turned over his documents and diaries…because he said he wanted the facts to come out.” —Time news article (8/24/98), conveniently forgetting the cover stories and document-shredding of Iran-Contra. Clinton Worse Than Nixon “Clinton’s behavior is truly Nixonian. And it is worse in one way. Nixon’s actions, however neurotic and criminal, were motivated by and connected to the exercise of presidential power. He knew the place he occupied, and he was determined not to give it up […]

Nov 1 1998

Feminists, Prostitutes and Nazis

Media Labeling in the Lewinsky Story

The mainstream media’s campaign to discredit feminist leaders has been a dominant and consistent element of 1998’s ongoing sex spectacle. Feminist politicians and organizational leaders have arguably been opinion leaders for many women voters who elected Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and who support social issues such as abortion rights and affirmative action. These leaders have been under attack, not only by right-wing partisans but by the press itself. The attacks have ranged from subtle but steady biases in coverage–omission of relevant facts from news reports, for example–to wholesale character assassination and name-calling. Media implicitly tell us how to rank […]

Nov 1 1998

Polls Apart

Manufacturing an Anti-Bilingual Latino Majority

Prior to the June 2, 1998 vote on bilingual education in California, mainstream news polls–local and national–predicted that not only would the anti-bilingual education Proposition 227 pass, but that it would do so with the overwhelming support of Latinos, blacks and other ethnic and racial groups. Time (5/18/98), citing pre-election polls, reported that “a majority of Latinos actually support the initiative.” U.S. News and World Report (5/25/98) made the same claim, adding that the only reason bilingual education was able to garner support in the Latino community was because “Latino activists” were placing their own “narrow vested interests” above those […]

Nov 1 1998

Forget Murphy Brown

Kent Brockman is reality programming

“Now that she is no longer doing Murphy Brown, it dawned on me that she may want to do a story or two for us,” 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt told New York magazine (8/17/98). Once they spot a story “worth her doing,” they’ll give actress Candice Bergen “a chance to do it.” Will Brown–er, Bergen–fit in as a real journalist? She spent years playing a reporter who relentlessly tried to embarrass the powerful, who was twice banned from the White House. Brown purportedly punched out Jeanne Kirkpatrick and cut her own hair just to tick off her network […]

Nov 1 1998

Horserace Tramples Issues

News Media on the Campaign Trail

This fall, thousands of campaigns have been waged across the country to elect everything from sewer officials to members of Congress. Despite the stakes involved, the country’s news media have appeared only briefly on the sidelines of a few races and ignored most of the rest. As curious as this behavior might seem, it has a long tradition, and parallels other oddities of political reporting. At the congressional level, news coverage is particularly abysmal. When FAIR surveyed news coverage of the crucial 1994 congressional elections by the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, it found that, on […]

Nov 1 1998

Brookings: The Establishment’s Think Tank

“I want it implemented…. God damn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.” So railed President Richard Nixon (Abuse of Power, Stanley Kutler) to his aides about papers regarding the Vietnam War that he thought were at the Brookings Institution. The documents the White House apparently wanted to get hold of allegedly showed that Johnson curtailed the bombing of Vietnam in 1968 to boost the Democrats’ election prospects. How things have changed: In the strange world of 25 years ago, stopping a bombing boosted a president’s standing, and Brookings could be at serious odds […]