Dec
01
2001

When the Victims Are Far Away

A very different media response to Moscow bombings

Russian soldiers in Chechnya with downed helicopter. (photo: Mikhail Evstafiev)

It would be easy, and to some tempting, to say that it is America’s turn—that after years of American gloating over Islam’s attacks on Russia, that after the CIA’s goading of proxies like the Pakistanis to arm Islamic terrorists, that after the brutal destruction of Iraq in the war 10 years ago, it is well past time that America had her own Islamic extremist problem. It also might be true. This month’s attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon seem most of all the harvest of an American-sown whirlwind. Repellent words—no doubt written by some perverse leftist with a […]

Dec
01
2001

Anthrax Attacks: Journalists as Targets

Whoever sent the letters contaminated with anthrax spores seems to have a particular interest in media outlets—with NBC, ABC and CBS, the New York Times and New York Post being apparent targets, as well as the Sun supermarket tabloid in Florida, where the first case was identified. Beyond the horror of disease being used as a weapon, the apparent targeting of news personnel is a troubling sign of the erosion of the protected status of journalists—a protection that is vital to any credible flow of information during a crisis. The idea that journalists can be targets has been promoted not […]

Nov
01
2001

Study of NPR's Coverage of Deaths in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

FAIR's study examined the January through June 2001 transcripts of NPR's four main news programs—Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Weekend All Things Considered—as found on the Nexis news database. To identify references to fatal Israeli and Palestinian attacks, FAIR searched for transcripts containing keywords such as death, died, killed, fatal, etc., as well as the words Israel, Israeli, Palestinian or Palestine. In examining transcripts containing these keywords, FAIR eliminated false positives (e.g., "the death of the Middle East peace process"), identifying only those scripts containing at least one report of a specific fatal attack against Israelis or […]

Nov
01
2001

Patriotic Shopping

Media define citizenship as consumerism

A number of pundits and politicians offered Americans a simple solution to the helplessness and anxiety they were feeling in the wake of the September 11 attacks: Go shopping! Vice President Dick Cheney (L.A. Times, 9/17/01) described it as a way for ordinary citizens to "stick their thumbs in the eye of the terrorists and say that they've got great confidence in the country." Some outlets broadcast such calls virtually unquestioned. "Americans need to go out and spend. That's the message," said NBC's Tom Brokaw (9/24/01), introducing a report from Anne Thompson that concluded, "American companies waving the red, white […]

Nov
01
2001

Covering the 'Fifth Column'

Media present pro-war distortions of peace movement's views

Antiwar rally, Washington, DC, September 29, 2001

Media present pro-war distortions of peace movement's views

Nov
01
2001

Even Fewer Voices?

During crisis, FCC moves to accelerate media concentration

Just two days after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the FCC moved to eliminate some of the last remaining restraints on media concentration. With all eyes elsewhere, the FCC voted unanimously to "review" regulations that limit the percentage of the national audience that a single cable company can reach, and that prohibit the same company from owning both a newspaper and a TV station in the same broadcasting market. FCC chair Michael Powell has made no secret of his desire to abandon any substantive public interest restrictions on the growth and dominance of […]

Nov
01
2001

As If Reality Wasn't Bad Enough

Dan Rather spread alarmist rumors on September 11

In a national emergency like the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the first thing required from the news media is accurate information. Unfortunately, TV journalists too often delivered misinformation instead. One who did so repeatedly was CBS News' Dan Rather. "Let me pause and say that a car bomb has exploded outside the State Department in Washington," Rather told his audience on September 11. He repeated: "Now a car bomb has exploded outside the State Department in Washington. No further details available on that." He reported this car bomb explosion as fact at least three further […]

Nov
01
2001

The Op-Ed Echo Chamber

Little or no space for dissent from the military line

"When op-ed pages first became the rage some 25 years ago, they were supposed to be places for nontraditional voices to be heard." -- Allan Wolper, Editor & Publisher ethics columnist (5/29/99) Whether the mainstream daily op-ed page was ever a true forum for debate or for "nontraditional voices" is questionable. But during the weeks following September's terrorist attacks, two leading dailies mostly used these pages as an echo chamber for the government's official policy of military response, while mostly ignoring dissenters and policy critics. A FAIR survey of the New York Times and the Washington Post op-ed pages for […]