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 […]

Nov
01
2001

Are You a Terrorist?

Media passivity enables rollback of civil liberties

On October 26, George Bush signed into law “anti-terrorism” legislation that seriously eroded civil liberties in the United States. Law enforcement’s power to conduct surveillance and secret searches has been vastly increased, legal immigrants may now be indefinitely detained, and the CIA has been authorized to resume spying on Americans. In true Orwellian style, the bill is called the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001--for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Among the sweeping changes implemented by the bill is the introduction of the broadly-defined crime of “domestic terrorism.” Domestic terrorism is now […]

Nov
01
2001

'We Think the Price Is Worth It'

Media uncurious about Iraq policy's effects--there or here

Madeleine Albright speaking to students at Georgia Southern University/Photo: Georgia Southern University

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it? Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it. --60 Minutes (5/12/96) Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press. It's also been cited in the United States in alternative commentary […]

Nov
01
2001

'This Isn't Discrimination, This Is Necessary'

Amid pleas for tolerance, some call for profiling--and worse

Since September 11, there have been at least three bias-related murders and reports from around the country of assaults and harassment targeting Arab- and Muslim-Americans. Homes, businesses, mosques and Muslim schools have been vandalized, children tormented, and students harassed on college campuses. Media have reported many of these assaults (e.g., USA Today, 9/20/01; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4/01) and denounced them as what Tom Brokaw (NBC Nightly News, 9/20/01) called "one of the ugliest legacies of this crisis." "It's insanity to burden an entire people with the label terrorist," the New York Times pointed out (9/23/01), while a Long Island Newsday […]

Nov
01
2001

The Illusion of Balance

NPR's coverage of Mideast deaths doesn't match reality

National Public Radio's coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been the target of criticism from all sides, especially since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000. One common complaint from both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian critics is that NPR and other outlets downplay or ignore acts of violence by the "other side." For example, a press release (8/12/01) from CAMERA, a conservative pro-Israel media watch group, accused NPR of skimming over the killing of a Jewish settler in a news report that focused on the funeral of a Palestinian Hamas activist killed by Israeli security forces. Similarly, Arab-American media […]

Nov
01
2001

The New Blacklist

The nation's largest radio network's list of 'questionable' songs

As rescue workers tirelessly searched the rubble of the Pentagon and World Trade Center, one casualty went unnoticed: a nation's freedom of speech. In later years, September 11 may also come to be seen as the day the music died. In the wake of the tragedy, the doorway is open for opponents of free speech to trample dissident voices and narrow the parameters of what can be discussed in art and music. In the days following the terrorist attack, the media monopoly that is Clear Channel walked through this doorway. Clear Channel is a multi-tentacled corporation that owns over a […]

Nov
01
2001

Patriotism & Censorship

Some journalists are silenced, while others seem happy to silence themselves

War fever in the wake of the September 11 attacks has led to a wave of self-censorship as well as government pressure on the media. With American flags adorning networks' on-screen logos, journalists are feeling rising pressure to exercise "patriotic" news judgment, while even mild criticism of the military, George W. Bush and U.S. foreign policy are coming to seem taboo. On September 17, Bill Maher, host of ABC’s Politically Incorrect, took issue with Bush's characterization of the hijackers as "cowards," saying that the label could more plausibly be applied to the U.S. military’s long-range cruise missile attacks than to […]