Nov
01
2005

Demonizing the Victims of Katrina

Coverage painted hurricane survivors as looters, snipers and rapists

By September 1, residents of flood-ravaged New Orleans had been trapped for nearly 72 hours in a city with little shelter, food, drinkable water or dry clothing. As much as 80 percent of the city was under water as the Federal Emergency Management Agency seemed unable to respond to the situation. Police and first-responders abandoned their posts, while the National Guard’s efforts were sapped by forces and equipment deployed to Iraq. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer summed up the crisis in the opener to his daily news show, The Situation Room: It’s just after 3 p.m. in New Orleans, where thousands of […]

Nov
01
2005

Deducing the Definition of 'Demonizing'

When people claim to find a liberal bias in corporate media, one has to wonder: Are they getting some kind of special news, unavailable to regular people? Or have they so internalized the liberal media canard that they simply presume the existence of a liberal slant? The Note, ABC News’ daily email news digest, often accuses the mainstream media, of which ABC News is a major part, of having a leftward slant—as in this item (9/19/05): The press and the Democrats are still demonizing Karl Rove’s involvement in anything and everything, expressing shock and horror that a deputy White House […]

Nov
01
2005

The Op-Ed Assassination of Hugo Chávez

Commentary on Venezuela parrots U.S. propaganda themes

After televangelist Pat Robertson publicly called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frias (700 Club, 8/22/05), the editors of several major newspapers were quick to denounce his outrageous incitement to violence. However, in criticizing the conservative televangelist, the prestige press overlooked its own highly antagonistic treatment of Venezuela’s president, which surely contributed to the heated political climate in which Robertson made his threat. Even so-called “moderate” columnists have contributed to the deterioration of U.S.-Venezuela relations by distorting the Venezuelan government’s domestic and foreign policy record. Robertson may indeed be “just a garden-variety crackpot with friends in high places,” […]

Nov
01
2005

Face-Off

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to "Failing At Its No. 1 Goal."] Although occasionally Washington Journal will have on two or more guests at one time, debates between guests are a rarity. In the first years of its decade-long run, however, the show hosted more such debates—and FAIR routinely criticized C-SPAN for the show’s habit of pitting right-wing guests against centrists or mainstream reporters. An April 26, 1996 letter to C-SPAN from FAIR’s Jeff Cohen explained the problem: It’s fine to pair an advocacy journalist of the left with a journalist of the right (e.g., Joe Conason vs. National […]

Nov
01
2005

'Saying What They've Been Thinking'

Racial stereotypes in Katrina commentary

As columnist Dawn Turner Trice remarked (Chicago Tribune, 9/12/05), Hurricane Katrina “shed a light” on the often unspoken racist assumptions of many Americans. In particular, she noted, many of the elite have, through their comments about the tragedy, “unwittingly reveal[ed] themselves” and their fundamental prejudices. Of course, many pundits attacked the idea that racism had anything to do with Katrina at all. To suggest race affected the response to the hurricane, Reason magazine’s Cathy Young (Boston Globe, 9/12/05) charged, was “irresponsible.” Jeff Jacoby decried in the Boston Globe (9/14/05) the invocation after Katrina of the “America-as-lethally-racist theme” that “is as […]