Nov
01
2006

Gullibility Begins at Home

NYT accepted false reassurances on Ground Zero safety

The collapse of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001 spewed an estimated 1.2 million tons of toxic and caustic dust into the air, enveloping thousands in a billowing cloud containing asbestos, fiberglass, lead and highly alkaline concrete, among other toxins; the dust settled thickly in the area around Ground Zero and seeped into apartments and offices. The fires at Ground Zero burned through December, releasing a constant stream of toxins into the air and into the lungs of thousands of rescue and cleanup workers. Nearly five years later, on September 6, 2006, the New York […]

Nov
01
2006

Myth: Chávez is Anti-American

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to "The Repeatedly Re-Elected Autocrat."] New York Times Latin American reporter Larry Rohter (5/20/05) called Hugo Chávez “stridently anti-American,” one of hundreds of instances of U.S. news reporters branding the Venezuelan president with that epithet. Chávez says it’s not true; he says such reporters are confusing his distaste for the Bush administration with anti-Americanism. “The country is one thing—we have lovely relations with the people,” Chávez told the Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth (9/25/05). “We have many ties between Venezuela and the United States—economic and social,” said Chávez, clarifying his views on the Bush administration: […]

Nov
01
2006

Ground Zero's Undocumented Victims

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Gullibility Begins at Home.] On January 11, 2002, the New York Daily News reported that immigrants and labor rights groups charged that hundreds of undocumented workers were hired to clean toxic World Trade Center dust out of buildings near Ground Zero with no training in hazardous waste disposal and no warning of the potential health effects. “Most were not given respirators or other safety equipment,” reported the Daily News’ Albor Ruiz and Greg Gittrich, “and some who brought their own said bosses would snatch them away for themselves.” Some were never even paid […]

Nov
01
2006

The Propaganda of Silence

Losing interest in Afghanistan’s plight

The situation in Afghanistan is becoming increasingly dire for both Afghan citizens and the more than 20,000 foreign troops occupying the country. Violent attacks continue to rise. Suicide bombings, unheard of before late 2005, are more and more common, with the resistance in Afghanistan literally importing tactics from Iraq. In fact, the first stop in the “Global War on Terror” is now proportionately more dangerous for U.S. forces than the more often discussed second stop: For the period January to September 2006, U.S. troops suffered a casualty rate of 0.4 percent in Afghanistan, compared with 0.38 percent in Iraq. The […]

Nov
01
2006

Career Women, Go Home

Media return to a favorite obsession

Can women have jobs and still be good wives and mothers? Mainstream media have been picking at that scab ever since women began breaking out of their culturally circumscribed role as wives and homemakers and taking on professional careers. But with his August 22, 2006 article on Forbes.com, “Don’t Marry Career Women,” Michael Noer made a particularly pointed stab at it, using discredited, dubious and downright bogus research to bolster his paleolithic perception that working and wiving don’t mix. He stated his thesis in the first paragraph: “Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones […]

Nov
01
2006

SoundBites

Ignorance or Bad Faith? “I have a rule, which has never failed me, that when a writer uses quotations from Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and the Left Behind series to capture the religious and political currents in modern America, then I know I can put that piece of writing down because the author either doesn’t know what he is talking about or is arguing in bad faith.” —David Brooks, New York Times (10/22/06) “We in the coastal metro Blue areas read more books and attend more plays than the people in the Red heartland. . . . But don’t ask […]

Nov
01
2006

Wrong Numbers

Distorting Venezuela’s record on poverty

One charge that U.S. media have hurled at Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez—that poverty has worsened under his administration—seems tailored to alienate the populist leader from his natural supporters. Isn’t Chávez a leftist? Aren’t his policies pro-poor? progressives may wonder. What about all that oil wealth? Is this really true? No, it’s not. But that doesn’t stop the media from printing misinformation about poverty in Venezuela. It isn’t that opinion writers and editorial editors used false statistics or made errors in their calculations—in most cases, they used the Venezuelan government’s own statistics, as many editorials pointed out. Instead, they used old […]

Nov
01
2006

The Myth of the Muzzled Media

Following Hugo Chávez’s September 20 speech at the U.N., which included a mocking reference to George W. Bush as “the devil,” U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton told reporters “the real issue” was that Chávez was not “giving the same freedom of speech” to Venezuelans (Daily News, 9/21/06). Editorials condemning Chávez and approvingly citing Bolton’s accusation appeared in several newspapers (e.g., Augusta Chronicle, 9/22/06; Omaha World-Herald, 9/22/06), but one pundit, John McLaughlin of television’s McLaughlin Group (9/22/06), challenged Bolton’s claim, responding on air, “Well, Ambassador Bolton, maybe they already have freedom of speech.” Seconding McLaughlin’s point, columnist Mark Weisbrot, […]