Sep
01
2009

The Polluted Cap-and-Trade Debate

Media amplify climate change skeptics

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/So Xtina

On Earth Day, President Barack Obama gave a speech from Newton, Iowa, a town CNN’s report (4/22/09) placed on “the front lines of a wind-power revolution.” During his speech, which focused on energy, he outlined his proposed cap-and-trade program: “Carbon dioxide and other tailpipe emissions are harmful to the health and well-being of our people. So there’s no question that we have to regulate carbon pollution in some way.... I believe the best way to do it is through legislation that places a market-based cap on these kinds of emissions.” While Obama drew a clear connection between pollution-reducing legislation and […]

Sep
01
2009

Journalistic Reputations for Sale

Pay to play at the Post...and elsewhere

Katherine Weymouth--Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

If you had any doubt that the elite Washington press corps is too close to the political and corporate elites they are supposed to be scrutinizing, a recent scheme cooked up by the Washington Post might close the case. The plan, as revealed by the website Politico (7/2/09), would have seen Post publisher Katharine Weymouth hosting a dozen off-the-record “salons” at her Washington home, bringing together lobbyists, politicians and some of the paper’s own reporters and editors. Each event would be “underwritten” to the tune of $25,000 by major players in select policy areas; the first scheduled salon, for example, […]

Sep
01
2009

The Deficit Distraction

Media push spending cuts over stimulus

Parroting the Republican Party, corporate media have recently devoted much energy to deploring the federal deficit and chastising President Barack Obama for not focusing enough on balancing the budget. Very soon, media warn, either spending must be cut or taxes will need to be raised across the board—an argument that rests on the assumption that deficit reduction is, indeed, the top economic priority. Under the headline “Obama’s Risky Debt,” Washington Post op-ed columnist Robert J. Samuelson wrote (5/18/09): Just how much government debt does a president have to endorse before he’s labeled “irresponsible”? Well, apparently much more than the massive […]

Sep
01
2009

Rerun in Honduras

Coup pretext recycled from Brazil ’64

The pretext for the Honduran coup d’état is nothing new. In a remarkable replay, bogus charges that the corporate media in the U.S. and Europe have repeated endlessly without attempting to substantiate—that Honduran president Manuel Zelaya sought to amend the country’s constitution to run for another term—are virtually identical to the sham justification for the 1964 coup against Brazilian president João Goulart. The Brazilian coup, depicted at the time as a victory for constitutional democracy, kicked off a series of extreme right-wing military coups against democratically elected governments throughout the Southern Cone of Latin America and beyond. Brazil was turned […]

Sep
01
2009

The Weekly Standard's War

Murdoch sells the magazine that sold the Iraq invasion

weekly standard

The Weekly Standard, the country’s preeminent neoconservative magazine, was sold to Clarity Media Group, a Denver-based publishing group, for an undisclosed sum in June (Washington Examiner, 6/17/09). Rupert Murdoch’s unloading of the country’s most vigorously pro-war journal marks the end of a particularly sinister and regrettable era in the history of U.S. media. At a glance, the move may seem unremarkable, given the Standard’s relative size. With a circulation of about 65,000 and annual losses estimated from $1 million (New Yorker, 10/16/06) to $5 million (Forbes, 6/29/09), the Standard represented only a tiny fraction of Murdoch’s vast media empire. Murdoch’s […]

Sep
01
2009

Journalism and Militarization on the Tip of the Spear

On Guam, ‘watchdog’ doesn’t bark at military misdeeds

You don’t expect to have to defend the position that the 175,000 residents of the small Pacific island your newspaper serves have a right to know about the brutal, nearly 40-year-long history of assault, rape and other crimes shadowing the 8,000 Marines set to be stationed in their backyard (Asia Times Online, 3/5/08). But that is exactly where a fellow reporter and I at Guam’s largest newspaper, the Gannett-owned Pacific Daily News, found ourselves on several occasions. After each battle with the editor, the truth of the situation became more and more evident: This was no “watchdog,” and we reporters […]

Sep
01
2009

SoundBites

And 10 Times as Many Clueless Pundits Asked by a Canadian viewer, “Has anyone noticed that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?,” Fox’s Bill O’Reilly (O’Reilly Factor, 7/27/09) responded: “Well, that’s to be expected, Peter, because we have 10 times as many people as you do. That translates to 10 times as many accidents, crimes, down the line.” New York Time Capsule Talking about an increase in British Afghan War deaths in recent weeks, New York Times reporter John Burns (7/12/09) wrote, “So far...the reaction in Britain has not run to the kind […]

Sep
01
2009

Letters to the Editor

The Future of Journalism I welcomed Extra!’s special issue on the future of journalism and especially enjoyed Jim Naureckas’ piece, in which he rightly points out: Giant for-profit companies do not have the same interests as the public at large. And if any sort of entity is able to set aside its own interests when reporting the news, it’s not going to be institutions that are required by law to seek the highest level of profit in everything they do.... In short, the quality of news we get is about what you’d expect to get from the kind of media […]