Sep
01
2004

Spinning the Bomb

The New York Times has distorted nuclear issues from the beginning, author finds

News Zero: The New York Times and the Bomb By Beverly Ann Deepe Keever Common Courage Press Reviewed by Karl Grossman The New York Times has for decades downplayed—indeed suppressed—the dangers of radioactivity, according to an exhaustive study by a professor of jour­nalism at the University of Hawaii. Beverly Ann Deepe Keever is a for­mer reporter (and Vietnam correspon­dent) for outlets like the New York Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. Her book News Zero: The New York Times and The Bomb, just published by Common Courage Press, begins with the birth of the nuclear age—and finds that distortion […]

Sep
01
2004

Not Even the New Republic

For decades, journalists and pundits have invoked the New Republic magazine to prove that a conservative idea has support across the spectrum. Drawing on the magazine's historical association with the American left, the phrase "even the New Republic" as in "even the New Republic supports the Contras" has become journalistic shorthand for "even liberal opinion leaders." Thus media writer Howard Kurtz (Washington Post , 6/19/04) began a recent "Media Notes" column: "Ever since the New Republic broke with liberal orthodoxy by strongly supporting President Bush's war with Iraq...." He went on to describe the magazine as a "left-leaning weekly." Once […]

Sep
01
2004

It's the Economy, Stupidly

Jobs reporting protects Bush's job

After many months of dismal job creation numbers, three months starting in April produced statistics that George W. Bush could cite positively. With John Kerry having devoted much effort to pointing out the poor economic performance under the Bush administration, the new numbers produced a strong media consensus: The Kerry team would have to change strategy fast. A headline in the Los Angeles Times (6/15/04) suggested that Kerry was ignoring reality by sticking to his focus: "Kerry Sidesteps Job Growth as He Hits Bush on Economy." "Kerry's description of the economic climate ran counter to a substantial pickup in new […]

Sep
01
2004

Media's Gay Marriage Consensus

Insider critics charge press didn't play it straight

Brides kissing (CC Photo: Ben Salter)

When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in November 2003 that the state could no longer deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, it touched off a string of events that have kept gay marriage in the media spotlight for months. With that new-found prominence has come scrutiny from watchers of the media, with mainstream media critics and ombudsmen from prominent newspapers seeming to reach a consensus: News media have a pro-gay bias. Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz (WashingtonPost.com, 7/26/04) found fault across the board: "ALL of the press was being way too sympathetic to the gay marriage […]

Sep
01
2004

Media Mind-Readers

Pretending to know official motives is not journalism

As the U.S. government pressured the U.N. Security Council in October 2002 to endorse an invasion of Iraq, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw reported (10/17/02): “In Washington, administration officials worry that the continuing U.N. debate will only embolden Saddam if the language of the resolution is loaded with ambiguities.” By talking about the officials’ “worry,” Brokaw was reporting not simply on what they said, but on their alleged internal state of mind. It’s a chronic problem in the media: The beliefs, motivations and intentions of certain preferred sources—usually U.S. government officials—are described matter-of-factly by the press, as though reporters had the […]

Sep
01
2004

I'm Not a Leftist, But I Play One on TV

Progressives excluded as right battles center

In a July appearance on CNN 's Paula Zahn Now , conservative pundit John Fund inadvertently captured the absurd state of American television debate as he faced off with centrist columnist Matthew Miller: Matt and I both agree that gay marriage is a mistake for slightly different reasons. Such debates, spanning the spectrum from A to B, are a television staple. But the narrowness of these pundit mismatches isn't random. Though such debate segments purport to pit right against left, centrist pundits are routinely substituted for the left on panels, while progressives are often excluded altogether. Debates matching conservatives with […]