Oct
01
2006

The Power of Conservative Spinning

How the right outguns the left in the PR wars

In addition to being a journalism professor (whose courses have included Politics of Media), I’m the host of a nationally aired TV program, Enviro Close-Up. My producer, Joan Flynn, and I get many e-mails proposing subjects and guests for the show—the overwhelming majority from conservative public relations companies promoting conservative guests. In terms of volume and intensity, there’s nothing comparable from the progressive world. Speaking of the politics of media, it’s a clear and daily demonstration to me of how the right, far more than the left, realizes the importance of communication. “Special Guests” The most active PR operation that […]

Oct
01
2006

Memory Unerased

Deep Dish documents the unseen Iraq War

In the days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as the U.S. military planned a massive aerial bombing campaign on the densely populated city of Baghdad, the Pentagon phrase “Shock and Awe” was repeated with enthusiasm on television, part of the celebration of the power of modern warfare. At the same time, Deep Dish TV was setting in motion a plan to record, illuminate, document and bear witness to what would be left out of the commercial media war frame. They would title the 13-part series of 28-minute programs Shocking and Awful, and the group of independent artists and media […]

Sep
01
2006

Live vs. Taped Sources

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to "Are You on the NewsHour’s Guestlist?"] When FAIR published its 1990 study, the NewsHour criticized it for not including taped sources; then-executive producer Lester Crystal argued (Broadcasting, 5/28/90) that taped segments “are a significant part of the program and have included much of the diversity [FAIR] refers to”—suggesting that including taped appearances would show the program to be more diverse than our study of the live segments indicated. It’s worth noting that taped sources are frequently short soundbites, whereas live sources often get an extended opportunity to make various points and develop an […]

Sep
01
2006

The Party Line on Plame Wilson

The naming of Richard Armitage as the first Bush administration official to out covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson was treated by the Washington Post editorial page (9/1/06) as proof that there was nothing to the controversy after all. Armitage, according to the Post, only "reluctantly" supported the invasion of Iraq and was "a political rival" of the officials accused by Plame Wilson's wife, Joseph Wilson, of twisting intelligence about Iraq. Citing a Post news story (8/29/06), the editorial claimed that Armitage told columnist Robert Novak about the leak "in an offhand manner, virtually as gossip." Therefore, the Post concluded, […]

Sep
01
2006

SoundBites

No “Happy” Talk Asked at a press conference (8/21/06) if he was “frustrated” about the situation in Iraq, George W. Bush responded: “Frustrated? Sometimes I’m frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I’m happy. This is—but war is not a time of joy. These aren’t joyous times. These are challenging times, and they’re difficult times, and they’re straining the psyche of our country. I understand that.” Some outlets apparently found this reference to the president’s occasional happiness too jarring to be reported. The Washington Post (8/22/06), for example, had Bush saying, with no ellipses: “Sometimes I’m frustrated, rarely surprised. War is not a […]

Sep
01
2006

Sidebar: Brooks and Shields

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to "Are You on the NewsHour’s Guestlist?"] The NewsHour features a weekly Friday debate which purports to pit a commentator from the right against one from the left. As a regular segment featuring NewsHour employees rather than outside sources, the segment was not included in the study, but it deserves mention, as it reinforces the NewsHour’s preference for right and center opinions over those from the left. Just as he praised the NewsHour for its supposed balance, CPB ombud Ken Bode (CPB.org, 9/1/05) has singled out the weekly debate as a notable part of […]

Sep
01
2006

Never Apologize

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to Star Power Trumps History in AIDS Coverage] A study published in August in the Journal of the American Medical Association (8/9/06) found that sub-Saharan Africans are better at following drug regimens than North Americans. The authors hoped the findings would lay to rest the myth that Africans are incapable of adhering to complicated antiretroviral drug treatment programs, which had been used as an excuse to restrict the region’s access to life-saving drugs. In a related story, the New York Times (8/14/06) reported, “Only a few years ago, there was widespread skepticism that AIDS […]

Sep
01
2006

SoundBites

No “Happy” Talk Asked at a press conference (8/21/06) if he was “frustrated” about the situation in Iraq, George W. Bush responded: “Frustrated? Sometimes I’m frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I’m happy. This is—but war is not a time of joy. These aren’t joyous times. These are challenging times, and they’re difficult times, and they’re straining the psyche of our country. I understand that.” Some outlets apparently found this reference to the president’s occasional happiness too jarring to be reported. The Washington Post (8/22/06), for example, had Bush saying, with no ellipses: “Sometimes I’m frustrated, rarely surprised. War is not a […]