Oct
01
2006

Nixed Signals

When Hamas hinted at peace, U.S. media wouldn’t take the message

After the June 25 capture of one of its soldiers in a raid by Hamas militants, Israel responded with a massive invasion of Gaza. It destroyed the area’s electrical generators, blew up bridges and launched a barrage of artillery at Palestinian camps and settlements. Palestinian fighters vowed steadfast resistance. Whatever meager hopes remained for peace talks, cease-fires or an improvement in the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza seemed to have evaporated. Israel was demanding the unconditional release of the soldier, while leaders of Hamas—in control of the Palestinian government following the January 2006 elections—insisted he would be returned only […]

Oct
01
2006

FAIR's Original 1990 NewsHour Study

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to "Are You on the NewsHour’s Guestlist?"] Following FAIR’s landmark 1989 study of ABC’s Nightline, “Are You on the Nightline Guestlist?” (Extra!, 1-2/89), FAIR was urged to compare Nightline’s narrow, elite roster of guests with those of other news programs. In 1990, FAIR published a new study, “All the Usual Suspects: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and Nightline,” which measured Nightline’s progress in diversifying its own guestlist and compared it to the guestlist of the NewsHour, then co-hosted by Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer. To the surprise of some, FAIR found that the guestlist of the […]

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 […]