Sep
01
2007

Checking the FactCheckers

FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, bills itself as a “nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” But in its July 18 response to the International Association of Fire Fighters’ video critical of Rudolph Giuliani’s September 11 performance, which it accused of taking “liberties with the truth,” FactCheck continued a pattern of partisan double standards (Extra!, 11-12/05) that does more to confuse than to undeceive the U.S. electorate. FactCheck took issue with several points in the firefighters’ video, including the […]

Sep
01
2007

SoundBites

Good News and No News Amid ongoing violence in Iraq, the Associated Press reported (7/31/07) the "U.S. Death Toll in Iraq for July Hit 8-Month Low." The newsworthiness of this statistic is debatable; the 79 U.S. troops who were killed in July were only two less than had been killed in both March and February, making it a fairly unremarkable month for U.S. casualties. In fact, there have been 34 months in the first four years of war when the U.S. death toll was lower than July 2007's. A more unusual, and therefore more newsworthy, statistic about U.S. deaths in […]

Sep
01
2007

Fencing Off the Immigration Debate

Why workers cross the border is off the agenda

Upon the proposed omnibus immigration bill’s final defeat in the Senate, the Washington Post (6/29/07) published an editorial titled “An Immigrant’s Lament,” which told the sad story of Ernesto, “a 31-year old Salvadoran handyman” who “watched ruefully as the senators dealt their lethal blow to his prospects for a normal life on the right side of the law”: He does better here as a painter, carpenter, landscaper and electrician than he ever could in Cabañas, his hardscrabble native region of northern El Salvador, which is rich in beans and sugar cane but bereft of jobs. The Post scolded politicians for […]

Sep
01
2007

The Poor Will Always Be With Us--Just Not on the TV News

FAIR Study

The PDF version of the study is available here. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, 37 million Americans—one in eight—lived below the federal poverty line in 2005, defined as an annual income of $19,971 for a family of four. Yet poverty touches a far greater share of the population over the course of their lives: A 1997 study by University of Michigan economist Rebecca Blank found that one-third of all U.S. residents will experience government-defined poverty within a 13-year period. The poorest age group is children, with more than one in six living in official poverty at […]

Sep
01
2007

Letters to the Editor

Violence & Worker Control I always appreciate—and enjoy—reading Extra!, and the July/August 2007 issue was no exception. I was surprised, though, to read that Noam Chomsky believes that in democratic societies, “the state has lost the capacity to control the population by violence.” Rather, it seems to me, violence is the last resort of the ruling class, when the working class has become too powerful to control by other means. Weak and disorganized working classes require little effort to control. In the United States, for instance, the working class is so thoroughly disorganized and powerless that it has little ability […]

Sep
01
2007

A Poverty of Coverage

Why aren’t the poor on the media agenda?

During the 20 years of FAIR’s existence, there have been two periods when mainstream journalists made promises about dedicating themselves to greater coverage of poverty, racism and inequality. The first followed the Los Angeles riots of 1992 (Extra!, 7-8/92); the second was after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans (Extra!, 7-8/06). Both promises went largely unfulfilled. Following Katrina, national news coverage of poverty increased before returning to a normal, almost undetectable baseline. According to the Tyndall Report, a newsletter that tracks what’s covered on the nightly network news, poverty reporting increased in the eight months following Katrina from two-and-a-half […]