Apr 1 2004

‘A Loose Cannon Experience’

Which opinions need balancing on the NewsHour?

When journalist Christian Parenti was invited to talk about Iraq on the March 2 broadcast of PBS‘s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Parenti’s criticism of the reconstruction contracts granted to corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel seemed to cross a line for the program’s host. According to a report by Cynthia Cotts in the Village Voice newspaper (3/17/04), Lehrer objected to comments Parenti made in response to a question about whether bombings in Iraq would “make the American job harder on the ground in Iraq”: I would think so. I would think that we have to look at some of the deeper […]

Apr 1 2004

Activism Shifts Coverage of Proposed Gay-Marriage Amendment

Even before George W. Bush endorsed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, the amendment’s potential impact was clouded by careless reporting. Some advocates claimed that the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment would permit states to allow civil unions for gays and lesbians — a disputed interpretation that a number of media outlets failed to question. On February 11, ABC World News Tonight correspondent Terry Moran explained that the amendment “would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but allow states to establish civil unions for gay couples.” Moran continued by saying that “some conservatives are unhappy that […]

Apr 1 2004


No Reason for Skepticism New York Times assistant managing editor for “standards” Allan M. Siegal was asked on NPR‘s On the Media (3/5/04) whether his paper should have been more skeptical of the anonymous U.S. government accounts of the removal of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. “There was no reason at that time to be skeptical about it,” Siegal replied. “I don’t think there were sources available to give us any other version.” Siegal’s boss, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., expressed a similarly credulous standard in explaining why he doesn’t blame reporter Judith Miller for falsely reporting that Iraq had chemical […]

Apr 1 2004

Invasion, One Year Later

Still no debate on Sunday morning

The Sunday morning interview shows on March 14 all devoted significant time to the one-year anniversary of the start of the invasion of Iraq. But viewers of these programs would have had a hard time finding a debate about the controversial decision to go to war. ABC‘s This Week with George Stephanopoulos featured an interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was also the sole guest on Fox News Sunday. CBS‘s Face the Nation featured Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, with pro-war New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman sitting in on the questioning. Only NBC‘s Meet the Press showcased […]