Jun
01
2005

A 'Right-Wing Coup'

Against PBS's Mythical Bias

A front-page New York Times story (5/2/05) added to mounting evidence that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), under new chair Kenneth Tomlinson, is pressuring public television officials to produce more conservative programming and to rein in shows it perceives as liberal. "The Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias," reported the Times, adding that CPB pressure has prompted "some public broadcasting leaders--including the chief executive of PBS--to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence." An unnamed senior FCC official used […]

Jun
01
2005

Retro Reporting on Nicaragua

As the Bush administration carries out what the New York Times (4/5/05) describes as a "concerted effort" to block the left-wing Sandinista party from returning to power in Nicaragua, U.S. media are themselves returning to the kind of distorted reporting on Nicaragua that characterized coverage during the 1980s as Washington waged war on that country. The New York Times' April 5 article on the administration's anti-Sandinista campaign provided a prime example of this one-sided and inaccurate media treatment. The article, by Ginger Thompson, characterized the U.S. attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government as part of "the global struggle against Communism"--though […]

Jun
01
2005

SoundBites

False Positive The Washington Times (5/13/05), covering a gathering of conservative leaders in support of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R.-Texas), reported a claim by a prominent right-wing media activist: "L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, said a Google search produced 833,000 matches for Mr. DeLay’s name and the word 'scandal.'" The blog American Street (5/16/05) pointed out what should have been obvious to a professional media critic: "Actually, if you search for 'Tom DeLay' and 'scandal' you get only 221,000 matches. In order to get near the figure quoted by Brent, you have to search for […]

Jun
01
2005

Sweeping Away Lott's Racist Record

Sen. Trent Lott's efforts to rehabilitate his public image were given a valuable boost by the Washington Post, which ran an uncritical profile in its April 14 edition. Lott (R.-Miss.) lost his position as Senate majority leader after comments he made at a December 2002 party for retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond (R.-S.C.) attracted publicity. Lott had saluted Thurmond's 1948 run for the White House on a Dixiecrat platform staunchly supporting segregation and opposing anti-lynching legislation. Lott declared: I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of him. And […]

Jun
01
2005

Something to Get Worked Up About

New CNN president Jonathan Klein offered a novel theory about why there aren't more progressives on television (Charlie Rose Show, 3/25/05): They aren't angry enough. When asked if there could ever be a successful progressive version of Fox News Channel, Klein explained that while Fox was tapping into a brand of "mostly angry white men" conservatism, a quote/unquote, "progressive" or liberal network probably couldn't reach the same sort of an audience, because liberals tend to like to sample a lot of opinions. They pride themselves on that. And, you know, they don't get too worked up about anything. And they're […]