Jan
01
2008

A Million Iraqi Dead?

The U.S. press buries the evidence

The Iraq War was sold to Americans in part as an intervention that would benefit Iraqis, "liberating" them from the despotic rule of Saddam Hussein. In retrospect, after no weapons of mass destruction were found and the alleged links to Al-Qaeda were debunked, this supposed humanitarian mission became the central justification for the invasion. Today, it is a major pillar of what support remains among the U.S. public for continuing the occupation. If Americans are to make informed judgments not only about the invasion of Iraq and whether the occupation should continue, but also about future wars our government may […]

Sep
11
2007

Whose Human Rights Matter?

NYT on Hezbollah and Israeli attacks on civilians

When Human Rights Watch recently released two investigations of the 2006 Israel/Lebanon war, the New York Times found the group's documentation of unlawful attacks against Israel to be far more newsworthy than unlawful attacks committed by Israel. It's rare that a media outlet's news standards can be tested so directly. The human rights group released separate reports on violations by both Hezbollah and Israel, charging each side with indiscriminate attacks on civilians. When the first report was released, the Times placed an 800-word story (8/31/07) under the headline "Rights Group Accuses Hezbollah of Indiscriminate Attacks on Civilians in Israel War," […]

Aug
01
2007

'Accidents' Will Happen

Excusing civilian deaths in Afghanistan

When they’re discussed at all by corporate media, civilian deaths in Afghanistan are often presented as a tactical or public relations problem for U.S. military and political officials, or labeled as “accidental” or “errant.” The civilian deaths are not accidents, however; they are the predictable result of a deliberate decision to protect American troops by putting Afghan noncombatants at risk. A Chicago Tribune story on July 8 commented, “Such bombings and the allegations of civilian casualties, exaggerated or not, are now the biggest challenge facing foreign forces trying to prop up Afghanistan’s government.” This is an odd construction; U.S. media […]

May
01
2007

Bono, I Presume?

Covering Africa Through Celebrities

"Africa is sexy and people need to know that,” declared U2 singer Bono (New York Times, 3/5/07), promoting his new (RED) line of products that propose to save Africa one iPod at a time. Celebrity interest in Africa is not particularly new, but today more stars than ever seem to be converging upon the continent, with television crews seldom far behind. But, as Bono clearly understands, what media tend to find sexy about Africa is not Africa itself, but the stars like himself who have taken up causes in the region. In television news in particular, with its typically cursory […]

Mar
16
2007

Mahmood Mamdani on Darfur, Karen Greenberg on Guantánamo

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: a new essay in the London Review of Books by Columbia professor Mahmood Mamdani argues that by simplifying the story of Darfur, the U.S. press misleads readers and viewers about what is really happening there. He'll join us to explain what is wrong with what we know about Darfur. Also this week: since the outset of the so-called "war on terror" there has been no shortage of incidents demonstrating the contempt many U.S. officials have for the free press. Karen Greenberg, the executive director of the Center on Law and Security at the NYU […]

Dec
15
2006

Sarah Anderson on Augusto Pinochet, Rafael Olmeda on NBC-Telemundo

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The death of a dictator. Chile's Augusto Pinochet died this week at the age of 91, eluding the human rights lawyers and activists who demanded Pinochet be held responsible for his brutal rule. How did the U.S. press remember Pinochet's legacy? We'll ask Sarah Anderson, director of the Global Economy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies. Also on CounterSpin today, the U.S. Latino population is growing but the number of local Spanish language television newscasts will soon be shrinking. NBC Universal has announced that Telemundo, the Spanish-language network it bought in 2001, will […]

Dec
08
2006

NYT Correction Dodges the Question

Missing the point of the missing Amnesty report on war crimes

After a FAIR action alert (12/6/06) pointed out an error in a New York Times article ("Offering Video, Israel Answers War Critics," 12/5/06), the Times published a correction on December 7. FAIR had pointed out that, in a piece describing an Israeli report that attempted to defend Israel against charges of war crimes, the Times had failed to include the relevant international law or analysis from independent human rights groups, and in fact had even incorrectly stated that Amnesty International "did not address the [Israeli] accusation that Hezbollah hid its militants among Lebanese civilians." The correction read: Because of an […]

Dec
06
2006

New York Times on Israeli War Crimes

No independent analysis of pro-government spin

(NOTE: Please see the Activism Update regarding this alert.) A front-page New York Times article by Greg Myre (12/5/06) covered a new report from an Israeli research group defending Israel against accusations of war crimes in its recent war with Lebanon. But instead of critically examining the report's claims in the light of international law and the findings of independent human rights groups, the Times for the most part chose to pass on the research group's spin unquestioningly. As Myre explained the crux of the debate, the war crimes accusations are that "Israel fired into populated areas and that civilians […]