Oct
01
2006

Lives in the Balance

Media 'vexed' by civilian deaths in Lebanon

On August 14, the New York Times addressed one of the significant worries for U.S. media outlets covering the Israeli bombing and invasion of Lebanon: Civilians in Lebanon were the primary victims, dying in far greater numbers than Israeli military personnel and civilians combined. (Amnesty International estimated that the fighting killed about 1,000 civilians in Lebanon and about 40 in Israel—8/23/06.) The problem for U.S. media was how to obscure that fact. As the Times put it, “Particularly vexing for many American news organizations is the struggle to determine how and in what proportion images of civilian dead and injured […]

Oct
01
2006

Newsworthy and Unnewsworthy Deaths

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to "Lives in the Balance."] On August 8, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote, “Arabs have often argued that Americans have a double standard in the Middle East: We are more solicitous of casualties in Israel than in Gaza or Lebanon. I think they’re right, for a variety of reasons.” Indeed, in the New York Times, some of the deadliest attacks in Lebanon were mentioned in passing, or filed under headlines that would seem to diminish their importance. On August 2, Human Rights Watch released a report that documented Israeli attacks on civilians. […]

Sep
29
2006

Michael Ratner on detainee legislation, Hannah Sassaman on suppressed FCC reports

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Congress has passed legislation on military commissions and detainee treatment that will allow forms of detainee abuse recognized internationally as torture, and make secret evidence and coerced evidence admissible in court. It will also degrade habeus corpus, the traditional right of prisoners to challenge their detention. Why is the media largely ignoring the substance and historic significance of the legislation in favor the stories about the political battles over it? We'll talk about all that with Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Also on the show: FCC Chair Kevin Martin has called […]

Sep
01
2006

Sue Sturgis on Katrina anniversary, Heather Boushey on welfare 'reform'

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was marked by media outlets remembering, among other things, those few days when some reporters decided they wouldn't tolerate lying and deception from government officials. But what's happened on the Gulf Coast since then, away from the cameras and TV anchors? We'll speak with Sue Sturgis of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch. Also on CounterSpin today, another media anniversary: It's been ten years since the passage of so-called welfare reform, and most of the media are celebrating its success as measured by the plummeting numbers on the […]

Aug
02
2006

Mideast Weapons Deserve Scrutiny

Israel’s cluster bombs and alleged phosphorus use have escaped attention

On July 24, Human Rights Watch reported that Israel was using cluster bombs "in populated areas of Lebanon," which it said "may violate the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law." But despite the extensive media coverage of the current conflict in the Middle East, almost no U.S. outlets are reporting on these findings. The Los Angeles Times buried the news at the end of a July 25 report, which concluded that the "Israeli army said it was checking into the group's allegations, but added that the weapons were legal under international standards." On July 27, the New […]

Aug
01
2006

Invisible Violence

Ignoring murder in post-coup Haiti

In an eight-minute report (6/5/05) in which she rode in a U.N. armored personnel carrier and extolled the bravery of U.N. soldiers, NPR correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro cited “human rights organizations” as saying that “things have improved since the Aristide days.” The NPR report interviewed two members of the U.N. force, one U.S. police trainer, one Haitian police official and Gérard Latortue, the head of Haiti’s unelected interim government. It neglected to quote any victims of the violence perpetrated by the Latortue regime or any human rights organizations critical of the governmental-sponsored violence—perhaps because they might have pointed out that such […]

Jul
14
2006

Mark Weisbrot on Mexican election, James Zogby on Gaza crisis

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The still-unresolved presidential election in Mexico is a lot of things to the U.S. press: a test of the appeal of trade deals like NAFTA, or a referendum on left-wing populism. It's no surprise that the consensus media favorite among is conservative candidate Felipe Calderón. But what's missing from the reporting? And when leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador calls for counting every vote, why do some in the press consider that a problem? We'll ask Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Also on CounterSpin today, a major newspaper ran […]

Jun
16
2006

Barbara Olshansky on Guantánamo Bay, Trudy Lieberman on Medicare

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Since the suicides of three detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention center the US military command has banned all journalists and lawyers, turning what was a remote prison revealing little news into an informational black hole. We'll talk to Barbara Olshansky, lead counsel of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Also on CounterSpin: Now that the deadline for enrollment in the White House's new Medicare drug plan has passed, will media get beyond the "Republicans claim/Democrats disagree" approach to the story? We'll hear from journalist and author Trudy Lieberman […]