Dec 1 2009

Not So Fast, Filibuster

Quietly changing the rules of democracy

The United States has made a dramatic change in its system of governance—with little debate or even attention paid in corporate media. The change is the vastly increased importance of the filibuster, a parliamentary maneuver that allows a minority of lawmakers—under current Senate rules, 41 out of 100—to indefinitely extend debate and prevent a final vote. Once a curiosity invoked a handful of times during any two-year congressional session, the filibuster became more common starting in the 1970s; in the Clinton administration and early in the George W. Bush years, the Senate had to move to take a vote on […]

Jul 1 2009

Sotomayor vs. Bork

NYT by the Numbers

Sonia Sotomayor--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Talk Radio News Service

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Misjudging Sotomayor Coverage] Following President Barack Obama’s announcement of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for the Supreme Court, Extra! compared the New York Times National Desk’s coverage of the two weeks following Sotomayor’s nomination (5/27/09-6/10/09) to the first two weeks of coverage of Ronald Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork (7/1-14/87). Both nominations were reported as controversial—Bork’s nomination was ultimately rejected by the Senate—and the Times devoted 36 stories to Sotomayor and 25 stories to Bork in the two weeks after each pick was announced. (The paper’s coverage of Sotomayor was more […]

Jul 1 2009

Misjudging Sotomayor Coverage

Not much of a case for left-wing media bias

[See also the sidebar to this piece, Sotomayor vs. Bork: NYT by the Numbers]   Writing about Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Politico’s Mike Allen (5/27/09) declared: The media’s left-of-center bias is rarely more apparent than during court fights. The coverage running up to the pick was slanted heavily toward the notion of how “pragmatic” Obama’s legal views are and how unlikely he was to pick a liberal. Coverage of Supreme Court fights is one of the best illustrations of corporate media’s supposed lean to the left? Only three of the current justices had […]

Jun 5 2009

Fred Clarkson on Tiller murder; Adam Serwer on Sotomayor


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: There’s been a lot of coverage of the murder of Dr. George Tiller, allegedly killed by and anti-abortion activist. But there has been relatively little discussion of the culture that such violence arises from, where mainstream anti-abortion figures regularly demonize abortion providers—and we’re not just talking about Bill O’Reilly. We’ll talk to Fred Clarkson, who has been monitoring and writing about anti-abortion violence for years. Also on the show: As the vetting process of prospective Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor goes forward, Americans can be forgiven for not actually knowing very much specific about […]

Jun 2 2009

Misquoting Sotomayor

Media let right-wing critics frame debate

At this point, the confirmation battle over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will hinge in part on whether the media want to fact-check her critics. So far, the press is largely failing. Right-wing critics and politicians have been circulating comments Sotomayor made in 2001 at UC Berkeley. One quote has been replayed endlessly: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” (Sometimes the quote is replayed without the “I would hope that” qualifier–e.g., NBC Nightly News, […]

May 29 2009

John Feffer on North Korea, Han Shan on Shell & Ken Saro-Wiwa


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: When the media talks foreign affairs, there’s generally an assumption that countries have identifiable interests and rationally pursue them as best they can. All that’s thrown out the window when it comes to North Korea. That country’s apparent decision to conduct an underground nuclear test and test-fire several missiles has re-engaged the media discussion about the nuclear-armed dictatorship. But what do we still not understand about that country’s behavior? And is all of this really a “test” for Barack Obama? John Feffer of the Institute for Policy Studies will join us to discuss that. […]

May 22 2009

Mike Lillis on climate bill, Joy-Ann Reid on Cheney & torture


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Climate change legislation is making its way through Congress, but weirdly, that might not be good news. Some environmentalists are saying that in this case, no law might be better than this bill–that started out as a call to reduce carbon emissions but seems to be turning into something else. We’ll talk with Mike Lillis, who covers Congress for the Washington Independent. Also on the show: Did top Bush officials instruct interrogators to torture detainees, not for national security reasons, but to obtain statements to justify the Iraq War? The answer seems to be […]

May 1 2009

When the White House Says Hush

Treating the ‘state secrets privilege’ as classified information

Redacted State Department Documents (National Security Archives)

If the media were doing their proper job, they would see a government’s assertion that a case is too secret to talk about as a mandate to dig deeper, not a reason to back away.