Sep 1 2001

When a Media Mogul Runs the State

U.S. press unconcerned about fascist ties of Italy's Berlusconi

It’s no great wonder that much of the Italian media did not report critically on the electoral campaign of multi-billionaire Silvio Berlusconi. After all, he owns Italy’s three main private TV networks and other major media outlets. But what excuse does the U.S. press have for its flaccid coverage of Berlusconi, Italy’s richest man, who is now prime minister of that country’s 59th government since World War II? U.S. journalists repeatedly refer to the Italian TV tycoon as a “self-made” success story. George Will called the Italian TV tycoon a “gaudy self-creation” (Newsweek, 5/21/01) and a Scripps Howard editorial (5/15/01) […]

Sep 1 2000

The Real Ali Agca Connection

Media miss U.S. ties to Turkish terrorists

When would-be papal assassin Mehmet Ali Agca was pardoned by the Italian government and sent back to his native Turkey in June, a New York Times editorial (6/16/00) typified the prevailing U.S. media spin. The lead of the editorial described the commutation of Agca’s life sentence for the May 1981 papal shooting as “a reminder that cold-war mysteries may still lie buried in the archives of the former Soviet Union and the East bloc.” Over the years, the Times and other U.S. news outlets vigorously promoted the theory that the Soviet KGB, acting through its Bulgarian secret service proxy, was […]

Mar 1 2000

As Europe’s Far Right Surged, U.S. Press Shrugged

Playing down the fascist ties of Austria's Haider

The electoral breakthrough of the extreme-right Austrian Freedom Party—which came in a close sec­ond with more than a quarter of the vote in that country’s national elec­tions last October—generated front-page coverage in most European news­papers. Editorial commentary empha­sized the importance of keeping the Freedom Party, led by Jörg Haider, from joining a new governing coalition. (Despite threats of siplomatic sanc­tions, the Freedom Party did form a governing coalition with the Austrian People’s Party in February.) The Times of London (10/4/99) warned that “Haider’s result has thrown [Austrian] politics into turmoil, frightened investors and brought closer to power the largest and […]

Mar 1 1993

Project Censored Ignored By Mainstream Press

Publisher's Note

The most significant story of 1992, according to Project Censored’s panel of judges, was the story of the ’80s: how major news media failed to report on the economic cost of Reaganomics while directly benefitting from conservative economic policies. “As they were dispensing their relentlessly positive news about Reaganism, they were being allowed by the government to create giant, monopolistic media empires,” Ben Bagdikian wrote in Mother Jones (5-6/92), in an exceptional article cited by the media watch project. “For almost 10 years, the media remained silent on the obvious–that Reaganite policies were taking a frightful toll in human suffering […]

Sep 1 1992

Not Much To Learn From Television News

Publisher's Note

There’s an old grade-school joke that about homework that went something like this: The more you study, the more you know. The more you know, the more you forget. The more you forget, the less you know. So why study? Substitute “watch TV news” for study, and it still sounds like a joke, but it’s not: The more you watch, the less you know. That about sums up the findings of a survey of pre-election knowledge in the U.S. of various domestic and foreign policy issues. Conducted by Justin Lewis and a team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts […]

Jan 1 1992

Friendly Fascism: National Media Give David Duke a Face-Lift

“There’s no doubt in your mind that Duke is a racist?” bellowed John McLaughlin (McLaughlin Group, 10/25/91). His question was directed at Jack Germond, the token liberal in the Group, who hedged and equivocated, unable or unwilling to state the obvious about Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Duke. “I don’t know whether in his heart he’s a racist or not,” Germond finally replied. “How do I know that?” The mainstream press generally doesn’t like outsiders challenging the two-party political establishment, and most journalists clearly were non kindly disposed toward Duke. But news media consistently deferred to Duke when framing his candidacy, […]

Nov 1 1991

The Press as Gates-Keeper

Coverage of a CIA Nominee

In her novel Damage, Josephine  Hart wrote that the modern expres­sion of guilt brings its own absolu­tion: “Say the guilt prayer ‘I feel guilty,’ and hey presto, that’s the punishment.” So it was with President Bush’s nomi­nee to head the CIA, Robert Gates, who appeared (and said the prayer) before the Senate Intelligence Committee this fall. And so it would be, no doubt, for the press—except that the press so rarely stoops to atone. The newspapers of record—the New York Times and Washington Post ­reported extensively on the Gates hear­ings, publishing, in the case of the Times, many pages of […]

Sep 1 1991

B.C.C.I.: The Scandals Behind the Scandal

A New York Times editorial (7/24/91) typified much of the coverage of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal when it chastised “the sluggish reaction of Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and his Justice Department,” which failed to respond to mounting evidence of corruption in “what may well constitute the biggest banking scandal in history.” Mr. Thornburgh, said the Times, “owes the American public an explanation.” While the Times and other major media were pointing fingers at the Justice Department, they failed to acknowledge–much less explain–their own sluggish reaction to a scandal that had been years in the making. […]