Oct 28 2010

Don’t Defund Public Broadcasting–Improve It

The smart way to fight back against right-wing attacks on NPR and PBS

Here we go again. Conservative activists and Republican politicians are calling–one more time–to defund public broadcasting. The supposed offense this time around is NPR‘s decision to fire analyst Juan Williams over comments he made on Fox News Channel about his fear of people in “Muslim garb.” The episode is proof, in the eyes of right-wing politicians, that public broadcasting is run by left-wing ideologues who use tax-supported media outlets to spread their liberal message. The charge is nonsense–and always has been. FAIR’s research of NPR and PBS programming over the past 20 years has consistently shown a tilt towards elite […]

Oct 25 2010

PBS Responds to FAIR Studies

Ombud echoes concerns, but producers question need to broaden sources

The PBS ombud and representatives of the public television programs studied in FAIR’s new report, “Taking the Public Out of Public TV,” have responded (

Oct 19 2010

Taking the Public Out of Public TV

PBS fare differs little from commercial TV

UPDATE: Sign FAIR’s petition to bring back Now to Friday nights. A multi-part FAIR exposé of PBS‘s most prominent news and public affairs programs demonstrates that public television is failing to live up to its mission to provide an alternative to commercial television, to give voice to those “who would otherwise go unheard” and help viewers to “see America whole, in all its diversity,” in the words of public TV’s founding document. In a special November issue of studies and analyses of PBS‘s major public affairs shows, FAIR’s magazine Extra! shows that “public television” features guestlists strongly dominated by white, […]

Aug 2 2010

PBS’s Shultz Doc Has Content to Match Its Conflicts

After FAIR criticized PBS for airing Turmoil and Triumph, a documentary about Reagan-era Secretary of State George Shultz that was funded almost entirely by his friends and associates (Action Alert, 7/12/10; Activism Update, 7/20/10), the program’s producer/writer/director David deVries (PBS.org, 7/16/10) complained that FAIR (and Nation critic Greg Mitchell–7/12/10) hadn’t “[paid] much attention to the content and quality of the production.” FAIR had not seen the program prior to its three-part airing on PBS; our initial criticism was based on the conflicts of interest in its funding, bolstered by other critics’ description of its uncritical approach to its subject (New […]

Aug 1 2010

Who Gets to Review and Be Reviewed?

Authors, book critics drawn from narrow pool

When it comes to political books, the New York Times Book Review and the C-SPAN book show After Words share an exceedingly narrow view of whose books deserve review—and who is fit to discuss them. A FAIR study found that these important media venues for discussion of newly published books were overwhelmingly dominated by white and male authors, reviewers and interviewers. FAIR’s study examined every episode of After Words from March 2008 to January 2010, and the reviews of politically themed books in the New York Times Book Review from January 2009 to February 2010. In total, the study counted […]

May 4 2010

Checking ABC’s Factcheck

Scrutiny of This Week better in theory than practice

On its surface, the announcement by ABC‘s This Week that the website PolitiFact would monitor the show’s content was a welcome development, despite the obvious downside that the Web-only factchecking would deprive the show’s TV audience of needed correctives. But an evaluation of the record thus far suggests that even this limited attempt to test the accuracy of claims made on the show has focused largely on trivial points and ignored more substantive and controversial arguments. So far, the PolitiFact assessments of This Week–which started on April 11, thanks to a suggestion from New York University professor Jay Rosen–have focused […]

Feb 5 2010

Robert McChesney and John Nichols on The Death and Life of American Journalism


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: a special look at the state of the media in America. Every week on CounterSpin we talk mostly about what the media are getting wrong. But the big story inside the news industry is the collapse of the business itself. What are the implications for citizens? What can we do about it? And how concerned should we be about the failures of corporate owners that have done so little to promote good journalism in the first place? We’ll talk about all that and more with our guests Robert McChesney and John Nichols, co-authors of […]

Jan 1 2010

D.D. Guttenplan on I.F. Stone, Peter Richardson on Ramparts


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Some of the current conversations about the future of journalism trade on some pretty rose-colored notions of journalism’s past. The reality is journalism has always been a very mixed bag, with just some reporters doing the challenging, talking truth to power work that later generations may imagine everyone was doing. This week on the show we’re going to take a look back at a couple of critical institutions in the history of what we now think of as investigative journalism – the sort of hardhitting, independent reporting current discussion is focused on ‘saving’. One […]