Oct
01
2011

Remote-Controlled Reporting on Remote-Controlled War

With Pakistan drone strikes, official story is media’s story

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The New York Times (12/4/09) calls the American drone program “one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets.” This is particularly true for people in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan that border Afghanistan, where the low humming sound which gives them their local name—machay, meaning wasps—is very familiar. Since the drone program in Pakistan began in 2004, between 1,650 and 2,880 people have been killed in as many as 295 drone attacks (New America Foundation, 8/11/11; Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 8/10/11)—with the number increasing drastically in 2009, after President Obama took office. In his first year in office alone, there […]

Sep
01
2011

Obama's DOJ Targets Whistleblowers

If they 'hate our freedoms,' maybe we need less of it

If you really believed, as many Americans claimed to after the September 11 attacks, that "they hate us for our freedom" (Extra! Update, 10/01), then it makes a certain kind of sense to protect against future attacks--by reducing our freedom. That would seem to be the only kind of logic that could justify the erosion of freedom of the press manifested by the Obama Justice Department's concerted efforts to prosecute whistleblowers. The first steps toward the criminalization of being a source for investigative journalism were taken by George W. Bush's administration, when those who revealed how the "War on Terror" […]

Jul
22
2011

Mary Bottari on ALEC Exposed, Marjorie Cohn on prison hunger strike

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: You've probably never heard of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. So why do they have so much sway over the laws affecting your life? We may get some sunlight on the actions of this influential "public/private membership organization" with the release of a cache of previously secret documents on their work. We'll hear from Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy about the ALEC Exposed project, and what it all means. Also on the show: A hunger strike by California prisoners against what they say are torturous and abusive conditions […]

Jul
01
2011

The End of the Bill Keller Era

NYT chief did not challenge state power—he served it

When Bill Keller announced that he would soon be stepping down as the New York Times’ top editor, he was hailed as the man “who rebuilt the confidence of the New York Times newsroom after the Jayson Blair scandal” (Forbes, 6/2/11). Rem Rieder of American Journalism Review (3-4/11) wrote that Keller “righted the ship” and “deserves major credit for steering our most important news organization in an immensely challenging time, for the most part avoiding the icebergs.” Hendrik Hertzberg (New Yorker, 6/3/11) commended his tenure: “The quality and quantity of Times journalism remain unsurpassed on Planet Earth.” Despite all the […]

May
04
2011

Waterboarding 'Worked'?

Media push pro-torture message

To hear some tell it, the intelligence clues that ultimately led to Osama bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan were generated by the use of torture. But the evidence available so far does not bear this out. Torture advocates on the right are claiming vindication. On Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor (5/2/11), Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.) announced that we obtained information several years ago, vital information about the courier for Obama [sic]. We obtained that information through waterboarding. And so for those who say that waterboarding doesn't work, to say that it should be stopped and never used again-- we got […]

Mar
01
2011

11th Annual Fear & Favor Report

How power shapes the news

U.S. media consumers are used to magazines where ads outnumber stories, to on-air hosts who contractually consume brand-name drinks, to “consideration provided by” this and “brought to you by” that. But when it comes to the news, many still maintain at least the kernel of expectation that reports in the paper or on TV have more to do with journalistic judgment than with anything else. The Fear & Favor report is about some of the things that come between that image and reality on a daily basis. From pushy advertisers to heavy-handed owners and local power players, there are a […]

Mar
01
2011

'Balancing Act' Comes Down on Side of Dictatorship

On Egypt, pundits not sure democracy is so great

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/FreedomHouseDC

The political context of the current Egyptian uprising is clear: The United States has steadfastly supported dictator Hosni Mubarak, whose rule has been marked by sham elections and the jailing and torture of dissidents, propping up his regime since 1981 with some $60 billion in aid, most of it military (Congressional Research Service, 2/1/11). But since U.S. corporate media are accustomed to viewing international affairs through the lens of U.S. elite interests, much of the early coverage elided the nature of Washington’s role, presenting the crisis as a “tightrope” balancing act for the Obama administration. As the New York Times […]

Feb
11
2011

Mark Weisbrot on Haiti elections, Vijay Prashad on Egypt and the U.S.

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Why did Hillary Clinton jump on a plane to Haiti on January 30th in the middle of a major diplomatic crisis caused by the Egyptian uprising? She was going to Haiti because Washington is worried that U.S. efforts to deliver a Haitian president to its liking are threatened by democracy. It has not been easy to follow this story in the corporate media, but Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research will bring up to date on Haiti. Also on the show: How do you present decades of support for a […]