Apr 24 2009

Glenn Greenwald on torture, Rose Aguilar on tent cities


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: While it’s pretty clear that Bush-era torture occurred, and that U.S. and international treaties oblige the U.S. to investigate, the hot media discussion centers not on when investigations will begin, but on whether President Barack Obama—not the Justice Department—thinks they should go forward. We’ll talk to Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com about the torture story. Also on CounterSpin today: Media are flocking to so-called tent cities to try and put a human face on the recession and housing crisis. That sounds laudable, but are the media getting the story wrong? We’ll talk to journalist Rose […]

Feb 01 2009

The Recession and the “Deserving Poor”

Poverty finally on media radar—but only when it hits the middle class

Poverty finally on media radar—but only when it hits the middle classAs the economy crumbles, issues of poverty and economic need have begun to make more frequent appearances in the news media. From October through December 2008, for example, the three nightly TV news shows ran 20 stories—about one every four or five days—addressing poverty or related issues such as homelessness or food stamps. A previous FAIR study of nightly news coverage (Extra!, 9-10/07), by comparison, found an average of one poverty story on the evening news every three weeks. More coverage, though, does not necessarily mean better coverage. And […]

Oct 23 2007

USA Today’s SCHIP Favor

Paper's misleading poll boosts White House veto

Paper’s misleading poll boosts White House vetoThe White House veto of a Congressional plan to expand the SCHIP children’s health care program seemed to run against public opinion, which squarely supports the measure. But USA Today conducted a misleading poll that assisted the Bush administration’s efforts to portray the veto as an effort to help poor children. On October 16, the paper ran a story headlined “Poll: Mixed Feelings on Kids’ Healthcare Program,” which declared that “slim majorities” support White House arguments that are “at the core of the president’s opposition to the expansion.” Most importantly, majorities apparently “agree with […]

Sep 01 2007

The Poor Will Always Be With Us–Just Not on the TV News

FAIR Study

FAIR StudyThe PDF version of the study is available here. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, 37 million Americans—one in eight—lived below the federal poverty line in 2005, defined as an annual income of $19,971 for a family of four. Yet poverty touches a far greater share of the population over the course of their lives: A 1997 study by University of Michigan economist Rebecca Blank found that one-third of all U.S. residents will experience government-defined poverty within a 13-year period. The poorest age group is children, with more than one in six living in official poverty […]

Aug 27 2007


Poverty or Pop Star: What's More Newsworthy?

Poverty or Pop Star: What’s More Newsworthy?When Hurricane Katrina devastated poor communities in New Orleans two years ago today, the media pledged to pay attention to the plight of the poor. Can you guess how newsworthy the major TV networks thought poverty was the year Katrina hit, compared to, say, the legal ordeals of millionaire pop star Michael Jackson? Or which of the major three networks aired the most stories on poverty, and which ran the least? Click here to record your guess

Jan 05 2007

Best of CounterSpin 2006


Download MP3 On this special Best of CounterSpin, program we look back over some of what was news for the mainstream media in 2006—and some of what wasn’t news, but should’ve been. Our guests this year included a range of activists, researchers and journalists—all of whom had an angle on events that we thought worth hearing and, more often than not, one you weren’t hearing many other places. Whether the issue was medicare or immigration, Wal-Mart or welfare policy, each in his or her way reminded us of the need to see beyond the narrow, often distorted dialog provided by […]

Dec 01 2006

The Smell of Success

After 10 years of 'welfare reform,' ignoring the human impact

After 10 years of ‘welfare reform,’ ignoring the human impactIn August, the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program—popularly known as “welfare reform”—turned 10 years old, sparking a rash of articles looking back on how the new law’s emphasis on time limits and “work activities” requirements has fared. But even with recent figures showing poverty on the rise, by and large news media treated the program as an unquestioned success. Defining what exactly constitutes “success” when it comes to welfare policy has long thrown reporters. TANF was originally sold as a program that would get people off welfare and into […]

Nov 01 2006

Wrong Numbers

Distorting Venezuela’s record on poverty

Distorting Venezuela’s record on povertyOne charge that U.S. media have hurled at Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez—that poverty has worsened under his administration—seems tailored to alienate the populist leader from his natural supporters. Isn’t Chávez a leftist? Aren’t his policies pro-poor? progressives may wonder. What about all that oil wealth? Is this really true? No, it’s not. But that doesn’t stop the media from printing misinformation about poverty in Venezuela. It isn’t that opinion writers and editorial editors used false statistics or made errors in their calculations—in most cases, they used the Venezuelan government’s own statistics, as many editorials pointed out. […]