Oct 1 2006

Applying the Knowledge

The Leadership Institute

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to “The Power of Conservative Spinning.”] There was “a significant increase of understanding by conservatives on how to deal with media” with the rise of Ronald Reagan, explains Morton C. Blackwell, founder and president of the conservative Leadership Institute. “There was very little to distinguish Barry Goldwater from Ronald Reagan in terms of policy,” he said. But there “was an enormous difference in their approach to communications.” Blackwell, who prides himself on having been the youngest Goldwater delegate at the 1964 Republican National Convention, said that Goldwater “really enjoyed needling people who disagreed with […]

Oct 1 2006

The Power of Conservative Spinning

How the right outguns the left in the PR wars

In addition to being a journalism professor (whose courses have included Politics of Media), I’m the host of a nationally aired TV program, Enviro Close-Up. My producer, Joan Flynn, and I get many e-mails proposing subjects and guests for the show—the overwhelming majority from conservative public relations companies promoting conservative guests. In terms of volume and intensity, there’s nothing comparable from the progressive world. Speaking of the politics of media, it’s a clear and daily demonstration to me of how the right, far more than the left, realizes the importance of communication. “Special Guests” The most active PR operation that […]

Sep 15 2006

Robert Parry on Armitage/Plame, John Stauber on ‘The Best War Ever’

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Do those who called the outing of covert CIA official Valerie Plame Wilson a scandal owe the White House an apology for suggesting it outed her as revenge against her husband Joe Wilson? In light of recent revelations about former State Department official Richard Armitage, some commentators seem to think so. We’ll be joined by journalist Robert Parry for the latest on the coverage of the Plame Wilson affair. Also on the show: The Washington Post has decided to hire a professional spinmeister from the Bush White House to be the new voice on […]

Aug 18 2006

Cutting Wal-Mart a Break

NY Times goes soft on retail giant

An August 17 article about Democratic politicians criticizing the labor practices of Wal-Mart allowed some of the company’s PR to go unchallenged, while expressing concern that “some Democrats” were worried that the criticisms were going too far. After noting the critical comments by some high-profile Democrats, the Times reported: “Some Democrats expressed concern about the direction the party was heading, saying it could turn back efforts by such party leaders as former President Bill Clinton to erase the image of the party as anti-business and scare off corporations that might be inclined to make contributions.” But the Times quoted no […]

Apr 7 2006

Daniel Price on video news releases, Jeff Faux on globalization

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Video news releases are one of the ways corporations and government agencies distribute their propaganda. That wouldn’t be so bad on its own—except for the fact that those videos often show up on TV newscasts, where viewers are led to believe that these PR stunts are actually news reports. Just how widespread is this practice? We’ll find out from Daniel Price, co-author of a new report about VNRs from the Center for Media & Democracy. Also on the show: How is it that US reporters and editors are so confident and so nearly univocal […]

Apr 1 2006

Fear & Favor 2005 — The Sixth Annual Report

Outside (and inside) influence on the news

In 1896, New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs laid out standards by which journalism is still judged today, declaring that his paper would “give the news, all the news . . . impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect or interest involved.” Unfortunately, mainstream media often fail to live up to that goal; demands from advertisers, government, media owners and other powerful people frequently manage to blur or breach the wall between the editorial and business ends of the newsroom. In survey after survey, journalists report that they feel outside—or inside—pressures to avoid, slant or promote certain stories […]

Mar 1 2006

Sidebar: Strictly Personal

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to “Fear & Favor 2005—FAIR’s Sixth Annual Report.”] Sometimes the conflict of interest isn’t with advertisers or owners, but with reporters themselves. It isn’t that journalists aren’t allowed to have private lives. But readers and viewers do have to wonder, in some cases, whether someone with fewer entanglements couldn’t have been found to report certain stories—and in other cases, whether some folks are just plain overentangled. In describing the qualities you’d want in a reputable news reporter and anchor, “has taken money to promote powerful interests” would not be high on the list. But […]

Mar 1 2006

Sidebar: Prepackaged News

Straight From the Source, No Journalism Required

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to “Fear & Favor 2005—FAIR’s Sixth Annual Report.”] At the beginning of the year, the Armstrong Williams scandal highlighted the disturbing practice of the Bush administration’s using taxpayer dollars to fund media that uncritically promote government policies and programs, without disclosing the source of the funding to readers or viewers. (Journalist Williams was revealed to have received some $240,000 from the White House to promote George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act.) But no scandal arose just a short while later, when an inspector general’s report found that the Williams deal was just […]