Jan
23
2006

Editing Chavez to Manufacture a Slur

Some outlets spread spurious charges of anti-Semitism

It began with a bulletin from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles (1/4/06) accusing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of invoking an old anti-Semitic slur. In a Christmas Eve speech, the Center said, Chavez declared that "the world has wealth for all, but some minorities, the descendants of the same people that crucified Christ, have taken over all the wealth of the world." The Voice of America (1/5/06) covered the charge immediately. Then opinion journals on the right took up the issue. "On Christmas Eve, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez's Christian-socialist cant drifted into anti-Semitism," wrote the Daily Standard (1/12/06), the […]

Nov
17
2005

LA Times Dumps Liberal Columnist

Scheer out as Bush attacks Iraq War critics

Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer was fired on November 11 after nearly 30 years at the paper, the last 13 as one of its most progressive political columnists. In a published statement announcing op-ed page changes (11/10/05), the Times insisted that it is dedicated to "provid[ing] readers with a wide range of voices and perspectives," but in dumping Scheer, the paper has gotten rid of one of the few prominent progressive columnists in the country. Scheer's forceful and independent commentary has often placed him in the middle of national debates. He has been one of the strongest critics of […]

Sep
01
2005

Inclusion vs. Exclusion at PBS

Editor's Note

The issue’s cover story on public broadcasting and CPB points out a fundamental irony: While the right perennially attacks public television and the left traditionally defends it, PBS has over the years done a great deal to placate conservatives while generally giving progressives short shrift. One could observe that this is simply a case of the squeaky wheels getting the grease. But why do the wheels on the right-hand side squeak so much more? In large part, it’s a matter of how conservatives and progressives view media, and the concept of speech itself. In general—though exceptions have always abounded on […]

Jun
01
2005

The Mainstreaming of Antisemitism

Few raise alarms when media bigs attack Jews

The commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, held at the former Nazi death camp in Poland on January 27, featured speakers warning about a new rise in antisemitism. “From broken windows to death camps was the blink of an eye,” said Moshe Kantor of the European Jewish Congress (New York Times, 1/27/05), referring to the brief time between the 1938 “Kristallnacht” attacks on Jewish neighborhoods and the hatching of the “final solution” in 1942. The warnings from Auschwitz come at a time when police records and public opinion surveys show increasing antisemitism and anti-Jewish sentiment in […]

Apr
01
2005

Fear & Favor 2004 -- The Fifth Annual Report

How power shapes the news

“We can get five reporters a month to do news stories about your product. If you want to be interviewed by 10 to 20 reporters per month, we can arrange that, too. . . . Media Relations, Inc. has placed tens of thousands of news stories on behalf of more than 1,000 clients. —Media Relations, Inc. solicitation The PR agency’s promises are a stark reminder that the news is, in many ways, a collision of different interests. The traditional tenets of journalism are challenged and undermined by other factors: Advertisers demand “friendly copy,” while other commercial interests work to place […]

Jan
31
2005

PBS Censors Postcards From Buster

Episode featuring lesbian moms deemed not 'appropriate'

PBS has pulled an episode of the children's show Postcards From Buster that includes children with lesbian mothers. The episode was yanked the same day that PBS received a letter from new Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings condemning the episode and asking PBS to "strongly consider" returning the federal money that went toward its production. In the episode, Buster, an animated rabbit, visits Vermont, where he learns how maple sugar is made and visits the home of real-life children who invite him in for dinner and introduce him to their "mom and Gillian." WGBH, the Boston PBS affiliate station that […]

Mar
01
2002

Bias Short on Substance

Former CBS reporter claims TV has "leftward" slant

Proving that irony is alive and well post-September 11, a book deriding the national press corps for its suppression of conservative views has received enormous attention in that same "liberal" media. Bernard Goldberg's Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News is long on name-calling and vitriol, but short on substance. "Delusional," "hypocrites," "Lilliputians"--these are just a few of the words Goldberg uses to describe journalists in general, and his former CBS colleagues in particular. He quips that if CBS News were a prison, many of its employees would be Dan Rather's "bitches." Goldberg left CBS four […]

Mar
01
2001

Those Aren't Stones, They're Rocks

The pro-Israel critique of Mideast coverage

American journalists probably feel more pressure about their coverage of Israel and Palestine than any other subject. That is true even of Extra!; despite having a readership that is overwhelmingly sympathetic to our progressive critique of the media, our Middle East coverage invariably elicits angry letters and complaints, sometimes resulting in canceled subscriptions. According to Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the liberal Jewish magazine Tikkun, his publication has felt "tremendous pressure" to alter its editorial position that Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is the "fundamental source of the problem." Hundreds of subscribers have canceled their subscriptions, and […]