Sep 1 2000

Right-Wing Business in Farmer’s Overalls

The American Farm Bureau Federation

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) bills itself as the voice of American agriculture–and often succeeds in getting the media to identify it as such. In an article about an EPA study of insecticides, USA Today (10/28/99) turned to an EPA critic at the AFBF, describing it as a group that “promotes farmers’ interests.” Similarly, CNN (12/13/99) referred to “farmers’ groups” questioning the EPA’s concerns–and featured another spokesperson from the AFBF. The myth that AFBF represents the interests of farmers is longstanding, though it has long been debunked. In Samuel “Sandy” Berger’s 1971 book, Dollar Harvest: The Story of the […]

Jan 1 1999

The Ever-Present Yet Nonexistent Poor

For Heritage's Poverty Expert, Numbers Mean What He Says They Mean

As a poverty specialist for the conservative Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector is one of the right-wing media machine’s most prolific pundits. In 1996, the year of the welfare reform debate, he was cited in media outlets an average of more than 15 times a month. Rector also feeds a vast network of right-wing talkshow hosts and syndicated columnists who pick up and broadcast his findings. Yet for all his influence, Rector’s work is a mess of misleading statistics and specious arguments all contrived to accomplish a single goal: to cut spending on the poor. In 1995, Rector testified before Congress […]

Jul 1 1998

Meet the Myth-Makers

Right-Wing Media Groups Provide Ammo for "Liberal Media" Claims

While the main proponents of the liberal media myth are conservative commentators and talkshow hosts (who themselves are the dominant opinion voices in the media), the ammunition for such arguments usually comes from one of three well-funded groups. Two of the groups–Accuracy In Media (AIM) and the Media Research Center (MRC)–are openly conservative, while the Center for Media & Public Affairs (CMPA) presents itself as an objective, nonpartisan research group. AIM does relatively little research, while the plentiful “research” produced by the other two groups is frequently marred by methodological flaws or unsupportable assumptions. Despite the weak foundations of their […]

May 1 1998

Oprah’s Free–Are We?

In 13 states, no First Amendment for food critics

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) must be breathing a sigh of relief. Their six weeks of courtroom combat with TV star Oprah Winfrey may have officially failed to silence her concerns about food safety, but in practice it came pretty damn close. Despite Winfrey’s legal victory, the bottom-line lesson for the rest of us is grim: In 13 states, the First Amendment no longer applies on food-related subjects. Investigating, speaking or writing about issues from mad cow disease to pesticides to food additives can cost you years of legal hell and a lifetime of debt hiring lawyers and experts […]

Sep 1 1997

What’s in a Name?

In Jerusalem story, terminology takes sides

“The forces of terrorism are in a coalition, engaged in an information warfare campaign against Israel, a campaign in which the American news media is serving as the witting or unwitting ally of Arafat.” So House speaker Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) told the cheering audience at AIPAC’s (American-Israeli Political Action Committee) national convention (C-SPAN, 4/8/97). Democrats like Vice President Al Gore and House minority leader Richard Gephardt (D.-Mo.) had both given pro-Israeli convention speeches, but it was Gingrich who thrilled the crowd with his attack on the media. Virtually the only example given by Gingrich with any basis in reality was […]

Sep 1 1996

How the NRA Rewrote the Constitution

On Second Amendment, Reporters Side With Gun Lobby Against Supreme Court

Extra! September/October 1996: How the Gun Lobby Rewrote the Constitution

On April 5, 1996, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed down its ruling in Hickman v. City of Los Angeles. Ray Hickman had argued that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave him a right to keep and bear firearms, and that this right was infringed by the city’s refusal to issue him a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The Ninth Circuit rejected Hickman’s claim: “We follow our sister circuits in holding that the Second Amendment is a right held by the states,” the court said, “and does not protect the possession of […]

Nov 1 1994

A Question of Fairness: Will FCC Let Both Sides Be Heard on Smoking Initiative?

The Bork-Scalia Decision

As this issue of Extra! reaches subscribers, Californians will be going to the polls, voting not only for political candidates but on a variety of ballot initiatives. One of these initiatives, Proposition 188, was placed on the ballot by a group with the healthy-sounding name of “Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions.” But don’t let the name fool you: These “anti-smoking” Californians are a front for the Philip Morris Company — displaying the same flair for packaging that it shows when it markets the Marlboro Man. Philip Morris’ initiative would eliminate local smoking ordinances, replacing them with a watered-down statewide standard. […]

Jan 1 1993

Pundits to Clinton

Break Campaign Promises, Ignore "Liberal Interests"

The jockeying by presidential candidates to win the support of pundits and funders is known as the “first primary.” Bill Clinton won that primary by presenting himself as the kind of centrist politician that political insiders are comfortable with: tough on foreign policy, skeptical of social programs, friendly toward business. In the real election, Clinton often ran a very different campaign. He criticized his Democratic primary opponents for policies he said would favor the rich at the expense of people of ordinary means. He attacked the Bush administration for its “trickle-down economics,” and as a captive of corporate lobbyists and […]