The menacing threat has been repeated endlessly in U.S. corporate media in recent years: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” “Iran,” “Israel” and “wipe” in one form or another occur together in more than 17,000 articles in the Nexis news database over the last seven years. It plays a critical role in the case for pre-emptive war against Iran. There’s just one problem: It never happened. Mideast expert and blogger Juan Cole (Informed Comment, 5/3/06) noted long ago that Iranian leaders never called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” but a […]
How journalism embraces right-wing anti-intellectualism
From the Scopes trial’s crackdown on Darwinism to William F. Buckley’s famous preference for government by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book over the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty, from columnists George Will (Washington Post, 11/28/10) and Jonah Goldberg (L.A. Times, 8/30/11) lashing out at the “cult of expertise” to Rick Santorum’s rants against universities as “indoctrination centers for the left” (AP, 2/28/12), the American right regularly expresses contempt for expertise, education and other manifestations of “book learnin’.” As if that’s not damaging enough to public discourse, corporate media outlets often seem to embrace the same […]
A nuclear threat—and terrorism too!
Claims that Iran has a nuclear weapons program are allegations, not facts (Extra!, 1/12)—but are treated as established background material in the corporate media: “The president, as you know, has been trying to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program,” explains CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley (2/6/12). The Washington Post editorializes (1/11/12) that Iran’s “drive for nuclear weapons continues.” At the end of January, another provocative claim emerged: Iran was ready to unleash terrorism against the United States. ABC World News (1/31/12) featured a blatantly propagandistic report on the Iranian threat. “America’s top spy warns that Iran […]
Running for president--or dancing with the stars?
After kicking off the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination by devoting serious time to real estate developer Donald Trump’s publicity-stunt non-campaign (FAIR Blog, 4/26/11), corporate media election coverage had nowhere to go but up—right? Never underestimate the power of establishment media to make electoral coverage ever more trivial and undemocratic. Early coverage of this cycle’s Republican candidates looks less like an effort to observe and evaluate potential presidents and more like a semi-scripted reality TV show, where media “judges” pick participants according to entertainment value, express disappointment with the cast and desperately troll for new characters or storylines […]
When corporate media fall short, fantasy fills the gap
Austerity for all is seen as bailout’s message
In recent months, the Greek financial system has collapsed, necessitating a nearly $150 billion bailout backed by other European nations. Corporate media in the U.S., led by Fox News and the Washington Post, have taken this as an opportunity to proclaim the demise of the European social model and to castigate working-class protests against austerity measures. CNN (5/6/10) host Jack Cafferty chastised Greek workers: “The panic was triggered in part by Greece. Greece is a world-class welfare state. People retire in their 50s. They’re accustomed to government handouts at every turn. Now the Greek government says we’re going to have […]
Fox News’ lunatic fringe, now even loonier
Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck had a surprising 2009 (Extra!, 6/09), becoming a high-profile advocate for the right-wing Tea Party movement and attracting millions of viewers to his late afternoon cable talk show. How does one top that? By spinning out elaborate theories about the “progressive” assault on the Constitution and the country, hinting that the left’s disenchantment with Barack Obama could very easily manifest itself in violence—that’s how. Beck’s ruminations make no logical sense, and the proposals he attacks do not bear even the faintest resemblance to the political agenda of the White House or congressional Democrats. But […]
The strange ‘journalism’ of James O’Keefe
When conservative activist James O’Keefe was arrested on January 25 for attempting to interfere with the phone lines of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu from Louisiana (Washington Examiner, 1/26/10), outrage in the media was hard to come by. O’Keefe secretly filmed two accomplices as they impersonated telephone company employees in the senator’s office; he claimed he had “decided to investigate” why constituents couldn’t get through to the senator’s office (Big Journalism, 1/29/09) after the senator said in December that her phone lines had been “jammed for weeks” with calls about healthcare reform (Advocate, 12/23/09). After O’Keefe’s arrest, commentators cautiously distanced themselves […]