Nov 9 2007

Shahid Buttar on Pakistan, Jonathan Tasini on the writers strike


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Martial law in Pakistan made headlines on November 4. Some in the media were calling it a second coup by dictator Pervez Musharraf, not to mention a move that muddies up the Bush White House’s alleged democracy promotion project in the Muslim world. What’s missing from that media formulation? We’ll hear from writer and activist Shahid Buttar. Also on CounterSpin today, the Writers Guild of America strike has generated a lot of coverage of which celebrities are walking the picket lines and which shows will go into reruns, but reporting about what the writers […]

Aug 27 2007


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

Aug 24 2007

Arianna Huffington on Utah mining disaster, Ralph Nader on talk radio payola


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: the six coal miners buried in Crandall Canyon in Utah are presumed dead. With three additional miners killed in the rescue attempt, the question now is whether media will call the story a tragedy and move on, or track responsibility for the disaster, no matter how high it goes. We’ll speak with Arianna Huffington of the blog the Huffington Post about media’s record on the story so far. Also on the show: a potential new payola scandal involving talk radio hosts receiving perks from General Motors, including free use of cars, in exchange for […]

Aug 3 2007

Laila al-Arian on ‘The Other War,’ Ann Toback on broadcast news survey


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: while media watchers and right-wing bloggers went on the attack over a New Republic columnist’s writings about the behavior of U.S. troops in Iraq, an exposé in the Nation magazine has gone relatively unnoticed. The magazine spoke to 50 combat vets about things they had seen—and done—in Iraq; we’ll speak to Laila al-Arian, co-author of the Nation report “The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness.” Also on CounterSpin today: “I must have done ten stories in a day about Britney Spears shaving her head.” That’s just one of the complaints voiced by broadcast journalists […]

May 1 2007

Bono, I Presume?

Covering Africa Through Celebrities

“Africa is sexy and people need to know that,” declared U2 singer Bono (New York Times, 3/5/07), promoting his new (RED) line of products that propose to save Africa one iPod at a time. Celebrity interest in Africa is not particularly new, but today more stars than ever seem to be converging upon the continent, with television crews seldom far behind. But, as Bono clearly understands, what media tend to find sexy about Africa is not Africa itself, but the stars like himself who have taken up causes in the region. In television news in particular, with its typically cursory […]

Apr 1 2007

Hyping the Venezuela Threat

To NYT, ‘arms spending’ doesn't mean spending on arms

A report in the New York Times on Venezuela’s international arms purchases (“Venezuela Spending on Arms Soars to World’s Top Ranks,” 2/25/07) used selective information and an alarmist tone to suggest that Venezuela’s military spending was a potential threat to regional stability. Reporter Simon Romero’s story began: Venezuela’s arms spending has climbed to more than $4 billion in the past two years, transforming the nation into Latin America’s largest weapons buyer and placing it ahead of other major purchasers in international arms markets like Pakistan and Iran. By putting Venezuela in the company of Pakistan and Iran—whose military programs have […]

Dec 5 2006

Flirting With Fascism on CNN Headline News

Host Glenn Beck threatens Muslims with concentration camps

The New York Times (12/4/06), profiling new CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck, called him “brash” and “opinionated,” with an “unfiltered approach.” The conservative talk-radio host-turned-cable news announcer, the paper reported, “take[s] credit for saying what others are feeling but are afraid to say.” The Times mentioned one of the things Beck has said recently, to newly elected U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim: “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” But as press critic Eric Alterman pointed out (Altercation, 12/4/06), as offensive as that question is, it doesn’t begin to suggest the poisonousness […]

Oct 1 2006

Star Power Trumps History in AIDS Coverage

A love letter to the 'two Bills'

A number of activists at the 16th International AIDS Conference complained that the Toronto gathering foregrounded the rich and famous—most prominently Microsoft chair Bill Gates and former President Bill Clinton—at the expense of front-line workers and people living with AIDS (e.g., “Activists Blast Focus on Celebrity,” Calgary Herald, 8/17/06). “They can’t have it both ways,” responded Conference co-chair Mark Wainberg (AP Worldstream, 8/17/06). Advocates who want the increased public attention that comes with media coverage, Wainberg suggested, should know the deal. “They should understand, as we all do, that we would not have 3,000 journalists at this conference if not […]