Dec 13 2011

CBS Revises Iraq Death Toll

New tally still lower than other estimates

After a FAIR Action Alert (12/2/11), the CBS Evening News has changed its count of civilian deaths–citing a new figure that is roughly twice their original count. On December 1 the CBS Evening News reported: It is estimated that more than 50,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the war. As FAIR pointed out, this was totally inadequate–even the source for the network’s claim (iCasualties.org) warned that this was not a comprehensive count. On December 12, CBS anchor Scott Pelley closed a segment about “how life has changed inside Iraq” with this: We looked into the human toll of the Iraq […]

Dec 02 2011

CBS Undercounts Iraqi Deaths

Rewriting Iraq War history

A December 1 CBS Evening News report about the Iraq War managed to mislead viewers about the start of the war and severely diminish the loss of civilian lives. Reporting on the handover of the U.S. military headquarters to Iraqi forces, anchor Scott Pelley announced: What began in 2003 as an effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein became a vicious religious war, pitting Iraqi against Iraqi–with the U.S. caught in the middle. Of course, the United States invaded Iraq with the stated aim of disarming Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which did not exist. (“The opening stages of the disarmament of […]

Dec 01 2011

Questions Are Discouraged When Women in Military Die

Pentagon seeks to spin, squelch stories on female fatalities

Photo Credit: Vetwow.org

More than 140 U.S. military women have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the military has officially placed nearly 50 of these deaths in the ambiguous “non-combat” category (Democracy Now!, 7/23/08). Some women’s veterans and advocacy groups, such as VETWOW (Veteran Women Organizing Women), say at least 20 of these non-combat deaths are suspicious, and their families are speaking out to some degree, questioning the military’s official explanations. In at least two of the 20 deaths under scrutiny, the military has tried to strongarm media that were questioning the official ruling —in one case threatening to pull military advertising if […]

Nov 16 2011

Iran, Nukes and the Failure of Skepticism

Iraq all over again?

Much of the corporate media coverage of a new UN report on Iran strongly asserts that Iran is close to building nuclear weapons. But the International Atomic Energy Agency report does not actually arrive at that conclusion, and many critics contend that the speculations that are in the report are misguided. A USA Today piece (11/9/11) was headlined “UN Agency Issues Red Alert Over Iran’s Secret Nuke Program”–with the “red alert” hype coming from a source in the piece, Rep. Ed Royce (R.-Calif.). On CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley reported (11/7/11), “The U.N.’s nuclear agency is expected to report later […]

Oct 01 2011

Ignoring Non-Islamic Culprits in Somalia Famine

Hunger from harmful aid and agriculture policies

As Somalia sank deeper into famine in late summer, with 63 percent of southern Somalia’s population at risk of starvation, U.S. media coverage focused on stories of misery and resilience. Measuring children’s emaciated arms and describing the scraps of dignity people struggled to maintain in refugee camps substituted for investigation of causes, or discussion of remedies beyond appeals for donations. A typical report came from CBS Evening News (8/8/11): “The faces dusted with the desert and…the eyes that have seen too much,” with an interview with a woman “who had fought to save her children in an unforgiving land.” The […]

Oct 01 2011

Remote-Controlled Reporting on Remote-Controlled War

With Pakistan drone strikes, official story is media’s story

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The New York Times (12/4/09) calls the American drone program “one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets.” This is particularly true for people in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan that border Afghanistan, where the low humming sound which gives them their local name—machay, meaning wasps—is very familiar. Since the drone program in Pakistan began in 2004, between 1,650 and 2,880 people have been killed in as many as 295 drone attacks (New America Foundation, 8/11/11; Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 8/10/11)—with the number increasing drastically in 2009, after President Obama took office. In his first year in office alone, there […]

Sep 01 2011

The Forever Wars

Media enlist to promote unending military adventures

In the era of the “War on Terror,” the United States has embarked on two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a NATO-led “humanitarian” bombing of Libya that almost immediately morphed into a war for regime change, and undeclared drone bombing campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Launching these wars has been fairly easy for the White House, with or without congressional approval. How any of them ends, though, remains unclear. The shift from the U.S.’s time-limited military adventures since the Vietnam War–in conflicts like Grenada, Panama, Somalia and Kosovo–to today’s seemingly interminable and endlessly multiplying military commitments is one […]

Aug 19 2011

Jim Hightower on Rick Perry, Glen Ford on Somalia

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: ‘Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be elected president of the United States, please pay attention.’ That was late columnist Molly Ivins’ advice near the end of the George W. Bush era. But lo and behold another Republican governor of Texas is running for president, and from the tone of the coverage so far Rick Perry is some kind of job-creating machine. What else should we know about Rick Perry? Texas columnist and commentator Jim Hightower will join us to talk about the real Rick Perry record. Also on the […]