Oct
26
2008

Those Sneaky Little Dots

As the editor of a magazine of media criticism, I make it a rule never to edit the words of someone we're criticizing in such a way that our readers would understand the quote differently if they saw the original context. We don't want people looking up what we're criticizing and saying, "Oh–so that's what they meant." Stan Nelson of the Pueblo [Colorado] Chieftain violates this rule in the criticism he offers (10/25/08) of FAIR's recent report, Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation. Nelson presents this edited quote from our report: "Why," asks FAIR, "is it necessary to […]

Oct
25
2008

Muckraking's Reward–a Pink Slip

Reporting on former Chicago detective Jon Burge's long-delayed arrest for "perjury and obstruction of justice" related to police torture in "the Area Two Violent Crimes unit on Chicago's South Side," American Prospect blogger Phoebe Connelly writes (Tapped, 10/21/08) of how "John Conroy (whose exhaustive reporting on the subject is worth a read) mapped out the connection in a 2005 Chicago Reader article" and in his 2001 book, Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People. Too bad Connelly's post has to end with a bittersweet sidenote here about the death of alt-weeklies. John Conroy, the reporter who put the Area Two scandal on the […]

Oct
25
2008

November 4's Other Ballot

Free Press Campaign Director Timothy Karr reminds us (Communities United, 10/23/08) that "a huge decision is going to be made on Election Day that could change the lives of millions of Americans," but is "not about Obama or McCain": On November 4, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on whether to open unused television airwaves to provide affordable Internet services nationwide…. They can transmit an Internet signal over mountains and through concrete walls. But that hasnâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t stopped the National Association of Broadcasters from deploying their lobbyists to try to keep us from delivering a better Internet for everyone. FCC engineers […]

Oct
25
2008

San Francisco's Answer to 'Chain-Happy' Weeklies

Tim Redmond writes (10/22/08) of how "there aren't many locally-owned independent newspapers left in America," noting that "even the alternative press has become chain-happy…. In… most of the nation's biggest cities, the once-upstart weeklies are owned by big national chains." But, to the great benefit of Northern Californians, the San Francisco Bay Guardian that "Bruce Brugmann and Jean Dibble founded in 1966 is still the paper that Bruce Brugmann and Jean Dibble run in 2008." Redmond relates how, when he "first started writing about sustainable cities in the Guardian, I was 28, the paper was 20, urban environmentalism was still […]

Oct
25
2008

Opinion Pages Wake Up to 'Ugly Innuendo' on Islam

Declaring (10/22/08) that "it's hard not to read all the editorial plaudits for [Colin] Powell as something of an indictment of the opinion writers complimenting his courage," Lester Feder also chides his own CJR.org for relative silence until, in his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, Powell cited the persistent right-wing "Barack Obama is a secret Muslim" rumors as one of the reasons that he is withholding support for Senator John McCain. "Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" Powell asked indignantly, "The answerâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s no, thatâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s not America." Maureen Dowd amplified Powell's comments in her New […]

Oct
24
2008

Glenn Beck a Ratings Failure as Well as a Moral Failure

With Glenn Beck's recent departure from CNN Headline News for Fox News Channel, there's an idea going around that his Headline News show was at least a ratings success. Beck "was arguably the networkâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s most conservative political voice and stirred up both controversy and better ratings in his time slot," wrote the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Kristi Swartz (10/21/08). Fox News, in announcing Beck's move, boasted that his show "has grown more than 200 percent in viewership in both the 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. timeslots since its 2006 debut." The fact is, though, that aside from being a hatemonger who threatens […]

Oct
24
2008

Do 'Economists Say' Herbert Hoover Was Right? Really?

Bill Scher of the Campaign for America's Future has some strong media criticism on AlterNet (10/23/08), focusing on an L.A. Times piece by Stephen Braun (10/23/08) that claims, as the headline says, "Obama and McCain in Denial About Deficits, Economists Say." "The article repeatedly assumes budget deficits as unequivocally bad," Scher notes, even though "many economists support deficit spending in response to economic recessions." This deficit spending can take the form of new programs, tax cuts or a combination of the two–exactly the kind of "ambitious tax and spending plans" that Braun insists "the nation's economic crisis will take a […]

Oct
23
2008

'The Horror' of NPR's Economic Reporting

Beat the Press blogger Dean Baker (10/23/08) finds an instance of economic reporting so egregious it "calls for an extra long arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" The offending occurrence: "NPR just reported on Morning Edition that the markets are plummeting because investors are realizing the seriousness of the damage caused by the credit crunch." Baker sets 'em straight: The economy is not in a recession because of the credit crunch. The economy is going into a recession because of the crash of the housing bubble. Homeowners are losing on the order of $8 trillion in housing bubble wealth, $110,000 per homeowner. For most families, […]

Oct
23
2008

Mayor Bloomberg 'Just Another Strongman'

After quoting New York City Councilmember Charles Barron "offering the simplest route to continued democracy: Do nothing…. The people have spoken twice [against extending mayoral term limits] already. Why not just leave things as they are?", Tom Robbins tells Village Voice readers (10/21/08) that Barron's simple questions were matched only by the New York Times' fearless editorial page. Alone of the city's dailies, the Times refused to bend its principles. By changing the rules at this late date, the Times warned, the mayor "will tarnish his legacy and further weaken the systems of checks and balances that are essential to […]

Oct
23
2008

The 'Unprovable' Reported 'as Fact'

FAIR contributor Mark Crispin Miller and David Swanson are among those signed onto an "Open Letter to the Media from the Media" that asserts (We Do Not Consent, 10/23/08) that "federal election results are unprovable, even though the media reports them as fact." Citing how "electronic voting machines frequently produce results impossible in a legitimate election," the group offers evidence "such as John Kerry's negative 25 million votes in Youngstown, Ohio (November 2004), or Palm Beach County's 12,000 votes in excess of the number of voters (August 2008)," before telling fellow journalists that we must challenge our industry to refuse […]

Oct
23
2008

Not Even a 'Fake Mea Culpa'

Russia writer Mark Ames notices (Nation, 10/22/08) that, a couple of weeks ago, the New York Times slipped in a story that completely contradicted a narrative that it had been building up for two straight months, one that was leading America into another war–a so-called "New Cold War." The article exposed the awful authoritarian reality of Georgia's so-called democracy, painting a dark picture of President Mikhail Saakashvili's rule that repudiated the fairy tale that the Times and everyone else in the major media had been pushing ever since war broke out in South Ossetia in early August. That fairy tale […]

Oct
23
2008

'The True Essence of Journalism'

The Canadian Journalists for Free Expression organization has named recently-freed reporter Sami al-Haj as a recipient of its 2008 International Press Freedom Award. The Indo-Asian News Service reviews the back story (10/23/08): Held at Guantanamo Bay for six years, Sami al-Haj was freed on May 1 this year. Never formally charged, he was pressured to become an informant against Al Jazeera in exchange for a U.S. passport and release from Guantanamo Bay. "Al-Haj refused and instead launched a year-long hunger-strike. The U.S. finally released him to Sudan, where he is now Al Jazeera's news producer for liberties and human rights […]

Oct
23
2008

Media's Election Profits

Analysts have projected that Barack Obama's ad spending would this week "surpass the $188 million Mr. Bush spent in his 2004 campaign." During the last two weeks of the election, the Obama campaign has budgeted $30 million for ads in contested states, according to MSNBC. Last week alone, he also spent about $12 million on national networks and national cable channels. While Obama's ad spending has far outpaced McCain's, McCain and the RNC have also been doing their bit to line corporate media coffers. Last week, McCain spent $9.4 million on ads in key battleground states, and this week MSNBC […]