Jun
30
2009

CNN: 'Making Blacks Look Bad' So 'Whites Feel Good'

Ishmael Reed's contextualization (CounterPunch, 6/29/09) of the epic demonization of Michael Jackson within historical U.S. media racism also takes a swipe at CNN's Black in America program, "an exercise meant to boost ratings by making whites feel good by making blacks look bad, the marketing strategy of the mass media since the 1830s": In preparing for a sequel to the first Black in America, which boosted the networks ratings (the O. J. trial saved CNN!), CNN rolled out the usual stereotypes about black Americans. Unmarried black mothers were exhibited, without mentioning that births to unmarried black women have plunged since […]

Jun
30
2009

'Happy-Face' Reporting Turns Debt Payments Into 'Savings'

Posting on Canada's Centre for Research on Globalization website (6/29/09), economic historian Michael Hudson notices that "Happy-face media reporting of economic news is providing the usual upbeat spin on Friday's debt-deflation statistics. The Commerce Departmentâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) for May show that U.S. 'savings' are now absorbing 6.9 percent of income": I put the word "savings" in quotation marks because this 6.9 percent is not what most people think of as savings. It is not money in the bank to draw out on the "rainy day" when one is laid off as unemployment rates rise. The statistic […]

Jun
30
2009

NYT Reports Honduras (Opponent Opinions) From Afar

Looking at a June 28 New York Times report that the "Honduran President Is Ousted in Coup," A Tiny Revolution blogger Bernard Chazelle (6/28/09) writes that "from the byline alone, you know this is going to be good": "Elisabeth Malkin, in Mexico City, with reporting by Simon Romero from Caracas." To Chazelle this all "makes perfect sense since, as we all know, Mexico City and Caracas are the two major cities in Honduras. (Too bad they had no reporter in Bangkok. I hope the Pulitzer committee doesn't notice.)" Moving on to the piece's actual content [since altered by the Times], […]

Jun
30
2009

A Massive 'Press Blackout' for a Massive Press Outlet

Calling the six months of unanimous news media silence on New York Times reporter David Rohde's kidnapping "the most amazing press blackout on a major event that I have ever seen," Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher, 6/23/09) now wonders if a great debate will break out over media ethics in not reporting a story involving one of their own when they so eagerly rush out piece about nearly everything else. I imagine some may claim that the blackout would not have held if a smaller paper, not the mighty New York Times, had been involved. Or is saving this life […]

Jun
30
2009

A Look at Iranian Voting Turns Up Bad News for U.S. Democracy

Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research had one of the most informative pieces I've seen on the Iranian election, published on WashingtonPost.com (6/26/09). Weisbrot examines the actual Iranian vote-counting procedures, and concludes that in Iran, "large-scale fraud is extremely difficult, if not impossible, without creating an extensive trail of evidence." Since votes are supposed to be counted at individual polling places in the presence of 14-18 witnesses, Weisbrot points out that "if this election was stolen, there must be tens of thousands of witnesses–or perhaps hundreds of thousands–to the theft. Yet there are no media accounts […]

Jun
30
2009

Someone (Who Could Have Been a Justice) Is Wrong on the Internet

Richard Posner is the sort of judge who gets mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee because of his supposed brilliance. But, then, he's also the person who wrote this: Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news […]

Jun
29
2009

Climate Change Secondary to 'Free' Trade at NYT

Tying the urgent present-day topic of economic reporting in with the most pressing global emergency of climate change, Dean Baker has posted at his Beat the Press blog (6/29/09) on "What Does 'Free Trade' Have to Do With Taxing Greenhouse Gas Emissions?": That is the question that the New York Times should have been asking in an article that reported President Obama's opposition to taxing imported items from countries that have not taken steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The point of his cap-and-trade program is to make items that require large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions more expensive, […]

Jun
29
2009

'Catch Phrase' vs. Reality in Iran

Knowing how much "we reporters love a catch phrase," Iran writer Reese Erlich (ZNet, 6/28/09) wants you to know that, despite "Twitter being all a flutter in the west," current reporting is "highly misleading" in that "Iran is not undergoing a Twitter Revolution. The term simultaneously mischaracterizes and trivializes the important mass movement developing in Iran." After tracing the concept's origins back to self-obsessed Western media–"desperate to find ways to show the large demonstrations…reporters were getting most of their information from Tweets and YouTube video clips"–Erlich gives us the reality of the situation: First of all the vast majority of […]

Jun
29
2009

Mexico Electoral Fraud 'in the Dust of History' at NYT

Veteran independent Mexico reporter John Ross (CounterPunch.com, 6/28/09) wants to know which countries come to mind when thinking about "a stolen election by an entrenched regime," "demands for a recount to which election officials respond by offering to recount just 10 percent of the vote," or even "a regime-controlled media that exalts the incumbent's victory and demonizes the loser"? Are you thinking "Iran 2009? Yes!" or "Mexico 2006? Yes and no." Toward showing that "the stealing of the Mexican presidential election by the right-wing oligarchy stirred little indignation anywhere outside of Mexico," Ross finds that "a comparison of coverage extended […]

Jun
29
2009

Why Read the Press Release? Just Blame the Taliban

Investigative reporter Gareth Porter's careful reading (Dissident Voice, 6/28/09) of "the official military investigation into the disastrous May 4 airstrike in Farah province" of Afghanistan, which "omitted key details" and "gave no explanation" for reasserting "that only about 26 civilians had been killed"–"well-documented reports by the government and by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission [showed] that between 97 and 147 people were killed"–yields a "central contradiction between the report and the U.S. military's 'human shields' argument" that "was allowed to pass unnoticed in the extremely low-key news media coverage of the report." In fact, news coverage of the report […]

Jun
28
2009

Trivial Media Maintains 'Mass of Isolated Individuals'

Spanish sociologist Pablo Ouziel has a new Consortium News essay (6/28/09) describing the consequences of how "we wake up in the morning to hear and watch the newest tragedy that has swept the world's media attention"–whether it's "the tragic crash of an airplane" or "the death of a star." Meanwhile: Serious events and acts are taking place everyday which merit serious social debate, yet because of the fact that our societies are deeply fragmented, broken and clashing between each other, we are unable to grant ourselves the necessary pause, required for conciliation and unity. Because of this, we are easy […]

Jun
28
2009

On 'Trial Balloons' and MSM's 'Veil of Anonymity'

Salon's Greenwald (6/27/09, ad-viewing required) has taken a hard look at Washington Post and ProPublica journalists Peter Finn's and Dafna Linzer's report–"relying exclusively on three Obama officials speaking behind a veil of anonymity"–"that the White House is 'crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely.'" Finding it "revealing" that "the article quotes two Bush national security officials justifying the need for detention without charges," Greenwald writes of how "anonymous trial balloon articles like this one are difficult to comment on because it's obviously designed to announce that a certain policy is being […]

Jun
28
2009

Political Prosecutions Bumped by Death, Sex

Addressing Bush-era Department of Justice investigations, David Swanson (6/26/09) is asking OpEd News readers the provocative question, "Did you know the United States has in recent years prosecuted hundreds of people for political reasons?" This is a crime, or rather a crime wave, that has thus far been addressed primarily by ignoring it. You can read a lot about it from bloggers like Larisa Alexandrovna or Scott Horton. But you won't hear the president mention it on TV. In an attempt to convince the corporate media that this issue ranked right up there with governors' sex lives and celebrities' deaths, […]