Jul
23
2010

Mary Shepard, Longstanding FAIR Activist With a Passion for Justice

FAIR founder Jeff Cohen writes a tribute to Mary Reed Shepard, one of FAIR's longest-serving and most effective local activists. I met Mary Shepard, an incredibly energeticactivist and media critic from Minneapolis/St. Paul, when she was young–about 70-years-young. "If we had a Mary Shepard in everycity," I thought, "we'd be on the verge of (nonviolent) revolution." Mary passed away peacefully Saturday; she was 91. Born into privilege, she worked 24/7 fordecades for a redistribution of wealth and power away from traditional economic elites-â┚¬“which is what should happen in well-functioning democracies. In the early years of FAIR, she was a huge […]

Jul
23
2010

Amazon vs. the Little Guy Does Not Mean Macmillan

Unlike a lot of critiques of Amazon from the publishers' point of view, Colin Robertson's article in the latest issue of the Nation (8/2-9/10) does describe actual bad behavior on the part of the online bookseller: Dennis Loy Johnson, co-publisher of the Brooklyn-based independent Melville House, is one of the few publishers who have dared to speak openly about Amazon's bullying. His story is far from atypical. In 2004 a representative of the retailer contacted Melville's distributor demanding an additional discount. Such payments are illegal under antitrust law, which precludes selling at different prices to different customers. Large retailers circumvent […]

Jul
22
2010

Glenn Beck Shares a Tides Foundation Obsession With Alleged Mass Murder Plotter

Web-based outlets like Salon (7/21/10) and Talking Points Memo (7/21/10) have picked up on the connection–apparently first pointed out by dagblog (7/21/10)– between shooting suspect Byron Williams and Fox News host Glenn Beck. But to judge from a Nexis search, traditional media have ignored the story almost completely. (One exception, found via Facebook: local CBS station KPIX, 7/21/10.) Arrested in Oakland after he was wounded in a shootout, Williams is said by police to have had both a hefty arsenal and plans to commit mass murder at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. The latter organization, a group that supports […]

Jul
22
2010

In USA Today, Breitbart's Old Lies Live On

Sometimes it almost seems like one of the requirements for a high-placed job in corporate media is an inability to learn from experience. Take the front page of USA Today (7/22/10)–the "cover story" is about Shirley Sherrod (FAIR Blog, 7/21/10), whose ordeal is blamed in part on "conservative blogger" Andrew Breitbart taking advantage of "a media culture in which half-truths can spread like a virus online, to be instantly and endlessly chewed over on cable TV." And right next to this piece, the paper's lead story is about voters being registered at welfare offices. It concludes with a right-wing spin […]

Jul
21
2010

Sherrod Story Raises Question: How Many Breitbart Frauds Will Media Fall For?

The lesson of Shirley Sherrod's disgraceful treatment by right-wing and not-so-right-wing media (followed by her equally squalid dismissal by an administration that took that media at face value) boils down to a single question: When will journalists see Andrew Breitbart as the serial promoter of journalistic frauds that he is, rather than as a legitimate source for story ideas? FAIR readers will remember Breitbart's dissemination of videos that purported to show ACORN employees advising a "prostitute" and her "pimp" — conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe–on how to avoid paying taxes. The videos have since been heavily debunked. As […]

Jul
21
2010

Why Is the Erosion of the U.S. Constitution Mostly of Interest to Canadians?

The list of First Amendment-trampling rules for Guantanamo reporters makes for dispiriting reading in today's New York Times (7/21/10)–e.g., "If information the government deems protected is inadvertently disclosed, the Pentagon can order reporters not to reveal it." But perhaps the most discouraging part of Jeremy Peters' article is the list of reporters who fell afoul of a rule requiring them to refrain from publishing "secrets" that have already been widely reported: "Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Steven Edwards of Canwest and Paul Koring of the Globe and Mail in Toronto." What do three […]

Jul
21
2010

What George Seldes Would Say About George Shultz Documentary

New York Times blogger Brian Stelter (7/20/10) reports on the controversy over the PBS documentary on George Shultz that was funded by Shultz's friends and associates. Stelter quotes the producer of the show's response to the criticism, along with FAIR's rejoinder: The series' producer, David deVries, said in a statement to Mr. Getler that "throughout the almost three years it took me to create the series, I was completely unaware of who the funders were." (In response, FAIR said Tuesday that the producer needn't be aware of the funders' identities because the company behind the series, Free to Choose Media, […]

Jul
21
2010

Where Does Social Security Misinformation Come From?

USA Today's Susan Page has a front-page piece (7/20/10) headlined "Faith in Social Security Tanking: Most Expect Cuts or Lose Hope for Funds." The piece notes: A USA Today/Gallup Poll finds that a majority of retirees say they expect their current benefits to be cut, a dramatic increase in the number who hold that view. And a record six of 10 non-retirees predict Social Security won't be able to pay them benefits when they stop working. Page seems a bit puzzled about why the public holds these views, since they are "more dire than the calculations of Social Security's trustees." […]

Jul
20
2010

WashPost Sheds Light on Secret Government–but Alt Media Were There First

The Washington Post's blockbuster story (7/19/10) by reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin on the bloated, secretive and largely privatized national security apparatus established after the September 11, 2001, attacks is making a lot of noise, and for good reason. The Post describes a "top-secret world" that has become "so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work." But the story of how many "national security" functions of the U.S. government have been […]

Jul
19
2010

Left to Take Blame for Centrism's Political Disaster–Once Again

In his New York Times column today (7/19/10), Paul Krugman offers a prediction about the likely pundit response to the drubbing Democrats are expected to take in the November elections: What I expect…if and when the midterms go badly, is that the usual suspects will say that it was because Mr. Obama was too liberal–when his real mistake was doing too little to create jobs. Krugman is on solid historical ground here: There is indeed a longstanding pattern of Democratic politicians, previously praised by pundits for their determinedly centrist policies, later being attacked by the same punditocracy for their self-defeating […]

Jul
16
2010

Burqa Ban: Coverage of a Law to 'Free' Women Leaves Them Voiceless

As France's lower house of parliament approved a ban on wearing full-face Islamic veils such as the burqa or niqab, many U.S. news outlets left out a key voice in their reports: the Muslim women in France who are actually affected by the ban. Several major outlets, including the New York Times (7/14/10), Washington Post (7/14/10) and the Los Angeles Times (7/14/10), have managed to cover the story without seeking commentary from a single Muslim woman. Out of 11 named sources used bythese newspapers in their July 14 reports, only two were Muslim–both men, one a rector and one leader […]

Jul
16
2010

NYT Ties Turkish Group to 'Terrorism'–by Mixing It Up With a Different Group

Ever since the Israeli raid on a Turkish group's boat filled with aid for the Gaza Strip, there has been a lot of attempts in the press (FAIR Blog, 6/10/10), following Israel's lead, to label the Turkish humanitarian group IHH a supporter of "terrorism." The latest salvo comes from a New York Times article (7/15/10) about the Turkish group having "extensive connections with Turkeyâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s political elite." The Times reports: On Monday, Germany banned the charity's offices, citing its support for Hamas, which Germany considers a terrorist organization. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said the charity abused donors' good intentions "to […]

Jul
16
2010

NYT's John Burns Calls for All the News That's 'Necessary to Report'

New York Times London bureau chief John Burns has joined other high-profile reporters (e.g., CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan) in denouncing fellow journalist Michael Hastings. Hastings' Rolling Stone expose prompted the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was relieved of his Afghanistan command following Hastings' revelations that he and some of his aides had used insubordinate language in discussing Obama administration superiors. Appearing on Hugh Hewitt's conservative national radio program on July 6, the Times' former Baghdad bureau chief responded to Hewitt's question about how the Rolling Stone story had affected relations between journalists and military officials: I think […]