Nov
17
2008

Michael Savage Hates Free Speech

Fair Use infringement and talk-radio vitriol meet in a report (Bay City News, 11/13/08) on hate-jock Michael Savage's latest charming escapades: Conservative radio talkshow host Michael Savage has been sued in federal court in San Francisco by a liberal film group for making an allegedly baseless demand that YouTube Inc. take down one of its videos. The video by Brave New Films was entitled Savage Hates Muslims and criticized an October 29, 2007, broadcast in which Savage…comments that Muslims should "take [their] religion and shove it up [their] behind" and should be deported…. YouTube did take down the video and […]

Nov
14
2008

Fearing Fairness–When You Don't Know What It Is

After giving a dubious account of the causes of the Democrats' 1994 electoral disaster, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson (11/14/08) provides an inaccurate description of the Fairness Doctrine, which he calls a federal regulation (overturned by the Reagan administration in 1987) requiring broadcast outlets to give equal time to opposing political viewpoints. Under this doctrine, three hours of Rush Limbaugh on a radio station would have to be balanced by three hours of his liberal equivalent. This may sound fair and balanced. But it is a classic case where the "unintended consequences" are so obvious that those consequences must be […]

Nov
11
2008

MSNBC's Profane Zealot

Hearing Joe Scarborough utter "the phrase 'fuck you' when discussing Obama's appointment of Rahm Emanuel" on MSNBC, Salon's Green Greenwald states (11/10/08, ad-viewing required) that he "couldn't care any less"–except that he just can't stomach the immense hypocrisy of "one of the most zealous crusaders against such awful filth on television": Scarborough led the lynch mob over the 2004 Janet Jackson halftime show on CBS–demanding that the FCC impose massive fines against CBS and MTV, among others–and has railed against "rock stars" and entertainers who use, as he used to call it (before this morning), "the F word." Indeed, Scarborough […]

Nov
10
2008

Free Speech 'Actually More Important Than Sports'

Corporate media may have belatedly embraced the historic black power gestures of 1968 Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos, but sports media critic Dave Zirin tells (Nation, 11/7/08) of how a modern-day version by one NFL player drew immediate condemnation: [Denver Broncos receiver Brandon] Marshall's plan was to score a touchdown on Thursday night and then take out a black-and-white glove and hold it up to the sky. "I wanted to create that symbol of unity because Obama inspires me, our multicultured society," he said after the game, choked with tears…. "I wanted to make my own statement and […]

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
18
2008

The Hazards of Reporting on Palin Rallies

Via TPM, we read about a reporter (Capital Beat, 10/16/08) who got knocked down at a Sarah Palin rally in North Carolina because he tried to interview an Obama supporter. This seems like the natural progression from the earlier report of Palin inciting her followers to hurl obscenities and racist insults at journalists. And, you know, maybe if your crowds are already shouting abuse at reporters, you should refrain from distributing songs that begin, "The left-wing liberal media have always been a real close-knit family/But most of the American people don't believe them anyway, you see." In a related story, […]

Oct
14
2008

Hoover Haunts the Press

The AP files a chapter (10/11/08) in the long story of government surveillance of critical reporters like muckraking columnist Jack Anderson: Documents turned over to the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act almost three years after Anderson's death include copies of his columns with critical notes in the margins, summaries of his movements while under surveillance, and FBI memos detailing efforts to find his sources who leaked information from deep inside government agencies.