Terrorism and the Election: Trial Balloons and Spin

Tom Ridge, the federal official in charge of defending the United States against terrorism, was on message when he told a July 14 news conference: “We don’t do politics at Homeland Security.” Such high-level claims of patriotic purity have been routine since 9/11. But in this election year, they’re more ludicrous than ever. Days earlier, … Continue reading “Terrorism and the Election: Trial Balloons and Spin”

Major ‘Liberal’ Outlets Clog Media Diets

For many years, health-conscious Americans avidly consumed margarine as a wholesome substitute for artery-clogging butter. Only later did research shed light on grim effects of the partially hydrogenated oil in margarine, with results such as higher incidences of heart disease. Putting our trust in bogus alternatives can be dangerous for our bodies. And for the … Continue reading “Major ‘Liberal’ Outlets Clog Media Diets”

The Coming Backlash Against Outrage

Looking at visual images from U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, news watchers now find themselves in the midst of a jolting experience that roughly resembles a process described by Donald Rumsfeld: “It is the photographs that gives one the vivid realization of what actually took place. Words don’t do it. … You see the photographs, and … Continue reading “The Coming Backlash Against Outrage”

This War and Racism – Media Denial in Overdrive

Among the millions of words that have appeared in the U.S. press since late April about abuse and torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, one has been notably missing: Racism. Overall, when it comes to racial aspects, the news coverage is quite PC – as in Pentagon Correct. The outlook is “apple pie” … Continue reading “This War and Racism – Media Denial in Overdrive”

Staying the Media Course in Iraq

On his way to confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, the current U.N. envoy John Negroponte was busily twisting language like a pretzel at a Senate hearing the other day. The new Baghdad regime, to be installed on June 30, will have sovereignty. Well, sort of. Negroponte explained: “That is why I use the term … Continue reading “Staying the Media Course in Iraq”

Country Joe Band, 2004: ‘Uncle Sam Needs Your Help Again’

Taking the stage at a community center in the small Northern California town of Bolinas, a group of four musicians quickly showed themselves to be returning as a vibrant creative force centered very much in the present. Not that the music of Country Joe and the Fish ever really disappeared. Since the release of the … Continue reading “Country Joe Band, 2004: ‘Uncle Sam Needs Your Help Again’”

How the “NewsHour” Changed History

When the anchor of public television’s main news program goes out of his way to tell viewers that he’s setting the record straight about a recent historic event, the people watching are apt to assume that they’re getting accurate information. But with war intensifying in Iraq, a bizarre episode raises some very troubling concerns about … Continue reading “How the “NewsHour” Changed History”

The Quest for a Monopoly on Violence

With warfare escalating in Iraq, syndicated columnist George Will has just explained the logic of the occupation. "In the war against the militias," he wrote, "every door American troops crash through, every civilian bystander shot – there will be many – will make matters worse, for a while. Nevertheless, the first task of the occupation … Continue reading “The Quest for a Monopoly on Violence”

The Media Politics of 9/11

For 30 months, 9/11 was a huge political blessing for George W. Bush. This week, the media halo fell off. Within the space of a few days, culminating with his testimony to the Sept. 11 commission Wednesday afternoon, former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke did serious damage to a public-relations scam that the White House has … Continue reading “The Media Politics of 9/11”

Spinning the Past, Threatening the Future

Political aphorisms don’t get any more cogent: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." George Orwell’s famous observation goes a long way toward explaining why – a full year after the invasion of Iraq – the media battles over prewar lies are so ferocious in the United States. … Continue reading “Spinning the Past, Threatening the Future”