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States Legalizing Marijuana; Gay Marriage
Signs of Progress? Or signs of Armageddon?..
More Women in Congress; Joining Struggle to Ensure Women's Reproductive Rights

“The restructuring of media in the United States is creating forms of censorship that are as potentially damaging as overt censorship.”

“Media corporations have been undergoing a massive merging process that is realigning our sources of information in America,”

The 11 largest or most influential media corporations in the United States

[These companies and news sources] represent the interests of corporate America, and that the media elite are the watchdogs of acceptable ideological messages, the parameters of news and information content and the general use of media resources. Your Mainstream Media is manipulating the news you are allowed to see.

Project Censored has been documenting inadequate media coverage of crucial stories since it began in 1967 at Sonoma State University. Each year, the group considers hundreds of news stories submitted by readers, evaluating their merits. Students search Lexis Nexis and other databases to see if the stories were underreported, and if so, the stories are fact-checked by professors and experts in relevant fields.

See the Media Power Grid at Mediaite.com, an alternative news source, for a list of the most important people in media.

Iraq Diaries: Conflicting numbers and a surreal press conference

January 4, 2004 -- Yesterday, I reported on an attack upon a US Humvee patrol in Al-Dora, Baghdad, which is in the Al-Rashid district. Statements taken from three boys and five men who witnessed the US military clean-up and medical evacuations all reported the same story: The US military flew in medical choppers to air lift 2 wounded soldiers from the scene. They all witnessed at least five bodies loaded into US vehicles and driven from the scene... Virtually every investigation I've conducted on events of this nature has provided a disparity in the numbers of US dead and wounded between those reported by CPIC and Iraqi witnesses; be they civilians, hospital staff, or figures from the morgue. -- Electronic Iraq

Author Sees Anti-U.S. Reporting: Fired for book critical of French newspapers

December 29, 2003 PARIS -- Alain Hertoghe believes that in covering the Iraq conflict, French newspapers recreated "the war they would have liked to have seen." -- IHT

Fox News: 'Miles From 'Fair and Balanced'

November 1, 2002 -- A veteran producer this week alleged that Fox News executives issue a daily memorandum to staff on news coverage to bend the network's reporting into conformity with management's political views, refocusing attention on the partisan bias of America's most watched cable news operation.

The charges by Charlie Reina, 55, whose six-year tenure at Fox ended April 9, first surfaced Wednesday in a letter he posted on an influential
Web site maintained by Jim Romenesko for the Poynter Institute, an organization that promotes journalistic education and ethics.

Concerns about Fox, which styles its news coverage as "fair and balanced," begin with its owner, Australian-born Rupert Murdoch. The corporate boards and family investors who control most of the American news media generally feel obliged to maintain a wall of separation between news and editorial opinion. Murdoch, by contrast, operates in the style of the traditional Fleet Street proprietors, who dismiss such distinctions as inconvenient fictions.

And as a deeply conservative man, he is willing to put his money where his politics are: Murdoch, a naturalized US citizen, subsidizes publication of the Weekly Standard, one of the country's most influential right-wing journals. According to a forthcoming book by the New Yorker's Ken Auletta, he loses as much as $40 million a year maintaining the New York Post as an outlet of conservatism in Manhattan.

As Fox's founding president, he hired Roger Ailes, a shrewd Republican political operative who earned a well-founded reputation for bare-knuckle campaigning while working for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. As one of the architects of the elder George Bush's media strategy in his campaign for president against Democratic rival Michael Dukakis, Ailes helped devise the notorious Willie Horton commercials. As he told Time magazine in August 1988, "The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it."

The late Lee Atwater, another Bush aide, described Ailes as having "two speeds - attack and destroy." Before joining Fox, where he serves now as chairman, Ailes produced Rush Limbaugh's short-lived television talk show.

According to Reina's letter, "Daily life at [Fox] is all about management politics".Editorially, the FNC newsroom is under the constant control and vigilance of management. The pressure ranges from subtle to direct. First, it's a news network run by one of the most high-profile political operatives of recent times. Everyone there understands that [Fox] is, to a large extent, 'Roger's Revenge' against what he considers a liberal, pro-Democrat media establishment that has shunned him for decades. For the staffers, many of whom are too young to have come up through the ranks of objective journalism, and all of whom are nonunion, with no protections regarding what they can be made to do, there is undue motivation to please the big boss."

Fox News spokesman Rob Zimmerman told The Times that "these accusations are the rantings of a bitter, disgruntled former employee. It's unfortunate that Charlie's career ended the way it did, but we wish him well." Asked whether Reina's quotations from the memos were inaccurate or taken out of context, Zimmerman said, "All we are saying is that these are false accusations." The Times' request to speak with Ailes was denied: "Roger is not addressing this and is not available," Zimmerman said.

Reina, who told The Times he left Fox in a dispute over salary and workload - not politics - hardly comes across as a knee-jerk liberal. He is at pains, for example, to say that he believes his former employer's cable rivals - CNN and MSNBC - also air news reports riven with bias on both ends of the political spectrum. At Fox, he not only produced the network's weekly media criticism show, "News- Watch," but also a series of specials on Newt Gingrich and a talk show with conservative religious commentator Cal Thomas.

Still, Reina, whose 30-year career includes stints at the Associated Press, ABC News and CBS, said Fox's ideological problems begin with Ailes.

"Roger is such a high-profile and partisan political operative that everyone in the newsroom knows what his political feelings are and acts accordingly. I'd never worked in a newsroom like that," he said in an interview. "Never. At ABC, for example, I never knew what management or my bosses' political views were, much less felt pressure from them to make things come out a certain way. I'm talking about news bias, and I never experienced it there. At CBS or the AP, if a word got in that suggested bias - liberal or conservative - it was taken out.

"At Fox it was all about viewpoint. I'm not talking about the nighttime personalities. I'm talking about the news report. Fox executives will say their network only appears conservative because it is fair, when everyone else is liberal and biased. That's bull. Fox doesn't 'seem' conservative and Republican. It is conservative and Republican."

In his letter, Reina wrote that "the roots of [Fox's] day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct. They come in the form of an executive memo" written by John Moody, the network's vice president for news, and "distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered. To the newsroom personnel responsible for the channel's daytime programming, The Memo is the bible. If, on any given day, you notice that the Fox anchors seem to be trying to drive a particular point home, you can bet The Memo is behind it. The Memo was born with the Bush administration, early in 2001, and, intentionally or not, has ensured that the administration's point of view consistently comes across on [Fox]".

"For instance, from the March 20th memo: 'There is something utterly incomprehensible about [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan's remarks in which he allows that his thoughts are 'with the Iraqi people.' One could ask where those thoughts were during the 23 years Saddam Hussein was brutalizing those same Iraqis. Food for thought.' Can there be any doubt that the memo was offering not only 'food for thought,' but a direction for the FNC writers and anchors to go? Especially after describing the UN Secretary General's remarks as 'utterly incomprehensible'?".

"One day this past spring, just after the US invaded Iraq, The Memo warned us that anti-war protesters would be 'whining' about US bombs killing Iraqi civilians and suggested they could tell that to the families of American soldiers dying there. Editing copy that morning, I was not surprised when an eager young producer killed a correspondent's report on the day's fighting - simply because it included a brief shot of children in an Iraqi hospital".

"These are not isolated incidents at Fox News Channel, where virtually no one of authority in the newsroom makes a move unmeasured against management's politics, actual or perceived. At the Fair and Balanced network, everyone knows management's point of view, and, in case they're not sure how to get it on air, The Memo is there to remind them."

Av Westin, a longtime ABC news executive who is now executive director of the National Television Academy, examined Reina's letter and said: "Nothing about this surprises me. The uniform smirks and body language that are apparent in Fox's reports throughout the day reflect an operation that is quite tightly controlled. The fact that young and inexperienced producers acquiesce to that control by pulling stories is further evidence that nonjournalistic forces are at work in that newsroom.

"Roger runs the place with an iron hand and he was put in place there by Murdoch, who selected him for his politics. In that sense, what's happened at Fox is a carry-over from all Murdoch's print publications, where the publisher's politics and editorial preference is reflected in the news hole to an extent that isn't true anywhere else in American journalism."

Reina is out of television news these days, supporting himself in New York with a small woodworking business.

Looking back on his time with Fox, his greatest concern is for its young staff. "Many of them wanted to be on television but not necessarily in news. They haven't had the benefit of traditional journalistic training, so they're easily molded.

"Time after time I watched what management's politics did to the young anchors. As they near the time to get their own show, the hair gets blonder and the bias gets clearer."
-- By Tim Rutten for the Los Angeles Times

Poor George! Agoraphobia Sufferer?
George W. Bush: How Will He Be Viewed By History?
Now Spending His Time on the Ranch, Painting Pix of Dogs

Access to Congressional Research Service Reports at Issue

December 2, 2003 -- Several members of Congress, led by Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), introduced a bill to enhance public access to reports of the Congressional Research Service.  See the "Congressional Research Accessibility Act" (HR 3630), introduced November 21.

See also "Lawmakers revive fight to get research reports online" by Ted Leventhal, National Journal's Technology Daily, November 24:

A new selection of CRS reports on "continuity of government" -- which refers to the assured functioning of constitutional government following catastrophe or natural disaster -- is now available here: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html#cog

Additional CRS resources are being gathered and posted by TheMemoryHole.org. -- Secrecy News

DOD Restores Online Access to Directives

October 16, 2003 -- The Department of Defense today restored public access to a website containing hundreds of DoD directives that it had removed from public reach just over a week ago.

The episode is a microcosm of countless other disputes over access to government information. Last week, the Pentagon began by unilaterally blocking public users from the directive web page. The move was immediately exposed and criticized (SN 10/08/03). It was challenged and implicitly ridiculed by TheMemoryHole.org, which posted a complete replica of the withdrawn website. The removal triggered a request and faced impending legal challenges under the Freedom of Information Act. And it drew media attention, including a brief Associated Press story yesterday by Jim Krane.

To its credit, the Pentagon got the message. The
site is again available here.

An optimist would be entitled to conclude that it is still possible, even under current conditions, to effect change in offical secrecy policy, at least in a modest way.
 
-- Excerpted from Secrecy News by Stephen Aftergood for the FAS project on government secrecy, archived at 2nd Sight Research.

By the Tube, for the Tube

On Friday, April 4, the PBS program NOW with Bill Moyers focused on proposals by the Bush FCC to end long-standing safeguards designed to promote diversity of media ownership. To learn more, visit AlterNet's MediaCulture content file:

The 'Real World' War
If embedding is a next logical step for reality TV, it's also a huge leap in political, ethical and commercial terms.

Salon on War Press Coverage

  • March 25: "If it weren't for the liberal press, we might have taken Baghdad last time," says one U.S sergeant in Iraq.
  • March 28: A senior editor for aljazeera.net says his station is a threat to American media control -- and blames the Pentagon for shutting down the site.

15 Stories the Media Have Already Bungled

Greg Mitchell on the war coverage so far: "The war is only a week old and already the media has gotten at least 15 stories wrong or misreported a sliver of fact into a major event. Television news programs, of course, have been the prime culprits. Newspapers, while they have often gone along for the ride, have been much more nuanced and careful. Newspaper coverage has not been faultless, as photos and headlines often seem shock-and-awe-struck but, compared with TV, newspapers seem more editorially -- and mentally -- balanced. Some have actually displayed a degree of skepticism of claims made by the military and the White House -- what used to be known as "journalism.""

BBC: Military War Misinformation Said 'Worst Ever'

On nearly every day of the war so far there have been reports that could be seen as favourable to coalition forces, which have later turned out to be inaccurate.

Patriotic Pagans

Down on the Farm: The Twilight of Hippiedom
 
Let me tell you another story about Stephen Gaskin's Farm, the largest hippie commune in America.

Press vs. National Security at Issue at High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to get its first chance to debate the conflict between national security and public access to immigration hearings. At its private conference on Thursday, the Court will consider several media outlets' petition to overturn a 3rd Circuit ruling that allowed the Bush administration to hold closed deportation hearings for so-called special interest aliens detained after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Why Al Jazeera Matters

If our hope for the Arab world is for it to enjoy a free, democratic life, Al Jazeera is the kind of television station we should encourage.

Protests and Demonstrations
Throwing Stones in America
Throwing Stones for Peace

Related Pages:

GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) is an acronym that
tvkids.jpg
not only describes data processing, but media consumerism.

Loaves and Fishes

This is not the age of information.
This is
not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.
-- (c) David Whyte, from The House of Belonging

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