PAID LYING: WHAT PASSES FOR MAJOR MEDIA JOURNALISM [IN THE USA]
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 13 Nov 2009
Today’s major media journalism is biased, irresponsible, sensationalist reporting that distorts, exaggerates or misstates the truth. It’s misinformation or agitprop disinformation masquerading as fact to boost circulation, readership, viewers, or listeners, and on vital issues lie about or suppress uncomfortable truths to provide unqualified support for state and/or corporate interests — to the detriment of the greater good that’s always sacrificed for profits and imperial aims.
As a result, major media sources produce a daily propaganda diet and what Project Censored calls “junk food news,” and get most people to believe it. In their landmark book, Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky explained the “propaganda model” that controls the public message by “filter(ing)” disturbing truths, “leaving (behind) only the cleansed residue fit to print” or air.
Today the media is in crisis and a free and open society at risk at a time fiction substitutes for fact, news is carefully controlled, dissent marginalized, and on-air and print journalists support powerful interests as paid liars, or what famed journalist George Seldes (1890-1995) called “prostitutes of the press.”
As a result, imperial wars are called liberating ones. Civil liberties are suppressed for our own good. Major topics go unaddressed or are misrepresented. Government and business interests are endorsed wholeheartedly. America is always called “beautiful.” Beneficial social change is considered heresy. The market works best, we’re told, so let it, and patriotism means supporting lawlessness and corporate outlaws by shopping till we drop.
The New York Times: Its Lead Role in Distorting and Suppressing Truth
For many decades, the Times has been the closest thing in America to an official ministry of information and propaganda masquerading as real news, commentary and analysis.
Its unmatched clout once got media critic Norman Solomon to call its front page “the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA;” most everywhere, in fact, because its reports are widely circulated and followed globally.
The Paper of Record has a long history of:
· supporting the powerful;
· backing corporate interests;
· endorsing imperial wars;
· supporting CIA efforts to topple elected governments, assassinate independent leaders, prop up friendly dictators, secretly fund and train paramilitary death squads, practice sophisticated forms of torture, and menace democratic freedoms at home and abroad. For decades, in fact, some Times‘ foreign correspondents were covert Agency assets. Others today likely are as well as other prominent fourth estate members.
The Times management is also comfortable with:
· Washington and corporate lawlessness;
· an unprecedented and growing wealth gap;
· Wall Street banksters looting the federal treasury;
· a private banking cartel controlling the nation’s money;
· unmet human needs and increasing poverty, hunger, homelessness, and despair for growing millions in a nation run by rogue politicians who don’t give a damn as long as they’re re-elected;
· a de facto one-party state;
· deep corruption at the highest government and corporate levels;
· democracy for the select few alone;
· sham elections; and
· a deepening social decay symptomatic of a declining state, yet The Times management won’t use its clout to expose and help reverse it.
Of course, the same applies throughout the corporate media, the only variance being audience size, the ability to influence it, and the special impact of TV news and talk radio to arouse their faithful. Plus their power of round-the-clock persuasive repetition.
Examples of Journalism, New York Times Style
After a Washington staged February 29, 2004 middle-of-the-night coup ousted democratically elected Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Times March 1 editorial lied by:
· stating he resigned;
· saying sending in Marines to abduct him “was the right thing to do;”
· claiming they only came after “Mr. Aristide yielded power;”
· blaming him for “contribut(ing) significantly to his own downfall (because of his) increasingly autocratic and lawless rule….;” and
· accusing him of manipulating the 2000 legislative elections and not “deliver(ing) the democracy he promised.”
In fact, he’s a beloved democrat first elected in 1990 with 67% of the vote, ousted by a US-supported coup months later, returned to Haiti in 1994, then, because he couldn’t succeed himself in 1996, ran in 2000 and was overwhelmingly re-elected with 92% of the vote. Today in exile, the great majority of Haitians want him back but paramilitary occupiers, under orders from Washington, won’t let him.
Following Hugo Chavez’s December 1998 election, the Times‘ Latin American reporter, Larry Roher, wrote:
Regional “presidents and party leaders are looking over their shoulders (concerned about the) specter (they) thought they had safely interred: that of the populist demagogue, the authoritarian man on horseback known as the caudillo (strongman)” taking power.
Ever since, Times writers consistently:
· turned a blind eye to Venezuelan democracy;
· bashed Chavez as “divisive, a ruinous demagogue, provocative (and) the next Fidel Castro;”
· said he “militarized the government, emasculated the country’s courts, intimidated the media, eroded confidence in the economy, and hollowed out Venezuela’s once-democratic institutions:” common conditions during decades of pre-Chavez rule that columnist Roger Lowenstein falsely said exist now in:
· calling him anti-capitalist for sharing his nation’s oil wealth with the people by providing essential social services, and for lifting the most needy out of poverty; and
· denouncing his making foreign investors pay their fair share.
Lowenstein backed the aborted April 2002 coup by calling Chavez’s ouster a “resignation,” then saying Venezuela “no longer (would be) threatened by a would-be dictator.”
Post-/911, the Times played the lead role in taking the nation to war by highlighting the “day of terror” and saying the “President Vows to Exact Punishment for ‘Evil.’ ”
In the run-up to the Iraq war, Judith Miller was a weapon of mass deception with her daily front page Pentagon press release columns masquerading as real news, later exposed as manipulative lies, but they worked.
Following the September 15, 2009 Goldstone Commission report, a same day Neil MacFarquhar column suggested that Israel’s “disproportionate attack” followed Hamas provocations, so perhaps it was justified. While the Times gave Judge Goldstone op-ed space, it:
– published scathing letters denouncing his “one-sidedness” and a September 18 piece saying “the Obama administration said (today) that a United Nations report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza was unfair to Israel and did not take adequate account of ‘deplorable’ actions by the militant group Hamas in the conflict last winter.”
The paper then imposed a near-blackout on its news and editorial pages to bury the story and kill it through silence – never mind its importance in documenting clear evidence of Israeli war crimes against a civilian population.
National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting (PBS)
Founded in 1970 as an independent, private, non-profit member organization of US public radio stations, NPR promised to be an alternative to commercial broadcasters by “promot(ing) personal growth rather than corporate gain (and) speak with many voices, many dialects.”
Having long ago abandoned its promise, and given its substantial corporate and government funding, NPR is indistinguishable from the rest of the corporate media, just as corrupted, and consider its former head, Kevin Klose.
He was president from December 1998-September 2008 and CEO from 1998-January 2009. Earlier he was US propaganda director as head of the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Worldnet Television, and the anti-Castro Radio/TV Marti, so he fit easily into his new role.
On January 5, 2009, Vivian Schiller succeeded him as president and CEO. Her official bio says she was previously with “The New York Times Company where she served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of NYTimes.com.”
She’ll oversea “all NPR operations and initiatives, including the organization’s critical partnerships with our 800+ member stations, and their service to the more than 26 million people who listen to NPR programming every week.” Most don’t know they’re getting the same corporate propaganda and “junk food news” or that NPR calls itself “public” to conceal its real agenda, and why critics call it “National Pentagon or Petroleum Radio” with good reason.
Created by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) calls itself “a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress… and is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,100 locally-owned and-operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.”
Like NPR, it’s heavily corporate and government funded and provides similar services for them. Under George Bush, former Voice of America director Kenneth Tomlinson was chairman of CPB’s Board of Governors until an internal 2005 investigation forced him out for repeatedly braking the law.
On September 16, 2009, a CPB press release announced that “The board of directors (of the CPB) today elected Dr. Ernest Wilson III (as) chairman and re-elected… CEO Beth Courtney (as) vice-chair.”
Wilson previously held senior policy positions as Director of International Programs and Resources on the National Security Council. He was also Policy and Planning Unit Director for the US Information Agency and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Beth Courtney is a George Bush appointee, a past chairman of the board of America’s Public Television Stations and present CPB vice chairman. Currently she also serves on the boards of Satellite Educational Resources Consortium, the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives, the National Forum for Public Television Executives, and the National Educational Telecommunications Association along with other appropriate credentials for her re-appointment.
In its May/June 2004 “Extra” report, FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) asked “How Public Is Public Radio? Writers Steve Rendall and Daniel Butterworth quoted past head Kevin Klose saying:
“All of us believe our goal is to serve the entire democracy, the entire country.”
Not according to FAIR on “every on-air source quoted in June 2003 on four of (NPR’s) news shows: All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Edition Sunday.” Each guest was classified “by occupation, gender, nationality, and partisan affiliation.” Combined, 2,334 sources from 804 stories were quoted.
FAIR found that NPR relies on the same dominant sources as the major media that include government officials, professional experts, and corporate representatives nearly two-thirds of the time.
Spokespeople for public interest groups accounted for 7% of total sources, and ordinary people appeared mostly in “one-sentence soundbites.”
Male guests outnumbered women about 4-1, and those quoted most often came from the same elite categories as men.
Overall, NPR represents the same dominant interests as the major commercial media — conservative, pro-business, pro-war, pro-Israel, and very much against the public interest while pretending to support it.
FAIR analyzed PBS’s flagship NewsHour guest list and drew similar conclusions. Like NPR, it’s ideologically right and usually censors progressive content and public interest programming. In a 1990 NewsHour evaluation, FAIR compared its content to ABC’s Nightline and found that it presented “an even narrower segment of the political spectrum.” It then conducted an October 2005-March 2006 analysis of all of its programs, got similar results, and determined that NewHour is even more ideologically right than NPR that tilts far in that direction itself.
FAIR concluded that NPR and NewsHour content “overwhelmingly represent those in power rather than the public” they’re obliged to serve. While masquerading as public programming, they betray their listeners and viewers by offering the same propaganda and “junk food news” as the dominant corporate media. Considering their funding sources, what else would they do.
An October 6 NPR story is typical of most others. It charged Hugo Chavez with “Targeting Opponents For Arrest.” Reporter Juan Forero claimed “dozens of university students” went on hunger strike outside OAS headquarters in Caracas on September 28 along with others “across the country… in support of Julio Cesar Rivas, a student who was arrested during an anti-government demonstration in August….”
Rivas is the coordinator and founder of Juventud Activa de Venezuela Unida (United Active Youth of Venezuela – JAVU). Earlier, he was part of a staged, violent street protest against Venezuela’s new Education Law. The government says JAVU acts as “shock troops” in opposition protests and is liberally funded by the National Endowment of Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), and US Agency or International Development (USAID) to disrupt internal Venezuelan affairs. It’s a familiar scheme, repeated numerous times in the past, to discredit and disrupt the Chavez government in hopes of eventually ousting it.
JAVU has about 80,000 members in most Venezuelan states, and its blog site calls for bringing down the government and supporting the Honduran military coup.
Rivas was released on September 29, but must appear for trial. He’s a Washington-funded provocateur, charged with resisting arrest, instigating crime, conspiracy, inciting rebellion, damaging public property, and using “generic” weapons.
While in custody, Venezuela Public Defender Gabriela Ramirez assured him in person that his full constitutional rights will be protected. Street protests still continue and have been countered by pro-Chavez ones calling for “peace and tolerance.” According to the Federation of Bolivarian students’ Carlos Sierra:
Opposition “students are being used and manipulated by the top leadership of the irrational opposition, which, via the (dominant) media, send them to generate violence and terrorism in the country” much like on previous occasions.
But according to NPR’s Forero, Rivas was “sent to one of Venezuela’s most infamous prisons” where other government opponents are held as political prisoners. Chavez “has been jailing dozens of key opponents – some of them students, some of them veteran politicians” in citing unnamed “human rights groups and constitutional experts (claiming) Venezuela is increasingly singling out and imprisoning its foes in politically motivated witch hunts.”
Forero didn’t mention that Rivas fomented violence. Others arrested also broke the law. No one is a political prisoner, and all Venezuelans get fair and equitable trials, unlike in America where real political arrests, prosecutions and convictions happen regularly against innocent targeted victims — a topic NPR and PBS won’t touch except to vilify them publicly on-air.
Nor do they report truthfully on Occupied Palestine. On October 12, 2009, on NPR’s Morning Edition, reporter Renee Montagne practically extolled Israeli racism in stating:
“There is a new enemy for some Israelis: romance between Jewish women and Arab men, (so) vigilantes have banded together to fight it.” She means from “Jewish settlements” that “have sprung up (in) traditionally Arab” East Jerusalem, but won’t admit they’re on stolen Palestinian land.
NPR’s Sheera Frankel joined a patrol, implied Arabs are inferior to Jews, and suggested they pose a danger to Jewish women and girls. She described vigilantes on the lookout for “Arab-Jewish couples (to) break up their dates,” suggesting it’s the right thing to do, but never questioning the legitimacy of settlements, vigilante violence in East Jerusalem, its lawless disregard for the law, or great harm to innocent people. Instead she called “mixed couples a growing epidemic” of miscegenation — typical of NPR’s racism and one-sided support for Israel.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
The WSJ is Dow Jones & Company’s flagship publication, now a News Corp. one since Rupert Murdoch bought it in August 2007. Stating its ideology up front, it says it supports “free markets and free people” as well as “free trade and sound money; against confiscatory taxation and the ukases (edicts) of kings and other collectivists; and for individual autonomy against dictators, bullies and even the tempers of momentary majorities.”
In October 2007, FAIR bemoaned the Murdock takeover because of his “penchant for using his holdings as vehicles for his personal (views) and business interests.” Earlier FAIR and the Columbia Journalism Review criticized its editorial page for inaccuracy, extreme bias, and dishonesty.
The Journal is unapologetic in saying its philosophy “make(s) no pretense of walking down the middle of the road. Our comments and interpretations are made from a definite point of view…. We oppose all infringements on individual rights, whether (from) private monopoly, labor union monopoly or from an overgrowing government. (We’re) not much interested in labels but if we were to choose one, we would say we are radical.”
Radical can be revolutionary and beneficial when it backs fundamental progressive change and reform. Webster defines it as:
“marked by a considerable departure from the usual and traditional: extreme; tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions; of, relating to, or constituting a political (or perhaps business) group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change; (or) advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs” such the radical right represented by the WSJ’s management and editorial writers.
Critics agree that they’re on the far right extremist fringe, a supporter of voodoo economics, tax cuts for the rich, a staunch defender of executive privilege, and disdainful of anything to the left of their views as witnessed daily by some of the most outlandish, one-sided, pro-business commentaries countenancing no alternatives, with the rarest of rare exceptions showing up to make the paper look fair, which it’s not.
Consider editorial board member Mary O’Grady in her weekly Americas column on “politics, economics and business in Latin America and Canada.” Her extremism is unmatched. Her style is agitprop; her space a truth-free zone; her language hateful and vindictive; her tone malicious and slanderous; her style bare-knuckled thuggishness; and her material calculating, mendacious, and shameless. Yet she’s a WSJ regular and an award-winning op-ed writer, but surely no journalist according to Webster’s definition:
“writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.”
O’Grady fails on both counts. She’s a kind of print version of Fox News‘ Glenn Beck, who promotes himself on glennbeck.com looking arrogant in a uniform reminiscent of the Nazi SS.
Consider O’Grady’s support for the Washington-backed June 28 Honduran coup ousting a democratically elected president. It was followed by months of mass arrests, disappearances, killings, targeting the independent media, suspending the Constitution, declaring martial law, and threatening the Brazilian embassy’s sovereignty where President Manuel Zelaya took refuge after returning.
In one of her many pro-coup articles, O’Grady (on July 13) headlined “Why Honduras Sent Zelaya Away.” In a “perfect world,” according to her, he “would be in jail in his own country right now, awaiting trial. The Honduran attorney general (part of the coup regime) has charged him with deliberately violating Honduran law and the Supreme Court (stacked with pro-coup justices) ordered his arrest in Tegucigalpa on June 28,” the day of the coup.
“But the Honduran military whisked him out of the country, to Costa Rica,” to save itself the embarrassment of jailing a democratically elected leader whose lawful actions were endorsed by the majority of Hondurans wanting progressive constitutional change and a president willing to give it to them.
Yet according to O’Grady, “Mr. Zelaya’s detention was legal, as was his official removal from office by Congress…. Besides eagerly trampling the constitution, Mr. Zelaya had demonstrated that he was ready to employ the violent tactics of ‘chavismo’ to hang onto power. The decision to pack him off immediately was taken in the interest of protecting both constitutional order and human life.”
In fact, Zelaya neither espoused or practiced violence, and his call for a public June 28 vote on whether to hold a referendum for a new Constitutional Convention at the same time as the November elections lawfully asked for a “yes” or “no” on one question:
“Do you think that the November 2009 general elections should include a fourth ballot box (the other three were for candidates) in order to make a decision about the creation of a National Constitutional Assembly that would approve a new Constitution?”
According to Article 5 of the 2006 Honduran “Civil Participation Act,” government officials may hold non-binding inquiries (referenda) to determine popular support for proposed measures. Gauging sentiment for a National Constituent Assembly for a new Constitution is legal.
Yet in her June 28 article titled, “Honduras Defends Its Democracy,” O’Grady falsely claimed Zelaya planned “a constitutional rewrite (following) a national referendum” only the Congress can approve. In fact, Zelaya called for a vote to assess public sentiment, pro or con, on whether Hondurans want a Constitutional Convention, an act no different from a public opinion poll that’s perfectly legal or should be anywhere. But according to O’Grady, Zelaya “decided he would run the referendum himself.” It’s typical O’Grady truth reversal that earns her weekly space on the WSJ’s op-ed page.
The BBC’s Long Tradition As An Imperial Tool
State-owned and funded, it’s tradition is long, unbroken, and disturbing as the world’s largest and most influential broadcaster reaching global audiences in 32 languages. From inception in 1925, it’s been reliably pro-government and pro-business, or as its founder Lord Reith wrote the establishment: “They know they can trust us not to be really impartial.” Neither he or his successors disappointed on topics mattering most, including war and peace, corporate crimes, US-UK duplicity, labor rights, democratic freedoms, human and civil rights, social justice, and Western imperialism.
They’re consistently distorted, suppressed, marginalized or ignored throughout decades of misreporting despite claiming “honesty (and) integrity (is) what the BBC stands for (because it’s) free from political influence and commercial pressure.”
As a propaganda service, its record is uncompromisingly anti-union, pro-business, and dependably safe for Whitehall and its allies. It moralizes Western aggression, bashes independent democratic leaders, and cheerleads for the powerful at the expense of providing real news and information for millions believing BBC is credible. For over eight decades, it’s record is solid and predictable — betraying the public trust to reliably serve the powerful. The tradition continues.
Prominent TV Demagogues
Among the many, consider a select few. For example, CNN’s Lou Dobbs, “Mr. Independent” he calls himself. Critics use more descriptive terms, yet according to his loudobbs.tv.cnn.com bio:
He’s “anchor and managing editor of CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight (and also anchor of) a nationally syndicated financial news radio report, The Lou Dobbs Financial Report….” In addition, he writes a weekly CNN.com commentary, is an author and award-winning “journalist,” most recently in 2005 when “the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded (him) the Emmy for Lifetime Achievement” for serving the usual special interests nightly on prime time TV.
In June 2004, he also won “the Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration from the Center for Immigration Studies for his ongoing series ‘Broken Borders,’ which examines US policy towards illegal immigration.” Little wonder in an August 2006 article, this writer called him CNN’s Vice President of Racism. He’s also a paid liar and in America wins awards.
In May 2008, a Media Matters Action Network report titled, “Fear & Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News” highlighted undocumented Latino hatemongering by Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck, each claiming:
· an alleged connection between undocumented Latinos and crime; in fact, clear evidence shows they’re no more likely to break laws than American citizens;
· how they exploit social services and don’t pay taxes; in fact, undocumented immigrants are ineligible, without proof of legal status, for Medicaid, food stamps, State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) and welfare; they do pay income, payroll, property, sales and other taxes and are entitled to public education; according to the National Academy of Sciences, immigrants provide a net annual gain of up to $10 billion to US GDP; according to Rand Corp. economist James P. Smith, the “net present value of the gains from those immigrants who arrived since 1980 would be $333 billion.”
· the “reconquista” myth about a supposed Mexican plot to take over the US Southwest; and
· an epidemic of Latino voter fraud that, according to Dobbs’ incessant drumbeat, puts America’s “democracy absolutely in jeopardy.”
He also propagates the myth that undocumented Latinos caused an increase in US leprosy (or Hansen’s disease). In an on-air April 2005 report (among others), correspondent Christine Romans quoted “medical lawyer” Dr. Madeleine Cosman saying:
“We have some enormous problems with horrendous diseases that are being brought into America by illegal aliens (including) leprosy….” Romans added that, according to Cosman, “there were about 900 (US) cases of leprosy for 40 years. There have been 7,000 in the past three years.”
According to a May 2007 60 Minutes report, the National Hansen’s Disease Program (NHDP) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that “7,000 is the number of leprosy cases over the last 30 years, not the past three, and nobody knows how many of those cases involve illegal immigrants.” NHDP added that from 2002-2005 (the timeline of Cosman’s claim), only 398 cases occurred. To that, Dobbs responded: “If we reported it, it’s a fact.”
Founded in 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is internationally known for its activism against hate groups and scoring legal victories against white supremacists. It says Dobbs regularly features inaccurate racist reports and features anti-immigrant hatemongers like:
· Glenn Spencer, head of the anti-immigration American Patrol, whose web site highlights anti-Mexican vitriol and the idea that Mexico plans a secret takeover of the Southwest;
· Joe McCutchen, head of the anti-immigration Protect Arkansas Now group, that Dobbs calls “a terrific group of concerned, caring Americans;”
· Paul Streitz, co-founder of Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control, who once denounced Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. for “turning New Haven into a banana republic;”
· Barbara Coe, leader of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform who routinely calls Mexicans “savages;” and
· Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman Project and a leading anti-immigration figure.
SPLC explains that Dobbs “doggedly explores and supports the anti-immigration movement (and) won’t report salient negative facts about anti-immigration leaders he approves of….”
Instead, he falsely claims that:
· “just about a third of the prison population in this country is estimated to be illegal aliens;”
· states have been “overwhelmed by criminal illegal aliens;” and
· US borders are “unprotected” allowing “criminal illegal aliens (to) murder police officers.”
In 2007 alone, the connection between illegal immigration and crime was discussed on 94 episodes of Lou Dobbs Tonight, and dozens more focused on an “army of invaders,” immigrants not paying taxes, draining social services, and threatening our white Anglo-Saxon culture.
CNN reporters Casey Wian, Bill Tucker, Kitty Pilgrim and others present a steady diet of subtle and overt racism to incite viewers to believe it. Through constant repetition, it propagates the myth, and according to the Media Matters Action Network report:
Dobbs “is hailed by the entire spectrum of immigration opponents, from the reasonable to the unreasonable. And the degree to which extremist elements see (him) as an ally indicates at the very least that they believe he is helping their cause” because they feel he’s a populist crusader.
Yet according to a July 30 New York Observer report, recent Nielsen data showed that after Dobbs began reporting (on July 15) that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent (an apparent stunt to increase ratings), his viewership dropped significantly — 15% overall and 27% in the valued 25-54 age category.
Fox News Channel (FNC)
When it debuted in 1996, one of its on-air hosts said:
The “Channel was launched (because) something was wrong with news media… somewhere bias found its way into reporting… Fox… is committed to being fair and balanced (covering) stories everybody is reporting — and… stories… you will see only on Fox.”
Later the Columbia Journalism Review said several former Fox employees “complained of ‘management sticking their fingers’ in the writing and editing stories to cook the facts to make a story more palatable to right-of-center tastes.” But it hasn’t hurt ratings.
As of Q 1 2009, FNC was the second highest rated cable channel in prime time total viewers. CNN ranked 17th and MSNBC 24th. The O’Reilly Factor has been #1 rated on cable news for 100 consecutive months and gained 27% more viewers year-over-year. Glenn Beck increased 90% over the previous year. Overall, FNC topped CNN and MSNBC combined in prime time total audience.
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) said “Fox’s signature political news show, Special Report with Brit Hume (now with Bret Baier) was originally created as a daily one-hour update devoted to the 1998 Clinton sex scandal.” In the past year, it gained 39% more viewers.
As for accuracy and being “fair and balanced,” FAIR (in summer 2001) called FNC “The Most Biased Name in News,” yet according to Murdoch in March 2001:
“I challenge anybody to show me an example of bias in Fox News Channel.”
In FAIR’s Seth Ackerman article and later ones, FNC’s blatant manipulation of the news is exposed. For example, Bret Baier’s “Political Grapevine” is a right-wing “hot sheet” featuring a “series of gossipy items culled from other right-wing” sources. It and other reports are blatantly partisan propaganda against “liberal media bias,” progressives, environmentalists, anti-war activists, civil rights groups, and others to the left of their views.
According to FAIR, the commentary on political punditry programs like The O’Reilly Factor, the Sean Hannity Show, and The Beltway Boys is so slanted that it’s like watching “a Harlem Globetrotters game (knowing) which side is supposed to win.”
FNC’s Bill O’Reilly
His official bio calls The O’Reilly Factor “a unique blend of news analysis and hard hitting investigative reporting dropped each weeknight into ‘The No Spin Zone.” He also hosts a syndicated radio show, writes a weekly column carried in over 300 newspapers, and authored several books that according to New York Times writer Janet Maslin were “either (done) with a collaborator or (O’Reilly) was born with a ghostwriter’s gift for filling space with platitudes….” With good reason, Maslin called him “one of the most controversial human beings in the world….”
In an October 2008 report titled “Smearcasting,” FAIR called him an “Islamophobe” for spreading “fear, bigotry and misinformation” along with 11 other popular figures, including Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin (another FNC regular), David Horowitz, and Pat Robertson.
After 9/11, FAIR said O’Reilly proposed attacking a list of Muslim countries “if they did not submit to the US — starting with Afghanistan.”
On air he said:
“The US should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble — the airport, the power plants, their water facilities and the roads…. If they don’t rise up against this primitive country, they starve, period.”
Iraq must also be destroyed he said, and “the population made to endure yet another round of intense pain.” As for Libya, “Nothing goes in, nothing goes out…. Let them eat sand.”
FAIR called his penchant for attacking Muslim countries “an O’Reilly trademark”, and “his disregard for Muslim civilians is matched by the anti-Muslim sentiments he frequently expresses on both his nationally syndicated radio show, the Radio Factor,” reaching 3.5 million listeners, and his top-rated FNC show.
Some of his hateful comments include saying:
· areas of London are “just packed with just dense Muslim neighborhoods, which breed this kind of contempt for Western society. Why do they let them in;”
· “We’re at war with Muslim fanatics. So all young Muslims should be subject to (special) scrutiny, (saying it’s not racial, just) “criminal profiling;”
· “the most unattractive women in the world are probably in Muslim countries;” and
· in Iraq, he blamed killing on Islam: “They’re all Muslims, and they’re doing what they do. They’re killing each other. And they’re killing Americans.”
O’Reilly is equally racist about Latino immigrants with frequent comments like:
“The extreme elements in this country want open borders, blanket amnesty, and entitlement for foreign nationals who have come here illegally, and generally want to change the demographics in the USA so political power can be assumed by the left. That is the end game.” He also argues that “Low-skilled immigrant labor costs the taxpayers today $19,000 to (subsidize) people who are using the hospitals (and) the education system…. These are rock-solid stats,” but O’Reilly won’t say from where.
They’re blatantly false and may be from a May 2007 Robert Rector/Christine Kim (right-wing think tank) Heritage Foundation paper titled, “The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to State and Local Taxpayers.”
O’Reilly spreads daily misinformation, innuendo, and hateful demagoguery to millions of his daily faithful. Like the others above, they’re paid liars delivering what passes for today’s major media journalism. It’s why so much of the public is misinformed and the reason more hate groups than ever proliferate.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), they numbered 926 in 2008, up from 602 in 2000 and are “animated by the national immigration debate.” Since Obama took office, they’re also driven by their hatred of a black president, exacerbated by a growing economic crisis that’s easy to blame on the undocumented and a non-white head of state.
These groups are ideologically vicious and extremely dangerous when motivated by racist right-wing media commentators reaching far larger audiences than more saner voices drowned out. It’s more evidence of social decay and the urgent need for change.
The Right-Wing Media Attack ACORN
Founded in 1970, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) “is the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low and moderate income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in about 75 cities across the country.”
As the nation’s preeminent community organizing group, it backs a living wage, opposes predatory lending and foreclosures, supports affordable housing, better public schools, welfare reform, voting rights, rebuilding New Orleans, and other social and economic justice issues.
For many months as a result, right-wing extremists have tried to discredit its successes online and through the media. Led by Fox News, Lou Dobbs, and others, it’s accused of financial corruption, massive voter fraud, and other indiscretions, mostly fabricated to destroy the group’s credibility, cut off its funding, and harm other community organizing efforts. However, compared to corporate fraud and abuse scandals, ACORN’s occasional missteps are minor, insignificant, and undeserving of inflammatory media headlines.
Nonetheless recent news stories featured false accusations that ACORN engages in prostitution nationwide. The supposed evidence came from two right-wing filmmakers (Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe) posing as prostitute and pimp, conveniently videotaped for airing. In prime time especially, Fox News, Lou Dobbs and others featured it nightly.
On September 14, Dobbs reported “another pimp and prostitute scandal at the left-wing activist organization ACORN. For the third time, ACORN workers for the left-wing advocacy group (got) caught on hidden camera breaking the law. Now calls from Congress to investigate and cut off public funding are growing.”
According to Fox News‘ Bill O’Reilly, “With more than 30 criminal ‘convictions’ on its resume, the organization cannot be trusted.” Based on no credible evidence, other FNC reports accuse ACORN of “operat(ing) as a criminal enterprise,” including prostitution, running a prostitution ring, filing false documents with taxing and other government authorities, bank fraud, violating immigration laws, transporting women and children to America for immoral purposes, and impairing the welfare of minors.
More evidence of reprehensible innuendo, distortion, deceit, and misinformation from major media paid liars. It’s why web sites like this one gain followers.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at: email@example.com.
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