Sunday, May 20, 2007

Media News Roundup- Sunday May 13th to Sat May 19th

Media News Roundup- Sunday May 13th to Sat May 19th

Keeping an eye on the failing Fourth Estate and looking for some TRUTH in journalism.

FOX’s Brit Hume uses debunked pro-torture “ticking time-bomb” scenario in second GOP debate—and instantly “doubles Guantanomo.” Large media outlets underreport the Bush administration’s bizarre strong-arm tactics against a bed-ridden former Attorney General John Ashcroft—all in the name of domestic spying. Glen Beck claims racist and sexist shock jocks under attack by “leftist witch hunt.” Bright spots of the week: Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! interviews historian and journalist John Ghazvinian, author of Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil. Media Matters releases report on how the overwhelmingly “white” and “male” Sunday Morning Talk shows shut out everyone else from discussions of politics.

Brit Hume’s Pro-Torture “Ticking Time Bomb” Scenario “Doubles Guantanamo.”

During the second May 15th GOP presidential debate, Fox News' Brit Hume uncritically used the long debunked “ticking time-bomb” scenario, a hit on shows like 24 often used to justify torture, or what was euphemistically deemed at the debate—“Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.” Hume posed a hypothetical situation where an impending terrorist attack is thought to be known by a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. Pretending this “ticking time-bomb” scenario is a legitimate one, Hume then asked the candidates if such acts as “waterboarding” should be used to extract information from the detainee. In the most colorful answer of the night, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stated:

Some people have said, we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo. We ought to make sure that the terrorists—and there's no question but that in a setting like that where you have a ticking bomb that the president of the United States—not the CIA interrogator, the president of the United States -- has to make the call. And enhanced interrogation techniques have to be used -- not torture but enhanced interrogation techniques, yes.

His words were met with thunderous applause from the largely Republican crowd. Neither Brit Hume, Mitt Romney or any other GOP presidential hopefuls present, explained exactly the difference between “torture” and “enhanced interrogation technique.” Waterboarding, incidentally, has long been defined as a form of torture.

ABC/CBS Ignore Drama-Filled Wiretapping Hearing and Testimony.

Like something out of an Oliver Stone film, former deputy attorney general James B. Comey's May 15 congressional testimony told a bizarre tale in which the Bush administration sought to strong-arm a gravely ill former attorney general John Ashcroft to sign off on domestic spying wiretaps. As reported by Media Matters, Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that current embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel, and then-White House chief of staff Andy Card, attempted to pressure the bed ridden Attorney General John Ashcroft, "at his [hospital] bedside ... to approve an extension of the secret NSA warrantless eavesdropping program over strong Justice Department objections even though Ashcroft was seriously ill," and did not have power as the attorney general during his recovery from surgery. Comey describes a scene of power struggles at the highest forms of government, in which was forced to hide behind FBI Director Robert S. Mueller from the men (Gonzales and Card) dispatched from the White House. Ashcroft however would have the final say on the matter. With his wife holding his hand, Comey said “Attorney General Ashcroft then… lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter,” refusing to endorse the administrations attempt to legitimize illegal wiretaps placed on American citizens.

Such high stakes drama within the halls of government would be expected to fill the news media headlines for days. But on the day the story broke, Tuesday May 15, only NBC’s Brian Williams donated a segment to it on the Nightly News. Neither ABC or CBS covered the event, although it was generating discussion all across the blogosphere. As late as Thursday May 17, neither major news outlet had picked up the story on either their evening or morning news broadcasts. It would be left to NBC, on both the Today Show and the Nightly News, to continue the coverage.

CNN’s Glenn Beck Claims He and Other Shock Jocks Under Attack from “Leftist Witch Hunt.”

CNN’s right wing commentator Glen Beck, known for a series of inflammatory and insensitive comments, lamented that he and other shock jocks—under fire for racism and sexism—were the victims of a “leftist witch hunt.” During his interview by host Kiran Chetry, Beck’s own sordid history of racist and sexist comments, were never addressed. Neither for that matter, were the actual inflammatory words of shock jocks like Don Imus or Rush Limbaugh presented as actual examples of what critics oppose. In the recent past Beck has referred to Hillary Clinton as a “stereotypical bitch;” asked African-American Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison to “prove… that you are not working with our enemies;” and called anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan "a pretty big prostitute."

Bright Spots

From the Thursday, May 17th, 2007 broadcast of Democracy Now!

"Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil"

A little known fact: the United States today imports more oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia. More than $50 billion in foreign investment in African oil is expected over the next three years. What has this oil boom meant for Africa's ordinary citizens? Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales on Democracy Now! interviewed John Ghazvinian, a journalist who has written for publications including Newsweek, The Nation and Time Out New York, who has authored the book Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil, which compares the global competition for the continent's oil resources to the nineteenth century scramble by Europeans for colonization.


Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil

From a report by Media Matters for America

Sunday Shutout: The Lack of Gender & Ethnic Diversity on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows

Not only are the Sunday morning talk shows on the broadcast networks dominated by conservative opinion and commentary, the four programs—NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday—feature guest lists that are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male.

For full article/study:

Sunday Shutout: Sunday Morning Talk Shows Lack of Diversity

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