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Taking the Public Out of Public TV

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  • PBS fare differs little from commercial TV
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  • There is precious little "public" left in "public television."
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  • Choking on Its Contrived Objectivity, the Media Refuses to Take a Stand on Sanity
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  • Tell PBS: Bring Back Now!
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Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

A multi-part FAIR exposé of PBS's most prominent news and public affairs programs demonstrates that public television is failing to live up to its mission to provide an alternative to commercial television, to give voice to those "who would otherwise go unheard" and help viewers to "see America whole, in all its diversity," in the words of public TV's founding document.

In a special November issue of studies and analyses of PBS's major public affairs shows, FAIR's magazine Extra! shows that "public television" features guestlists strongly dominated by white, male and elite sources, who are far more likely to represent corporations and war makers than environmentalists or peace advocates. And both funding and ownership of these shows is increasingly corporate, further eroding the distinction between "public" and corporate television. There is precious little "public" left in "public television."

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Choking on Its Contrived Objectivity, the Media Refuses to Take a Stand on Sanity, Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post

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  • We finally found out the real problem with the mainstream media: They're agnostic on sanity.
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  • The fundamental unreliability of America's media
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  • Being 'Objective' Is Killing Newspapers, But We'll Be Much Worse Off When They Go Out of Business
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  • Washington Post Will Doggedly Pursue Both Sides Of 'Should Gay Teenagers Commit Suicide?' Debate
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  • NPR Finds Right-Wing Crank to Spit on Zinn's Grave
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Tell PBS: Bring Back Now! Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
Need to Know fails to live up to PBS mission

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Choking on Its Contrived Objectivity, the Media Refuses to Take a Stand on Sanity

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  • We finally found out the real problem with the mainstream media: They're agnostic on sanity.
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  • The fundamental unreliability of America's media
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  • Being 'Objective' Is Killing Newspapers, But We'll Be Much Worse Off When They Go Out of Business
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  • Washington Post Will Doggedly Pursue Both Sides Of 'Should Gay Teenagers Commit Suicide?' Debate
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  • NPR Finds Right-Wing Crank to Spit on Zinn's Grave
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Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post

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Pat Bagley

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We finally found out the real problem with the mainstream media: They're agnostic on sanity.

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That's the only conclusion that can be drawn from the refusal of mainstream-media organizations to allow their employees to attend Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity on Oct. 30 in Washington, D.C. That's right, in a showdown between nonpartisan sanity and partisan madness, the traditional media have boldly decided to... not take a stand.

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It started with Ellen Weiss, NPR's Senior Vice President for News, sending a memo <>to NPR employees forbidding them from attending the rally. The policy was clarified in a NPR blog post by Dana Davis Rehm. "Their rallies will be perceived as political by many, whatever we think," she wrote.

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The fundamental unreliability of America's media, Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com
"Political reporting" means "royal court gossip."

Being 'Objective' Is Killing Newspapers, But We'll Be Much Worse Off When They Go Out of Business, Chris Hedges, TruthDig

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  • The creed of objectivity and balance, formulated at the beginning of the 19th century by newspaper owners to generate greater profits from advertisers, disarms and cripples the press.
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  • “The very notion that on any given story all you have to do is report what both sides say and you’ve done a fine job of objective journalism debilitates the press,” the late columnist Molly Ivins once wrote.
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Washington Post Will Doggedly Pursue Both Sides Of 'Should Gay Teenagers Commit Suicide?' Debate, Jason Linkins, Huffington Post

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  • You did know that there are two completely rational sides to the debate over teens committing suicide because of homophobic bullying, didn't you?
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  • Special Report | Making Schools Safer for Gay Students
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NPR Finds Right-Wing Crank to Spit on Zinn's Grave, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
David Horowitz in All Things Considered obituary with substance-free attack

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Washington Post Will Doggedly Pursue Both Sides Of 'Should Gay Teenagers Commit Suicide?' Debate

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  • You did know that there are two completely rational sides to the debate over teens committing suicide because of homophobic bullying, didn't you?
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  • Special Report | Making Schools Safer for Gay Students
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Jason Linkins, Huffington Post

As I deeply enjoy hearing the tortured explanations behind the stupid editorial decisions made by the Washington Post, I have to applaud Pam Spaulding for this catch. See, previously, the WaPo thought it would be a good idea to run an editorial from anti-gay bigot Tony Perkins on National Coming Out Day, decrying the gay-agenda-baking behind organizations like GLSEN's stance against gay teenagers being hounded to suicide by homophobes. Apparently, the effort to keep members of the LGBT community from killing themselves amounts to political "exploitation," which is obviously much more terrible than teenage suicide.

See, the Post is just diligently exploring both sides of the issue! You did know that there are two completely rational sides to the debate over teens committing suicide because of homophobic bullying, didn't you? On the one hand, Dan Savage wants such teenagers to know that "it gets better." But on the other hand, should it get better? Maybe it should get worse! Maybe more teenagers should kill themselves! The Washington Post hopes to figure this out, someday.

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Special Report | Making Schools Safer for Gay Students, David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest
At this moment when we have the nation's attention, we must make three points crystal clear:
•    The status quo is unacceptable, and we must improve school climate with respect to LGBT youth NOW;
•    There are things each of us can do — proven solutions that make a concrete difference in the lives of young people; and
•    Everyone can and must take part in affecting this vital change.

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Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama 'Reprehensible'

Asked whether she's anti-Semitic, she responded "Baloney!" She said she wants to be remembered for "integrity and my honesty and my belief in good journalism" and would like to work again.

Associated Press/Huffington Post

Helen Thomas

In a radio interview, former White House correspondent Helen Thomas acknowledges she touched a nerve with remarks about Israel that led to her retirement. But she says the comments were "exactly what I thought," even though she realized soon afterward that it was the end of her job.

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"I hit the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive," Thomas told Ohio station WMRN-AM in a sometimes emotional 35-minute interview that aired Tuesday (Oct 12). It was recorded a week earlier by WMRN reporter Scott Spears at Thomas' Washington, D.C., condominium.

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Does Anyone Object to U.S. Drone Wars in Pakistan?

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  • Apparently not, although there are obviously fundamental questions about this policy--such as whether or not it's legal.
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  • America Detached from War
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  • Can the New York Times Count—or Quote—Peace Activists?
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Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

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Apparently not, judging by the Washington Post's October 3 story ("Military Drones Aid CIA's mission") about the CIA's expansion of its drone war in Pakistan. It is "part of a high-stakes attempt by the Obama administration to deal decisive blows to Taliban insurgents," and also  "a significant evolution of an already controversial targeted killing program."

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Post readers get details from "a U.S. official"--who says things like, "Our intelligence has gotten a lot better." The only other perspective comes from Bruce Reidel at Brookings, who is "a former CIA analyst who led the Obama administration's initial overhaul of its Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy." In other words, not much of a critic.

There are obviously fundamental questions about this policy--such as whether it's legal, something Jim Lobe wrote about recently for Inter Press Service (4/2/10).

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America Detached from War, Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch
Bush’s Pilotless Dream, Smoking Drones, and Other Strange Tales from the Crypt

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Can the New York Times Count—or Quote—Peace Activists? Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

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  • The rallies held in Washington were not the first time the paper downplayed peace activism.
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  • Action Alert
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Can the New York Times Count—or Quote—Peace Activists?

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  • The rallies held in Washington were not the first time the paper downplayed peace activism.
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  • Action Alert
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Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting<>

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Times has downplayed and distorted peace rallies and demonstrations against a military response.

After thousands of anti-war activists gathered in Washington, D.C. on September 29, the Times responded with a 10-sentence story, under the headline "Protesters in Washington Urge Peace with Terrorists." Given that a call for bringing terrorists to justice through non-military means was central to the rallies, the headline is a gross mischaracterization of the protesters' message.

The Times also misreported other basic facts, like the size of the crowd in Washington. The Times estimated that a "few hundred protesters" were on hand, while the official police estimate was 7,000 (Washington Post, 9/30/01). One only had to watch the live coverage on C-SPAN to know the Times was way off.

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Action Alert: Please call on the New York Times to improve its coverage of the peace movement by including the perspectives of anti-war activists in its reporting about the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. (New York Times 229 West 43rd St. New York, NY 10036-3959 nytnews@nytimes.com Toll free comment line: 1-888-NYT-NEWS)

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Haiti: 1,000 dead, who cares?

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  • Haiti and media hypocrisy
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  • Haiti: The white curse
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Sokari Ekine, New Internationalist

A leaked email from a BBC editor highlights the Western media’s lack of interest in Haiti.

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David Edwards writes:

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“The whistleblower’s editor had listed several stories which he described as “not that interesting”, followed by the comment: “Dull stories - every one of them, don’t you think?” These were the stories:

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  • “The leading anti-drugs judge in Afghanistan has been assassinated.
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  • “There’s been an angry reaction in France following the magazine publication of photos of Taleban fighters displaying trophies they’d stripped from French soldiers killed in an ambush.
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  • “The authorities in Haiti say the number of those killed in the wake of Tropical Storm Hanna has risen to more than sixty.
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  • “A United Nations report says the world’s wealthiest countries are failing to deliver on their promises to boost development aid.”
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Haiti: The white curse, Eduardo Galeano, New Internationalist
Haiti is a country that has been thrown away, as an eternal punishment of its dignity. There it lies, like scrap metal. It awaits the hands of its people.

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