Amplifying Officials, Squelching Dissent

FAIR study finds democracy poorly served by war coverage

Since the invasion of Iraq began in March, official voices have dominated U.S. network newscasts, while opponents of the war have been notably underrepresented, according to a study by FAIR.

Starting the day after the bombing of Iraq began on March 19, the three-week study (3/20/03-4/9/03) looked at 1,617 on-camera sources appearing in stories about Iraq on the evening newscasts of six television networks and news channels. The news programs studied were ABC World News TonightCBS Evening NewsNBC Nightly NewsCNN’s Wolf Blitzer Reports, Fox’sSpecial Report with Brit Hume, and PBS’s NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. [The study was conducted using Nexis database transcripts. At publication time, transcripts for six World News Tonight dates and two NewsHour dates were unavailable.]

Sources were coded by name, occupation, nationality, position on the war and the network on which they appeared. Sources were categorized as having a position on the war if they expressed a policy opinion on the news shows studied, were currently affiliated with governments or institutions that took a position on the war, or otherwise took a prominent stance. For instance, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a hired military analyst for CNN, was not categorized as pro-war; we could find no evidence he endorsed the invasion or was affiliated with a group supporting the war. However, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, anNBC analyst, was classified as pro-war as a board member of the Committee for a Free Iraq, a pro-war group.

Nearly two thirds of all sources, 64 percent, were pro-war, while 71 percent of U.S. guests favored the war. Anti-war voices were 10 percent of all sources, but just 6 percent of non-Iraqi sources and 3 percent of U.S. sources. Thus viewers were more than six times as likely to see a pro-war source as one who was anti-war; with U.S. guests alone, the ratio increases to 25 to 1.

The official story

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Fox News freaks out over 4Chan hoax that feminists are plotting to end Father’s Day


Fox News freaks out over 4Chan hoax that feminists are plotting to end Father’s Day
(via Raw Story )

The host of Fox & Friends on Sunday fell for an Internet hoax that feminists had hatched a plot for bringing down Father’s Day, and possibly “ending men” altogether. As Death and Taxes reported on Friday, pranksters at the website 4Chan had created…

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Fill ‘er up, comrade: Kentucky town will begin selling its own gasoline to keep prices down

Fill ‘er up, comrade: Kentucky town will begin selling its own gasoline to keep prices down (via Raw Story )

A southern Kentucky town will begin buying gasoline direct from a local refinery and sell it to motorists to help stabilize fuel costs. Officials said Somerset is an island of high gasoline prices, so they will purchase fuel from the town’s Continental…


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Morning Reads: Iraq Invasion Set the Middle East Ablaze; Verizon’s New Net Neutrality Spin

Morning Reads: Iraq Invasion Set the Middle East Ablaze; Verizon’s New Net Neutrality Spin (via Moyers & Company)

Good morning! Be careful out there — it’s Friday the 13th. Forty-three years ago today, The New York Times published the first in a series of excerpts from a classified Pentagon study of US involvement in Vietnam. The report, which had been leaked…


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Say No to ‘The New Normal’ — Five Things You Can Do About Gun Violence

Say No to ‘The New Normal’ — Five Things You Can Do About Gun Violence (via Moyers & Company)

Cliff Schecter is a political columnist for The Daily Beast, president of PR firm Libertas LLC and a gun safety activist. He contributed this post for our Take Action section. Some days it can seem like we should just give up. You’re just processing…


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White supremacists distribute fliers at Ft. Carson asking soldiers to fight in coming race war

White supremacists distribute fliers at Ft. Carson asking soldiers to fight in coming race war (via Raw Story )

Law enforcement officials in Colorado are investigating after soldiers at Fort Carson found materials trying to convert them into white supremacists to fight for a “white nation” in a coming race war. According to The Army Times, photos of recruitment…


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Morning Reads: Cantor’s Stunning Defeat; How Fox Covers Right-Wing Terrorism

Morning Reads: Cantor’s Stunning Defeat; How Fox Covers Right-Wing Terrorism (via Moyers & Company)

Good morning — and a happy Kamehameha Day to our friends in Hawaii! Shocker –> Everybody’s spinning their version this morning of how House Majority Leader Eric Cantor got whipped by an underfunded, no-name tea partier in Virginia’s GOP primary…


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Morning Reads: Iraq Is Falling Apart; Extremism is Growing in GOP

Morning Reads: Iraq Is Falling Apart; Extremism is Growing in GOP (via Moyers & Company)

Good morning! On this day in 1942, a little girl named Anne Frank got a diary for her 13th birthday. And in 1963, civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who’d survived the invasion of Normandy during World War II, was gunned down in his driveway by white…


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Williams: The wall of white privilege

Rancher Cliven Bundy (C) with body guards departs

Rancher Cliven Bundy (C) with body guards departs after a news conference near his ranch on April 24, 2014 in Bunkerville, Nevada. (Credit: Getty Images / David Becker)

In 1903 W.E.B. Du Bois opined that one of the burdens of blackness was facing down an ever-present question: “How does it feel to be a problem?” More than a century later, the changes on our social and political landscape have led us to an equally challenging question: How do you solve a problem like white privilege in America? It seems that the first step is admitting we have a problem.

The recent controversies surrounding Cliven Bundy – the Nevada rancher now infamous for wondering aloud if African-Americans were better off as slaves – and Donald Sterling, the NBA owner with an unabashed plantation mentality, have reinvigorated debates about the true nature of racism, its origins and its outcomes.

The unseemly news that a police commissioner in New Hampshire boldly and unapologetically referred to President Barack Obama using the n-word was disturbing, of course, but after six years of increasingly commonplace, thinly veiled race-baiting attacks by Republicans in Washington, it was barely worth more than one news-cycle headline.

From the outside, the ages of these men – 67, 80 and 82 respectively – might lead one to conclude that this kind of racism is generational, and that as time passes, outdated attitudes and the social constructs in which they thrive will eventually fade.

Sadly, that American dream is only a mirage.

As explicit expressions of racism have been curbed during the past 50 years, since the civil rights era brought sweeping social progress, structural and institutional racism has deepened. And this is where the problem of blackness has met a wall of white privilege.

One hundred and fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation, there are now more African-American males in prison than were enslaved in 1850. According to the Department of Justice, 846,000 black males were incarcerated in 2008 – making up 40.2 percent of the total prison population, though white males commit the vast majority of crime, and violent crime in particular. Michelle Alexander, in her book, “The New Jim Crow: Colorblindness in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” points out that more African-American men were denied their right to vote in 2004 because of felony convictions than were disenfranchised in 1870.

Economic disparities are equally staggering – with the unemployment rate for blacks consistently more than double that of whites. According to the Census Bureau, whites have 22 times more wealth than blacks. The median household net worth for whites was $110,729 in 2010, versus $4,995 for blacks.

Darrick Hamilton, co-author of an Economic Policy Institute paper called “Whiter Jobs, Higher Wages,” suggests that “occupational segregation” (and white privilege) plays a large role in the wage gap. “Nearly 90 percent of U.S. occupations can be categorized as racially segregated,” he says. The study showed that in jobs in which black men were underrepresented, the average salary was $50,533 annually, but in occupations in which black males were overrepresented, the salary was $37,005. Even when controlling for education levels and skill sets, the racial gap persists, with whites benefiting from generational advantages, connections and opportunities that those outside their closed circles were not afforded.

And though government action created these systemic problems, there is hardly any political will to use government policy or resources to resolve them.

Why? Because the very men who have benefited from being on the other end of these disparities remain in the positions of power that could effect change.

In 2007 Chief Justice John Roberts became the poster boy for white men out of touch with reality when he wrote, in a Supreme Court ruling on the ability of a Seattle school district to integrate its resegregating schools, that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” In other words, and in his opinion, the attempt to integrate was discriminatory.

But he’s not alone. As Joan Walsh famously pointed out in her book “What’s the Matter With White People?” the white middle class benefited from government-sponsored affirmative action through the postwar GI Bill, expansion of public universities, mortgage-lending guarantees and strong unions. Yet many continue to believe the myth that white Americans haven’t depended on government, but minorities are draining the government coffers.

This thinking, especially when manipulated by political elites to exploit racial anxieties in order to win elections, fosters a callous form of white privilege – one that ignores the worst elements in our nation’s tortured racial history, and thereby forces us all to repeat it.

Attorney General Eric Holder recently addressed the issue during a commencement address at the historically black Morgan State University, saying Roberts “has argued that the path to ending racial discrimination is to give less consideration to the issue of race altogether. This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb. . . . In its most obvious forms, it might be. But discrimination does not always come in the form of a hateful epithet or a Jim Crow-like statute. And so we must continue to take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it.” Herein lies the strange dichotomy of what Ta-Nehisi Coates calls elegant racism in the so-called postracial, colorblind age: There is very little daylight between the vantage point of John Roberts and that of Donald Sterling or Cliven Bundy.

Each of them abides on a wealthy plantation of white privilege and the ignorance that it affords.

Williams is a contributing editor at The Root.com.

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Ronald Reagan, D-Day Anniversaries and the Suppression of Memory

Ronald Reagan, D-Day Anniversaries and the Suppression of Memory (via Moyers & Company)

The following is an excerpt from Harvey J. Kaye’s The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great (Simon & Schuster, 2014). On June 6, 1984, President Ronald Reagan went to Normandy, France, to speak at events…


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