Media

By Steve Horn on January 25, 2011

It is a known fact that money taints every aspect of American politics, and most prominently, electionsThe Raw Story reports that sometimes you actually don't have to pay to play, or at least that if you pay enough, sometimes the favor is returned.

David Edwards reports that in the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections Fox News gave some $55 million in free campaign advertising to GOP candidates.

Edwards writes,

Being on the Fox News payroll has its advantages. Not only did five potential Republican candidates get regular paychecks from the network last year, but they also got something even more valuable: airtime. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee appeared for almost 48 hours. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin had nearly 14 hours of appearances. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was given close to 12 hours. Former senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum and former UN Ambassador under George W. Bush John Bolton both received about six hours.

By Anne Landman on January 24, 2011

Live bomb found at MLK Day parade gets little coverageThe answer is when it is home-grown.

The mainstream media largely ignored a story about an especially sophisticated and deadly backpack bomb found along a Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane, Washington last week, barely covering it beyond an initial mention. The device drew special attention from some news outlets because it contained shrapnel, was equipped with a remotely-controlled detonator, was "directional" (meaning aimed toward the parade route) and in the FBI's words, was "capable of inflicting multiple casualties." The major media barely mentioned the incident, and the lack of follow-up stories on it is even more deafening now that the FBI has concluded that the connection between this incident and racism is "inescapable."

By Anne Landman on January 16, 2011

Advertisers are using a new technique to trick DVR users and people who mute TV ads into watching their ads. The new ads, called "interstitial ads," "podbusters" or "DVR busters," are designed to look and feel just like the shows viewers are watching. They often feature the same actors, in character, and may use brief, insipid out-takes from the real show to lure unsuspecting viewers into watching them. Advertisers run podbusters late in the show, around the time that cliffhanger-endings are keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Examples of DVR busters include Tina Fey starring in an ad for American Express during her show, 30 Rock, and commercials seen near the end AMC's Mad Men that feature actors from the show in an office environment and wearing 60's fashions, to make people think the show has started again. By the time people realize they are really watching an ad and not the show, the commercial is almost over.  Mike Rosen, an executive with a media agency, explains that ads that mimic shows viewers really like help transfer the positive feelings people have about those shows to the products being advertised on them.

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By Anne Landman on December 21, 2010

Burlesque the movieSteven Antin's new movie, Burlesque (PG-13), features about twenty different brands of products, including gratuitous use of R.J. Reynolds' Camel cigarettes. Other films that have showcased cigarettes this year include the Disney film The Sorcerer's Apprentice (rated PG, which features Newport cigarettes), and For Colored Girls (rated R, by Lionsgate, which features Marlboros). States are now spending millions to subsidize the production of movies, meaning taxpayers are not only paying to help big companies advertise their products, but they are also helping pay to showcase smoking -- a harmful addiction that many states are simultaneously spending millions to reduce. California taxpayers shelled out $7.2 million to subsidize the movie Burlesque alone, which not only features gratuitous smoking, but also showcases a slew of other brands, including Famous Amos cookies (the character Jack holds a box over his genitals), Dos Equis beer, Michelob, Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Oreos, KitchenAid, Ultimat Vodka, Coldwell Banker, Chase Bank, Patron Tequila and many more.

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By Anne Landman on December 16, 2010

PinnochioA poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org has found that the higher amounts of money flowing to the 2010 elections led to a more poorly informed public. The poll, titled "Misinformation and the 2010 Election: A Study of the U.S. Electorate," was the first conducted after a national election since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission, which freed corporations and unions to spend unlimited money to influence U.S. elections. The poll found strong evidence that voters were significantly misinformed on many issues that figured prominently in the 2010 election campaign, including the stimulus legislation, the healthcare reform law, TARP, the state of the economy, climate change, campaign contributions by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and President Obama’s birthplace. In most cases, increased exposure to news sources decreased misinformation, but exposure to certain news sources were found to create higher levels of misinformation. For example, people who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely to hold beliefs that are not true, including that their own income taxes have gone up, that most scientists do not believe climate change is occurring, that most economists estimated the new health care reform law will worsen the deficit, that most Republicans opposed the TARP bailout, and that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and cannot legitimately serve as president.

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By Lisa Graves on December 10, 2010

In light of the new memos out about Fox News helping to orchestrate the Republicans' deceptive PR campaign on the health care bill that that Wendell Potter wrote about this week, the Center for Media and Democracy is reprinting and updating an excerpt from one of my personal encounters with Fox News' efforts to stage-manage political theatre.

By Anne Landman on November 05, 2010

Fox News Channel Tea PartiesIn the weeks before the 2010 mid-term elections, the Tea Party and its activities dominated the media, but there was a decided lack of discussion about exactly what the Tea Party is. Major media seemed sold on the idea that the Tea Party is one big homogenous, spontaneous grassroots uprising, but this was not the case. Apart from a single, exhaustive article in the August 30, 2010 edition of The New Yorker (aptly titled "Covert Operations,") that linked the wealthy billionaire Koch Brothers' and their corporate interests to the Tea Party, few media outlets discussed which factions of the movement were truly grassroots, which were corporate-backed, and to what extent corporations supported the "movement."

Here at PRWatch, we strove to tease out the difference between various Tea Party factions, like the GOP-backed Tea Party Express, the grassroots Tea Party Patriots and the for-profit corporation called Tea Party Nation. We found out which factions were getting the big money, who their PR operatives were, what types of PR tricks they were engaging in, and more.

By Anne Landman on November 02, 2010

Juan Williams on Fox NewsBack when he was a reporter for the Washington Post, Juan Williams wrote a short piece about group perceptions for a social psychology course. At issue was the question of what dangerous people look like, and when and under what circumstances -- if ever -- people are justified in being nervous around people of other races.

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By Anne Landman on October 18, 2010

Fox News Channel turned a brief investigation of a flashlight found on the Brooklyn Bridge into a potential terrorist attack by the Pakistani Taliban, and then later dismissed the whole affair as though it didn't happen.

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By Anne Landman on October 10, 2010

The Village Voice coverAfter the November, 2008 general election, former House Majority leader Tom Delay commented that rather than hold a formal inauguration, Barack Obama should have "a nice little chicken dinner, and then we'll save the $125 million." Then rumors emerged that Obama wasn't born in the U.S.

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