An increasing number of observers are reaching the conclusion that the Bush administration covertly backed the recent attempted military coup in Venezuela. As Josh Marshall points out, there is "something odd and perplexing about the drifting accounts being provided by administration officials. Every day there's a new detail.
"The Israeli assault on the West Bank town of Jenin has produced dramatically different media accounts," says Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz. "The British press is playing it as a massacre, while American newspapers say there's no such evidence.
"Something very bad has been taking place in the relationship between the Israel Defense Forces and the media in recent days," says Amos Harel, a correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. Harel is critical of the IDF's exclusion of journalists from its war zones in the West Bank, but is skeptical of reports that the restrictions were intended to cover up a massacre.
The Society of Professional Journalists is asking the government of Israel to stop the harassment of journalists trying to cover the conflict in the West Bank. "SPJ is deeply concerned that the Government of Israel is worsening the grave situation in the Occupied Territories by injuring and intimidating journalists who are attempting to report the biggest story in the world today," said SPJ President Al Cross in a letter delivered to the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
The American Society of Newspaper Editors reports, "Nearly 2,000 journalists left the newspaper industry last year, the largest loss in 25 years, while the percent of minority journalists working at daily newspapers rose nearly a half of one percentage point to 12.07 percent." In their annual census of newsrooms, ASNE found that most of the losses were reporters at medium-size newspapers. "In 2001, many publishers and editors offered buyouts to senior staffers and laid off other employees as the industry struggled to cope with the recession and a decline in advertising," ASNE writes.
Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now reports: "Yesterday [Monday], Democracy Now saw a CNN news zipper announcing that the Ramallah offices of CNN, Fox and other networks had been raided by the Israeli military. It also said that the news organizations had been told to run their reports by the Israeli authorities. But after scouring the internet and wires last night, we could find no other reports of this, aside from a sentence buried in a CNN story confirming that 'Israeli forces raided the offices of several news organizations and one U.S.
Leonard Downie Jr., and Robert Kaiser, two top editors at the Washington Post, have written a new book detailing the corrupting influence of corporate ownership on mainstream news. Titled The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril, their book details how the push for profits during the past quarter century has substituted entertainment for analysis, undermined investigative journalism (too expensive), given us ever-more stories about actors, sports figures, and celebrities, and blurred the lines between news and advertising.
Recent months have seen ferocious criticisms of Enron, but Columbia Journalism Review contributor Scott Sherman thinks journalists should have asked tough questions much earlier. During the 1990s, he notes, business coverage "crackled with enthusiasm about Enron," with Fortune comparing the now-failed energy company to a "gate-crashing Elvis" in the "staid world of regulated utilities and energy companies ...
"The Israeli army has taken harsh action in recent days against news media covering its campaign in the West Bank, employing intimidation and other drastic measures to keep journalists away from its largest offensive in a generation," reports MSNBC.
When Spozhmai Maiwandi, who ran the Pashto service of the U.S. government's Voice of America, aired remarks made by Taliban leader Mullah Omar not long after September 11, the Bush administration got upset. Maiwandi lost her job. Frank Smyth writes for TomPaine.com that "unfortunately the VOA case is only one of many examples in which Bush officials have manipulated the press, particularly since 9/11. The administration has demonstrated a callous disregard for journalism, truth and transparency.