The recent attempt by the right-wing propaganda machine to stir up interracial hatred by smearing Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod should be a call to action for traditional journalists. It is now clear that a component of the right's campaign against President Obama is creating racial backlash through the fabrication of false and outrageous propaganda.
Recently, the newest batch of Israel-related hasbara was released on a mass scale by the Israeli news website, Ynetnews, which is the online English language news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's most-read news source. It is akin to the New York Times or the Washington Post of the United States, and one of Israel's news sources of prominent distinction.
"There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza"
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel hasbara-extraordinaire, Felix Frankfurter, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Alan Dershowitz, are both on the record as saying that "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza." They are not outliers in holding that opinion. Indeed, former neo-conservative Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the current Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, as well as Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev, are all on the record sharing these sentiments.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele's latest gaffe turned a lot of heads when, speaking at an RNC fundraiser, Steele stated that the war in Afghanistan is "a war of Obama's choosing" that the American public does not want. It is obviously ludicrous to assert that the war in Afghanistan, which began in October of 2001, when Barack Obama was a state senator, was somehow chosen by the sitting president. The statement caused conservative firebrand William Kristol to call for Steele's resignation. A dismayed Kristol stated that Steele's blunder put him "at odds with 100% of the Republican Party." Unfortunately, Kristol is totally wrong to say that all Republicans disagree with Steele. While Steele's statements may be extreme, they fall in line with a widespread pattern of conservative efforts to blame Obama for problems created by President Bush.
The Washington Post published a misleadingly-titled article June 30 about the environmental effects of dispersants BP is using in the Gulf. The Post article's headline reads,"Oil dispersant does not pose environmental threat, early EPA findings suggest." But neither the body of the article, nor the Environmental Protection Agency's's press release about studies the agency hastily performed on eight dispersants, indicates that there is no environmental threat from using them. The agency also gives no assurance about using dispersants in the quantities BP is applying them. EPA's June 30 press release about the studies says "dispersants are generally less toxic than oil," but does not suggest dispersants pose no environmental threat. The EPA's testing was also very limited. The agency only tested for short-term endocrine-disrupting activity of the dispersants, only tested dispersants alone (not mixed with oil, as they are in the Gulf), and tested the chemicals only on mature life forms and not young life forms, like juveniles and larvae, which are more vulnerable to the effects of chemicals. EPA also studied only very short-term exposures. The agency admits that "additional testing is needed to further inform the use of dispersants." Questions remain about why the federal government is allowing BP to engage in such widespread use of toxic chemicals in the ocean in the absence of any clear data showing it is harmless, and why the Washington Post article had such a spurious title.
The fallout from Michael Hastings' inflammatory article in Rolling Stone about General Stanley McChrystal continues as journalists debate the appropriateness of Hastings' reporting.
British Petroleum has stooped to a new low, if that's at all possible. As if spewing over 80 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico were not a sufficiently criminal activity, they are now attempting a cover-up and have facilitated, working alongside the police of New Orleans, a blockade of sorts of hard-hitting journalists from getting their hands on what's actually taking place in the ravaged Big Easy. It is truly a sham of epic proportions. And now, word of a big hurricane with winds of up to 90 MPH rolling into town has surfaced. Trouble, it appears, has just begun in the Bayou.
Mitigating the Exposure
Mother Jones, known for hard-hitting, deep-digging, no-holds-barred journalism, has approached coverage of the on-going and seemingly perpetual BP oil spill with the same vigor as usual in its reporting. Unfortunately, they've got some competition, or as astronaut Jack Swigert of Apollo 13 once said before going down, "Houston, we've had a problem!" The problem? BP is doing everything in its power to stop journalists dead in their tracks and scare them away from exposing their crime of poisoning the Gulf.
The narrative the media is feeding the country this election season is that voters are enraged, and an anti-incumbent wave is sweeping across the country, striking terror in incumbents' hearts. But if that's really the case, then why were so many incumbents voted back into office in last Tuesday's election?
When parents of toddlers started complaining that Procter & Gamble's new "Dry Max" Pampers were giving their kids severe diaper rash, Jodi Allen, P&G's Vice President for Pampers took prompt action -- and blamed the childrens' parents and social media for spreading false rumors about their products.
After Utah death-row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner selected the firing squad as his method of execution, the Salt Lake Tribune responded by highlighting how this event may impact Utah's tourism. Given the highly contentious nature of use a firing squad in the first place, one would expect coverage of this news to focus more on the barbaric nature of this practice.