At RNC, Media Put a Happy Face on Suppression of Speech

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Originally published at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting.

News media could either be our ally or our enemy—we wanted them as an ally,” Laurie Pritchett said in a 1985 interview about his strategy as police chief in Albany, Georgia, during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s desegregation efforts in 1962.

Pritchett famously ordered his officers to enforce the city’s segregation laws nonviolently and arrest as few protesters as possible. He knew that if he had acted as other police departments had—like Bull Connor’s dogs and firehoses in Birmingham (1963) and Jim Clark’s Bloody Sunday in Selma (1965)—news media would show the country how brutally oppressive police were, inspiring greater public support for King’s cause. In short, he beat nonviolent protesters at their own game by exploiting the media.

At the Republican National Convention this past week, none of the fears about a violent disaster bore fruit. Journalists and private citizens who worried about Ohio’s open-carry gun policy and the recent increase in public tension between cops and protesters were relieved that the week passed without a single gunshot fired or tear gas canister thrown. Like Pritchett’s officers in Albany, police in Cleveland—whose department was found to have practiced a pattern of excessive force and civil rights violations in a Justice Department investigation—exercised restraint compared to how police have handled protests in Ferguson (military trucks, sound canons, tear gas, rubber bullets) and Baton Rouge (hundreds of arrests).

Just as Pritchett expected in 1962, media jumped to praise law enforcement. “Credit where it’s due: The police nailed it,” Vox staffer German Lopez (7/22/16) wrote. In a list that reads like a police officer’s handbook, he offered three detailed explanations for why the police “nailed it”:

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What Gets Asked at Debates–and Who Gets Asked It?: A FAIR study of presidential primary debate questions

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Moderators at the presidential primary debates. First row: Bret Baier (Fox), Megyn Kelly (Fox), Chris Wallace (Fox); second row: Anderson Cooper (CNN), Jake Tapper (CNN), John Dickerson (CBS); third row: Nancy Cordes (CBS), Don Lemon (CNN), Gerard Baker (WSJ)

Originally published at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. Reposted at Common Dreams.

It’s not 2016 yet, but the 2016 presidential election cycle has already seen two Democratic primary debates, four Republican primary debates and four Republican “undercard” debates (for the GOP candidates who weren’t considered ready for primetime). A fifth pair of Republican debates will be held tonight, December 15.

With all this debating, you might think voters were getting a broad view of the policies that the major-party candidates were offering. But as in past elections (FAIR Media Advisory, 10/26/12), the establishment media figures who have moderated the debates have thus far focused the discussion on a narrow range of topics, a FAIR analysis of debate questions finds.

The 536 questions asked in the first four Republican debates, four Republican undercard debates and two Democratic debates were divided into six categories: economic, social, international, immigration, environment and non-policy questions. If the same question was asked to multiple candidates, it was counted each time, but clarifying and follow-up questions to the same candidate were not counted.

FAIR also studied the percentage of questions each candidate was asked. While moderators clearly took candidates’ positions in opinion polls into account when distributing questions, some seemed to get asked more—or less—based on media assumptions about who was and was not a serious contender.

 

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Pundits Thought Clinton Beat Sanders – But Did Viewers?

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Originally published at Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Reposted at Common Dreams.

A New York Times article (10/14/15) by Alan Rappeport about who won last night’s Democratic presidential debate reported today that “Hillary Rodham Clinton was the clear victor, according to the opinion shapers in the political world (even conservative commentators).”

The Times quoted National Journal columnist Ron Fournier (“Hillary Clinton won,” 10/13/15), Slate writer Fred Kaplan (“She crushed it,” 10/14/15), New Yorker staffer Ryan Lizza (“Hillary Clinton won because all of her opponents are terrible,” Twitter, 10/13/15), Red State blogger Leon Wolf (“Hillary was (astonishingly) much more likable and personable than everyone’s favorite crazy socialist uncle,” 10/13/15), pollster John Zogby (“Mrs. Clinton was just commanding tonight,” Forbes, 10/13/15) and conservative radio host Erick Erickson (“I’m still amazed the other four candidates made Hillary Clinton come off as the likable, reasonable, responsible Democrat,” Twitter, 10/13/15). If these so-called “opinion shapers in the political world” declare Hillary the winner, then Hillary must be the winner, according to the Times.

What the Times and these pundits failed to mention is the fact that every online poll we could find asking web visitors who won the debate cast Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the winner—and not just by a small margins, but by rather enormous ones.

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Marginalizing the Momentum of the BDS Movement

Originally published at Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Reposted by In These Times.

Despite increasingly frequent victories for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement confronting the state of Israel, and the heightened panic expressed by its critics, the New York Times virtually ignores the movement’s momentum. When attention is paid to BDS, coverage doesn’t focus on the role of the movement in the struggle for Palestinian rights, but instead amplifies critics of BDS and focuses on charges that the movement is a form of antisemitism.

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