Through the Media Looking Glass: Decoding Bias and Blather in the News

Jeff Cohen, Author, Norman Solomon, With Common Courage Press $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56751-049-2
These selections from the authors' syndicated ``Media Beat'' column probe the money and power behind the news and the ways they condition both messengers and message. In 66 sharply focused takes, they examine media coverage--and noncoverage--of such issues as drugs, pollution and welfare, pointing to crucial facts and perspectives that repeatedly go unexplored. They consider the media's ``crime coverage spree,'' which rages despite falling crime rates and rarely sheds light on crime, against--in the midst of health-care debate--the near-universal blackout on discussion of single-payer health insurance. They show how corporate mergers concentrate news-giving in fewer and fewer hands, and how the high salaries of media types such as Diane Sawyer, Rush Limbaugh and Cokie Roberts distance them from basic economic facts. Critics may condemn the authors as liberals (Cohen is founder of media watch group FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting; Solomon is the author of Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media), but they take aim at hypocrisy all around. A long section is taken up with Clinton's campaign rhetoric, subsequent actions and the media's response; an examination of Jimmy Carter's human rights record could give those liberals now seeking to canonize him pause. Short as they are, these op-ed pieces sometimes barely scuff up the dirt. But that brevity has advantages: enhanced here by an index, they provide a useful survey of contemporary issues and what the media aren't telling us. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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