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CounterSpin, FAIR’s weekly radio show, provides a critical examination of the major stories every week, and exposes what the mainstream media might have missed in their own coverage.
Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago

Alice Slater on Nuclear Abolition, Tim Karr on Internet.org

12 hours 20 sec ago
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This week on CounterSpin: Nuclear weapons generate a lot of media interest when it comes to the question of whether Iran is trying to get them, but when the topic is eliminating nuclear weapons altogether, as at the now concluding UN meetings on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, media could hardly care less. We’ll talk about the NPT with Alice Slater from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Abolition 2000.

Also on the show: Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to “improve the lives of billions of people”; so why is Internet.org, the Facebook mogul’s new application intended to provide limited free internet access in the developing world, meeting such strong resistance? That word “limited” is a clue; we’ll hear the rest of it from Tim Karr of the group Free Press.

Plus our regular look back at the week’s news, including the US assault in Syria.

LINKS:

 

 

Tiffany Finck-Haynes on Bee Collapse, Michelle Chen on Nail Salon Workers

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 09:10
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This week on CounterSpin: Researchers report that more than 40 percent of honeybee hives died in the past year, the second-highest loss rate recorded. The AP story lists “mites, poor nutrition and pesticides,” in that order, as possible causes for what’s been called an almost biblical bee decline, but pesticide-makers would have you think they don’t belong on the list at all. Are their PR efforts affecting even government research? We’ll hear from Tiffany Finck-Haynes of Friends of the Earth.

Also on the show: The vivid and powerful New York Times series on conditions for workers in nail salons was the definition of “impact” journalism; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced responsive measures just days after the story ran. But are occasional blockbuster stories the best media can do for workers rights issues? What’s the next step? We’ll talk about that with journalist Michelle Chen.

And, as usual, we’ll take a look back at the week’s press, including coverage of British elections and North Korea.

LINKS:

  • “Extreme Bee Losses Highlight Urgent Need to Restrict Pesticides to Protect Pollinators” (Friends of the Earth, 5/13/15)
  • “The Price of Nice Nails,” Sarah Maslin Nir (New York Times, 5/7/15)
  • “How Can You Get an Ethical Manicure? Support Worker Organizing,” by Michelle Chen (The Nation, 5/11/15)

 

Richard Rothstein on Baltimore Segregation, Sue Sturgis on Offshore Drilling

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 10:00
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This week on CounterSpin: “Baltimore, not at all uniquely, has experienced a century of public policy designed, consciously so, to segregate and impoverish its black population.” So says researcher and author Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute, in a new essay on the roots of current protests in the wake of the police killing of Freddie Gray. We’ll talk with  Rothstein about that.

Also on the show: Why exactly is the United States planning to expand offshore oil drilling just a few years after the world’s biggest oil spill, implicating some of the industry’s biggest operators? You probably have a guess, but the particulars are important. We’ll talk about the close relationship between industry and government on the Atlantic coast with Sue Sturgis from the Institute for Southern Studies.

And, as usual, a quick look back at the week’s press, featuring coverage of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ announcement that he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

LINKS:

  • “From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government-Sponsored Segregation,” by Richard Rothstein (Economic Policy Institute, 4/29/15)
  • “Drive to Drill: Energy Lobbyists Behind Governors’ Crusade for Atlantic Oil,” by Sue Sturgis (Facing South, 4/30/15)

Marjorie Cohn on Drones, Beverly Bell on Honduran Environmental Resistance

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 09:34
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This week on CounterSpin: The killing of two Western hostages by a CIA drone strike in Pakistan led some US media to re- engage debate over US drone policy. But media’s discussion is over how and where drones should be used—not whether they should be. We’ll talk to law professor Marjorie Cohn, author of, most recently, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues.  

Also on the show: Sometimes called the Green Nobel, the Goldman Environmental Prize is given to grassroots environmental activists from each of six world regions. This year’s winners, including Honduran indigenous rights leader Berta Caceres and the group COPINH, are fighting not just governments but some of the world’s most powerful corporations to protect their land and livelihood. That’s why Caceres and her colleagues face death threats and repression. And it surely has something to do with why you can read all of the US media coverage of Caceres and the Goldman Prize in the time of an elevator ride. We’ll hear from Beverly Bell of the group Other Worlds about this story.

As usual, CounterSpin also looks back on the week’s news, including the Baltimore protests and the Supreme Court’s consideration of marriage equality.

LINKS:

 

Karen Hansen-Kuhn on TPP, James Henry on HSBC

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 09:05
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This week on CounterSpin:  There’s plenty of opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But in corporate press accounts, the whole debate is reduced to battling soundbites. More useful and more interesting journalism would include getting outside the Beltway and talking to people about what the fallout from TPP and similar corporate-centered international agreements really looks like. We’ll fill in some of the picture with Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of international strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Also on the show: In all the media talk around newly confirmed Attorney General Loretta Lynch, her role as US attorney in brokering a deferred-prosecution agreement with HSBC when the bank was found guilty of money laundering for the likes of the Sinoloa drug cartel was hardly considered. This says something about Lynch–but also about media’s general lack of outrage about government support for big banks, no matter what crimes they commit. A few months back, CounterSpin spoke with journalist James Henry about more HSBC violations recently come to light — violations, it turns out, Loretta Lynch knew about when she worked on that deal.

And our usual look back at the week’s news.

LINKS:

Abdi Ismail Samatar on Al Shabab, Katherine Gallagher on Abu Ghraib Lawsuit

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 09:54
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This week on CounterSpin: The extremist group Al Shabab attacked a government building in Mogadishu on April 14, leaving 17 people dead, just weeks after a horrific attack at Garissa University in Kenya in which at least 148 people were killed. Media readers will know that Al Shabab is based in Somalia and that they’re “linked to” Al Qaeda, but what more should we know? And what needs to happen in Somalia and elsewhere to help that country move forward? We’ll talk about that with Abdi Ismail Samatar, professor and chair of the Department of Geography, Environment & Society at the University of Minnesota and a member of the African Academy of Sciences.

Also on the show: Many were heartened, if that’s the word, to see four former Blackwater security contractors going to jail for killing 14 unarmed Iraqis in Nisour Square in 2007. But does this mean others who committed atrocities under cover of war will face justice? The Obama administration doesn’t even want to release more photographs unearthed of torture and abuse at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, so how likely is anyone with power to be prosecuted for it? There is one Abu Ghraib-based lawsuit making its way through the courts, with the help of the Center for Constitutional Rights. We’ll talk to senior staff attorney Katherine Gallagher about the state of that case.

And as usual, the show starts with a look back at the week’s press.

LINKS:

  • “Somali and Kenya: Roots of Al Shabab,” featuring Abdi Ismail Samatar (Institute for Public Accuracy, 4/6/15)
  • “No Impunity for Corporate Torturers at Abu Ghraib, Attorneys Argue” (Center for Constitutional Rights, 2/6/15)

Sheila Carapico on Yemen, Malkia Cyril on Surveillance of Black America

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 09:34
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This week on CounterSpin: What should we look for in media coverage of the current Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, given Saudi Arabia’s role as a US ally and the sort of press treatment that generally entails? The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius, for one, says US support for Operation Decisive Storm shows that Obama understands the need for “pushback” against Iran in its “proxy wars.” What’s wrong with that picture? We’ll get some background on Yemen and the US’s involvement there from Sheila Carapico, professor of political science and international studies at the University of Richmond, and author of Civil Society in Yemen.

Also on the show: Current conversations about domestic surveillance focus on revelations of what’s often described as “indiscriminate” data collection by the NSA. But before we entertain the idea of “targeted” surveillance as a rational alternative, we should know who the most frequent targets are—historically and today. We’ll talk with Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice, about her article “Black America’s State of Surveillance” from the April issue of The Progressive.

LINKS:

  • “A Call to Resist Saudi (and US) Aggression in Yemen,” by Sheila Carapico (The Nation,
    4/2/15)
  • “Black America’s State of Surveillance,” by Malkia Cyril (The Progressive, 4/15)

Jennifer Wagner on Indiana Law, Darnell Hunt on Race in Hollywood

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 09:05
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This week on CounterSpin: The backlash was immediate and strong against the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act just passed in Indiana. The law’s proponents, including Gov. Mike Pence, say it’s just intended to “open a door” to conversations about how people can express religious beliefs. Legal scholars and rights advocates say that the law as originally written actually invites conflict and sanctions discrimination, particularly against LGBT people. The scores of organizations saying they will reconsider doing business with and in Indiana seem to know who they believe. What can journalists do to shed light on this story without resorting to a “some say, others differ” approach? We’ll hear from Jennifer Wagner from the group Freedom Indiana on that.

Also on the show (and speaking of backlash): The Internet and Twitterverse made short work of lambasting entertainment-industry outlet Deadline for a piece that legitimized the idea that the presence of a larger than usual number of people of color in broadcast TV series means “the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction”–that white actors, in other words, are now the ones being discriminated against. But the thesis and tone of that piece didn’t come from nowhere, and denouncing the article doesn’t erase the climate that produced it. We’ll talk about Hollywood and race with Darnell Hunt, professor of sociology and director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African-American Studies at UCLA.

 

LINKS:

Freedom Indiana
–“Darnell Hunt: Hollywood’s Dismal Diversity Data Explained,” by Patt Morrison (LA Times, 3/17/15)

Darcey O’Callaghan on Water Crisis, Natalia Abrams on Student Debt

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 08:58
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: March 22 was World Water Day, meant to call attention to the crisis in world water supply and sanitation that makes lack of access to clean water far and away the leading cause of death for children under 5. Headlines about “taking shorter showers” suggest mainstream media didn’t dive that deeply into the crisis’ environmental, economic or political context. We talk about water with Darcey O’Callaghan, International Policy Director at Food & Water Watch. Also on the show: You may have heard that the Class of 2014 is the most indebted ever, or that […]

Alfredo Lopez on Venezuelan 'Threat,' Jeff Biggers on Mountaintop Removal

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:36
Is Venezuela really a threat to the security of the United States, as the White House has declared? And after years of activism, are we about to see an end to one of the most damaging aspects of the coal industry--mountaintop removal?

Deborah Vagins on Voting Rights, Justin Elliott on Red Cross

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 08:51
We'll talk about the fight over voting rights and black people's access to basics of democracy--as an ongoing story, not just a historical one--with the ACLU's Deborah Vagins. Plus: ProPublica's Justin Elliott on the Red Cross's secret disaster.

Murtaza Hussain on Netanyahu Speech, Carlos Miller on Photographing Police

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 09:50
Are media asking fundamental questions about what Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu actually said in his speech to Congress? Plus: The right of citizens to record police is embraced vehemently by those concerned about police abuses.

Nazgol Ghandnoosh in Criminal Justice Racism, Stephanie Simon on Pearson

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 06:57
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: FBI director James Comey received praise for saying that police officers should recognize their own racial biases. But a new report says eliminating racism in criminal justice is about more than what's in a cop's mind. We'll speak with the report's author, Nazgol Ghandnoosh of the Sentencing Project. Also on the show: How does a company become wildly profitable and market-dominant--with little or no evidence that its products and services are effective? And the business it's in is...testing students and teachers? We'll talk to Stephanie Simon, senior education reporter at Politico, about the power […]

Marjorie Cohn on ISIS AUMF, Laura Flanders on Worker Co-Ops

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:03
Would an Authorization of Use of Military Force actually make attacks against ISIS legal? And are such attacks really the solution to the crisis? Plus we'll discuss a different way of organizing work in our increasingly unequal society.

James Henry on HSBC, Mary Bottari on Scott Walker

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 09:33
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: two stories featuring bad news, but good journalism. First up: HSBC is a recidivist criminal actor, so how exactly is it still the second-biggest commercial bank in the world? The latest revelation--thanks to a whistleblower working with a number of media outlets–-is that HSBC has been helping millionaires and billionaires hide money from tax authorities. What's the impact of HSBC's actions and--once more with feeling--what will it take to put a banker in jail? We'll hear from journalist James Henry on that. Also on the show: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said it was just […]

Craig Aaron on FCC Reclassification, Kimberle Crenshaw on Black Girls Matter

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 10:25
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The head of the FCC has just announced new rules protecting the openness of the Internet. The vote is still weeks away, but if agency chair Tom Wheeler's proposal goes through, it would mean real Net Neutrality, maintaining the even playing field that makes the Internet what it is. And it would be a landmark victory for regular folks over industry titans. We'll talk about what it all means with Craig Aaron of the group Free Press. Also on the show: The Black Lives Matter movement has put a spotlight on real-world racism in […]