FAIR Counterspin Radio
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.
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.
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.