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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: 1 min 24 sec ago

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 […]

Mark Weisbrot on Greek Elections, Amanda Marcotte on Abortion & Congress

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 09:47
We'll talk to Mark Weisbrot about the Greek elections: Could it be that what elite media fear isn’t that Syriza will fail—but that it might succeed? And Amanda Marcotte on how shallow cover of abortion and the new Congress threatens women's rights.

Keane Bhatt on State of the Union, Daniel Denvir on Silencing Mumia Act

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 10:00
What's the public to make of the exercise in political theater known as the State of the Union Address and the media's morning-after tea leaf-reading? And why aren't more journalists up in arms about a law that muzzles them as well as convicts?

Laura Carlsen on Mexican Violence, Jim Naureckas on 'Selma'

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 09:26
We'll talk about Coverage of the recent state visit from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, the desaparacidos and the nature of violence in Mexico. Plus: What high-profile criticisms of the movie 'Selma' say about the critics.

Robert Weissman on New Congress, Jamie Kalven on Police Abuse Records

Fri, 01/09/2015 - 11:06
We're told the recent midterm elections were the "most expensive in US history," but who was buying? And what do they expect in return? And what does it all mean for the relatively unmoneyed, namely most of us? We talked with Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, about the 114th Congress. Also on the show: A reairing of an interview from July 2014 with Chicago journalist and activist Jamie Kalven about adding information to the story of police policy.

Best of CounterSpin 2014

Fri, 01/02/2015 - 08:00
Each week CounterSpin brings you a look behind the headlines of the mainstream news. At year's end we take a look back and revisit some of the stories it's been our privilege and pleasure to bring you. We call it "best of," but the truth is we always work to shine a light on angles or perspectives on events we think you might not hear elsewhere ,and insights into why and how corporate media coverage comes to look the way it does.