By: M.L. Stein
Alleged media neglect of ‘scandals’ during Reagan, Bush administrations tops group’s list of ‘underreported’ stories sp.
THE MAJOR MEDIA’S alleged neglect of scandals during the Reagan and Bush administrations topped Project Censored’s 10 “overlooked, underreported” or “censored” stories in 1992.
The annual list issued by Professor Carl Jensen of Sonoma (Calif.) State University drew on an article by media critic Ben Bagdikian for its number one spot.
Bagdikian’s piece in last year’s May/
June issue of Mother Jones magazine charged that mainstream news media undercovered such scandals as the savings and loan debacle, the Iran-contra affair, massacres in El Salvador, and drug-dealing by the U.S.-backed contras in Nicaragua.
The nine other Project Censored stories, which are said to represent the recommendations of a “national panel of media experts,” are as follows:
2.”Corporate Crime Dwarfs Street Crime. While the press continues to alarm the public with stories of street crime and violence, corporate crime and violence grows at an accelerated pace safely away from the media’s spotlight.”
3.”Censored Election Year Issues. While the candidates and the media focused on alleged infidelities and family values, there were far more important issues that were underreported.” Among them, the report said, were homelessness, the death rate of Iraqi children after the Gulf war, and Dan Quayle’s Council on Competitiveness.
4.”World’s Leading Merchant of Death,” which accuses the United States of being the “world’s unchallenged weapons producer and supplier” despite the hope that the end of the Cold War would reduce military production.
5.”Iraqgate and Watergate Law. While some of the disturbing facts behind the Iraqgate scandal have started to appear in the press, the mainstream media all but ignored the story, as well as the quiet demise of the Watergate law, for more than a year.”
6.”‘We are Winning the War on Drugs’ was a Lie.” The report said that President Bush lied in making that statement. It asserted that “Americans are in greater danger from drugs today than ever before in our history.”
7.”Thrashing Federal Regulations for Profit.” Despite polls showing that Americans opposed deregulation when the purity of air, water, food and drugs was involved, Bush proposed a 210-day moratorium on new federal regulations in 1992 and big business reciprocated with campaign contributions, it is alleged.
8.”Government Secrecy Makes a Mockery of Democracy. America’s information control policy is out of control; in l991, some 6,500 U.S. government employees classified 7,107,017 documents, an average of more than l9,000 documents a day.”
9.”Advertising Pressure Corrupts a Free Press. The Center for the Study of Commercialism invited 200 media outlets to a press conference to reveal how advertisers suppress the news; not a single radio or television station or network sent a reporter and only two newspapers bothered to attend.”
10.”Post-Cold War Black Budget is Prospering. The end of the cold war did not end the secretive Cold War mentality of the Pentagon; today, close to $100 million is being spent to fuel the national security machinery of the Pentagon.”
The list includes 15 other “censored” stories, one of which was headed, “News Media Lose the War With the Pentagon.”
Jensen, who heads Project Censored, also submitted what he called a “Junk Food News” list ? stories that were overplayed by the media. Among them are Quayle’s misspelling of potato, Madonna’s Sex book, Woody Allen vs. Mia Farrow, the Elvis stamp election, the “final days” of Johnny Carson, and scandals in Britain’s royal family.
The judges who selected the top ten “underreported news stories” were Dr. Donna Allen, founding editor of Media Report to Women; Richard Barnet, senior fellow, Institute for Policy Studies; Noam Chomsky, linguistics and philosophy professor, MIT; Hugh Downs, host, ABC’s 20/20 program; Susan Faludi journalist/author; George Gerbner, professor of communication and dean emeritus, University of Pennsylvania.
Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president Consumers Union; Charles L. Klotzer, editor and publisher, St. Louis Journalism Review; Judith Krug, director, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association; William Lutz, English professor, Rutgers University and editor of the Quarterly Review of Doublespeak; Jack L. Nelson, professor, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers; Herbert I. Schiller, scholar in residence, American University; and Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld, president, D.C. Productions.