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Announcing The P.U.-Litzer Prizes for 2003

Norman Solomon

December 19, 2003


The P.U.-litzer Prizes were established more than a decade ago to give
recognition to the stinkiest media performances of the year.

As usual, I have conferred with Jeff Cohen, founder of the media
watch group FAIR, to sift through the large volume of entries. In
view of the many deserving competitors, we regret that only a few
can win a P.U.-litzer.

And now, the 12th annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the foulest media
performances of 2003:

Media Mogul of the Year -- Lowry Mays, CEO of Clear Channel

While some broadcasters care about their programming, the CEO of
America's biggest radio company (with more than 1,200 stations) admits
he cares only about the ads. The Clear Channel boss told Fortune magazine
in March: "If anyone said we were in the radio business, it wouldn't be
someone from our company. We're not in the business of providing news
and information. We're not in the business of providing well-researched
music. We're simply in the business of selling our customers products."

Liberating Iraq Prize -- Tom Brokaw

Interviewing a military analyst as U.S. jet bombers headed to Baghdad on
the first day of the Iraq war, NBC anchor Brokaw declared: "Admiral
McGinn, one of the things that we don't want to do is to destroy the
infrastructure of Iraq, because in a few days we're going to own that
country."

"The More You Watch, The Less You Know" Prize -- Fox News Channel

According to a University of Maryland study, most Americans who get
their news from commercial TV harbored at least one of three
"misperceptions" about the Iraq war: that weapons of mass destruction
had been discovered in Iraq, that evidence closely linking Iraq to Al
Qaeda had been found, or that world opinion approved of the U.S.
invasion. Fox News viewers were the most confused about key facts, with
80 percent embracing at least one of those misperceptions. The study
found a correlation between being misinformed and being supportive
of the war.

"Clear It with the Pentagon" Award -- CNN

A month after the invasion of Iraq began, CNN executive Eason Jordan
admitted on his network's "Reliable Sources" show (April 20) that CNN
had allowed U.S. military officials to help screen its on-air analysts: "I
went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met
with important people there and said, for instance -- 'At CNN, here are
the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off
about the war' -- and we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was
important."

"Conservative Times for the 'Liberal' Media" Award -- ABC News

Over the years, ABC correspondent John Stossel became known for
one-sided, often-inaccurate reporting on behalf of his pro-corporate,
"greed is good" ideology. He boasted that his on-air job was to "explain
the beauties of the free market," received lecture fees from corporate
pressure groups, and even spoke on Capitol Hill against consumer-protection
regulation. In May of this year, when Stossel was promoted to co-anchor
of ABC's "20/20," a network insider told TV Guide: "These are conservative
times. ... The network wants somebody to match the times."

"Coddling Donald" Prize -- CBS's Lesley Stahl, ABC's Peter Jennings and
Others

On the day news broke about Saddam Hussein's capture, Stahl and Jennings
each interviewed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In step with their
mainstream media colleagues, both failed to ask about Rumsfeld's cordial
1983 meeting with Hussein in Baghdad on behalf of the Reagan administration
that opened up strong diplomatic and military ties between the U.S.
government and the dictator that lasted through seven years of his worst
brutality.

Military Groupie Prize -- Katie Couric of NBC's "Today" Show

"Well, Commander Thompson," said Couric on April 3, in the midst of the
invasion carnage, "thanks for talking with us at this very early hour out
there. And I just want you to know, I think Navy SEALs rock."

Noblesse Oblige Occupation Award -- Thomas Friedman, New York Times

In a Nov. 30 piece, Times columnist Friedman gushed that "this war (in
Iraq) is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building
project since the Marshall Plan." He lauded the war as "one of the noblest
things this country has ever attempted abroad." Friedman did not mention
the estimated 112 billion barrels of oil in Iraq ... or the continuous
deceptions that led to the "noble" enterprise.

Norman Solomon is co-author of "Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't
Tell You."

2003 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Reprinted for educational purposes only.