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Announcing The P.U.-Litzer Prizes for 2003

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  • Announcing The P.U.-Litzer Prizes for 2003

    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

    "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

    "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

    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

    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.
    Reprinted for educational purposes only.
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