August 24, 2021

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The Edge

U.S. Media Should Hold Policymakers Accountable Amid Afghanistan Withdrawal

Following the U.S.’s recent withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation, the Taliban have claimed much of the country over the past weeks. Coverage from U.S. mainstream media since has ignored South Asian civilian deaths and uncritically repeated narratives from the U.S. government, which has a documented history throughout the war of lying to the public.

Past reports detail the corruption, dishonesty, and ineptitude of the military presence over the past decades, alongside the extreme economic toll exacerbated by the lost opportunity to invest war money into Afghanistan’s infrastructure. 

News media now must remind the public of previously revealed truths about the war’s operations that consecutive presidential administrations have attempted to keep secret. 

Read the full report on The Edge.

Social Media Misinformation and the Need for Better Digital Media Literacy

In an age when most Americans get their news from digital platforms, and when misinformation about the pandemic is spreading just as fast as the virus itself, digital media literacy is more important than ever. Recent studies have found that popularly used social media platforms like TikTok and Facebook have been central to the spread of misinformation, particularly about COVID-19 and its vaccines.

Research by Media Matters concluded that despite community guidelines that specifically prohibit “misinformation related to COVID-19, vaccines, and anti-vaccine disinformation,” TikTok’s algorithm frequently amplifies lies about COVID-19 and vaccines to its user base. 

Young people are particularly susceptible to online misinformation; to stem its spread, students must be taught to think critically about the media they consume.

Read the full report on The Edge.

From the Archives

Jeremy Scahill on Advocacy, Corruption and Blackwater

Founding editor of The Intercept and Izzy winner Jeremy Scahill spoke at Ithaca College concerning his 2007 book, “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” Here he discussed some of the opaque and deadly practices that the U.S. government employed during the war in Iraq, and that the media should continue to discuss now.

Scahill delved into his book’s contents, which investigate the ramifications of outsourcing war, particularly to the bloody and secretive contractor mercenary company Blackwater Worldwide. He further described several of his interviews on mainstream television, including one with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, wherein his analysis of the U.S.’s ongoing wars took the segment “off the rails.”

Scahill also explored his path as a journalist, which at the time culminated in becoming a best-selling author and Polk Award winner for Blackwater.

Watch his full appearance here.

More from The Edge

Coverage of the IPCC Climate Report Can’t Stop Now

On August 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first part of its sixth assessment on climate change. The report states plainly that humans have already significantly “warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” contributing to extreme weather events. These effects and more will exacerbate if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate or intensify.

But the IPCC’s report wasn’t perfect, omitting mentions of fossil fuels and obscuring who’s to blame for the worst of climate change—as some journalists have helpfully reported, it’s large corporations. The unclear messaging has aided the greenwashing campaigns by these companies.

Media’s coverage following the climate report was thorough and prolific—it’ll have to stay that way in the coming months to make a difference.

Read the full report on The Edge.

Fox News’ Anti-Immigrant Fearmongering is Dangerous

Fox News show no signs of letting up on its alarmist and arguably racist coverage of immigration and immigrants. A recent study by Media Matters has found that, over a 12-week period from March 22 through June 11, “Fox News personalities and guests fearmongered about migrants and the immigration system in over half of all segments that discussed immigration by implying that migrants are dangerous, falsely claiming they are an economic drain, and pushing racist conspiracy theories about migrant culture.”

The revealing study comes in the wake of an unprecedented number of U.S. border apprehensions as people flee poverty, crime, and climate-related crises in their home countries.

While Fox’s rhetoric is unsurprising, it remains dangerous as it spreads disinformation and, in some cases, incites violence.

Read the full report on The Edge.

In Other News

1. Capitol riot commission seeking phone records of members of congress, report says (The Independent)

2. The FDA Really Did Have to Take This Long (The Atlantic)

3. Nancy Pelosi Seeking Detour Around Centrist Roadblock (HuffPost)

4. Afghanistan: Secret Kabul talks between CIA and Taliban – US media (BBC)

5. Phones of nine Bahraini activists found to have been hacked with NSO spyware (The Guardian

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The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.