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Our Man on the Right


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I was disturbed by what I perceived as a very pronounced right-wing bias in Harold Henderson's review of Robert McChesney's book Rich Media, Poor Democracy ("Useless Information," February 15). He makes a point of mentioning McChesney's leftist credentials, as if this were in any way relevant to McChesney's analysis of corporate control over the media. He trivializes and misrepresents the author's arguments with the following statement: "[McChesney] can't decide whether Americans are Disneymatronic victims of corporate mind control or a resentful, oppressed multitude just waiting to shell out for a premium Noam Chomsky channel as soon as it becomes available."

Most disturbing of all was Henderson's attitude toward McChesney's conception of democracy, suggesting that not only is it OK for the general public to be uninformed or misinformed about important issues, but that were they to show an active interest this could lead to social unrest or revolution. This seems like a truly reactionary viewpoint to me, and unfortunately, is typical of Henderson's writings. For example, he published a book review in the September '96 issue of Illinois Issues (www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/ii960914.html) pooh-poohing the idea that genetic engineering of crops could possibly have a detrimental effect on agriculture or the environment. In September '94 he published a book review for the Heartland Institute (www.heartland.org/perspectives/henderso.htm) that attempted to downplay the ecological significance of the 1989 oil spill at Prince William Sound in Alaska.

While the Reader has never claimed to represent any particular viewpoint, I must question their policy of printing a columnist who clearly has an ideological ax to grind.

Derek Davis


Harold Henderson replies:

Gee, I must be the only reactionary in existence to have written favorably about environmental education (Reader, March 31, 2000) and independent political activism by public-housing residents (Reader, May 29, 1998)--or to have called attention to the fact that for-profit HMOs offer lower quality care than not-for-profit ones (Reader, December 17, 1999) and that there existed no reputable research base for so-called "welfare reform" (Reader, May 17, 1996).

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