Jeff Cohen

biopicsm-12 Media Critic, Lecturer and Author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media

Ideal Use: Television, propaganda, censorship or issues of media balance, fairness, and accuracy

Jeff Cohen, media critic and lecturer, is founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he is an associate professor of journalism. He has appeared regularly on national TV and radio. He was a daily commentator on MSNBC in 2002, a weekly panelist on the Fox News Channel’s “News Watch” from 1997–2002, and a co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire” in 1996. He was senior producer of MSNBC’s Phil Donahue show until it was terminated on the eve of the Iraq war. His columns on media issues have been published online at such websites as HuffingtonPost, CommonDreams and Alternet—and in dozens of dailies, including USA Today, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Atlanta Constitution, and Miami Herald.

In 1986, he founded FAIR, the national media watch group. He oversaw FAIR’s academic studies of representation on TV and radio—and helped launch its magazine, Extra!, and its nationally-syndicated radio show, “CounterSpin.”

Cohen is a longtime campus lecturer and columnist. In the 1990s, he co-wrote (with Norman Solomon) the nationally-syndicated Media Beat column, whose subscribers included the Arizona Republic, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Seattle Times. In 1999–2000, he was a monthly columnist for Brill’s Content. He’s written investigative articles and features for Rolling Stone, New Times, The Nation, Mother Jones and other publications.


Cohen is the author or co-author of five books—

He has lectured at hundreds of campuses from community colleges to Ivy League schools to historically black colleges to most University of California branches. In 1999, he was the Marsh Visiting Lecturer in Communication Studies at the University of Michigan.

In the early 1980s, Cohen earned a law degree from the Peoples College of Law in Los Angeles, and worked as an ACLU lawyer. He was a board member of several civil rights groups, including the ACLU of Southern California and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference/L.A.

In 2003, he was Communications Director of the Kucinich for President campaign.

Cohen is the proud father of two smart, beautiful daughters.

Once, mainstream news outlets transmitted controversy and debate. Today, they are increasingly the subject of controversy and debate; which is a good thing, says media critic Jeff Cohen: “People need to be skeptical of the news they get from the press, TV, radio and the Internet.” Cohen offers tools to help news consumers separate media fact from media fiction, and to understand the trend toward tabloidism. “We live in the most media-dominated culture in the world,” says Cohen, “with a shrinking number of giant corporations wielding unprecedented power over the public mind.”During the Cold War, Americans feared weapons of mass destruction. Today, suggests Cohen, Americans have reason to fear “weapons of mass distraction” …the media.

Along with Norman Solomon, he co-authored Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News which Studs Terkel described as “a lovely compendium undressing the ‘liberal media’…. It is an eye-opener.” “They have thousands of facts to back up their criticism of what they mediaozsee as consistently sloppy, stupid, cowardly, corporate-run news coverage… mighty welcome in these perilous media-merged times, commented Patricia Hold of the San Francisco Chronicle. Ben Bagdikian, author of The Media Monopoly, added “Solomon and Cohen bring rare sanity to the analysis of the political cost of our major media.”

Among the questions Cohen addresses:

  • What are the most censored stories of the year?
  • Is the national media elite too cozy with the powers-that-be?
  • Why the obsession with the personal lives of public figures?
  • Has news become just another entertainment genre?
  • Can corporate media owners and advertisers buy silence?
  • How do news consumers become skeptical — but not paranoid?

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