Jun 18, 2022
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Norman Solomon (born July 7, 1951) is an American journalist, media critic, activist, and former U.S. congressional candidate. Solomon is a longtime associate of the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). In 1997 he founded the Institute for Public Accuracy, which works to provide alternative sources for journalists, and serves as its executive director.
Solomon’s weekly column, “Media Beat”, was in national syndication from 1992 to 2009. In 2012, Solomon ran for Congress in California’s 2nd congressional district. He attended the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions as a Bernie Sanders delegate. Since 2011, he has been the national director of RootsAction.org.
Solomon came under FBI scrutiny after he picketed for the desegregation of a Maryland apartment complex at age 14. He became aware of their surveillance later, through a Freedom of Information request.
After high school, Solomon began a lifelong commitment to progressive activism. Solomon engaged in civil disobedience as part of the anti-nuclear movement, and eventually spent 40 days in jail as a result. He made eight trips to Moscow during the 1980s, including one during which he and a leader of an American group, the Alliance of Atomic Veterans, organized a sit-in at the U.S. Embassy, demanding that the U.S. join the Soviet Union in a halt to tests of nuclear bombs.
As a freelance journalist, Solomon reported for a number of years for Pacific News Service. In 1988, Solomon worked briefly as a spokesperson for the Alliance of Atomic Veterans in Washington, D.C.. He was hired in August 1988 to run the new Washington, D.C., office of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
The author of 12 books, his op-ed pieces have appeared in a range of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post and USA Today. His articles have been published by The Nation and other magazines. He is a frequent contributor to online outlets such as Common Dreams, Salon and LA Progressive.
A book of Solomon’s collected columns, The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media, won the 1999 George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language. Jonathan Kozol’s introduction to the book noted “the tradition of Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, and I. F. Stone does not get much attention these days in the mainstream press … but that tradition is alive and well in this collection of courageously irreverent columns on the media by Norman Solomon….”
In 2000, Solomon teamed up with Robert Parry to write a series of investigative reports on George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell, published on Parry’s website Consortium News.
Solomon’s book Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You (co-authored with Reese Erlich) was published in 2003 and translated into German, Italian, Hungarian, Portuguese, and Korean. War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death appeared in 2005. The Los Angeles Times called the book “a must-read for those who would like greater context with their bitter morning coffee, or to arm themselves for the debates about Iraq that are still to come.” A documentary, narrated by Sean Penn, was based on the book released in 2007.
Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, an organization founded in 1997 “as a national consortium of independent public-policy researchers, analysts and activists.” According to its web site, the mission of IPA is to increase “the reach and capacity of progressive and grassroots organizations (at no cost to them) to address public policy by getting them and their ideas into the mainstream media”.
As Executive Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy—which challenged Bush administration’s claims Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction—Solomon organized and led missions to Baghdad, seeking to avert the impending U.S. invasion. In mid-September 2002, he went with Congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.VA), former Senator James Abourezk (D-SD) and Conscience International President James Jennings to Baghdad, where they met with top officials of the Iraqi government, including Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. Days later, Iraq gave a green light for UN inspectors to return to the country. In December 2002, Solomon accompanied actor and director Sean Penn to Baghdad in another attempt to foster dialogue and prevent a U.S.-led attack.
Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State (October 2007) War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (July 2005) Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You (co-authored with Reese Erlich) (2003) The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media (1999) Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News (co-authored with Jeff Cohen) (1997)