Editor's Note: A new USA Today/Gallup poll that finds Americans blame Washington for the country's economic woes much more than Wall Street and financial institutions. NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell is not surprised and issued the following statement.
The American people see right through the liberal media’s favorable spin on Occupy Wall Street. While they shamelessly coddle these clueless protesters, the public isn’t buying it. Americans overwhelmingly blame Washington for the nation’s economic mess and failure to address it.
Say the name Emilio Estevez and most people think of the “Brat Pack,” when he was a star in popular Eighties youth movies like “The Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo’s Fire,” or maybe the hockey coach in the “Mighty Ducks” films. Compared to his brother Charlie Sheen, he’s become the quiet, stable brother.
But with his new movie “The Way,” Estevez comes into his own as a producer, writer, and director, telling a beautiful story about death, faith, and family. A father – played by his own father, Martin Sheen – mourns the loss of his son by walking for months on the 500-mile “camino” to the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.
In an interview on the Catholic cable channel EWTN, Estevez joked about the horror of making the pitch for this movie about a pilgrimage – no massive special effects, no parade of gore or bedroom scenes with nudity. It’s just an old man hiking across Spain with three people he meets along the way. It’s a small movie, made on a small budget. It’s about our humanity and our spirituality. It’s so easy to imagine Tinseltown’s eyes glazing over.
But what Estevez said in that interview was still striking. “Hollywood is a very difficult place to be earnest and be heartfelt. And I am not interested in making films that are anything but. There’s a lot of vulgarity in films. There’s a lot of violence, casual sex – things that make me uncomfortable watching – and I’m not interested in perpetuating that message.”
It must be difficult making that statement when your brother is Charlie Sheen.
A look at the highest-grossing movies of 2011 strongly suggests that lots of fighting with special effects and sequels are what the public wants. Go down the list: the “Harry Potter” finale, a “Transformers” sequel, a “Fast and the Furious” sequel, a “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel, a “Planet of the Apes” sequel of sorts, a Thor movie, and a Captain America movie. The only comedies are both vulgar and R-rated: “The Hangover, Part II” and “Bridesmaids,” which was surely sold to the studio as “The Hangover, Chick Version.” Even the year’s top cartoons are sequels: “Cars 2" (in sixth place) and “Kung Fu Panda 2" (eleventh).
Estevez looks at the number-12 movie “The Help,” as his kind of film, one that shows simple movies about human relationships can find an audience. “I think we have a responsibility as artists, and if we live in that community, and we work in that community, we have a responsibility to lift it up and to raise the bar and to reject that.”
Here’s how “The Way” unfolds. Sheen’s character, California ophthalmologist Tom Avery, is a widower who’s been angry at his son’s decision to forego a graduate degree to wander the world. While Avery’s out on the golf course, a French policeman calls to tell him his son has died in a storm in the Pyrenees.
When Avery arrives to identify the body, the policeman tells him about the “camino,” and he resolves to travel the route with his son’s cremated remains. On this very long walk, he finds companionship with a burly Dutchman who wants to lose weight, an Irish writer with writer’s block, and a bitter Canadian woman trying to quit smoking – and ultimately rediscovers his lost faith.
The movie is beautiful travelogue of the sites along the route, from mountain vistas to beautiful old cathedrals. It’s a great backdrop for a subtle human story. After the Canadian woman cynically suggestes Sheen’s character is there to march on a self-absorbed baby-boomer journey to a James Taylor soundtrack, she’s embarrassed to learn the truth. Later she admits her own dark troubles. She was a battered wife and is haunted by an abortion she underwent because she didn’t want her husband to have two females to brutalize. She says she can hear her daughter’s voice.
Estevez explained, “We give voice to the unborn, and again, that is another thing Hollywood doesn’t necesssarily celebrate.” That’s putting it mildly.
The pro-life and religious messages in this movie are subtle, and some might find them to be too subtle. There’s no aggressive proselytizing for Jesus or Christianity at all, although it wraps up nicely at the amazing cathedral where St. James is said to rest. For the lapsed believer, it could encourage conversation. For the moviegoer who just wants a pleasant movie about life, it’s two hours well-spent. People who support these Hollywood outcasts should vote with their feet. It’s a much shorter walk than the one in the movie.
When the Tea Party movement erupted in the spring of 2009, the media elites dismissed them as corporate-generated “Astroturf” noise. They found them barely worth covering, even to besmirch them.
But when the “Occupy Wall Street” protests began on September 17, the liberal media was quickly bombarded with complaints from the Left that the media were ignoring this massive “news” story. NPR executive editor Dick Meyer said the early protests “did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption, or an especially clear objective.” So the protesters went out and blocked the Brooklyn Bridge and drew 700 arrests – voila, a national story.
Editor's Note: What follows is a statement NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell released this afternoon reacting to the findings of a Media Research Center study on the media's Solyndra coverage.
ABC, CBS and NBC are aiding and abetting in the cover-up of an outrageous scandal linked directly to Obama and his failed economic policies. Even the uber liberal New York Times could not ignore this outrage, spotlighting it on their front page this weekend. Yet these networks are intentionally minimizing coverage to avoid reporting the failure and scandal that resulted under Obama’s watch for the same stimulus package they hailed in 2009.
What further compounds the hypocrisy of ignoring this scandal is the excessive, glowing coverage these same networks are giving the Occupy Wall Street protests. While they gather to oppose "corporate greed," the media quietly dismiss the most outrageous scandal in years – and financed by their taxpaying dollars.
A seat on the MRC Board of Directors opened in 1991 and the late Bill Rusher was quick to recommend to me his friend Ambassador Leon J. Weil – “Lee” to his friends. On the appointed day, we met in New York City at the City Athletic Club where, he proudly announced, at age 64 he’d just finished a grueling round of squash, that being just another sport for the man who, he proudly told me, at age 54 had been named by Ronald Reagan to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports – along with some other guy called Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bragging? No, celebrating. He was enjoying life, and he was proud he could. This man with that crooked Clark-Gable mischievous smile and the Reaganesque winsome, innocent fascination with the world around him, this was a man you liked immediately. It took only a couple of minutes’ conversation to appreciate he was equally sharp as nails, and equally tough if need be. Lee agreed to join the MRC Board of Directors that day, and when the MRC spun off the Parents Television Council in 2001, he agreed to chair that newly-formed board as well. Lee led both groups until his passing on October 4 at age 84.
NBC president Robert Greenblatt was really committed to the new drama “The Playboy Club” just weeks ago. “What it has going for it is a recognizable brand that's automatically going to draw attention to it, good or bad," he said. "It's the right kind of thing for us to try." They tried it. Three episodes later, NBC made it the first canceled series of the season. Trains have rarely wrecked as ingloriously as this one.
By the third episode, NBC could barely muster 3 million viewers, while ABC (“Castle”) and CBS (“Hawaii Five-O”) were both over 11 million. This show had flop sweat all over it. Entertainment Weekly wrote after the cancellation announcement that “The move is no surprise and, indeed, was expected months before the show premiered.” So why on Earth did NBC work so hard to promote this show and its pornographic brand?
Is there a clumsier group of newspaper character assassins than the hit squads at The Washington Post? On October 2, the Post was back on the racist-Republican attack with a 3,000-word investigative treatise over a rock. Specifically, Gov. Rick Perry had leased a property where the N-word was painted on a rock, and then he had it painted over with white paint.
But investigative genius Stephanie McCrummen could see a virtual Klan hood on Perry’s head. “As recently as this summer, the slablike rock — lying flat, the name still faintly visible beneath a coat of white paint — remained by the gated entrance to the camp.”
Back in the 1970s, there was a lot of discussion about the way TV executives were grabbing ratings with female jiggle. “T&A,” it was called. The jiggle continues, but now it’s coming from somewhere else. So far, the hot new trend of the 2011 TV season is...dangling male genitalia. That’s full-frontal male nudity...hidden behind graphic effects.
CBS was thrilled the September 19 premiere of its reboot of the sleazy “Two and a Half Men” drew gonzo ratings. After all the Charlie Sheen drama, how could his TV character’s funeral not attract a crowd? But that wasn’t enough for Chuck Lorre & Co. They had to debut actor Ashton Kutcher in the nude. First, Kutcher pulled the pixilated-nudie stunt Monday afternoon on the season debut of the Ellen DeGeneres show. Then they repeated it on CBS Monday night – twice. The opening gag of the season is that Kutcher’s character has a stunning endowment.
No one thinks Barack Obama is sitting pretty in this race for the White House. The Real Clear Politics average of the mid-September approval-rating polls measures him at 43 percent approval, 51 percent disapproval. With these numbers, they should be measuring his political coffin. But to listen to the networks talk, it’s the Republican field that is a mess in desperate need of new talent, and its debate audiences are a blood-thirsty horror movie.
One place that Democratic contenders go for positive publicity is the network morning shows. Their audiences are diminished, but they remain a powerful national platform, especially for female voters. Rich Noyes and Geoff Dickens of the Media Research Center have demonstrated how ABC, CBS, and NBC set a pretty pleasant table for the Democratic candidates (and potential candidates like Al Gore) from January 1 through July 31, 2007.
It’s easy to get nostalgic for those classic Dean Martin TV celebrity roasts. Just watch a Comedy Central Friars Club roast. This is not comedy; they are unremittingly vicious. When they announced they were going to roast Charlie Sheen, a disgraceful human being if ever there was one, there was a sense of karmic comeuppance. Then the show aired. Only someone as deranged as Sheen would find it funny.
Sheen is deserving of plenty of verbal head-slaps for his aerobically amoral life with prostitutes, his wife-beating/strangling, and his bizarre behavior after being fired by the gutter-level CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men.” But this was supposed to be comedic. Instead, it was a merciless bonfire of ferocity. No humanity remained.
Twenty years ago, NBC’s “Today” devoted three days of interviews to the insufferable Kitty Kelley, who unspooled baseless allegations against Nancy Reagan, like her supposed love affair with Frank Sinatra. That kind of tabloid bilge belched back up the garbage disposal on September 16, when “Today” promoted the new Palin-bashing book “The Rogue,” by leftist author Joe McGinniss.
NBC doesn’t have an evidence standard when it's conservatives being gored. With liberals, it’s a different story. NBC didn’t give a second to McGinniss after he was roundly condemned by liberals in 1993 for his Ted Kennedy book “The Last Brother.” In 1996, after the Clinton White House complained, “Dateline NBC” canceled an interview with author and former Secret Service agent Gary Aldrich on his anti-Clinton book “Unlimited Access.”
People who love reality television often have a special attraction to “train wreck” shows. For two years now, the tasteless titans of the cable channel TLC have been exploiting the spectacle of hyper-ambitious stage mothers parading around “beauty queens” just barely out of diapers in thousand-dollar gowns. The program is titled “Toddlers & Tiaras.” But now it’s even worse: they’re dressing up little girls as what radio hosts are calling “prosti-tots.”
TLC aired an episode with a three-year-old pageant contestant named Paisley ridiculously dressed as the Julia Roberts prostitute character in the 1990 film “Pretty Woman” – complete with skimpy tank top, tight skirt, thigh-high boots, and a blond wig. Did I mention this little girl is three years old? It makes you wonder if TLC’s new slogan shouldn’t be “TV for Pedophiles.”
“NBC Nightly News” is the highest-rated daily news show in the morning or evening. In mid-August, this show had been ranked number one for 100 straight weeks, pulling an average of 7.7 million viewers. This makes Brian Williams the king of the TV-news hill. To be sure, it’s obviously a smaller hill than the Walter Cronkite era, but in political terms, Williams, like Cronkite, is E.F. Hutton. His newscast can set the tone across the rest of the “news” media.
But all that royalty evaporates in the presence of Barack Obama. The contrast was jaw-dropping between Williams roaring like a lion against Obama’s Republican challengers at the Reagan Library on September 7, and then bowing gently like a lamb at the White House three days later.
Editor's Note: The following review, by NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell, appeared in the September 13 edition of the Washington Times.
I lost my television debate virginity to Tom Braden, the old curmudgeon liberal counterpart to Pat Buchanan, on the original CNN“Crossfire” series. His first question was a haymaker: “Who the hell do you think you are passing judgment on journalists?” he snarled. Little did I know this was the official Denial Excuse No. 12 in an endless litany of media denials of what everyone knows, but only they continue to deny: The “news” media are drowning in a liberal political bias.
For Hollywood, to push America’s morality buttons is a win-win proposition. When they challenge those moribund "traditional values," they not only strike a blow for the sexual revolution, they create the cherished publicity "buzz" that brings attention – and viewers – to their shows.
It explains why ABC’s "Dancing with the Stars" named to their cast America’s most famous "transgender" activist, who was once the cute little blond daughter Chastity that everyone of a certain age remembers from the old Sonny and Cher show on CBS, and is now the female-denying Chaz Bono.
After the mass shooting in Tucson of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a federal judge, and other bystanders, President Obama gave one of those unite-the-divide speeches that give journalists leg thrills. We need to “sharpen our instincts for empathy,” he said.
He lamented political finger-pointing: “It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” The initial speculation was that conservatives were responsible for the Tucson horror. Even after this proved to be false, the attacks were relentless, with a barrage of media reports on the alleged excesses and mean-spiritedness of the Tea Party and all things right of center.
The pied pipers at MTV were certainly delighted that they attracted their largest audience ever measured for their Video Music Awards show, more than 12 million viewers. It began with Lady Gaga as a male impersonator and ended with rapper Lil Wayne dancing around wearing women’s leggings affixed literally below his rear end.
Lil Wayne’s “song” was called “John (If I Die Today).” It was so studded with F-bombs and N-words that more of this number may have been bleeped than aired. There are five F-bombs in the first eight lines. It starts: “Four-four Bulldog, my m-f-ing pet / I point it at you and tell that m-f-er ‘Fetch.’” The thought is almost humorous that someone at MTV might review the lyrics in advance to insure they were appropriate.
But this spectacle only comes around once a year. What really should concern parents and culture-watchers was the “sneak peek” of yet another scripted sex-and-youth show right after the awards. Even the title of the forthcoming show is meant to provoke: “I Just Want My Pants Back.”
Al Sharpton has never found a crisis he couldn’t exploit – even when they don’t exist – his claim to fame. On Friday’s pre-hurricane episode of his MSNBC show, he warned “Hurricane Irene is nonpartisan” and was threatening both red and blue states. That nonpartisanship doesn’t extend to hurricane coverage on TV, where liberals once again boast about the glories of government disaster aid, and conservatives are trashed as lunatics for wanting to limit the untrammeled growth of spending on natural disasters.
Sharpton began his show by announcing “the desperate race to get ready and keep people safe reminds us all how essential our government is.” Nonsense. It reminds us how essential personal responsibility is.
Then he turned to former Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell and asked “What is your take on this anti-government rhetoric in the middle of this crisis, unprecedented crisis for people on the East Coast?”
The ratings-hungry producers/exploiters of "reality" TV are in an ongoing search for “edgy” people who are combustibly watchable and whose lust for fame overrides any sense of moral judgment. Then they act shocked when their “characters” self-destruct.
The latest Exhibit A: the suicide by hanging of Russell Armstrong, the husband of one of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” His death came just weeks before Bravo planned to begin airing its second season, in which he would be ridiculed before millions. Sadly, this isn't the first time.
One of the greatest perversions of statism is the use of taxpayer money to push for ever more government spending and more government intervention. A casual listener to the far-left end of the FM dial, National Public Radio, will quickly conclude that NPR is one of America's leading offenders in this perversion.
Let's just take one show, the August 22 evening newscast "All Things Considered," perhaps one of the most ill-named programs in the history of radio. Conservatism is never considered. It is only besmirched, assaulted, and rhetorically dismembered.
Editor's Note: What follows is a statement Mr. Bozell released earlier today regarding the FCC's decision yesterday to remove the so-called Fairness Doctrine from the regulation books.
The FCC deserves a one-handed round of applause for this move. Years ago, striking the Censorship Doctrine – and that's exactly what the Fairness Doctrine was – would have actually meant something.
But since the FCC started playing with policies of ‘localism,’ ‘media diversity’ and a nebulous requirement to ‘serve the public interest,’ with yet another unelected and unconfirmed "Diversity Czar" to implement these proposed regulations, the spirit of the Censorship Doctrine has remained very much alive. The path to censor radio airwaves is being paved through the back door.
A man sits on a roof, wearing a Santa hat. He’s talking to his ex-girlfriend on a cell phone, trying with fake cheer to wish her a Merry Christmas. He asks if she’s with her new boyfriend. Yes, she replies, and she’s with her whole family, opening presents. He says "That’s great, because I have a present for you" – and saws off his own head so it falls down the chimney into the fireplace.
This isn’t a horror movie. It’s a cartoon, filmed in stop-motion animation like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." It runs on the Cartoon Network, which is owned by Time Warner. And it’s aimed at children.
In the last election cycle, we heard a lot of complaining about the sexist treatment accorded to Hillary Clinton as she campaigned for president. One magazine wrote, “It’s her resilience and capacity to survive and thrive against all comers that partly fuels the haters’ fury.” They even wrote “The anti-Hillary industry has never managed to bring down Hillary herself — in fact, the more they have attacked, the higher she has risen.”
That would be Newsweek magazine, in the June 18, 2007 issue. Four years later, Newsweek was mocking Republican candidate Michele Bachmann on its cover, making her look pale and confused and, well, nutty – with the headline “The Queen of Rage.” Physician, heal thyself. Now the term “hater’s fury” aptly describes the very same “news” magazine that so pompously lectures us about civility every time one of their favorites is in the political crosshairs.
This fall, the Showtime movie channel will air its sixth season of "Dexter," their show glorifying a just serial killer. They recently finished a fourth season of a show called "Californication," which debuted in 2007 with a dream sequence in which the lead character receives oral sex from a nun in a church. So it might seem surprising (or....perhaps not) that Showtime's new promotional package for the fall wraps Showtime characters around...Christianity. The new slogan is "Showtime Saves."
The low point in this perverse campaign is the visuals of the murderous Dexter character with golden-sunshine rays of holiness. Their St. Dexter the Just Serial Killer routine matches the trailer for Season Six, in which Dexter beats in the head of a man with a Jesus tattoo on his chest. This Christian (smirk, sniff) killed his wife rather than undergo a messy divorce, which makes Dexter the righteous judge and jury. Before he's whacked with a hammer, the wife-killer screams "God is a mighty fortress! And I have been washed in the blood of the Lamb! And He will protect me!"
Editor's Note: What follows is NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell's thoughts on who won, who lost, and who should just pack it all in following last night's Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa.
Gingrich: The winner. Wasn't even close. Showed why Obama would pee in his pants having to debate this man.
Santorum: Also a winner. Showed most passion, and took on and beat up other candidates. But was it enough to keep him alive?
Just as with the last Republican takeover of the House in 1995, it was easy to predict the media elite were going to dig deep into the mud and throw every smear they had at the new conservative powers in town. Congress finally passed, and the president signed, a deeply deficient kick-the-can compromise into law in order to raise the debt ceiling. Tea Party conservatives correctly denounced the deal as woefully inadequate.
When Standard & Poor’s downgraded the creditworthiness of the United States government, Sen. John Kerry shamelessly labeled it a “Tea Party downgrade,” and no one in the press questioned him. This is beyond ludicrous. It’s a deliberate lie on Kerry’s part. How can you blame 87 new Republican House members who weren’t in Washington when Barack Obama was tripling the deficit with trillions in new spending, which Kerry happily endorsed?
John Kerry is on a crusade to destroy the Tea Party. To blame the Tea Party for the S&P downgrade is like blaming the Betty Ford Clinic for alcoholism. The entire existence of the Tea Party movement has been based on an attempt to stop the runaway spending of Washington – by the likes of John Kerry. Any media outlet that features his outrageous blame game remarks without challenging his serial dishonesty is giving aid and comfort to the crusade to vilify and extinguish conservative thought.
If this is the ‘Tea Party downgrade’ then I’m the fairy godmother. No, this is a well-coordinated effort by the left-wing to deflect bad news – very bad news – away from their very left-wing President Obama.
NBC has placed a new drama called "The Playboy Club" on its fall schedule to capitalize on the scandalous sound of America's most famous pornography empire. If this network had any shame at all, it wouldn't be so desperate to associate itself with female exploitation.
So far, one brave NBC affiliate, KSL in Salt Lake City, has refused to join in this porn-promoting parade. "The Playboy brand is known internationally," KSL President Mark Willes declared. "Everyone is clear what it stands for. We want to be sure everyone is clear whatthe KSL brand stands for, which is completely inconsistent with the Playboy brand. We would be helping to build a brand that stands for pornography. For us, that's just untenable."
You can tell the liberals are really sweating the politics of the debt-limit talks when NBC puts on a special “Dateline NBC” devoted to politics. This is normally a time slot devoted to “news” topics like Casey Anthony or Lindsey Lohan. But last week, viewers were “treated” to anchorman Brian Williams actually covering a real news topic. It’s just too bad he forgot he was supposed to be a reporter, not an editorialist, spinning furiously against conservatives trying to rein in Obama’s incredibly reckless flood of new spending.
The last time Brian Williams showed up in prime time for a splashy special on public policy was an enormous tribute to the new president, Barack Obama -- making a run for hamburgers with him, hailing how he displayed apples everywhere, and bowing to him and wishing him a pleasant evening after NBC chronicled his glorious day of saving America from recession. You know, just like Williams treated Bush.