No one who followed politics twenty years ago will forget the night when Clarence Thomas sent an electric charge through a Senate hearing room. As liberal Democrats pushed the unproven sexual harassment charges of Anita Hill in an attempt to destroy Thomas’s chance to serve on the Supreme Court, Thomas called them out for conducting a national disgrace. “This is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.”
This line packed a wallop because Hill’s charges were about as proven as the old charges of perverted indecency against white women that were concocted by racists. Whether her claims were true was utterly irrelevant to liberals. All that mattered is that Thomas be ruined, and that black conservatives be denied a role model so prominent and so accomplished.
NBC anchor Brian Williams, in the argot of the moment, certainly belongs to The One Percent. He lives in the glass-encased Bloomberg Tower in mid-town Manhattan, 34 stories above the tony restaurant Le Cirque at 58th Street and Lexington Avenue. For years he has lived up in the luxury apartment heavens with Beyonce and GE chieftains past and present (both Jack Welch and Jeffrey Immelt). He’s earned it.
Yet night after night on the news, Williams and the other one percent multi-millionaire anchors dutifully chronicle every new publicity line from the people who "occupy" parks (often public parks) to claim to represent the "99 percent." It’s liberal guilt in motion. The anchors lovingly cite old Sixties leftist slogans like "The whole world is watching," which is nonsense if you look at their ratings but they sure do wish the whole world would watch. To the liberal media, these protests are a story of populist heroes bravely standing against what Teddy Roosevelt called "the malefactors of great wealth."
Editor's Note: In direct contrast to how ABC, CBS and NBC newsrooms all but ignored the sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton from multiple women including Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, the same networks are now salivating over an alleged act of harassment by Herman Cain from anonymous sources. NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell made the following statement about this media double standard earlier today:
ABC, CBS and NBC pounced on the opportunity to slam GOP hopeful Herman Cain - even with unnamed accusers and sources. It is indefensible how the networks were quick to defend Bill Clinton by not reporting public accusations of rape, inappropriate physical contact, and explicit behavior – and are quick to attack Herman Cain on the basis of unspecified allegations by anonymous sources.
Sadly, Herman Cain’s predictions have come true. In May he stated that he was "ready for the same high-tech lynching that [Clarence Thomas] went through -- for the good of this country." That's what Politico is doing with its unsubstantiated and thoroughly hypocritical hit piece against him. Anyone in the press that gives this story oxygen is equally hypocritical.
In the eyes of the liberal media, Herman Cain is just another uppity black American who has had the audacity to leave the liberal plantation. So they must destroy him, just as they tried destroying Clarence Thomas.
Those prestigious publishers at Simon & Schuster selected All Saints Day to unleash the book world's latest attempt at mocking Christianity. It’s called "The Last Testament, by God."
The author is David Javerbaum, a top writer for 11 years for "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, perhaps America's leading religion-hating TV network. Is it any surprise that the critics are loving it?
National Public Radio continues to define itself in every way as a taxpayer-funded nest of leftism. NPR couldn’t just supportively report on the Occupy Wall Street protests. A fire-breathing spokeswoman for the "Occupy DC" protests against capitalism was also an NPR host.
Lisa Simeone was an NPR anchor for their weekend version of the newscast "All Things Considered" for a year and a half, from late 2000 to early 2002. Now this radical was leading protests as she hosted a radio documentary series called "Soundprint" and an arts show, "The World of Opera."
Networks hungry for viewers know the cheapest way to nab eyeballs is to produce a "reality show" with no stars, and supposedly-unscripted-but-in-reality-very-scripted and often uber-sleazy content. But in the rush for the prized adult 18-49 viewers, what about the millions of youngsters, the audience aged 11 to 17, also lured into the soup?
The Girl Scout Research Institute recently surveyed 1,000 girls in that age bracket and found these children aren't clueless. Everyone surveyed thought reality shows promote bad behavior: 86 percent felt the shows often set people against one another to increase the dramatic value; 73 percent thought reality shows depict fighting as a normal part of a romantic relationship; and 70 percent believed that reality TV leads people to believe it acceptable to mistreat each other.
Editor's Note: The following is a quote from a letter NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center (MRC) founder Brent Bozell sent to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier today, spurred in part by the recent revelation that NPR host Lisa Simeone served as a spokesperson for the Occupy DC protest.
NPR is out of control, using taxpayer money to lend support to a sometimes violent and lawless mob set on crippling the financial backbone of our country.
Walter Cronkite's longtime producer Leslie Midgley once wrote that "News is what an editor decides it is." News today is what TV producers decide can help President Obama. News that hurts isn't news at all.
In the last week, network anchors like Brian Williams repeated endlessly that the "Occupy Wall Street" protests are "increasingly resonating." It’s the story reporters will declare "isn’t going away" -- and they're going to see to it. They are using their microphones like yellow Hi-Liter pens to draw attention to it.
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.