The CBS News producer who attempted to start a wine label
called Jesus Juice while he was covering the Michael Jackson trial is beginning
to backtrack after his activities were exposed.
After NewsBusters broke
the story Sunday, other media outlets picked up our scoop including the Associated Press, TheSmokingGun.com and MSNBC's "Countdown." Since that time, the
producer, Bruce Rheins, and his wife, Dawn Westlake, have removed all Jesus
Juice material, including the label's logo, a crucified Jackson, from their respective web sites.
The New York Daily News spoke to Rheins yesterday, he disingenuously told
the paper he never intended to make money from the offensive wine label:
A CBS producer who led the network's coverage of the recent
Michael Jackson trial has been marketing a brand of wine under the label "Jesus
Juice," complete with a logo of a Christ figure sporting a Jacksonesque
red glove, fedora hat, white socks, and penny loafers
NewsBusters.org has learned that Bruce Rheins, a high-level producer for
such shows as the "CBS Evening News", and his wife, Dawn Westlake,
began preparations for their marketing campaign while the Jackson case was
still in court, registering a U.S. trademark for the words "Jesus Juice"
in January of 2004, days after word got out that Jackson referred to
wine by that term in allegedly attempting to seduce young boys.
A year later, the couple registered (under Westlake's name) the web domain JesusJuice.biz,
apparently with the intent of partnering with a wine maker to create a product
line bearing the Jesus Juice name, in a partnership or by purchasing the
At a morning briefing with reporters held by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, CBS correspondent John Roberts, still trying to make a name for himself within the network famous for its liberalism, used a crude sexual term to describe the nomination of President Bush's Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
As reported by Matt Drudge, Roberts asked the following question: "So, Scott, you said that -- or the President said, repeatedly, that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean that Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?"
Sloppy seconds is a slang term for having sexual intercourse with someone immediately following another person.
After Roberts's comments were brought to light by Drudge, CBS's damage control unit aka its blog Public Eye, printed an apology from the would-be-anchor. Roberts later apologized at the formal afternoon daily briefing. Read on for details and video.
The last casualty of the CBS Memogate scandal happened earlier today. Andrew Heyward, the long-time president of CBS News will no longer be directing the organization:
CBS announced Wednesday it is replacing embattled CBS News President Andrew Heyward with Sean McManus, chief of CBS Sports, who will keep both jobs.
Heyward served more than 10 years as head of the legendary news division, and it was a surprise to many in the industry when he kept his job in the fallout from the network's botched investigation into President Bush's National Guard service.
CBS still hasn't named a replacement for Dan Rather, who stepped down in March as anchor of the third-rated "CBS Evening News," and network chief Leslie Moonves had expressed discontent over ideas presented to him for revamping the broadcast.
Heyward presided over the delicate transition at his best-known broadcast, "60 Minutes," replacing founder Don Hewitt at the helm without any real impact in the show's popularity. He also established the spinoff "60 Minutes II," which was canceled this spring due to poor ratings. [...]
McManus will take over as news chief on Nov. 7, one day after [fired producer Mary] Mapes's book on the episode is due to be published.
Should lawmakers give journalists the right to refuse to divulge their sources in court? Many states have laws to this effect governing their jurisdictions. Today there is no such law at the federal level. Should there be? At 11:00 today, the Heritage Foundation invites former radio talker and congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) as he makes the case in the affirmative. Event info here
UPDATE 12:45. Monday, Pence stated that he believed his law would also cover bloggers in a protective shield. Does that change any minds?
It's nothing to do with political bias, but I think PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak's latest column makes an interesting allegation: that the technology media favor Apple products over Windows-based ones. Here's an excerpt:
With 90 percent of the mainstream writers being Mac users, what would
you expect? The top columnists in the news and business magazines fit
this model too. The technology writers fit this model. The tech writers
and tech columnists for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and Fortune
are all Mac users. I could list them by name, but I'd hate to leave one
out. Maybe I'll blog them by name. I could list 50. Readers should thus
not be surprised by the overcoverage of Apple Computer. Every time
Steve Jobs sneezes there is a collective chorus of "Gesundheit" from
tech writers pounding away on their Macs. [...]
What's bad for Microsoft is that the bias against it is subtle—kind of
like any sort of media bias, whether religious or political. As one
critic once said regarding the supposed left-wing slant of the daily
news media, "It's not what they write, it's what they write ABOUT that
matters." Story selection. Microsoft can roll out a dozen cool
products, and the media goes ga-ga over the video iPod—a rather
late-to-market Apple product.
Is Dvorak right or wrong? Please keep the flames to a minimum.
"South Park," the popular Comedy Central show about the misadventures of a group of four Colorado boys, criticized the news media Wednesday night for its overhyped coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In the episode, two of the boys, Stan Marsh and Eric Cartman, accidentally crash a boat into a beaver dam, flooding an entire town. In the aftermath, local and national media blame it on global warming, ridiculously exaggerate the extent of the damage, make up stories of rape, murder, "cannibalism," and tell tales of "hundreds of millions" of deaths in a town of 8,000 people.
After initially putting the first chapter of fired CBS producer Mary Mapes's book, Truth and Duty, on its web site, Amazon.com has apparently pulled the plug on the enterprise. Visitors to the online book retailer can no longer read the excerpt as it no longer shows up in listings for the print or audio versions of the book.
To read an extensive excerpt from the book as quoted on NewsBusters, click here
UPDATE 10-06 11:05: Oddly enough, Amazon.com has now removed the print version of the book from its site entirely. This got me wondering what happened so I called and was told by a sales rep: "If it's not available from a publisher, then we pull it from the web site. The only version we're apparently going to have is the abridged audio version." Strangely, Barnes & Noble still has the hardcover available. Sounds like someone got too happy pushing the "Delete" key.
In a televised interview with former
CBSer Marvin Kalb, retired CBS anchor Dan Rather stated that his
network will not allow him to continue to pursue the story of
President Bush's Air Guard service.
"Straight-up, no Chaser, no," the
exiled anchor said when asked if he would consider filing a story
about it on the "60 Minutes" news magazine since he continues to
believe in it.
"CBS News doesn't want me to do
that story. They wouldn't let me do that story," Rather said,
declining to elaborate further.
Rather also expressed suspicion about
bloggers' role in publicizing CBS's mistakes in the Memogate affair.
"There are some strange, and to me,
still mysterious things, certainly unexplained things that happened
about how it got attacked and why, even before the program was over,"
Rather said, adding that his network was derelict in not "knowing
enough of how quickly bloggers could strike."
The anchor appeared to have softened
his attitude toward some (unnamed) web authors, but remained
suspicious about those involved in the
exposition of the document scandal. Rather expressed wonder that professional journalists immediately looked at blogger accusations that CBS had run with phony documents.
Full story and large transcript after the jump. Video of Rather's comments which were broadcast on C-SPAN, compiled by the MRC's Brent Baker: Windows Media, Real. An MP3 audio file is also available.
TV Week reports Fox chief Rupert Murdoch told investors that his company is moving forward with plans to launch a business cable news channel to compete with CNBC. The launch apparently has been delayed, though, as Fox News chairman Roger Ailes wonders whether or not the startup could so easily thrash the competition like FNC has.
LONDON — A former ABC News correspondent accused the network of dropping his contract because he refused to go to Iraq and other war zones, and he sought $4.2 million in lost earnings at an employment tribunal Friday.
ABC says war zone assignments are voluntary and argues that the decision not to renew Richard Gizbert's freelance contract was motivated by budget pressures.
Mimi Gurbst, ABC's vice president of news coverage, said at the hearing that Gizbert was one of many staffers dropped after she was ordered to cut costs by 10 percent over two years. She said those laid off included many who regularly accepted assignments in conflict zones, and Gizbert's refusal to do so was not the reason for his dismissal.
At yesterday's funeral for former ABC anchor Peter Jennings, the network apparently placed some rather stringent restrictions on the press who covered it.
According to The Media Drop, ABC News spokeswoman Cathie Levine sent out an email to TV and radio assignment desks which banned all TV and radio crews from the service and prohibited both media from using ABC News-provided audio and video in promos or teasers. The network also forbade TV outlets from putting their logos on any of the official video.
The full posting is available here. It includes the text of the email.
Byron Calame, public editor of the New York Times, is having a difficult time getting columnist Paul Krugman or his editor to correct a mistake Krugman made in an Aug. 19 column.
In that column, which discussed the disputed 2000 presidential election, Krugman asserted that candidate Al Gore won two after-the-fact recounts conducted by news organizations. This, however, was not true as Calame pointed out in a Sept. 2 posting on the Times web site.
After spotting the error, Calame pressed Krugman for a correction. The columnist relented and printed a note at the bottom of a his Aug. 26 column. But the correction was also mistaken, causing Calame to continue to press both Krugman and his editor, Gail Collins, for a more accurate recorrection. So far, he's been rebuffed as the ombud relayed in a Sept. 16 posting:
Are you a Blogspot user who is annoyed by the fact that you can't make categories for any of your postings? If so, you might be interested in a new hack I just made for Blogger which makes it fairly painless to add categories to your blog. Instructions are here.
Peter King (R-NY) the new chairman of the House of Representatives' homeland security committee blasted the media's coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. King made his remarks on the radio program of Linda Chavez while being interviewed by substitute host Steve Malzberg. NewsMax.com picked up his remarks:
"The FEMA of ten years ago certainly did not do any better job under much less comparable circumstances than FEMA did this time. [...]
"Of everyone involved, certainly they were the least culpable," the House Homeland chief said. "I think the main fault was the state and city of New Orleans - they did a terrible job."
The New York Republican added: "Our response plans are based on the premise that the local first responders will handle the initial onslaught. We weren't expecting that the local government would do absolutely nothing."
According to this article, British PM Tony Blair and former U.S. president Bill Clinton feel the same way about the BBC's Katrina coverage.
The L.A. Times has a story up about a new "documentary-style film" about liberal CBS newsman Fred Friendly which features George Clooney in the leading role:
The black-and-white documentary-style film, which Clooney co-wrote, produced, directed and in which he plays "See It Now" producer Fred
Friendly, won best screenplay for Clooney and Grant Heslov and best actor honors for David Strathairn this month at the Venice Film Festival and will open the New York Film Festival on Friday. It will be released in the U.S. on Oct. 7.
Normally, the small, $8-million "Good Night, and Good Luck" would be the sort of politically relevant film that comes and goes and makes a paltry $500,000, Clooney said recently. But by coincidence, the film has hit at a moment when its main point — journalists need courage to combat both government officials who try to intimidate them and corporate bosses who want them to entertain viewers — is sparking in real life.
In other words, it's a movie about how reporters need to do better at standing up to Republicans.
At a meeting with investors yesterday, CBS president Les Moonves addressed a number of topics including the failed makeover of the "CBS Evening News." MediaWeek has the skinny:
When asked about the progress of the revamp of the low-rated "CBS Evening News" prompted by the departure of longtime anchor Dan Rather in March, Moonves conceded CBS News isn't close to the radical makeover he has envisioned to boost the fortunes of the show. Moonves said he was frustrated, saying that the average age of the news viewer -- on all three evening newscasts -- was about 60. He said CBS was trying to change it and make it more "user-friendly."
"We haven't come up with a great solution, so we've sent them back to the drawing board," Moonves said. "But you will see changes in the next several months."
Despite the enormous popularization of blogging and other public media, the New York Times bucked the trend yesterday with an announcement that it will start charging readers a fee to read the articles of its opinion columnists.
In all honesty, when I first heard the news, I thought it was some sort of joke. Surely the Times wouldn't do something so stupid, especially after seeing the Wall Street Journal became a virtual nonentity online. The NYT's move is especially bizarre considering that since the Journal became a total subscriber site in the late 90s, it's been gradually moving toward freer content through the creation of OpinionJournal.com, periodic free subscription programs, and a recent campaign to free some articles which may be of interest to bloggers.
Sure, some people will be dumb enough to register for the program. But most people, especially those who have no idea who the likes of Tom Friedman or Paul Krugman are, certainly will not. That's because to most people, an opinion slinger is far less valuable than the stuff he or she writes. People develop relationships with columnists, it's true, but only after they've done so with their writing.
Wilking's pictureDid Reuters photographer Rick Wilking falsely imply that President Bush asked permission to go to the restroom during his trip to the United Nations?
Yesterday, as I noted here at NewsBusters, Wilking took a picture ("destined to become one of the most joked about photos of the month" in the words of Editor & Publisher) of a note allegedly being written by President Bush. Here is the caption which Reuters assigned to the photo according to Yahoo News:
U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war.
With the caption worded as it is, the casual observer (including me last night) is very likely to conclude that Bush was asking Rice for leave to go to the men's room.
Following President Bush's Tuesday news conference in which he took responsibility for federal mistakes following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, some news organizations left out the word federal in their reportage, creating the possible impression that Bush had shouldered blame for state and local failures.
National Review’s Stephen Spruiell noticed this later in the day when he spotted a CBSNews.com story which left out the federal. He blogged on it Tuesday and again yesterday after CBS News acknowledged the problem, albeit only on its blog and not in the story itself.
"We could have been more clear higher up in the piece, adding the word federal before government," CBSNews.com director of news and operations Michael Sims is quoted as saying.
He's right, of course, but this episode raises a question about the CBS editorial process since the web story has yet to be fixed (as of this writing), despite the fact that the AP story on which the CBS page was based was changed later in the day. Click here for the first version of the AP report, and here for the revised edition which corrects the record.
This year's national Emmy awards (set to air Sunday night) are scheduled to include a salute to the three anchormen of yesteryear, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw. Quoting the Hollywood Reporter:
The end of an era in television news will be commemorated during Sunday's Primetime Emmy Awards telecast with a lengthy segment that will pay tribute to the careers of long-serving news anchors Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and the late Peter Jennings.
Ken Ehrlich, producer of the Primetime Emmy telecast, to be telecast live on CBS, said plans for the salute to the trio of newsmen were in the works long before 40-year ABC News veteran Jennings died in August of lung cancer at age 67. [...]
"These are the guys through whose eyes we've watched the world change,"
Ehrlich said, noting that the intense news coverage of the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina during the past two weeks has only underscored how
much the TV news landscape has changed amid the changing of the guard
among the Big Three news anchors.
Back during the Clinton years, we often heard liberal reporters state that the press and public should stay out of a president's personal life. Fast-forward seven years later to today at the UN when Reuters News Service photographer Rick Wilking snapped a picture of a note President Bush was writing to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice which stated: "I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible."
The crowded blog search space may soon contract now that Google has debuted its Blog Search service. Like competing services Technorati, Feedster, Blogpulse, and Ice Rocket, the database relies on site notification rather than crawling. Like Feedster and Ice Rocket, Google's index uses RSS feeds as its data source.
Google's entry is still beta quality but in some informal testing, I found it had picked up a number of blogs which its competitors had ignored. Things are about to get even more interesting as blog searching becomes increasingly sophisticated. I wonder which Google competitor will bite the dust first?
Reading viewer email at the bottom of 4:00 hour of CNN's "Situation Room," Jack Cafferty dismissed a call from a viewer "try to be 'fair and balanced'" in his commentary segments, deriding the audience member's suggestion as a "thinly veiled reference to the F-word network."
And finally, John writes: Cafferty, your liberal opinions are not appreciated by a majority of the viewers. Your smart remarks about our President and Vice President are not welcome. If at all possible, try to be "fair and balanced."
I think that was a thinly veiled reference to the F-word Network, Wolf. What do you think?
If you have tried to sign up for a NewsBusters account in the past few days, you may have noticed you did not receive your password information in your email. This bug has now been fixed, however, you will need to get your password resent by filling out this form.
Signing up for a user account enables you to start discussions in our forums, removes the "not verified" from your comments, lets you make a buddy list to keep track of your favorite NewsBusters contributors and members, send private messages to other members, and be notified of fresh content via email.
Just how desperate is CBS brass to extricate their “Evening News” program from its perpetual place in the cellar of TV ratings? Apparently not desperate enough, though they are getting closer.
In Wednesday’s New York Observer, we learn that Andrew Heyward, the CBS News president responsible for nearly ten years of failure, has turned to his interns for ideas on how to “revamp” the “Evening News.”
The panel was the culmination of a summer-long project that divided CBS News’ nearly 100 college-age interns into small groups to come up with strategies to attract younger viewers to the network’s third-ranking evening newscast.
“Basically the assignment was to come up with a presentation and concept for how you would revamp the evening news, to captivate a younger demographic,” said one intern who participated in the program. “They are not getting the audience that they want.” [...]
Interns said they were encouraged to brainstorm freely, suggesting changes to the show’s anchor lineup, its news content, set design, marketing techniques and any other aspect of the newscast. One ground rule: The 6:30 time slot had to stay the same.
It's certainly true that CBS isn't getting the audience it needs. But turning to inexperienced interns with no corporate standing to say what they think isn't going to be the best source of advice, especially since for most people under 30, early evening news will always be irrelevant.
Instead, CBS should be turning to the people who do watch news and ask their opinion. The phenomenal growth of cable's Fox News Channel proves irrefutably that there is a tremendous television audience out there that wasn't being served by the existing media structure.
Apparently, someone at CBSNews.com doesn't think much of President Bush's annual summer trip to his home in Crawford, Texas.
In a (now-edited) story about how some area residents don't like all the out-of-towners coming into the area to protest, someone wrote the following:
Sheehan has vowed to continue her Texas vigil through the rest of President Bush's vacation ugh Bush's August vacation, unless he meets with her. She began her protest 10 days ago and has since been joined by more than 100 anti-war activists.
In case y'all might not have noticed, you can click on a person's name to call up their user info. From that page, you can reach another that has only that user's posts as well as link to that blogger's XML feed (sometimes called RSS).
In addition, the category pages also have XML feeds. This is designed so that people who only want to read news about a particular media outlet/personality can do so more easily.