ABC Touts Liberal Worries: 'Most Controversial' Zero Dark Thirty 'Glorifies Torture'

 ABC touted the outrage liberals are now expressing over Zero Dark Thirty, complaining that the film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden "glorifies the torture of terror suspects." Sunday Good Morning America correspondent John Muller definitively declared, "There is no doubt Zero Dark Thirty is the most controversial film of award season." The "most" controversial? Keep in mind, Quentin Tarantino's Civil War film Django Unchained contained 110 uses of the N-word.

Muller's story came on the same day of the Golden Globes and a push by celebrities to deny the film awards. Without using ideological labels, the journalist insisted that "veteran actor" Ed Asner is "joining the backlash against best picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty." Of course, Asner is an avowed socialist and 9/11 truther. Muller failed to mention these facts. 

He did manage to use labels when it came to those on the right. In the same segment, Muller reminded, "During production, congressional Republicans railed against fears of how much information was given to filmmakers."

For this controversy, however, Muller simply noted, "Sheen, Asner and other actors are now asking fellow Academy members to send Zero Dark Thirty home with zero Oscars."

It wasn't until the very end of the segment that the correspondent allowed, "The controversy not hurting sales at the box office though. Zero Dark Thirty on track to make an estimated $25 million this weekend."

Despite liberal complaints, Jessica Chastain won a Golden Globe for best acting in Zero Dark Thirty.

A transcript of the January 13 segment is below:


8:14

ABC GRAPHIC: Stars Urge Voters Not to Back Film: Complain That 'Zero Dark Thirty Glorifies Torture

BIANNA GOLODRYGA: Meantime, the Golden Globes are tonight and awards have historically been considered a good indicator for the Oscars, but a controversy is brewing over one of the top contenders for best film, Zero Dark Thirty. Its director was already snubbed by the Academy and now some legendary actors are telling members not to cast Oscar ballots because of graphic scenes involving torture. ABC's John Muller is here with more on that story. Good morning, John.

JOHN MULLER: Good morning, Biana. There is no doubt Zero Dark Thirty is the most controversial film of award season. Now, opponents say it glorifies the torture of terror suspects and now some sources are claiming that argument just got some major celebrity backup. It scenes like this one depicting the role of enhanced interrogation techniques in the hunt for Osama bin Laden have veteran actors Martin Sheen and Ed Asner reportedly joining the backlash against best picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty.

[Clip from Zero Dark Thirty.]

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I am bad news. I'm going to break you.

MULLER: Sheen, Asner and other actors are now asking fellow Academy members to send Zero Dark Thirty home with zero Oscars.

DAVID CLENNON (Actor and Academy Awards member): You can't separate artistry and morality, and I hope that my fellow members of the Academy will consider the morality of each nominee.

SCOTT FEINBERG (Hollywood Reporter): If the more people like Martin Sheen or, you know, recognizable names have become a part of it, the more it is on people's minds as they, as they get ready to vote.

MULLER: On Friday, the studio, Sony pictures, jumped to the film's defense releasing this statement: "Zero Dark Thirty does not advocate torture. To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate."

FEINBERG: There are people who are very upset about it, and there are people who can't understand why anyone is upset about it at all. We go to a feature movie, we generally expect different things.

MULLER: The account of the decade-long hunt, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, has long been plagued by controversy. During production, congressional Republicans railed against fears of how much information was given to filmmakers.

MARK BOAL: I never asked for any classified materials. To my knowledge, I never received any.

MULLER: And throughout the opening weekend, fans and stars alike were greeted by orange jump-suited protesters ratcheting up the fight that Zero Dark Thirty's creators are hoping won't wipe them out come Oscar night. The issue is definitely causing people to take sides, filmmakers, politicians, media critics, even the acting director of the CIA all weighing in. The controversy not hurting sales at the box office though. Zero Dark Thirty on track to make an estimated $25 million this weekend. Bianna, Dan?

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org