ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, along with colleague Richard Esposito, reported at “The Blotter” blog on Monday that they have been informed by a “senior federal law enforcement official” that their phone calls are being monitored to identify confidential sources: “‘It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,’ the source told us in an in-person conversation.”
The blog continued: “Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.”
Why do Ross and Esposito believe they are being targeted? “Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.” And: “People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.”
Yet, Ross and Esposito confirmed what the administration has claimed about this program that is contrary to a recent USA Today cover story and most drive-by media reports on the subject:
Co-opting liberal rhetoric in the immigration debate, ABC's Dan Harris asked viewers, "What is the higher biblical priority, being a Good Samaritan, or upholding the law," while heading out to commercial on the May 14 "World News Tonight."
Aside from displaying a simplistic liberal agenda-friendly interpretation of Christian Scripture, the rhetoric Harris borrowed came straight from the mouth of woman featured in his story.
"Anyone who believes" Jesus's parables "should be
outraged that … the government is making it a crime to be a Good
Samaritan," activist Maryada Vallet was quoted in a January 20 Religion News Service article.
Vallet's work for "No More Deaths"-- a group which refuses to alert the Border Patrol to the location of illegal immigrants -- has been documented elsewhere in print, including the Scottsdale Times.
Liberal nanny-state advocate Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is at it again: suing the makers of 7-Up for false advertising by tagging its new incarnation of the lemon-lime flavored drink as "7-Up Natural."
Picking up on the story, ABC's "World News Tonight" on May 11 presented CSPI as merely a non-profit group concerned with truth-in-advertising. But the group is far more concerned with what you eat and drink than what is printed on the label:
Recently, CSPI pulled an anti-soda lawsuit filed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only after a settlement with soft drink manufacturers brokered by former President Bill Clinton.
Incoming NBC Today show co-host Meredith Vieira, on Friday's ABC daytime show The View, showcased her susceptibility to baseless media hype and her own economic ignorance. Interviewing ABC's John Stossel, on to plug his new book, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know is Wrong, and a Friday night 20/20 about it, Vieira demanded: "You say there is no gas 'crisis.' How can you say that?" Stossel explained it's plentiful and half the price as in Europe, but Vieira remained unswayed, ridiculously insisting: "But it's still a crisis, I mean in the sense that gas prices are going up. That's a crisis for us." A few minutes later, a befuddled Vieira exposed not only a lack of basic economic knowledge, but also unfamiliarity with a common conservative argument: "Why does raising the minimum wage, this is one I don't get, actually hurt poor people? I don't understand that one at all." (Partial transcript follows)
You may want to look fast, but the Democratic National Committee’s website still has a “Republican Culture of Corruption” page, implying that by installing the Democrats back in the congressional majority, we’ll have a virtual monastery of ethical restraint in Washington – with leaders like Patrick Kennedy setting the example.
The Democratic “culture of corruption” charge is taking more of a beating than the traffic barricade that introduced itself to Congressman Kennedy’s car last week. ABC, CBS, and NBC all devoted some serious air time to the story, and the fact that Capitol Police supervisors waved off a sobriety test and protectively took the son of Ted Kennedy home.
It could be argued that by Friday, May 5, the network attention to young Mr. Kennedy was historic. Pundits and academics have spent the last twenty years lamenting that the networks can’t seem to give presidential candidates more than about seven seconds a clip in soundbites. Now ABC gave Kennedy an amazing 60 seconds to read his statement announcing he was returning to the Mayo Clinic for rehabilitation. Even that wasn’t enough for NBC. This network gave him a two-minute soundbite.
The Big Three networks of ABC, CBS and NBC already pay for lobbyists on Capitol Hill, although they usually spend their time trying to influence communications legislation. But ABC sent lobbyists to push a different issue: a multicultural national anthem.
"The Star Spangled Banner" — our national anthem — is under attack. Or so you would think by the rush to defend it on Capitol Hill last week.
As millions marched for immigration rights, the U.S. Senate introduced a resolution to ensure that the national anthem would be sung only in English. A day later a similar measure was introduced in the House of Representatives.
Good, progressive journalists are naturally alarmed by such legislation. CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer has already denounced having the anthem only in one language.
For months, the media have blamed virtually anything but free market forces for the rise in oil and gas prices. NBC’s Lisa Myers attributed these increases to greed on a recent Nightly News report stating almost disgustedly “Exxon earned 9.5 cents on every dollar of gasoline and oil sold, cashing in at every stage of the process.”
Imagine the nerve of ExxonMobil actually making a profit. Oh the humanity.
A few days earlier, CBS’s Russ Mitchell, clearly concerned about price gouging, asked one of his guests on the Evening News, “How easy is it for a gas station, for an oil company to just jack up the price of gas?"
I bet you can’t guess the response.
Yet, in the midst of all this hysteria, a highly unlikely source – National Public Radio’s Internet website – published an article entitled “Q&A: What’s Behind High Gas Prices?” In it, author Scott Horsley adroitly cut through the hype, and
Anyone with a working TV set knows that the broadcast networks have hyped the high gas price story (“Pain at the Pump”) to ridiculous levels. A new MRC study of the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows found a whopping 183 stories in just three weeks, an avalanche of TV coverage that (helpfully to Democrats planning their midterm election strategy) has buried far more important good economic news, like robust economic growth, low unemployment and a booming stock market.
One device the networks have used to maintain an outraged tone in all of their coverage has been to plant themselves next to gas pumps and find motorists who aren’t embarrassed about whining on camera. The MRC analysts who went through all of the coverage — Geoff Dickens, Brian Boyd, Mike Rule and Scott Whitlock — counted 151 sound bites from gas buyers during the period we studied, April 12 to May 2.
Today’s edition of The View may have given us a window into not only that show’s future, but also the interviewing style we might expect from Meredith Vieira on Today. Ms. Vieira, who joins the NBC program in September, and her co-hosts interviewed Dhillon Khosla, a transsexual who underwent several surgeries in an attempt to become a man. Vieira complimented Khosla for his ability to "find yourself finally." Here is a brief sample of her comments:
Vieira: "I can understand why people would love you. You’re a very nice guy. Very, very nice guy. Very smart and what a struggle to find yourself finally...You’re a very smart guy and a very brave guy to go through this and to write about it too. And help- obviously a lot of people struggling with the same situation."
What a shame. After a number of dismal weeks scraping the bottom of the ratings barrel – as well as numerous changes in time slot positioning, personnel restructurings, and bucket-loads of advertising dollars – the “let’s hope life will imitate art,” and much ballyhooed ABC television series “Commander in Chief,” has finally been yanked from the airwaves.
I guess those folks over at the Golden Globe were more impressed with Geena Davis in the role of president than the voters. Just imagine an awards organization having a different view of reality than the people. Tough to believe, isn’t it.
Roger Friedman, who writes the "Fox 411" for FoxNews.com, reported Saturday that Barbara Walters decided to pick Rosie O'Donnell to replace Meredith Vieira after being touched to tears at a screening of Rosie's documentary about her gay-family cruises. (Update: The New York Times confirms today. See below.)
Friedman began with the note that O'Donnell's contract apparently states she cannot chop off her hair to look "butch" as she did at the bitter, back-biting end of her last daytime talk show. It should be noted that Friedman doesn't nail every detail in his report, since he calls Elisabeth Hasselbeck "Debbie." Is he still remembering the long-departed first "View" co-host to get the boot, Debbie Matenopoulos? Here's a sample of his take:
You may wonder when and how this arrangement with "The View" came about. I was not surprised to be told that it all occurred on the night that HBO screened Rosie and her partner Kelli’s documentary about their gay family cruise line about a month ago. I distinctly recall Barbara Walters coming out of the screening room, wiping tears from her eyes. It was quite obvious as the mother of an adopted daughter, she was incredibly moved.
At about 9:40pm EDT during ABC's live broadcast of the Daytime Emmy Awards from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, Rosie O'Donnell strode on stage to join Barbara Walters who had come out a bit earlier to present an award. When the applause died down, Walters asked O'Donnell: “What's doing?” O'Donnell joked about Internet rumors and then Walters announced to loud cheering from the audience: “Starting September you are going to join The View as co-host." O'Donnell oozed, "Let me tell you Barbara Walters: From the bottom of my heart, thank you for asking me. I'd be honored to do it." Then, with one hand on O'Donnell's shoulder and her other hand on O'Donnell's arm, Walters trumpeted: "We were amazed when she said yes and we were thrilled. So let me do it now very formally. Ladies and gentlemen, starting in September, the newest co-host of The View, and we're so lucky to have her: Miss Rosie O'Donnell!" (Transcript follows, as well as links to O'Donnell quotes and video.)
On the April 27 "World News Tonight," anchor Elizabeth Vargas coined President Bush's call for more regulation of fuel standards a "bold" move:
We turn, now, to ABC's chief Washington correspondent, George
Stephanopoulos. And George, we had a bold move by the President a short time
ago. He wants the ability to change the miles per gallon standards, the so
called CAFÉ standards, on his own, something he currently does not have the
authority to do.
So let's see, the President's move to wiretap incoming phone calls from terror suspects has been roundly criticized as illegal and in reckless disregard to civil liberties. The call to drill for oil in ANWR to increase oil supply and lower gasoline prices has been called "controversial," but seldom if ever bold. But the call to put more regulatory power over industry in the hands of the President, and grow the scope and size of government, that's "bold."
I heard first on Olbermann's "Countdown" (without Olbermann) tonight, and AP confirms: ABC will name the formerly comedic lesbian activist/former daytime host Rosie O'Donnell as Meredith Vieira's replacement on The View:
O'Donnell's appointment was reported Thursday by the newsmagazine Extra. It was confirmed by a person close to the show who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because The View wanted to make the announcement on Friday's show.
The circle of liberalism is complete. Liberal Katie Couric, replaced by liberal Meredith Vieira, replaced by liberal (to put it mildly) Rosie O'Donnell. That's quite a jump from Vieira, a news anchor-type who was said to be "the glue."
Video/audio: Links below to video and/or audio of three O'Donnell outbursts.
All three network morning shows played the envy card Thursday morning, as they hyped the “record high profits” and “corporate greed” of American oil companies. High on their agenda: ExxonMobil’s announcement of $8.4 billion in profits, which the networks implied was scandalous given the high price of oil.
But unstated in the network coverage was the fact that the U.S. government took in more than $7 billion from ExxonMobil during the first quarter of 2006, a jump of more than $2 billion from the same time period in 2005. And that doesn’t count the more than $7.6 billion in excise taxes — the gas tax — that ExxonMobil collected for the government during the same quarter. Plus another $11 billion in "other taxes" and ExxonMobil sent the government more than $25 billion in the first quarter of 2006 -- three times more than the amount network reporters seem to feel is obscene.
Big Government is making more off of high gas prices than Big Oil.
Meredith Vieira just can’t help herself. The View co-host will soon be taking over for Katie Couric on the Today show. One would think that she would try and reign in her bias. Apparently not, as she opened the April 26 edition of The View with another attack on President Bush:
Vieira: "...I’m a little peeved when I hear the President say there’s not much we can do about this, folks. According to the President, the American people have got to understand that what happens elsewhere in the world affects the price of gasoline that you pay here, but where is his responsibility in all this? Five and a half years and we’re dealing with these gas prices? It’s ridiculous."
Gas price rage has blended with executive pay rage recently, since the media have been bashing ExxonMobil’s departing CEO, Lee Raymond, for his pay and pension package.
“Runaway pay,” said NBC’s Brian Williams on April 20, calling executive salaries and benefits “stratospheric” and “staggering.” CBS’s Bob Schieffer compared Raymond’s “golden” retirement to the “average American” on April 13. “How much is too much?” asked NBC’s Matt Lauer on April 11. And ABC’s “Good Morning America” said, “You Must Be Kidding!” referring to Raymond’s package as “stunning” on April 14.
Criticizing highly-paid executives has been in vogue at the news networks lately, but there’s something the anchors aren’t telling you: their colleagues’ top wages could soon be disclosed to the world, and Big Media are fighting it.
Large media companies have been doing everything within their power to hide the compensation plans of their own highest-paid employees from public disclosure. As reported by the Associated Press on April 11:
All three broadcast morning shows this morning noted President Bush’s choice of Tony Snow as new White House press secretary, but only ABC’s Good Morning America saw the need to parrot from the thin list of anti-Bush quotes from Snow’s columns being passed around by the liberal Center for American Progress (although reporter Jessica Yellin presented the quotes as if they were the result of her own research, hiding the fact they came from Democratic partisans).
MRC news analyst Brian Boyd caught Yellin’s piece on Snow, which aired at about 7:05 EDT this morning (Wednesday), with the snarky headline "SNOW JOB" on the screen: “Snow knows both politics and the media. He was the director of speechwriting for George Bush, Sr., and has clocked a decade as a conservative commentator for Fox News,” Yellin began.
Snow has been a conservative commentator for Fox News, of course. But after Joe Lockhart became Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary in 1998, no one at ABC described him as a “former liberal producer for ABC News.”
Reuters reports that ABC's "Commander in Chief," its presidential series featuring a woman chief executive, is on the rocks, but the network is still reluctant to pull the plug.
ABC's "Commander in Chief," starring Oscar winner Geena Davis as the first woman to occupy the Oval Office, is in danger of prime-time impeachment after failing to reverse a steady ratings slide this season.
Despite a renewed promotional push by the Walt Disney Co.-owned network, and a shift to a less competitive time slot, "Commander" has continued to lose viewers since returning this month from an 11-week winter hiatus.
People close to the series acknowledge that the chances of bringing it back for a second season are doubtful unless the program makes some headway in the Nielsens this spring.
Dontcha just love it when a high-profile Democrat goes on ABC’s “This Week” largely to get softball questions thrown at him or her by one of President Clinton’s former advisers? Well, this Sunday, it wasn’t just a function of softballs. Instead, it was the obvious question that George Stephanopoulos chose to not ask Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) that was so confounding and disturbing (video link to follow).
Stephanopoulos addressed recent revelations of a CIA agent named Mary McCarthy who was fired this week for leaking information about secret terrorist detention centers to The Washington Post’s Dana Priest. When Kerry seemingly praised McCarthy for doing what she did – “So I'm glad she told the truth” – Stephanopoulos didn’t bother asking the senator whether his feelings on this matter related to yesterday’s revelations by The New York Times that “Public records show that Ms. McCarthy contributed $2,000 in 2004 to the presidential campaign of John Kerry.” (In reality, donations to Kerry and other Democrats by McCarthy and a man believed to be her husband likely totaled $7,500 in 2004 as described by NewsBuster Christopher Fotos and the JustOneMinute blog.) Yet, for some reason, Stephanopoulos never broached this possible conflict with Kerry during his interview.
The woman who has given hope to a thousand journalists was invited to the annual White House Correspondents dinner. News organizations with reporters covering the White House may invite anyone they wish.
Will Valerie Plame be the talk of this year's White House Correspondents Dinner? E&P has confirmed that she is slated to attend this year's gala, along with her husband Joseph Wilson and several other notable non-journalist guests, such as Alex Trebek and Ben Rothlisberger, according to organizers.
As in the past, attendees at the annual black-tie affair, to be held on April 29 this year, often look for a controversial visitor who might spark extended gossip around the open bar. When outsiders such as Donna Rice, Michael Moore, Fawn Hall or Ozzie Osborne were escorted to the gathering, they sometimes drew nearly as much attention as the president during his remarks.
On April 10, left-wing organizations held a massive rally in Washington and other cities, demanding rights (and taxpayer benefits) for illegal aliens, and the liberal media couldn’t have been more excited. The networks had multiple stories, going from city to city, and breathless phrase to breathless phrase. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer played the worn cliche card: “Not since the protests of the Vietnam era has there been anything quite like it.” Bet ten bucks that CBS has said that about just about every large liberal protest they’ve covered. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, CBS also used on-screen graphics with earth-shaking metaphors like “Awakening Giant” to describe the protesters.
Hollywood Reporter says ABC's matriarchal presidential drama "Commander in Chief" has come back with less-than-impressive numbers.
"Commander in Chief" wasn‘t able to muster the troops in its return to primetime Thursday.
The ABC drama, which stars Geena Davis as the nation‘s first female president, averaged 8.2 million viewers and a 2.4 rating/7 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary ratings data from Nielsen Media Research.
In its new 10 p.m. slot, "Commander" was defeated handily by CBS‘s "Without a Trace" (18.6 million, 5.7/16). It had a couple million more viewers than a repeat of NBC‘s "ER" (6 million, 2.6/7) but the repeat did better in the demo.
Hard-left anti-war reporter Seymour Hersh, who tried so hard in 2004 to get President Bush defeated with the Abu Ghraib scandal, and was given many media opportunities to make his case, had another great week in the media this week with his New Yorker article suggesting Bush wanted to drop bunker-busting nukes on Iranian nuclear sites. As usual, the article was larded with anonymous sources that no one can check or evaluate for political motives.
In interviews on network morning TV this week, no challenge to Hersh’s reporting genius emerged. Both hyped his Pulitzer (is that required before he accepts the invite?) On CBS Monday, MRC's Mike Rule found co-host Hannah Storm didn't challenge Hersh's methods or conclusions, just asking instead for wisdom from the oracle. Notice how many times she promotes him by saying "You say" and repeating his publicity points:
MRC's Brian Boyd found this morning that like NBC, ABC's Good Morning America also leaped on the chance to interview Rumsfeld-bashing Gen. John Batiste. Co-host Diane Sawyer said in the show's first secondsRevolt of the generals. As of this morning, six retired generals call for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to resign. One of them, a top battlefield commander, joins us live."
At 7:12, Sawyer returned to "that drumbeat of calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down. Six prominent retired generals say it is time for a change of leadership at the Pentagon. And this morning joining us to tell us about the seismic rumble and also the reaction is ABC senior national correspondent Claire Shipman leading things off, Claire."
Shipman underlined: "Diane, this is extraordinarily unusual. Military officers almost always keep political opinions quiet. Now, six retired generals, 15 stars all together, aligned against Donald Rumsfeld and his prosecution of this war. Secretary Rumsfeld in the crosshairs and each day seems to bring reinforcements in this revolt of retired generals. Just last night retired Major General Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne in Iraq, joined the calls for Rumsfeld's resignation. This week retired Marine Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, who held a key position in war planning, suggested 'replacing Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach.' And retired Army Major General John Batiste, who served in Iraq leading the Army's 1st Infantry Division in 2004 and 2005, also suggested Rumsfeld should resign. Last month another top officer who commanded the training of Iraqi security forces, retired Major General Paul Eaton, wrote 'Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.' Calling him 'incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically.'"
Matt Drudge reports that ABC will likely pull the plug on "Commander in Chief," a show already on life support. Of course, to keep things interesting, the president's husband is going to grope an intern. They figure it kept Clinton in office, so why not them?
ABC is preparing to dismiss the first female president of The United States -- after less than a year on the job!
While it is not clear if the country is ready for a woman to take the title of COMMANDER IN CHIEF, TV executives at ABC have all but decided to pull the plug on the breakthrough drama, top sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.
Has Meredith Vieira started her stint on the Today show early? The future NBC anchor already knows how to ask combative, loaded questions to conservatives. On the April 12 edition of The View, she posed this query to the Vice President:
Vieira: "You know what, I’ve got a question for Vice President Dick Cheney. Given your low approval ratings these days, why would you want to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals games yesterday?...He got cheered and he got booed."
Vieira, in a segment that started at 11:05AM EDT, seemed honestly puzzled as to why someone would want to throw out the first pitch on opening day. She continued, "But this is a man we rarely see, so why do you think yesterday he made that decision to go out and throw that ball?"
Those at ABC News are certainly fans of leakers who give them scoops. But when the leaker is in their midst, the attitude is reversed. Someone leaked to Matt Drudge an email from John Green, an executive producer for the weekend "Good Morning America," in which he said Bush "makes me sick." He has since been suspended for a month without pay.
Rebecca Dana writes in the New York Observer that TV news divisions have "always been tough on leakers," and the individual whom ABC suspects of leaking the email is feeling the wrath of their legal department.
Television news divisions have always been tough on leakers. Two ABC sources said that an internal investigation into the leak is believed to be ongoing, though a network spokesperson declined to comment on how hotly executives may be pursuing it.
Early suspicions focused on what a number of blogs and The Washington Post called a “disgruntled former employee” of weekend Good Morning America—a man who had a well-known beef with Mr. Green and who was dismissed two weeks before the e-mails surfaced.
Poor John Green. The executive producer of ABC’s weekend “Good Morning America” broadcasts got a month-long involuntary vacation after his private e-mails were exposed saying “Bush makes me sick,” and that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has “Jew shame.”
Once the e-mails were publicized, the people inside the media were agitated. How many of them are equally guilty? How many people inside the liberal media send snarky anti-Bush notes to each other every day? The New York Times lamented the “chilling effect.”
On the media beat Monday, New York Times reporter Lorne Manly (is that his real name?) wrote a story headlined "Before You Hit Send, Pause, Reflect," on the sad case of ABC weekend "Good Morning America" executive producer John Green, who was suspended for a month after the New York Post reported that he said former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had "Jew shame." He was not suspended immediately when the Drudge Report displayed an e-mail from the 2004 presidential debates where he declared "Bush makes me sick" for his attacks on Kerry.
Manly lamented that the Green mini-scandal has put a "chilling effect" on wild and woolly newsrooms. He began by noting that although newsrooms may be more sanitary and smoke-free than the kind portrayed in the old Cary Grant-Rosalind Russell movie "His Girl Friday," "their freewheeling nature has not been completely extinguished, with the banter and off-color humor about the day's events and personalities ricocheting among today's cubicle dwellers, at times through news organizations' e-mail systems." Manly's story completely exaggerates how the media supposedly bend over backwards to appear fair and balanced: