For more than a month now, the nation has buzzed with controversy about the first transgender “star” to appear on “Dancing With the Stars,” Chaz Bono. ABC’s “Nightline” ran a segment on Chaz Bono on September 19, also the same night as the Season 13 premiere of DWTS, highlighting the controversy and featuring commentary from MRC’s Culture and Media Institute Vice President, Dan Gainor.
Nearly ten years ago, Elizabeth Smart became a household name when she was abducted from her family's home in Utah and sparked a nationwide media frenzy. As a 23-year-old, she has just inked a deal with ABC to cover missing person cases on a number of programs, including "Good Morning America" and "Nightline."
Nightline co-anchor Bill Weir on Monday couldn't help but fawn over former Obama White House social Secretary Desiree Rogers, lauding her as a "fashionable, vivacious, interesting, telegenic person in a town with not a lot of that, frankly."
The journalist failed to offer much in the way of tough questions. Regarding the 2009 fiasco of having Michaele and Tareq Salahi crash a state dinner with the President, Weir gently wondered, "...What are your thoughts now that that night won't be remembered for [being a success]?"
Instead, he hyped, "But in those heady days of Obama mania, how could anyone ignore the well heeled woman in charge of the guest list? The one who fit right in with Anna Wintour, Kanye West at fashion week, the one who beat the First Lady into the pages of Vogue?"
Nightline's Yunji de Nies on Thursday offered a laudatory segment on the sex columnist Dan Savage. She has previouisly fawned on Twitter that the writer/activist was "hilarious." De Nies offered almost no mention of the outrageous statements Savage has made, including referring to Antonin Scalia as a "c–ksucker" and once asserting, "F–k John McCain."
The only hint about the radical nature of Savage came when de Nies explained, "Savage doesn't hide his politics. He famously went after Republican Rick Santorum after the former senator compared homosexuality to bestiality. Savage responded by calling on his fan base to redefine the word Santorum online."
Instead of pressing the syndicated gay columnist about his remarks, she blandly wondered, "Have you had a chance to talk to [Santorum] personally?...Do you have any interest in engaging with him on this?"
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer on Tuesday interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for World News and Nightline, but offered no questions about the Obama administration's failure to seek congressional approval for air strikes in Libya. Instead, the journalist seemed fascinated by the decision-making process, repeatedly asking about Clinton's "decisive" role in going ahead with the bombing.
Sawyer quizzed, "We have read, repeatedly, that you were decisive in this. Did you persuade President Obama? Was yours the voice that turned around the opponents?" The intrigued World News anchor followed-up by asking if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates "opposed" her.
A vague Clinton prompted Sawyer to press, "So, you're not going to characterize yourself in the hierarchy?" Two parts of the interview aired on World News. A replay aired on Nightline. In all of this, Sawyer never wondered about Obama bypassing Congress. This was a topic journalists were keenly interested when it related to George W. Bush and Iraq.
If they ever take a break from publicizing Charlie Sheen’s cocaine dos and dont's, or detailing the power politics within his Beverly Hills harem, the networks should grab a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. And they may want to pay special attention to this entry: “Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”
From Feb. 1 through March 6, the three networks distinguished themselves by devoting 20 times more broadcast time to Charlie Sheen’s porn stars and drug issues than to the Planned Parenthood video scandal and the subsequent vote in the House of Representatives to defund the organization.
What do oil refineries and rental cars have in common? They will probably kill you, at least according to ABC's Brian Ross.
Ross is either bored with his job or just doesn't seem to care about frightening his viewers with exaggerated reports. But either way, ABC's chief investigative correspondent is breathing new life into the term yellow journalism.
Those who are familiar with Ross's work might notice an emerging pattern of sensationalism. The latest case studies concern oil refineries in Texas, which Ross's colleague described as the "toxic threat next door," and rental cars, which Ross himself cautioned are like "a consumer's version of Russian roulette."
According to Nightline anchors Terry Moran and Bill Weir, new Republican Senator Rand Paul is "radical," "controversial" and longs to take a chainsaw to the Department of Education. Using hyperbolic language, Weir profiled Paul for Wednesday's program.
Co-anchor Moran previewed the segment by attempting to isolate the Kentucky politician: "Up next, even the most conservative Republicans balk at his proposals for slashing government." As a cartoon graphic of a crazed-looking Paul appeared onscreen wielding a chainsaw, Weir hyperventilated, "So, while the President argues for a budget scalpel, Rand Paul would use a chainsaw, shutting down the Departments of Energy and education."
The journalist continued, "He would kill the Consumer Product Safety Commission, shrink the Pentagon and cut off all foreign aid." Dismissing Paul's call for spending restraint, the ABC anchor challenged, "Does the richest nation in the history of nations have a responsibility to take care of its weakest?"
According to ABC's Christiane Amanpour, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is "eerily relevant" to the attempted killing of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords less than two weeks ago. Talking to President Kennedy's sister on Thursday's Nightline, she wondered if the "political atmosphere" between the two acts of violence was the same.
Amanpour, the host of This Week, was highlighting the 50th anniversary of JFK's inaugural address and offered the standard liberal praise for Kennedy, asserting that his "face still has a powerful grip on the American psyche." Interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, the journalist connected, "It's an episode eerily relevant today in the wake of the assassination attempt against Gabrielle Giffords less than two weeks ago."
Like many other journalists, Amanpour indicated that even if gunman Jared Loughner wasn't motivated by politics, a connection could still be made: "A congresswoman was targeted. No matter what the reason, how would you describe the atmosphere, the political atmosphere today in the country?"
On the Wednesday, December 22, Nightline on ABC, inspired by recent extreme weather, correspondent Dan Harris filed a report on global warming in which he gave attention to the views of a proponent of global warming theory, while giving a lesser amount of attention to two skeptics, one of whom he labeled "controversial."
Harris related that, "despite all that compelling evidence" of global warming, climate scientists "feel more embattled than ever," taking heat from "politicians on the right." He even went so far as to highlight examples of reported harassment of climate scientists, including anti-Semitic insults.
Harris also concluded his report passing on a warning from scientists that there will be more "extremely deadly weather" in the future "if the world doesn’t act very quickly":
Corbyn is now predicting a mini ice age in the coming years. However, the vast, vast majority of climate scientists disagree and say, if you like this year’s extreme and extremely deadly weather, you’ll likely get much more if the world doesn’t act very quickly.
ABC's "Nightline" touted a PolitiFact story Thursday that rated the five biggest lies of 2010 in politics. The number one lie? Republicans calling the health care bill a "government takeover of health care."
When asked why the claim received the status of biggest lie of the year, PolitiFact.com editor Bill Adair answered that it was "so pervasive" and "just not true."
"It was so pervasive. It was said by the Republican leadership, by Republicans running for Congress, said by Republicans running for governor. And it's just not true. This is a plan that uses the private health insurance system to expand health care coverage."
While the bill does not constitute a single-payer health care system, the 2,200 pages of legislation nonetheless contain countless new rules and regulations enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services, among other federal institutions.
While NBC on Tuesday focused on the "funny" and "intelligent" side of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Nightline's Brian Ross conducted a tough, hard-hitting investigation into the questionable finances of the man attacked by colleagues as a "dictator."
Ross used the December 14 ABC program to raise questions about "what's happened to the group's money" and to highlight former colleagues who say Assange "has turned the website into a cult of personality."
While many of the individuals Ross talked to were just as committed to Assange's leftist cause of leaking military documents, they did raise serious accusations about the organization's finances. [MP3 audio here.]
Asking a wife if she loves her husband isn't exactly the most insightful question, but that's one of the softballs that Barbara Walters tossed to Michelle and Barack Obama during an hour long edition of 20/20 on Friday. She also asked the President if he curses and what Lincoln means to him.
At one point, the journalist lauded Michelle Obama as "comfortable" and "outspoken." Walters then cooed, "You love him very much, don't you?" (The First Lady's unsurprising answer? "Yes, I do.")
Digging for answers, the reporter investigated Mr. Obama, "Do you ever curse?...You pray?" Walters also allowed the President the chance to attack the internet, bringing up insinuations that he's a Muslim: "Why do you think it is that so many people think you're a Muslim and why is that confusion?"
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" to respond to former ABC anchor Ted Koppel’s inclusion of him and MSNBC in his recent Washington Post op-ed criticizing the modern news industry. After praising former news man Edward R. Murrow for taking a stand on Senator Joseph McCarthy and Walter Cronkite for doing the same on the Vietnam War and Watergate, Olbermann complained that, unlike himself, Koppel had "worshiped before the false god of utter objectivity" instead of going after the Bush administration over the Iraq war, and claimed that last week he criticized President Obama more than Fox News primetime did President Bush in eight years. Olbermann:
Moreover, while Fox may be such, we are not doctrinaire. I cannot prove it, so I'll have to estimate it here, and if I'm proved wrong I'll happily correct it, but my intuition tells me I criticized President Obama more in the last week than Fox's primetime hosts criticized President Bush in eight years.
And, even though Olbermann has a history of distorting the words of conservatives to portray them in the worst possible light, and of passing on incorrect information without retraction, Olbermann congratulated himself for recently deciding not to include misinformation about President Bush on his show, and suggested that FNC or CNN would not have made sure not to include such incorrect information. Olbermann:
During four days of coverage, ABC skipped the conservative perspective while reporting on Keith Olbermann's suspension. The network also used the liberal label only once. Good Morning America covered the story on Saturday and Monday and never used the word.
Friday's Nightline briefly highlighted the story. Anchor Bill Weir referred to Olbermann as MSNBC's "liberal star" and someone who has "leftward leanings." On Monday's GMA, co-host Robin Roberts pontificated on the cable host, suspended because he made political donations to three Democrats.
She fretted, "It's a move that raises questions about the changing role of journalism and whether cable news networks and others are abandoning the goal of impartial reporting." (Conservatives would probably argue that MSNBC long ago stopped caring about such things.)
It seems that Dan Rather-style journalism, putting forth fake information to promote the supposed greater good, extends to animal documentaries as well. On Tuesday's Nightline, reporter John Donvan exposed this dishonesty in a lengthy segment. But he also partially defended the practice of falsifying scenes of animals in the wild in order to promote conservation. He even featured a participant who justified the practice as "worth it to have told the lie." [MP3 audio here.]
After showing completely manipulated scenes of wolves and whales, of rented, captive animals being portrayed as wild, Donvan spun, "Some argue that using captive animals actually spares truly wild animals the trauma, disruption and danger that comes with human contact."
The ABC correspondent interviewed Chris Palmer, a whistle blower who worked on several of these documentaries and exposed the fraud in his new book Shooting the Wild. Yet, Palmer, who is an environmental professor at American University, excused the practice: "I think you could make the argument that this is okay, because the film is going to do a lot of good...Maybe it's worth it to have told the lie."
ABC's John Berman on Wednesday sarcastically narrated a brief history of Tea Party movement. Interestingly, the Nightline reporter (see file photo at right) skipped the media's role in suggesting that the Tea Party movement is filled with racists. He only vaguely recounted, "Tea Party called fringe, called racist, called a fad."
Hinting these protesters are extreme should be familiar to Berman. On the February 5, 2010 World News, he chided the first Tea Party convention: "But barely scratch the surface, and there’s a tone of anger and confrontation."
Berman added, "One of the goals of this convention is to turn this movement into a political force. The question is, does the harsh rhetoric keep them on the fringe?"
ABC's Bill Weir, the former co-host of weekend Good Morning America, debuted on Monday as the new co-anchor of Nightline. ABC President David Westin lauded Weir in July for conducting "some of our most innovative reporting." But, he may be better known for standard liberal bias, such as hyperbolically asserting during Barack Obama's inauguration: "From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity."
More recently, during the debate over Arizona's new immigration law, Weir fretted, "There is a fear-driven exodus going on in Arizona tonight." In April, he interrogated Sheriff Joe Apraio: "With this new law, will you ramp it up? Will you, will you grab people on street corner?" Examples of Weir's bias, with video and audio, can be found below:
Despite widespread criticism of President Barack Obama's Oval Office address on the Gulf oil spill–including flak from MSNBC's left-wing posse of Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Howard Fineman–ABC's Terry Moran and George Stephanopoulos on the June 15 "Nightline" fawned over the president's speech and ignored its obvious shortcomings.
In recapping the address, Moran could not contain his adulation for Obama's ability to assert his presidential authority and inspire the nation:
"For the first time in the Oval Office, President Obama addressed the nation. A nation anxious and doubtful about his leadership on the environmental catastrophe that's unfolded in the Gulf for 57 days. So, the main goal tonight, show the country he's truly in charge."
"President Obama, who finished a two-day trip to the Gulf Coast this afternoon, clearly wanted to project power in his handling with the oil spill, and the most direct way to do that is to use the language of war of the commander-in-chief."
"As the cleanup efforts continue to grapple with the giant spill, residents all along the coast have grown more and more worried, more and more angry and the president spoke to that directly tonight, and he made a promise."
"At the end, like so many in the Oval Office before him, President Obama asked for prayers."
MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Wednesday gave "kudos" to the Phoenix Suns basketball team for protesting Arizona's tough new policy on illegal immigration. The host touted, "The team is set to wear Los Suns jerseys tonight on Cinco de Mayo in response to Arizona's controversial [law]."
Ratigan enthused that congratulations were in order and added, "Around here we call that a slam dunk." The cable anchor quoted the team's owner playing up the move as one to honor Hispanics.
Clearly, however, there is a political angle. The same Robert Sarver also derided the legislation as "a flawed state law." Suns point guard Steve Nash attacked the bill as "very misguided, and unfortunately, to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties."
ABC's Nightline on Thursday provided a welcome look at the significant number of meteorologists in America who are skeptical of man-made global warming. Instead of simply dismissing their views, reporter David Wright interviewed Accuweather's Joe Bastardi and allowed him to assert, "I think that the warming that we're having is cyclical in nature."
Such sentiments are not often seen on Nightline or other mainstream media programs. However, the program did put a more positive spin the agenda of climate scientists. Talking to Michael Mann, one of those involved in the ClimateGate scandal, Wright asserted, "Penn State's Michael Mann is one of the scientists who last year had his E-mails hacked and quoted worldwide by climate change skeptics as proof that scientists were cooking the books."
The journalist didn't explain what was in the hacked E-mails or even what the controversy was. (Mann and others discussed climate "tricks" and how to fudge and delete unfavorable data.) Instead, Wright sympathized, "You see this as a smear campaign?"
Looking at the state of both parties after President Obama’s health bill win in the House, ABC’s Terry Moran elevated the view of “prominent conservative” David Frum, author a year ago of Newsweek’s “Why Rush is Wrong” cover story, who blamed Rush Limbaugh and Fox News for what he’s dubbed the GOP’s “Waterloo.” On Nightline, Moran contended “anger, stoking it, expressing it, riding it...was the Republican strategy to defeat health care. And over the weekend all that anger got ugly, as some Democratic Members of Congress were called vile, racial and anti-gay slurs.”
But, he warned, “in the wake of the Democrats’ victory, some Republicans are not sure all that anger makes good politics,” as if Limbaugh and other conservative leaders advocated yelling the “slurs.” Moran relayed how “Frum says the real leadership of the Republican Party during the course of the health care battle was not to be found in the halls of Congress, but on the air waves” since “it was talk radio and Fox News, Frum argues, that drove the GOP strategy.” Moran paraphrased Frum’s take:
It sounds like you're saying that the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, hijacked the Republican Party and drove it to a defeat?
On ABC last Wednesday, both World News and Nightline featured a report filed by correspondent Dan Harris in which he linked the activities of some American evangelical Christian pastors with anti-gay hatred and attempts by Uganda’s parliament at passing death penalty legislation to punish homosexuals in the African nation. Each of the reports focused on the extreme views of American pastor Scott Lively and Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, without including the views of more mainstream American evangelical leaders.
On World News, anchor Diane Sawyer teased: "Gay terror: Have some American evangelical ministers helped threaten the lives of homosexuals in Africa?" She later plugged the report again: "And still ahead on World News, a death threat for gays. It happened after American evangelicals delivered a potent message."
In the version of the report that ran on Nightline, Harris made a point of mentioning Pastor Rick Warren as being a "one-time friend" of Pastor Ssempa. And, though Harris’s reference to Pastor Warren as a "one-time friend" perhaps implies a falling out between the two men, the ABC correspondent could have more directly informed viewers that Pastor Warren released a statement last October declaring that he had not associated with Pastor Ssempa since 2007.
Furthermore, last December, Pastor Warren released a video message for Christians in Uganda in which he attacked the proposed anti-gay law as legislation "I completely oppose and I vigorously condemn," as he went on to declare, "The potential law before your parliament is unjust, it’s extreme, and it’s un-Christian toward homosexuals, requiring death penalty even in some cases."
Nightline's Chris Bury on Monday investigated the so-called 9/11 Truth movement, but made no effort to look at the ideological make up of those who believe that the government was behind the 2001 terror attacks. Reporting from the group's convention, he asserted, "Over the weekend hundreds of Americans calling themselves 9/11 Truthers gathered at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. They come from all over the political spectrum."
However, according to a 2007 poll by Rasmussen, 35 percent of Democrats believed that President Bush knew about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in advance. Yet, Bury blandly explained, "They are an eclectic group with widely different agenda, including war protestors, first responders who feel neglected and families of some 9/11 victims."
March is Women's History Month, in which we acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of women in history and in society today.
But for a select group of women - conservative women - their accomplishments and contributions are rarely celebrated but often demeaned and mocked in sexist - and crassly sexual - ways.
The Culture & Media Insitute looked back at what the media had to say over the past year about some of today's most prominent conservative women, including Michelle Malkin, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sarah Palin and Liz Cheney, and compiled a list of the 10 worst attacks on these women who dare to speak out in favor of conservative values.
Much of the criticism was the worst sort of misogyny with a dose of violence and disgusting adolescent sex references thrown in for good measure. The media outlets in question ranged from Playboy magazine to MSNBC to Sirius XM radio and included comments from both men and women.
The message that rang through loud and clear was that perspectives from conservative women were not appreciated or welcomed, and if a woman stepped out of line, she deserved whatever treatment she received.
Liberal weatherman Sam Champion appeared on Friday's Nightline to attack the idea that global warming could be dismissed because of the snowy winter suffered by much of the country. He complained, "There's really no way you can connect it to climate change or global warming. This is a seasonal pattern that we're in." [Audio available here.]
And yet, on the June 9, 2008 edition of Good Morning America, Champion reported on the late spring heat wave much America was enduring. He alerted, "Dr. Stephen Schneider of Stanford University believes climate change is also playing a role."
Schneider proclaimed, "While this heat wave, like all other heat waves, is made by Mother Nature, we've been fooling around by turning the knob and making it a little bit hotter."
Nightline anchor Terry Moran started laughing Wednesday night just as George Will finished his critique of President Obama’s State of the Union address while Democratic activist Donna Brazile was also not impressed by Will’s assessment. Leading into the chortling from Moran, who is reportedly under consideration to take over This Week, Will wrapped up:
Finally, he said at one point that we are going to freeze government spending for three years. That’s just not true. We’re proposing to freeze one-sixth of government spending for three years. Finally, the motif of his talk was Washington is tiresome, annoying and dysfunctional -- and Washington should have more of the nation’s revenue and a bigger role directing its affairs.
Was Moran scoffing at Will’s evaluation of Obama’s speech, just amused by Brazile’s disdain for Will as Will spoke which Moran, but not the audience, could see -- or just reacting to something else in the studio? You watch and decide.