Brent Bozell's culture column on Thursday reported on Joe Francis, the brains behind "Girls Gone Wild" videos featuring college-age women flashing their breasts (and other body parts) at the camera during Spring Break. But filming two underage girls in Florida led to time in jail, and then the feds indicted him for tax evasion, which is why he's in jail now in Reno, Nevada. Francis thinks all this misfortune couldn't have happen to a nicer guy. He compares himself to Steven Spielberg, even Jesus:
Francis was taken into custody in Florida, where he tells a hellish story of being mistreated like he was in Abu Ghraib. Then he told Greta van Susteren about being taunted by other inmates there. He says the chaplain asked, "Son, have you thought about Jesus Christ?" Francis quickly says Yes. Since he’s just like Jesus: "Every day! Because this is what they did to him."
During Brent Bozell’s Thursday interview promoting our book Whitewash on Morning Joe, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough mentioned that ABC’s Jake Tapper had a new story out Thursday morning about how three people pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001 had donated to Hillary for President. Scarborough used that as an example of how the networks can’t be so isolated anymore in an era of New Media challenges. But there’s just one problem with that theory. Tapper’s story was isolated: it only appeared online, not on-air.
Tapper did appear on ABC's airwaves on Wednesday evening's Nightline to forward the story Hillary really wants circulated: John McCain’s campaign struggling with a supporter calling Hillary the B-word. Here’s the MSNBC exchange on Tapper:
This week, Alan Colmes proved, yet again, that Fox News has its own liberals willing to say crazy things. The host asserted that right-wingers should have embraced the visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because the dictator is a "conservative" like them.
Speaking of angry liberals, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has claimed that the reason that "white wing" Republican presidential candidates are skipping minority debates is because they want to re-segregate America. Of course, given the host’s insensitive comments during a football broadcast, perhaps he shouldn’t be throwing stones.
On Monday’s "Nightline," co-anchor Terry Moran spent almost the entire 30 minute program gushing over Bush-bashing rapper Kanye West. The ABC host asserted that West’s 2005 comment that "George Bush doesn’t care about black people" turned West "into a cultural force to be reckoned with" and extolled the "complex and thoughtful pop star." Moran even opened the program by asking, "What went through [West's] mind when he blasted the President in the wake of Katrina?" The co-anchor breathlessly wondered, "Would he say it again?"
Moran could hardly be more effusive in his adulation for the rapper. During the course of the program, he rhapsodized that West "is more than merely popular. He's a very interesting figure on the cultural landscape, a complex icon of music and style." Dropping all pretext of objectivity, Moran lauded the performer, who essentially called President Bush a racist, as "a shrewd and self-reflective observer of America's racial politics" and someone who has "got a lot to say." The ABC host briefly played music critic and marveled at West’s "complex and intricate rap lyrics." It’s probably not surprising that, during a discussion over whether the rapper is boastful, Westcomplimented Moran as "definitely one of the better reporters who have interviewed me."
According to ABC’s Terry Moran, Karl Rove’s brand of politics can be defined by a mixture of "divisiveness, anger" and "ruthlessness." During a segment on Monday's edition of "Nightline," the co-anchor derided the "era of Karl Rove" as one that exhibited "bitterly polarizing politics."
Moran also left the impression that it was Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush, who was behind the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans For Truth ads against John Kerry:
[File footage from 2004] George W. Bush: "The architect, Karl Rove."
Terry Moran: "That was back in 2004 and President Bush was thanking Rove for planning and executing his reelection strategy. But look around at American politics today and you see that there is much, much more that Karl Rove built."
Clip from Swift Boat Veterans ad: "John Kerry cannot be trusted."
On Tuesday’s "Nightline," co-anchor Martin Bashir filed a report on businessman Tom Monaghan, founder of a Catholic university in Florida and a community that will attempt to embrace traditional Christian values. Bashir regurgitated a two-year-old criticism that the town has "been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
The various network news shows have come to this shocking conclusion: It’s summer and it’s hot. Could global warming be to blame? Ann Curry, guest anchoring NBC’s "Nightly News" on Tuesday, speculated, "Record heat and drought in the United States and Europe. New fears tonight that it's all the result of global warming." Harry Smith, over on CBS’s "Early Show," had the same idea. The morning show anchor definitively asserted, "Before we do anything else, there is in fact, global climate change.
On Tuesday’s edition of "Nightline," anchor Martin Bashir interviewed businessman Tom Monaghan, founder of a new Catholic university in Florida and also a community called Ave Maria that will be based around Catholic values. Bashir parroted criticism that the town has "been described as a Catholic Jonestown, a kind of Catholic Iran, where individual rights and liberties are curtailed."
Earlier in the segment, Bashir asserted that the community, which will encourage traditional values but be open to all,has "been called a Disney World for Catholics, a country club Christianity."
He shows “compassion” and “generosity,” he’s a great “campaigner” and an “adroit politician,” reporters have declared.
He’s “taking on America’s deeply flawed health care system,” said Terry Moran on ABC’s “Nightline” June 13. And “… the point his movie ultimately makes: fixing health care is a moral, even a religious obligation.”
Filmmaker Michael Moore’s appearance on Wednesday’s edition of "Nightline" wrapped up a two day, two show tour of various ABC programs. Between "Nightline and "Good Morning America," the network gave the outspoken leftist almost 21 and a half minutes of air time to promote his new health care documentary, "Sicko."
In addition to looking at the softer side of Moore and asking about his faith, co-anchor Terry Moran offered a generally friendly interview. For the most part, the ABC host only challenged the filmmaker when he made truly outrageous comments, such as asserting that Cuba is a country of "artistic freedom":
Michael Moore: "They have an excellent health care system, probably the best in the Third World. There is not religious persecution. There's artistic freedom. I went–"
Terry Moran: "There's artistic freedom in Cuba?"
Moore: "Oh, yeah. I hung out with artists who are critical of Castro and, and, and very freely speak their minds."
Those are not exactly words you'd expect to hear an American journalist use to refer to a Latin American dictator who has been seizing American-owned property this month. Yet Barbara Walters used all three to describe Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, in various ABC broadcasts on March 16.
Even though Chavez has recently assumed "control" of oil fields that were run by Chevron, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, ABC, NBC and CBS haven't even reported it. Chavez also plans to takeover private Venezuelan media soon. That hasn't been reported either, let alone criticized.
Despite the fact that Chavez seized power and shut down his opposition in Venezuela, the media rarely portray him as a dictator, preferring kinder words like “controversial” and “populist.” Walters even talked about how "beloved" he is.
“President Hugo Chavez is so beloved by some of his supporters that they hang pictures of him in their living rooms in the poor barrios that ring the city,” Barbara Walters gushed on ABC’s “Nightline” March 16.
A NewsBusters reader sent us an MP3 clip
of an ABC News radio report from the afternoon of May 15 by "Nightline"
host Terry Moran. In it, Moran boils down the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's clerical career and political activism to one extreme soundbite from
shortly after 9/11.
Moran left unmentioned that Falwell later
clarified his statements to reflect more accurately his belief that God lifted the "curtain" of His protection to allow 9/11 to happen, and closed his report emphasizing Falwell as a marginalized political actor:
In 2001, just two days after the 9/11 attacks, Falwell infamously and
appallingly blamed the mass murder not on terrorists...
FALWELL sound bite: The pagans and the abortionists...
Colin Beavan is going without many things this year, including toilet paper. You can find previous Newsbusters and Business & Media Institute stories about Beavan here and here. His "No Impact" experiment includes going without any carbon-emitting transportation, electricity, paper products, packaging, new clothes, refrigeration ... you get the idea.
But on May 10 ABC "Nightline" host Cynthia McFadden said Beavan is doing it all "to avoid harming the earth." Too bad that's not entirely true. Beavan is conducting the "radical" year-long experiment because he is a writer of historical nonfiction and it was "the only one of four possibilities his agent thought would sell," according to The New York Times.
Imagine for a moment that one of the leading Republican presidential candidates said that 10,000 people had been killed by the recent tornado that destroyed Greensburg, Kansas, Saturday.
Do you think this would have been easy fodder for the broadcast television news divisions that always seem fascinated with gaffes made by folks on the right?
If your answer is an unequivocal “Yes,” then why did ABC, CBS, and NBC completely ignore Sen. Barack Obama’s statement Tuesday wherein he accidentally exaggerated the death toll from the Greensburg tornado by 9,988?
In an online chat at washingtonpost.com today, media reporter Howard Kurtz condemned the media's rush to judgment in 2006 in the Duke lacross rape allegations.
"If you go back and lok at the coverage of 13 months ago, knowing what we know now, teh tone of much of it was irresponsible," wrote Kurtz in response to a question from Floris, Va. Later in response to a question from Portland, Ore., Kurtz cited the 1996 Olympic park bombing and the early media buzz over suspect Richard Jewell, "who turned out to be innocent." Kurtz worried that the media's rush to judgment in sensational crime stories "is a lesson the profession never seems to learn."
Kurtz's remarks about media coverage differ wildly from the cavalier tone taken by ABC's Terry Moran in a blog post from April 12.
Writing on his "Pushback" blog then, Moran insisted that the Duke lacrosse players received "special treatment in the justice system -- both negative and positive." He failed to offer a similar indictment of the media frenzy surrounding the case and even suggested that the Duke players would get over their ordeal with little trouble (portions in bold are my emphasis):
During Thursday’s "Good Morning America," ABC ran a promo previewing a day-long push for liberal environmental action. The event, which takes place on April 20, will encompass ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘Nightline’ and ‘World News.’ The ad’s narrator promises a "call to action," and notes that the proceedings be hosted by GMA’s Diane Sawyer and will culminate in a hour long special at 10pm:
ABC ad: "Mother nature is sending us a message and we hear it. [Video of falling glaciers, animals and pollution] In eight days, an extraordinary global event. Travel live to all seven continents with ABC News and Diane Sawyer, revealing first hand the real changes in our planet. This is a call to action."
Diane Sawyer: "On Friday, April 20th, ABC News will show you how and what you can do to help. Then, starting at 10 pm, don’t miss the landmark special: ‘Planet Earth 2007.’"
A new report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds the public has relatively little confidence in what the military and the media are telling them about the war in Iraq, although the press has less credibility than the Pentagon.
Interestingly, a majority of self-described Democrats say they are putting their confidence in the media, while Republicans have generally opted to trust the military. In 2005, a major study by the Media Research Center found the vast majority of network news reports highlighted the bad news coming out of Iraq, with few reports detailing the accomplishments or personal bravery of U.S. troops.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) began its spring season of announcing its annual GLAAD Media Awards for pro-gay journalism last week at the Marriott Marquis in New York (thanks in part to 100 donors, including "Platinum Underwriter" Time Warner). Other ceremonies will follow in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami, but the bulk of their awards were celebrated in New York. Among the big winners: Rosie O'Donnell for her "All Aboard!" HBO documentary touting her gay and lesbian family cruise. She was there to accept the award with filmmaker Shari Cookson, and gave a nod to tennis legend Billie Jean King, subject of another nominated documentary, saying "if it hadn't been for Billie Jean King, there wouldn't have been a gay movement."
Also honored in the awards, offered to journalists and entertainers GLAAD thought were "fair, accurate, inclusive, and impossibly glam," were the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, ABC's "Nightline," and especially The New York Times, which won three.
"We should have went to the mob for a loan," said Bronx homeowner Ana Rosado on CNN's March 27 "American Morning."
Her statement, extreme as it was, rivaled network reporting in March about subprime loans and foreclosures.
Reporters called the situation a “meltdown,” an “epidemic” and a “crisis” that could potentially lead to recession, and blamed lenders while almost entirely ignoring personal responsibility for borrowers. Instead, media accounts portrayed borrowers as victims, many of whom seemed shocked when their adjustable-rate mortgages adjusted upward.
While lenders were painted as the bad guys, they were rarely allowed to give any perspective. The networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, have done at least 26 stories on subprime loans just in the month of March, but only six of those included a lender’s voice. That meant an overwhelming 77 percent of stories didn’t even try to explain the lenders’ position.
On Monday’s "Nightline," the ABC program continued the media’s fascination with the Mayan "spiritual leaders" who protested a recent visit to Guatemala by President Bush. According to anchor Cynthia McFadden, "some say he's angered the gods."
While footage onscreen showed Uruguayan demonstrators (from a previous portion of the trip) burning an American flag, Reporter Jessica Yellin noted that "many in the region don’t care for Mr. Bush" and seriously reported on the President’s "bad vibes":
JESSICA YELLIN: "The spiritual leaders of the Guatemala's indigenous Mayan population are also worried about the President's bad vibes. They will perform a special cleansing ceremony to clear away the bad energy they say he left during his visit."
ABC Nightline co-host Terry Moran helped expose the anti-Christian prejudice of John Edwards’ official campaign bloggers (who’ve since quit the campaign), asking three weeks ago on his ABCNews.com blog whether Edwards condoned “hate speech” by refusing to fire the pair. But Moran himself failed to mention the controversy in a two-segment profile of Edwards on Monday’s Nightline.
Back on February 6, Moran listed some examples of the hostile anti-Christian views espoused by Edwards’ campaign blogger Amanda Marcotte on her own personal site and suggested the issue reflected poorly on Edwards himself:
Questions: What, if anything, does it tell us about Edwards that he's joined up with this blogger? Is Edwards' association with a person who has written these things a legitimate issue for voters, as they wonder--among other things--whom he might appoint to high office if he's elected?
It's interesting how some network TV reporter blogs show more interest in examining liberals than the network news product does. In his Media Reality Check yesterday, Rich Noyes reported that the networks have yet to touch the controversy over the anti-religious bloggers John Edwards hired for his presidential campaign website, and yet ABC Nightline anchor Terry Moran really got the ball rolling in the blogosphere on the story when he asked if a Republican would be ignored with smash-mouth bloggers like that.
Moran's blog now features a post on the liberalism of Hollywood. Moran says what Jake Tapper didn't quite say in his report on the political importance of Tinseltown...as a Democratic power center: "Hollywood money is a crucial factor for any Democrat who seriously wants to be president. You simply cannot get the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party--and you cannot win the White House as a Democrat--without the money-raising muscle of Hollywood." Do the top producers snip lines like this, lines of simple common sense?
"Nightline" host Terry Moran recently blogged about the dustup over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her request for a larger plane to fly back to her San Francisco district. In the February 8 entry, the ABC host criticized the Bush administration for leaking the story to "The Washington Times," whom he referred to as "a kind of house organ for conservatives." "The Washington Times" certainly leans right, but has Mr. Moran ever labeled "The New York Times" a mouth piece for liberals?
An excerpt of Mr. Moran’s blog is below:
After the 9/11 attacks, Speaker Hastert was, for security reasons, given ‘shuttle service’ by military transport to and from his congressional district in Illinois. This year, citing the same security concerns, the Sergeant at Arms of the House of Representatives asked the Department of Defense to provide a plane that could get Speaker Pelosi to and from her district in California--which would require a bigger and costlier plane than Hastert used.
What did the Bush administration do? Leak the story--to The Washington Times, a kind of house organ for conservatives in the capital. And sit back and watch the flap.
Diamonds don't cause conflicts in Africa, bands of armed thugs do. But you wouldn't know that if you followed the media's slant on "conflict diamonds," which, much like stories on gun control, often blame the object instead of the evil person misusing it.
In Monday stories on World News and Nightline, ABC's Jake Tapper broached a subject few, if any, mainstream journalists have dared: How Senator Hillary Clinton's current claims that her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution was not an endorsement of war do not match what she said in 2002. In the World News version of his story, Tapper pointed out how "a month before her vote on the Iraq War, she said this:" Viewers then heard Clinton on the September 15, 2002 Meet the Press: "I can support the President. I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it's in the long-term interests of our national security." But, Tapper noted, "Now, she says this:" He ran a clip of her in Berlin, New Hampshire on Saturday: "I gave him authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth, and I said this is not a vote to authorize preemptive war."
On Tuesday night, the ABC program "Nightline" devoted almost nine minutes of air time to a group of atheists who are encouraging teens to take the "blasphemy challenge" and videotape themselves denying the existence of God. Although reporter John Berman did ask some challenging questions to the creators of blasphemychallange.com, he also tossed softballs, such as "What’s wrong with God?" Additionally, the ABC correspondent first related how atheists are actually an oppressed minority and yet also the wave of the future:
John Berman: "Two of the best-selling books on Publishers Weekly religion lists are by atheists about atheism. There's a hard-hitting documentary questioning the very existence of Jesus. There's even an atheist lobby in Washington."
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," ABC’s Jake Tapper continued the media’s campaign to defend Senator Barack Obama against charges that, as a young child living in Indonesia, he attended a madrassah, an Islamic school that teaches virulent anti-Americanism. Co-host Robin Roberts and Mr. Tapper alternatively referred to the charges as "smears," "dirty tricks" and "lies." According to a 1999 MRC Reality Check, ABC gave no such courtesy to then-Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. On August 24 of that year, "Nightline" host Ted Koppel devoted an entire half hour episode to the unsubstantiated rumors that Bush used cocaine as a younger person. Obama, who has admitted trying cocaine as a teenager, was not asked about it in a January 24 GMA appearance. Here is Koppel’s explanation for the media’s interest in Bush’s youth:
Ted Koppel: "So here we are in this curious twilight in which [Bush] plainly acknowledges excessive use of alcohol until he turned 40, makes no claim of privacy in the area of marital infidelity, unlike some people we know he did not cheat on his wife, but leaves the question of youthful cocaine use ambiguously addressed with this assertion: I did make mistakes years ago."
-Nightline August 24, 1999
And here is the combined defense of Robert's introduction and Tapper's report on the January 25 "Good Morning America."
Robin Roberts: "Now, to the field of contenders, the presidential hopefuls who want President Bush's job. And the dirty tricks seem to have already begun. The target? Senator Barack Obama."
In their first broadcast of 2007, ABC’s Nightline devoted the entire program to re-airing portions of stories from 2006 dealing with "power," including the shift in political power in the United States. The final segment of the newscast, entitled ‘Here Come the Democrats,’ featured three friendly profiles of prominent Democrats, including Cynthia McFadden’s tea with Senator Hillary Clinton and Terry Moran’s ‘Oba-mania’ during his interview with Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Here are some examples of the softball questions to Clinton and Obama re-broadcast Monday night:
Cynthia McFadden: "Do you actually like it? Do you actually like campaigning?...So, an association game, if you'll--if you will, a word or two about the following political folks, okay? President George Bush?
Senator Hillary Clinton: "Disappointing."
McFadden: "....So George Bush is disappointing....Is America ready for a female president? What do you think?"
Terry Moran: "Right now you're on a roll. You're--people, 'Oba-mania, they, they call it. The rock star. You get a big cheer when you get up there....It seems sometimes that much of your politics is about bridging divides....Republican-Democrat, black-white, red-blue. Is your politics about your biography?"
On Monday night’s edition of Nightline, just hours before the polls opened for Tuesday’s midterm election, ABC’s Terry Moran prematurely promoted a potential 2008 Democratic presidential contender. Moran went along with Illinois Senator Barack Obama as he campaigned for Democrats across the country. Moran’s piece was full of praise for the "American political phenomenon," whom, according to Moran, millions see as "the savior of the Democratic Party."
Terry Moran: "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon. In state after state, in the furious final days of this crucial campaign, Illinois Senator Barack Obama has been the Democrat's not-so-secret get-out-the-vote weapon. He inspires the party faithful and many others, like no one else on the scene today...And the question you can sense on everyone's mind, as they listen so intently to him, is he the one? Is Barack Obama the man, the black man, who could lead the Democrats back to the White House and maybe even unite the country?"
ABC’s Terry Moran featured three Republican campaign ads as examples of "mudslinging" in the run-up to November’s mid-term elections. On Thursday’s edition of "Nightline", Moran slammed Rush Limbaugh’s criticism of "beloved" actor Michael J. Fox and his Democratic pro-stem cell research campaign spots as a "vicious attack." On a GOP ad attacking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. for attending a party hosted by Playboy magazine, Moran stated the ad used a white actress to "smear him." Moran’s point of view on these ads was easily discernable from this introduction:
Moran: "Tonight, on Nightline, mudslinging. Michael J. Fox's dramatic campaign commercials, Rush Limbaugh's vicious attack. With less than two weeks to go before the election, how low can they go? Hardball politics, where the stakes are high."
The media’s vigorous effort to portray the Mark Foley scandal as a vicious blow to the Republican Party’s chances in the November elections continued on ABC's "Nightline" Thursday evening. Reporter Chris Bury’s segment focused on the competitive House race between Democrat Patty Wetterling and Republican Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th District. There was a noticeable difference in how the two candidates were described. While Bury hyped Wetterling as a woman who "has made child protection her life’s mission" with no mention of her ideological positions on any other issue, GOP candidate Bachmann was described as a "staunch" opponent to abortion and gay marriage.
Bury implied Republicans should be worried about their electoral prospects because the race in the "reliably Republican" seat is so closely contested. However, it should be noted that while Minnesota’s 6th district did elect President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, it also has a history of competitive House races, with Democrats being elected to the seat from 1975-1981; 1983-1993; and 1995-2003.