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.
ABC's Jake Tapper interviewed Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the sleazy cartoon "South Park" for Friday's "Nightline." It's been "vilified as crude, disgusting, and nihilistic." Actually, it may be calmly, dispassionately, almost scientifically decribed as crude, disgusting, and nihilistic. But Tapper elicited some interesting commentary on how which religions can be mocked:
"That's where we kind of agree with some of the people who've criticized our show," Stone says. "Because it really is open season on Jesus. We can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have. We've had him say bad words. We've had him shoot a gun. We've had him kill people. We can do whatever we want. But Mohammed, we couldn't just show a simple image."
While former President Bill Clinton is angry with ABC over the content of it’s miniseries, "The Path to 9/11," he shouldn’t find much to complain about regarding the network’s news coverage of his wife. The entire Wednesday edition of ABC’s "Nightline" was devoted to anchor Cynthia McFadden’s day of campaigning with Senator Hillary Clinton in upstate New York. The half hour was full of softball questions and Bush bashing. While no Clinton critics were highlighted in her report, McFadden did find a New York Republican supporter of Clinton who gushed:
Unidentified female: "I think she’s fabulous. I think she’s more beautiful in person. But more than her beauty, she’s genuine and very intelligent and well-spoken."
We're all familiar with this definition of a conservative: "a liberal who's just been mugged." This morning, Ted Koppel devised a variation on the theme that could be taken as an insult to his fellow lefties: "a liberal is a conservative who just got arrested."
Koppel's line came in the course of a Today show interview with Matt Lauer to discuss a special that Koppel is about to air in his role as Managing Editor of the Discovery Channel [so that's where he went after leaving ABC!]. As Lauer described it, the documentary, entitled 'The Price of Security,' addresses "the balance between securing the nation and protecting our individual liberties."
Reporters for rival networks of Fox News had unkind things to say about Dick Cheney's preference for Fox when staying at hotels.
MSNBC's "The Abrams Report":
"And he wants brewed decaf coffee and all the televisions must be tuned to the home team, Fox News. Horrors to think he might encounter other networks while flipping the channel himself on his way over... It's got me thinking I should make some demands of my own. From now on whenever I travel, I want a bottle of wine waiting, not just any wine, but fine wine. I want the TV tuned to MSNBC."
CNN reporter Carol Costello said on "American Morning":
"And, yes, all the TVs set to C -- no, to Fox News."
To which anchor Soledad O'Brien quipped, "Not really a shocker on that front."
Jack Cafferty on CNN's "The Situation Room" used his trademark "F-word network" putdown.
If you thought Teddy Kennedy’s pratfall over Samuel Alito’s membership in a conservative Princeton alumni group was embarrassing (quoting magazine satire articles as if they were real), you should see what ABC’s “Nightline” tried to pull last week.
The subject was the ethics of judicial travel. As investigative reporter Brian Ross explained in the middle of the piece, “Justices at all ends of the political spectrum take plenty of these trips to lots of nice places, all paid for by somebody else." But this was no expose on justices “at all ends of the political spectrum.” It was a shameless hit piece on conservatives, complete with hidden-camera cheap shots.
In a recent Nightline episode that aired January 27, 2006, Vicki Mabrey presented what some call a controversial program happening within the prison walls of Lawtey Correctional Institution. The issue at hand – faith in prisons, and not just Christianity.
Mabrey contends that even though officials cite success with their program it isn’t really sufficient because there aren’t any scientific studies that prove that these types of faith based programs help lower disciplinary actions or lower recidivism rates.
Catching up with a distorted story from early in the week: On Monday's Nightline, ABC ran a silly story by Brian Ross impugning the integrity of the two most conservative Supreme Court justices, for a "judicial junket" in Colorado where at a Federalist Society conference Antonin Scalia played tennis and the acceptance by Clarence Thomas of a NASCAR jacket. Over hidden-camera video of Scalia on a tennis court, Ross stressed how Scalia missed the swearing-in of Chief Justice Roberts and featured law professor Stephen Gillers, "a recognized scholar on legal ethics," as his expert, running seven soundbites from him (compared to just two from a Scalia-defender). But Ross failed to note how Gillers is a left-winger who in The Nation in 1999 fretted about the "nightmare" of more conservative Supreme Court justices. Ross, however, tagged the Federalist Society as "a conservative activist group" as he buried a brief mention of how the group "says this was no junket at all but a legal seminar, in which Justice Scalia taught a ten-hour course." Ross even tried to smear Scalia with a link to scandal: "Scalia also attended the scheduled cocktail receptions, one of which was sponsored in part by the same lobbying and law firm where convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff once worked."
Ross acknowledged, after his taped story aired, that "it isn't just Justice Scalia. Justices at all ends of the political spectrum take plenty of these trips to lots of nice places, all paid for by somebody else." But Ross didn't go beyond Scalia and Thomas and the Tuesday Good Morning America version plastered on screen, over video of Scalia playing tennis, "ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: SCALIA CAUGHT ON TAPE.” (Full transcript, and more on Gillers, follows.)
Brent Baker's dispatch on ABC's "Nightline" showed a dramatic liberal bias, with ABC providing left-wing comedians Kathy Griffin and Al Franken a platform to mock more conservative performers like Mel Gibson and Rush Limbaugh for not doing their part to entertain troops on the USO circuit.
Author and blogger Alan Skorski is America's most determined Al Franken watchdog, author of the new book "Pants On Fire: How Al Franken Lies, Smears, and Deceives." In December, Skorski noted on his blog one angle that ABC has yet to explore: whether the allegedly troops-loving Franken should be allowed to entertain the troops when behind their backs, he laughs at them as prisoner abusers. He reported in December there is a brief clip from a song called "Sorry," an Abu Ghraib-ish parody of our marauding troops from his "Very Best of The O'Franken Factor" CD.
In a December 23 USA Today front page story, “USO cheers troops, but Iraq gigs tough to book; Safety concerns, disagreement with war keeping many celebrities from volunteering,” reporters Martin Kasindorf and Steven Komarow related how actor/comedian Robin Williams, “who like [Al] Franken has been an outspoken critic of Bush's management of the war -- and [Wayne] Newton, a Republican who backs Bush, say some stars have turned down the USO because they thought such performances would amount to endorsing the war.” But in a Friday evening Nightline story, Terry Moran, through his use of soundbites from two left-wingers, portrayed cowardly conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh who isn't a stage performer, as the problem facing the USO in trying to get stars to go to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Moran asserted: “While the USO has been able to attract some big names for tours in recent years -- Jessica Simpson, Robin Williams, the rapper 50 Cent -- some of the top stars are AWOL. Like, say-" Comedian Kathy Griffin charged: "Mel Gibson, big conservative. Go on over, Mel, anytime. They'd be glad to see you. They all love Braveheart." Moran elaborated on how Griffin, a “opponent of the war” who has done several USO tours, “loves performing for the troops and she wonders why some vocal war supporters have stayed home." Moran then featured this blast from Griffin: “I think Rush Limbaugh should, you know, pop a few of those Oxycontin that he probably still has laying around and go over. I mean, I'm not saying go straight, he's got to take the edge off, but, you know, put your money where your mouth is, O'Reilly, go do a book tour or something over there." (In fact, Limbaugh hasn't gone on a USO tour, but in late February 2005 he did go on a U.S. Agency for International Development trip to visit troops in Afghanistan.)
Moran let Al Franken tell an anecdote about how Sylvester Stallone was too afraid to go to Iraq before excusing liberals from any responsibility: "USO President Ned Powell insists the divisive politics of the Iraq war and the liberal tilt of Hollywood have had no impact on the organization's ability to recruit stars.”
Video excerpt: (1:55) Real (3.3 MB) or Windows Media (3.8 MB), plus MP3 audio (900 KB). (Update, with Limbaugh's take, and full transcript follows.)
The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah McBride wrote an article in today’s edition addressing the increasing number of network news “stars” leaving television to become a part of National Public Radio. In an environment where ratings for most news programs are declining, and newspapers across the country are reducing staffs amid shrinking circulations, NPR’s audience is continuing to grow. As a result, as reported previously by NewsBusters, the largely government sponsored radio station has been attracting folks like former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite and former ABC “Nightline” host, Ted Koppel. Potentially the most fascinating aspect of this article is what it said about the current state of television media:
“Network news is increasingly generating prospects for NPR in part because some broadcast journalists think the networks are veering away from serious, in-depth reports. Many television journalists say they are fed up with the move toward consumer-friendly news-you-can-use and away from weightier subjects like foreign affairs and government. And many also see news of any sort as an increasingly low priority for their employers. For example, ‘Nightline’ came close to losing its perch in a humiliating 2002 episode when ABC brass unsuccessfully tried to lure in David Letterman's nightly comedy show to replace it.”
While Ted Koppel is signing up with NPR and the New York Times, another veteran of his classic "Nightline" has found a new gig. Reporter Dave Marash is signing up with the English-language version of al-Jazeera. As Newsday's Verne Gay reports this morning, Marash insists that despite al-Jazeera's reputation as a mouthpiece for al Qaeda terrorists, "conventional and, dare I say, informed opinion is that the channel is thoroughly respected."
Dave Marash, the veteran "Nightline" correspondent who left the program late last year, has landed at Al-Jazeera International, the new English-language news channel that will be spun off from Al-Jazeera later this spring....