[UPDATED with video.] ABC's prank undercover news show What Would You Do on Friday again attempted to find secret, anti-gay bias, this time featuring a counselor telling a sobbing teen that he needs to "pray away the gay." Host John Quinones managed to drag Michelle Bachmann into the topic and seemed to have no problem when a patron asserted he was going to "kill" the actor playing the counselor.
The program set up a hidden camera in a New Jersey pancake house. Narrator/host Quinones introduced the counselor as someone "who believes the power of prayer can change anything." A bizarre close-up of his mouth appeared onscreen and echoing sound effects are used as he proclaimed, "Together, we can pray the gay away. [Echoes] Away." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
What Would You Do, ABC's undercover news program, last week continued its habit of featuring actors pretending to be obnoxious Americans. The John Quinones-hosted program searches for secret bigotry, almost always aimed at liberal causes. On January 27th, the show tried to create scenarios under which restaurant patrons would yell at a gay man proposing to his boyfriend.
Quinones, the narrator/interrogator, explained, "It's a beautiful day, and love is in the air. Peter is an actor plays a gay man who's finally ready and now legally able to tie the knot with his longtime partner." Showing no objectivity about the issue of gay marriage, Quinones lectured, "Vince is also an actor, seated at a nearby table. He's playing the role of a man who just can't keep his homophobia to himself."
In the '80s the liberal media filled the airwaves with tales of woe from the homeless as a way to distract viewers from the runaway success of Reaganomics. In the 2000s, the same media chatted with one frustrated gas station customer after another to slam then-President George W. Bush.
However in 2011, with over 44 million Americans on food stamps, a new high according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (See Table 2), the Big Three broadcast network news programs have been virtually devoid of anecdotal sob stories of moms and dads struggling to pay for their kids' box of Frosted Flakes, as a way to hammer Barack Obama's failed economic policies.
ABC's undercover news show, What Would You Do, on Friday continued to search for examples of bigotry across America. Anchor John Quinones narrated a segment featuring two men pretending to be gay military veterans displaying affection in a New Jersey restaurant.
As cameras rolled, Quinones explained the set-up: "They're holding hands, stroking each other's hair and caressing each other's legs...So what will happen if we throw in our actor Vince, posing as an irritated diner, who's had enough of this PDA?"
An actor, "Vince," interrupted the faux soldiers and complained, "Excuse me. We appreciate your service to the country and everything, but you should respect the uniform a little bit more than that."
Last June, as Newsbusters readers will remember, ABC allowed President Obama to pitch his health care proposal in a special edition of ABC's Primetime hosted by retiring World News anchor Charlie Gibson and (now incoming anchor) Diane Sawyer. Obama was given additional airtime to pitch his health care agenda that evening on Nightline.
Conservatives didn't get equal time.
Worse, ABC News even refused to allow the conservative group Conservatives for Patients Rights to purchase paid advertising to put out an alternative perspective.
Immediately afterward, the National Center for Public Policy Research (full disclosure: which I work for) began a multi-month review of the commercials run on World News. We found something interesting.
On June 12, 1987, as the liberal media elite were toasting the leader of the Soviet Union as a great champion of progress, President Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall and challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to put his money where his mouth was: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (Video.)
Gorbachev did not open the gate or tear down the Berlin Wall, but two years later the people of East Germany did. News broke in the U.S. late in the afternoon (Eastern Time) on November 9, 1989 that the communist government would no longer restrict travel to West Berlin. Just a few hours later, ABC’s PrimeTime Live hosted former President Ronald Reagan to celebrate what would turn out to be the death blow against communism in Eastern Europe. We found the tape in our archives, and posted a video excerpt at right. (Audio excerpt here.)
Youngsters' curiosity about sex used to be sated by late night, soft-core flicks on premium cable channels. Now, they simply have to tune into ABC.
ABC news programs have featured 76 segments about sexual activity in the last six months. The majority of these reports were related to political sex scandals or crime cases that contained a sexual element, but 11 promoted alternative sexual arrangements such as men who become women, Web sites dedicated to helping married people cheat on their spouses and even people who carry on romantic relationships with objects like F-15 fighter jets and the Eiffel Tower.
It's a supposedly objective news outlet, yet ABC News is cozying up with the White House for a health care special to assist President Barack Obama in selling his plan. But according to ABC's "Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer, there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, she's proud of ABC.
"Again, ABC, I'm so proud of ABC," Sawyer said. "And I hope that there is some recognition for the fact that this network is trying to tackle a serious issue in a serious way, and we are doing something that we would love to see a lot more air time dedicated to. What is more important than a dialogue about health care? It is not an infomercial. ABC News does not do that. We will be there, and these people in this room are going to be able to ask questions from every single vantage point. And they are going to challenge the president, many of them."
Friday's World News carried a 15-second promo, the first I've seen, for Wednesday night's controversial prime time special, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America.” Over video of President Barack Obama, ABC exulted in how “Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer take you inside his house” for “a television event” where “President Obama answers all of your tough questions about your health care.”
(Below the jump: Look at how ABC News has incorporated Obama's image into their graphic plugging the June 24 special.)
Script of the narration:
What's more important than having good health care when you need it? Nothing. That's why Wednesday at 10 on ABC Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer take you inside his house: The White House, for a television event as President Obama answers all of your tough questions about your health care.
ABC aired an incredibly insulting and condescending hidden camera news special on Tuesday that purported to probe the hidden racism of Americans. It also featured actors hired by the network to go to France and portray "ugly Americans," complete with a "Bush '08" t-shirt that was derided by one German woman as similar to saying "I like Hitler."
The "What Would You Do?" special attempted to see how real people would react to racism or over-the-top behavior. As part of the experiment, host John Quinones introduced "Bob" and "Bonnie," actors sent to Paris to represent obnoxious U.S. citizens. Quinones began the segment by cheerfully explaining, "They're the ugly Americans. And for more than a century, they've been fixtures in American literature and film."
It was eight years ago this week that France 2 TV introduced the world to Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy who was allegedly shot and killed during a gunfight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen, in a video whose authenticity has increasingly been called into question years after it inspired anti-Semitic violence around the world. The American news media not only highlighted the story -- as the ABC, CBS and NBC evening and morning newscasts collectively aired the video at least 28 times between September 30, 2000, and June 30, 2003 -- but the networks also showed other clips depicting Palestinians involved in fighting, supposedly with Israelis, that have been challenged by some media analysts, calling into question how many of the scenes shown by American media during times of Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be faked video that were passed off to international media as genuine. ABC's Good Morning American notably seems to have ignored the al-Dura story.
Boston University Professor Richard Landes has been a leader in delving into the practice by some Palestinian cameramen of staging scenes of violence to be used as propaganda against Israel. Landes notably took on CBS’s 60 Minutes in the film Pallywood, the first in a series of short documentaries produced by the Boston University professor. On his Web site, theaugeanstables.com, Landes recounts his unsuccessful attempts to convince the American news media to help expose the Pallywood hoax video phenomenon. While he recounts that American journalists he spoke with did generally agree with him that the deceptive practice likely exists, they were reluctant to be perceived as breaking neutrality by siding with Israel over the Palestinians, as he encountered a view that it would not be “even-handed” to relay such unflattering activities by one side without finding similar examples from the other side. Professor Landes also cited an unnamed journalist at ABC as contending that there would be little “appetite” for the subject at his network. On his Web site, theaugeanstables.com, Landes recalls these conversations:
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
"Man Who Claims to Be Prophet Muhammad Alive and Well in Hoboken, Says It's Cool to Eat Pork"
Imagine that headline on ABCNews.com. And imagine the story included no Muslim imams or scholars to denounce the charlatan. Well, that's pretty much what ABC did today on an old story front-paged on its Web site today (see screencap on the right), only the religion in question was Christianity (and the fake Jesus in the story lives in Houston).
Here's the headline for the March 6, 2007, story by Jim Avila (yes, the dateline is correct, this story is over a month old):
Following the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the media found someone other than Seing-Hui Cho to blame -- legal businesses like Roanoke Firearms, Glock and eBay.
Roanoke Firearms' owner John Markell was treated as an accomplice to the horrific crime by ABC's Brian Ross:
“The Roanoke Firearms store where Seing-Hui Cho bought his murder weapon has a history of selling guns involved in murders. It is the fifth time a gun sold in this store has been used in a homicide, according to gun shop owner, John Markell,” said Ross on the April 18 “Good Morning America.”
At 9pm EST/PST (8pm CST/MST) on Friday night (Dec. 8), ABC will air a special edition of Primetime, “North Korea: Inside the Shadows” which will feature Diane Sawyer recounting what she found in that communist nation during a trip there back in October. If her hour-long program matches what aired in October, be prepared for a lot of North Korea officials bashing President Bush and for Sawyer to trumpet “happy” kids.
On the October 19 World News, Sawyer proved little more than a conveyor belt for the repressive communist regime's propaganda. Talking to a North Korean Army General, she relayed how “he said to us, 'make it clear to everyone in the United States, if there is another nuclear test, the person responsible is George Bush,' because he said, 'the Bush administration is backing North Korea into a corner with its pressures and its sanctions.'" In a second segment, Sawyer was taken to a school which she favorably described as “a world away from the unruly individualism of any American school." She gushed: “Ask them about their country, and they can't say enough." A teenage girl declared, in English: “We are the happiest children in the world.” Sawyer ended her piece with video of her and the class singing "Do-Re-Mi" from the Sound of Music. Far from being embarrassed by Sawyer's obsequious approach, anchor Charles Gibson proposed: "A fascinating glimpse of North Korea."
The bogus story of "Pope Joan" was not the only fiction that ABC and Diane Sawyer tried to hustle on the American public in last night's Primetime (Thursday December 29, 2005). In trying to convey the environment of ninth-century Europe, host Diane Sawyer and a guest, Donna Cross (author of Pope Joan), promulgated the debunked feminist myth that the phrase "rule of thumb" originated from a centuries-old law about wifebeating. The popular hoax purports that a man was once allowed to clobber a woman as long as the club was no wider than his thumb.
In her much-acclaimed 1994 book, Who Stole Feminism?, writer Christina Hoff-Sommers shreds the "rule of thumb" myth.
"The 'rule of thumb' ... turns out to be an excellent example of what may be called a feminist fiction ...
"That the phrase did not even originate in legal practice could have been ascertained by any fact-checker who took the trouble to look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary, which notes that the term has been used metaphorically for at least three hundred years to refer to any method of measurement or technique of estimation derived from experience rather than science.
Check out the promotional ad for this Thursday evening's (December 29, 2005) episode of ABC's Primetime. The promo is for the story, "On the Trail of Pope Joan" (audiotape on file; emphasis mine):
"Diane Sawyer takes you on the trail of a passionate mystery. Just as intriguing as The Da Vinci Code. Chasing down centuries-old clues hidden even inside the Vatican. Could a woman disguised as a man have been Pope? Thursday night. One astonishing Primetime."
It doesn't get much uglier than this, folks. Quite simply, there was never a female pope, or "Pope Joan." The tale is a complete fabrication dating back to the 13th century - nearly 400 years after the reported "reign" of the so-called "Joan." For reliable summaries of the bogus tale, see this and this. Scholars debunked the fable hundreds of years ago, and recent books (this and this, for example) have further repudiated it.
Over the centuries, the "Pope Joan" story has been used as a slanderous tool to tarnish the Catholic Church and degrade Catholics. In his acclaimed 2003 book The New Anti-Catholicism, Philip Jenkins writes, "The Pope Joan legend is a venerable staple of the anti-Catholic mythology" (page 89).