After a couple days in which the only people offered the opportunity to comment on the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code were the movie's director and cast members, this morning's Today show finally gave an outside expert and Catholic officials their shot. The result was an oddly ambivalent reaction in which the movie was simultaneously praised as offering an opportunity to teach about the Church - and condemned as filled with lies.
A quick recap on the state of play at Today. Matt Lauer has been "On the Road with the Code" this week. On Tuesday, as reported here, NBC reporter Melissa Stark timidly raised the matter of the controversy with Code director Ron Howard. Stark didn't bother informing viewers just what all the fuss is about - which is none other than the movie's premise that Christ wasn't really divine, that he was married to Mary Magdalene and had children with her, that the true religion is the "feminine divine" and that the Roman Catholic Church has perpetrated a murderous patriarchal plot to suppress the truth. That's all!
When Mel Gibson introduced "The Passion of the Christ" into the public conversation, Hollywood had a lot to say about it. Now Hollywood is offering its response with the upcoming release of "The DaVinci Code," inviting commentary not on that movie, but on Hollywood itself.
Three years ago, Mel Gibson gambled his own personal fortune on a great creative risk, going completely outside the established Tinseltown system to produce a horrifyingly realistic reenactment of Our Lord’s crucifixion, and resurrection. It took not just sacrifice but also real courage to make this. The studios all scoffed at the idea. The reviews were horrible – before anyone had seen a frame of it.
It's not enough for "DaVinci Code" star Ian McKellen to make cracks about Bible disclaimers. MRC's Michael Chapman passed along that in an interview with Reuters, he took his wisecracks directly to the Catholic Church:
“When I put the book down I thought, ’what a load of potential codswallop .That’s still going on in my mind. But I’m very happy to believe that Jesus was married.”
Sir Ian, who came out as gay in 1988 during a Radio 4 discussion programme, continued: “I know that the Catholic church has problems with gay people and I thought that this was absolute truth that Jesus was not gay.”
In a cautionary signal for the future of American media, an online poll conducted by Bolt Media indicates some interesting changes in viewing behavior as a result of the Internet. AdAge.com reported on Monday (hat tip to Drudge): “Only one in four 12- to 34-year-olds can name all four major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox."
The poll also asked what respondents’ favorite activities were. The number one answer? “That would be surfing the Internet, which 84% said they did during their idle periods.” By contrast, TV viewing got a 69 percent response. Their favorite TV Networks:? “Fox, Comedy Central, ABC, MTV and Cartoon Network.”
The article continued: “‘There's a massive movement going on in people under 30 and how they spend their media time,’ said Bolt President Lou Kerner, who once upon a time was a cable analyst on Wall Street before leaving to run TV.com and then Bolt. ‘Our audience spends lots of time on net, creating their own media.’"
Kerner believes this is a sign of a significant change in media usage habits:
If "The Da Vinci Code" was already feeding the flames of controversy with its challenge to the basic tenets of Christianity, actor Ian McKellen managed to pour a refinery tank's worth of gasoline on the fire on this morning's 'Today' show, asserting that the Bible should carry a disclaimer saying that it is "fiction." Video: Windows Media or Real Player, Plus audio MP3
Matt Lauer, in his second day "On The Road With The Code," was in Cannes for the film festival, where the Code will have its debut. It has already been screened to some critics, who have given it decidedly mixed reviews.
Chris Weinkopf writes at American Enterprise Institute Online that if Hollywood had made a movie about all of Islam being a sham, with a murderous sect that kills all those who try to reveal the true secret, the media would have denounced the movie as hate speech, sure to inflame the terrorists and defame a major world religion.
Imagine, if you can, a major studio releasing a thriller in which the stars investigate the origins of Islam. Pursued by a murderous Muslim cleric, they uncover a series of shocking discoveries: Mohammed was no prophet! The Koran is a hoax, the work of self-serving hypocrites! Modern-day Muslims are dupes, if not deranged psychopaths!
Now imagine, in the unlikely event such a film were ever made, what sort of reception it would get in the establishment media. Given the categorical refusal of the American press to publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons, it's a safe bet that the talking heads and big newspapers would only mention the movie to denounce it.
Let's be clear: the Da Vinci Code portrays Christianity as a fraud and the Roman Catholic Church as a murderous conspiracy. As Archbishop Angelo Amato, the number two official in the Vatican doctrinal office which was headed by Pope Benedict until his election last year recently stated, if "such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising."
Yet the Today show has decided to offer the movie, scheduled for release this week, untold millions in free advertising by devoting hours of, um, worshipful coverage to it, going so far as to send Matt Lauer to Europe for the week to be "On the Road with the Code."
Matt Lauer's trip to Paris, to go "On the Road With the Code," included a stop at the Louvre art museum on Tuesday, where the novel "The DaVinci Code" begins. In his interview with the Louvre's head curator this morning, he asked if the museum staff would be bothered that people came to see "the spot where Sauniere was murdered," as if it was a real human being, and not a figment of author Dan Brown's imagination. Is this a "news" show, or just an unpaid publicity arm for Sony and Brown?
Lauer did note that it was preposterous for Brown to suggest that a 76-year-old curator in the book would be marching around with a painting that was in real life too large for him to carry, 12 feet by 18 feet.
It must have been a dream come true for the folks at NBC, as well as all those associated with the long-time comedy variety show “Saturday Night Live.” Last night, NBC welcomed former vice president Al Gore to open the show posing as America’s president addressing the American people five years after having "overwhelmingly" won in 2000 (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). In reality, despite the obvious left-leaning bias, this was a good piece of comedy, with Gore doing a very fine job. Some of the highlights:
“In the last 6 years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack.”
“Right now, in the 2nd week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history. We have way too much gasoline. Gas is down to $0.19 a gallon and the oil companies are hurting. I know that I am partly to blame by insisting that cars run on trash. I am therefore proposing a federal bailout to our oil companies because - hey if it were the other way around, you know the oil companies would help us.”
“On a positive note, we worked hard to save Welfare, fix Social Security and of course provide the free universal health care we all enjoy today. But all this came at a high cost. As I speak, the gigantic national budget surplus is down to a perilously low $11 trillion dollars.”
“There are some of you that want to spend our money on some made-up war. To you I say: what part of ‘lockbox’ don't you understand?”
“There have been some setbacks. Unfortunately, the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Michael Moore was bitter and divisive. However, I could not be more proud of how the House and Senate pulled together to confirm the nomination of Chief Justice George Clooney.”
What follows is a full transcript of this sketch courtesy of Crooks and Liars, and a video link courtesy of Expose the Left.
NBC’s medical drama ER included more anti-war speeches last night, as the show’s writers killed off a character who used to work as a doctor at the Chicago hospital but has lately been serving as a National Guard medical officer in Iraq. One doctor railed against how the “whole war smell[s]...of right-wing cronyism,” while another complained the U.S. was spending “$6 billion a month in a war all the way across the world to kill a few more of the other kids who actually get to make it to their teens!” (See video)
Earlier this season, “Dr. Neela Rasgotra” railed against the war in a March 16 episode, as Brent Baker noted in an earlier post on NewsBusters. Her character had married “Dr. Michael Gallant” after Gallant had returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq.
Last night, the truck carrying Gallant and several other soldiers was blown up by a roadside bomb during the first few moments of the show, right after he tried in vain to save a soldier shot in an insurgent ambush. That left the rest of the show for the other characters to complain about the war as they learned of their friend’s death.
Apparently it's old news week at the broadcast networks. After hyping the year-old revelation
about the NSA's telephone record program, CBS has invited the Dixie
Chicks, the formerly popular country music group whose penchant for
spouting liberal platitudes alienated their fan base, to talk about
death threats they received in 2003.
Ostensibly, the purpose of the
on "60 Minutes" this Sunday is to promote a new
album, but the lead of CBS's online promotional piece about the
interview focuses entirely on three-year-old threats.There's apparently
an effort to "make news" here most likely, but it's so feeble as to be
Any person who cuts even a slightly bigger-than-average public profile has received death threats. Doing
a story on them is of questionable value; doing one on threats received
in 2003 can only be attributed to the fact that the Dixie Chicks are
liberal. Much-reviled conservative women like Linda Tripp or Katherine
Harris both received many death threats but were never granted
interviews with "60 Minutes" to talk about their experiences in a
Just to get things started on a Friday, "The Early Show" on CBS had a segment on Milwaukee's missing Alexis Patterson, who was something of a cause celebre a few years back for being the barely known black girl that proved the Only Missing White Girls Matter rule. But CBS used graphics for the story with the words "Without A Trace." Repeatedly.
While that may describe the Patterson case, they also ape the title of a hit CBS Thursday night program. What next? What CBS shows lend themselves most easily to cross-promotional graphic word play?
The easy list: Close to Home, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Out of Practice, Still Standing, Yes Dear.
The would-never-work list: Numb3rs, The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Okay, now I'm not a regular CBS entertainment watcher, but Hillary Profita on the CBS News "Public Eye" website explains how the "Without A Trace" feature is a follow-up from the Thursday night drama:
Thursday morning's Today contained a few pop-culture nuggets that revealed liberal media attitudes. As Kathryn Lopez noted on The Corner, in the 7:30 half hour, Katie Couric turned the "American Idol" chat into a peek at her feminist parenting habits (and once again, she plugged her love for Helen Reddy):
Couric: "Oh you're so hip. A lot of people expected Chris [Daughtry] to go all the way, but last night. He got sent packing although, you were so funny. I was playing Helen Reddy on my CD player yesterday."
Lauer: "I thought it was weird. I literally, I walked past her dressing room going out of here yesterday and Helen Reddy blaring on the, on the stereo. She's in the thing like this." [Snaps fingers]
Yesterday, NB's Megan McCormack noted the Oprah Winfrey web site asking viewers to tell show producers how CNN host Anderson Cooper has "encouraged you to make the world a better place." After word spread about it on the web, the solicitation soon disappeared, the NY Post (ht: TVNewser) notes:
But by late afternoon yesterday, the query had been mysteriously removed from the site.
And no one was saying who or why it had been pulled down.
"Anderson is coming on to talk about his book and it will air sometime [this month]," a CNN spokeswoman said.
Has Anderson Cooper been a source of inspiration for you or someone you know? From staging demonstrations to adopting children, Oprah wants to hear about it! According to TVNewser, Oprah appears to be preparing a segment dedicated to the CNN anchor, and is asking viewers to write about how Cooper’s reporting has inspired them to "take action."
The Oprah Winfrey Show website lists a few examples of what they are seeking:
HBO’s Bill Maher has made some absurd statements on his “Real Time” program in the past. But, this one made during Friday night's installment should offend all Americans regardless of party affiliation.
In a discussion about recently sentenced terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, Maher contended that ExxonMobil’s CEO Lee Raymond failing to warn Americans about global warming was an equal crime as Moussaoui not warning America about 9/11.
Excuse me? What possible connection exists here, Bill?
Now, I imagine you might be thinking that this wasn’t the case, and that surely Maher couldn't possibly have said this. Well, read and/or watch for yourselves (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). Maher opined to his panel: “But let me ask you this: We put [Moussaoui] in jail because he knew about a pending disaster and failed to alert us. That’s his crime, right?” Maher then answered his own question (rough transcript follows with side chatter edited out):
“He knew about it and didn’t tell anybody. Okay, what about the people who knew about global warming? You know this guy...Isn’t that the same thing? Lee Raymond.”
America’s musicians sure are active lately putting their political opinions to song. Another is the alternative rock band Pearl Jam. In their song “World Wide Suicide,” lead singer Eddie Vedder speaks of a world where “war has taken over.” He suggests that the president takes for granted that soldiers will serve in our armed forces all financed by “checks that others pay.”
Vedder also mocks the president’s religious beliefs: “Tell you to pray, while the devil’s on their shoulder.”
What follows are the lyrics to this piece and a video link to a live performance on “Saturday Night Live.”
A “liberal” culprit on Wednesday's Law & Order on NBC? On tonight's episode, “the Chief of Staff to a liberal politician” seems “to be responsible for tipping off” a reporter about the identity of an undercover cop who is then murdered. The politician is the fictitious “Congressman John Prescott,” played by “guest star David Forsyth.” So, that's unlike how Law & Order's sister program, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, a year ago portrayed then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, by name, as a hero to white supremacist gun nuts suspected of murdering two judges, one of them black, and who had expressed the view that the white woman judge who was murdered was a "race traitor." When the ballistics on the bullet which killed the black judge showed it was fired by the same rifle which was used to kill the white judge, New York City Police Department "Detective Alexandra Eames" suggested to her fellow detectives and an Assistant District Attorney: "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt." For a full transcript of the scene, MP3 audio as well as Real and Windows Media video, check the May 26, 2005 MRC CyberAlert.
What a shame. After a number of dismal weeks scraping the bottom of the ratings barrel – as well as numerous changes in time slot positioning, personnel restructurings, and bucket-loads of advertising dollars – the “let’s hope life will imitate art,” and much ballyhooed ABC television series “Commander in Chief,” has finally been yanked from the airwaves.
I guess those folks over at the Golden Globe were more impressed with Geena Davis in the role of president than the voters. Just imagine an awards organization having a different view of reality than the people. Tough to believe, isn’t it.
Yet in the last several months, Glamour magazine has twice attempted to deny such a link to its readers. Its most recent effort is a May 2006 article, "The New Lies About Women's Health" by Brian Alexander (WARNING: Photo of rear female nudity). What medical personnel does Glamour cite for its article? People such as Dr. Herb Brown (.pdf file), who has been medical director at Planned Parenthood of San Antonio. Geesh. Conflict of interest, anyone?
For those that haven’t heard, the female singer Pink (Alecia Moore) – who quite recently joined PETA in a protest against Kentucky Fried Chicken’s alleged cruelty to animals – has joined the ranks of musicians voicing their opinions against George W. Bush. In her song “Dear Mr. President,” Pink attacks, amongst other things, “No Child Left Behind,” his positions on abortion as well as same-sex marriage, his former drug and alcohol abuse, and, of course, the war in Iraq. Some of her more poignant lyrics include:
How do you sleep while the rest of us cry
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye
What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine
What follows are the complete lyrics of this piece along with a video link to a recent performance of the number courtesy of YouTube.
[Text and video include a vulgarity] Another fresh episode of The Sopranos, HBO's series about a New Jersey Mob boss and his family, will air tonight (Sunday), and that reminded me of a left-wing shot at President Bush's anti-terrorism policies, which aired on last Sunday's edition. Daughter “Meadow Soprano,” played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, is a volunteer at a legal aid clinic where she meets an Afghan family whose son was arrested. "The government is just completely fucking this family over," she later complains while sitting next to her boyfriend “Finn” at the kitchen counter of her parent's home, adding: "The FBI snatched their son off the street like we're some Third World dictatorship." When her younger brother suggests that maybe the guy is a terrorist, she angrily retorts: "9/11, 9/11. Bush is using it as an excuse to erode our constitutional protections and you're falling for it!" (A little more dialogue follows.)
The controversial country rock singer Neil Young was interviewed on CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight” Tuesday evening (video link to follow). During the segment, Young talked about his new album which is largely devoted to anti-Bush and anti-war themes.
When CNN’s Sibila Vargas asked Young if impeachment, as discussed in his new song "Let's Impeach the President," was called for, Young responded:
“Yes, yes, I think it is. I think it`s called for, and so do a lot of other people. As a matter of fact, when I played in there for 100 people, they all stood up and gave me a standing ovation. There wasn`t one person that wasn`t standing. And we were looking for that kind of backing.”
As his answer ensued, Young made clear what this “backing” was:
On Monday, for the second straight weekday, Access Hollywood's New York correspondent, Tim Vincent, a veteran of the BBC, sported a hammer and sickle T-shirt as he introduced a story. Just as on Friday's show, as documented in an April 15 NewsBusters item, though he wore a jacket over the red shirt with the symbol of the regime which murdered tens of millions and oppressed hundreds of millions more for decades, a gold hammer and sickle was clearly visible inside a gold-outlined red star which, sans the hammer and sickle, would match the Soviet's Red Army emblem. On Friday's edition of the half-hour entertainment news program produced by NBC and aired on all NBC-owned stations (as well as other stations across the country), viewers saw Vincent in the shirt as he led into a preview of the American Dreamz movie. On Monday, viewers couldn't avoid him in the shirt as co-host Nancy O'Dell set him up and he introduced a piece on his role as an extra in an upcoming Nicole Kidman film.
Given Vincent's identical attire and the same background of Rockefeller Plaza, NBC's headquarters, I'd presume both segments were taped at the same time last week.
Hollywood Reporter says ABC's matriarchal presidential drama "Commander in Chief" has come back with less-than-impressive numbers.
"Commander in Chief" wasn‘t able to muster the troops in its return to primetime Thursday.
The ABC drama, which stars Geena Davis as the nation‘s first female president, averaged 8.2 million viewers and a 2.4 rating/7 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary ratings data from Nielsen Media Research.
In its new 10 p.m. slot, "Commander" was defeated handily by CBS‘s "Without a Trace" (18.6 million, 5.7/16). It had a couple million more viewers than a repeat of NBC‘s "ER" (6 million, 2.6/7) but the repeat did better in the demo.
Teen actress Lindsay Lohan guest hosted Saturday Night Live on April 15. In the opening skit she played a press secretary who pretends to replace actual White House press secretary Scott McClellan. With all the administration reshuffling of late, the joke was that the White House was desperate to find people to fill jobs, including hiring a 16-year-old babysitter (Lohan) to replace McClellan.
This all happened on a fictional version of CNN's "Situation Room" with anchor Wolf Blitzer.
The fictional Wolf Blitzer speculated about who would leave the administration next.
"John Snow, Scott McClellan and Donald Rumsfeld are rumored to be next. Is this the beginning of a Bush staff bloodbath?"
There was breaking news.
"This just in. White House press secretary Scott McClellan resigned to, quote, "spend more time with his family." His replacement has already been named as Brittany Doyle. What can you tell us about Brittany Doyle, Terry?"
Terry Kent, the new White House chief of staff, says Brittany Doyle is "Chief Justice Roberts' baby-sitter. She's 16. Very popular in her school, very confident. And chairman of the prom committee. I think she's a great choice to handle the White House press corps."
According to Editor & Publisher (hat tip to Drudge), rock singer Neil Young recently recorded a song entitled “Impeach the President” which is to be included on his new CD. Apparently, there have been rumors on the Internet that Young was working on an anti-Bush album for some time. These were somewhat confirmed by a blog entry made at Last Turn Left B4 Hooterville on April 7. The blog is the work of Alicia Morgan, a Sherman Oaks, California, musician with a devout hatred of the current administration (emphasis mine):
“On Wednesday, I was at work when I got a call for a Neil Young session the next day. Needless to say, I was excited about it - Neil Young is one of my musical heroes. When my husband and I got to Capitol, we found 98 other singers, a collection of L.A.'s finest. All I knew was that we were singing on a new Neil Young record, but when the lyrics we were supposed to sing flashed on the giant screen, a roar went up from the choir. I'm not going to give the whole thing away, but the first line of one of the songs was ‘Let's impeach the President for lyin'!’"
Isn’t that special? Nothing brings out the music in me more than a good impeachment. Mercilessly, Morgan continued:
Tim Vincent, the Britain-born New York correspondent for Access Hollywood, sported a hammer and sickle T-shirt on Friday's show as he stood in front of NBC's Rockefeller Plaza complex and introduced a piece on American Dreamz, the movie takeoff of American Idol. Though he wore a jacket over the red shirt with the symbol of the regime which murdered tens of millions and oppressed hundreds of millions more for decades, a gold hammer and sickle was clearly visible inside a red star. The gold-outlined red star, sans the hammer and sickle, matches the Soviet's Red Army emblem. I don't get it. Is this some kind of cool statement with thirtysomethings, elite New Yorkers or Brits? Or is it just part of some promotion for an upcoming movie? Imagine the proper outrage that would explode if he had worn a Nazi swastika. I put "hammer and sickle t-shirt" into the Copernic search engine and though I did not find the exact shirt adorned by Vincent, I was shocked to find a couple of dozen sites which sell hammer and sickle T-shirts -- and mugs too.
Vincent, a veteran of the BBC as detailed in his posted bio, is also a contributor of celebrity news for NBC's Today show. Access Hollywood is produced by NBC at its Burbank facility and is carried in the early evening by all the NBC-owned stations -- and by affiliates of NBC and other networks in other cities.
Christians around the world prepare for Easter, magazine readers in Germany were confronted this week by full-page advertisements depicting Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns but descended from the cross, enjoying a television program.
"Laughing rather than hanging around," (Lachen statt rumhaengen) reads the tagline of the ad, which has drawn strong protests in Germany, where two-thirds of the population identifies as Christian.
The ad promotes MTV's plan to broadcast a cartoon lampooning the pope and Vatican hierarchy. The series, Popetown, was considered too controversial to be aired in Britain, and it caused an uproar in the one country where it has appeared, New Zealand.
In November, famed television host Oprah Winfrey was gushing over the possible presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton (D-NY) at the International Emmy Awards ceremony. Unfortunately, it appears that these two prominent liberal women don’t share the same view concerning wealth in our nation, for one panders as if she hates it – lavish book contracts and futures trading forays aside – while the other proudly revels in it.
Bloomberg reported Monday: “In an interview previewing a major speech she will give tomorrow at the Chicago Economic Club, Clinton said, ‘the rich are getting richer, everybody else is marching in place’' and ‘I don't think that's good for us.’''
Well, speak for yourself, sister, for People magazine reported on Tuesday: “Oprah Winfrey is a rich woman – and she's got no problem with that."
Say it isn’t so, Oprah! Liberals aren’t supposed to admit – at least not in public anyway – that they are just as fascinated by money as conservatives: