Nightline

By Scott Whitlock | March 23, 2011 | 4:58 PM EDT

ABC anchor Diane Sawyer on Tuesday interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for World News and Nightline, but offered no questions about the Obama administration's failure to seek congressional approval for air strikes in Libya. Instead, the journalist seemed fascinated by the decision-making process, repeatedly asking about Clinton's "decisive" role in going ahead with the bombing.

Sawyer quizzed, "We have read, repeatedly, that you were decisive in this. Did you persuade President Obama? Was yours the voice that turned around the opponents?" The intrigued World News anchor followed-up by asking if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates "opposed" her.

A vague Clinton prompted Sawyer to press, "So, you're not going to characterize yourself in the hierarchy?" Two parts of the interview aired on World News. A replay aired on Nightline. In all of this, Sawyer never wondered about Obama bypassing Congress. This was a topic journalists were keenly interested when it related to George W. Bush and Iraq.

By Matthew Philbin | March 7, 2011 | 10:43 AM EST

If they ever take a break from publicizing Charlie Sheen’s cocaine dos and dont's, or detailing the power politics within his Beverly Hills harem, the networks should grab a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. And they may want to pay special attention to this entry: “Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”

From Feb. 1 through March 6, the three networks distinguished themselves by devoting 20 times more broadcast time to Charlie Sheen’s porn stars and drug issues than to the Planned Parenthood video scandal and the subsequent vote in the House of Representatives to defund the organization.

(Video below the fold)

By Alex Fitzsimmons | February 25, 2011 | 4:03 PM EST

What do oil refineries and rental cars have in common? They will probably kill you, at least according to ABC's Brian Ross.

Ross is either bored with his job or just doesn't seem to care about frightening his viewers with exaggerated reports. But either way, ABC's chief investigative correspondent is breathing new life into the term yellow journalism.

Those who are familiar with Ross's work might notice an emerging pattern of sensationalism. The latest case studies concern oil refineries in Texas, which Ross's colleague described as the "toxic threat next door," and rental cars, which Ross himself cautioned are like "a consumer's version of Russian roulette."

By Scott Whitlock | February 24, 2011 | 5:51 PM EST

According to Nightline anchors Terry Moran and Bill Weir, new Republican Senator Rand Paul is "radical," "controversial" and longs to take a chainsaw to the Department of Education. Using hyperbolic language, Weir profiled Paul for Wednesday's program.

 Co-anchor Moran previewed the segment by attempting to isolate the Kentucky politician: "Up next, even the most conservative Republicans balk at his proposals for slashing government." As a cartoon graphic of a crazed-looking Paul appeared onscreen wielding a chainsaw, Weir hyperventilated, "So, while the President argues for a budget scalpel, Rand Paul would use a chainsaw, shutting down the Departments of Energy and education."

The journalist continued, "He would kill the Consumer Product Safety Commission, shrink the Pentagon and cut off all foreign aid." Dismissing Paul's call for spending restraint, the ABC anchor challenged, "Does the richest nation in the history of nations have a responsibility to take care of its weakest?"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]

By Scott Whitlock | January 21, 2011 | 12:29 PM EST

According to ABC's Christiane Amanpour, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is "eerily relevant" to the attempted killing of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords less than two weeks ago. Talking to President Kennedy's sister on Thursday's Nightline, she wondered if the "political atmosphere" between the two acts of violence was the same.

Amanpour, the host of This Week, was highlighting the 50th anniversary of JFK's inaugural address and offered the standard liberal praise for Kennedy, asserting that his "face still has a powerful grip on the American psyche." Interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, the journalist connected, "It's an episode eerily relevant today in the wake of the assassination attempt against Gabrielle Giffords less than two weeks ago."

Like many other journalists, Amanpour indicated that even if gunman Jared Loughner wasn't motivated by politics, a connection could still be made: "A congresswoman was targeted. No matter what the reason, how would you describe the atmosphere, the political atmosphere today in the country?"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
 

By Brad Wilmouth | December 28, 2010 | 2:20 PM EST

On the Wednesday, December 22, Nightline on ABC, inspired by recent extreme weather, correspondent Dan Harris filed a report on global warming in which he gave attention to the views of a proponent of global warming theory, while giving a lesser amount of attention to two skeptics, one of whom he labeled "controversial."

Harris related that, "despite all that compelling evidence" of global warming, climate scientists "feel more embattled than ever," taking heat from "politicians on the right." He even went so far as to highlight examples of reported harassment of climate scientists, including anti-Semitic insults.

Harris also concluded his report passing on a warning from scientists that there will be more "extremely deadly weather" in the future "if the world doesn’t act very quickly":

Corbyn is now predicting a mini ice age in the coming years. However, the vast, vast majority of climate scientists disagree and say, if you like this year’s extreme and extremely deadly weather, you’ll likely get much more if the world doesn’t act very quickly.

By Matt Hadro | December 17, 2010 | 11:33 AM EST

ABC's "Nightline" touted a PolitiFact story Thursday that rated the five biggest lies of 2010 in politics. The number one lie? Republicans calling the health care bill a "government takeover of health care."

When asked why the claim received the status of biggest lie of the year, PolitiFact.com editor Bill Adair answered that it was "so pervasive" and "just not true."

"It was so pervasive. It was said by the Republican leadership, by Republicans running for Congress, said by Republicans running for governor. And it's just not true. This is a plan that uses the private health insurance system to expand health care coverage."

While the bill does not constitute a single-payer health care system, the 2,200 pages of legislation nonetheless contain countless new rules and regulations enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services, among other federal institutions.
 

By Scott Whitlock | December 15, 2010 | 2:33 PM EST

While NBC on Tuesday focused on the "funny" and "intelligent" side of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Nightline's Brian Ross conducted a tough, hard-hitting investigation into the questionable finances of the man attacked by colleagues as a "dictator."

Ross used the December 14 ABC program to raise questions about "what's happened to the group's money" and to highlight former colleagues who say Assange "has turned the website into a cult of personality."

While many of the individuals Ross talked to were just as committed to Assange's leftist cause of leaking military documents, they did raise serious accusations about the organization's finances. [MP3 audio here.]

Video after the jump.

By Scott Whitlock | December 1, 2010 | 4:09 PM EST

Asking a wife if she loves her husband isn't exactly the most insightful question, but that's one of the softballs that Barbara Walters tossed to Michelle and Barack Obama during an hour long edition of 20/20 on Friday. She also asked the President if he curses and what Lincoln means to him.

At one point, the journalist lauded Michelle Obama as "comfortable" and "outspoken." Walters then cooed, "You love him very much, don't you?" (The First Lady's unsurprising answer? "Yes, I do.")

Digging for answers, the reporter investigated Mr. Obama, "Do you ever curse?...You pray?" Walters also allowed the President the chance to attack the internet, bringing up insinuations that he's a Muslim: "Why do you think it is that so many people think you're a Muslim and why is that confusion?"

Video below the break

By Brad Wilmouth | November 16, 2010 | 12:21 AM EST

 On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" to respond to former ABC anchor Ted Koppel’s inclusion of him and MSNBC in his recent Washington Post op-ed criticizing the modern news industry. After praising former news man Edward R. Murrow for taking a stand on Senator Joseph McCarthy and Walter Cronkite for doing the same on the Vietnam War and Watergate, Olbermann complained that, unlike himself, Koppel had "worshiped before the false god of utter objectivity" instead of going after the Bush administration over the Iraq war, and claimed that last week he criticized President Obama more than Fox News primetime did President Bush in eight years. Olbermann:

Moreover, while Fox may be such, we are not doctrinaire. I cannot prove it, so I'll have to estimate it here, and if I'm proved wrong I'll happily correct it, but my intuition tells me I criticized President Obama more in the last week than Fox's primetime hosts criticized President Bush in eight years.

And, even though Olbermann has a history of distorting the words of conservatives to portray them in the worst possible light, and of passing on incorrect information without retraction, Olbermann congratulated himself for recently deciding not to include misinformation about President Bush on his show, and suggested that FNC or CNN would not have made sure not to include such incorrect information. Olbermann:

By Scott Whitlock | November 8, 2010 | 4:33 PM EST

During four days of coverage, ABC skipped the conservative perspective while reporting on Keith Olbermann's suspension. The network also used the liberal label only once. Good Morning America covered the story on Saturday and Monday and never used the word.

Friday's Nightline briefly highlighted the story. Anchor Bill Weir referred to Olbermann as MSNBC's "liberal star" and someone who has "leftward leanings." On Monday's GMA, co-host Robin Roberts pontificated on the cable host, suspended because he made political donations to three Democrats.

She fretted, "It's a move that raises questions about the changing role of journalism and whether cable news networks and others are abandoning the goal of impartial reporting." (Conservatives would probably argue that MSNBC long ago stopped caring about such things.)

By Scott Whitlock | October 2, 2010 | 5:05 PM EDT

It seems that Dan Rather-style journalism, putting forth fake information to promote the supposed greater good, extends to animal documentaries as well. On Tuesday's Nightline, reporter John Donvan exposed this dishonesty in a lengthy segment. But he also partially defended the practice of   falsifying scenes of animals in the wild in order to promote conservation. He even featured a participant who justified the practice as "worth it to have told the lie." [MP3 audio here.]

After showing completely manipulated scenes of wolves and whales, of rented, captive animals being portrayed as wild, Donvan spun, "Some argue that using captive animals actually spares truly wild animals the trauma, disruption and danger that comes with human contact."

The ABC correspondent interviewed Chris Palmer, a whistle blower who worked on several of these documentaries and exposed the fraud in his new book Shooting the Wild. Yet, Palmer, who is an environmental professor at American University, excused the practice: "I think you could make the argument that this is okay, because the film is going to do a lot of good...Maybe it's worth it to have told the lie."