ABC's World News Sunday presented a sympathetic look at Philadelphia city officials who are threatening to sue the Pennsylvania state government, "dominated by rural lawmakers" from hunting country, for blocking the city's push for more gun regulation in the face of a high murder rate. Correspondent David Kerley suggested a link between New York City's gun control laws and its lower murder rate. Kerley: "Philadelphia has more murders than New York, with six times the population. But unlike New York, Philadelphia cannot pass its own gun laws." Instead of presenting the argument that a greater rate of gun ownership could help reduce crime, Kerley merely showed a soundbite of a Republican lawmaker who argued that gun control would not affect criminals, before concluding: "That argument is being echoed across much of the country, as rural sensibilities continue to rule the gun debate, and cities like Philadelphia prepare for another night, and another shooting death." (Transcript follows)
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.
Anyone whose remote control wandered past an ABC, CBS, or NBC morning "news" show on May 5 probably found the "news" hounds barking enthusiastically over this supposed "news" scoop: Paris Hilton was sentenced to Los Angeles County jail for 45 days. She violated parole after repeated episodes of reckless driving. This was news of national concern.
The morning anchors interviewed legal experts and professional Hollywood celebrity-stalkers to lament this heiress being brought low, complete with bad jokes about the jail being a "one-star Hilton." But they all wondered out loud: Who is to blame for this human train wreck?
Paris, being the thoughtless egotist that she is, blamed her publicist for telling her she could drive to work. That’s baloney. You don’t assign the "help" to read your legal documents for you.
On Friday's 20/20, ABC anchor John Stossel discussed the self-defensive benefits of gun ownership, debunking the myth that 'gun control reduces crime,' during 20/20's recurring series 'Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity,' based on Stossel's book of the same title. Citing the recent Federal Appeals Court for D.C. ruling overturning Washington, D.C.'s ban on gun ownership, Stossel talked to the pro-gun plaintiff in the case, Tom Palmer, and pointed out that the murder rate in D.C. increased after the city's gun ban. Stossel: "Since Washington's gun law passed, the murder rate actually increased, even while America's murder rate dropped. It's because guns can also save lives, says Palmer, as one saved his years ago in California." (Transcript follows)
Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin at the Washington Examiner's gossip page report that ABC is dialing back its D.C. prostitution scoop, and reporter Brian Ross is an unhappy camper:
Yeas & Nays hears that, as of this writing, the segment will reveal only two new names and is currently slotted for a mere seven minutes at the end of the hour-long broadcast (you'll recall that Palfrey turned over nearly 15,000 phone numbers to ABC News back in March).
Interviews with both Palfrey and former deputy secretary of state Randall Tobias (who left the State Department last week after being interviewed by ABC News for the "20/20" piece) are currently scheduled, leaving precious little time remaining for much else (and for all of those salacious details you¹ve been waiting for). Sources tell Yeas & Nays that Ross, who had anticipated a far juicier piece, is none too happy with the final results, especially after he and the network promoted this story for weeks.
On the heels of his award-winning destruction of Congressman Mark Foley over inappropriate instant messages to teenaged House pages, ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross is on the sex beat again. On Monday's Good Morning America, Ross highlighted ABC’s plans to rummage through a D.C. madam’s list of prostitution clients for "people in the Bush administration." But in 1996, when the tabloid newspaper The Star found Bill Clinton’s chief political guru Dick Morris had a relationship with a prostitute, ABC News (and especially anchor Peter Jennings) found it ugly, distasteful business. On the August 26, 1996 World News Tonight, as President Clinton prepared for his convention’s acceptance speech, Jennings began with a complaining tone:
Good evening, we begin tonight with the sweet and the sour of the Presidential campaign. Here in Chicago today the President has been fine tuning as they say, the speech he will be giving to this convention and to the country tonight. And he has a lot to be pleased about. A very upbeat convention. A very successful train trip here with rising poll numbers to accompany it. And very important set of statistics about the economy today, which he will certainly point to as evidence that the country should re-elect him. And then along comes a nasty little scandal to take the edge off the good news at least for the day. The President’s chief political strategist, a man named Dick Morris, resigned from the campaign today, after a story in a supermarket tabloid that he has been having, he’s a married man, a lengthy relationship with a prostitute and talking about his job.
On the Friday edition of ABC’s “20/20,” Diane Sawyer stood in front of an ABC generated visual aid: A gigantic mound of plastic bags and paper towels.
With no sense of irony, the ABC host then proceeded to lecture viewers on waste and the need to use cloth bags at the supermarket. Referring to plastic bags as “plastic flowers,” Sawyer intoned, “They can take up to 1,000 years to degrade in landfills. So tomorrow, use a cloth bag at the grocery store, and let the trees have some real flowers.”
Of course, the ABC host offered this helpful advice right after another segment on inefficient Americans and the amount of paper towels and plastic bags they dispose of:
While viewers were told that the interview with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez “pulled no punches,” you sure could have fooled anyone watching. ABC’s March 16 “Good Morning America” treated Chavez as a man who “does like this country.”
She actually meant the United States.
Flashback to the same network in 2005. Reporter Dan Harris of ABC’s “World News Tonight” was more up front about Chavez in a Nov. 6, 2005, report: “Venezuelan leftist leader Hugo Chavez, who led an anti-American rally while talks for free trade were taking place.”
ABC’s John Stossel is well known for his libertarian views and for challenging liberal conventional wisdom. On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, Stossel was at it again as he debunked the widely held perception that liberals are more generous in their charitable contributions than conservatives. As part of a 20/20 special airing Wednesday night, Stossel interviewed Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks, who conducted a study which found that conservatives, while making slightly less money than liberals, actually contribute more:
John Stossel: "But it turns out that this idea that liberals give more is a myth. These are the twenty-five states where people give an above average percent of their income, twenty-four were red states in the last presidential election."
Arthur Brooks, Who Really Cares, author: "When you look at the data, it turns out the conservatives give about thirty percent more per conservative-headed family than per liberal-headed family. And incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less money."
In Monday's Media Notes column in the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz found the media are attracted to polls like crack cocaine, and they've "grown addicted to the GOP-in-trouble narrative." Kurtz says it isn't about liberal bias, but the desire for a change in story line. Riiight. Journalists confirm that Democrats have been boasting of a takeover:
"If you mention something enough times, you make it seem as if it must be so," says NBC's Williams. But, he says, "if the media are guilty of beating the Democratic House takeover drums, the media share that guilt with prominent Democrats, who in on- and off-the-record settings have indeed been all but measuring the drapes."
"Last Days on Planet Earth" was the alarming title of ABC's 20/20 special tonight, a show that presented seven frightening scenarios that could lead to our extinction. But the bottom six in the countdown, things like supervolcanoes and asteroid strikes, nuclear annihilation and superbugs (natural and man-made) were only window dressing for the real point of the show; the number one threat to human existence...global warming.
Hostess Elizabeth Vargas trotted out carefully selected environmental scientists to explain the concept to anyone who has been comatose for the past decade or so, leading up to the star of this 20/20 special - Al Gore. Gore sonorously (and soporifically) intoned his orthodoxy, and declared a fatwah against any heretics who might disagree with his conclusions.
The New York Sun reports that ABC "20/20" co-anchor John Stossel was confronted by protestors outside the studio who were enraged by a report he did on public schools. Organized by the United Federation of Teachers, hundreds of teachers waved signs and shouted at him to apologize for a January segment called "Stupid in America," which the teachers said called them "lazy."
"This sums up, without using obscenities, what I think of John Stossel," said a Brooklyn health teacher who held a donkey picture with Stossel's face taped to the rear end.
The kids'll love that one.
John Stossel went out, with a camera crew, to meet the protestors. One teacher invited the "20/20" anchor to come visit her classroom.
On Friday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s Charlie Gibson and Barbara Walters, while doing a promo for her upcoming interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell to be aired on 20/20 later that evening, appear to have distorted the meaning of some of Powell’s statements:
Gibson: There's a number of things in this. Number one you ask about whether he, he laid out in that speech some connection between terrorism and Saddam Hussein and you asked him about that.
Walters to Powell: When you learned that you had been misled how did you feel?
This is creative editing to make a point different than what Powell was stating. Gibson asked Walters about a connection between terrorism and Saddam Hussein. However, Walters’ question to Powell about having been misled was concerning weapons of mass destruction. This is how the ABC News website related the exchange: