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."
ABC's John Berman on Wednesday sarcastically narrated a brief history of Tea Party movement. Interestingly, the Nightline reporter (see file photo at right) skipped the media's role in suggesting that the Tea Party movement is filled with racists. He only vaguely recounted, "Tea Party called fringe, called racist, called a fad."
Hinting these protesters are extreme should be familiar to Berman. On the February 5, 2010 World News, he chided the first Tea Party convention: "But barely scratch the surface, and there’s a tone of anger and confrontation."
Berman added, "One of the goals of this convention is to turn this movement into a political force. The question is, does the harsh rhetoric keep them on the fringe?"
ABC's Bill Weir, the former co-host of weekend Good Morning America, debuted on Monday as the new co-anchor of Nightline. ABC President David Westin lauded Weir in July for conducting "some of our most innovative reporting." But, he may be better known for standard liberal bias, such as hyperbolically asserting during Barack Obama's inauguration: "From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity."
More recently, during the debate over Arizona's new immigration law, Weir fretted, "There is a fear-driven exodus going on in Arizona tonight." In April, he interrogated Sheriff Joe Apraio: "With this new law, will you ramp it up? Will you, will you grab people on street corner?" Examples of Weir's bias, with video and audio, can be found below:
Despite widespread criticism of President Barack Obama's Oval Office address on the Gulf oil spill–including flak from MSNBC's left-wing posse of Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Howard Fineman–ABC's Terry Moran and George Stephanopoulos on the June 15 "Nightline" fawned over the president's speech and ignored its obvious shortcomings.
In recapping the address, Moran could not contain his adulation for Obama's ability to assert his presidential authority and inspire the nation:
"For the first time in the Oval Office, President Obama addressed the nation. A nation anxious and doubtful about his leadership on the environmental catastrophe that's unfolded in the Gulf for 57 days. So, the main goal tonight, show the country he's truly in charge."
"President Obama, who finished a two-day trip to the Gulf Coast this afternoon, clearly wanted to project power in his handling with the oil spill, and the most direct way to do that is to use the language of war of the commander-in-chief."
"As the cleanup efforts continue to grapple with the giant spill, residents all along the coast have grown more and more worried, more and more angry and the president spoke to that directly tonight, and he made a promise."
"At the end, like so many in the Oval Office before him, President Obama asked for prayers."
MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Wednesday gave "kudos" to the Phoenix Suns basketball team for protesting Arizona's tough new policy on illegal immigration. The host touted, "The team is set to wear Los Suns jerseys tonight on Cinco de Mayo in response to Arizona's controversial [law]."
Ratigan enthused that congratulations were in order and added, "Around here we call that a slam dunk." The cable anchor quoted the team's owner playing up the move as one to honor Hispanics.
Clearly, however, there is a political angle. The same Robert Sarver also derided the legislation as "a flawed state law." Suns point guard Steve Nash attacked the bill as "very misguided, and unfortunately, to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties."
ABC's Nightline on Thursday provided a welcome look at the significant number of meteorologists in America who are skeptical of man-made global warming. Instead of simply dismissing their views, reporter David Wright interviewed Accuweather's Joe Bastardi and allowed him to assert, "I think that the warming that we're having is cyclical in nature."
Such sentiments are not often seen on Nightline or other mainstream media programs. However, the program did put a more positive spin the agenda of climate scientists. Talking to Michael Mann, one of those involved in the ClimateGate scandal, Wright asserted, "Penn State's Michael Mann is one of the scientists who last year had his E-mails hacked and quoted worldwide by climate change skeptics as proof that scientists were cooking the books."
The journalist didn't explain what was in the hacked E-mails or even what the controversy was. (Mann and others discussed climate "tricks" and how to fudge and delete unfavorable data.) Instead, Wright sympathized, "You see this as a smear campaign?"
Looking at the state of both parties after President Obama’s health bill win in the House, ABC’s Terry Moran elevated the view of “prominent conservative” David Frum, author a year ago of Newsweek’s “Why Rush is Wrong” cover story, who blamed Rush Limbaugh and Fox News for what he’s dubbed the GOP’s “Waterloo.” On Nightline, Moran contended “anger, stoking it, expressing it, riding it...was the Republican strategy to defeat health care. And over the weekend all that anger got ugly, as some Democratic Members of Congress were called vile, racial and anti-gay slurs.”
But, he warned, “in the wake of the Democrats’ victory, some Republicans are not sure all that anger makes good politics,” as if Limbaugh and other conservative leaders advocated yelling the “slurs.” Moran relayed how “Frum says the real leadership of the Republican Party during the course of the health care battle was not to be found in the halls of Congress, but on the air waves” since “it was talk radio and Fox News, Frum argues, that drove the GOP strategy.” Moran paraphrased Frum’s take:
It sounds like you're saying that the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, hijacked the Republican Party and drove it to a defeat?
On ABC last Wednesday, both World News and Nightline featured a report filed by correspondent Dan Harris in which he linked the activities of some American evangelical Christian pastors with anti-gay hatred and attempts by Uganda’s parliament at passing death penalty legislation to punish homosexuals in the African nation. Each of the reports focused on the extreme views of American pastor Scott Lively and Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, without including the views of more mainstream American evangelical leaders.
On World News, anchor Diane Sawyer teased: "Gay terror: Have some American evangelical ministers helped threaten the lives of homosexuals in Africa?" She later plugged the report again: "And still ahead on World News, a death threat for gays. It happened after American evangelicals delivered a potent message."
In the version of the report that ran on Nightline, Harris made a point of mentioning Pastor Rick Warren as being a "one-time friend" of Pastor Ssempa. And, though Harris’s reference to Pastor Warren as a "one-time friend" perhaps implies a falling out between the two men, the ABC correspondent could have more directly informed viewers that Pastor Warren released a statement last October declaring that he had not associated with Pastor Ssempa since 2007.
Furthermore, last December, Pastor Warren released a video message for Christians in Uganda in which he attacked the proposed anti-gay law as legislation "I completely oppose and I vigorously condemn," as he went on to declare, "The potential law before your parliament is unjust, it’s extreme, and it’s un-Christian toward homosexuals, requiring death penalty even in some cases."
Nightline's Chris Bury on Monday investigated the so-called 9/11 Truth movement, but made no effort to look at the ideological make up of those who believe that the government was behind the 2001 terror attacks. Reporting from the group's convention, he asserted, "Over the weekend hundreds of Americans calling themselves 9/11 Truthers gathered at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. They come from all over the political spectrum."
However, according to a 2007 poll by Rasmussen, 35 percent of Democrats believed that President Bush knew about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in advance. Yet, Bury blandly explained, "They are an eclectic group with widely different agenda, including war protestors, first responders who feel neglected and families of some 9/11 victims."
March is Women's History Month, in which we acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of women in history and in society today.
But for a select group of women - conservative women - their accomplishments and contributions are rarely celebrated but often demeaned and mocked in sexist - and crassly sexual - ways.
The Culture & Media Insitute looked back at what the media had to say over the past year about some of today's most prominent conservative women, including Michelle Malkin, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sarah Palin and Liz Cheney, and compiled a list of the 10 worst attacks on these women who dare to speak out in favor of conservative values.
Much of the criticism was the worst sort of misogyny with a dose of violence and disgusting adolescent sex references thrown in for good measure. The media outlets in question ranged from Playboy magazine to MSNBC to Sirius XM radio and included comments from both men and women.
The message that rang through loud and clear was that perspectives from conservative women were not appreciated or welcomed, and if a woman stepped out of line, she deserved whatever treatment she received.
Liberal weatherman Sam Champion appeared on Friday's Nightline to attack the idea that global warming could be dismissed because of the snowy winter suffered by much of the country. He complained, "There's really no way you can connect it to climate change or global warming. This is a seasonal pattern that we're in." [Audio available here.]
And yet, on the June 9, 2008 edition of Good Morning America, Champion reported on the late spring heat wave much America was enduring. He alerted, "Dr. Stephen Schneider of Stanford University believes climate change is also playing a role."
Schneider proclaimed, "While this heat wave, like all other heat waves, is made by Mother Nature, we've been fooling around by turning the knob and making it a little bit hotter."
Nightline anchor Terry Moran started laughing Wednesday night just as George Will finished his critique of President Obama’s State of the Union address while Democratic activist Donna Brazile was also not impressed by Will’s assessment. Leading into the chortling from Moran, who is reportedly under consideration to take over This Week, Will wrapped up:
Finally, he said at one point that we are going to freeze government spending for three years. That’s just not true. We’re proposing to freeze one-sixth of government spending for three years. Finally, the motif of his talk was Washington is tiresome, annoying and dysfunctional -- and Washington should have more of the nation’s revenue and a bigger role directing its affairs.
Was Moran scoffing at Will’s evaluation of Obama’s speech, just amused by Brazile’s disdain for Will as Will spoke which Moran, but not the audience, could see -- or just reacting to something else in the studio? You watch and decide.
The guy has an hour-long television show that isn't the highest-rated program on cable television, but does fairly well considering the circumstances. Yet, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who has expressed his own "unhinged" anger about the Supreme Court ruling that corporations have a free speech right to participate in elections, says there is a deficiency of anger about the ruling.
Olbermann, on the Jan. 22 "Countdown," launched into another one of his abbreviated tirades, or what he calls is a "Quick Comment" and blasted his colleagues in the media for not being as "enlightened" as he thinks they should be.
"I worked full-time in sports for about 20 years and I've worked full- time in news for about 10 years," Olbermann said. "And after yesterday, I must finally say aloud what I have long thought but have been reluctant to voice. The average person in the American news industry appears to be about one-fifth as plugged into the world he or she covers, as does the average person in the American sports industry.
Nightline’s Brian Ross on Monday filed a hyperbolic report on "secret Jesus codes" that are on the sights of rifles used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Ross featured two voices highly critical of the fact that Bible versus can be found on these weapons, but no clip of the opposing side. Ross repeated, "Michael Weinstein runs the Military Religious Freedom Foundation which claims thousands of members in the US military who he says are endangered by the secret Bible codes."
On the MRFF website, the organization trumpets, "MRFF breaks major news story." Ross featured Weinstein in four separate clips, but never once mentioned whether he was fed the information, nor does he note the harshly anti-religious tone of the group. The website currently touts this fund-raising pitch: "The wall separating church and state in the U.S. military has collapsed. MRFF desperately needs you to Help Build The Wall!"
On Monday’s Nightline, co-host Martin Bashir conducted a one-sided, hostile profile of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s "brutal regime" and attacked his crackdown on illegal immigration as "racial profiling." The 11 minute investigation of the Maricopa County law enforcement official was almost totally negative. [Audio available here.]
After the Arizona sheriff asserted that his critics don’t like him because they oppose immigration enforcement, Bashir opined, "They don't like it because stopping people on the streets because they look Hispanic is racial profiling." In an interview with Newsmax, Arpaio claimed, "We've arrested and detained over 33,000 illegal aliens, 25 percent of the whole country..."
But rather than focus on successes, Bashir complained about the sheriff’s methods: "You're basically using minor misdemeanors, minor mistakes, perhaps speeding, as an excuse to then pick these individuals up?" The Nightline co-host aggressively focused on allegations of abuse. After bringing up claims of brutality and a botched prostitution ring, Bashir derided, "Doesn’t your brutal regime lead to brutality by your staff?"
Imagine if you will that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was accused of taking gift cards donated to her office for redistribution to needy constituents and using them instead for a personal spending spree.
The media firestorm would swirl uncontrollably, of course, and certainly you couldn't fault the media for reporting on the ensuing criminal trial.
Well, this sort of this has happened, only to the Democratic mayor of Baltimore Sheila Dixon who was convicted yesterday on a misdemeanor charge of embezzling, yet the coverage from the broadcast networks has been non-existent until the trial's conclusion.
A search of "Sheila Dixon" among ABC, CBS, and NBC news transcripts catalogued on Nexis from January 1, 2007 to December 2, 2009 yielded only three hits. None of the stories were about Dixon's trial, and one, an April 30, 2008 "Nightline" story on predatory mortgage lending, cast Dixon in a favorable light as a champion of citizens who have been exploited by mortgage lenders.
Is Twitter a place where journalists betray their biases? Yes, in the case of ABC Nightline anchor Terry Moran. If you like the "feeling of hope," then you favor Obama's prize.
Today: "Obama's Nobel is an award to a feeling more than any deed:the feeling of hope.Justified?Depends on what you think of the Nobel--and of hope."
Last week, after the Chicago Olympic fiasco: "Today this Chicago-born die-hard is crestfallen. I know--lots of people are happy: Obama-haters, fiscal cons, etc. But not me. I need a pop."
Moran doesn’t "tweet" multiple times a day – unlike ABC’s Jake Tapper (who joked on Twitter today about Arizona State refusing an honorary degree: "apparently the standards are more exacting for an ASU honorary degree these days.") But Moran did get repeatedly exercised over Rep. Joe Wilson’s yelling at Obama:
Adultery did not fare well during a September 24 "Nightline" broadcast about the issue, but that didn't keep ABC's Cynthia McFadden from asking an evangelical pastor if he felt "a little intolerant" for his conservative views on the subject.
McFadden moderated a debate that tried to answer the question, "Are we born to cheat?" but appeared to mock Pastor Ed Young's responses whenever she could.
The proponents of adultery who appeared on the panel included Jenny Block, an author and participant in an open marriage, and Noel Biderman, the president and CEO of Ashley Madison, a Web site designed to help people begin extra-marital affairs. To be fair, Block and Biderman did face some tough questioning about their views, but they did not receive the same derision McFadden levied at Young.
The Associated Press on Thursday released a fact check of Micahel Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, the director’s socialistic new movie. And while writer Rachel Beck asserted "some of [Moore's] arguments...fall apart on closer inspection," ABC managed no such scrutiny when it offered 13 minutes to the filmmaker on Tuesday and Wednesday.
For instance, while talking to Nightline host Terry Moran on Tuesday, Moore attacked, "I believe this [Wall Street] is a crime scene. I believe that millions of Americans have had their pensions robbed from them, their jobs stolen from them." The ABC co anchor offered no real response and excitedly enthused that Moore is an "American populist in the grand tradition, a provocateur, a comic, a rhetorical bomb thrower." However, the AP’s Beck critiqued this hyperbolic assertion about robbery:
In less than 24 hours, ABC devoted 13 minutes to rhapsodizing over liberal Michael Moore’s new, "deeply Christian" film, Capitalism: A Love Story. Featuring the director first on Tuesday’s Nightline, co-anchor Terry Moran took his socialistic agenda seriously and opened the show by teasing, "Is capitalism evil?" (In 2007, the network contributed 21 minutes to Sicko, totaling 34 minutes of promotion for the two films.)
On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, co-host Chris Cuomo cooed, "Many critics are calling the documentary Moore's best ever." He also raved, "You demonstrate the [capitalism] question very well in the new movie. And you do it lots of different ways. People will get where you’re coming from."
On Nightline, Moran offered a few tough questions to the filmmaker, but made no effort to hide his admiration. He extolled, "He's an American populist in the grand tradition, a provocateur, a comic, a rhetorical bomb thrower." The ABC host marveled that Moore hates capitalism "with a savagely funny...and surprisingly religious passion."
ABC’s Terry Moran on Wednesday hyperbolically spun Barack Obama’s congressional speech as a "bold call to action" and theatrically visualized, "There was another ghost in the chamber tonight, the spirit of Senator Ted Kennedy, who fought for decades for universal care."
Earlier in the Nightline segment, which recapped the President’s health care address, the co-anchor introduced his political revision of A Christmas Carol: "Yes, there were ghosts in that chamber tonight. The other Presidents who tried to reform the health care system and failed."
After discussing the outburst by South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, who accused the President of being a liar, Moran declared, "The President simply moved on. Focusing on his message. Trying to take the high road. Leaving Wilson and others behind."
Nightline correspondent Vicki Mabrey profiled self-described "financial terrorist" Bruce Marks on Friday, painting his actions in a religious light as a "revival of spirits" and "hopes." Co-host Cynthia McFadden began the show by rhapsodizing, "The financial terrorist. He’s on the front lines of the foreclosure front using guerrilla tactics on a crusade to restore the American dream."
She continued, "And he's taking dead aim at the big banks. Is there anything he could do for you?" Mabrey did offer Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) CEO Marks a few tough questions, noting that his organization, which tries to help homeowners restructure their loans, also uses extreme tactics, such as protesting outside the homes and schools of the children of financial executives.
In the early hours of Wednesday, reporter John Donvan narrated a tough, comprehensive look at the life of Ted Kennedy, one that went so far as to assert that the Senator was sometimes "a let down, an embarrassment to his family, to his party, to himself." However, this eight and a half minute segment, which looked into Chappaquiddick, Kennedy’s cheating at Harvard and other scandals, aired at 2:30 (11:30 on the west coast) in the morning, during a special, late night edition of Nightline.
A much shorter, sanitized version of the piece was replayed on the August 26 edition of World News With Charles Gibson. It left out the harsh words about being a "failure," the accounts of public intoxication and affairs, all of which were featured in the Nightline segment.
ABC’s Terry Moran on Wednesday spun Ted Kennedy’s political career as one of a "happy warrior" who should be looked to for direction in "these bitter times." However, it’s hard to square this description of Kennedy with the vitriolic speech the Senator made in 1987 condemning Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Reporting on Kennedy’s death soon after it was announced, Moran noted that Kennedy was a liberal and rhapsodized, "He was in many of those battles a divisive figure because of his beliefs, but never because of his heart. He was a happy warrior." The Nightline anchor closed out his report by cooing, "And in these bitter times when anger and contempt seem to become the language of our politics, maybe it’s the old fashion joy Ted Kennedy brought to politics that we miss the most and need now."
Old fashioned joy? Kennedy certainly sounded bitter and angry when he took to the Senate floor on July 01, 1987 and trashed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s America as a place were "blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters" and "rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids."
ABC’s "Nightline" on Thursday celebrated Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as a "Jackie Robinson moment" and also highlighted cheering crowds at an event put on by the left-wing Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund (PRLDF). Correspondent John Donvan failed to identify the liberal bent of the organization, which has vociferously lobbied for abortion rights, though he did note that Sotomayor served on the group’s board.
In addition to comparing Sotomayor’s confirmation to Jackie Robinson’s entry into baseball, Donvan actually brought on Democratic operative-turned-ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos to reference what it was like for Greek Americans when Michael Dukakis ran for President in 1988. Stephanopoulos enthused, "There was something that trumped the politics, the partisanship. I knew a lot of Republican Greeks who were supporting a Democrat for first time just because he was one of them."
Donvan described the Greek American Stephanopoulos as "somebody who should know" what it felt like. But he failed to specifically mention that the ABC host also worked for the Dukakis campaign at the time. Earlier in the piece, Donvan raved, "And while this is definitely a Latino thing, it is also, we should say, an American thing....Call it a Jackie Robinson moment, to borrow a lesson from sports."
UPDATED: 2009-07-31 10:30:18 -0400 ABC’s Pierre Thomas landed an exclusive interview with Eric Holder on Wednesday’s Nightline, quizzing the Attorney General on race relations in America. Somehow, however, the reporter managed to completely ignore Holder’s incendiary remark from February that America is a "nation of cowards" when dealing with race relations.
One would assume such a statement might be relevant to Thomas’ questions about the ongoing controversy involving the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Gates by a police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Instead, the correspondent ignored the context, even as he explained, "[Holder] said the controversy in Cambridge proves more needs to be done in race relations." Thomas queried, "Have we reached the point where law enforcement is color blind?"
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.
ABC’s Nightline on Monday didn’t allow Sarah Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska to pass without airing yet another dismissive segment, reminiscing about the "madcap" politician. Co-anchor Martin Bashir derided her exit as a "real-life Northern Exposure." Reporter Neal Karlinsky proceeded to drag out every cliched Tina Fey clip and supposed gaffe from the 2008 election.
Speaking of Palin's selection as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, he allowed that the politician was a "rock star" at GOP events. Karlinsky then chided, "But once she veered off script and was forced to answer questions, her image began to shift."
The Nightline correspondent attempted to frame unwanted coverage of Palin as publicity stunts. "From the Levi Johnston scandal...to a seemingly endless series of ethics complaints, to a feud with David Letterman, controversy was Palin's constant companion." A feud with David Letterman? It’s not as though the governor preemptively picked a fight with the late night comedian. (The CBS host made crude jokes about Palin’s teenage daughter on his program, prompting a response.)
Host Martin Bashir raised the question, “And with 1 in 3 adults now clinically obese, it seems the message of eating less and exercising more is still struggling to get through. But is there something in the food we eat that may be adding to the problem?”
Correspondent Juju Chang thought so. “Greg Wells is a recovering addict. But his vice wasn’t heroin or meth. It was something available over the counter,” she said. “… the grocery store counter.”
Wells was not alone. Former FDA head David Kessler explained that “he too was a conditioned hypereater.” Chang stated that according to Kessler, “for roughly 70 million people, their brains are wired in such a way that they are literally hooked on food.”
Wrapping up a preview of his day with President Barack Obama for Thursday's Nightline, live from Cleveland ABC's Terry Moran informed World News anchor Charles Gibson:
I also took the opportunity at this juncture to ask Mr. Obama about how the presidency is affecting and shaping his spiritual life, and he said, Charlie, that before he was elected, he had a habit of praying every night, but that now he prays all the time.
TERRY MORAN: As you know there's a lot of curiosity about you and what you do, what you wear, all these things. And where you worship. If I may ask, how has -- how have the responsibilities of the presidency affected your spiritual life, if at all?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I had a habit of praying every night before I go to bed. I pray all the time now (laughter)...