What was the highest-grossing independent film of 2008?
"Milk?" "Slumdog Millionaire?" Woody Allen's "Vicky Christina Barcelona?"
How about a Christian-themed movie called "Fireproof?"
If you're surprised, the idea that ABC's "Nightline" would not only point this out, but also do a segment on Friday evening dealing with the rise in faith-based films from what they referred to as "Godlywood" might be even more shocking (quotes from article at ABCNews.com follow, video of segment available here):
ABC reporter Yunji de Nies filed a gushing profile piece on Tuesday's "Nightline" for the first 100 days of Michelle Obama, showering praise on the President's wife. De Nies rhapsodized, “From her inaugural debut, Michelle Obama has been the belle of the ball.” Playing a clip of Mrs. Obama unveiling a statue for abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the ABC journalist described the First Lady as “perhaps the most powerful woman of the moment.” (If that's so, shouldn't reporters such as de Nies try to be slightly less fawning in their coverage?)
De Nies used the type of descriptions that have become typical from reporters who discuss the Obamas. She informed, “Her European tour solidified her rock star status," then added, “She held her own in a fashion face-off with model turned singer turned First Lady of France, Carla Bruni Sarkozy.”
"Nightline" co-host Terry Moran on Wednesday committed an act of snide and unnecessary moral equivalence, connecting video of torture occurring in the Middle East and the political debate over how to handle enemy combatants captured by the U.S. ABC correspondent Brian Ross filed a report on video of a member of the United Arab Emirates' royal family filming himself as he brutalized a man, accused of stealing grain, with a cattle prod, hit him with a nail and then proceeded to drive over the victim with his Mercedes.[audio available here]
As the segment ended, Moran drew a comparison, "Brian, that is a shocking investigation on so many levels, especially as our own country is engaged in a wrenching debate on torture." Now, whatever one thinks of waterboarding, sleep depravation and putting an insect in with someone afraid of bugs, such tactics certainly don't equal this barbaric act, described by Ross: "The tape ends with what appears to be attempted murder. The victim is left semi-conscious as Sheik Issa drives over him back and forth with his Mercedes SUV."
Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh says the mainstream media attitude on President Barack Obama is that he is too big to fail. What CNN has planned for the night of April 29 is one of several signs that could be the case.
"CNN is marking President Barack Obama's 100th day in office with prime-time coverage that will recall last year's primary and general election nights, right down to John King's magic wall," the AP article said. "The network says it will compile a national report card of Obama's performance, using opinion polls and a series of viewer surveys. The big night is April 29, a week from this Wednesday, pre-empting regular programming."
Our cosmopolitan elites have embraced the smutty Fox cartoon "Family Guy." A month ago, oh-so-sophisticated National Public Radio used their parody song "Everybody Poops" to report on Julius Genachowski, the incoming chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Perhaps it was NPR’s way of welcoming in an Obama appointee who everyone expects will "lighten up" at the FCC and let Hollywood go wild with its "poetic license."
Now it’s ABC’s "Nightline" paying homage to "Family Guy," and in the process, telling us a lot more about "Nightline" than about this stupid show. They presented the show’s lame-brained "mastermind" Seth MacFarlane as a man of incredible talent, even a genius. At the top of their April 6 show, anchor Martin Bashir cooed: "Funny Guy. No topic is too taboo, no subject off limits for this critically acclaimed cartoonist."
In a surprising turn for the network, ABC’s “Nightline” included a strong pro-abstinence message on April 6 when it featured comedian and radio host Steve Harvey.
Harvey is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” which is all about love and relationships and includes advice on waiting to “give up the cookie.”
Sharyn Alfonsi’s insightful interview with Harvey who has found success with his down-to-earth advice found in his book. “A guy that’s really serious about you, he’s gotta be talking to you,” Harvey told Alfonsi. “He’s gotta wanna have one-on-one, in your face interaction. That’s how we are! The guy that’s just texting you, that’s no effort. He doesn’t have to get in the car, he doesn’t have to remember your number, he can just text you. And you sit there and you see all these wonderful things he's texting you. Well, guess what, he could be ccing that same text to six other women. And you think you're special? … Please.”
In the brief "Closing Arguments" segment on Wednesday's "Nightline," ABC's Terry Moran credulously repeated the White House contention that Barack Obama didn't bow to the King of Saudi Arabia last week at the G-20 summit. As video of the incident played, Moran narrated, "He sees King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Goes in for the hello. There's a hand shake. Obama bends at the waist. But was it a bow?" [Audio available here.]
He then recited, "The White House called it a lean, pointing out the King's shorter than the President." Inviting people to respond on his Twitter page, Moran wondered, "So, tonight, we ask you, was it a bow and do you care?" A search of @TerryMoran responses on Twitter shows a healthy number of people somewhat incredulous at the host's lack of skepticism. DesigningDi instructed, "Are you blind? Of course he's bowing. Don't play stupid!"
ABC reporter Bill Weir didn't exactly grill "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane when he interviewed him for "Nightline's" ongoing "Seriously Funny" segment on Monday. The journalist failed to bring up some of the most egregious examples of MacFarlane's cartoon vulgarity, including a March 8 episode that featured bestiality jokes, a gay-hating Jesus Christ and an 11-way gay orgy.
Instead, Weir only vaguely alluded to such instances and asserted, "But, like those other cartoons, his shows raise the most ire with religious and parental watchdog groups. If there is a taboo line, chances are MacFarlane has leaped over it." He did read off a list of topics the show has skewered and then wondered, "Where is the line for you? Is there a line or is that the point?" Once again, however, Weir had no specifics to follow-up. Did he ask about the October 19, 2008 episode in which the program's baby character, Stewie Griffin dressed up as a Nazi and wore a McCain/Palin button? No. MacFarlane, a Barack Obama supporter and liberal Democrat, wasn't forced to talk about that particular low blow.
ABC explored the existence of Satan during the March 26 "Nightline" but stacked the deck in favor of those who do not believe the devil exists.
Harris invited internationally known, and in some circles, renowned, New Age guru Deepak Chopra to argue that Satan does not exist. Bishop Carlton Pearson, hailed as a "former fundamentalist preacher who says he used to cast demons out his followers," joined Chopra.
Mark Driscoll, labeled a "hip yet hard-line preacher," and Annie Lobert, a former prostitute and leader of the "Hookers for Jesus" outreach program in Las Vegas, represented the view that the devil does exist. Lobert herself noted her lack of intellectual credentials, "I don't have a theologian background, but I have 16 years of experience of walking with the Devil so I know he's real for sure."
Put a liberal President together in the same room with a liberal press corps and ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who has gone through the revolving door from liberal political operative to liberal DC journalist, sees a wondrous success for both. “I think both the President and the press hit their marks tonight” at the presidential press conference, Stephanopoulos gushed on Tuesday's Nightline in assigning an “A-minus for the President, A-minus for the press.”
President Barack Obama didn't have to do much to earn the A-minus grade: “He had a very clear strategy and that was to tell the country that he has a strategy. He has an economic strategy, that it's starting to work -- though we're not out of the woods yet by any means, but that with persistence it's going to pay off and we're going to make progress on those four big issues he kept talking about: health care, education, energy and reducing the deficit.”
And the reporters just had to pose questions about the economy: “The press also did do their job tonight, pressing the President on issues that people back home really care about and most of the questions about the economy, about the economic crisis we're facing right now.”
In a respectful and compassionate manner, Nightline’s March 12 broadcast of the “Faith Matters” series brought to light a group of reformed prostitutes who have turned to religion and who are helping other women leave the destructive life of a Vegas prostitute.
Hookers for Jesus is a group started by former prostitute Annie Lobert who hit rock bottom with a cocaine overdose, and decided to leave the prostitute lifestyle when, as she put it, God changed her life. ABC reporter Neal Karlinsky graciously told her story and the story of other women who have found hope through Lobert’s ministry and the church of Pastor Benny Perez.
“Along with a pair of volunteers from a nearby church, [the women are] on the streets looking for prostitutes with one goal in mind: to save them,” Karlinsky said. “We keep our cameras at a distance as they hand out gift bags filled with bibles.” Karlinsky interviewed Lobert about her former life as a hooker. “But Annie Lobert isn't exactly your average missionary,” he said. “Before she was a so called ‘hooker for Jesus,’ Lobert was to put delicately, a hooker. Starting as a teenager, she sold her body through escort services, websites and on the streets of Las Vegas for 11 years.”
On Tuesday's "Nightline," ABC gushed over Michelle Obama with the enthusiasm and objectivity usually reserved for "Access Hollywood" reporters. Correspondent Yunji de Nies lauded the "rock star" first lady for her fashion sense and for speaking openly about balancing work and family. "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden asserted that "with her muscular arms and outfits, she's become, well, a model first lady."
De Nies talked with liberal Washington Post journalist Sally Quinn, who has written for years about D.C. style. Asked about a recent Michelle Obama spread in Vogue magazine, Quinn enthused, "Well, for one thing, I think she's a sexual person. The pictures are attractive. They're womanly. They're sexy, but not in an overt way." She then went on to assert that Washington has often tried to force women to downplay their sexuality. This prompted de Nies to breathlessly wonder, "Is Washington and the world ready for such a modern first lady?"
Despite calling for massive new spending on education, universal health care and more money for bailing out banks, no ABC anchor on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning used the word liberal in describing Barack Obama's February 24 address to Congress. In contrast, ABC host Terry Moran on February 27, 2001 anticipated that a similar speech by President George W. Bush would be "conservative."Following that address, he spun it as "hard core conservatism: fiscal restraint; deep, across-the-board spending and tax cuts; the privatization of part of Social Security."
And yet, on Tuesday's post-speech coverage, on that evening's "Nightline" and on Wednesday's "Good Morning America," no anchor applied the liberal label to Obama's address. The same Moran who saw "hard core conservatism" in Bush's appearance before Congress, described a "big and bold speech" from the current President. He also enthused that "President Barack Obama didn't sugarcoat it, he found bad guys on Wall Street and in Washington." Regarding the President's obviously liberal plans on the economy and health care, Moran reiterated, "The answer, the President argued, go big, big plans, big changes."
"Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran gave an interview on Friday to the Media Bistro's "Morning Media Menu" podcast and compared Barack Obama to George Washington. Talking to host and editor Steve Krakauer, Moran gushed, "I like to say that, in some ways, Barack Obama is the first President since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval Office." (For those who have forgotten, George Washington defeated the strongest military power in the world. Barack Obama was a community organizer.) [Full interview audio available here.]
Moran continued, "I mean, from visionary leader of a giant movement, now he's got an executive position that he has to perform in, in a way." [MP3 audio of just this answer, 26 seconds]
On his Twitter page later, the ABC journalist attempted to explain his over-the-top comparison. Moran, who can be seen in the above file photo, contended, "I said like only Washington, Obama came to office as more than a politician, a visionary leader for many. Now's he's got a job."
"Nightline" reporter David Wright on Monday inserted a gratuitous slam of Sarah Palin into a seemingly innocuous segment covering the 50th anniversary of the Barbie doll. Recounting the various versions of the Mattel toy, he set up the attack: "[Barbie's] been an astronaut and a rock star. Pop icons Beyonce and Shakira. She's won 'American Idol' too." Right after footage of the "President Barbie" doll appeared onscreen, the segment cut to various clips of a stylish-looking Palin. Wright derided, "Some would argue she also ran for vice president in 2008."
During the 2008 presidential election, Wright would occasionally throw in a out-of-left field shot at Palin or the Republican ticket. Reporting for "Good Morning America" on October 22, he discussed the Republican vice presidential candidate's attacks on Barack Obama and editorialized, "Her own glass house notwithstanding, Sarah Palin has thrown some stones on the issue, too, even though she's not above making gaffes of her own."
"Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran on Tuesday interviewed Barack Obama and pressed him from the left, wondering why he didn't simply fire the executives who the journalist blamed for "wreck[ing] these banks in the first place." The two were discussing the stimulus bill and the current economic problems on Wall Street. As the MRC's Brent Baker already noted in a previous blog, Moran also seriously wondered, "Why not just nationalize the banks?"
After the President suggested that such an idea was unworkable and didn't make sense, the host persisted. Moran challenged, "People are angry." Going further, the ABC journalist queried, "Why shouldn't you just fire the executives who wrecked these banks in the first place and tanked the world's financial system in the process?"
In excerpts aired on Tuesday's World News, of Terry Moran's interview with President Barack Obama for Nightline, Moran was as sycophantic toward Obama as he was during the campaign, lamenting Obama “got no honeymoon” and bemoaning the new President had been “too nice” to Republicans. “Mr. President,” Moran rued in overlooking the ongoing honeymoon from the media, “you got no honeymoon. Not a single Republican vote in the House on your first major piece of legislation.” Moran speculated: “I wonder in coming into the presidency, maybe you were too nice? If I'm a Republican Senator or a Republican Congressman, I think you're a very nice guy but maybe I don't have enough reason to fear you.”
Earlier, Moran cued up Obama: “How close do you think the country is to the kind of economic catastrophe that you're warning about?” In the ABCNews.com transcript, which does not include the “honeymoon” lament, the tri-anchor of Nightline suggested the banks should just be nationalized: “There are a lot of economists who look at these banks and they say all that garbage that's in them renders them essentially insolvent. Why not just nationalize the banks?” (That did not air on World News, but was part of what Nightline ran later.)
Audio:MP3 clip which matches the video (45 secs, 275 Kb)
Journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Monday's "Nightline" to offer high grades for Barack Obama's first primetime press conference. He awarded the President an A for overall performance at the event and a B for Obama's bipartisan efforts. During the presidential campaign, Stephanopoulos was consistent in giving high marks to the then-Democratic candidate, announcing that Obama won all his debates against Republican John McCain and that Joe Biden bested Sarah Palin.
Speaking to "Nightline" anchor Terry Moran, the "This Week" host enthused, "Well, I think he got an A on this, Terry...He had the long answers, five-minute mini-essays or speeches all about the economy, able to explain from his perspective how bad the situation is, how we got into this mess and how his stimulus package will fix it." On the subject of reaching out to Republicans, Stephanopoulos asserted, "I think on that you give him a B." After allowing that the President hasn't been able to obtain GOP support for the stimulus bill, he spun, "He was able to make his points tonight, how, basically, that isn't his fault. That's what he was trying to say tonight. He has reached out, he hasn't had a response from the Republican side."
According to "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden, during the 2008 presidential campaign "many in the media" saw Barack Obama as a "bright hope in the distance." The ABC journalist made that admission during a "Morning Media Menu" podcast interview with TV Newser editor Steve Krakauer on Tuesday. In a justifying tone, she quickly added, "It's also clear that a lot of Americans thought that." McFadden didn't explain if she felt it was the role of journalists to simply reflect public will. [click play button in embed at right for audio excerpt]
The discussion on Obama media bias was prompted by Krakauer's mention of the new Bernie Goldberg book on the same subject, "A Slobbering Love Affair." Defending fellow co-anchor Terry Moran, McFadden asserted, "Anyone who knows Terry and his work would say there's nothing slobbering about him. I mean, he's as tough as they come. I think he brought a very jaundiced eye to the campaign." In actuality, with a few notable exceptions, Moran frequently slobbered over Barack Obama.
On November 6, 2006, he famously gushed that Obama was "an American political phenomenon" and, perhaps hopefully, he wondered, "Is Barack Obama the man, the black man, who could lead the Democrats back to the White House and maybe even unite the country?"
Liberal pastor and civil rights leader Joseph Lowery’s strange benediction prayer hoping that one day "white will embrace what is right" wasn’t ignored on the Tuesday night news, but it wasn’t portrayed as at all controversial. CBS skipped over it. But ABC, NBC, and PBS’s NewsHour all featured it, often without interrupting their gauzy promotional tone. Here’s a brief tour of how it unfolded.
ABC: In the first half-hour of a 60-minute World News, Charles Gibson recalled a legend praying:
GIBSON: The Reverend Joseph E Lowery, the legendary civil rights leader, delivered the benediction.
Rev. JOSEPH LOWERY: We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man and white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
GIBSON: As hundreds of thousands on the Mall savored what they had just seen.
The inauguration of the first African-American president is an historic affair, one that should be properly celebrated by all. But when the so-called "objective" network anchors begin comparing a routine political ceremony to a spiritual awakening, have they gone too far?
"Sacred." "Majesty." "Sacrament." "Pilgrimage." These are words loaded with religious and spiritual meaning. And they're words used to describe the inauguration of President Barack Obama by CBS, NBC and ABC anchors on their evening and mornings news shows.
Nightline's slug for its Tuesday night story about President Obama's inauguration: “America the Beautiful.”
With that iconic song title on screen over images of Barack Obama being sworn in as President, President Obama and Michelle Obama walking during the parade and views of the crowd, at the top of the program ABC's Terry Moran plugged a segment:
America the Beautiful: The nation and the world pause to witness an extraordinary milestone as nearly two million people come together to hail the new chief and celebrate an era of change.
On Wednesday's "Nightline," co-anchor Terry Moran could barely restrain his amusement over the shoe throwing incident on Sunday involving an Iraqi journalist and President Bush, asserting that it had become an "instant pop culture classic." He later touted the shoe attack, which occurred at a press conference in Baghdad, as "a dramatic act of contempt and disapproval." [audio available here]
Reporting on the story, correspondent David Wright smugly spun the event as some sort of final judgment on President Bush's Iraq policy. As video played of the 2003 toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, Wright sneered, "Surely, President Bush must have wanted the most memorable image from Iraq to be this: When Iraqis beat the toppled statue of Saddam with their shoes." Then, to footage of Bush having shoes tossed at him, Wright opined, "Instead, the final image of his long Iraq journey is this. The shoe is on the other foot now."
"Nightline" anchor Cynthia McFadden and ABC reporter John Donvan on Monday gushed over the possibility that Caroline Kennedy could replace Hillary Clinton as the senator from New York. McFadden (see file photo at right) teased the segment by cooing, "So, is another chapter in the Camelot story about to be written?"
Donvan repeatedly mentioned that Caroline Kennedy wouldn't have much experience for such a post. But, he didn't seem bothered at all by this, at one point stating, "All she will have at first is that name. But, at least she has kept it the way it was remembered, as part of a story that so many wanted to believe in." Contrast this with the coverage vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin received over a perceived lack of experience. Certainly, the media were not as forgiving for a non-Kennedy such as the governor of Alaska.
Donvan contributed the requisite vapid reminiscing of the Kennedy years. The ABC journalist described Washington D.C. as a place "where, when her dad was the president, we first came to know the little girl, riding his shoulders, saddled up on ponies."
"Nightline" co-host Terry Moran on Monday fawned over every detail of Barack Obama's White House meeting with President Bush and insisted that that since the President-elect arrived in Washington D.C. wearing sunglasses, this was an example of the "Obama cool on display." Moran, who has regularly gushed over every aspect of Obama's election and transition, narrated the Democrat's interactions with the current president. As video of Bush and Obama played, he breathlessly related, "You could see the power shifting though. Look at Obama putting his arm on Bush's back, letting the President go first."
Moran awkwardly brought up the issue of past commanders in chief who owned slaves and asked, "And you had to wonder that if in fact the [White House] is haunted, what the spirits of those former presidents, many of whom were slave owners themselves would have made of what happened there today?" (An aside: 12 of 43 presidents owned slaves. Is that "many?")
"Nightline" reporter Terry Moran extolled Barack Obama's victory celebration on Wednesday's program and insisted that "so many people greeted this election as a human rights milestone and a repudiation of the deeply unpopular President George W. Bush." Reporting from Chicago, the site of Obama's victory celebration, Moran reflected on "the echoes of this moment when America astonished itself and the world again."
Musing about the night, the journalist cooed, "No one who was in Grant Park in Chicago last night will ever forget it. The jubilation. The emotion. The pride." Moran, who has been fawning over Obama for two years, described the election as "a political earthquake, and a moment in American history that millions of people around the world celebrated." He later glowingly elaborated, "People across the world joined the party, seeing in the triumph of Barack Obama, the American capacity to achieve the unthinkable."
Is it any wonder that polls revealed a 17 percent increase in Palin's unfavorability ratings in just one month?
After examining the TV news coverage of Palin from September 29 to October 12, CMI found that ABC, NBC and CBS news shows ran 69 stories about Palin. 2 stories were positive, 37 were negative and 30 were neutral. The 2 positive stories were a two-part interview with Palin's parents on the CBS Early Show. Not one of the major network evening news programs - ABC's World News, NBC's Nightly News, and CBS's Evening News - ran a single positive story about Palin.
ABC was hardest on Palin, as 60 percent of its stories on Palin were negative. NBC came in second, as 54 percent of its stories were negative. CBS also ran 54 percent negative stories, but also ran the only two positive stories (8 percent).
CMI found that the networks promoted three major narratives about Palin:
"Nightline" reporter David Wright on Thursday negatively spun John McCain campaigning in Florida as an "admission of weakness" and knocked the Arizona senator's "angry rant" on the issue of taxes. The liberal journalist gleefully attempted to portray the state as a lost cause for the Republican. He asserted that in the ad war in Florida, "Obama's message is drowning McCain out." He editorialized, "McCain can't seem to catch a break, especially here in Florida."
Wright visited a McCain campaign headquarters and described supporters as "trying to scrounge up more volunteers." He then appeared at the Miami Obama HQ, where "there were a lot more people and they were busier." Despite Wright's scenario of doom and gloom, the Real Clear Politics average for Florida is only a 2.2 percent lead, with an October 21 NBC poll gave the Republican a one point advantage.
"Nightline" anchors Martin Bashir and Terry Moran sarcastically investigated "the Palin problem" on Wednesday's edition of the program. And while Moran did offer Sarah Palin some positive analysis, he often mixed that with snarky, condescending remarks about her falling poll numbers. At one point, the ABC journalist asserted, "The hockey mom, a woman dubbed the killa' from Wasilla, and then the blunda [sic] from the tundra, she just might be here to stay." After playing a clip of General Colin Powell claiming the Republican vice presidential nominee isn't qualified, Moran opined, "Ouch!"
Moran, who just last week asked Senator Joe Biden if Palin's rhetoric made him concerned about his safety, pronounced the candidate's downfall: "When McCain nominated her, she was just incandescent and it looked for a while like it was one of the most brilliant and daring political moves in recent times. Now, well, not so much."
On Tuesday's "Nightline," co-anchor Cynthia McFadden conducted her second interview this week with Hillary Clinton and, once again, offered no policy questions and focused only on pushing the New York senator to bash Governor Sarah Palin. The liberal journalist repeatedly questioned, five times in total, variations on whether or not Palin is qualified or good for women. At one point she even asserted, "But it must rankle you, I mean, to be compared to Sarah Palin."
Below are McFadden's (unsuccessful) attempts to get Clinton to slam the Republican vice presidential nominee.
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: Is Sarah Palin good for women?
MCFADDEN: I feel like you're bending over backwards. I mean, I feel in some ways as if a man with the qualifications that Sarah Palin brings to this role, you'd have no problem with taking the gloves off and saying, hold it just a second.
MCFADDEN:Is she ready to serve as commander in chief, senator?
MCFADDEN: Does she deserve, does she have the right to stand on your shoulders in this regard?