The “news” network last night highlighted a doctor who is predicting an apocalypse as part of a weeklong series “Bird Flu: Fears, Facts and Fiction; What Americans Need to Know.” Reporter Jim Avila interviewed Dr. Robert Webster “the father of bird flu.” Webster came right out and predicted that the virus, which so far has killed barely 100 people in roughly eight years, will mutate into a virus and that “that 50% of the population could die.”
Webster, who is storing three months of food and water in his home like some Y2K survivalist, estimated the chance of such an event as “about even odds,” though he says it will happen.
While CBS has its guru Michael "Clinton Rocks" O'Hanlon, ABC's "Good Morning America" today used another current hot morning pundit in New York Times columnist Thomas "In the Tank for Ethanol" Friedman. MRC's Brian Boyd noticed that when asked how Iran could punish America, Friedman grew positively giddy thinking about the whopping economic depression they could give us:
Charles Gibson: "When Iran threatens harm and pain what can they do necessarily? I mean, are they talking about restricting oil sales and cutting off oil and perhaps driving the price of oil up? Are they talking about causing more problems in Iraq for the United States, what?"
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.
ABC's Diane Sawyer is the cover girl of the April Ladies' Home Journal, and her interview with LHJ Editor Diane Salvatore has just a few tidbits for news junkies. When asked if she'll see a woman president in her lifetime, Sawyer answered, "Oh, absolutely. No question. I think something shifted. [What, the ABC drama Commander in Chief?] We don't see strength as exclusively masculine anymore. We don't see will as testosterone-laced. We see all of these characteristics in women."
But then it gets more political: "But I do think perhaps that people hope that women will do something about a war-torn world. Now, we don't know that women will be any more or less of anything in office. But I do think there's such a yearning for a less bellicose and territorial world." Here's some other Sawyer tidbits:
After weeks of sounding peppy about Bob Woodruff's recovery, but leaving out one key sign of normal life, ABC brought on the anchorman's brother David to announce that Woodruff is now talking, even speaking some Chinese and German. The Woodruffs are still very dicey about how long recovery could take, but that's good news. His brother also says he smiled when he told him he still has a face for TV.
Even so, you still have to marvel at the logic of ABC News chief David Westin putting his brand-new co-anchor at so much risk with an Iraqi convoy. Here's Westin in the January 29 Washington Post:
"Moving away from the studio -- the hermetically sealed, perfectly coiffed theory of anchoring -- there is risk in that," Westin says. "In my view, the greater risk is keeping it the way it was."
This was a dramatically liberal year for Oscar, but the more political winners at last night's Oscars didn't get pointed questions from the right. The news media's general feeling is to cheer movies for the "social good," and never imagine that the movies could be riddled with errors (Good Night and Good Luck), riddled with profanity (Crash), or just be assessed by critics as a lovably confusing in its conspiracy theorizing (Syriana).
ABC's Diane Sawyer interviewed George Clooney this morning about his Oscar victory speech on "Good Morning America" and asked benignly: "Was it a political speech, were you interjecting politics?" Clooney spoke diplomatically about a "portion" of America being on his side, and a portion were not. Clooney's claim that Hollywood was "out of touch" in all the good ways was underlined by ABC as they ran a clip of black actress Hattie McDaniel winning an Oscar for the 1939 film "Gone With The Wind."
Here in Washington, the affiliate that carried the Oscars was ABC channel WJLA. Immediately after the show, Anchor Leon Harris spoke with reporter Kyle Osborn about the only "officially sanctioned Oscar party" held in Washington, where 400 political fat cats raised money for charity as they cheered their favorite Hollywood liberals.
Said Kyle Osborn, who attended the event:
"The crowd cheered on Jon Stewart, his monologue went over well. George Clooney, they loved him, and especially loved his, I'd say, politically minded acceptance speech."
George Clooney defended Hollywood's status of being out of touch with the rest of America, saying Hollywood has always led the way on such issues as civil rights while the rest of America dragged its feet.
But disagreement can easily transform into cheap, personal attacks when the issue involves the Catholic Church. Witness morning talk-show host Doug McIntyre on KABC in Los Angeles this morning. In an angry tirade against Mahony's public statements, McIntryre pulled out the priest molestation scandal and proceeded to call a Cardinal "a scumbag." In reading his name "Roger M. Mahony," McIntyre formulated that his middle name was not Michael, but that "the M stands for molester." (The Cardinal has never been charged by law enforcement for molestation.)
Does every discussion involving the Catholic Church have to resort to the cheap ploy of dragging in the molestation scandal? At what point does this ploy cross the line into simple anti-Catholic bigotry?
In an interview with NPR's "On The Media," former ABC reporter Dave Marash, now signed up for the English-language version of al-Jazeera, goes almost faint singing the praises of his new employer:
Al-Jazeera in Arabic is, I believe, one of the most revolutionary and positive influences on the Arabic-speaking, mostly Islamic Middle Eastern world in, literally, centuries. It has opened up public discourse and it has brought American standards of reporting to an area that previously had nothing but really moronically state-controlled television and news operations.
On their blog The World Newser, ABC reporter Bill Blakemore writes about the loneliness of the global-warming (panic) beat, where resistance is futile to the certitude of man's fossil-fuel addiction frying the planet like a fish stick. He looks forward to the day when we're all running around in the circles panicking in the street about the scorched Earth to come:
It will be a relief - albeit a sad one - as more and more of the public begins to acknowledge and deal with the true scale and impact of this story, as seems to be happening now, so that we who cover it may come to feel less isolated.
Via Fishbowl DC, we learn that Howard Mortman's created a new feature on his blog asking famous media types what they read on the Internet. In the early going, both Newsweek top political reporter Howard Fineman and ABC correspondent Jake Tapper list some typical major-media sites, but more interesting to the reader is their claims to digest a balanced diet of blog intake on a daily basis.
Here's the Fineman list, when we separate the blogs on ideological lines. On the right, he lists InstaPundit, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Real Clear Politics, and a little less bloggy (sans Taranto) Opinion Journal. On the left, he views Daily Kos, Atrios, Talking Points Memo, the Huffington Post, Wonkette, and (I'd include on the lib side) CJR Daily. He likes his pal Mickey Kaus, and Slate and Salon in general. In a bow to his "Hardball" buddy Chris Matthews, he also lists "Hardblogger."
One of the more astounding spectacles of the Cheney hunting-accident brouhaha was the media's all-too-typical tolerance of tremendous Clinton chutzpah: that is, Hillary's claim, as Brian Boyd noted last week, that Dick Cheney is way too secretive. ABC aired a clip of an angry-looking Senator Hillary Clinton arguing, "The refusal of this administration to level with the American people on matters large and small is very disturbing." The Clintons? Arguing that someone else isn't forthcoming? After the seven months of sticking with "I did not have sexual relations" with "Miss Lewinsky"? And the "vast right-wing conspiracy" trying to smear Clinton with the baseless accusation of intern nookie?
The women of ABC’s The View quickly pounced on the Cheney shooting story. The Monday, February 13 edition featured co-host Joy Behar, who stated that the incident shifted Cheney’s image "from Dr. Evil to Dr. Stupid." She added, "So, in a way, it’s kind of like, hey, I’m not so evil anymore. I’m just dumb." Behar then finished her critique when she quipped, "It’s in the historical context of Dan Quayle."
Barbara Walters also participated in the segment, airing at 11:18AM EST. She wasn’t interested in the shooting accident, but preferred to convict Cheney for involvement in the CIA leak case:
"I mean, I think he’s possibly in more trouble because his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, who has been indicted for releasing information about a CIA agent, which is against the law, has said that it was his superiors, or superior, who said that he could do this. Who is his superior? Richard Cheney."
With regards to the war on terror, what is the focus of the mainstream media? Is it fighting and winning? Or are they more concerned with embarrassing the Bush administration? Fran Townsend, a White House Homeland Security advisor, appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News on Friday, February 10th. The contrast could not be more stark. CNN, CBS and ABC focused on warrants, wiretaps, and whether the mayor of Los Angeles was properly informed of the President’s speech regarding a foiled attack. All of these networks, except FNC, failed to ask Townsend about the prison break of 23 terrorists, including 13 members of Al Qaeda, which one would assume is an important story.
Ms. Townsend appeared first on the CBS Early Show at 7:10AM EST. Harry Smith seemed skeptical about the timing and the subject of the President’s speech. He started by asking, "Why did the President choose yesterday to reveal this information about a plot that’s almost four years old now?" Ms. Townsend patiently explained that the members of the cell had been arrested and the leads exhausted, therefore this case was one that the President could freely discuss. Smith then went on to question whether there was an actual threat:
In part of their coverage of the Coretta Scott King funeral this morning, ABC focused on the attention paid to Hillary Clinton and her 2008 presidential prospects and how "Republicans are scared." ABC's Jake Tapper was able to bring in RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman suggesting on "This Week" that she wouldn't do well because she's an "angry candidate" and then former NPR reporter Mary Ann Akers (now of the Capitol Hill paper Roll Call) fussed that dredges up old Hillary stereotypes. His most colorful language is that everything Hillary does is "dissected like a cadaver on CSI." His evidence was a New York Daily News story focusing on a new ring her husband gave her.
But Tapper did not focus on another New York paper whose coverage of Hillary has been ignored by most. Even I missed the chance to harp on her appearance in San Francisco at the end of January in that "interview with Jane Pauley" fundraiser for the local bar association. The New York Sun reported she had some nasty things to imply about Republicans and black voters (which might have been MORE topical after the King funeral yesterday). Apparently, Team Bush is delaying hurricane aid for political gain, a "deliberate policy of neglect," she claimed:
Today's (Tuesday February 7, 2006) tasteless anti-Bush digs at Coretta Scott King's memorial service by Rev. Joseph Lowery and Jimmy Carter, a former President (!), are certainly newsworthy, but one place you didn't hear about them was during the 5 pm PST (8 pm EST) top-of-the-hour headlines on ABC News Radio. Instead, the announcers highlighted the fact that several Atlanta schools had the day off to make the day "educational."
It looks like additional education was delivered today through a lesson in classic media bias-by-omission.
The Tom Toles political cartoon depicting a soldier as a quadruple amputee appeared in the Washington Post on January 29. Since that day, less than a week ago, there has been a continuing drumbeat by the media defending their right to place such hurtful and denigrating political commentary in print.
Strong objections have also been registered from readers, advertisers and the general public, but it has not altered the Washington Post position. There was even a strongly worded letter from General Peter Pace, Chairman Of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the members of that body.
Hand me a tardy pass, but Cam Edwards, radio host for NRANews.com (also on Sirius satellite radio), relayed earlier this week on his new three-amigos blog that an ABC Radio executive (please note: not an "objective" news guy) was an anti-Alito activist on the side:
The email was started by a KaufNYC@aol.com, with the message “forward away, my liberal friends”. One of those who received the message was a guy named David Kaufman, a Vice President of Affiliate Relations for ABC Radio. He forwarded on the email with his own message: “Help stop the craziness!”
One thing you can count on in life is that if your vulnerability is caught on tape, the news media is going to use it. If you get caught after a hurricane shirtless, they'll use it whether you like it or not. If a police dog rips off your clothes -- even if you're innocent -- they're going to use it. If a carjacker beats you up in the most humiliating way and it is caught on tape, watch the news because you'll be on it.
The dignity of others is of no consequence when you have advertising minutes to sell and ratings to get, and a personally embarrassing video is pure gold to a struggling news room because everyone can identify with it.
Bob Woodruff and his camera operator, Doug Vogt, were hit by an IED today while recording a stand-up. Godspeed to their recovery, but I have to wonder why this video hasn't aired yet. If it were anyone else it would be exploited with a constant loop. No doubt someone at ABC is rethinking the concept of privacy, unfortunately that concept of privacy will never be extended to any of us.
ABCNEWS executives have made the controversial decision to hold off airing video footage that was being taped when anchorman Bob Woodruff was injured by an explosive in Iraq, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned... MORE...
A conversation took place at ABC to discuss whether that tape should air. Do you think the network has ever called the family of a soldier to ask if they wanted the tape of their loved one getting killed or maimed aired on network TV?
Picking up on President Bush’s assurance, in his Tuesday night State of the Union address, that military decisions in Iraq will be made by military leaders, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough rejected the notion of any such military independence, but during ABC’s coverage, when Charles Gibson similarly questioned if the military will be able to determine troop levels, retired General Jack Keane, Vice Chief of Staff of U.S. Army from 1999-2003, maintained that the feared political pressure is an illusion. Matthews asserted that the Generals in Iraq were not “really given the freedom to say how many troops they needed because when Shinseki said this is going to take a couple of hundred thousand troops, not a hundred thousand troops, he was cashiered. So this idea that these guys are free to think out loud, I thought, has been yet to be proven." Scarborough echoed: “They parrot, for the most part, the Generals and the Admirals, 99 percent of them parrot” the Pentagon. Keane contended on ABC that the idea that “the military commanders are under some kind of pressure from the administration” is false and military commanders will “call the shots as they see them.” (Transcripts follow.)
If you thought Teddy Kennedy’s pratfall over Samuel Alito’s membership in a conservative Princeton alumni group was embarrassing (quoting magazine satire articles as if they were real), you should see what ABC’s “Nightline” tried to pull last week.
The subject was the ethics of judicial travel. As investigative reporter Brian Ross explained in the middle of the piece, “Justices at all ends of the political spectrum take plenty of these trips to lots of nice places, all paid for by somebody else." But this was no expose on justices “at all ends of the political spectrum.” It was a shameless hit piece on conservatives, complete with hidden-camera cheap shots.
In the past few months, conceivably the greatest attention given by the antique media to any subject has been to quash the confirmation of Samuel L. Alito to the Supreme Court. According to a LexisNexis search, CBS News has done 156 stories on this nominee's background along with objections to his confirmation. ABC News has done 174. NBC News has done 133. CNN has done a staggering 679.
As for the print media, the Washington Post has done 257, while the New York Times has done an extraordinary 339.
Yet, despite all the efforts by the antique media to block it, Mr. Alito was just confirmed in the Senate by the vote of 58 to 42. It appears that the losing streak of the antique media continues unabated.
ABC News is reporting that Bob Woodruff, one of the just-named anchors of "World News Tonight," who has traveled intensely in the new job, has been seriously injured in Iraq, as was his cameraman. The tone does not sound good. It would be a good day for prayers.
"World News Tonight" co-anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, were seriously injured and are in serious condition after their convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device in Taji, Iraq, today.
Woodruff and Vogt are undergoing surgery at the U.S. military hospital in Balad. Both men suffered head injuries. Woodruff sustained shrapnel wounds and Vogt was hit by shrapnel in the head and suffered a broken shoulder.
In a recent Nightline episode that aired January 27, 2006, Vicki Mabrey presented what some call a controversial program happening within the prison walls of Lawtey Correctional Institution. The issue at hand – faith in prisons, and not just Christianity.
Mabrey contends that even though officials cite success with their program it isn’t really sufficient because there aren’t any scientific studies that prove that these types of faith based programs help lower disciplinary actions or lower recidivism rates.
On Sunday, as reported by NewsBusters, Newsweek did a cover story on what it referred to as a “Boy Crisis.” The article detailed “why” girls are doing so much better than boys in school. In an interesting twist, the Associated Press reported this Wednesday evening (hat tip to the American Thinker):
“A senior boy at Milton High School has filed a federal civil rights complaint contending that his school discriminates against boys by making it easier for girls to succeed academically.
“Doug Anglin, in his complaint filed last month with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, claimed girls faced fewer restrictions from teachers and boys are more likely to get punished.”
Today's Oprah Winfrey program featured her interviewing James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces." The book has come under fire for being much less than accurate. Greatly due to Ms. Winfrey's endorsement of the book, even after its inaccuracies and fictions had been detailed, "A Million Little Pieces" enjoyed incredible success.
This morning Ms. Winfrey told Frey, "I really feel duped." Reuters reports: "In 19 years in television 'I've never been in this position before,' said Winfrey. . ."
The talk show host was being disingenuous She's been duped before. Journalist Michael Fumento notes one example from 1987, when the talk-show host asserted:
Just two and a half years ago -- after the September 11 attacks had supposedly made the U.S. a bit more sensitive to the plight of Israelis under constant pressure from terrorist groups -- ABC's World News Tonight benignly described the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas as “a political and social welfare organization with a military wing that has launched terror attacks against Israel.”
Now that Hamas has apparently won the Palestinian elections, will reporters stress their history of killing innocent civilians? On last night' World News Tonight, anchor Bob Woodruff wouldn't go so far as to brand Hamas as a terrorist group, calling them a "militant" group "which the U.S. calls a terrorist organization."
David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute spotted an undeniable pattern of media unease in the network and newspaper coverage of the nomination of conservative Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, compared to how those same outlets treated Bill Clinton's 1993 nomination of liberal ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Cato's executive vice president asked rhetorically, in an article last Thursday for Reason Magazine:
"Remember all those news stories in 1993 about how the nomination of former ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg to replace conservative Justice Byron White on the United States Supreme Court would 'tilt the balance of the court to the left?' Of course you don't. Because there weren't any. In the past three months, the major media have repeatedly hammered away at the theme that Judge Samuel Alito Jr. would 'shift the Supreme Court to the right' if he replaced retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. According to Lexis/Nexis, major newspapers have used the phrase 'shift the court' 36 times in their Alito coverage. They have referred to the 'balance of the court' 32 times and 'the court's balance' another 15. 'Shift to the right' accounted for another 18 mentions. Major radio and television programs indexed by Lexis/Nexis have used those phrases 63 times.
Brent Baker's dispatch on ABC's "Nightline" showed a dramatic liberal bias, with ABC providing left-wing comedians Kathy Griffin and Al Franken a platform to mock more conservative performers like Mel Gibson and Rush Limbaugh for not doing their part to entertain troops on the USO circuit.
Author and blogger Alan Skorski is America's most determined Al Franken watchdog, author of the new book "Pants On Fire: How Al Franken Lies, Smears, and Deceives." In December, Skorski noted on his blog one angle that ABC has yet to explore: whether the allegedly troops-loving Franken should be allowed to entertain the troops when behind their backs, he laughs at them as prisoner abusers. He reported in December there is a brief clip from a song called "Sorry," an Abu Ghraib-ish parody of our marauding troops from his "Very Best of The O'Franken Factor" CD.