Network Coverage of Writers' Strike: 'Jesus Wouldn't Cross' Picket Line

January 3rd, 2008 5:10 PM

Journalists often fret about Big Business. Yet their coverage leans so pro-union that they won't give the business side of the story - even when they ARE the business.

The writers' strike has cost the networks millions in lost ad revenue from the lack of new primetime and late-night shows. But now that late night lives again, the coverage is all about "awareness" of the writers' guild and the strike.

Once the late-night comedy shows returned January 2, a new controversy arose: guests who dared to cross the picket line to appear on the writer-less shows. One of those was Baptist preacher and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

"I don't think Jesus would cross the picket line, no, I'm almost positive Jesus would be on our side," one striking writer said to CBS's January 3 "Early Show."

The January 2 "NBC Nightly News" ignored the network's own financial losses from the WGA strike that forced its popular late-night television shows, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," off the air.

According to a May 25, 2007, Chicago Tribune article by Media Columnist Phil Rosenthal, estimates put the annual revenue from "The Tonight Show" "at well north of $100 million." So without the show on the air, General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE), the parent company of NBC Universal, was losing millions. But the NBC report didn't mention it.

Late-night comedy programs returned to the air January 2, despite the continued strike. Ironically, the lone pro-NBC statement that night came from the union.

Correspondent Mike Taibbi did report that non-WGA members stood to lose their jobs from the strike, but the explanation came from John Bowman, chairman of the WGA Negotiating Committee.

"They were forced to go back on the air," Bowman said. "They have to or their staffs were going to be fired."