U.S. "Imperialism"; Oscar Smear Campaign Analogized to Helms; Bye-Bye Bryant?; WashPost Reporter Sees Bias; Chungís CNN Try-Out
1) The U.S. is guilty of "imperialism." The
expanding anti-terrorist operations in the Philippines raises the question
of U.S. "imperialism," Fortune magazineís Jeffrey Birnbaum
charged on the Fox News Channel on Monday night.
2) Fairness measured by result. Ed Bradley on Mondayís
CBS Evening News: "Finally tonight, how the Hollywood dream machine
finally delivered on a promise of fairness and racial equality not once
but twice at the Academy Awards."
3) In an online e-mail exchange on Slate.com, Washington
Post reporter Lloyd Grove analogized the behind-the-scenes campaign
against the movie A Beautiful Mind to a Jesse Helms campaign, insisting
how "with charges of anti-Semitism and smear campaigns stoked by the
redoubtable Drudge...it could have been one of Jesse Helms' re-election
races in North Carolina."
4) ABC News jumped at the chance to promote a publicity
gimmick by an environmental group which announced a top ten list of
supposedly endangered national parks. ABC devoted an entire World News
Tonight piece to how snowmobilers are ruining Yellowstone, "a
national park that is under attack." Reporter Bill Redeker lamented
how "help was on the way" under Clinton, so now "the battle
over banning them has probably been lost at least until the next
5) Bye-bye Bryant? USA Todayís Peter Johnson reported
that CBS "insiders" are "only giving 50/50 odds that the
network will renew Gumbel's contract" when it expires in May.
6) "I do think that there is a liberal bias,"
Washington Post automotive reporter Warren Brown declared. Discussing
coverage of CAFE standards for cars, Brown described how reporters
instinctively believe "non-profit" and environmental groups
while assuming nefarious motives are behind anyone in business.
7) On Monday night, Connie Chung began a week of filling
in for Aaron Brown as anchor of CNNís NewsNight. A January CyberAlert
Extra recounted Chungís liberal record over the years. FNCís Fox &
Friends made fun of CNN for having Chung, who famously interviewed Tonya
Harding in a ratings gimmick for CBS, anchor the show when just a couple
of weeks ago Brown made fun of FNCís Geta Van Susteren for interviewing
8) Two prime time shows tonight will feature reporters as
the bad guys: ABCís The Court and CBSís JAG. The Washington Postís
Tom Shales promised that The Court lacks The West Wingís "Hollywood
liberal sermonizing." Plus, tonight on the CBSís Late Show: Barbara
Walters. And on Wednesday: Doris Kearns Goodwin.
operations in the Philippines raises the question of U.S.
"imperialism," Fortune magazineís Jeffrey Birnbaum charged on
the Fox News Channel on Monday night.
Birnbaumís claim came during a roundtable
discussion on the March 25 Special Report with Brit Hume about an FNC
story about how the U.S. government last week had facilitated a
multi-million dollar payoff to the terrorist kidnappers of two American
missionaries in the Philippines. Neither has yet been released.
Birnbaum, Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune,
asserted: "There is a question about this, the broader question,
which is the U.S. is getting much more involved in so many foreign
countries now. Now, theyíre using, as we say, technicalities. That maybe
itís not taxpayer money here, but they helped organize the ransom.
Thatís at least what the Fox News report is, that we are training the
people on the ground to go in. I mean, where exactly does this line, I
think the question of imperialism, I know thatís a strong word, it is a
strong word-" Fred Barnes of
The Weekly Standard scolded: "A very strong word."
wasnít dissuaded: "But I think itís the kind of question that
should be raised."
As Barnes soon suggested, itís not
imperialism when the Philippine government wants the U.S. involvement.
outlets have been full of stories since Sunday night about how the Academy
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded three Oscars on Sunday night
to black actors, including the first one ever in the category of Best
Actress to Halle Berry.
CBSís Ed Bradley, however, on Monday night
seemed to diminish the outstanding performances of Berry, and of Best
Actor winner Denzel Washington, as he treated the event as a civil rights
victory -- as if previous black nominees in recent years had not won
because of racial discrimination. Anchoring Mondayís CBS Evening News,
Bradley set up the CBS story: "Finally
tonight, how the Hollywood dream machine finally delivered on a promise of
fairness and racial equality not once but twice at the Academy
Bill Whitaker concluded the subsequent story:
"Hollywood produced a surprise ending for the history books last
night, now what will truly be remarkable is when actors of color win
future Oscars and itís no longer remarkable."
If liberal Hollywood is so filled with racists
who are denying opportunities and recognition to blacks, how about a
little coverage of that from a media which so often sees racial motives
behind policies and campaign tactics employed by conservatives?
of tying conservatives to sleazy campaign strategies: In an online e-mail
exchange on Slate.com, Washington Post reporter Lloyd Grove analogized the
behind-the-scenes campaign against the movie A Beautiful Mind to a Jesse
Helms campaign, insisting how "with charges of anti-Semitism and
smear campaigns stoked by the redoubtable Drudge...it could have been one
of Jesse Helms' re-election races in North Carolina."
Tom Johnson of the Parents Television Council
alerted me to the remark from Grove, author of the Washington Postís The
Reliable Sources column, in a feature on Microsoftís Slate.com called
"The Breakfast Table" in which two media figures exchange
thoughts via e-mail.
From the top of a March 25 message from Grove
to George Rush, half of the New York Daily Newsís Rush & Molloy
From: Lloyd Grove
To: George Rush
Subject: A Feel-Good Conclusion After a Nasty Run-Up
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2002, at 8:50 AM PT
Dear George: It was lovely to see you last night at the Vanity Fair
party. Not only did you look tan, ready, and rested, you had that
confident gleam in your eye that told me that you were gathering grade-A
material from the A-list crowd at Morton's in Beverly Hills while I was
desperately trying to find someone who'd talk to me.
Yes, it was an historic night at the Oscars -- I've been reading in my
own paper as well as yours, plus the New York Post and the New York Times
-- and it was a feel-good conclusion after a run-up so nasty, what with
charges of anti-Semitism and smear campaigns stoked by the redoubtable
Drudge, that it could have been one of Jesse Helms' re-election races in
North Carolina. Yet despite my cynical self, I found the Halle Berry and
Denzel Washington wins genuinely moving....
END of Excerpt
To read the entire exchange: http://slate.msn.com/?id=2063646&entry=2063683
environmental group speaks and ABC News jumps. On Monday, the National
Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) used the gimmick of a top ten list
of supposedly endangered national parks to generate publicity. ABC News
eagerly pitched in, devoting an entire World News Tonight piece to how
snowmobilers are ruining Yellowstone, "a national park that is under
Reporter Bill Redeker spent almost the entire
March 25 World News Tonight story on the awful impact of snowmobiles and
did not challenge any of the claims of those who want them banned, but
when giving a few seconds to how snowmobiling brings visitors which help
the local economy, Redeker demanded: "What about the noise issue?
People want to enjoy the quiet, don't they?" He lamented that before
Bush won "help was on the way" under the Clinton administration
which had proposed a ban, but now, he conceded only an election will bring
about the proper policy since "the battle over banning them has
probably been lost at least until the next presidential election."
World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas
began her introduction with an error, misstating the location of the
Washington, DC-based NPCA, a group neither she or reporter Bill Redeker
ever identified: "In New York today a conservation group named the
ten most endangered national parks. It says pollution and commercial
development threaten parks from the Everglades in Florida to Glacier Bay
in Alaska. ABC's Bill Redeker reports from Yellowstone, a national park
that is under attack."
Redeker began, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Brad Wilmouth: "America's oldest national park -- the home of Old
Faithful, elk, wolves, and buffalo -- is under siege." Rick
Obernesser, Yellowstone Chief Park Ranger: "On a peak day, it's about
2000 snowmobiles come in here through the four entrances."
"And the exhaust snowmobiles generate has been so bad that rangers
were forced to wear respirators."
respirator: "And on heavy days and in [unintelligible] days, you
always, I get a headache."
"The machines not only pollute the air and the quiet. Riders
sometimes run buffalo off the road."
Greater Yellowstone Coalition: "Every ounce of energy that they have
to expend getting out of the way of a snowmobile can make the difference
between whether they're going to survive the winter or not."
"For a while, it looked like help was on the way. After five years of
study and four rounds of public hearings, the Clinton Administration
proposed banning snowmobiles from the park. But on the day he was sworn in
to office, President Bush rolled back that order and imposed a moratorium
on the ban. Now, the Park Service has been told to find other alternatives
that would allow snowmobiles continued access to Yellowstone. Rangers have
suggested limiting the number of machines, but they insist the only
acceptable option is still a total ban."
park ranger: "This place needs to be protected whatever it
finally gave a few seconds to those with another point of view:
"Snowmobile riders and those who depend on them for a living see
matters quite differently."
direct ban would just devastate the town."
"You have to figure out a balance, you know. It's hard."
with those in favor of a ban, Redeker challenged those against one:
"What about the noise issue? People want to enjoy the quiet, don't
concluded: "With the Bush administration committed to keeping
snowmobiles in the park, even environmental groups concede the battle over
banning them has probably been lost at least until the next presidential
election. Bill Redeker, ABC News, West Yellowstone, Montana."
Since Redeker filed his story from on-scene,
ABC News didnít first learn of the NPCA complaint on Monday and then
dispatch a reporter to fly to Yellowstone. ABC News obviously had advance
word on the NPCA publicity gimmick and decided to advance it.
The Web site for the National Parks
Conservation Association: http://www.npca.org/
The press release in question: http://www.npca.org/media_center/ten_most.asp
News dump Bryant Gumbel from the Early Show? USA Todayís Peter Johnson
reported on Monday that CBS "insiders" are "only giving
50/50 odds that the network will renew Gumbel's contract" when it
expires in May. Thatís because while the Early Show is bringing in more
younger viewers, and thus has quintupled revenues generated by the
program, Johnson speculated that "you can bet that some CBS executive
is wondering if a new guy might do better and if it's time to replace
Gumbel, 53, who is paid $5 million a year, with someone who could usher in
a new generation of younger viewers."
How about viewers now turned off by Gumbelís
An excerpt from Johnsonís March 25 story:
Since he returned to morning television three years ago to co-host CBS'
The Early Show, Bryant Gumbel has in one respect fared no better than all
his predecessors and their programs: CBS is stuck in third place in the
But Gumbel and partner Jane Clayson have managed to draw more of those
advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old viewers. As a result, The Early Show
is said to be making $50 million a year after CBS had been making $8
million in the two-hour time slot.
Now, as Gumbel and CBS enter into negotiations on a new contract -- his
ends in May -- The Early Show's performance surely will enter into the
[I]f Early's financial picture is so healthy, why are insiders only
giving 50/50 odds that the network will renew Gumbel's contract?
Because there's another side, a few, actually, and it all comes down to
money: NBC's top-rated Today makes five times what Early does: about $250
million a year. No. 2 ABC's Good Morning America makes $110 million.
With that kind of money to be made, you can bet that some CBS executive
is wondering if a new guy might do better and if it's time to replace
Gumbel, 53, who is paid $5 million a year, with someone who could usher in
a new generation of younger viewers.
If the answer is yes, then who? Gumbel's three most frequent
substitutes are CBS' Russ Mitchell, CBS Sports' Jim Nance and game-show
host Tom Bergeron. Do you see them doing any better?...
On the flip side is the question of how long Gumbel wants to continue
waking up before dawn to go to work. He has said for years there will come
a point where he might chuck it all and sit on a hill and laugh.
Some observers dismiss that talk, saying the former Today show anchor
needs to be in the game.
But others say that Gumbel doesn't feel compelled to be on TV every day
and that his HBO Real Sports gig, which pays him $1 million, would suit
him fine. And, they say, he's spoken of going off to write a book....
END of Excerpt
If he does write a book, Iíd bet that unlike
as with Bernard Goldberg, Gumbel will have no problem getting invited onto
not only CBS, but also ABC and NBC.
For Johnsonís story in full: http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20020325/3966499s.htm
do think that there is a liberal bias," a Washington Post reporter
declared, "though we are quite unwilling to admit it."
Unfortunately, the concession came from the newspaperís automotive
reporter, not a political reporter. But heís in a position to know as an
inside observer and his insight applies to the bias he sees in how
reporters instinctively believe "non-profit" and environmental
groups while assuming nefarious motives are behind anyone in business.
Former MRCer Tim Graham caught the admission
made by Warren Brown in a online chat session last Wednesday which someone
raised Monday during an online chat featuring Washington Post media
reporter Howard Kurtz.
Brownís comments came up with regards to
coverage of the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. Brown
noted: "When an auto company says that something like a CAFE rule is
unfair, we tend to scoff. We prefer, instead, to believe the Sen. Kerrys,
Joan Claybrooks and Clarence Ditlows, because they have declared
themselves on the side of the angels." Thatís because "we are
taught in journalism school that our mission as journalists is to afflict
the comfortable and comfort the afflicted." Brown, however, pointed
out: "No one ever explained what gives us the right to do that."
In the March 20 "Real Wheels"
discussion hosted by Brown, he wrote:
"You might have caught wind of the
current debate over whether we in the media are biased. I think we are,
though we are quite unwilling to admit it. The current debate revolves
around whether we are too liberal because more minorities and women are
now in the media. I disagree with that. But I do think that there is a
liberal bias, and that it works this way: We are taught in journalism
school that our mission as journalists is to afflict the comfortable and
comfort the afflicted. But no one ever explained what gives us the right
to do that. No one ever suggested that the comfortable are not inherently
evil because they are comfortable, or that the afflicted are not
inherently virtuous because they are afflicted. So, the tendency in the
general media is to view anyone who makes a profit as comfortable. That
tendency is coupled with the erroneous notion that profit and truth are
mutually exclusive commodities. "So, when
an auto company says that something like a CAFE rule is unfair, we tend to
scoff. We prefer, instead, to believe the Sen. Kerrys, Joan Claybrooks and
Clarence Ditlows, because they have declared themselves on the side of the
angels. We don't question them nearly as closely as we question General
also this: We tend to believe that any nonprofit group is telling the
truth because the group is, well, nonprofit. We overlook the fact that
nonprofit groups hustle for money just like any other organization. The
difference is that they don't report a net gain from income. They have not
dirtied themselves with profit. They supposedly have nothing to gain by
saying what they say, or doing what they do.
time that we in the media take away that carte blanche believability from
nonprofit organizations and start treating them the way we treat everybody
That would be refreshing. But will any of
Brownís media colleagues adjust their habits?
The entire chat session is online at:
On Monday, a chat participant raised Brownís
points with Howard Kurtz, who responded: "I don't
agree with the first part. During the 90s the media lionized Jack Welch,
Bill Gates, Sumner Redstone, Jeff Bezos, Meg Whitman, Steve Case, other
dot-com zillionaires, high-flying day traders and others whose lives are
dedicated to the pursuit of big bucks. In fact, you were made to feel like
an idiot if you weren't playing the stock market. Enron also got great
press before the fall. I do think Warren makes a great point in saying
that too many reporters regard non-profits or Ďpublic interestí groups
as do-gooders without an agenda, rather than applying the skepticism they
generally bring toward corporations and industry groups, and that's a
Of course, lionizing a few corporate chiefs as
celebrities has nothing to do with how a reporter presents the issues at
hand in a story about he pros and cons of CAFE standards or, for that
matter, in any story about the environment. See item #4 above for proof.
For the entire March 25 session with Kurtz:
Monday night, Connie Chung began a week of filling in for Aaron Brown as
anchor of CNNís 10pm/1am EST NewsNight in what is probably a test-run
for her upcoming 8pm EST show. Her gig this week reminded me of a January
CyberAlert Extra which recounted her liberal record over the years.
On Monday morning, MRC analyst Patrick Gregory
observed, FNCís Fox & Friends crew made fun of CNN for having Chung,
who famously interviewed Tonya Harding in a ratings gimmick for CBS,
anchor the show when just a couple of weeks ago Brown made fun of FNCís
Geta Van Susteren for interviewing Harding.
Brian Kilmeade remarked: "Something else
I think is worthy of bringing up. He starts ripping Greta Van Susteren
because she had on Tonya Harding, which was the number one show two weeks
ago on Thursday in those celebrity boxing matches. So he says 'I would
never do that, I will not do silly tv. But, who did he have on? He had the
Liza wedding! That isn't silly tv? I mean even Liza laughs at Liza." Steve Doocy
piped in: "But here's the problem with this. Aaron Brown said that it
was a big mistake doing Tanya Harding on the Greta Van Susteren show
right? Who is going to be filling in for Aaron Brown? Connie Chung is
going to be filling in for Aaron Brown and of course who did Connie Chung
interview when she was at CBS? Tanya Harding! She goes out and she goes to
that skating rink in Portland, and you know they all skate around. So you
know if you've got a problem with Greta Van Susteren, you've got a problem
pal, with Connie Chung."
Indeed, as relayed in the March 18 CyberAlert,
Aaron Brown opened the March 14 NewsNight with a self-indulgent rant about
how on "the program that competes directly with us on that almost
news channel," FNCís On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,
"they booked Tonya Harding to talk about the big fight and yes,
little NewsNight got its backside kicked in the ratings." For
Now that rundown of Connie Chungís record as
compiled in the January 23 CyberAlert Extra, followed by links to the full
-- By leaving ABC for CNN, Connie Chung will
be bringing her liberalism to the fourth network in her hop-scotching
career. Last year she called Jesse Jackson "the charismatic national
symbol of human rights." In 1995 she distorted GOP plans to reduce
the rate of growth as "deep cuts in Medicare." Twice sheís
used interviews to campaign for abortion, once scolding a pro-abortion GOP
Governor for not trying hard enough. At NBC in 1989 she mocked the concept
behind a capital gains tax cut. For these quotes and more:
-- Text and video of Chungís 1995 "just
whisper it to me" coaxing of Newt Gingrichís mother. Plus, how two
years earlier when interviewing Bill Clintonís mother and brother she
avoided asking anything negative about him and, instead, elicited stories
from them showing Clinton in a positive light. To watch or read:
prime time shows tonight will feature reporters as the bad guys: ABCís
The Court and CBSís JAG.
At 10pm EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST, ABC will
premiere The Court, starring Sally Field as a new justice. The ABC Web
site summarizes the show: "Kate
Nolan (Sally Field), a pragmatic politician, is the newest addition to a
deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court. As she navigates between the liberal
and conservative camps of her new colleagues, she must also create a
rapport with the brilliant young law clerks assigned to assist her.
Justice Nolan struggles within the halls of the Supreme Court, an
aggressive television reporter, Harlan Brandt (Craig Bierko), and his
eager, young production assistant, Betsy Tyler (Christina Hendricks), work
from outside, dedicated to putting a face on the work of the court. But
Brandt's fast-paced, deadline-driven world is often at odds with the
sanctity of the very institution he covers."
ABCís Web page for The Court:
The Field role sounds identical to that of the
swing justice played by Joe Montegna, who is the star of CBSís drama
about the Supreme Court, First Monday. Such originality in the TV
While Warner Brothersí The Court shares an
Executive Producer with The West Wing, John Wells, in a March 26 review,
the Washington Postís Tom Shales, if you can believe him, assured that
The Court isnít liberal: "Thereís an absence of West Wingís
Hollywood-liberal sermonizing, which is good, but thereís also an
absence of plot, coherence and intriguing characters, which is bad."
The latter sounds no different than most
As noted on Mondayís CyberAlert, Tuesdayís
JAG at 8pm EST/PST, 7pm CST/MST on CBS takes on whether reporters are
Americans first or journalists first when a "ZNN" reporter
exposes a commando operation in Afghanistan. A promo for Tuesdayís
episode asks: "Did this combat reporter cause a front line
ambush?" For more:
> Tuesday night on the late night shows:
Barbara Walters is scheduled to appear on CBSís Late Show with David
Letterman and Janet Reno is scheduled to appear on NBCís Tonight Show
with Jay Leno.
Scheduled Wednesday night on Letterman: Doris
Kearns Goodwin, in what I think will be her first major media appearance
since her plagiarism was documented.
She should feel comfortable on the Late Show
since itís normal for Lettermanís writers to craft funny lines for the
guest the repeat.
-- Brent Baker
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