Posts tagged "Broadcast News Media"

The flawed 60 Minutes report represented a willing and eager decision by CBS to get mired in the Benghazi mud. CBS thought it could keep its reputation clean while cashing in on the built-in buzz it knew the right-wing noise machine would produce for the report.

But that’s a dangerous game given that there’s nothing sane or rational about the right-wing’s Benghazi fantasyand the claims it’s a “Watergate”-like scandal that implicates both President Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. The far-right’s Benghazi campaign has been an endless stream of hollow allegations and smears. (i.e. “The cancer on the Presidency is lying exposed — grisly and repulsive.”) Why would a trusted brand like CBS try to wallow in that kind of conspiratorial nonsense?

In reality, Lara Logan’s report produced little new reporting of interest or significance. And much of what it did cast as new turned out to be deeply flawed. The October 27 broadcast seemed designed to whip up angry emotions from conservatives, rather than illuminate the facts.  

The Benghazi fact sheet will likely haunt the network for years:

On October 27, 60 Minutes featured Dylan Davies, a British security contractor who claimed to be a “witness” of the September 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities; a witness who claimed that during the attack he heroically scaled a wall of the U.S. compound and knocked out a terrorist with his rifle butt. The action-packed tale Davies told was the same one he spelled out in a book published by CBS subsidiary, which meant the 60 Minutes report was helping to juice sales for a CBS-affiliated book. (60 Minutes did not inform their readeres of that conflict of interest.)

The story Davies told CBS though, was wildly different than the subdued account he gave his work superiors, according to an incident report that was obtained by The Washington Post on October 31. Davies had told his security contractor employer that he “could not get anywhere near” the compound the night of the attack.

With his story under fire, Davies responded that he lied to his employer because he didn’t want his boss to know he’d disobeyed strict orders that night to stay away from the Benghazi compound. While acknowledging that deceit, Davies claimed he told the truth on 60 Minutes and told the truth in his book, and said he would be vindicated by the FBI’s report on what he told agents shortly after the attack. 

Then the Times reported that the FBI report actually showed that Davis also told agents he failed to make it to the U.S. compound on the night of the attack, and therefore did not engage in a night’s worth of heroic deeds.

In the days that followed the original airing of the troubled Benghazi report, CBS did nothing to re-report or fact-check the story after holes began to appear. Other journalists, including those from the Washington Post and the New York Times, took on that burden. Basically, CBS waited for outside journalists to vet its Benghazi story after it aired. And only after CBS’ competitors uncovered glaring inconsistencies did the network’s news division admit mistakes were made. But the admissions came slowly and haltingly.

As it stonewalled, CBS couldn’t avoid the fact that in 2004 when 60 Minutes II was caught in a crossfire of conservative outrage after airing a disputed report about President Bush’s Vietnam War record, the network appointed a former Republican attorney general, Richard Thornburgh, to thoroughly investigate what went wrong. The review panel, created to “protect the integrity of CBS News,” was given ”full access and complete cooperation from CBS News and CBS, as well as all of the resources necessary to complete the task.” Those resources included reporters’ notes, e-mails, and draft scripts. After interviewing 66 people over three months, the panel issued an-often scathing 234-page report.

By contrast, no outside panel was appointed to determine how the flawed Benghazi report was put together and who was to blame for allowing it to air; the network instead commissioned a limited internal review by CBS News executive Al Ortiz. And instead of a 234-page report, CBS issued an 11-paragraph summary of Ortiz’s findings. It seemed clear that CBS executives had no interests in opening up 60 Minutes to an independent review; one that would truly probe and ask the hard questions. (Was that because CBS News chairman Fager, Ortiz’s boss, is also the executive producer of 60 Minutes?)

It was, as one journalism association put it, “a case study in how not to correct an inaccurate report in the digital age.”

To date, nobody at CBS has lost their jobs because of the Benghazi hoax. Logan and her producer Max McClellan were asked to take a “leave of absence” following the internal review (those leaves may end as early as January), but CBS has not said whether the two are being paid during their forced hiatus. 

Quite simply, how is it possible to spend a year reporting out a story only to have almost none of it stand up to the slightest scrutiny? The magnitude of the malfeasance was baffling, demonstrating that the network failed to follow even rudimentary rules of journalism in preparing the report.

In the end, CBS’s internal “review” of the debacle did little to address the troubling, central questions about how the errors were made and who was to blame. That, in turn, only led to further speculation about motives. Journalism that sloppy and misleading doesn’t happen by accident. Not at the elite level of 60 Minutes.

It took the CBS team nearly two weeks to concede what critics had pointed out as the report’s deep flaws. The price CBS paid? Its prized Benghazi report turned the network’s news team into a national punch line. (See The Colbert ReportThe Daily Show With Jon Stewart, and Saturday Night Live.) 

[…]

The night the 60 Minutes Benghazi hoax aired, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson used her Twitter account to relentlessly hype the program. Tweeting a dozen times that night about Logan’s Benghazi piece, Attkisson urged her followers to tune in and watch.

A professional Benghazi aficionado and the declared darling of the right-wing media, Attkisson’s cheerleading wasn’t a surprise. Nor was it surprising that when the 60 Minutes report completely imploded, Attkisson never acknowledged the network’s blunder via Twitter. She simply moved on to her own Obama gotcha campaign that featured a journalism lapse that nearly matched Logan’s.

On November 11, Attkisson aired an exclusive report based on reviewing what she acknowledged were selectively leaked partial transcripts. Those transcripts likely came by the auspices of Republican anti-Obama crusader, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), whose utterly fruitless investigations of the White House as chairman of the House Oversight Committee have become legendary. Issa himself has become known as being legendarily untrustworthy, particularly in his dealings with the press. But that didn’t stop Attkisson from simply regurgitating Issa’s hit piece.

In her report, Attkisson, who’s been identified by some of her own CBS colleagues as an open GOP partisan, suggested Healthcare.gov’s chief project manager Henry Chao in September was completely unaware of “limitless” security concerns related to the government’s troubled site; concerns that could lead to identify theft.

That was Attkisson’s tale as told by the House Oversight Chairman, and the partial transcripts he allowed Attkisson to see. The entire transcript story? In his testimony, Chao was asked about security concerns that had nothing to do with the October 1 rollout of Obamacare, and instead were related to parts of Healthcare.gov that won’t be active until 2014.

That’s just atrocious journalism. As MSNBC’s Steve Benen noted, the Attkisson report left out “pretty much every relevant detail that points in a more accurate direction.” But it did successfully create more panic about the Obamacare launch. The fact that Attkisson’s producers allowed her to air that kind of obviously flawed and flimsy report (Attkisson had no idea what the full transcripts revealed but she leveled a bogus charge anyway), says a lot about the gotcha culture inside CBS today.

It also reveals a lot that a reporter like Attkisson, who has such a rich history of being wrong on very important stories, is still a top reporter at CBS.

[…]

The “Ghastly” Social Security Disability Report

And then there was the October 6 scare report 60 Minutes aired that alleged widespread fraud within the Social Security disability program. (i.e. “A secret welfare system.”) Told from the perspective of another crusading Republican lawmaker, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Media Matters noted at the time the CBS report relied almost entirely on anecdotal evidence to dishonestly portray the social welfare program as wasteful, despite the fact that award rates fell during the recession and that fraud represents approximately one percent of the program.

After watching the lopsided report, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik denounced CBS correspondent Steve Kroft’s “rank ignorance about the disability program” and the “ghastly” piece Kroft helped produce.

Hiltzik wasn’t aloneThe Nation attacked the 60 Minutes report as a “hatchet job.” Economist Dean Bakerlamented that, “Perhaps the most remarkable part of this story is that the 60 Minutes crew seem to think they are being tough for going after people on disability.” And disability advocates, who had preemptively reached out to CBS in hopes that 60 Minutes would air a balanced report, denounced the “sensational” account as a “disservice” to people with disabilities.

Taken together, these troubling CBS reports, centered around the shocking Benghazi hoax, paint a disturbing portrait of one of Americans’ most famous news teams, and one that seems overly eager to spread Republican misinformation while doing deep damage to its own brand.

h/t: MMFA

h/t: FastCompany.com

Sinclair Broadcast Group, the country’s largest operator of local television stations, is purchasing seven broadcast TV stations and NewsChannel 8, a regional cable news network, from Allbriton Communications. Sinclair has a history of using its stations to promote a conservative messages and also attempted to influence the 2004 election in favor of the Republican Party.

According to the New York Times, Sinclair plans to purchase the stations for $985 million and “explore the rollout of a national cable news channel using NewsChannel 8 as its core.” The purchase includes WJLA, the ABC network affiliate in the Washington, D.C. media market. The Times reports that Sinclair’s stations reach “about 35 percent of households in the United States.”

In the past, Sinclair has used its stations to promote a conservative, anti-progressive message.

Sinclair used to produce and distribute a one-minute commentary segment called “The Point,” hosted by Sinclair vice president Mark Hyman. Broadcast on Sinclair stations nationwide, ”The Point” regularly attacked progressives while promoting conservative misinformation on issues like social security,Hurricane Katrina, and health care. The segment ceased production in 2006, but Hyman’s right-wing commentaries resumed in 2010 as "Behind The Headlines with Mark Hyman," which currently airs on several Sinclair-owned stations.

Hyman is also a contributor to The American Spectator's website, where he added his voice to the chorus of conspiracy theorists spreading unfounded rumors about President Obama's birth certificate. A recent column by Hyman asked, “Did Barack Obama just green light the execution of George Zimmerman?”

In April 2004, Sinclair refused to carry a special edition of Nightline in which the names of the servicemen and women killed in Iraq were read aloud on its ABC affiliates. In a statement, the company described the episode as part of “a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.” Hyman accused then-Nightline anchor Ted Koppel of “trying to stir up public opposition” to the war.

A few days before the 2004 election, Sinclair reportedly ordered its stations to pre-empt regular programming and air Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, a film which leveled several false accusations against Democratic presidential candidate and Navy veteran John Kerry. When reporter Jon Leiberman criticized the film as “biased political propaganda,” he was fired by Sinclair. Sinclair later backtracked on its plans and instead aired A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media, which negatively focused on Kerry’s activities during the war.

At a 2005 press conference with then-Senator John Kerry, Sinclair’s Washington bureau chief Don Hammond attempted to ask Kerry about the “amazing accusations” by conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi about Kerry’s military career.

h/t: MMFA

At least it wasn’t Sinclair buying them up.

Longtime KMOV (Channel 4) anchorman Larry Conners is “off the air” until further notice.

The station is examining Conners’ recent allegations that he was targeted by the Internal Revenue Service after interviewing President Barack Obama.

"He’s not suspended. We just all thought it made sense (for him) to take a few days off," news director Sean McLaughlin said.

"We take this very seriously, and we don’t expect this to drag on. We’re still looking into the situation and weighing our options," he said.

The situation arose Monday night with a post from Conners on his Facebook page. In that post, Conners said he had been getting “pressure” from the IRS after the Obama interview in April 2012.

On Tuesday — in a televised statement near the end of KMOV’s 5 p.m. newscast — Conners backed off that initial claim.

"To be fair, I should disclose that my issues with the IRS preceded that interview (with Obama) by several years,” Conners said Tuesday in the 35-second statement.

St. Louis County records show that a federal tax lien has been placed on Conners’ property in Clayton. The lien claims that Conners and his wife,Janet L. Conners, owe more than $85,000 in “small business/self employed” taxes.

The lien, filed Sept. 20 in Chicago and then recorded in St. Louis County on Oct. 4, specifically alleges that the Conners owe the government $7,793 from 2008, $38,482 from 2009 and $39,508 from 2010.

"His Facebook post and his Twitter posts, as a result, were inappropriate," he said. "And we don’t condone personal posts that jeopardize the journalistic nature of our business. It’s really that simple."

KMOV NEEDS to permanently pink-slip this “reporter.”

h/t: STLtoday.com

The legendary newscaster will leave TV journalism next summer

For decades, Barbara Walters has inspired millions with her groundbreaking interviews — but after 37 years with ABC News, the newscaster is announcing on “The View” Monday that next summer, she will retire from TV journalism. Until then, she will continue to anchor and report for ABC News, appear on “The View,” and anchor specials throughout the year including a “20 Years of 10 Most Fascinating People” special in December, an Oscars special, and a May career retrospective.

Walters will remain Executive Producer of “The View,” the show she created in 1997.

“I am very happy with my decision and look forward to a wonderful and special year ahead both on ‘The View’ and with ABC News,” she said. “I created ‘The View’ and am delighted it will last beyond my leaving it.”

Walters began her career in 1961 at NBC’s “Today Show,” where she eventually became a co-host.

Still, in 1976, Walters found a new home at ABC “Evening News,” where she became the first female anchor on an evening news program. Three years later, she became a co-host of “20/20.”

At ABC, her interviews were wide-ranging and her access to public figures, unparalleled; Walters crossed the Bay of Pigs with Fidel Castro, conducted the first joint interview with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin. She also developed a reputation for asking tough questions. In one instance, “I asked Vladimir Putin if he ever ordered anyone to be killed,” she recalls. “For the record, he said no.”

But there were lighter interviews too. Walters hosts a “Most Fascinating People” special in December, which has afforded her the opportunity to chat with stars from Angelina Jolie to Tom Cruise. She has also interviewed every U.S. president and first lady from the Nixons to the current administration. But perhaps one of her favorite contribution to the network has been “The View.”

h/t: ABCNews.com

(via Worst First Day Ever? TV Anchor Fired After Profane Debut : The Two-Way : NPR)

I’m sure many of us have had pretty bad first days — at school, at a new job, a bad first date. But this weekend, we got word of a case that may take the cake.

A.J. Clemente was making his debut as weekend anchor for KFYR in Bismarck, N.D.

Just before his co-anchor made the big introduction and obviously unaware that he was live, he let a series of bad words fly, apparently because he was not succeeding at pronouncing the name of the London Marathon winner, Tsegaye Kebede.

h/t: NPR.org

Right-wing funders and business industrialists David and Charles Koch may purchase the Tribune Company newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times. The brothers are “interested in the clout they could gain through the Times’ editorial pages,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. Responding to the report, a spokesperson for Koch told the website that the brothers are “constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors”:

Missy Cohlmia, a spokeswoman for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, issued the following statement to THR: “As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world,we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors. So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, butit is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring. ”

The Los Angeles Weekly was the first to report that the Kochs could be mulling the purchase of the newspaper assets, which make up $623 million of the company’s $7 billion holdings.

The Koch Brothers may be interested in TV stations (including WGN, KPLR, WPIX, KTLA, et al.) owned by Tribune as well:

Sources tell the Weekly’s Hillel Aron that the Kochs are “considering an offer on either the Tribune Co. newspaper group, which includes the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun or the entire Tribune Co., which includes more than 20 stations like WGN and KTLA Channel 5.”

h/t: Think Progress Media

The View is losing Joy Behar.


"Joy Behar has been instrumental in the success ofThe View from the very beginning,” read a statement from ABC. “We wish her all the best in this next chapter, and are thrilled that we have her for the remainder of the season.”The actress and comedian’s contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of the current season, The Hollywood Reporter confirms. A panelist alongside creator Barbara Walters from the very beginning, Behar leaves the ABC News vet as the last original member of the daytime show.  

The View is losing Joy Behar.

The actress and comedian’s contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of the current season, The Hollywood Reporter confirms. A panelist alongside creator Barbara Walters from the very beginning, Behar leaves the ABC News vet as the last original member of the daytime show.  

"Joy Behar has been instrumental in the success ofThe View from the very beginning,” read a statement from ABC. “We wish her all the best in this next chapter, and are thrilled that we have her for the remainder of the season.”

h/t: THR

PPP’s annual poll on TV news finds that there’s only one source more Americans trust than distrust: PBS. 52% of voters say they trust PBS to only 29% who don’t trust it. The other seven outlets we polled on are all distrusted by a plurality of voters.

When it comes to asking Americans which single outlet they trust the most and least out of the ones we polled on, Fox News once again wins both honors. 34% say it’s the one they trust the most, compared to 13% for PBS, 12% for CNN, 11% for ABC, 8% for MSNBC, 6% for CBS, and 5% each for Comedy Central and NBC. Fox News is the choice of 67% of Republicans, while Democrats basically split their allegiances four ways between ABC and CNN, both at 17%, and MSNBC and PBS, both at 16%.

Even more Americans identify Fox News as the outlet they trust the least- 39% give its that designation to 14% for MSNBC, 13% for CNN, 12% for Comedy Central, 5% for ABC and CBS, 3% for NBC, and 1% for PBS. 60% of Democrats give it their lowest marks while Republicans split between MSNBC (24%), CNN (19%), and Comedy Central (14%) on that front.

Full results

H/T: Public Policy Polling

Bob Schieffer announced on Sunday that Condoleezza Rice is joining CBS News as a contributor.

"Everybody knows Condoleezza Rice was President Bush’s Secretary of State but I’m highly pleased to announce she has a new job. As of today, she’s joining CBS News as a contributor," Schieffer said at the top of the roundtable discussion on "Face the Nation." Rice was a member of the show’s panel.

h/t: Huffington Post

The Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office has declined to prosecute “Meet the Press” over host David Gregory’s alleged display of a high-capacity gun magazine on-air, the Washington Post's Erik Wemple reported Friday: