Number of segments that Sunday News shows on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox gave to the People’s Climate March on the day that it happened: ZERO.
Even if media outlets didn’t find this historical event significant enough to take time for, Americans sure did. An estimated 400,000 people took a stand against man-made climate change in a march that extended over 4 miles long in the streets of New York City.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor Gilbert Bailon criticized some conservative media outlets and national press for their coverage of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Bailon singled out Fox News for focusing on looting and “chaos” while ignoring the “deeper story” in Ferguson, and also cited The Washington Post and the New York Post for running thinly sourced negative stories about Brown.
Bailon, editor of the largest local paper covering the aftermath of the August 9 police shooting that left Brown dead and sparked a national debate on police tactics, spoke to Media Matters at the American Society of News Editors conference in Chicago this week.
While the editor and former ASNE president praised much of the national press coverage, he cited Fox News for criticism.
"I think the national media has done a good job of capturing the story," Bailon said. But he later said of Fox News: "I do think sometimes … it looks like the whole community was in flames, and it was really a few block area. Significant, but it wasn’t like St. Louis was on fire or out of control and there was mass chaos everywhere … it wasn’t like an all-consuming entire metropolitan area was hit by that, yet it commanded a huge presence of what was there."
He added, "I think Fox took a different angle, their view was more of the view of the chaos, was really focusing on the looting and less of what was going on in the community pre-dating the looting. The looting was very dramatic…but there was the deeper story there. Some stayed on in town longer, I think there was a different viewpoint on them and less on the undercurrent. [Fox] didn’t look at it as deeply and as long as others, CNN did make an investment, MSNBC was there a lot."
He also cited a Washington Post report that Brown had marijuana in his system and another from the New York Post that the officer who shot Brown suffered a fractured eye socket as facts his paper has yet to report because they cannot be verified.
"There’s been a couple of stories that I think the sourcing wasn’t quite as good on," he said. "I don’t know whether these are wrong but we haven’t been able to verify it. There’s been talk that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system. Well that hasn’t been officially reviewed, we don’t know that yet. We haven’t reported that. The New York Post picked up some information about [police officer Darren Wilson] having an orbital fracture of his face … inflicted by Michael Brown. We have not found that to be true. In fact, it has been debunked by many.”
H/T: Joe Strupp at MMFA
It is wrong on KSDK’s part, and this is coming from someone who is against the actions of the Ferguson Police Department. This is not the 1st time that KSDK did something foolish either. Remember the Kirkwood Schools reporting scare in January.
This is officially the worst STL Media decision of the year, surpassing the Kirkwood controversy done by NewsChannel5 and Fox2’s idiotic decision to move Angie Mock off of mornings and refusal to move her back to mornings after Tim Ezell’s retirement.
The Washington Times (aka Moonie Times) Is An Unofficial Sponsor Of The Anti-Gay "March For Marriage"
The right-wing Washington Times is effectively serving as an unofficial sponsor for the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) upcoming March for Marriage. The news outlet is hosting NOM’s petition to “stand for traditional marriage” and plans to livestream the march on its website.
The Washington Times is doing its part to promote the event; The Times' website is hosting a NOM-sponsored petition urging readers to sign and “stand for traditional marriage,” instructing the government not to “seek to redefine it”:
In a June 17 blog post, NOM announced that it had developed a “special partnership” with the Times to livestream the event on the news outlets website:
Thanks to a special partnership with The Washington Times, the official media sponsor of the 2014 March for Marriage, we will be live streaming the event on the world-wide web!
We are also very gratified that The Washington Times is hosting a marriage petition on their website which I encourage you to go sign right away. Click here to add your signature and show your support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This petition and the signatures we gather will be an important statement, along with the March itself, to our leaders in Washington and to the mainstream media that Americans still clearly stand for marriage.
NOM also announced that the Times would be creating a “special magazine” commemorating the march and encouraged supporters to subscribe to the Times' digital edition:
Finally, The Washington Times is creating a special magazine commemorating the March for Marriage. (You will find this online on Thursday on the same page as Thursday’s livestream — stay tuned to The Washington Times for more details!)
You can also get this special magazine by subscribing to the The Washington Times National Digital Edition. You can access this great, interactive “living digital daily newspaper” anywhere and anytime, showcasing the articles and features readers have come to enjoy from the home of fearless reporting and American values. Best of all, it is available for your desktop and laptop plus your favorite mobile device from the Apple and Google Play stores. Visit washingtontimes.com and click on the subscribe button to learn more.
Cultivating a “special partnership” with NOM and blatantly touting its march represents a clear violation of basic journalistic ethics. It’s one thing for The Washington Times to cover the March for Marriage. It’s another thing entirely to shill for the event.
h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA
After reportedly leaving CBS News because of the network’s supposed political bias, Sharyl Attkisson is now working for the conservative Heritage Foundation as a “senior independent contributor” to their online news outlet The Daily Signal.
Politico's Dylan Byers reported in March that sources said Attkisson left CBS because she “had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias,” while some staffers characterized her work as “agenda-driven,” leading “network executives to doubt the impartiality of her reporting.” Attkisson had supported CBS’ disastrous Benghazi reporting, which the network ultimately had to apologize for and retract, and CBS executives reportedly saw her as “wading dangerously close to advocacy on the issue.” She also released an error-ridden report on clean energy, and relied on partial information from House Republicans in a botched story on the Affordable Care Act.
Following her departure from the network, Attkisson attempted to paint herself has a victim of media bias, floating baseless conspiracy theories suggesting Media Matters had been paid to attack her work. She was unwilling to provide specifics, but claimed there was a “political aspect” to her troubles at CBS and that her supervisors gave in to “well organized” outside campaigns that complained about coverage. Conservative media outlets, particularly Fox News, rallied to Attkisson’s defense, with personalities showering praise on her shoddy work and indicating they wanted her to join the conservative network.
The Daily Signal debuted June 3 with a report from Attkisson and the first of three planned interviews with her, in which she said she hoped she could “bring under-served stories to a broad audience through an editorial process that doesn’t censor, that doesn’t try to direct a story to go in a certain unnatural direction.”
The conservative outlet has said it plans to do “true, straight-down-the-middle journalism,” while simultaneously attracting a younger audience that “will find themselves persuaded by the conservative commentary and analysis that will draw on the think tank’s scholars and researchers.” The Heritage Foundation, which the New York Times described as providing “the blueprint for the Republican Party’s ideas in Washington,” recently lost some if its “most prominent scholars.” The Times added, ”research that seemed to undermine Heritage’s political goals has been squelched.” The think tank also started the political group Heritage Action, which has proven to lean so far to the right that some congressional Republicans have reportedly distanced themselves from the group.
Bloomberg Businessweek reported that The Daily Signal will use Heritage’s blog The Foundry as inspiration, which has in the past attempted to inject “its worldview into the mainstream press.”
The defense continued to present its case in the fifth month of the trial of several News Corp. employees for allegedly compromising the privacy of crime victims, British royalty, entertainers, and politicians.
Former News International editors and executives — including Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, and Stuart Kuttner — are on trial in England for their accused roles in conspiring to hack phones and voicemails to find fodder for news stories.
On the stand in April, Kuttner denied paying off the investigator who did the phone hacking, while Coulson testified at length about his actions surrounding the disclosure of the hacking.
In March, Brooks admitted that her public statements about the number of phone hacking victims were inaccurate. Brooks testified that she approved possibly illegal payments to military sources, hired a “PR guru” to combat allegations of phone hacking, and that she offered a job to reporter Clive Goodman even after he had been jailed for intercepting phone messages. Goodman testified that he had been made the fall guy for phone hacking and that “lots of people” at News of the World were involved in the behavior.
Charlie Brooks, Rebekah Brooks’ husband, denied hiding evidence from the police. The jury also heard that News International wanted a former member of Tony Blair’s cabinet to coach Brooks before she appeared at a parliamentary inquiry.
Here are the notable developments from April, the fifth month of the News Corp. phone hacking trial:
Former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner denied that he tried to conceal payments to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who intercepted voicemail messages and was paid over £100,000 a year by the News of the World.
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson testified that he personally called Rupert Murdoch in 2006 when News of the World editor Clive Goodman was arrested for intercepting phone messages from members of the Royal Household. Coulson said that Murdoch “was concerned” and “said the most valuable thing that a newspaper has is the trust of its readers.”
When he resigned as editor of News of the World in 2007 after Goodman was convicted of phone hacking, Coulson reportedly received a £600,000 pay day from News Corp.
Coulson said that they did not know that the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler had been hacked by investigators working for News of the World. The phone hacking scandal exploded in the international media after the Guardian reported in 2011 that News of the World had hacked Dowler’s voicemail in search of possible exclusives after her disappearance.
Coulson testified that he did not know intercepting voicemails was illegal, but ordered reporters to stop doing it because it was an invasion of privacy. He also said he should have done more to stop the practice, but “it doesn’t mean I was party to it.”
Coulson responded to earlier testimony that he told someone to “do his phone,” claiming that it was not an order to hack someone’s telephone, but a request to inspect the phone bill of a News of the World staffer suspected of leaking news stories.
He also said that he left his job as communications director to Prime Minister David Cameron as a result of the phone hacking scandal becoming public.
Coulson said he “rubber-stamped” a payment to Goodman which was earmarked for a royal policeman in exchange for a telephone directory with the home phone numbers for members of the royal family, even though he knew such payments were possibly illegal.
Coulson denied earlier testimony from Goodman that he had instructed Goodman to say he was operating solely as a “lone wolf” involved in phone hacking.
Sara Payne, mother of murder victim Sarah Payne, testified as a character witness in favor of Rebekah Brooks and the News of the World, and praised them for pushing a campaign in favor of harsher laws against sex offenders.
A friend called as a character witness for Brooks’ husband, Charlie Brooks, testified that he was “capable of being completely daft” and once drank a pint of dishwashing liquid to cure a hangover. Brooks is accused of assisting his wife in covering up evidence of phone hacking.
Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center thinks media outlets are covertly attacking Christianity by reporting on sports and non-Christian faiths. Speaking Friday with Religious Right talk show host Janet Mefferd, Gainor complained that newspapers have “an entire section devoted to sports” but are devoid of mentions of religion.
When newspapers do cover religion, Gainor adds, the stories are “filled with lefty propaganda about faith that attacks Christianity.”
“That’s the lefty view of faith, we gotta show Hindu this, we gotta show Buddhism, we gotta talk about Scientology, we gotta talk about Wiccans.” he said. “No, why not try to be at least representative? If there’s 80-85 percent Christians [in the US population], it’s going to be 80-85 percent Christian, and then we will occasionally dabble in these other faiths, we’ll certainly include Judaism,” he said.
From the 04.18.2014 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Janet Mefferd Show:
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Billo The Clown has no clue.
FOX and conservative media have “binary Obama criticism fatigue”. Their narrative has zero objectivity.
Oh cry me a frickin’ river, Benny.
This is one of the things that makes me crazy about the conservative punditry is how incredibly thin-skinned they are. They can be as dismissive and mean as they want to be but give them a little bit of their own medicine and suddenly the WATB cries come out.
Ben Ferguson keeps perpetuating the completely unsubstantiated myth of the liberal media by pointing to the singular cable channel of MSNBC. Proof, the hair helmet of conservatism insists, of their hostility to conservatives is that they usually book them at a three (liberals) to one (conservative) ratio, keep interrupting them and aren’t interested in a real debate.
Wait…what? That doesn’t sound like MSNBC’s format, which usually goes with the Left/Right paradigm and invites two guests per segment. That sounds suspiciously like the Sunday show roundtables, if anything. Sally Kohn doesn’t see anything different from that as her experiences as the designated lefty on Fox News, where the ratio got as out of hand as 15 to one.
» Brent Bozell urges 'liberal' media to ‘tell the truth,’ while he fibs about writing a column | JIMROMENESKO.COM
The conservative Media Research Center often urges liberal news outlets to TELL THE TRUTH, but the Reston, VA-based press watchdog isn’t telling the truth about its own leader: Brent Bozell doesn’t write the syndicated column that appears under his byline.
t is longtime MRC media analysis director Tim Graham who writes “almost everything published under [Bozell’s] name,” a former MRC employee tells me in an email. “That includes his weekly column. Same goes for his books, which at least carry Graham’s name in a secondary billing, but also aren’t written by Bozell (but Bozell keeps 80-90% of the advance and all profits!)”
Two other people with ties to MRC confirmed that Graham is Bozell’s ghostwriter – and that Graham is not happy with the assignment.
“Tim just resents having to do it,” says a former employee.
Graham’s wife, too, is so angry about the arrangement that she refuses to attend Media Research Center events.
“She hates Bozell,” I’m told. “The forced ghostwriting is the issue,” says an ex-employee. (Laura Haugan Graham did not respond to an email sent Wednesday via Facebook. I also emailed Bozell and Graham for comment on Wednesday, but did not get responses. I called the Media Research Center offices on Wednesday and left a message that wasn’t returned.)
h/t: Jim Romenesko
Whenever a journalist is accused of an ethical violation, I am there for him. Or her.
Perhaps it’s because I have been accused of so many such violations myself, or maybe I just have an old-school view of this business, but the bottom line is I am unashamedly sympathetic to any journalist accused of an ethical lapse. If you are such a journalist and you lose me, you’ve lost the room.
Bad news for KSDK. They’ve lost me.
According to a story this newspaper published Friday, KSDK was preparing a story on school safety. A reporter went to Kirkwood High School on Thursday. He walked in unimpeded.
He asked directions to the office. He asked to speak with somebody from security. The secretary said the school resource officer was not in the office. She took the name and phone number of the visitor, who did not identify himself as a reporter. Administrators became alarmed when the visitor asked for the location of a restroom but headed in another direction.
Administrators called the number he had left with the secretary. He did not answer the phone, but the message identified him as a reporter with KSDK. Administrators then called KSDK, but the station refused to confirm or deny the person worked for the station. Even when the administrators said they would have to put the school on lockdown if the visitor’s identity remained unknown, the station wouldn’t budge.
So the school went on lockdown. That means police were called. Students and teachers huddled fearfully in classrooms.
What was the purpose of letting the school think a gunman might be hiding somewhere in the school? Let’s even take it one step further back. Why didn’t the reporter just check in with the office, identify himself as a reporter and announce he was doing a story on school security? The station isn’t saying. Whatever the reason, the lockdown made a big splash, which, come to think of it, might have been the reason.
If so, it worked. Even I watched KSDK at 10 p.m. Thursday.
Nobody explained the reason for forcing the school to go on lockdown. Instead, we got this sanctimonious statement: “NewsChannel 5 will continue to be vigilant when it comes to the safety of our schools and your children therein.”
I wanted to shout at the screen. “We don’t want you sneaking around our schools. Just give us news, weather and sports. If you want to scare the bejesus out of kids, scare your own.”
Besides, exactly what was the report going to prove? That Kirkwood High School isn’t being operated like some kind of prison?
Let me tell you what school had really good security — Sandy Hook Elementary. Doors were locked at 9:30 a.m. Visitors were admitted only after a visual review via a video monitor. Identification was required. KSDK would have approved. But guess what? Adam Lanza shot his way through a glass panel next to the door.
Columbine had a deputy sheriff assigned to the school as a full-time armed school resource officer. That didn’t stop Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. They were students.
The notion that we can make schools — or any place — completely safe is false. Even having armed people around doesn’t guarantee anything. One of our worst mass shootings was at an Army base. And, locally, of course, we had the horrific shooting at Kirkwood City Hall. The first two victims were armed police officers.
Kirkwood. That makes this stunt from KSDK even more appalling. Did anybody at that station think about that? Or do they just not care?
These are perilous times. Bad things happen. I suppose a television station can play on our fears. It’s probably good for ratings. They can send reporters sneaking around and then point out security lapses. Next week, they’ll probably take a gun into the zoo. That could really gin up some fright. “Your children aren’t even safe at the zoo!”
That seems to be where society is headed. Certainly, the government does what it can to send us the message: “Be very afraid.” After all, if we’re afraid, we’re more willing to give the government increased authority. We must surrender a little freedom for security. Only a powerful government can protect us. Maybe there is even some truth to that.
But we need a television station to protect us? Really?
“NewsChannel 5 will continue to be vigilant when it comes to the safety of our schools and your children therein.”
I think the people at KSDK ought to be very grateful that it is not against the law to be sanctimonious. If it were, they’d be looking at some heavy time.
After a month that saw two MSNBC hosts leave the channel following incendiary remarks and another apologize for a heavily criticized segment, Keith Olbermann can’t help but wonder who’s in charge at his former employer.
Olbermann was reacting Tuesday to an apology from MSNBC commentator Melissa Harris-Perry over a segment that mocked Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandson, Kieran.
"Any adults in charge over there?" Olbermann tweeted.
When one of his Twitter followers argued that the “GOP only likes freedom of speech when it applies to them,” Olbermann, who became a hero to liberals and an enemy to conservatives during his time at MSNBC, stood by his criticism.
"Not the point. You can have your standards, or their standards," he responded.
Olbermann, now with ESPN, left MSNBC in 2011 after his relationship with the cable news channel had deteriorated. The tension between Olbermann and his MSNBC colleagues was palpable during a pair of awkward moments at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
On the opening night of the convention, Olbermann dismissed conservative pundit Joe Scarborough’s claim that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign was revitalized.
"Jesus, Joe, why don’t you get a shovel?" Olbermann could be heard saying off-screen, prompting a stunned a reaction from Scarborough.
The next night, Olbermann had another on-air tiff after he indicated that his hosting partner Chris Matthews was talking too much.
Scarborough took a thinly-veiled swipe at Olbermann in his latest book, “The Right Path,” but when asked by TPM about the dig, Scarborough largely praised Olbermann’s sportscasting chops.
Harris-Perry apologized Tuesday after drawing heavy criticism for the segment on Romney’s grandson. Her mea culpa came weeks after Martin Bashir resigned from MSNBC over remarks he made about Sarah Palin and about a month after Alec Baldwin departed the channel following a homophobic rant directed at paparazzi.
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 Report, The 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.
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 alone. The 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.
This coming Friday, CNN will once again turn over its airwaves to everyone’s favorite caliphate-spotting, end-times-prophesying, gold-hucksteringbad novelist: Glenn Beck. He will be the special guest for the entirety of the December 6 edition of Piers Morgan Live, which will be guest-hosted by S.E. Cupp, the co-host of CNN’s Crossfire who pulls double duty as a contributor to Beck’s news venture, The Blaze. Beck’s return to CNN (he decamped from the network in 2008, describing the newsroom environment as a “pit of despair”) will “likely” feature, according to The Blaze, a discussion of “Beck’s latest book, ‘Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America,’ the creation of TheBlaze and current events.”
So CNN will have a conservative pundit interview her own boss about his various business ventures for an entire hour, which should allow plenty of time for all the various conflicts of interest this presents to come to the fore.
But if CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker is to be believed, this is the sort of programming we should come to expect from CNN going forward. “We’re all regurgitating the same information. I want people to say, ‘You know what? That was interesting. I hadn’t thought of that,’” Zucker told Capital New York during a recent interview. “The goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts.”
If you’re looking to send a message that you’re prioritizing “attitude” (Zucker’s word) and showmanship over actual useful information, an hour-long primetime interview with Glenn Beck is an excellent way to do that.
Jeff Zucker, you have found a way to ruin CNN (and HLN, where Beck once was on the air) even further.