Deadline News

ABC plans new ‘Nightline’ tribute to U.S. war dead
As he did last year, “Nightline” host Ted Koppel will recite the names of more than 900 American servicemen and women killed in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past year as a photograph of each one is shown on the screen.

FCC Panelist Wants Probe Of Product ‘Payola’

A member of the Federal Communications Commission called yesterday for an investigation of experts who tout products on television without disclosing payments from the manufacturers.

Mad Ave.’s Rush to Podcasts
A new medium means only one thing to advertisers: A new opportunity to sell

Podcasts catch on at NBC, ABC news divisions
ABC News and NBC News announced plans Tuesday to offer podcasts, the rapidly growing mobile technology.

Rupert Murdoch First Inductee in The Big Media Hall Of Shame

A Charge of Media Bias, From the Left This Time
The American media has drifted toward tabloid journalism and has been cowtailed by the Bush administration over its coverage of events such as the war in Iraq

The Tillman Scandal: ‘Newsweek’ Error Bad, Pentagon Lying OK?

Where, in the week after the Great Newsweek Error, is the comparable outrage in the press, in the blogosphere, and at the White House over the military’s outright lying in the coverup of the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman?

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The American Idolization of America

What is it about life in America today that makes it so easy to feel overwhelmed by societal events yet so securely oblivious to all but the most innocuous? It’s like we are protectively shrink-wrapped in a miracle fabric that lets light in, but keeps heat out. In searching for a parable to explain the current American zeitgeist, there is one story whose web of plots and sub-plots lends itself almost too perfectly.

American IdleAs reported with the customary lascivious glee of the Corporate Media, American Idol judge, Paula Abdul, has been engulfed in a scandal that mirrors the scandalous state of our nation. By engaging in a sexual affair with a contestant whose fate her vote would influence, Miss Abdul has given us the opportunity to understand ourselves more fully and satiate our hunger for controversy. What other recipe gives us all of these tasty ingredients?

• Activist judges
• Voting irregularities
• Partisan favoritism
• Clandestine operations
• And, of course, sex

Moreover, American Idol itself is an allegory for war. It pits opponents (contestants) and their allies (audience) against one another. And the principle over which this war is fought (talent) is as ethereal as that which inspires many actual wars (religion). As in all wars, the winners write the history, and we are expected to behave in accordance with the outcome. The winner of this televised karaoke is not just the prevailing contestant, but someone we are now required to Idolize. This is the same kind of jingoistic thought control that will get you thrown out of a taxpayer funded presidential forum for flashing a peace sign.

There is an intentional duality of meaning in the title of this article.

    • The American Idolization of America refers to America taking on the confrontational, black or white, right or wrong, characteristics of the television program.
    • The American Idolization of America refers to the blind loyalty that many Americans feel toward our government or leaders, even when it is contrary to our principles and laws.

Has American Idealism been supplanted by American Idolism? I think so. Contemporary culture in America has just found the perfect combination of nationalism and celebrity worship. Now you know why Fox News is the number one cable news network. Now you know why Ronald Reagan, Jesse Ventura, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were all elected to positions of power. Now you know why Clinton’s lies about sex got him impeached, while Bush’s lies about weapons of mass destruction got him reelected.

Now, don’t get me started on the Apprenticization of America.

Howard Kurtz Cites Me In The Washington Post

I’m officially a whore pundit.

In today’s Media Notes column by Howard Kurtz for the Washington Post, he tackled the now-notorius stand-up act by Laura Bush before the White House Correspondents Dinner. The column, titled Funny Girl made the quite sensible point that much of the Washington press corps are sluts (although he is less crass in his description).


What I wasn’t prepared for was the explosion of coverage casting her as, if not the next Jon Stewart, at least the administration’s newest rock star.

Laura has long been more popular than her husband, which is why she spoke at the convention and played a key campaign role and sometimes shows up on Leno. And journalists, it turns out, are easy to seduce if you throw away the talking points and show you have a sense of humor.

More importantly, through some act of psychotic intervention, he cites ME to support his premise.

The colorfully named NewsCorpse says the media should take a deep breath:

“The humor-challenged media is tripping all over itself to to praise the First Lady’s appearance before the White House Correspondents’ Association. Apparently their funny bone twitches uncontrollably at the sight of Laura being able to read from a sheet of prepared jokes. The talk in the television press has ranged from, ‘ Get this woman her own show .’ to, ‘ Maybe she should run against Hillary .’. . . .

“I suppose it’s too much to ask that the people who brought us Monica Lewinsky, Chandra Levy, Michael Jackson, Terri Schiavo, the Old Pope, the New Pope, and Jennifer ‘Runaway Bride’ Wilbanks, would suddenly chose to avoid blowing things up beyond all sense of proportion.”

The colorfully named NewsCorpse also says that the media is dead. Howie didn’t challenge me on that, which must mean that either he’s intimidated by my intellectual prowess and afraid to take me on, or he’s a vampire. I’m just dying to know how he stumbled onto the side of the webtracks I live on.

CNN’s Nancy Grace – Fast and Loose

CNN, in an attempt to win back the cable news crown from current leader Fox News, is continuing to lower its standards in order to be more competitive.

Nancy Grace, the host of a self-titled legal show on CNN Headline News, “played fast and loose” with her ethical duties as a Fulton County, Ga., prosecutor in 1990, a federal appeals panel has declared.

By employing anchors whose ethics are in question, CNN is attacking Fox at its strength. But few observers believe that CNN can mount a credible challenge to the moral bankruptcy of veteran slimeballs like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Grace does deserve some credit for making a ballgame of it by having been admonished by the Appellate court for the third time with this latest episode. That makes three strikes.

Grace is the crusading news personality that was motivated to take up law after her fiance was murdered. She became a Fulton County, GA, prosecuter and is apparently still one as she pretty much convicted John Mason for the murder of his Runaway Bride. That is, until she showed up in Albuquerque. Unflustered, Grace soon took up the case of another woman who has been missing for two years. Far be it for her to go on the air without a sensationalistic story to exploit.

CNN, for its part exhibits an inspiring measure of shamelessness by touting their anchor on their website, saying:

Grace compiled a perfect record of nearly 100 felony convictions at trial and no losses.

It may be prudent to ask, at this time, what they mean by perfect. Perhaps they mean perfect irony as they also plug her new book – Objection! : How High-Priced Defense Attorneys, Celebrity Defendants, and a 24/7 Media Have Hijacked Our Criminal Justice System. Her bosses at the 24/7 Media network that pay her seem to have no Objection to her book’s allegation re: the hijacking of justice.

Desperate Whitehousewives Starring Laura “Leno” Bush

The humor-challenged media is tripping all over itself to to praise the First Lady’s appearance before the White House Correspondents’ Association. Apparently their funny bone twitches uncontrollably at the sight of Laura being able to read from a sheet of prepared jokes. The talk in the television press has ranged from, “Get this woman her own show.” to, “Maybe she should run against Hilary.”

Here’s some excerpts.

The impotent husband bit:
I am a desperate housewife. I mean, if those women on that show think they’re desperate, they oughta be with George.

The stupid husband bit:
I was the librarian who spent 12 hours a day in the library, yet somehow I met George.

The mother-in-law gangster bit:
People think she’s a sweet, grandmotherly, Aunt Bea type. She’s actually more like, mmm, Don Corleone.

And, of course, the old jerking off a horse bit:
I’m proud of George. He’s learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What’s worse, it was a male horse.

It seems that what is really making news here is that she can read while her husband cannot. I suppose it’s too much to ask that the people who brought us Monica Lewinsky, Chandra Levy, Michael Jackson, Terri Schiavo, the Old Pope, the New Pope, and Jennifer “Runaway Bride” Wilbanks, would suddenly chose to avoid blowing things up beyond all sense of proportion.

John Bolton’s United Nations

In 1994, John Bolton, nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said the following about the institution he now seeks to join:

“The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost 10 stories today it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

[Click to enlarge]

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Deadline News

New Public Broadcasting Chief Wants Conservative Viewers
“Does public television belong to the Democrats?” he asks.

Sam Donaldson On Network News: “I think it’s dead.”
“…if someone shot the President, which network would you turn to? It will be cable, the Internet–something other than General Hospital being interrupted.”

Future of American Media Caucus
…six Members of the U.S. House of Representatives today announced the formation of the Future of American Media (FAM) Caucus.

GM Pulls Ads from Los Angeles Times Over Coverage
“We recognize and support the news media’s freedom to report and editorialize as they see fit,” [?]

Military Reporters Demand Rumsfeld Lifts Press Restrictions
“The danger of such restrictions should be obvious and must be fought…”

Fake Letters-to-the-Editor
After publishing hundreds of letters from a former Republican operative, California papers crackdown.

PopeTV – All Pope All The Time

With the selection of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new Pope, The Vatican is announcing the launch of PopeTV. This new media venture will exploit the assets of existing television news networks by piggy-backing on their programming. They have already demonstrated the effectiveness of this business model with their application of the ubiquitous VaticanCam.

Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, featuring the VaticanCam inset smokestacks.

The Republican Party pioneered this strategy by attaching itself to the Fox News network. They have been expanding their reach in the last few years to other networks, but now will find themselves competing directly with the Vatican for screen space.

Amongst the recent milestones for PopeTV, is that coverage of the election of the new pope logged more on-air time than did coverage of the election of the new US President.

The confidence exhibited by the Vatican in launching this enterprise at this time illustrates their faith in their ability to compete against other media heavyweights. The aforementioned Republicans, Michael Jackson, the war in Iraq, and minor players like Tom DeLay and genocide in Darfur, are all vying for attention in this sparsely populated media wasteland marketplace.

It remains to be seen who will prevail, but insiders warn against underestimating the Vatican. The corporations that dominate and control the media are motivated largely by cash. The Vatican, of course, has plenty of that.

Persistent Legislative State

Persistent Legislative StateWith the passage by Congress of the Terri Schiavo law, we have successfully completed our transformation from a nation of free citizens to a collection of Politi-borgs whose most personal and private affairs will now be dictated by government institutions.

The feeding tube is securely fastened and the capital drips are gushing. The media environment is plugged in and transmitting soothing platitudes by day and fear-inducing threat-level warnings by night. We can now all rest easier while we tremble in our paranoid stupor.

God Bless Amerika

Supreme Court Takes Shield Law From Media, Gives It To Lying Politicians

By declining to hear the appeal of a Pennsylvania publisher last week, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling that may allow a newspaper to be held liable for defamation simply for reporting the news.

In 1995, the Daily Local News in West Chester, PA., published an account of borough Councilman William T. Glenn Sr. as “strongly implying” that council president James B. Norton III and Mayor Alan M. Wolfe were “queers and child molesters.” Norton and Wolfe denied the charges and filed suit against Glenn for defamation. The suit also named the Daily Local who had merely reported factually that the exchange took place and included Norton’s and Wolfe’s denials.

After finding that Glenn had defamed Norton and Wolfe and awarding them damages, the jury found that the Daily Local was not liable, partly due to the doctrine of neutral reportage. That doctrine permits recounting a public figure’s comments as long as they are reported neutrally and accurately. In other words, if the Mayor calls the Governor a lush, the newspaper can report what the Mayor said without being responsible for his veracity. However, the jury’s verdict with regard to the paper was reversed on appeal and the lawsuit against it reinstated. Now the paper must defend itself on the grounds that it had exercised no actual malice.

The neutral reportage privilege is a perfectly reasonable first amendment protection for the media when it is informing the public about events that actually occur. The public should have the right to assess facts that are fairly presented. They also should have the right to be fully informed about public figures who make outrageous and untruthful public statements. The appellate court, in finding that the neutral reportage privilege does not exist in Pennsylvania or federal law, puts the press in the position of being unable to report events in the news if the events happen to contain potentially defamatory charges. These events, or as I like to call them, political campaigns, would have to forego almost all media coverage. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all.

As a consequence of the Supreme Court’s refusal to take up the case, we are left with the following scenario from the example above: The press could not report what the Mayor said without first ascertaining that the Governor is, indeed, a lush. If the Governor is a teetotaler, the press could not report the exchange at all without exposing it self to a possible lawsuit. The public would then never hear from the press how the Mayor made an ass of himself. So much for a free press.