Washington Times Lies About ABC News

This is a textbook example of how a dishonest news enterprise will employ deceit in pursuit of a partisan agenda. All it takes is an absence of conscience and ethics, and an intent to deliberately mislead your readers.

Ever since ABC announced that they would host a health care themed town hall from the White House, the conservative media machine has been blasting the move as evidence that the media is “in the tank” for Barack Obama. In an effort to advance this theory, the Washington Times commissioned a study by the Center for Responsive Politics on the campaign donations made by ABC employees.

The conclusion, as represented by the Times, was that ABC is a partisan operation that is unfit to call themselves a news service. They cited data from the study that said that over $124,000 was donated by ABC employees to Obama, as compared to about $1,500 to McCain or other candidates. In addition, they sought comments from Dan Gainor of the Business & Media Institute, a far right-wing group affiliated with ultra-conservative Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center. Gainor said that…

“ABC is in bed with their source, so to speak. ABC is supposed to be a news organization, not a producer of infomercials for national health care. And I wonder what they would have done if the Bush administration had asked for positive programming to support the war on terror or Social Security initiatives.”

Gainor couldn’t have come up with two worse examples to make his point. The Bush administration asked for, and received, multiple programming opportunities to hawk his war mongering and Social Security privatization schemes – including one-sided town halls and air time on both broadcast and cable networks.

However, the New York Observer obtained the same study from the CRP and discovered what the Times had conveniently left out. As it happens, the vast majority of the donations cited in the study were from ABC employees who had nothing whatsoever to do with the production of news. The actual breakdown revealed that, of the $124,000, only $885 came from the news division.

The Times was surely aware of these facts, they simply decided to misconstrue them in order to mislead their readers and promote the false allegation of partisanship on the part of ABC News. It is this sort of brazen dishonesty that makes one wonder why anyone would give credence to anything published by the Washington Times.

Hollywood’s Conservative Crybabies

A couple of weeks ago the Washington Times published a story about beleaguered conservatives in the entertainment industry. Just the fact that the story appeared in the Washington Times would normally be enough reason to laugh it off, but the article gets even funnier than one might imagine. It begins:

“A group of politically conservative and centrist Hollywood figures organized by actor Gary Sinise and others has been meeting quietly in restaurants and private homes, forming a loose-knit network of entertainers who share common beliefs like supporting U.S. troops and traditional American values […] The group, whose members call themselves “Friends of Abe” after Abraham Lincoln [are they sure it’s not Vigoda?], was organized as an underground movement because of fears that prominent industry titans with outspoken liberal views would retaliate, said participants. They often were reluctant to name members of the group in interviews for fear it would hurt their careers.”

To the extent that this shadowy conclave of rebels was willing to shed their reluctance to name names (behavior with which conservatives should be familiar), they thoroughly undermined their stated mission. Those courageous enough to step forward include some of Hollywood’s biggest stars:

  • Gary Sinise
  • Pat Boone
  • Jon Voight
  • Kelsey Grammer
  • Lionel Chetwynd

And this list doesn’t include big conservative names that have not been associated with Friends of Abe:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Bruce Willis
  • Tom Selleck
  • Patricia Heaton
  • Adam Sandler
  • Mel Gibson
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Chuck Norris

Conservatives are desperately trying to carve a place for themselves in a Hollywood they believe does not want them. There have been at least three articles in the Washington Times on the subject. It has also been taken up by the Los Angeles Times, the National Review, and Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly Standard did a cover story on it.

But can they really be serious about alleging discrimination, and fear of retaliation when, by their own accounts, they are enjoying stupendous success and popularity? Of course they can. Fealty to the truth or reality has never stopped a conservative before. It’s what the Bush administration relies on whenever they describe programs like “Clear Skies,” “Healthy Forests,” or “iraqi Freedom.” It’s what allows John McCain to complain that the media is unfair to him, or that Barack Obama is a flip-flopper. It is a strategy wherein you assert the polar opposite of what you actually mean – what actually is. This round of bitching is emblematic of right-wing methodology in politics.

It is also ironic that these efforts to exalt celebrity should bubble up at a time when the McCain campaign is mocking celebrity with juvenile ads about Britney Spears.

So it should surprise no one that conservatives would assert that, if they were to disclose their views in Hollywood, they would never be successful, and then trot out a bevy of successful Hollywood conservatives to make their case. This is the way they work, and they pray that the American people are stupid enough to fall for it. I think that’s what they really mean by a “Faith-based Initiative.”