Friday, July 01, 2011

ABC News, the cesspool of network news

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer is the sewer of American news. There's probably no hope for it at this point and the best thing the network could do is just fire everyone. There are no 'standards.' Ava and I documented Diane and company 'creating' news in "TV: Diane Sawyer, giving anchors a bad name" June 19th. Diane and Jake Tapper dispensed with facts to make a story 'better.' The basics are Congress has built two gyms for their own members. On a Tuesday, Jake Tapper tried to find out the costs. He spoke to various people and various bodies. The only one who would go on record was the Architect of the Capitol who stated, "We do not provide information on the House gym for security purposes." As Jake Tapper's segment ended, Diane editorialized, "National security to know how much tax payers are paying?" The statement was "security," not "national security." We have no idea what Jake asked the Architect of the Capitol (but its not in their duties to release costs). At best, it was sloppy. The next night, Diane was back insisting that yesterday "Congress claimed 'national security' -- that's a quote -- 'national security' to refuse to tell us . . ." No. That's not a quote.

Nor did Congress claim that to ABC News. The Architect of the Capitol is a federal agency. The following day, she was still misleading or, let's be honest, lying.

It is the sewer of TV news. And George Stephanopoulos sat behind the desk last night proving it's the show itself and not just Diane. It's a cheesy little broadcast that forever mistakes emotions for facts, 'hot topics' for news. So we spend forever and a day on a court case that doesn't effect even 14% of Americans. And we get George declaring that one of the reasons Michelle Bachman comes off like a person is because she shares details -- No, George, one of the reasons she comes off like a person is because, pay attention, she is one.

The refusal to grasp that goes a long way towards justifying conservatives' complaints about the mainstream media (which they mistakenly see as liberal). Michelle Bachman is a person. Most people watching your segment, George, grasp that and were probably struck by the fact that it appeared you didn't. If ABC gets very critical of Bachman, don't be surprised if people begin to note that, on June 30th, George basically saw her as an oddity and non-human. That's how those remarks came across.

Jake Tapper is a good reporter but he's one who needs to evaluate his work because he's slipping. Yesterday's broadcast included Jake's interview with Bill Clinton. Bill was talking about the economy and jobs. That's apparently boring to Jake and he could barely make it through these brocoli and beets topics before getting to the junk food he -- and so many others -- appear to crave: What about the political horserace! Bill attempted to beg off the question at least once and noted that he didn't feel prepared to speak on the issue. Pressed, Bill offered a few single-sentence thoughts. Leading Tapper to end the interview with a bemused (or judgmental) comment about how Bill's always a political animal.

No, Jake Tapper, you pressed him on the subject. When you ask the question and refuse to take "no" for the answer, you can't blame the interview subject for answering. You can't pretend like you were above it and Bill Clinton just started babbling on about the GOP candidates.

ABC News needs leadership and it has none.

It would rather offer gossip and trash then tell you, for example, that 3 US soldiers died. That was news yesterday . . . except on ABC World News.

If you leaf through the news section of the New York Times (print) today, you'll find Tim Arrango's "June Was Deadliest Month for U.S. in Iraq Since 2008." ABC World News didn't just ignore the deaths reported yesterday. They ignored the deaths all month including when 5 US soldiers died on one day. Instead, they wanted to waste time with announcements about who was joining the network and to profile the 'heartache' that Bono and the Edge had experienced on the combat field of a Broadway musical -- one that was finally opening the night the segment aired. (Yes, that would qualify as advertising and not as news.)

While CNN notes, "A total of 14 troops have been killed in combat this month, and another service member died in a noncombat-related incident. This was the highest number of combat deaths since June 2008, when 23 U.S. service members were killed," those counting on ABC to inform them were left lost. In fact, if you depended upon ABC "News" for your news, you would be one of the most uninformed people in the country when it came to news but you sure as hell would know about sick court trials and gossip. You wouldn't be informed enough to sit at the grown up table but you might be able to pass yourself off as TMZ loyalist in a middle school cafeteria.

Ed O'Keefe and Tim Craig (Washington Post via Boston Globe) note
the US officials and military 'chatter' that Iran is behind June's deadly attacks on US soldiers: "Those weapons include powerful rockets, armor-piercing grenades, and jamming-resistant roadside bombs, military officials say. Officials caution that they do not have evidence that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran or his government is ordering Shi’ite militias to strike US forces in Iraq." An ABC viewer will be scratching their heads right now and asking, "Wait, did they skip prom to kill their baby? Did the father abuse one of them?" That's because that's what ABC 'news' likes to emphasize.

Diane Sawyer presides over a 'newscast' trashier than A Current Affair or Inside Edition or any of those other tabloid shows of the 90s (are the programs still around today, I have no idea).

15 US soldiers died in the Iraq War in the month of June. ABC News and Diane Sawyer couldn't be bothered with the deaths. They had, you understand, gossip to convey, they had celebrity interviews to air, they had a 2012 election to obsess over. Informing viewers of the world around them? Not a concern to ABC News.

One of the 15 fallen for the month of June is Dylan Johnson. KJRH (link has text and video) speaks to his father Jeff Johnson who explains his son was known for his sense of humor, "I got a recent message from one of his buddies there and they're still finding remnants of practical jokes that he played on them, that was just the type of guy he was, he enjoyed life to it's fullest." Dylan Johnson was 20-years-old and on his 25th day in Iraq when he died in a bombing.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, and Michael Ratner -- updated last night and this morning:

This is World Can't Wait's "Support Carlos Montes:"

From the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Please call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
at (202) 514-2001

Suggested text: “My name is __________, I am from _______(city), in ______(state). I am calling to tell Attorney General Holder:

1. Drop the charges! Hands off Carlos Montes!
2. Stop the FBI raids and Grand Jury repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists.
3. Return all property to Carlos Montes and the other activists raided by the FBI.

On Wednesday, July 6, Carlos Montes will go to a Los Angeles court to face six felony charges and enter a plea. The charges all deal with firearms, ammunition and permits. Like millions of other Americans, Carlos has for years held legal permits for guns. The fact is that the charges against Carlos carry a total penalty of up to 18 years, and are aimed at his effective political organizing against war and for people’s civil rights.

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends