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Before the first ad break on Monday's World News Tonight, ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas plugged an upcoming story: "When we return, the home school student charged with murdering his girlfriend's parents. A small town, and a community of home-schoolers, are shattered." ABC reporter Nancy Weiner, in the subsequent story about how 18-year-old David Ludwig allegedly murdered the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Kara Borden, and then fled with her from Pennsylvania to Indiana where he was arrested, outlined the home-schooling connection: “The Bordens, devout Christians, home-schooled all five of their children. Kara and David met through a group of home-schoolers.” Weiner portrayed the murders as ironic: “Many parents choose to home school their children to have more control over their upbringing and avoid exactly what happened here." (Vargas reminds me of journalists who report how an “SUV” hit someone, instead of referring to a “car” or “vehicle.”) Can you imagine Vargas ever citing “the English as a Second Language student charged with murder”?

Weiner, however, allowed a Lititz, Pennsylvania resident to point out how “this could happen to any family whether you're home-schooled or not.” Weiner also noted that “many home-schoolers resent the criticism that they are removed from society."

Video of the Vargas plug, in Real or Windows Media. Plus MP3 audio. (Partial transcript follows.)


All the networks jumped on the revelation Monday, that in applying for a job with Ed Meese in 1985, Samuel Alito boasted of his belief “the constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.” Of the broadcast network stories, CBS's Gloria Borger and Bob Schieffer, however, displayed the most interest in the concerns of “moderate” Republicans and whether the disclosure could block his confirmation.


Washington Post reporter Dana Priest is casting herself as some kind of detached third party, as expressed in Howard Kurtz's column on Monday about her Nov. 2 story exposing a secret CIA prisoner detention program:



Did Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia tip off our enemies in the Middle East in early 2002 that President Bush was readying to invade Iraq?



As Ted Koppel approaches his last Nightline, scheduled for next Tuesday, he's making a series of interview appearances in which he's been generally reticent about revealing too much about his political feelings. But he let a glimpse slip through Friday night on the Late Show with David Letterman, when asked about Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Koppel suggested that “if Karl Rove is involved in this, you know, do you naturally conclude at some point or another that the Vice President and possibly even the President may have known that this happened?" Letterman displayed the common public view of those uninformed about Joe Wilson's shenanigans as he offered this description of Libby's actions: "It suggests a level of pettiness heretofore unconsidered, doesn't it though?" Koppel then delivered a quip with serious undertones: "It suggests that a lot of people in the administration suffer from Irish Alzheimers -- you forget everything but the grudges."

Video excerpt: Real or Windows Media. (Transcript of the exchange follows.)



From Reuters:

Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry threatened legal action on Monday against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who wins laughs by portraying the central Asian state as a country populated by drunks who enjoy cow-punching as a sport.



The national media worked overtime last week insisting that Democratic victories in governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia were huge setbacks for the Bush administration and national Republican party. Apparently, the liberal media spin was enough to hoodwink an unsuspecting headline writer at the Albany Herald in Albany, Georgia.



Anchor chases fat cat executives, but free-market professor tugs on the leash.


Network links global warming to everything from diseases to shark sightings in one-sided documentary.


The Free Market Project's Dan Gainor has critiqued the Fox News Channel special, "The Heat is On," a one-hour, one-sided special featuring environmental activists/celebrities Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Laurie David, wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David.

Gainor noted in his review that Fox News coverage of global warming and climate change stories had heretofore been the most balanced of all the broadcast outlets surveyed by the Free Market Project:

"The Heat is On" was a quite a departure for Fox. A Nov. 8, 2004, Free Market Project (FMP) study found Fox News the best of all five major TV networks in its news stories about global warming and the Kyoto Protocol. FMP analyzed news coverage from Jan. 20, 2001, until Sept. 30, 2004, and found "The Fox News Channel delivered better and more balanced reporting on global warming."
Gainor then documented host Rick Folbaum's lengthy disclaimer which excused the channel's one-sided coverage:


Are overtly liberal media ventures like Air America or Al Gore's Current TV doomed to failure? Yes, according to NBC Universal president Bob Wright.

The media exec ventured this opinion during an interview with his MSNBC employee Tucker Carlson at a media symposium. Broadcasting & Cable gives this account:

Carlson made a suggestion: Why not start a channel that overtly caters to liberals? "There's tons of liberals out there," Carlson said.

Going after a lefty audience would be futile, Wright said. "For some strange, probably genetic, reasons"—we're pretty sure that was a joke—"they don't listen to a lot of radio and they don't watch a lot of television."

Another disincentive: Despite all the media attention given to cable-news programming—from Bill O'Reilly's histrionics on Fox to Anderson Cooper's exhibitionistic empathy at CNN—American viewers are not all that interested. Wright pointed out that the cable-news networks combined draw fewer unique viewers all night long than a single half-hour of NBC Nightly News.

"You'd think it would be 25 million people. It's smaller than that, it's 5 million-6 million," Wright said. "It's not a very large group."

Unsaid by Wright was that programs hosted by outspoken and overtly liberal talking heads are going after a market that's already saturated with shows hosted by people who won't admit they're liberal.



CBS’s Thalia Assuras did a piece on “The Early Show” this morning (video link to follow) about President Bush’s falling poll numbers. In it, she took a snippet out of an interview that Bob Schieffer did with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) yesterday on “Face The Nation” to indicate that the senator was “concerned” about these polls and what they are currently suggesting. However, the sentences after this fragment that were not included in Assuras’s report qualified McCain’s concerns.

For example, Assuras stated, “The latest poll shows his support remains at its lowest ever, and that’s causing concern in his own party.” Then came McCain’s quote: “As a loyal Republican and a person who’s loyal to this president I am of course concerned. These numbers are not good.”

However, what CBS chose not to show the viewer were McCain’s next sentences (from caption dump):



The News-Times (Conn.) is no different from any other newspaper, except that they just got busted doing what journalists often do behind the curtain; make fun of the religious.

News-Times ran a photo online of the Immaculate High School girls' soccer team after scoring a winning goal. Unfortunately for them, they forgot to change the caption from "celebrating a teammate's decision to come out of the closet as a lesbian."

This wasn't some lowly intern that did this, it was the copy editor; the last line of journalistic principle at a newspaper.

The copy editor, who was "goofing around" was not identified. Do you think newspapers would let a government employee who made a mistake like this get away with not being identified?

No, they wouldn't.



As financial scandal was breaking at the left-wing radio network Air America (in the blogosphere at least) this summer, the Times could spare just one weak Metro-section story on the network "borrowing" $875,000 from a Bronx Boys and Girls Club, despite the easily exploitable hypocrisy angle (liberals taking money from poor kids!).

Times Public Editor Barney Calame even made the unusual step (online, anyway) of actually chiding his paper for being slow on the uptake.


After a week of vacation, I still want to catch up on the newspapers. Here's a front-page headline from Thursday's Washington Post: "Down Syndrome Now Detectable In 1st Trimester: Earlier Diagnosis Allows More Time for Decisions." Why couldn't the Post be precise: earlier diagnosis allows more time for abortion decisions?