Editor's Notes at EditorsNotes.com

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Pierre Salinger Dies

AP via ABC News:

Pierre Salinger, who served as President John F. Kennedy's press secretary and later had a long career with ABC News, has died, the network said Saturday.

Salinger, 79, died from a heart attack at a hospital in France, the network said. It was not immediately clear when or where in France he died, ABC News said.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Video: Jon Stewart on Crossfire

Windows Media, MPEG-4 (From Media Matters)

QuickTime (From onegoodmove)


Windows Media (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) (From Free Speech Zone)

BitTorrent (For BitTorrent information, visit BitTorrent.com)
MTV: 'Strangest, Most Refreshing Media Moment' of Election

Robert Mancini writes for Comedy Central sister network, MTV:

In what could well be the strangest and most refreshing media moment of the election season, "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart turned up on a live broadcast of CNN's "Crossfire" Friday and accused the mainstream media — and his hosts in particular — of being soft and failing to do their duty as journalists to keep politicians and the political process honest.

Reaching well outside his usual youthful "Daily Show" demo, Stewart took to "Crossfire" [and] used his time to verbally slap the network and the media for being "dishonest" and "doing a disservice" to the American public. After co-host Tucker Carlson suggested that Stewart went easy on Senator John Kerry when the candidate was a guest on "The Daily Show," Stewart unloaded on "Crossfire," calling hosts Carlson and Paul Begala "partisan hacks" and chiding them for not raising the level of discourse on their show beyond sloganeering.

Update: More reaction from WP's Lisa de Moraes and Salon's War Room.
Tucker: 'I Can Be a Dick'

Wonkette calls Tucker:

While admitting that "I can be a dick," Tucker also was shocked at the sheer unfunniness of it all: "It was like being lectured at by Kathleen Hall Jamison! Like being given a lecture on ethics by an assistant professor of journalism at Blue State Junior College!"
Viewer Alert: AC360 Tonight


Begala and Carlson are going to be on AC360 tonight, a source says: "Look for Anderson to ask them what happened."

What, is something wrong with my tip form, people?

Update: It looks like TVNewser's source was wrong. Like I was saying, it's a good thing I'm not the one getting these tips.
Breaking: Transcript of Crossfire Casualties

Transcript hits. Excerpts soon.

Update: You've got to read the whole thing. It's hard to decide what to excerpt. All references to crosstalk and laughter removed:

STEWART: [...] I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad.


STEWART: Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.



STEWART: Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.


STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks.


CARLSON: [...] I want to contrast our questions with some questions you asked John Kerry recently.


STEWART: If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to.


STEWART: But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellows.


BEGALA: Well, [...] see, we're a debate show.


STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.

CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring.


STEWART: [...] What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.


CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago.

STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.


CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.


STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.


STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.

CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?

STEWART: Yes, it's someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore.

STEWART: I just can't.

CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities? STEWART: If I think they are.

CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible.

STEWART: I know. And you won't. But the thing I want to get to...


STEWART: Why can't we just talk -- please, I beg of you guys, please.

CARLSON: I think you watch too much CROSSFIRE.

We're going to take a quick break.

STEWART: No, no, no, please.

CARLSON: No, no, hold on. We've got commercials.

STEWART: Please. Please stop.

CARLSON: Next, Jon Stewart in the "Rapid Fire."

STEWART: Please stop.

CARLSON: Hopefully, he'll be here, we hope, we think.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

We're talking to Jon Stewart, who was just lecturing us on our moral inferiority.


STEWART: [...] But let me ask you guys, again, a question, because we talked a little bit about, you're actually doing honest debate and all that. But, after the debates, where do you guys head to right afterwards?


STEWART: Yes. You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?


BEGALA: [...] They actually believe what they're saying. They want to persuade you. That's what they're trying to do by spinning. But I don't doubt for a minute these people who work for President Bush, who I disagree with on everything, they believe that stuff, Jon. This is not a lie or a deception at all. They believe in him, just like I believe in my guy.


STEWART: I think they believe President Bush would do a better job.

And I believe the Kerry guys believe President Kerry would do a better job. But what I believe is, they're not making honest arguments. So what they're doing is, in their mind, the ends justify the means.


CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.


STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

CARLSON: Now, you're getting into it. I like that.


CARLSON: OK. We'll be right back.


QUESTION: Renee (ph) from Texas. Why do you think it's hard or difficult or impossible for politicians to answer a straight, simple question?

STEWART: I don't think it's hard. I just think that nobody holds their feet to the fire to do it. So they don't have to. They get to come on shows that don't...

BEGALA: They're too easy on them.

CARLSON: Yes. Ask them how you hold...

STEWART: Not easy on them...

BEGALA: ... saying we were too hard on people and too (INAUDIBLE).

STEWART: I think you're - yes.

CARLSON: All right. Jon Stewart, come back soon.

BEGALA: Jon Stewart, good of you to join us. Thank you very much. The book is "America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction."

From the left I am Paul Begala, that's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right I'm Tucker Carlson, have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Wow. I know what two shows I'm TiVo'ing Monday.

As they closed the show, Stewart's face was a mix bewilderment, mischief and resignation.
Breaking: Internet Buzzes over Crossfire Casualties

While the transcript has yet to be posted, the Web is buzzing about the confrontational interview of Jon Stewart on Crossfire.

Daily Kos provides excerpts (not in chronological order):

"Youre as big a dick as you are on any show" - Jon Stewart to Tucker Carlson


[Stewart:] We need help from the media, so Im here to confront you


[Stewart:] The media is failing miserably. It is painful to watch. You have the opportunity to knock politicians off of their mark, instead you offer knee-jerk reactionary talk. PLEASE STOP!


[Stewart, in response to plea from Tucker to be funny:] No, I wont be your monkey


[Stewart:] We look to present the absurdity and theater of politics. Thank you both. I watch Crossfire every day.


[Stewart:] Bush says Kerry's rhetoric doesnt match his record. Well, Bush's RECORD doesnt match his record!

Also humming: Free Republic, Television Without Pity.

Wonkette: "Score: Fake News 1, Grown Men in Bow Ties 0."
Breaking: Jon Stewart Blasts Crossfire

Jon Stewart appeared on Crossfire today and caught the hosts off-guard with a damning critique of the show's reactionary left-right format and a sincere plea to have a meaningful debate about this election. Tucker Carlson seemed quite annoyed. "Rapidfire" is still coming up, and Stewart's scheduled to stick around for that.

I'll link to transcripts as soon as they're available.

Update: it was off-camera, so I couldn't tell whether this was a joke, but it certainly didn't sound like one: In response to Tucker saying he thinks Stewart's more fun on The Daily Show, Stewart said, "You know what, you're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show."

Update: If Jon Stewart hadn't been live, I doubt this segment would have aired. When released, the transcript should be available here.
Kerry Seeks Equal Time from Sinclair

In non-falafel-related media scandals today, the Kerry campaign has requested equal time from Sinclair, though the campaign did reject an earlier invitation from Sinclair for Kerry to appear in a forum after the film.

It's been a rough week for Sinclair stock. With 15 minutes left in the trading day, SBGI is down about 7% from Monday's open. And according to one website, 17 advertisers have agreed to cancel their commercials, while another site claims to have collected 80,000 petition signatures against the company, though it's unclear what impact that would have.
Rumors Swirl Around CNN Sched

CNN Blog:

A source tells CNN Blog, CNN will debut the new program "Off Topic" October 24. All that's known is Carlos Watson will be hosting the program.

That would be a week from Sunday. And this, from TVNewser:

From an anonymous e-mailer: "Lou Dobbs has called a staff meeting for noon today for his show's entire staff. Could this be an announcement of a timeslot move?" Can anyone confirm this?...

These anonymous sources are probably just too intimidated by my tip box. Not that I'm jealous.

Yesterday's NYDN, by the way, is where the speculation of a primetime move for Lou comes from.
FalafelGate: Lawyers Weigh In


Suing an opposing lawyer over an effort to settle a case for money is extremely unusual, said Stephen Gillers, vice dean at New York University Law School and an expert on legal ethics. "Telling someone you will seek legal redress unless they are willing to pay a certain cost is not within the extortion statues," Mr. Gillers said, "as long as you have a plausible basis for your legal claims."

He said that suggesting Mr. Morelli had a political motivation [...] was simply not relevant. "It won't work in the courtroom," Mr. Gillers said. "It may play better in the tabloids, but not in a courtroom."

He added, "Fox is being so aggressive it suggests to an outsider that Fox and Mr. O'Reilly are quite worried about this lawsuit."


Plato Cacheris, a former lawyer for Lewinsky, said potential plaintiffs negotiating for money is "very routine: 'I'm thinking of suing you but I'd like to discuss a settlement.'"

Debra Katz, an attorney who specializes in sexual harassment cases, said that when a company sues an employee who is about to file a harassment complaint, "the courts are more inclined to see it as a retaliatory lawsuit." Asked if Mackris's case was weakened by her decision to return to Fox, Katz said O'Reilly's alleged conduct "went from what could be seen as sexual banter about 'you should buy a vibrator' to really disgusting, unwelcome sexual remarks."

But Washington lawyer Lanny Davis said he would have advised O'Reilly to seize the offensive because "when a charge of sexual harassment makes the headlines, you are presumed guilty until proven innocent. That's a reality, whether it's fair or not."


Lisa Bloom, a Court TV anchor and veteran sexual harassment attorney, said Morelli's and Mackris' demand for $60 million, which led Fox to sue for extortion, "is an extraordinarily high number. And in my experience, in a lot of these cases against celebrities, $4 million to $6 million would be high."

But, she added, "It looks like she has a viable claim ... If she's got tapes [with him]* making these extremely explicit comments to her, she's got a strong case, and it would be clearly sexual harassment under New York law. The only defense is that she welcomed, encouraged and participated in it, and I haven't heard Fox say that so far."

On the cable news circuit, Van Susteren was absolutely silent on the issue (and so's her blog); Abrams led with it, summarizing that if Mackris has tapes, O'Reilly's in trouble (though he said Mackris had some work to do in proving damages); Cooper had the aforementioned Bloom and defense attorney Lisa Weintraub battle it out; and Toobin told NewsNight, "The law is almost entirely on Andrea Mackris' side," and called O'Reilly's suit "borderline frivolous."
FalafelGate: What's at Stake for Bill O'Reilly

In addition to hosting the top-rated show in cable news, O'Reilly has expressed senatorial, even presidential ambitions. And the now ill-timed "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids" comes on the heels of "Who's Looking Out for You?" in a series of steps that could precede a foray into politics. Those hopes are dimming with each hour O'Reilly fails to say, "I didn't say those things."

The burden's still on Mackris, though, to prove she's telling the truth.

Call me a spectacular boob, but this site is still in beta, so I don't have much in the way of advertisements for all this new traffic to click on, and everyone is experiencing their own browser incompatibility issues. Look for some changes to come soon, but in the mean time, check back at EditorsNotes.com later today for more on the O'Reilly/Mackris suits, including what some lawyers have to say about their validity, as well as for new developments in the Sinclair Broadcasting situation.

"FalafelGate" is hereby coined by Editor's Notes.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

O'Reilly On Tape

I want to be clear that I don't know if Mackris' allegations are true, but, in response to this post, I got an email challenging whether I could possibly believe O'Reilly would ever say those kinds of things.

In fact, I have proof that O'Reilly would ever say those kinds of things. It comes in the form of a book on tape of O'Reilly's thriller novel, "Those Who Trespass." It's read by the author.

Compare paragraph 78 of Mackris' complaint (NOT WORKSAFE) with the following audio (also NOT WORKSAFE):

Or, just to prove that O'Reilly could conceivably make any crude sexual statement, try this clip (again, NOT WORKSAFE):

There's more in the book, including the infamous bit in which Mr. O'Malley's "tongue was inside her, moving rapidly." But I'll spare you that.
FCC Chair: Blocking Sinclair Film 'Disservice to 1st Amendment'


"Don't look to us to block the airing of a program," Michael Powell told reporters. "I don't know of any precedent in which the commission could do that."

Eighteen senators, all Democrats, wrote to Powell this week and asked him to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group's plan to run the program, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," two weeks before the Nov. 2 election.

Powell said there are no federal rules that would allow the agency to prevent the program. "I think that would be an absolute disservice to the First Amendment and I think it would be unconstitutional if we attempted to do so," he said.

Also, a paper in one Sinclair market finds that experts say challenging stations' licenses would likely be unsuccessful:

Cathy Packer, an associate journalism professor at the UNC- Chapel Hill, suspects Sinclair protesters would have little footing in a public interest argument.

"They have every right in the world to air it. A broadcast station is committed through the terms of its license to air programming that serves the public interest," she said. "They can't decide they just don't like the programming."


But complaints about "Stolen Honor" are unlikely to force the FCC to yank the station's license, said Herb Terry, associate professor of telecommunications at Indiana University.

In the 1980s, the FCC did away with the fairness doctrine, which required a station to air both sides of an issue, Terry said. The commission predicted viewers could always change the channel for another viewpoint.

"Places are free to be as unfair as they want be," Terry said. "The FCC's position is its regulation of content needs to be light-handed because of the First Amendment."

Licenses are rarely yanked, and then typically only for fraud, lying to the commission or flagrant equal employment opportunity violations, Terry added. The FCC can do nothing until the documentary airs but will probably inform the senators that it will consider whether Sinclair violated rules and regulations, he said.
Does O'Reilly Dispute Mackris' Quotes?

USAT quotes Mackris' counsel as saying, "The most striking element that should be noted is that neither Fox nor Bill O'Reilly deny the specific behavior Ms. Mackris alleges in her complaint."

O'Reilly's complaint opens with a reference to "a scandalous and scurrilous claim based on alledged inappropriate comments" and refers to "the baseless nature of Mackris's claims" several paragraphs down, yet O'Reilly's lawyer thinks Mackris recorded the conversations and he wants to hear the tapes.

The closest O'Reilly's attorney comes to saying he didn't make the statements is, "O'Reilly believes he knows what he said and didn't say, so he does not expect to be surprised by what any tape contains."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

O'Reilly Suit: Mackris' Re-Employment Detailed


O'Reilly's and Fox's attorney Ronald Green said that Mackris and O'Reilly have always had a professional relationship and that she even asked O'Reilly personally for her job back. According to Fox News' complaint, she makes $92,300 in her current job.

Celebrity Justice:

Sources at CNN say she missed working for O'Reilly and that he hired her back over the objections of FOX's top boss, Roger Ailes.

Celebrity Justice is on the case, can we expect Abrams, Toobin and Van Susteren all over it, too?

Update: NYDN has more:

O'Reilly called again in April after Mackris' boss at CNN was terminated - for sexual harassment - and suggested they have dinner.

Mackris agreed - "if the talk was professional," the court papers state.

During that April 13 dinner, Mackris says she agreed to return to "The O'Reilly Factor" but only if O'Reilly behaved himself, stating that he had harassed other female staffers - and warning that they "might tell someone."
Report: Sinclair Loses 10 Advertisers

The dKosopedia entry on Sinclair Broadcasting claims 10 advertisers have pulled their ads from Sinclair stations and websites. They include companies in Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida and Maine, as well as Tyson Foods nationally.
O'Reilly Atty Wants to Hear the Tapes

The following words will appear in small-town newspapers across the country, thanks to the fine folks at the Associated Press:

During a phone conversation this August, Mackris, 33, said O'Reilly suggested she buy a vibrator and was clearly excited.


O'Reilly's lawyer, Ronald Green, said he believes there are tapes of conversations between the two and asked a court to compel Mackris to produce them so they could be played publicly.


Her complaint said that the first time she noticed odd behavior by O'Reilly came in 2002, when the Fox host allegedly urged her to use a vibrator after her engagement broke off.


Fox produced an e-mail Mackris sent to a friend last month, saying things are "wonderful, amazing, fun, creative, invigorating, secure, well-managed, challenging, interesting fun and surrounded by really good, fun people. I'm home and I'll never leave again."

Mackris said in her lawsuit that she told O'Reilly she would return to Fox only if he stopped the inappropriate behavior.

She said O'Reilly told her: "If any woman ever breathed a word I'll make her pay so dearly that she'll wish she'd never been born. I'll rake her through the mud, bring up things in her life and make her so miserable that she'll be destroyed."

On his show Wednesday, O'Reilly called the case "the single most evil thing I have ever experienced, and I've seen a lot. But these people picked the wrong guy."

The AP also appears to have found the single least flattering photo of O'Reilly in existence.

Also in the article, Morelli says his political contributions have nothing to do with the case, and the AP points out that Mackris was a White House intern in the first Bush administration. Mackris says she felt trapped after the first inappropriate phone call, but O'Reilly agreed to match Mackris' salary at CNN in getting her back to work on his show.
Mackris Atty Claims Solid Evidence of O'Reilly Harassment


Mackris' attorney, Benedict Morelli, said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon that they had "concrete and verifiable evidence" in regard to the sexual harrassment allegations.

Morelli said O'Reilly's retaliatory lawsuit is meritless, noting, "the type of negotiations that occurred between us and the attorneys for Fox and Bill O'Reilly happen every day in civil lawsuits."

Fox and O'Reilly call the sex-harassment claims "baseless" and politically motivated designed to "embarrass and tarnish the reputations of Fox and O'Reilly."


Mackris worked as an associate producer on "The O'Reilly Factor" from April 2000 through Jan. 2004. She left for competitor CNN in early 2004 but returned to Fox in July.

O'Reilly's suit says Fox and the commentator first learned about the sexual harassment claim in late September only after Morelli presented the network with excerpts of transcripts of taped conversations. The network alleges that Morelli threatened to file a high-profile lawsuit unless a settlement could be reached.

"As a public figure, I have received many threats. But enough is enough... the threats stop now. I will not give in to extortion," O'Reilly said in a statement, adding that he would donate any damages awarded to charity.
The Bloggermann Will Get You

Keith Olbermann launches his new blog in time for the final presidential debate.
Watch Your Back, Al Franken

One of the few sections of the lawsuit that I can excerpt without triggering workplace filters:

55. During the course of this conversation, Defendant BILL O'REILLY further sternly warned, to the effect:

If you cross FOX NEWS CHANNEL, it's not just me, it's [FOX President] Roger Ailes who will go after you. I'm the street guy out front making loud noises about the issues, but Ailes operates behind the scenes, strategizes and makes things happen so that one day BAM! The person gets what's coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he's going to get a knock on his door and life as he's known it will change forever. That day will happen, trust me.

56. During the course of this conversation, Defendant BILL O'REILLY bizarrely rambled further about Al Franken: "Ailes knows very powerful people and this goes all the way to the top." Plaintiff queried: "To the top of what?" Defendant responded: "Top of the country. Just look at who's on the cover of his book [Bush and Cheney], they're watching him and will be for years. [Al Franken's] finished, and he's going to be sorry he ever took FOX NEWS CHANNEL on." Plaintiff found O'REILLY's paranoid rambling both strange and alarming.
O'Reilly Suit: Mackris Hits Back

O'Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris responds to O'Reilly's lawsuit with a juicy lawsuit of her own. The suit accuses O'Reilly of repeated sexual harassment, including frequent, explicit discussions of phone s-x, vibr-tors, thr--somes, mast-rbation, the loss of his virg-nity, and s-xual fantasies (edited to fool your workplace filter). The Smoking Gun will guide you to some of the most interesting bits. They conclude, and I agree, that some of O'Reilly's discussions appear to have been recorded.
O'Reilly Alledges $60M Extortion Demand in Lawsuit

Bill O'Reilly is accusing Factor producer Andrea Mackris and Manhattan lawyer Benedict P. Morelli of demanding $60M in extortion money. According to O'Reilly, Mackris claimed he "engaged in offensive conversations" with her, then demanded $60M to quash a highly publicized lawsuit. Curiously, O'Reilly calls it all a conspiracy to help CNN and the Democratic Party.

It is apparent that Defendants' outrageous monetary demand is motivated by their greed and also by Morelli’s political connections. Morelli, his firm, and his wife, Arlene, are known supporters of and contributors to the Democratic Party, contributing to the campaigns of U.S. Senators John Kerry, John Edwards, Tom Daschle, and Charles Schumer, among others. He perceives Fox and O’Reilly as politically conservative and supporters of the Republican Party. If he does not receive his share of $60 million, he would like nothing more than to embarrass and tarnish the reputations of Fox and O’Reilly.

So what they're saying is, he's a Manhattan attorney.

The extortion attempt is timed to cause the maximum disruption and damage to Fox and O’Reilly. Fox News coverage and O’Reilly’s program in particular have consistently drawn higher ratings during election periods, and the upcoming, tightly-contested Presidential election between Senator John Kerry and President George W. Bush has been drawing record-setting ratings for The O’Reilly Factor and Fox News Channel programming. In fact, Fox News Channel is the most highly rated cable news network in the United States and has continued to increase its lead over CNN in recent years. Its expectation has been that viewership, and thus revenues, will continue to increase, particularly as the electorate becomes even more involved with the presidential race.

Well, it's a good thing they didn't put themselves in the center of a controversial lawsuit, then highly publicize it, since such a move would undoubtedly hurt their ratings.

(Cit.: TVNewser)
You're Not Alone in Hating Spinners

Will anyone join ABC News in dumping them?

Bob Scheiffer: They're "a waste of time."
Gloria Borger: "They do not add one thing."
Debra Saunders: "I'm really sick of it."
Thomas Lang: "One way to free up space would be to eliminate the endless quotations from campaign flacks."
They Get Letters

Bob Schieffer received 11,000 letters in advance of hosting Wednesday's final presidential debate. But even more surprising are the 17 letters by a Duke University class that got published in the New York Times. The international relations students used their home towns to avoid a suspicious flood of mail from Durham, N.C., and even used pseudonyms to write multiple times. NYT's letter page editor is not pleased.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Stewart v. Koppel: It's War!

Lloyd Grove:

It looks like "Nightline's" Ted Koppel and "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart - who had words on the air during the Democratic Convention over who's to blame for a badly served viewership - still aren't ready to kiss and make up.

"I wouldn't touch him," Koppel told TV Guide's Stephen Battaglio, who asked if the ABC News star was willing to give the satirist a hug.

Stewart also begged off. "If I had known," he said, "I would have showered."


In their latest encounter, Stewart argued: "There is something to the idea that the news media could be doing a better job of being arbiters of hypocrisy or absurdity. Ted - with the credibility he has earned over the years - could take a more activist role."

Koppel answered: "To the degree we have any disagreement, he's pushing me to be more opinionated on the air. ... The minute the opinion expressed is anti-Bush or anti-Kerry, that person who feels skewered will immediately say, 'Well, "Nightline" used to be a legitimate news program.'"

Stewart insisted: "As long as you stick to your barometer of truth - if you're a guy that goes out there night after night and demonstrates your integrity and your credibility - you can pull it off."
Reports: Sinclair Loses Advertisers Over Film Plans

Liberal blogs are claiming a handful of companies have pulled advertisements from Sinclair-owned stations and websites today. They reportedly include an auto dealership and realtor in Ohio, a furniture store in Minnesota and a law firm in Florida. USAT's David Lieberman writes that investors, regulators and the Democratic Party are asking questions about Sinclair's move, with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps calling it "an abuse of the public trust," while WaPo's Howard Kurtz and Frank Ahrens provide background on the family-owned company.

Sinclair's stock price has suffered in the last two days of trading with more activity than normal, while a one-year chart shows this is part of a larger downward trend.

In addition, the Democratic Party has set up its own Sinclair webpage, and the Anti-Defamation League has joined in, objecting to a Sinclair executive's use of the phrase "Holocaust deniers" in reference to other broadcasters' treatment of Kerry's Vietnam-era activities.
Stephen Holden: Diva Among Mortals

Disclaimer: This may not be Stephen Holden.

Lloyd Grove:

Ever wonder just how powerful The New York Times is?

Apparently powerful enough to abort a screening for two dozen movie reviewers from other outlets yesterday to accommodate the tight schedule of Times critic Stephen Holden.


"There were about 25 to 30 people in the room, all of us equally bewildered," [NYDN critic Jack] Mathews told me [...]. "I said to the publicist, 'Whose fault is it?' [...] she said it was The New York Times' Stephen Holden."

Mathews continued: "I walked out and asked Holden, 'You can't wait 15 minutes?' He said, 'I can't, I have something at 2.' I said, 'Why can't you be inconvenienced instead of all these people?' He didn't answer, and I left."
Judith Miller's Transformation


Judith Miller: From jackass journo to media martyr

No, seriously, how did America's media go from hating Judith Miller for her WMD falsehoods to falling in love with her for not revealing her Valerie-Plame-as-CIA-operative sources?
Sinclair Threatened With Lawsuits, Lost Licenses

The left blogosphere is devising a shareholder lawsuit against Sinclair, the company planning to air a pre-election anti-Kerry documentary on its 62 stations. An emailer to Josh Marshall recommends a shareholder's derivative action against the company, claiming Sinclair is misusing corporate property in a way that could lose them ad revenue, open them up to elections law complaints and subject them to license renewal contests. Readers at Daily Kos are discussing a shareholder lawsuit as well.

Marshall also claims a copy of a letter sent to Sinclair by FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. In it, he asks, "Why should a broadcaster keep its licenses if it behaves in this manner?" On a similar note, The Left Coaster offers instructions on how to challenge a station's license renewal.

Monday, October 11, 2004

What Coverage for Bush's Bulges?

Pictured: the back of President Bush's jackets in the first and second presidential debates.


Was President Bush wired to get help with his answers during the first debate? Howard Kurtz says his in online chat: "It is nothing but a rumor at the moment and deserves very little, if any, coverage." Post associate editor Robert Kaiser seems more interested. He says in his Monday chat: "I have ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE to support any theory in this matter. But given the apparent visual evidence of the photo, I hope we can keep pursuing this question and get an answer."

NYT, WaPo Criticize Their Critics

Howard Kurtz, WaPo:

Political passions are running high these days, and plenty of media people are feeling under siege. In an era of partisan Web sites and attack e-mails, what might once have been dismissed as a minor misjudgment or harmless joke becomes, in the eyes of some critics, a capital offense.

Daniel Okrent, NYT:

This piece turned out to be more of a rant than I intended, but given the vicious nature of some of the attacks levied against certain reporters, I wasn't inclined to be temperate. [...]

But before I turn over the podium, I do want you to know just how debased the level of discourse has become. When a reporter receives an e-mail message that says, "I hope your kid gets his head blown off in a Republican war," a limit has been passed.

[...] Maybe the bloggers who encourage their readers to send this sort of thing to The Times might want to ask them instead to say it in public. I don't think they'd dare.
Anatomy of a Presidential Endorsement

The Oregonian endorsed Kerry Sunday, the only Democratic presidential candidate they've endorsed besides Clinton. They also gave their readers a behind-the-scenes look at how their decision was made:

Publisher Fred Stickel argued strongly in an editorial board meeting that The Oregonian should endorse George W. Bush.

On today's editorial page, the newspaper backs John Kerry.


[Columnist David] Reinhard says he was bothered by what he saw as the board's strong opposition to Bush. In a swing state, he says, the newspaper's editorial writers should be more reflective of the divided community. "What happens in that meeting is symptomatic of the problem in the newspaper industry, because we're out of touch," he says.

Stickel was disappointed by the decision but says he respects it. Although he could have overridden the choice, he considers that foolish. "Why would you have an editor of the editorial board, why would you have six associate editors, if you're going to sit there and tell them what to do?" he says.

[Editorial page editor Bob] Caldwell says the decision was difficult for him, especially because the board so respects Stickel's opinion. [...]

[Joanne Byrd, former WaPo ombudsman and Seattle PI editorial page editor] considers the independence of The Oregonian's endorsement process to be rare. "I've always presumed that the publisher really had all the votes he needed to get his way, especially on the presidential endorsement, what we think is the most important decision the editorial board will make," she says. "It's such a critical statement of what the newspaper thinks."
Sinclair Under Fire for Anti-Kerry Film Plans

After it was reported that Sinclair, the largest television station group in the country, would air an anti-Kerry film on its 62 stations prior to the election, the company has come under swift attack from Democrats in Washington. They're filing complaints with the FEC and FCC, claiming the move amounts to an in-kind contribution to the Bush campaign and could be ruled as an improper use of the public airwaves. The web has also been buzzing with activity, prompting a dedicated blog, petition site and Sinclair advertiser database for petition and boycott purposes.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Crowdsurfing by Popular Demand

CNN's Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson crowdsurfed on Crossfire the other day, and our readers are clearly too fascinated by it to continue leading normal lives. You can now stop sending this image to me.

(Cit.: Student Life, TVNewser, reader tips)
The Liable Source

Michael Kinsley, LAT:

Should it be illegal for a government official to reveal the identity of an undercover CIA agent? Most reasonable people, including most reporters, would probably say yes. Lives can be at stake. But for all practical purposes, such a law (which in fact we have) is unenforceable if a government official chooses to reveal the agent's identity to a journalist, and the journalist ignores a subpoena to testify about it.


[I]f the crime consists of a private conversation between two people, you need at least one of them to 'fess up. The government official is protected against self-incrimination by the 5th Amendment. If the journalist has an absolute right and an absolute duty to shield the identity of a source, both sides of the conversation are immune and prosecution is impossible.

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