December 1, 2005

Strange But True: Televangelists Opposed to a la Carte Programming

Posted by Amanda Toering
November 30, 2005 @ 2:35 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Cable/Satellite

Much of the vocal support for “a la carte” programming of cable and satellite TV has come from culture warriors on the Right.

The nanny brigade is facing dissent among its brethren, however. An LA Times article written by indecency watcher Jube Shriver notes that televangelists aren’t too keen on the idea of a la carte programming.

Trying to preserve their electronic pulpits, the nation’s religious broadcasters find themselves in the unusual position of fighting an effort by anti-indecency groups to thwart channels offering racy programming.

The issue involves a debate over whether cable companies should continue offering subscribers mainstream and niche channels in bundles, or let them buy what they want on an a la carte basis.

Consumer groups are pushing to let people choose their channels rather than pay for ones they don’t watch. One Federal Communications Commission study showed people on average regularly watch only 17 of the more than 100 cable channels they typically receive.

But what started largely as a consumer issue has now morphed into a larger controversy involving whether cable operators should be required to continue exposing subscribers to niche channels, including religious ones, that people might not order on their own.

“We don’t just want to preach to the choir; we want to reach the unchurched,” said Paul Crouch Jr. of Trinity Broadcast Network in Santa Ana. “The bottom line is that we want to be everywhere on cable.

[…]

Christian broadcasters, including such big names as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, worry that changing the current system will cut into viewership. If that puts them on the opposite side of where they usually stand in the indecency debate, Crouch said, “so be it.”

Read more in the LA Times.




Documentary on Protestant Support for Adolph Hitler

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 26, 2005 @ 6:12 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Religion

The documentary “Theologians Under Hitler: Could It Happen Again?” will be shown on PBS. It’s also on DVD.

From David Crumm of the Detroit Free Press:

The film focuses on several 1930s-era Protestant theologians in Germany who encouraged the rise of Nazism, publicly praising it as a gift from God to resurrect the impoverished German people. These men also added their moral weight to the attempted destruction of Judaism.

Among the most infamous was Gerhard Kittel, at the time a world-famous Protestant expert on the ancient history of the Bible. Far from a marginal figure or thug, like many of Hitler’s early followers, Kittel taught at the centuries-old Tubingen University, the same school that later would have Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, on its faculty.

In the 1930s, Kittel became convinced that ancient strains of Christian contempt for Jews should be turned into a brutal campaign against them.




A Simple Question for Michelle Malkin

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 24, 2005 @ 11:53 pm
Filed under: Right Watch

Has your husband ever posted under your name?

At your blog, were any articles presented as “by Michelle Malkin” written entirely by your husband?

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin avoided the question when asked about it by Brad Krantz of WZTK-FM, calling the authorship accusation “vile,” but not false.

She also avoids the question in a long post at her blog.

She writes about marriage (”I have my hubby’s help for a few hours a week”). She writes about Al Franken (he has “research assistants,” she irrelevantly notes). She writes that the question is “racist.”

She writes that husband Jesse Malkin “helped me with a handful of blog posts out of the estimated 3,000 I’ve written since June 2004,” without explaining whether “helped” means wrote in their entirety, or how many blog articles constitute a “handful.”

But she doesn’t say, None of the posts here with with ‘Michelle Malkin’ in the byline were written entirely by my husband.

Her evasiveness suggests she’s guilty of deceiving the public. If Michelle Malkin lets someone else write entire posts under her name, then she is a fraud.




Sinclair Broadcasting: Right-Wing or Greedy?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 24, 2005 @ 9:03 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, TV, Media Concentration

Sinclair Broadcasting owns TV stations throughout the United States.

It controls locals news on those TV stations, but since 2004 it has been making news of its own.

Here’s some background on Sinclair Broadcasting, from an article in GQ (via DC Media Girl):

In April 2004, the company forbade all of its ABC stations to air a segment of Nightline in which Ted Koppel read the names of American casualties in Iraq, which Sinclair’s management considered “motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States.” Six months later, Sinclair executives launched a political effort of their own, instructing all their news stations to broadcast a documentary on John Kerry called Stolen Honor, which accused the candidate of treason during the Vietnam War. In the buzz that followed, Sinclair’s vice president of corporate relations, Mark Hyman, stoked the fire even further by announcing that any network that refused to air the anti-Kerry documentary were “acting like Holocaust deniers” and that even if the documentary was a gift to Bush, the effect was balanced by the existence of suicide bombers in the Middle East, since after all, “Every car bomb in Iraq would be considered an in-kind contribution to John Kerry.” Nearly three months later, the company was back in the hot seat, this time forced to admit that one of its most visible reporters, Armstrong Williams, had not only spent recent years landing exclusive interviews with men like Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay but was also getting paid handsomely by the Bush administration, having struck a deal with the White House to receive $240,000 in exchange for “favorable commentaries.”

Sinclair Broadcasting forces local news stations to play a one-minute editorial by conservative Mark Hyman each night.

In practice, Sinclair Broadcasting is right-wing.

But are the top executives there right-wing? Or just promoting right-wing views to ‘legally’ bribe the Republicans into helping them expand?

The GQ article continues:

A close look at the four brothers who own Sinclair — David, Duncan, Frederick, and Robert Smith — reveals a much less conservative cast of characters than one might expect. Far from the Bible-thumping, family-values stereotype that Sinclair’s critics imagine, the Smiths are a study in contrasts — especially the two principal owners, David and Duncan. Even as they lobby for government deregulation and a return to some idealized notion of 1950s family values, Duncan is a passionate environmentalist working to restore the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, while David got his start not in the conservative family-values business but selling bootleg pornography.

In fact, the closer you examine the values espoused on Sinclair’s stations, the harder it is to determine whose values they are. As Sinclair has mushroomed in size and influence over the past few years, developing financial ties to the Republican Party, promoting the GOP agenda in its broadcasts, launching vicious attacks on Democratic candidates who dare to campaign against their Republican allies while profiting from business contracts with the military and loose federal oversight, it has become increasingly difficult to figure out where Sinclair’s true ideological bias ends and its business interests begin.

The story of Sinclair, then, is not merely about what happens when news and opinion merge. It’s about what happens when news and opinion are both subverted, and something else takes over.

In other words, the top executives at Sinclair Broadcasting may be some of the biggest sell-outs in America.




Bill O’Reilly: Don’t Watch or Read the Competition

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 22, 2005 @ 6:46 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Free Press, TV, Media Concentration

Yesterday, Bill O’Reilly urged people not to watch MSNBC.

Or read the New York Daily News.

His argument is that these media repeat what is written at “the far left smear web sites.”

It’s worth noting, however, that MSNBC competes with Fox News, which employs Bill O’Reilly.

And that the New York Daily News competes with the New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (which also owns Fox News).




Bill O’Reilly Attacks Gawker.com

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 21, 2005 @ 9:00 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, TV

Here’s Bill O’Reilly’s “Most Ridiculous Item of the Day” for Monday, November 21, 2005:

Earlier this week, we told you we would point out which mainstream media operations and people are helping the far left smear web sites. By far the biggest offender is the New York Daily News. Its gossip pages routinely use defamation from the smear sites. There’s a pipeline there.

A few weeks ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was vilely — and I mean vilely — attacked in the pages of the New York Daily News. So I recommend you not buy the paper or advertise in it until publisher Mort Zuckerman stops the madness.

This seems to be an attack on Gawker.com.

During the flooding in New Orleans, Condoleeza Rice was on vacation in New York City. On September 1, 2005, Gawker reported:

Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.

Angry Lady, whoever you are, we love you. You are a true American, and we’ll go shoe shopping with you anytime.

Also on September 1, the NY Daily News gossip columnists “Rush and Malloy” (George Rush and Joanna Molloy) wrote:

Yesterday, Rice went shopping at Ferragamo on Fifth Ave. According to the Web site www.Gawker.com, the 50-year-old bought “several thousand dollars’ worth of shoes” at the pricey leather-goods boutique.

A fellow shopper shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” - presumably referring to Louisiana and Mississippi.

The woman expressing her First Amendment rights was promptly removed from the store. A Ferragamo store manager confirmed to us that Rice did shop there yesterday, but refused to answer questions about whether the protester was removed, and whether by his own security or the Secret Service.

At the State Department’s daily briefing yesterday morning, before the New York incident, spokesman Sean McCormack responded to a journalist who asked whether Rice was involved with hurricane relief efforts by saying, “She’s in contact with the department as appropriate.” He made no mention that his boss had any plans to leave New York.

But yesterday afternoon, Rice had done just that. Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore told us: “The secretary is back in Washington, and she is being briefed on the situation.” Moore did not know whether Condi had planned a longer stay here.

While September 1 is more than a few weeks ago, this is probably the story O’Reilly is referring to.

Of course, journalists should be clear. First rule of journalism: Tell the readers who, what, when, and where. O’Reilly tossing around the term “far-left smear web sites” without naming them fails to follow Rule #1.




PTC Drives Toyota Away From Advertising on “Nip/Tuck”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 20, 2005 @ 1:40 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, PTC, TV

Steven Barrie-Anthony of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Toyota Motor Corp. has pulled all advertising from the FX drama “Nip/Tuck” in part over concerns about the show’s content, according to a Nov. 1 letter from the automaker addressed to the television decency advocacy group Parents Television Council.

The move follows a letter-writing campaign by the Los Angeles-based PTC informing “Nip/Tuck” advertisers of the graphic depictions of sex and violence on the show and asking them to rescind their sponsorships, said Tim Winter, the group’s executive director.

…Having advertisers walk away is nothing new for the surgery-heavy show. Last year, Ben & Jerry’s and Gateway Inc. were among companies that pulled ads from the show, although reasons for their decisions were not publicly given. Other advertisers sometimes pulled out of specific episodes, such as one that included underage drinking.

Toyota spokeswoman Nancy Hubbell said the carmaker’s decision was based on several factors, including content.

The ability of the PTC to hurt a show with millions of viewers is limited:

John Solberg, vice president of public relations for FX, declined to comment on Toyota’s decision, saying the network does not discuss individual advertisers.

The show is sold out for the season at one of the highest advertiser rates in all of cable,” Solberg said. He said that the show’s first seven episodes averaged 2.8 million viewers in the highly valued 18-49 age bracket.




AP Reports on Violence Portrayed on TV

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 20, 2005 @ 1:13 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, PTC, FCC, Free Speech?, TV

David Bauder of the Associated Press writes:

The body count in prime-time television these days rivals that of a war zone. The popularity of CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” its spinoffs, imitators and other crime or supernatural shows has made network TV home to an astonishing amount of blood ‘n’ guts, which has attracted little notice due to a preoccupation with sex.

During the last week of September, there were 63 dead bodies visible during prime time on the six broadcast networks. That’s up sharply from the 27 bodies counted during the same week in 2004.

This year, channel surfers in that one week could spot:

— The lead character in Fox’s “Bones” discovering a badly decomposed body hanging in a tree, crows picking on the remains. The maggot-covered head falls off and lands in Bones’ hands.

— A man preparing dinner on the WB’s “Supernatural” when his sink suddenly fills with water. He reaches in and something grabs him, pulls his head in the water and drowns him.

The Parents Television Council, headed by Brent Bozell, supplied those statistics:

The prime-time body count was compiled, after a request from The Associated Press, by the Parents Television Council, a watchdog group that keeps tapes of network programming.

Yet the PTC, which frequently files complaints with the Federal Communications Commission about network fare, admits that its focus has primarily been on sex, not gore. One reason is that there’s no government agency concerned with these issues, said Melissa Caldwell, the PTC’s research director.

The council prefers to steer advertisers away from programming it disapproves of, but hasn’t started any campaign against a broadcaster for violent content this season. The closest it came was a protest this month about an episode of CBS’ “NCIS” where a stripper had her throat cut, primarily because it was shown before 9 p.m.

Americans “seem to have more of a taste for violence, unfortunately, so it’s a little bit more difficult to get people worked up over it,” Caldwell said.

My advice to Melissa Caldwell: Try to get people worked up over free speech, over protecting their right to decide what to watch and what not to watch, without government interference.




Sinclair Uses the Public Airwaves to Promote the GOP

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 18, 2005 @ 1:01 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, TV, Radio, Broadcasters

Sinclair is a large TV company.

“Sinclair’s television group includes 20 FOX, 19 WB, 6 UPN, 8 ABC, 3 CBS, 4 NBC affiliates and 2 independent stations and reaches approximately 24% of all U.S. television households.” - dKospedia.org

They use their broadcast television stations to push a right-wing agenda.

From the Internet Movie Database:

Former and current news employees of Sinclair Broadcasting have described the owners’ campaign to court powerful conservative legislators who responded by clearing away legal obstacles and thereby allow Sinclair to become the largest owner of TV stations in America.

In interviews appearing in GQ magazine, the employees describe how they were subjected to political litmus tests before being hired, how they were ordered to report only “good news” about Iraq, how an interview with President Bush was delivered to stations with orders to replace the image of the interviewer with that of the local anchor, and how stations were required to run a nightly right-wing editorial delivered by Sinclair exec Mark Hyman that once accused the late Peter Jennings of “appearing to favor terrorists over America.” (One local producer said that when she used a graphic to identify Hyman’s commentary as an “editorial,” Sinclair officials ordered her to remove the offending word.)

Former Sinclair Reporter Jon Leiberman, who was fired for protesting against a planned anti-Kerry documentary last year (Leiberman says he voted for Bush in both presidential elections) said that Sinclair co-owner David Smith once told him his news reports ought “to look more like Mark’s editorials.” In addition to providing ideological aid, the GQ article alleges, Smith and his three brothers have reportedly contributed $2.3 million to the campaigns of key Republican Congressmen.

On broadcast radio, Rush Limbaugh promotes the Republicans and Al Franken promotes the Democrats.

There is a degree of symmetry in talk-radio, though Limbaugh has ten times the listeners of Franken (15 million to 1.5 million.)

But on broadcast television, there is no liberal equivalent to Mark Hyman’s conservative editorials, which are shown during local news broadcasts in many US cities (62 stations in 39 markets.)

The Fairness Act was struck down by courts in the 1980s, and vetoed by Ronald Reagan when Congress tried to restore it. There is no law directly requiring balance anymore, just a vague concept that broadcasters should use public airwaves for the public interest.

But when a conservative company is using its broadcast TV stations to editorialize for a right-wing agenda, and there is no equivalent on the left, something is wrong.




LA Times Publishes Op-Ed Describing Some Iraq War Critics as “Deranged Moonbats”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 18, 2005 @ 6:50 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Free Press

From Hunter of the Daily Kos:

Today, Jonah Goldberg made his editorial page debut in the Los Angeles Times:

STOP ME IF YOU’VE heard this already. But there are people out there — honest, decent, sincere people and deranged moonbats, too — who think that George W. Bush lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. No, seriously, it’s true.

… I want to talk about the words deranged moonbats, and the editorial goals and standards of the Los Angeles Times.

We got precisely into the second sentence of the first piece of Jonah Goldberg’s first column before devolution into talk of “deranged” non-honest, non-decent, non-sincere opponents. From there, we slide into nothing better. We are told, in so many words, that the speeches about mushroom clouds and African uranium never happened; that the State of the Union address was a figment of our imaginations so powerful that it imprinted itself onto the videotapes of the world through our collective, “deranged” wills; and yet at the same time, that Saddam Hussein was a Hitlerian figure who posed such a serious threat to our nation that historians should be “forgiving of deceit”.

…We are entering a time when conservatives, after having repeatedly shoved the discourse of the country into a series of ever-deeper ravines via the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Michelle Malkin and an unending stream of similar though lesser clones, are now professing outrage that they are being attacked according to the same crude, boorish standards that they have made part and parcel of their movement. While I, as a blogger, could not possibly care less about their belated protestations of civility, I will admit to the Los Angeles Times right here and now, as a reader, that I expect a level of discourse greater than that low mark in the objective, non-partisan press — even in the editorial section.

There is a difference between the level of debate worthy of Internet blogs, and the level of debate worthy of one of the nation’s largest and most respected newspapers.

Note that the Los Angeles Times recently fired liberal op-ed writer Robert Scheer.

« Jonah Goldberg Writes “Moonbats,”
Dana Milbank Writes “Wing Nuts” »

Both to describe liberals.

In June, the Washington Post published a column by Dana Milbank about the Downing Street Memo. The memo stated that the Bush Administration had a policy to start a war with Iraq and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Milbank denounced as “wing nuts” people who said the Washington Post had provided too little coverage of the Downing Street Memo. This is not only tacky, it isn’t even idiomatic, since “wing nuts” is generally a term used for right-wingers. The term Milbank could have used to idiomatically refer to liberals is “moonbats” (as Jonah Goldberg later did) though this would still have been tacky.

I’ve never seen a column in a major newspaper denouncing right-wingers as “wing nuts” or (non-idiomatically) “moonbats,” nor do I want to, per se.

Such language isn’t appropriate in a newspaper when attacking right-wingers or left-wingers.

Though for balance, perhaps the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times should publish just one column each with that language against right-wingers, and then declare a moratorium.




“A Personal Opinion”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 16, 2005 @ 6:44 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Courts

Samuel Alito is Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

In 1985, Alito wrote in a job application that “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”

Conservative columnist John Podhoretz said yesterday in the NY Post: “This is going to be fun. Let’s see if Democrats in the Senate are willing to stage an all-out assault on a nominee simply because he has expressed a personal opinion on whether the Constitution protects ‘a right to an abortion.’”

« Language watch »

Al Franken responded on his radio show yesterday that every opinion is a personal opinion.

However, an opinion about the Constitution expressed by a lawyer is also a professional opinion, Franken said.

« Samuel Alito’s explanation »

Via Think Progress:

Alito is now dismissing the document, claiming he was just saying what he needed to say to ingratiate himself with his potential bosses in the Reagan administration. Here’s what Alito told Sen. Diane Feinstein this afternoon.

It was different then. I was an advocate seeking a job. It was a political job.

Translation: those weren’t my personal views, I was just lying to get a job.

If Alito was lying then, it doesn’t say much about his trustworthiness now. Alito’s trustworthiness is already at issue; he lied during confirmation hearings for his present seat when he told the Senate that he’d recuse himself from cases involving the Vanguard Group, investment company whose mutual funds he owns.

If Alito was telling the truth then, and he’s lying now, that doesn’t say much about his trustworthiness, either.

Alito should not be given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

More in a Supreme Court Watch pdf.

Note: Sometimes people express an official opinion for an organization, and say that they weren’t expressing their personal opinions. Samuel Alito’s letter stating that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion was his personal and professional opinion. Alito wasn’t writing on behalf of an organization.




Update On Bill O’Reilly Saying a Terrorist Attack Would Be OK

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 14, 2005 @ 2:56 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch

The whole story:

a) Bill O’Reilly’s obnoxious remarks on his own radio show. (”You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”)

b) Bill O’Reilly standing by the remarks on the Sacramento, CA, radio show of “Armstrong and Getty.”

c) Billoreilly.com pretending the remarks are fine in context.

d) Bill O’Reilly pretending on his TV show that his remarks were just a “satirical riff.”

On his Nov. 8 national radio show, Bill O’Reilly said to San Francisco, California:

If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off-limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

This was quoted disapprovingly at Crooks and Liars, Media Matters, and SpeakSpeak.

Today at Bill O’Reilly’s official website, “BillOReilly.com Staff” write:

A well-organized, well-funded effort to slime the Radio Factor has begun over comments made about the disgraceful vote in San Francisco that sought to prohibit military recruitment in public schools.

Listen to the full, unedited version of the segment in question from the November 8 program.

However, Bill O’Reilly and his staff are “well-organized, well-funded” and the things O’Reilly says reek of “slime.”

I listened to the full context as they suggested, and I didn’t find it redeeming.

Nor do I admire O’Reilly’s statement last week, where he stood by his Coit Tower remarks.

O’Reilly spoke with Sacramento, California, radio co-hosts Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty, billed as “Armstrong & Getty.” (Think Progress incorrectly labels their show as being from San Francisco.) O’Reilly told the Sacramento talk-radio hosts, “What I said needed to be said. I’m sitting here and I’m looking at a city that has absolutely no clue about what the world is.”

« Update: November 15, 2005 »

Bill O’Reilly tried to weasel out of his statements during his “Talking Points Memo” on his TV show last night.

He summarized his statement “You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead,” as a “satirical rift.” O’Reilly also described an article criticizing him for his remarks as “tongue in cheek.” It’s pathetic of him to try to turn his disgusting statements into a joke, after he stood by the remarks previously.

He didn’t air the statement “You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead,” which was from his radio broadcast, on his TV broadcast.

He played the beginning of his remark on TV last night, then said:

And then I went on to do a satirical riff with a serious point. Why should the USA protect San Francisco from terrorists if they, in the city, are trying to undermine the military? We posted the entire monologue on billoreilly.com.

Predictably, some far left Internet smear sites have launched a campaign to get me fired over my point of view. I believe they do this on a daily basis.

This time, the theme is O’Reilly is encouraging terrorist attacks. Unbelievably stupid, but not unusual with these guttersnipes.

The San Francisco Chronicle picked up the story, but the reporter Joe Garifoli, realizing the absurdity of it, wrote a tongue in cheek article. Included in the article are foolish statements from Mayor Gavin Newsom and some other city officials.

Newsom’s afraid to appear on this broadcast.

Even in the midst of discussing a previous obnoxious statement he’s been widely criticized for, O’Reilly is still obnoxious.

The Fox News website makes it slightly difficult to find Joe Garofili’s San Francisco Chronicle article. They misspell his name and don’t provide a direct link.

While O’Reilly describes the SF Chronicle article as “tongue-in-cheek,” I’d describe the article as occasionally sensationalistic, but serious about opposing Bill O’Reilly.




American Family Association Feels Left Out, Starts Own Complaint Machine

Posted by Amanda Toering
November 14, 2005 @ 11:37 am
Filed under: Right Watch, FCC

Broadcasting and Cable reports that the American Family Association has launched its own online complaint generator. Poor AFA folks must have been jealous of all the attention the Bozellians get.

From B&C:

Saying that the FCC is encouraging viewers to contact the commission about indecent programming–and perhaps not wanting all the indecency complaints to appear to come from only one group–the American Family Association now has its own Web link to easy e-mail filing.

“You can file your complaint by clicking on the television graphic on the top left hand side of our website at www.afa.net, ” said AFA founder Donald Wildmon in a letter to AFA members. “This form will be active 24/7 and will always be on the front page of www.afa.net.”

AFA (formerly the National Federation for Decency) is also asking churches to put this note in their bulletins:

“TV viewers now have a quick and easy way to file a complaint with the FCC concerning obscene, indecent, and profane content on television and radio. Simply click the television graphic on the top left-hand side of the web site at www.afa.net. There is no charge, and filing your complaint takes only a few minutes.”

If AFA is looking to ramp up its indecency complaints, watch out. We still remember when Wildmon included B&C as targets in a postcard campaign complaining about network TV programming. The mail–some 50,000-plus cards–came in canvas bags like the ones they heaped on the judge’s desk in Miracle on 34th Street.

Some groups opposed to the FCC’s stepped up indecency enforcement, including the network-backed TV Watch, suggest that the level of viewer disaffection with content has been inflated by Parents Television Council’s easy, online e-mail form.

In the most recent FCC tally of complaints, in fact, a big jump in July was attributable entirely (99.9%) to PTC.

The FCC has been trying to simplify its complaint form, has created a new indecency enforcement section on its Web site, and has hired anti-indecency activist Penny Nance as a policy adviser.

The American Family Association is also in the radio business — it owns over 175 radio stations in small markets across the country. In 2002, it ranked 5th in the station-ownership race.




Bill O’Reilly: OK For Terrorists to Blow Up a Building in San Francisco, CA

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 11, 2005 @ 6:17 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Radio

San Francisco is discouraging military recruiters from visiting high schools and colleges.

Personally, I never saw military recruiters at my high school when I was a student (though I got plenty of phone calls from them at home in those days). Therefore, I don’t see anything radical about San Francisco’s policy.

However, Bill O’Reilly said about San Francisco on the November 8 broadcast of his radio show, “If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off-limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”

Some of the visitors to Coit Tower in San Francisco are tourists. The local visitors to Coit Tower include both people who agree and people who disagree with Iraq policy. None of them should be murdered.

Media Matters for America has the audio of Bill O’Reilly’s remarks.

Note that while San Francisco’s measure doesn’t ban recruiters from high school and college campuses (it’s advisory), Bill O’Reilly told his radio audience that the initiative would “ban military recruiting.”

MSNBC’s website says O’Reilly’s remarks about San Francisco and terrorism were edited out of the archive of the broadcast:

Adding to the buzz was the archived version of O’Reilly’s Tuesday show, which omitted the incendiary comments, according to Bay Area TV station KNTV.

It’s unclear if they mean the transcript or audio file or both. On MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” tonight, Olbermann said the transcript at O’Reilly’s website had O’Reilly’s controversial remarks removed.

« Update of November 14, 2005 »

Bill O’Reilly’s website is no longer trying to hide the remarks. A post at his official blog today asks people to listen to the remarks in context.

I don’t find the context redeeming.




Cartoon “GOP in Jeopardy”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 9, 2005 @ 7:34 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, TV

Al Gore’s channel “Current TV” includes cartoons.

At Current TV’s website, you can watch a cartoon that portrays Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Karl Rove, and Lewis Libby (all Republicans under investigation) as contestants on the game show “Jeopardy!”




Secret Prisons

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 8, 2005 @ 11:48 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, Free Press

Being suspected of a crime is different from being guilty of it.

The US doesn’t have the right to arrest people suspected of being terrorists and hold them in secret prisons. No trial. No due process of law. No visits from the Red Cross…

But it’s doing just that.

Whoever revealed the secret prisons in Eastern Europe to Washington Post reporter Dana Priest is a hero.

On Sunday, I wrote about how conservative William J. Bennett was condemning the prison whistle blower and throwing around accusations of hypocrisy. Apparently, Bennett can’t distinguish between whistle-blowing (revealing secret prisons) and retaliation for whistle-blowing (Lewis Libby outing CIA employee Valerie Plame because her husband criticized George W. Bush).

Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert similarly ignore that distinction, and support an investigation into who revealed the secret prisons as a leak of classified information.




There Is Whistle-Blowing…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 6, 2005 @ 12:40 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Free Press

There is also retaliation for whistle-blowing.

Conservative William J. Bennett either doesn’t understand the difference, or pretends not to.

He implies in the The National Review that anyone upset that the Bush Administration retaliated against Joe Wilson by outing his wife in the CIA, should also be upset at whomever contacted the Washington Post about the CIA’s secret prisons in Eastern Europe.

In the unlikely event that William J. Bennett reads SpeakSpeak, here is a guide:

Showing that Bush exaggerated the evidence Iraq was seeking WMD = whistle-blowing.

Bush Administration officials outing Wilson’s wife = retaliation .

Exposing secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe = whistle-blowing.

Bush shouldn’t have said Saddam was seeking uranium based on such slim evidence; the US shouldn’t be holding prisoners without due process or even Red Cross access. It’s proper to speak out against these things. It isn’t proper to hurt the career of a woman investigating WMD for the CIA because her husband criticized Bush.

Note: One theory about the motive for outing Joe Wilson’s wife was that Bush officials just wanted to smear him as needing her help to get work, not to hurt her career. However, a href=”http://www.tompaine.com/articles/20050718/why_plame_matters.php”>Karl Rove’s to Chris Matthews that “wives are fair-game” indicates that retaliation was one of the motives.




More On The Christian “Left Behind” Movies

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 2, 2005 @ 2:45 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch

The Once Upon a Time blog has commentary on the “Left Behind” series of films, which are being shown in churches.




Sell Your Newspapers, Demands Investment Group of Knight-Ridder

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 2, 2005 @ 12:35 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, Free Press, Media Concentration

Knight-Ridder owns the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, among other newspapers.

From JPZenger in a Daily Kos Diary:

A group of investors from Florida, who are regular contributors to Bush and GOP National Committee, are trying to break up the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain. Knight-Ridder is one of the few truly independent mainstream news sources that provides truly independent coverage and investigative journalism. Knight Ridder includes the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as major papers in Northern California, Miami and many other cities.

Their reporters had the rare distinction of being able to see through the Bush Administration’s smokescreen before the Iraq invasion. Their stories in 2002 and 2003 predicted everything that has subsequently happened in Iraq — based upon leaks provided to them by career State Department and Defense Department staff.

That investment group is Private Capital Management (PCM), which is threatening a hostile takeover unless its demands are met.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

PCM, whose officials declined comment Tuesday, is based in Naples, Fla., and owns about 19 percent of Knight Ridder stock. PCM also owns about 35 percent of the common stock of McClatchy but, as is the case with Dow Jones and the New York Times, voting control is in the hands of family-controlled trusts, making takeovers more difficult to mount.

That’s not the case with Knight Ridder, however. In its letter, PCM cited disappointing profits and a slump in Knight Ridder’s stock price. The newspaper industry long has been among the most profitable of U.S. businesses, with many chains reporting annual operating profit margins of 20 percent or more.

But newspapers have faced increasing competition in recent years from nontraditional media. In particular, newspapers have lost revenue from classified advertising as online options, including eBay and Craigslist, have grown. Readership among younger people, a prized target of advertisers, has fallen to historic lows as the Internet grows in popularity as a news source.

Knight Ridder could be sold outright to a buyer or its newspapers could be sold off piecemeal to other chains, according to the demand letter.




What Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown??

Posted by Amanda Toering
October 31, 2005 @ 12:33 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Schools

Halloween costumes and festivities have been banned in schools across the country, reports the Christian Science Monitors. While one jelly-spined school official in Hammond, IN, blamed the costume ban on “public safety,” others admit that they’ve cancelled Halloween celebrations at the request of right-wing activists.

From the CSM:

School principals from Newton, Mass., to Denver find themselves increasingly haunted at Halloween by this refrain: Get out, ye ghoulies!

Bowing to concerns of a wide range of groups - from Christians who consider Halloween to have pagan or satanic overtones to church-state separatists who object to the holiday’s religious roots — some elementary schools are canceling their customary costume parades and Halloween celebrations.

In their place are “Fall-o-ween” events, which take note of harvest and seasonal change but that eliminate all things spooky - or controversial.

“There’s been a steady growth of the number of people and the kinds of perspectives objecting to Halloween, and it’s become a real issue for schools,” says Charles Haynes at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va. “There’s a lot of strangeness around this issue.”

The downplaying of Halloween at school runs counter to the nationwide trend. The holiday is now a $3.3 billion business, as those who mark the season of goose bumps set the mood with decorations, costumes, candy, and party goods.

Though Halloween entered the schools “through a secular door,” as Mr. Haynes puts it, its sometimes-dark imagery — and the gory movies and masks that go along with it — mean that some Christian and Muslim families keep their kids at home that day. Increasingly, those families, which can make up a full 30 percent of a school’s student body, are calling in their objections — and schools are listening.

Article continues…

I know that Eric Jaffa will disagree with me (his previous stance being that schools are for learnin’, which is a valid point).

Let’s not forget, though, that an additional, extremely important element of a public education is socialization. The celebration of Halloween is an important social custom in our society. It’s a tradition that inspires warm-fuzzy nostalgia in parents, who can then bond over the experience with their kids. And most importantly — it’s fun. And harmless.

Halloween doesn’t lead to outbreaks of paganism. It may lead to outbreaks of dental work, but that’s another story.

Generations upon generations have survived Halloween, and so has our culture.

Bring back the silly costumes, dammit, and allow an opt-out for those who are uncomfortable.




Religious Group in North Dakota Blocks Performances by Dance Group Featuring Thunder, Down Under

Posted by Amanda Toering
October 31, 2005 @ 12:19 pm
Filed under: Obscene!, Right Watch

A world-traveling dance group from Australia has been banned from performing in a small North Dakota town after the town council received complaints from local religious leaders.

From the Perth (Australia) Sunday Times:

Australia’s Thunder from Down Under male dancers have been banned after protests from local religious leaders.

A spokeswoman for the show called the vote a shocking form of censorship.

Jamestown, North Dakota, Mayor Charlie Kourajian and two councillors voted to cancel the dancers’ contract. Two other councillors voted against the move.

The show, scheduled for Thursday at the Jamestown Civic Centre, was booked about three months ago.

Penny Levin, spokeswoman for Australia’s Thunder from Down Under, said it was tasteful adult entertainment, tailored for various audiences.

“We’re not heathens,” she said. “No one is being forced to buy a ticket or see the show, but now people are being forced to not see it.”

Jamestown Ministerial Association presented a petition to the Civic Centre and Promotions Committee on Tuesday to protest at what pastors called a strip show.

Welcome to the U S of A, heathens!

The real question is why the “Vegas-style male revue” booked a show in Jamestown, ND, in the first place. Jamestown bills itself as “midway between Bismarck (the state capitol) and Fargo (the state’s largest city) [which] makes this a great place to stop and visit!”

Jamestown’s sales pitch continues:

Jamestown is also home to The World’s Largest Buffalo, the National Buffalo Museum, and the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. Jamestown offers something for everyone!

Known as the “Pride of the Prairie”, Jamestown extends friendly hospitality to all visitors. Whether touring the Frontier Village and viewing our live herd of buffalo, visiting our historical sites, or joining us for a tournament at one of our sporting complexes, we are sure you will enjoy Jamestown. A year-round vacation area, Jamestown also offers a variety of entertainment, excellent motel accommodations, and fine dining to make your visit an unforgettable experience.

Guess they didn’t want the experience to be too unforgettable.

You can learn more about the hunky Thunder from Down Under at their website (which, as far as I can tell, is sort of mostly safe for work; you take your chances, though).




Bible Education Advocates to Attend Conference of Texas Association of School Boards

Posted by Amanda Toering
October 28, 2005 @ 2:41 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Schools

The Texas Association of School Boards will hold its annual conference in Houston this weekend. Keynote speakers include US Secretary of Education Margaret “Ban Buster Bunny” Spellings; football coach Herman “Remember the Titans” Boone; and NPR reporter Juan “No Funny Nickname” Williams.

Focus on the Family would also like you to know that the Bible Literacy Project will be attending the conference and convincing local school board members that teaching the Bible in public schools is really, really okay. From FoF’s Citizen Link:

The Bible Literacy Project will present to the Texas Association of School Boards ways the Bible can be taught in Texas public schools beginning today.

The convention, meeting in Dallas through Sunday, will draw attendance from 1,039 Texas school boards. The Bible Literacy Project will be on hand to introduce attendees to the “The Bible and Its Influence,” the first high school textbook designed to meet constitutional standards for public school use.

“It was created to satisfy all constituencies involved in the heated public debate about the Bible in public schools,” said Chuck Stetson, chairman and founder of the Bible Literacy Project.

The textbook, reviewed by more than 40 scholars, can be used in an elective course in English or social studies for grades nine through 12. It provides comprehensive coverage of the Bible’s influence on literature, art, music and rhetoric.

Sheila Weber, vice president of communications for the Bible Literacy Project, said many Texans want this type of curriculum to be available in public schools.

“They do have some public schools that already have and academic course on the Bible,” she told CitizenLink, “and some are looking for ways to do this better.”

Weber added that the curriculum is designed to satisfy First Amendment standards outlined in a 1999 publication called, “The Bible in Public Schools: The First Amendment Guide.”

“It’s a consensus statement on how to teach the Bible in public schools,” she explained. “(It was) signed off by 21 groups including all the teachers unions, the National School Board Association, as well as major faith groups—the National Association of Evangelicals included.

“The value of us having produced a student textbook is that it helps the teacher stay right on task and not veer off from First Amendment standards, nor veer off in other directions with their own opinion.”

The standards dictate that you can present knowledge but not belief, she noted.

“Teachers should not promote belief but they should not denigrate, either,” Weber said. “So our textbook comes at it with the perspective of tremendous respect for faith traditions which consider the Bible to be much more than literature, but sacred Scripture, sacred text.”

Dr. Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, said until now, there has not been a Bible curriculum he could recommend to schools.

“Let me say how impressed I am by this,” he said. “It is clear that much hard work and good scholarship have gone into the text. This promises to be an outstanding resource for public schools.”

Weber said the Bible Literacy curriculum meets every standard for Texas schools. There are over one thousand independent school districts in Texas that could choose to use the textbook and offer a course in Bible literacy.

“That’s the case across the nation,” she said. “There are a lot of schools that can autonomously decide to incorporate this as a choice.”

The phrase “will present to the Texas Association of School Boards ways the Bible can be taught” made me giddy with fear. I mean, it’s Texas, right? It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the TASB would offer a break-out session dedicated to teaching the Bible in public schools. (When I attended Texas public schools, we had regular prayers during the morning announcements, and pre-football-game prayers were always broadcast over the public address system.)

Turns out, though, that the Dobsonites’ implication that the Bible Literacy Project is a special invited guest, they’re actually attending the conference as a vendor — meaning they paid for the privilege.

And they’re in interesting company.

Other vendors include:

All Seasons Foam Insulation & Roofing, for all your leaky roof needs; Aramark food service, providers of mystery meat to schools everywhere; Arbor Hill Software, which offers a software package it cryptically refers to as a “discipline management system”; Blue Star Bus Sales; Drip-Tech Waste Management Systems, who’d be more than happy to clean your septic tank… for a price; Handwriting without Tears (??); Interquest Detection Canines, instilling fear in drug-addled teens everywhere; JuicePlus, a pyramid-scheme-based seller of “the next best thing to fruits and vegetables”; Scantron Corporation, purveyor of those evil bubble sheets and the sole reason for the continued existence of #2 pencils; Security Voice, a company that provides suicide hotline services; the Southern Bleachers Company, because no Texas high school is complete without a football stadium; the understaffed Texas Army National Guard, probably just itching to acquire additional grads to send to Iraq; Texas Correctional Industries, providing cheap prison labor in the form of school bus repair, IT services, furniture restoration, uniform manufacturing, and tire repair; and the Stillwell Memorial Home in Waco, which is apparently where old teachers go to die.

In addition to the Bible Literacy Program, other vendors of the religious persuasion include Brigham Young University, which offers a satellite-based independent learning program; Cal Farley’s, “a Christ-centered agency providing residential and in-home services to school aged children and their families”; and Nest Family Entertainment, providing “quality videos that teach the word of God.”

For the record, the TASB describes itself as “a voluntary, nonprofit, statewide educational association that serves and represents local Texas school districts.” That’s public school districts.

What business do groups with religious affiliations have selling their products to taxpayer-funded Texas schools?

Vendor information taken from the TASB’s conference website.




Montgomery-County-Sex-Ed-Debate-Revisited, Revisited

Posted by Amanda Toering
October 28, 2005 @ 1:44 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Schools, Montgomery County

The politically motivated factions who stirred up a controversy over sex ed in Montgomery County, MD, really need another hobby.

Here’s your refresher course in the Montgomery County brouhaha.

The latest snafu: Political group Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum is considering a lawsuit against the school board. Their argument goes something like this: “Waaaaah, we wanted one of our political representatives to be on the curriculum approval board, but you won’t let us! Mommy!!”

To be fair, CRC was promised a seat as part of an earlier settlement over curriculum that they previously took to court. However, the CRC ignored the school board’s request for three nominees to the board. The provided only one — and she’s ineligible.

And now, they’re threatening a suit.

Boo hoo.

From the Washington Post:

The day after the Montgomery County school board appointed a new advisory board to consult with educators on revisions to the school system’s sex education curriculum, it appears that board members could be facing a new legal challenge.

Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum said it is considering legal action against the school board for violating terms of an agreement that granted it and another group one seat each on the 15-member advisory panel.

Michelle Turner says Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum will not submit another name. The group’s one nominee is not considered eligible.

Board members last night declined to appoint to the panel a representative from Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, but they did name one from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays despite a dispute with the two groups over the nomination process.

Board members had been slated to make appointments to the Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development on Oct. 11, but they delayed action to allow the groups more time to meet conditions laid out by the board.

Under the guidelines, community groups seeking a seat on the panel were required to submit three names to the board. The applicants had to be Montgomery residents who had not previously served on the committee.

The groups submitted only one name each.

Last night, board President Patricia O’Neill (Bethesda-Chevy Chase) said the board had reconsidered that requirement and approved the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays representative. However, she said members would not fill the other group’s seat.

The group’s nominee, Henrietta Brown, is not considered eligible by the board because she has already served on the committee.

Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, said the group will not submit another name.

Meanwhile, a similar battle is brewing in Sioux Falls, SD, and the local Catholic diocese has gotten involved.




Bill O’Reilly Asks “Media Research Center” Where They Get Their Money

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 27, 2005 @ 3:07 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch

Bill O’Reilly asked a good question last night.

He interviewed Tim Graham, director of media analysis for Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center, a conservative group that highlights supposed liberal bias in news coverage.

Talking to Tim Graham, O’Reilly asked how the MRC is funded.

From the October 26 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

O’REILLY: Your website is very successful. And we have your 2003 statement. More than $8 million in total revenue. That’s much more than Media Matters. Who gives you money?

GRAHAM: Well, we have a lot of people across the country who are –

O’REILLY: You got a sugar daddy like [George] Soros on the right? Somebody kicking in big money?

GRAHAM: Well, we have been funded by Richard Mellon Scaife.

O’REILLY: How much does he kick in to you guys?

GRAHAM: Not a lot. Not a lot.

O’REILLY: Well, give me a figure.

GRAHAM: I’m not the expert on that. Probably $10,000 in this year or $10,000 in that year.

O’REILLY: So he’s just giving you a donation out of his foundation? He’s not kicking millions of dollars like Soros and the other guy, [Peter] Lewis, is? He’s not kicking that kind of money in?

GRAHAM: Not that I know of. But again, you know, if I’m wrong, Media Matters will probably correct me tomorrow.

Sure enough, Media Matters corrected him today, pointing out that the MRC got $350,000 in 2003 from a Scaife foundation.

While O’Reilly spouts his usual blather about billionaire George Soros funding liberal groups, conservative funding is ignored.

Last night was different.

I give O’Reilly credit for asking a valid question last night, even if his audience didn’t learn the truth from the answer.




Rosa Parks, Activist

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 27, 2005 @ 9:50 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Courts

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks died Monday.

There was a march in her honor in Tuskegee, Alabama, yesterday:

TUSKEGEE, Ala. - More than 200 people linked arms and marched through Rosa Parks’ hometown to pay tribute to the late civil rights pioneer.

Organizers said Wednesday’s march represented the 50,000 who took part in the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott after Parks’ historic act of defiance sparked the modern civil rights movement.

“Today we wanted to march one more time for Rosa,” Mayor Johnny Ford said.

The memorial was one of a series of events scheduled to commemorate Parks, who died Monday at the age of 92. On Dec. 1, 1955 she refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man. Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system.

Finally, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that declared Montgomery’s segregated seating laws unconstitutional. The effort highlighted persistent bias against blacks across the nation.

Almost no one would argue today that transit companies should be able to insist the blacks stand so whites can sit.

But the Supreme Court case on this issue, Gayle and City of Montgomery v. Browder (1956) was controversial in its day.

On Mar. 13, 1957, “The Joint Resolution of the Georgia General Assembly” was issued, calling for “IMPEACHMENT OF CERTAIN U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICES” based mostly on racial integration cases:

That the said above named Justices, without warrant in the Constitution, extended their above pro-communist racial integration policy and decrees so as to apply the same to intrastate bus transportation and similar cases, on November 7, 1955, in the case of Baltimore City v. Dawson, 350 U.S. 877; Holmes v. Atlanta, November 7, 1955, 350 U.S. 879, and Gayle and City of Montgomery v. Browder, November 13, 1956, 352 U.S. 903, 77 S. Ct. 10, in spite of the fact that the Court in various consolidated cases, in October, 1883, reported in 109 U.S. 18, held that an Act of Congress which had provided for interracial accommodations on public conveyances on land or water was unconstitutional because Congress was not vested with power to legislate upon such subjects which are within the domain of State legislation, nor authority to create a code of municipal law for the regulation of private rights.

However, in said recent cases, said Justices Warren, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas and Clark usurped legislative power which the Court in a better day when manned by lawyers had held to be beyond the reach of the constitutional powers of Congress, and thereby actually amended or nullified the applicable provisions of the United States Constitution in furtherance of their undertaking by judicial decrees to carry out communist policies advocated by the so-called sociological authorities cited and adopted by them in the foregoing cases.

By their said unlawful acts, said Justices violated Article I, Sections 1 and 8; Article III, Section 3; Sections 3 and 5 of Amendment fourteen and the Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Conservatives were accusing judges of violating the Constitution by issuing “judicial decrees” for “communist policies.”

This shows a reason not to be nostaligic for the 1950s.

There was obnoxious conservative rhetoric then, as now.