2. HBO to Air Glowing Documentary on Success of Liberal Air America
A night after ignoring the arrival of Jesse Jackson in Pinellas, Florida to argue for re-inserting Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, ABC's World News Tonight on Wednesday showed brief video of Jackson, but didn't air a word from him. Reporter Mike Von Fremd, however, first highlighted how "Judge Stanley Birch, appointed by President Bush in 1990, severely criticized Congress and the President for intervening." Von Fremd quoted the judge's rebuke and then, over video of Jackson standing next to the Governor of Florida, noted how "after meeting with Jesse Jackson, Governor Jeb Bush said there's nothing more he can do, but thanked Jackson for helping in Schiavo's cause."
The March 30 CyberAlert had recounted: Wherever Jesse Jackson goes the media usually follow and on Tuesday the cable news networks highlighted his arrival outside the Florida hospice care facility holding Terri Schiavo, but the day Jackson took the side of those wishing to save Schiavo, and put a Democratic face with those on the side of her life, ABC's World News Tonight suddenly found the whole matter unnewsworthy. For the fist time in more than ten days, the newscast had no Schiavo story and didn't utter a syllable about Jackson, but Peter Jennings found time to pick up on a liberal cause celebre, abuse of prisoners in Iraq, as he showcased how "the American Civil Liberties Union has released" what Jennings characterized as "a rather damning memo...written by the former senior U.S. military commander." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Von Fremd then got to the latest judicial rejection of the case: "In Atlanta, the 11th Circuit Court, in its ruling against the Schindlers, said today there would be no further action from the court. Judge Stanley Birch, appointed by President Bush in 1990, severely criticized Congress and the President for intervening, saying [text on screen]: 'They have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our founding fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people.' After meeting with Jesse Jackson [video of Bush and Jackson in an office surrounded by reporters], Governor Jeb Bush said there's nothing more he can do, but thanked Jackson for helping in Schiavo's cause."
Left of the Dial, which looks to be a 90-minute documentary that will deliver a glowing tribute to the left wing Air America radio talk show service, will debut Thursday night on HBO. The HBO Web site touted how "a group of investors set out to launch a liberal radio network that would challenge the dominance of America's airwaves by conservative talk radio." A synopsis of the documentary recounted how "in the days before launch, the energy picks up amidst a whirlwind of photo shoots, CNN sound bites, the creation of marketing/PR materials, and delivery of the hot-off-the-presses New York Times Magazine featuring Al Franken on the cover -- a publicity coup and implicit endorsement." In a highly questionable claim, HBO trumpeted how after just a few months, "the New York ratings are unexpectedly high -- Franken beats Rush Limbaugh, and [Randy] Rhodes outpaces right-wing rival Sean Hannity." And HBO celebrated how "with 40 affiliates and counting, the voices of the left are now being heard, loud and clear, from coast to coast."
HBO.com offers this plug for the documentary set to debut tonight (Thursday) at 8pm EST/PST:
HBO's page for the documentary: www.hbo.com
An excerpt of HBO's "synopsis" for the program:
Joining the Air America team in New York just 12 days prior to the launch, filmmakers Patrick Farrelly and Kate O'Callaghan follow an eclectic group of people through the launch period and beyond, as they create a slate of shows while facing mismanagement and financial chaos that bring the fledgling network to the brink of collapse.
Offering an intimate look at rehearsals with the celebrated public faces of Air America -- including author-comedian Al Franken, outspoken radio veteran Randi Rhodes, and comedian-actress Janeane Garofalo -- LEFT OF THE DIAL reveals the nervous expectations of investors who staked their careers on the network....
LEFT OF THE DIAL chronicles the birth of signature shows such as "The O'Franken Factor" (later renamed "The Al Franken Show"), "The Randi Rhodes Show," "The Majority Report," hosted by Garofalo and Sam Seder, and "Morning Sedition," hosted by Marc Maron. There are bumps along the way. Maron worries about having enough material to get through the week, while Garofalo and Seders jokingly ponder the best way to receive the news if they get fired.
In the days before launch, the energy picks up amidst a whirlwind of photo shoots, CNN sound bites, the creation of marketing/PR materials, and delivery of the hot-off-the-presses New York Times Magazine featuring Al Franken on the cover - a publicity coup and implicit endorsement....
[O]n Randi Rhodes' inaugural show, she gets into an on-air shouting match with Ralph Nader, who hangs up on her. The radio veteran revels immediately in her newfound broadcast home and her caustic, funny style seem a perfect fit for America's newest radio network. Everyone agrees Day One was an unqualified success, and expectations soar.
However, the next two weeks are marred by a series of glitches. Offering its first live coverage of a media event -- Condoleeza Rice's appearance before the 9/11 Commission -- Air America is on commercial break when her testimony begins. Far worse is a Drudge Report feature about Air America allegedly bouncing checks to its LA and Chicago carrier....
Ironically, as the media exploits this latest fiasco, the on-air hosts find their groove. Rhodes is thrilled to get her own cover story in the Washington Post Magazine and a billboard in Times Square. Maron has worked through his anxieties, as have Garofalo and Seder. The New York ratings are unexpectedly high -- Franken beats Rush Limbaugh, and Rhodes outpaces right-wing rival Sean Hannity. Encouraged, management is able to attract additional investors long enough to keep the venture afloat through November.
In December 2004, a new round of investors brings Air America a measure of financial stability. With 40 affiliates and counting, the voices of the left are now being heard, loud and clear, from coast to coast....
END of Excerpt
For the full synopsis: www.hbo.com
The schedule of HBO's air times for the documentary: www.hbo.com
-- Brent Baker