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ABCNews.com Pushes Gun Control; On TV Tapper Offers More Balance --4/17/2007


1. ABCNews.com Pushes Gun Control; On TV Tapper Offers More Balance
Monday afternoon ABCNews.com was quick to put up a speculative posting, without any real knowledge of what the shooter used, headlined, "Lapse of Federal Law Allows Sale of Large Ammo Clips," and a bit later ABCNews.com posted an interactive poll with a very leading question: "Do you think this incident is a reason to pass stricter gun control legislation?" But in a World News story, while Jake Tapper highlighted calls for stricter gun laws, he also gave equal time to calls "for greater access to guns" so people can protect themselves and he undermined ABC's idle ammo clip posting by pointing out how since "politicians don't necessarily know the details" of what really occurred, "they don't know whether any laws were broken or any loopholes need to be closed." Tapper also discredited the assumption of the unscientific ABCNews.com poll, citing how a Gallup survey found the public is "more inclined to blame these incidents on the ways parents raise their children or on popular culture than on the availability of guns."

2. Newsweek: Imus Flap Shows Media 'In White Hands' Enables Racism
Newsweek's cover story on Don Imus this week carried a confessional tone, offering penance from Newsweek bigwigs for enabling the I-Man due to their hunger to be a part of the "in crowd." Weston Kosova's story lectured about how the Imus incident compares to Hurricane Katrina and the O.J. Simpson verdict in showing "media power is still concentrated largely in white hands and, as a result, racism is sometimes tolerated and enabled in ways that many white Americans are unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge." Newsweek is also contrite this week its coverage of the wildly mishandled Duke lacrosse rape allegations, but they offered no broad Big Picture moral about how that shows a media too willing to believe in racism in every legal case.

3. Levin 'Ultraconservative' Like Hannity, Miller Just 'Liberal'
Newsweek's April 23 cover story (see #2 above) also carried a half-page feature on page 29 about the "Leaders of the 'Shock Jock' Pack." Writer Jessica Ramirez, who wrote that "Don Imus's world imploded last week after he made racist and sexist remarks," used data from Talkers Magazine, including a list of "Up-And-Comers," to describe some other hosts, but he delivered quite a labeling contrast. He described Marc Levin as "an ultraconservative in the Sean Hannity style," but offered an upbeat assessment of Stephanie Miller as "one of the most popular and funny liberal radio hosts in the country" while failing to apply any ideological tag to a new Air America host. Newsweek also featured the "most outrageous comments of 2006" as compiled by the far-left Media Matters -- naturally all from conservative hosts.

4. Liberal Bias Invades NFL: Olbermann to Co-Host NBC Football
NBC has named Keith Olbermann, best-known for his left-wing rantings on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, co-host of Football Night in America, NBC's Sunday night NFL highlights show aired before an NFL game.


ABCNews.com Pushes Gun Control; On TV
Tapper Offers More Balance

Monday afternoon ABCNews.com was quick to put up a speculative posting, without any real knowledge of what the shooter used, headlined, "Lapse of Federal Law Allows Sale of Large Ammo Clips," and a bit later ABCNews.com posted an interactive poll with a very leading question: "Do you think this incident is a reason to pass stricter gun control legislation?" But in a World News story, while Jake Tapper highlighted calls for stricter gun laws, he also gave equal time to calls "for greater access to guns" so people can protect themselves and he undermined ABC's idle ammo clip posting by pointing out how since "politicians don't necessarily know the details" of what really occurred, "they don't know whether any laws were broken or any loopholes need to be closed." Tapper also discredited the assumption of the unscientific ABCNews.com poll, citing how a Gallup survey found the public is "more inclined to blame these incidents on the ways parents raise their children or on popular culture than on the availability of guns."

After recalling how following the Columbine shooting, then-President Bill Clinton "called for the Republican-controlled Congress to close the loophole. It did not, which still angers Marjorie Lindholm, at the time a Sophomore at Columbine," Tapper pointed out how "a massacre in Texas in 1991 prompted a complete opposite reaction -- for greater access to guns" since a patron at the restaurant had to leave her gun in her car "so as not to violate the law against carrying a gun in public."

A similar version of Tapper's piece aired later on an hour-long Nightline.

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Neither the CBS Evening News (at least in the first half of its one-hour broadcast, DC's CBS affiliate did not carry the second half), or the NBC Nightly News devoted a story to gun control or other remedies.

A "The Blotter" blog, run by ABC's investigative unit led by Brian Ross, at 2:30pm EDT posted: "Lapse of Federal Law Allows Sale of Large Ammo Clips." An excerpt:

High capacity ammo clips became widely available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned assault weapons....

Virginia law enforcement officials have not identified the weapon used in the shootings today at Virginia Tech, but gun experts say the number of shots fired indicate, at the very least, that the gunman had large quantities of ammunition.

"When you have a weapon that can shoot off 20, 30 rounds very quickly, you're going to have a lot more injuries," said Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

END of Excerpt

That's online at: blogs.abcnews.com

The ABCNews.com home page, by late afternoon, asked: "As Seen on World News: Is Shooting Grounds for Gun Control?" Clicking on the link launched an interactive pop-up:

There are at least 29 confirmed dead in the shooting at Virginia Tech University, making it the worst campus shooting in American history. Law enforcement officials believe the gunman was firing at least two 9mm semi-automatic pistols.

Do you think this incident is a reason to pass stricter gun control legislation?

- Yes. This shows the violence that can occur when someone has access to handguns.

- No. Violent shootings are isolated incidents and it's irresponsible to link them to gun control.

- I'm not sure. I need more information.

END of poll question: abcnews.go.com

Tapper's story on the April 16 World News: "Gun violence on a campus, a reminder of that grim morning at Columbine High School eight years ago this week. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others, before turning the guns on themselves that day. A public outcry followed. Violent video games and movies were blamed, as were goth culture, heavy metal music and bullying. Then-President Bill Clinton pushed for stricter gun control. Harris and Klebold bought their guns at a gun show, which are exempt from federal background check laws. So, Clinton called for the Republican-controlled Congress to close the loophole. It did not, which still angers Marjorie Lindholm, at the time a Sophomore at Columbine."
Marjorie Lindholm, former Columbine student: "We're the ones who can change this and nothing's changed since Columbine. You know, and it does make me sick. It makes me physically ill."
Tapper: "A massacre in Texas in 1991 prompted a complete opposite reaction -- for greater access to guns. At a Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, a gunman came in and killed 23 people. Suzanna Hupp who survived the attack, had left her handgun in her car, so as not to violate the law against carrying a gun in public. Convinced her parents might still be alive if she'd had her gun with her, Hupp led the change the law to allow Texans to carry concealed weapons. Whatever remedies they seek, Americans regularly react with revulsion to shootings such as today's, but so far these types of crimes have not fundamentally altered public opinion on guns. Polls show Americans support stricter gun control, but they are more inclined to blame these incidents on the ways parents raise their children [45% in Gallup poll shown on screen] or on popular culture [26%] than on the availability of guns [21%], a sentiment then-Governor Bush expressed in a presidential debate in 2000."
Bush, October 11, 2000: "There seems to be a lot of preoccupation, not necessarily in this debate, butn just in general on law. But there's a larger law, love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself."
Tapper: "Americans seem skeptical, Charlie, that the evil intentions or actions of one man can necessarily be prevented by laws."
Charles Gibson: "Jake, it's going to be some time in coming, I suspect, as we get reaction from law enforcement people around the country and from legislators about this. But has there been immediate reaction today?"
Tapper: "Nothing, in terms of any calls for action. People, politicians, don't necessarily know the details yet. They don't know whether any laws were broken or any loopholes need to be closed. So right now, there's just been an outpouring of sympathy and support."

Newsweek: Imus Flap Shows Media 'In White
Hands' Enables Racism

Newsweek's cover story on Don Imus this week carried a confessional tone, offering penance from Newsweek bigwigs for enabling the I-Man due to their hunger to be a part of the "in crowd." Weston Kosova's story lectured about how the Imus incident compares to Hurricane Katrina and the O.J. Simpson verdict in showing "media power is still concentrated largely in white hands and, as a result, racism is sometimes tolerated and enabled in ways that many white Americans are unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge."

The story in the April 23 Newsweek: www.msnbc.msn.com

Newsweek is also contrite this week its coverage of the wildly mishandled Duke lacrosse rape allegations, but they offered no broad Big Picture moral about how that shows a media too willing to believe in racism in every legal case. In fact, the story has a strange subheadline, with the notion of "innocence" in quotes ("That Night at Duke: They spent a year accused of kidnapping, assault and rape. Now, though, the three Duke lacrosse players were told they were 'innocent.' The inside story of the infamous evening"), as in you shouldn't quite believe it, and it prides itself that all the injustice done to the three accused white boys wasn't just a nightmare: "It was also maturing." See: www.msnbc.msn.com

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The money quote -- or the news magazine's outbreak in liberal editorializing on the Imus article -- came a few paragraphs in, as Kosova insisted:
"The remark and its aftermath brought renewed attention to a perennial fissure in American life: the starkly different ways in which blacks and whites can see the world. (The Imus saga now joins the O. J. Simpson verdict and Hurricane Katrina as vivid chapters in the story of race in America.) Thirty-nine years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in Memphis, racism remains a central issue in our national life. The story of Imus's long career sheds light on an uncomfortable fact: media power is still concentrated largely in white hands and, as a result, racism is sometimes tolerated and enabled in ways that many white Americans are unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge."

Kosova continued that Imus might have been spared in another time, but now we're in the era of Obama and Hillary, when diversity is king and bullies are out of favor:
"A crucial lesson of Imus's fall, however, is that power is a fluid thing. In earlier eras he would almost certainly have withstood the storm, but 2007 is a different time. A woman and a black man are the front runners for the Democratic presidential nomination. The country is growing ever more diverse. This is not Dr. King's promised land, but it is a changing land'€"a truth Don Imus, and his court, just learned in the hardest way possible, as the grace and dignity of female scholar-athletes toppled one of the media powerhouses of the age."

The story on "What Really Happened That Night At Duke" explored the feelings of horror the three accused players and their families went through, but also highlighted how they were still guilty of distastefully hiring strippers and being unhappy they weren't white girls. That might explain the quote marks around the "innocence" part: "They spent a year accused of kidnapping, assault and rape. Now, though, the three Duke lacrosse players were told they were 'innocent.'"

Susannah Meadows and Evan Thomas even congratulate themselves that all this injustice has made the white boys more mature:
"For many months, they had lived in an alternate universe. There was the 'reality' that endlessly replayed on cable TV: that some loutish, vicious, pampered jocks had raped an exotic dancer. Then there was the tawdry but mundane truth: that some foolish and crude college boys had hired two strippers and reaped nothing but shame. For young men accustomed to success, the feeling of helplessness, of powerlessness, was lonely and isolating. It was also maturing."

So who does Newsweek award the credit for knocking Imus off his powerful perch? Kosova hailed the leftists at Media Matters for their role in getting the anti-Imus bandwagon rolling -- "a liberal group whose sole purpose is rooting out and 'correcting conservative misinformation in the media.'" So Don Imus is a conservative, according to Newsweek? Or racial slurs define you as a conservative? But the liberal media watchdog apparently helped convince two liberal networks that they were letting down their fellow liberals, with liberal employees melting the ears of their bosses:
"Young black journalists were among the first to demand that Imus be ousted. Thursday evening, one day after Imus's comments, Jemele Hill, an ESPN reporter, posted the Media Matters link on the National Association of Black Journalists' e-mail list. Greg Lee, a Boston Globe reporter, spotted it right away. 'I couldn't believe Imus would pick on people he had no right to pick on,' he says. Lee forwarded the story to other online forums. In a matter of hours, black journalists in newsrooms across the country were clicking on it, and getting angry. The next day the NABJ demanded an apology from Imus, then called for him to be fired."

Perhaps the most interesting part of the article were the breast-beating confessions from Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Evan Thomas and other media bigwigs that they had tolerated Imus and his attempts at humor:

# "I wanted to be where the action was on my beat," says NEWSWEEK's Howard Fineman, an Imus regular. "The show, however unsavory it could be, was one of those places. I thought, or perhaps only imagined, that being on the show gave me more clout on the beat."

# NEWSWEEK's Evan Thomas, another regular guest on the show, sometimes wondered if Imus went too far. "But I rationalized my appearances by pointing to other prominent journalists and politicians who did it, too," he says. "I was eager to sell books, and I liked being in the in crowd."

# He occasionally accused me of being drunk or being queer," says NBC chief White House correspondent David Gregory, a frequent guest on the show. "Imus was living in two worlds. There was the risque, sexually offensive, sometimes racially offensive, satire, and then there was this political salon about politics and books. Some of us tuned in to one part and tuned out the other ... Whether I was numb to the humor that offended people or in denial, I don't know."

# He once called Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz, a regular on the show, a "boner-nosed, beanie-wearing Jew boy." Kurtz considered it part of the game. "I wasn't thrilled, but I just shrugged it off as Imus's insult shtik," says Kurtz, who has said that Imus helped make one of his books a best seller. "I don't believe for a second that he doesn't like Jewish people." Like the coolest bully on the playground, the outlaw kid others wanted to be seen with, Imus made his guests feel honored to be insulted by him. He tempered the abuse with just enough ego-stroking flattery to keep them coming back for more.

Kosova balanced the piece a tiny bit with some quotes from the Imus camp, and this note that Imus could skewer the powerful pretty effectively with facts, not just insults:
"Imus may have come off as your deranged, half-addled uncle (he kicked booze and drugs years ago), but he also came to the microphone each morning carefully prepared for battle. He read more books and newspapers than most of his guests and was a formidable interrogator who could cut the powerful down to size. On a recent show, Imus badgered Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, a frequent guest, about the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed hospital. Schumer tried to go for the high-and-mighty approach, castigating Republicans for failing the troops. Imus pounced. When was the last time Schumer visited the troops at Walter Reed? Deflated, Schumer haltingly admitted he hadn't been there in years."

Levin 'Ultraconservative' Like Hannity,
Miller Just 'Liberal'

Newsweek's April 23 cover story (see #2 above) also carried a half-page feature on page 29 about the "Leaders of the 'Shock Jock' Pack." Writer Jessica Ramirez, who wrote that "Don Imus's world imploded last week after he made racist and sexist remarks," used data from Talkers Magazine, including a list of "Up-And-Comers," to describe some other hosts, but he delivered quite a labeling contrast. He described Marc Levin as "an ultraconservative in the Sean Hannity style," but offered an upbeat assessment of Stephanie Miller as "one of the most popular and funny liberal radio hosts in the country" while failing to apply any ideological tag to a new Air America host. Newsweek also featured the "most outrageous comments of 2006" as compiled by the far-left Media Matters -- naturally all from conservative hosts.

[This item is adapted from a Monday posting by Tim Graham on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org

The descriptions:

Mark Levin: "An ultraconservative in the Sean Hannity style. This best-selling author's show is syndicated through ABC Radio Networks."

Stephanie Miller: "One of the most popular and funny liberal radio hosts in the country. Miller is syndicated by Jones Radio Networks."

Ed Schultz: "A dominant liberal voice with a political bent similar to Al Franken's. Schultz is syndicated by Jones Radio Networks."

Lionel: "An intellectual known for his irreverent political and social humor. His show is currently broadcast via the WOR Radio Network."

Newsweek didn't explain that Lionel's website is boasting he'll soon join Air America (on May 14), and he loves 9-11 "truth" websites, as he says "Keep an open mind and remember....think!" See: lionelonline.com

And: lionelonline.com

The fifth up-and-comer is Jack Rice of WCCO in Minneapolis, who doesn't seem to be located on either ideological pole.

A chart called "Voices Carry" listed the new Talkers ranking of top talk shows by listenership. The list was topped by the sentence "Some of America's top talkers -- and who might be next in the cross hairs."

Right below that was a red color bar, which designated who is "On the 'most outrageous comments of 2006' list compiled by Media Matters." Somehow, in the top eight, only six of them are on the red list: Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Beck, Boortz, and O'Reilly are in red. Laura Ingraham and Dr. Laura Schlessinger are not.

What other conclusion can the reader draw but that Newsweek thinks Media Matters should be the definitive arbiter of who's allowed to be on talk radio?

Liberal Bias Invades NFL: Olbermann to
Co-Host NBC Football

NBC has named Keith Olbermann, best-known for his left-wing rantings on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, co-host of Football Night in America, NBC's Sunday night NFL highlights show aired before an NFL game.

NBC's April 16 press release announced:

Keith Olbermann has been named co-host of NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show, joining host Bob Costas and co-host Cris Collinsworth, and analysts Jerome Bettis and Tiki Barber, it was announced today by Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. Olbermann will call highlights and debate the NFL news and issues of the day with his "Football Night in America" colleagues. This will be Olbermann's first network sports assignment in six years....

"This will, obviously, be great fun and a great privilege for me," Olbermann says. "To be reunited with NBC Sports, and Dick, and the entire production team, produces all the warm-and-fuzzies you'd be expecting. And even if they weren't old friends and colleagues, to get to work with the nonpareil of sportscasters in Bob, and the most insightful and honest of sports analysts in Cris, will be rewarding and challenging. I hope I can hold up my end of the equation."

END of Excerpt

For the press release: nbcumv.com

TVNewser posting: www.mediabistro.com

USA Today story: www.usatoday.com

In a NewsBusters posting ( newsbusters.org ), Scott Whitlock recalled that, back in 2000, radio star Rush Limbaugh auditioned to join ABC's Monday Night Football broadcast, an act that horrified the Washington Post and other liberal outlets. MRC President Brent Bozell discussed the Post's outrage in a column dated June 6, 2000:

First was Thomas Boswell, who on May 24 wrote, "This week, our trend toward the celebrity-as-universal-expert may have reached a comic peak. ABC thinks maybe Rush Limbaugh can become the next Howard Cosell." Limbaugh, Boswell sneered verbally, "appeals to the right demographic: divorced, couch-potato, gun-worshiping, angry white guys. Sorry, I mean patriotic American males ages 25 to 34."

All that was just the buildup to Boswell's big cheap-shot finish: "Could [ESPN's baseball coverage] use another voice in the booth? If Al Michaels gets Rush Limbaugh, maybe, someday, Jon Miller could be lucky enough to team up with John Rocker."

See: www.mediaresearch.org

Will the Post and other liberal media organizations decry Olbermann's selection?

For a taste of what might be in store for football fans, there's always the example of well known leftist Bryant Gumbel. On the February 7 Real Sports on HBO he infamously slurred Republicans as racists:
"Finally tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don't like 'em and won't watch 'em. In fact, I figure when Thomas Paine said, 'These are the times that try men's souls,' he must have been talking about the start of another Winter Olympics. Because they're so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try, too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks, who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention."

For video: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker