Bozell's Column

The Nielsen-soaked, emotion-choked marathon coverage of John F. Kennedy Jr.'s sad death was not a shining moment for a "news" industry that's quickly making tabloid journalists blush. JFK Jr. once turned down an honorary college degree on the grounds that he'd done nothing to deserve it. What do you suppose would be his reaction to the shameless beatification ritual these past two weeks? Nor would JFK Jr. be pleased to see these reporters exploit his death to endlessly elevate the Camelot myth. Too many reporters used the tragedy to airbrush every unseemly reality out of the Kennedy family history. Perhaps... continue reading
Kweisi Mfume and the NAACP are mad as hell, and say they're not going to take it anymore. On July 12, Mfume, the NAACP's president, announced that his organization plans to turn up the heat on the major television networks and their advertisers in an effort to reverse the shrinking percentage of black characters in prime time. Although Mfume wants to meet with network executives to gauge their receptivity to his complaints, he predicts that ultimately, boycotts of both shows and sponsors will be necessary. Moreover, he says that the NAACP is "actively exploring taking legal action against the networks... continue reading
The first fight in any political debate is over semantics. Who could be against the "Clean Air Act"? Who could oppose controlling "assault weapons"? The "right to choose"? The 800-pound gorilla in the semantics debate is, of course, the "objective" press. The media have the power to make or break the slogans partisans use. It is common practice for the liberal press to attach the word "so-called" to GOP initiatives. When the Contract with America became the "so-called Contract with America" in news reports, its proponents were placed squarely on the defensive. So prevalent is the "so-called" curse that the... continue reading
When both commercial success and critical acclaim are considered, Chris Rock is the hottest comedian going. Critics like Rock in part because he doesn't merely entertain; he also delves into Serious Issues. Reviewing Rock's current HBO special, "Bigger & Blacker," Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "one crucial trait that distinguishes Rock from every other comedian of his generation is that his jokes proceed from a thought-out political philosophy containing both radical and conservative elements." Oh-oh. A "thought-out political philosophy"? Even if that's true, that's not saying much - after all, the other prominent comics roughly Rock's age (33)... continue reading
WGBH is not just Boston's PBS affiliate. It is a massive commercial enterprise, a flagship of the nation's public broadcasting system. Conservatives know them best for putting out "Frontline," a liberal-tilting documentary series. But they've always denied carrying water for liberal Democrats. So when reporters discovered that WGBH was swapping direct-mail fundraising lists with the Democratic National Committee, it shredded the veil of the station's nonpartisan stance. But it gets worse. When first confronted by the practice - when a 4-year-old "Barney" fan received a fundraising pitch from the DNC when his mom contributed $40 to WGBH - the station's... continue reading
It's hard to shock people these days where sex is concerned. Still, I would imagine that a few readers of the Washington Post gagged on their breakfast coffee when they saw the recent front-page headline "Parents Are Alarmed by an Unsettling New Fad in Middle Schools: Oral Sex." In the article, which noted spottings of this trend in several Virginia and Maryland schools, one suburban Washington educator stated that in junior high, oral sex is now "the expected minimum [sexual] behavior," and the author of a book on adolescents remarked that "it's done commonly, with a shrug. It's part of... continue reading
As the hourglass of the Clinton presidency empties toward an end, the networks are trying to wrap up this party the way they began: promoting more socialized medicine. The big network anchors and reporters have unilaterally decided that this very long scandal phase of the Clinton years is over, and now we must march on to the exciting thought of growing the government, to speak in their vernacular. Bill Clinton has announced triumphantly that the feds somehow have found an additional trillion dollars in federal surpluses coming out our ears, so it is our patriotic duty to spend this taxpayer... continue reading
Master of ceremonies: "Good evening and welcome to 'Showbiz Showdown.' Tonight, the Actors battle the Comedians to determine which team is more politically foolish, based on statements our players have recently made. Our panel of judges will score the celebrities' remarks on a ten-point scale. Let's begin with the Actors. First up, Noah Wyle, who plays young Dr. Carter on 'ER.'" Wyle: "I took part in George magazine's 'If I Were President' feature. When asked 'What's the biggest problem in the world?' I responded, 'The absolute disregard that some kids have for the sanctity of life.' Then, when the question... continue reading
The Center for Media and Public Affairs has discovered something sure to ruin the lunches of Al Gore groupies. In studying the evening news shows for the first five and a half months of 1999, they've discovered presidential candidate George Bush has attracted 20 network stories. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole drew 14 stories. Presidential candidate Al Gore was the subject of 14 stories. But Hillary Clinton trounced them all, with 33, or almost the same as Bush and Gore combined.. Sure, a First Lady running for federal office after her tenure in the White House is unprecedented. What does it... continue reading
Almost every year, television's fall schedule boasts at least one program that generates a great deal of talk - "buzz," as they say in Hollywood - before it premieres. Usually, shows attain buzz status by featuring some sort of envelope-pushing material. Take, for example, 1993's "NYPD Blue," with its much-ballyhooed breakthroughs in dorsal nudity and gutter language. The current buzz series is Fox's "Action," and apparently justifiably so. Press reports have indicated that this sitcom, set in the movie industry, features all manner of objectionable content, including a protagonist who "utters bleeped-out profanities at will," a call girl as a... continue reading