Special Reports

See Executive Summary One enduring American cultural image is the man in the gray flannel suit. A businessman, with briefcase in tow and tie crisply knotted, who left the family for an honest day’s work and eventually returned home worn and weary. But TV long ago abandoned that icon and replaced it with the stereotype of corporate evil. The classic family man like insurance salesman Jim Anderson (played by Robert Young) on “Father Knows Best” has turned into the ruthless CEO. Entertainment television now shows businessmen as cheats, liars, philanderers and criminals. In a study of top-rated dramas during the... continue reading
See Full Report The entertainment industry boasts it provides but a depiction of reality. In the real world, is the average businessman a murderer, kidnapper and/or philandering backstabber? If not, why is this the way the businessman is portrayed on television? In the world of entertainment TV, businessmen pose a greater threat than the mob. Almost 10 years ago, the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute published “Businessmen Behaving Badly,” which found that businessmen on TV committed more crimes than any other demographic. In this new study, BMI looked at 129 episodes from 12 top-rated dramas on the four... continue reading
Executive Summary The news media play an important role in popular culture by providing publicity for the movie studios as films are readied for release. But some movies are more favored by the news media than others, some for their expected status as expensive but appealing blockbusters, and some for their social commentary (for example, the film Brokeback Mountain) . The DaVinci Code was both: an expected blockbuster movie based on one of the most publicized works of fiction in the new century, drawing enormous national media interest with its vision of a vast, murderous church conspiracy. It should not... continue reading
See Executive Summary It was five years before the turn of the century and major media were warning of disastrous climate change. Page six of The New York Times was headlined with the serious concerns of 'geologists.' Only the president at the time wasn't Bill Clinton; it was Grover Cleveland. And the Times wasn't warning about global warming - it was telling readers the looming dangers of a new ice age. The year was 1895, and it was just one of four different time periods in the last 100 years when major print media predicted an impending climate crisis. Each... continue reading
See Full Report Thanks to the release of Al Gore's latest effort on global warming - this time in book and movie form - climate change is the hot topic in press rooms around the globe. It isn't the first time. The media have warned about impending climate doom four different times in the last 100 years. Only they can't decide if mankind will die from warming or cooling. As the noise from the controversy has increased, it has drowned out any debate. Journalists have taken advocacy positions, often ignoring climate change skeptics entirely. One CBS reporter even compared skeptics... continue reading
Executive Summary Ever since the United States and an international coalition toppled Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in the spring of 2003, the Iraq war has dominated network newscasts. Since then, there’s been a lot of undeniably bad news, as terrorists have launched a savage campaign to thwart efforts to establish democracy in a major Arab state. But are network reporters giving the public an inordinately gloomy portrait of the situation, as some critics charge? Are the positive accomplishments of U.S. soldiers and Iraq’s new democratic leaders being lost in a news agenda dominated by assassinations, car bombings and casualty reports? The... continue reading
See Executive Summary CNN promotes “Lou Dobbs Tonight” as “news, debate and opinion.” But it doesn’t explain that Dobbs defines those words his own unique way. “News” is often economic distortions presented as fact. “Debate” doesn’t always mean that both sides get to comment. And, for Dobbs, opinion is something injected into every aspect of a news report. Dobbs heads an hour-long news and “business” show that assaults business, rails against free trade and relies on union members to paint a dreary economic picture. Yet the network that advertises itself as “CNN – The most trusted name in news” says... continue reading
See Full Study Critics have complained that CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” is a seamless rant against big business and free trade. The network in turn has promoted a premier news and business program as “news, debate and opinion.” But it doesn’t explain that Dobbs mixes the three into something that isn’t news and economists and critics say isn’t even always accurate. As a result, viewers of “the Dan Rather of financial journalism,” as one conservative critic called Dobbs, are missing the real story behind the American economic engine – free trade. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, 94 percent of... continue reading
See Full Study The Live 8 concerts were tuned to a rare collaboration of politics and music. Organizer and rock star Bob Geldof used the July 2, 2005, event to pressure wealthy nations into increasing foreign aid to Africa. The international performance left the TV media seeing stars and unable to report on Live 8 as anything other than a “good cause.” News people awed by celebrities delivered one-sided accounts about African poverty that were light on facts and heavy on promotion. Even after the event, journalists carried this skewed outlook to the G-8 conference harping on America’s “low” foreign... continue reading
See Executive Summary Meet the Press … Release The June 1, 2005, Live 8 press release was headlined “Bob Geldof Launches Live 8 – ‘The Long Walk To Justice.’” On the July 5, 2005, broadcast of CNN’s “American Morning,” reporter Paula Hancocks didn’t just repeat the sentiment, but the headline: “I’m here in Murrayfield Stadium, where the protests will actually end. This is the end of the long walk to justice.” The Live 8 press release continued: “Here’s The News... This is not a charity event. The concerts will be FREE. They are not fund-raisers but rallying points for the... continue reading