Special Reports

Political activists and even certain U.S. senators have argued that the federal government should reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine, which would require broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues. Opponents charge that Fairness Doctrine advocates are trying to reduce the impact of conservative talk radio. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has introduced The Broadcaster Freedom Act (HR 2905), which would bar the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. The controversy touches on America's most fundamental civic values. Do we still cherish freedom of speech, or are some of us succumbing to the tyrannical impulse to stifle the speech of... continue reading
The Dear Abby column, founded by Pauline Phillips in 1956 and now written by her daughter Jeanne, has a reputation for prescribing sensible advice for many of life's dilemmas, both big and small. Readers generally assume Abby can be trusted to provide traditional advice on all topics. However, a Culture and Media Institute analysis finds that Abby's advice on sexual issues frequently veers far away from traditional moral standards. Traditional morality teaches that sex should be limited to married, heterosexual couples, but Abby doesn't see it that way. CMI analyzed all 365 Dear Abby columns published in 2007 and found... continue reading
Jeanne Phillips, the current writer of the 'Dear Abby' column, is the leading authority figure among advice columnists. Her column runs in 1,400 newspapers worldwide and reaches 110 million readers daily - nearly three times the daily news viewers of ABC, CBS and NBC combined. Phillips enjoys a tremendous platform to promote her beliefs on everything from wedding etiquette to handling the crazy uncle in the attic. The 'Dear Abby' column has a reputation for dispensing solid, homespun wisdom, so most people assume Abby is a trustworthy source of traditional advice on all topics. However, a Culture and Media Institute... continue reading
Executive Summary It was the closest nomination contest in a generation, with just one-tenth of a percentage point — 41,622 votes out of more than 35 million cast — separating Barack Obama from Hillary Clinton when the Democratic primaries ended in June. Obama’s margin among elected delegates was almost as thin, just 51 to 48 percent. But Barack Obama had a crucial advantage over his rivals this year: the support of the national media, especially the three broadcast networks. At every step of his national political career, network reporters showered the Illinois Senator with glowing media coverage, building him up... continue reading
Executive Summary Barack Obama’s greatest struggle in the drawn-out Democratic primary campaign was his relationship with his long-time minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Rev. Wright’s noxious recorded sermons suggesting that America deserved 9/11 and that the federal government created AIDS as a tool of black genocide were widely viewed on YouTube and discussed on talk radio and cable TV. But what about the network news shows, the programs most watched by the least politically involved viewers? TV pundits suggested the virulent video clips unfairly caricatured the minister (and by association, Obama himself.)... continue reading
See Executive Summary The year was 1929. The decade of the '20s was ending - not with a roar, but with a whimper. Years of a sky-high stock market and speculative buying were coming to a close. The Dow Jones had peaked on Sept. 3 at 381.17 and then began to dive as unknown and prominent companies alike saw their values drop. In a little more than a month, the market lost 14 percent of its value. Then came the crash. The Dow began six days of turmoil with a 6-percent loss on Oct. 23. The following Monday, Oct. 28,... continue reading
See Full Report The economy consumes the nightly newscasts. Broadcast networks report that America's finances are 'like a house of cards.' ABC, CBS and NBC even hyped similarities to the Great Depression more than 40 times in the first four months of 2008. But that parallel doesn't hold up, especially when analyzing the news of that era. In fact, daily coverage of the 1929 stock market crash strongly emphasized the positive side of events. The New York Times that year summed up a six-day Dow Jones loss of 30 percent as: 'the market quickly regained its poise and stability.' In... continue reading
See Executive Summary Correction Appended So much for that job requirement of balance and objectivity. When it came to global warming the media clearly left out dissent in favor of hype, cute penguins and disastrous predictions. "They [penguins] are charismatic, endearing and in serious trouble," warned NBC's Anne Thompson on the Dec. 12, 2007, "Nightly News." Thompson didn't include any disagreement. While the networks had plenty of time to worry about the future of birds, most network news shows didn't take much time to include any other point of view even though hundreds of scientists have expressed skepticism of manmade... continue reading
See Full Report Correction Appended Global warming crusader Al Gore repeatedly claims the climate change "debate's over." It isn't, but the news media clearly agree with him. Global warming skeptics rarely get any say on the networks, and when their opinions are mentioned it is often with barbs like "cynics" or "deniers" thrown in to undermine them. Consistently viewers are being sent only one message from ABC, CBS and NBC: global warming is an environmental catastrophe and it's mankind's fault. Skepticism is all but shut out of reports through several tactics - omission, name-calling, the hype of frightening images like... continue reading
This Culture and Media Institute Special Report, The Media Assault on American Values , is the second in a series of reports presenting the most important findings of CMI's major survey of American cultural and moral attitudes, the National Cultural Values Survey. CMI is a division of the Media Research Center, America's foremost media watchdog. The first Special Report in this series, America: A Nation in Moral and Spiritual Confusion , summarized the survey's overall findings. The survey established that Americans overwhelmingly believe that our nation's moral values are in decline. 74 percent of American adults believe moral values in... continue reading