Jan 1 2005


The Tolerance Controversy

At first it sounded like a bad joke, but it turned out to be true: CBS and NBC both rejected an ad from the United Church of Christ because they deemed the ad’s message of tolerance “too controversial.” The ad emphasized that the church welcomes everyone, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation. According to a statement from CBS, the network regarded that as unacceptable because it “touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations.” If that makes you scratch your head, another reason cited by CBS for rejecting the ad was “the fact the executive branch has recently proposed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.”

This Time, It’s Personal

“Guess who’s on the cover of the latest [AARP] magazine. Our pal Richard Gere. I–but that’s how I got on to this story, you guys, because, as I said in the “T Points,” you know, we pitched them, hey, do a story on O’Reilly Factor for Kids because the grandparents are going to want to buy them for their grandchildren and this and that, and they were — they weren’t like, well, we’ll think about. Thanks for calling, Bill. They were going no! I was like whoa! You know, what was that all about?”

–Bill O’Reilly, explaining that he began investigating the American Association of Retired People because the group’s magazine wouldn’t do a feature on his latest book (O’Reilly Factor, 12/8/04)

Selective Memory

Outraged by comedian Chevy Chase’s use of profanity to describe Bush, Bill O’Reilly declared on the O’Reilly Factor (12/16/04): “Now you don’t see this kind of thing on the right. You don’t see prominent conservatives cursing out Democratic members of Congress, for example.” Apparently, Vice President Dick Cheney, who famously told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) to “fuck yourself” (Washington Post, 6/25/04), doesn’t count as a “prominent conservative.”

The Grinch Who Stole Hanukah

“Well, [Macy’s] just excluded everyone who is celebrating Christmas… You know, when you think about it, ‘Happy Holidays’–what other holidays are we celebrating right now?”

–Lou Dobbs (Lou Dobbs Tonight, 12/15/04), complaining about the store using “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”

“An Embargo on Criticism”

“I gave a long interview on U.S. intelligence matters to another [New York] Times reporter a few weeks before the election, and at the conclusion of the interview I commented that I certainly hoped his story would appear before November 2. This reporter turned out to be as candid as he was embarrassed. No, he confessed, his superiors at the Times had made it clear that there was an embargo on criticism of the administration of the kind I had offered until after the election. I expressed amazement that the New York Times—once courageous publisher of the Pentagon Papers that helped bring an end to our last ill-conceived war—would allow itself to be so intimidated. He replied, with undisguised embarrassment, that this is simply the way it is today.”

–Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern (TomPaine.com, 12/5/04)

Birds of a Feather

It’s a marriage made in right-wing media heaven: Fox News Channel will become the sole provider of news for many radio stations owned by Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio chain. Initially, Fox will provide news to about 100 of Clear Channel’s 1,200 stations, but Fox executives say that number will increase to about 500 stations in a matter of months (New York Times, 12/9/04). According to Billboard Radio Monitor (12/5/04), ABC, Clear Channel’s previous partner, “has faced some difficulties in pro-Republican parts of the country where news/talk affiliates have delivered right-wing offerings such as Rush Limbaugh against ABC news content considered by some listeners in these regions to carry liberal bias.”

The Two Presses

“The conservative press is a propaganda wing of the current administration and the mainstream press thinks only of the bottom line…. I learned the hard way a great lesson that the greatest moments in the history of the press came not when journalists made common cause with the state but when they stood fearlessly independent of it. Now we have those megamedia companies that won’t speak truth to power and an ideological media that willingly lies for power.”

— Bill Moyers (New York Times, 12/17/04)

“Relatively Calm”

The New York Times (12/8/04), covering combat in Gaza, reported that “the fighting broke a relatively calm spell that had followed Mr. [Yassir] Arafat’s death” on November 11. Further down, the article explained what “relatively calm” means: “The death of the Israeli soldier marked the first Israeli fatality in fighting in more than a month, one of the longest such stretches during the past four years…. The Israeli forces continue to stage daily operations in the West Bank and Gaza, and more than 40 Palestinians, including militants and civilians, were killed last month, according to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.” As usual, when used in mainstream media coverage of the Mideast, ”relatively calm” means ”only Arabs are dying” (FAIR Action Alert, 1/10/02; FAIR Media Advisory, 8/22/03).