Dec 11 2003

ABC Narrows the Field

NOTE: Please see the update to this action alert: “ABC Responds to Critics of Campaign Coverage” (12/12/03)   A day after ABC‘s Ted Koppel moderated a debate between the Democratic presidential contenders, the network decided to withdraw three off-air producers from the campaigns of Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Rev. Al Sharpton. ABC‘s decision was attributed to the fact that these candidates are perceived to have a slim chance of winning the Democratic nomination. An ABC spokesperson explained (Boston Globe, 12/11/03) that “as we prepare for Iowa and New Hampshire, we are putting more resources toward covering those events.” […]

Jun 1 2003


Extra! Update June 2003

The Liberation of Iraq “I want to be certain that nothing is shown that would incite violence in a city that was extremely tense when we took over two-and-one-half weeks ago, and which still has folks who are totally opposed to what we’re doing and are willing to do something about it. . . . Yes, what we are looking at is censor­ship, but you can censor something that is intended to inflame passions.” —U.S. Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, explaining new restrictions on television in Mosul, Iraq (Wash­ington Post, 5/9/03) Oil and Democracy Playing down hopes for a democratic […]

Nov 1 2002

Peter Jennings Cries Wolf

ABC special misled viewers on wildlife controversy

Grey wolves (cc photo: Jeremy Weber)

The special was called “In Search of America,” but when ABC News and Peter Jennings addressed the issue of the reintroduction of wolves to Idaho, they seemed to have already decided beforehand what they would find.

Jan 1 2001

ABC’s Military Analyst Calls for “Excessive Force”

CSIS's Cordesman advocates brutality against Palestinians

“Excessive force” should be used against Palestinian civilians, including “interrogation methods that border on psychological and/or physical torture.” These are extreme proposals–but it is their author, Anthony Cordesman, to whom ABC News regularly turns to in wartime to provide military analysis. Cordesman made these recommendations in an October 2000 report released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an influential Washington think tank where Cordesman holds a chair in international security. The report urged the Israeli government and the Palestinian National Authority to use security methods that violate human rights in order to implement any future U.S.-brokered peace […]

Nov 1 1999

Has ABC News Given Up on Accuracy?

Stossel special filled with Limbaughesque distortions

In a one-hour ABC News special titled “Is America #1?,” 20/20 corre­spondent John Stossel compared the economies of Hong Kong, the United States and India in an attempt to show that laissez-faire economic pol­icy is “what makes a country work well for its people.” The program was filled with so many factual inaccuracies, Limbaughesque distortions and unsub­stantiated claims that it calls into ques­tion whether ABC News applied any sort of journalistic standards to the broadcast. The following is just a sampling of some of Stossel’s erroneous claims: ■ One of Stossel’s main sources on Hong Kong claims that Hong Kong […]

Sep 1 1998

Marvin Kalb’s Unreliable Sources

A thirty-year veteran of network news at NBC and CBS, Marvin Kalb’s current position as Harvard’s leading press critic has made him one of the go-to guys when the question turns–as it often has this summer–to journalistic ethics. Whether appearing on PBS‘s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer or CNN‘s Reliable Sources (anchored by his brother Bernard), or opining in a Los Angeles Times op-ed in a somber tone, Kalb lays down the conventional wisdom when it comes to current news-media foibles. So last July, when CNN retracted its “Valley of Death” broadcast charging that U.S. special forces targeted U.S. defectors and […]

Sep 1 1997

The Right of the Story

Paul Harvey peddles tall tales--with a conservative kick

ABC probably doesn’t want people to think it’s in the business of passing off urban folklore stories as real news, or altering the facts of stories to fit a conservative spin. But that’s what one of its most listened to broadcasters does–six days a week. Paul Harvey is regarded as a broadcasting icon. An institution. His radio show, distributed by the ABC Radio Networks, is carried on more than 1,200 radio stations and, according to his own press releases, is heard by 23 million listeners six days a week. Even if you make allowances for self-promotion, his audience exceeds that […]

Jul 1 1997

Ellen’s Coming Out Was No Rerun

By the time you read this, the sober cynicism of summer will probably have settled in, but now, it’s spring. I’m as excited about “Ellen” coming out as I am about the budding leaves. By summer, I’ll remember that the obstacles to lesbian equality remain intact long after Ellen DeGeneres and her TV character said “I’m gay.” Then again, anticipating autumn, I may even be ready to see the downside of the leaves. Obviously there were problems with the way the media covered Ellen DeGeneres and her TV character coming out. If you read Time or Newsweek (4/14/97) or tuned […]