ABC is dominating other news outlets this summer with stories about pretty, white women in distress. The network's special about former kidnap victim J.C. Dugard garnered 15 million viewers, which prompted ABC to re-broadcast it at a later time and date. ABC sent out a press release boasting that its primetime Nightline special about then-accused child-killer Casey Anthony won the network biggest audience it has had in that time slot in five months. After paying Anthony $200,000 years ago for video and pictures to help bolster her story, ABC held nothing back after Anthony was acquitted, grabbing the first juror willing to speak to cameras and having Barbara Walters interview Anthony's attorney on TV. ABC devoted more than twice as much time to the Casey Anthony story as either of its two rival broadcast networks (22.9 minutes, compared to NBC's 8.4 minutes and 5.4 minutes on CBS). ABC even hired pretty, blonde former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart to comment on missing person cases, even though this type of crime is fairly rare. ABC argues that their hiring of Smart, the extensive coverage of J.C. Dugard and Anthony are all coincidental. Critics say ABC is falling victim to "Missing White Woman Syndrome," the phenomenon where news reports disproportionately favor coverage o crimes committed against young, attractive, white, middle-class women, while crimes committed against females of lower-class backgrounds and different ethnicities, and crimes committed against males, get less coverage.
A former executive who in 1996 helped launch Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, told the UK Telegraph that at the time Fox News had a high-security "black ops" department he called a "brain room" at its New York headquarters where employees carried out counterintelligence on the channel's enemies, including illegally hacking private telephone records. Former Fox News managing editor Dan Cooper said he helped design the unit, which employed 15 researchers who worked behind a guarded door. Another former Fox News senior executive who asked to have his name withheld told the Telegraph that the Fox Channel ran an internal "Soviet-Style" spying network tasked with reading the emails of Fox News staff to make sure they weren't leaking information to outside media. The channel denies all the allegations, and a spokesman for Fox News says Cooper was fired six weeks after the Fox News Channel was launched, and that he has "peddled these lies for the past 15 years." The FBI is currently investigating charges that journalists at a Murdoch-owned British newspaper, News of the World, may have tried to hack into 9/11 victims' phones. Both Mr. Cooper and the unnamed executive said they thought Mr. Ailes would not have let his reporters engage in such activities.
The Murdochs have retained Edelman Public Relations to help them deal with the growing cell phone hacking, corruption and bribery scandals unfolding in Britain. Since hiring Edelman, the Murdochs have apologized to their companys' hacking victims, and Rupert Murdoch used the word "humble" in his appearance before the U.K. Parliament. But the Murdochs also said that they didn't do anything wrong, didn't know that anyone else who worked for their companies was doing anything wrong, and that they bear no responsibility for anything that happened. In his testimony before Parliament, James Murdoch told the Parliament's Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that he was "as surprised as you are" to find out that his family company, News International, paid the legal fees for Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the center of the hacking scandal. In 2007, Mulcaire was convicted of a felony and sentenced to six months in jail for hacking into the phones of royal officials. James also claimed hge was unaware that his company paid the legal fees of Clive Goodman, a News of the World reporter who was sentenced to four months in jail.
Walid Shoebat is a Palestinian-American who converted from Islam to conservative Christianity. He was born in the West Bank to an American mother, claims he was a terrorist with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, that he helped fire-bomb an Israeli bank in Bethlehem as a youth and even served time in a jail in Israel for his crimes. A self-proclaimed expert on terrorism, Shoebat says he knows how potential terrorists think, because he was one. Since 2006, he has been interviewed as a terrorism expert on CNN, Fox News and HLN. In May, Shoebat was a featured speaker at a forum put on by South Dakota's Office of Homeland Security for police and sheriff's deputies, where he earned a $5,000 fee for his appearance. In his presentations, Shoebat warns that Islam and terrorism are one in the same, that mosques are hotbeds of potential terrorist organizing and tells his audiences to be wary of Muslim doctors, engineers and students. Shoebat operates several foundations, one of which earned over $500,000 in 2009 through sales of his books and videos, and speaking fees for talks he gives at churches, universities, military bases and counterterrorism trainings. But Shoebat may not be what he claims to be. CNN's Jerusalem bureau conducted an extensive investigation into his background and was unable to substantiate Shoebat's claims of past terrorist activity. The Tel Aviv headquarters of the bank that Shoebat claims to have fire-bombed has no record of a fire-bombing at its Bethlehem branch, and Israeli police have no record of it, either. The prison where Shoebat says he was incarcerated has no record of him being an inmate there, and his relatives describe him as a "regular kid" who eventually became a computer programmer in the U.S. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation in Albuquerque, New Mexico first exposed in 2008 that portions of Shoebat's past were fabricated.
Just weeks ago, media mogul Rupert Murdoch was set to win his $12 billion bid to take over Britain's biggest satellite broadcaster, BSkyB. The U.K. government was indicating it was likely to allow the proposed takeover to happen. But then the News of the World phone hacking and bribery scandal broke, and turned British public opinion so strongly against Murdoch that he suddenly withdrew his multi billion dollar offer to take over the broadcaster. Murdoch's announcement that he was pulling the bid came just hours before British lawmakers were set to consider a measure to ask Murdoch's company, News Corp. to drop his effort to take over BSkyB. The measure was expected to pass with overwhelming support in Britain's House of Commons, demonstrating how sharply Murdoch's influence has waned since the scandal. Murdoch had previously wielded significant political influence in Britain through his media holdings. The scandal may be affecting Murdoch's influence in the U.S., too. U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) have all called for an inquiry into whether any of the unethical investigative techniques or bribery uncovered at Murdoch's U.K. newspaper have been used at any of his U.S. media holdings. The senators specifically question whether telephones of victims of the September 11, 2011 attacks might have also been hacked. News Corp. holds 27 U.S. broadcast licenses and owns the Fox News Channel.
On July 28, 2009, Glenn Beck called President Barack Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people, or white culture" in an appearance on the Fox News Channel morning show, Fox & Friends. Almost two years later, on June 30, 2011, he wrapped the final episode of Fox's The Glenn Beck Program.
What led to the demise of the firebrand's controversial television show? Everything from a sharp decline in ratings -- according to The New Republic, Beck's ratings fell from an average of 2.9 million in January 2010 to 1.8 million in January 2011, and Forbes' Rick Unger said his numbers represented the "steepest decline in all cable news programs" -- to political differences between Beck and the Fox team has been cited, but one important factor cannot be ignored.
Beck's vitriolic commentary forced Fox to take a hit where it hurts the most: its bottom line. But it would not have happened without a concerted effort by a number of groups and activists.
Glenn Beck may have ended his controversial talk show on the Fox News Channel, but he's far from gone. Die-hard fans will still be able to listen to him on the radio for free, see his show for a fee, and then some. Beck plans to keep doing a three-hour-a-day radio talk show filmed by six TV cameras that will be available either live or on-demand. He also announced "GBTV," an internet-based, subscription webcast "reality series" produced by his company, Mercury Radio Arts. For just $4.99/month plus an internet connection and a $60 box from a service called Roku, fans will still be able to stream Glenn Beck onto their TV sets starting in September. For just a tad more -- $9.95/month -- fans can join Beck's "Insiders" club to get the privilege of being able to both watch Beck's show on TV AND view video of his daily radio program. Fans who can't wait until September and already belong to Beck's "Insider Extreme" club will be able to see a preliminary show-about-Beck's-show called "The Making of GBTV." Beck also announced a new, non-profit humanitarian project called "Mercury One" aimed at "saving America," and a new Glenn Beck clothing line called "1791: The Original Blueprint," the name of which is derived from the year the Bill of Rights was signed. The style will be all-American items like polo shirts and long-sleeved button-downs, the clothes will be manufactured in the U.S.A. and proceeds will go to charity. The loss of his TV show hasn't set Beck back too far financially. Beck will reportedly be moving to a mansion in Dallas, Texas that rents for $20,000/month.
While the U.S. media has been occupied with Anthony Weiner, the Republican presidential candidates and Bristol Palin's memoir, coverage of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has practically fallen off the map. Poor mainstream media coverage of Japan's now months-long struggle to gain control over the Fukushima disaster has deprived Americans of crucial information about the risks of nuclear power following natural disasters. After a few weeks of covering the early aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. media moved on, leaving behind the crisis at Fukushima which continues to unfold. U.S. politicians, like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, have made disappointing and misleading statements about the relative safety of nuclear power and have vowed to stick by our nuclear program, while other countries, like Germany and Italy, have taken serious steps to address the obvious risks of nuclear power -- risks that the Fukushima disaster made painfully evident, at least to the rest of the world.
Over and over, cable TV and Sunday news show pundits have been telling us that Social Security is going bankrupt, and we have to raise the retirement age or the economy will collapse. These two axioms have practically become common knowledge. The only problem is, there isn't a shred of evidence that either statement is accurate.
A company called HeroBuilders.com that makes bobbleheads, candy heads and custom sneakers, started marketing a hot new item on June 20 that is flying off its shelves: an Anthony Weiner action figure. The Standard action figure costs $39.95 and wears boxer shorts that say "Tweet This." An "adults only" version has the word "Censored" stamped over the crotch area of the boxer shorts on the company's website and sells for $49.95. "Anthony comes in our brand new stealth body," the site boasts, "It is a perfect match for this congressman." Buyers can add an optional stand and Blackberry device to complete the set for an additional $18. The company also sells action figures of Sarah Palin (dressed either as a school girl or a super hero), Michele Bachmann, Joe the Plumber, Rod Blagojevich (holding a handful of cash), Jimmie McMillan ("The Rent is Too Damn High" guy), and a Nancy Pelosi action figure that comes complete with a waterboard that says "Fun for the Whole Family."