Monday Morning Quick Hits
If you want to see evidence of why American news organizations that are owned by entertainment conglomerates aren’t to be trusted to adequately cover the news, I give you this. The NY Times this morning runs the story that CBS has been zealously pursuing Jessica Lynch for interviews, but they have been doing it by dangling movie deals and other projects as bait. Their solicitations are so blatantly packaged as news and entertainment packages that it becomes clear to you why media consolidation will continue to destroy American newsgathering.
But CBS News, in addition to the usual personal touches, exhibited an apparent new gambit in its pursuit of an exclusive interview with the newsmaker of the moment, known in the television business as "the get." In its letters to Private Lynch's family and officials at the medical center, obtained by The New York Times, CBS News combined its pitch for a two-hour documentary with many other projects envisioned by the other divisions of its corporate parent, Viacom.
In the process, CBS renewed concerns among critics about the independence of news divisions owned by media giants.
"Attached you will find the outlines of a proposal that includes ideas from CBS News, CBS Entertainment, MTV networks and Simon & Schuster publishers," Betsy West, a CBS News senior vice president, wrote to Private Lynch's military representatives. "From the distinguished reporting of CBS News to the youthful reach of MTV, we believe this is a unique combination of projects that will do justice to Jessica's inspiring story."
CBS Entertainment executives, the proposal said, "tell us this would be the highest priority for the CBS movie division, which specializes in inspirational stories of courage." Simon & Schuster, it said, "is extremely interested in discussing the possibilities for a book based on Jessica's journey from Palestine, West Virginia, to deep inside Iraq."
MTV Networks, the letter went on, was offering a news special, a chance for Private Lynch and her friends to be the co-hosts of an hour-long music video program on MTV2, and even a special edition of its hit program "Total Request Live" in her honor. "This special would include a concert performance in Palestine, West Va., by a current star act such as Ashanti, and perhaps Ja Rule," the proposal said.
Swell. I’m sure Private Lynch will think her ordeal was all worth it when she gets to host a show on MTV with Ashanti and Ja Rule, two people who will never know the horrors that Lynch has seen. I wonder how proud Dan Rather is of his network now.
Well, at least there are still solid media outlets like Jim Lehrer’s News Hour that cover what really happened with Lynch.
And on the subject of the media and consolidation, check out Bill Safire of all people, who has been sounding the alarm about the FCC’s recent vote. Send Mr. Safire a note and let him know that you are with him on this one.
Regarding the mess that Tom DeLay created for Mr. Bush by doing a poison pill maneuver on the tax cut bill by deleting the child tax exemption expansion for the working poor, it looks like my comments from last week that DeLay has created a real long-range problem for Bush are true. According to this piece from the NY Times this morning, there is such enmity between the House and Senate over this issue and their approach and partisanship in general that even Bush’s intervention will not force the House to fix the problem without more tax cut giveaways. As a result, the Dems stand to gain big time while Rove’s grand plan unravels to Bush’s detriment.
William Saletan, a writer I admire, late Friday in Slate brought up a good point about Bob Graham when he says that Graham doesn’t clearly state yet why he wants to be president, even though he is clearly well qualified.
Lastly, according to the buzz over the weekend, it sounds like former general Wes Clark is getting close to joining the race. This is a good thing, and I look forward to his participation.