Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Laura Flanders Show, TV movies of the 70s (& early 80s) and more

Today on The Laura Flanders Show
On Air America Radio, 7-10 PM EST
Truth, consequences and OUR family values.
REV. NANCY WILSON of Metropolitan Community Churches on the Vatican's anti-gay decrees.
and ROBERT GREENWALD on his Wal-Mart documentary, The High Cost of Low Price.
Plus our take on the latest news and YOU DID win those political spats at the big meal, right?You can listen to shows you missed:
Download archived shows HERE or
Subscribe to the Free PODCAST through the iTunes Music Store
Go to the Laura Flanders Blog

C.I. adds:

In addition to the new Wal-Mart movie, Greenwald has directed many others. I know Kat's wanting to cross post, so I'll just list two of my favorites: The Burning Bed (starring Farrah Fawcett, of course) and Unconstitutional: The War On Our Civil Liberties (which was sponsored by the ACLU). (I'm sure Kat's planning to list at least one movie besides Greenwald's latest.)
[. . .]
The Laura Flanders Show which you can listen to via podcast (as noted above) but you can also listen to it via broadcast radio (if there's an AAR in your area), via XM Satellite Radio (channel 167) or listen online.

Oh thanks. What does that leave me? Escape From Bogen County!

I'm joking. C.I. gave me a heads up that the post was up because if I'm going to blog on Saturday, I like to include who will have on. And for the record, I actually do like Escape From Bogan County which I did not know Greenwald produced (but didn't direct) until C.I. told me on the phone a few minutes ago.

If you haven't seen it, it's a TV movie from the seventies. Jaclyn Smith (this may have been the first TV movie she did once becoming one of ) is married to this really disgusting man who won't let her leave him and he has the entire small town and the county in his pocket. Smith's really good in the movie and it's far above most of what you could ever hope to see on Lifetime. I actually thought, the first time I saw it, that we were watching a movie being broadcast on TV and not a TV movie because it had a look to it.

Back in the seventies, that didn't happen very often. And this was a big deal. We had the three networks, PBS and a couple of "independent stations" (which meant reruns). So there weren't all the choices that there are now. But Charlie's Angels was huge and if any of the three, , or , did anything it was huge news.

One of them on Battle of the Network Stars? Oh my God, we must watch! I'm not joking.

So that was actually a pretty good TV movie and one I'd stop and watch again if I passed it while flipping channels. (I believe I only saw it the first time it aired.)

Sadly Greenwald did not produce (or direct) the definative TV movie of the seventies, . Forget pop rocks, earth shoes and the rest. The seventies is best captured by our entertainment culture for those of us who grew up in it. There's Dawn and the sequel Alexander: The Other Side of Night, assorted books, and assorted TV classics. I don't know what was up with Eve Plumb. She dumped Jan Brady and hit her stride with Dawn only to throw away the TV Movie crown -- princess division. Mare was up for it.

is a personal favorite. In that one, teenage Mare's family doesn't understand her so she turns to prostitution. But was also a classic. In this one, teenage Mare's family doesn't understand her, so she divorces them! And joins a carnival! Seriously! She also strums the guitar and I could say something nice about her singing but I'll save it for another time. Sadly the teenage years couldn't last forever in TV land though she was also in something about a haunted amusement park if I remember correctly, or to put it in 70s speak: "According to my calculations." That's how Valerie would say it on . So before you knew it, Mare was a mother with three kids trying to work and get assistance only to sign her children away. (Mare's character couldn't read.) Mare's a great actress but sometimes when I see her in something these days, I think, "Come back to Minnesota Strip, Mare, come back."

Which has nothing to do with Robert Greenwald. But he did direct OutFoxed exposing Fox "News." He also directed Steal This Movie with the way cool Janeane Garofalo and the sexy Vincent D'Onofrio. Let me correct that to read "the way cool and sexy" Janeane because she's always downing her looks anytime I listen to her show and she's very attractive. That's a great film where Vincent play Abbie Hoffman. And, by the way, Tom Hayden is played by whom in the film? Troy Garity. Who is? Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden's son.

And he directed Susan Sarandon is Sweetheart's Dance. There are others as well and that includes, of course, The Burning Bed which is still an incredible TV movie. With HBO and Showtime, et al, people may take for granted how rare it was to see something like that (or The Day After) on TV at that time. (Or The Women's Room, which I believe Mare had a small role in.) These days you see TV movies on a hard hitting topic and don't even blink twice. But back then there was a lot of jawing about how "those issues" (whatever they were) weren't fit for television. As if women being battered disappeared if we didn't have a TV movie noting it (or in the case of The Burning Bed, dealing bravely with it), as if AIDS would stop if it weren't for Marlo Thomas and Martin Sheen playing the parent of a gay child with AIDS, go down the list.
Far more often, the TV movies were nonsense. For instance, months before The Burning Bed aired, Farrah Fawcett starred in a "lark" (being kind) entitled The Red-Light Sting. Farrah played a prostitute but there was none of the reality that Vernoica Hamel was bringing to the small screen in her own TV movie of that time (which played like a bad Klute rip-off, ironically, Hamel has a tiny role in Klute).

So listen to Laura tonight.

Now here are the headlines we all worked on yesterday:

We've composed the following twelve headlines dealing with , , , ,, , , the , the , and other topics.

1) From Dahr Jamail's MidEast Wire (Iraq Dispatches):
Monday in Iraq, US troops fired on a car in Ba'qubah, killing five, two adults and three children. The US military states that they feared the car "booby-trapped." The family had been returning from visiting relatives when a US convoy approached. The car was fired on from the front and the back. One Iraqi was quoted as saying, "The ones who brought in the Americans are at fault. Those who support them are at fault. All of them are at fault. Look at these. They are all children. All of them of are children. They killed them. They killed my entire family."

2) In the United States the Associated Press reports that Cindy Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas Thursday and joined what some estimates say were 100 protestors and other estimates say as many as 200.Cindy Sheehan stated, "I feel happy to be back here with all my friends ... but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," said Sheehan, who hoped to arrive earlier in the week, but was delayed by a family emergency. "We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."

3) Since Sheehan and others last gathered at Camp Casey I and Camp Casey II, laws have been passed to prevent further gatherings in Crawford -- "local bans on roadside camping and parking." As protestors returned this week, they were advised they could be arrested. Among those arrested Wednesday were Daniel Ellsberg and US diplomat Ann Wright. Democratic Underground has a report from Carl who was also arrested Wendesday. Carl reports that "The entire [arrest & booking] process took 3.5 hours." Carl advises that the vigils will also take place on Christmas and New Year's Eve as well as that "Donations to the Crawford Veterans For Peace can be mailed to P. O. Box 252, Crawford, Texas, 76638-9998."

4) As the participation of psychologists and psychiatrists in the "BISQUIT" program and other 'interrogation' work raises ethical and professional questions today, CounterPunch is reporting that in WWII, United States anthropologists participated with the Office of Strategic Services in attempts to determine means to destroy the Japanese. David Price reports, in what is a clear betrayal of the profession, anthropologists were instructed "to try to conceive ways that any detectable differences could be used in the development of weapons, but they were cautioned to consider this issue 'in a-moral and non-ethical terms'." Price notes "Ralph Linton and Harry Shapiro, objected to even considering the OSS' request ­ but they were the exceptions."

5) In legal news, as the prison industry has switched to a profit making business, prisoners have found themselves located far from relatives. The distance has proved profitable for long distance companies. The Center for Constitutional Rights argued in court Monday on behalf of "New York family members who pay a grossly inflated rate to receive a phone call from their loved ones in state prisons." CCR notes:

The lawsuit, Walton v. NYSDOCS and MCI, seeks an order prohibiting the State and MCI from charging exorbitant rates to the family members of prisoners to finance a 57.5% kickback to the State. MCI charges these family members a 630% markup over regular consumer rates to receive a collect call from their loved ones, the only way possible to speak with them. Judge George Ceresia of the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, dismissed the suit last fall, citing issues of timeliness.

6) In other legal news, Cynthia L. Cooper reports for Women's enews that November 30th the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At issue in this case, is whether or not bans on reproductive freedom enacted by state legislatures must take effect before they can be legally challenged or whether they can be challenged as soon as they are passed. The standard up to now has been that laws can be challenged as soon as they are passed. Cooper notes:

By changing the legal standard for when an abortion restriction can be challenged in court, anti-abortion laws could quickly entangle women across the country, without directly overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that held that states could not criminalize abortion in all circumstances.

7) The Guardian of London reports on a Rutgers University study that has found "[g]lobal warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile." Professor Kenneth Miller tells The Guardian's Ashraf Khalil, "This is going to cause more beach erosion. Beaches are going to move back and houses will be destroyed." This comes as the Climate Conference is gearing up to take place in Montreal from November 28th to December 9th. United for Peace and Justiceis issuing a call for action:

This fall let's mobilize a nationwide, grassroots education and action campaign leading up to mass demonstrations in Montreal and throughout the U.S. on Saturday, December 3rd. Help gather signatures for the Peoples Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty (, which will be presented in Montreal. Join Climate Crisis: USA Join the World! ( as we call for:
USA Join the World by Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol
Support and Export Clean, Safe, Non-Nuclear Energy Alternatives
End Government Subsidies for Oil and Coal Corporations
Dramatically Strengthen Energy Conservation and Fuel Efficiency Standards
A Just Transition for Workers, Indigenous and Other Communities Affected by a Change to Clean Energy
Defend the World's Forests; Support Community-Run Tree Planting Campaigns

8) With Congress out of session due to the holidays, a number of organizations are attempting to inform the public of pending legislation. The Bill of Rights Defense Center warns to "[e]xpect a vote [on the renewal of the Patriot Act]after Congress returns on December 12th." Of the bill, Lisa Graves of the ACLU states:

The Patriot Act was bad in 2001, and despite bipartisan calls for reform, it's still bad in 2005. Instead of addressing the real concerns that millions of Americans have about the Patriot Act, the Republican majority in Congress buckled to White House pressure, stripping the bill of modest yet meaningful reforms. Congress must reject this bill.

Both the ACLU and the Bill of Rights of Defense Center are calling for grass roots action.
Also asking for action is NOW. Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.You can make your voice heard via NOW's take action page. On their page, you have the option of e-mailing your representatives and/or signing a petition that NOW will present to Congress on December 5th.

9) Meanwhile, as November winds down, American military fatalities have reached 76 for the month, with the Department of Defense reporting 50 Americans wounded thus far this month. The total number of American military killed in Iraq, official count, has reached 2105. Scripps Howard News Service reports that, "U.S. commanders on the ground have already launched plans to close bases and withdraw troops in the coming year, according to two congressmen who returned from Iraq this week." The two congress members are John Kline and Mark Kennedy (Republicans, Minn.).

10) In other Congressional news, Ari Berman reports for The Nation that John McCain is in the midst of makeover. Meeting with The Arizona Republican Assembly in August, McCain slapped some new war paint on as McCain supported the teaching of so-called "intelligent design" side by side with evolution, the state's "ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple," hailed Ronald Reagan as "my hero" and was observed "strenuously defending . . . Bush's Iraq policy."

For those who have forgotten, McCain attended Mark Bingham's funeral. Bingham was one of the passengers of Flight 93 hailed on 9/11 in immediate media reports. As the days wore on, Bingham appeared to disappear from many reports. Mark Bingham was gay. Whether that resulted in a "downgrading" by some in the media has been a source of speculation for some time.

11) Focusing on the media, at The Black Commentator, Margaret Kimberly addresses the issue of Bob Woodward, tying him and his editor to the journalistic behaviors of Judith Miller and her editors:

Miller, Sulzberger, Woodward and Bradlee are at the top of the corporate media food chain, and their behavior tells us why Americans aren't being told anything they ought to be told. Woodward uses his access to make a fortune writing about the Supreme Court or various presidential administrations. If a journalist's priority is writing best selling books based on the amount of access gained with the powerful, then truth telling goes out the window.

12) Also addressing the very similar behaviors of Miller and Woodward are Steven C. Day at Pop Politics, Ron Brynaert at Why Are We Back In Iraq?, and Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post. Though still vocal on Judith Miller and weighing in with the "latest," CJR Daily still can't find a connection between the "journalistic" styles of Judith Miller and Bob Woodward. In their most recent 'Judy report', CJR Daily ponders the question of why did Miller go to jail when Scooter Libby and his people maintain that they released her from confidentiality claims. Covering old news and working themselves into another lather over Miller, CJR Daily wonders"Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" and maintains the question "has never been fully answered." The question has indeed been answered.

Whether CJR Daily approves of or believes the argument of Miller, Floyd Abrams, et al, is beside the point. For the record, the answer has been given many times. The argument was that Miller needed more than a form signed possibly under duress. Abrams and others have long been on the record explaining that they sought a release other than the form. In the front page report, New York Times, Sunday October 16, 2005, Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak and Clifford J. Levy reported:

She said she began thinking about whether she should reach out to Mr. Libby for "a personal, voluntary waiver."
[. . .]
While she mulled over over her options, Mr. Bennett was urging her to allow him to approach Mr. Tate, Mr. Libby's lawyer, to try to negotiate a deal that would get her out of jail. Mr. Bennet wanted to revive the question of the waivers that Mr. Libby and other administration officials signed the previous year authorizing reporters to disclose their confidential discussions.
The other reporters subpoenaed in the case said such waivers were coerced. They said administration officials signed them only because they feared retribution from the prosecutor or the White House. Reporters for at least three news organizations had then gone back to their sources and obtained additional assurances that convinced them the waivers were genunie. But Ms. Miller said she had not gotten an assurance that she felt would allow her to testify.

Again, from the front page New York Times story on . . . October 16, 2005. Though this was not the first reporting on Miller's position, this front page story of the Times was commented in great detail including at CJR Daily here and here. The latter time by the same writer who now wonders "Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" Repeatedly hitting the designated pinata with articles focusing on her conduct while reducing the conduct of Bob Woodward to asides (whispered asides?) doesn't appear to make for brave "watchdoggery."

Democracy Now! has a special presentation today. The headlines above were composed by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Betty Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Wally of The Daily Jot and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Thanks to Dallas for his help with links and tags.

Almost forgot to note Mike's new motto:

The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Board games

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

I had an e-mail from Elias who wrote to say that Thanksgiving means board games to him. His family is big on board games. They would eat the Thanksgiving dinner at noon and then spend the next five hours in marathon board game playing. Elias graduated college last year and will be spending Thanksgiving far from home.

He's in the fifth month of probation of a six month probation in his new job. He can't afford to fly out on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since his probationary period at work will end the second week of December, he'll be able to take vacation days for Christmas. So it makes more sense for him to visit on Christmas and make it a long visit.

So he'll be missing Thanksgiving tomorrow and wondered if I could share my favorite board game.

Elias is a kind soul. He's also a trusting soul. For instance, he apologizes for the request and says forget about board games if I have something planned. Oh Elias, I never have anything planned.

I'm happy to have topic suggestions.

We never pulled out board games for Thanksgiving. But we did play them a great deal.

There were the games, the grown up games, like Scrabble that we all played as a family.

I don't know about anyone else but Scrabble always bored the hell out of me.

I saw Rosemary's Baby as a kid and it made Scrabble seem so cool. Remember when Mia Farrow drops the Scrabble tiles and ends up figuing out that if she rearranges the name of her elderly neighbor, it turns out he's actually the son of a famous witch?

Maybe it was the high ceilings, hard wood floors, haunting music and Mia Farrow's brilliant performance, but Scrabble seemed so cool.

Nothing that cool ever happened when we played and my parents were big challengers. They wouldn't do it to us. But they'd challenge each other. And it could get brutal.

When it did, Mom would start chain smoking and stop talking except to say her word, her score and something like "Triple letter word score!" or whatever it is.

Dad either had the worst luck with the tiles or his vocabulary wasn't as strong as Mom's. But he'd get nervous and you could see sweat forming on his forehead. Now don't think Mom was always the winner because both of them would try to let one of us kids win. But there was a huge competition between them.

And then there was the final problem with the game. We'd be trying to sleep and hearing noises all night. Once we were older, we'd realize that a Scrabble game always meant wild sex between them that night. Today I can say, "Good for them." Back then, I could only think, "My parents are so gross!"

The other game that was apparently an "adult" game also disappointed me, Sorry. I knew Sorry from The Carol Burnett Show. Long before the TV show Mama's Family, Mama was a character on The Carol Burnett Show. Carol played Eunice to Vicky Lawrence's Mama and it was always funny to watch Eunice get worked up about something. One of the things that happened on those skits was that they sat down to play Sorry.

On the show, it was so cool. Eunice had this big, brass bell and she'd ring it and say "Sorry."
The game didn't come with that bell. And without the bell, and probably without the hilarious Carol Burnett, Sorry just wasn't very much fun to me.

On Carol, I'll also toss out that I hate my oldest sister for an entire year. Why? She wrote Carol at CBS and Carol sent her back this really nice 8x10 black and white photo that was autographed to my sister.

My sister wasn't even the big Carol fan. She loved Shirley MacLaine! I was the big Carol fan. I was always playing Eunice or Miss Wigghiggins (which I've probably spelled wrong) or doing a Tarzan yell or saying, "Let's turn up the lights . . ." Carol was my TV hero growing up.

And there was my sister with the photo and she had to show it to everyone and they'd all say how nice it was and how my sister must be the biggest Carol fan in the world.

Now I could've written Carol too. Whenever you see her on TV, she seems like the type of person who does take the time to do autographs.

But my sister had already done it. And wouldn't quit hauling that photo out. So if I wrote, everyone would say, "Oh you copied your sister!"

So for a whole year, I really, really hated my sister. I forget what finally ended that feud but it was intense. And she knew why.

The games I liked were games that we'd play, just the kids.

Life was a favorite of mine because it was fun to move the cars around and I always bought insurance which, strangely enough, I don't do now. But as a child, I'd buy the stocks, the insurance, blah blah blah. I always won at Life.

Another game I loved was Monopoly. I didn't always win at that, but I always loved playing it.

I wasn't the oldest child and some will get this. Monopoly is a game you think you know. I played it for years with my sisters and brothers but the first time I played it with friends, I was lost. "Where's the pot?" I asked.

This being the seventies, confused looks and "cool it" quickly followed that.

But I meant the money pot. Where everytime you have to pay to get out of jail, the money goes into the pot at the center of the board and not to the bank.

If you're a lifelong Monopoly player, and I am, you learn that although the game comes with basic rules, people add to them. If you're playing it for the first time with a group of people, it's always a good idea to ask, "Okay, how do you play it?"

One game I didn't like was Operation. That's nice. If you've got batteries. These days everyone seems to use batteries but growing up, I can remember batteries being treated like they were gold. My youngest brother got a robot for Christmas. It used a battery. He had one in it on Christmas morning. Then it ran out. It was forever before he got another one. He'd be told to "just play with it" but it's kind of hard to play with a battery operated toy when the battery's dead.

But a game I liked, without batteries, was called, I think, Break The Ice. You'd knock out individual ice blocks and try to keep the whole thing from collapsing. Each turn, you had to knock out an ice block and I'd always be praying, "Please don't let the whole thing collapse, please don't let the whole thing collapse." Reminds me of The Brady Bunch when they're building the house of cards and Marcia's too vain and too stupid to take off her little charm braclet.

So there's some game talk for Elias. For those needing something serious, swiping from C.I., here's some news from Democracy Now!:

CIA Told Bush of No Iraq-Al Qaeda Links Ten Days
After 9/11 A new article by investigative journalist Murray Waas in the National Journal says President Bush was notified ten days after the 9/11 attacks U.S. intelligence had no evidence linking Iraq to al Qaeda or the attacks. According to several current and former government officials, little evidence has emerged to contradict the assessment. One former high-level official said : "What the President was told on September 21 [2001], was consistent with everything he has been told since -- the evidence was just not there." The Bush administration has so far refused to release the briefing, not even as a redacted document. Administration officials subsequently ignored the intelligence assessments in favor of those that alleged Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons and ties to Al Qaeda. One of the key proponents of this theory was then-undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. In the margin of one of Feith's reports, Vice President Dick Cheney wrote: "This is very good indeed ... Encouraging ... Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of CIA."

Bully Boy crumbles.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving whether they are with friends and family or by themselves. If you're fortunate to be around others, even if they give you a headache as can often happen, be thankful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bye, Bye Ted

I'll be posting today and tomorrow. I see that technorati hasn't "read" C.I.'s latest entry yet, so I'll repost it here. Tonight Ted Koppel says farewell. Before you get misty-eyed, read C.I.'s thing:

"The end of a (bad) era"

Ellen: So, um, did you see Nightline last night?
Audrey: Oh, don't you hate Ted Koppel? He's so superior. It's like there's only one opinion in the world and Ted has to have it.
-- "The Anchor" written by David S. Rosenthal. From the series Ellen (These Friends of Mine, when originally broadcast), Ellen (Ellen DeGeneres), Audrey (Clea Lewis).

So tonight is the bow out for Koppel on Nightline.

We're all supposed to be boo-hooing, wearing the hair-shirts over the future of TV "news."Tributes will probably roll out to remind us of what we're going to "miss." Yes, it's true there was little of the screaming found on CrossFire, The McLaughlin Group, et al. It's also true that there wasn't much for the left to applaud on Nightline.

As Gore Vidal's noted, ". . . if you want to know what the ownership of the country wants you to know, tune in to Nightline and listen to Ted Koppel and his guests" (Vidal, The Decline of the American Empire, p. 44). Vidal also cites a study by FAIR for the years 1985-1988 of Nightline. Koppel mentor Henry Kissinger racks up 14 appearances as does Al Haig -- other multi-appearance guests included Elliott Abrams and Jerry Falwell. Vidal notes (pp. 47-48):

The Koppel explanation for this bizarre repertory company is that, well, they are the folks who are running the country and so that's why they're on. Well, yes, Ted, that is why they're on, but there are other more interesting and more learned -- even disinterested voices in the land and, in theory, they should be heard, too.

That was Nightline, that is Nightline.

We're so starved for TV news (as opposed to "news") that there may be a temptation for some to extoll Nightline as "serious." What show were they watching? Let's trip down memory lane.

Let's drop back to July 29, 2004, Democracy Now!'s "ABC's Ted Koppel Refuses To Apologize For Pre-War Iraq Coverage:"

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that ABC and the other networks should apologize for providing an uncritical forum for the administration to lay out their unsubstantiated claims of weapons of mass destruction?
TED KOPPEL: I am glad you phrased your question so nicely. No, I don't think an apology is due if what you are saying is could we all have been more critical? I think the answer is yes. I must tell you, I am going to be responsive in behalf of Nightline over which I do have some control. We did do a 90-minute town hall meeting, the title of which was Why Now? and the essence of which was: Where is the evidence that there's an immediate danger to the United States? Did we do enough programs like that? I concede we did not. But that's a function of perhaps incompetence on my part, but certainly not ill will and I will try and do better the next time, but I don't think I need to apologize for it.

There was incompetence and Koppel's incompetence continues, especially with regard to the occupation, especially with regard to his statements in the interview (we'll return to that in a moment). However, note that there's no apology. We never got one. Not in any form, not even a New York Times style mea culpa.

Ted Koppel was always a curious sort of reporter. In 2002, he was calling for censorship in reporting from the battle field, as Cynthia Cotts outlined in "Smoke Signals: Koppel Says Yes to Military Censorship in Iraq" (The Village Voice). And during the invasion/occupation he was often "confused" as when he reported (wrongly) that Iraq had fired Scud missiles. Chronology was also confusing for Kopel.

For instance, note FAIR's "Missing the Evidence on Missing Explosives: Reports ignore videotapes that debunk administration claims:"

On October 28, ABC affiliate KSTP released footage that was shot by its embedded reporters on April 18, 2003, showing members of the 101st Airborne Division searching the Al Qaqaa bunkers. Clearly visible on the tape are containers marked with labels that indicate the barrels contained the high explosives in question. ABC World News Tonight broadcast the footage on October 28, noting that soldiers opened the bunkers that had been sealed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), discovered the high explosives, and then left those bunkers open and unguarded. Given that the tape was shot nine days after the fall of Baghdad, it would appear to prove that at least some of these explosives were looted after the U.S. invasion-- a scenario that is consistent with statements from Iraqi officials and witnesses to the looting (Agence France Presse, 10/27/04; New York Times, 10/28/04). As ABC's Martha Raddatz put it, "It is the strongest evidence to date the explosives disappeared after the U.S. had taken control of Iraq."
[. . .]
And even though ABC's network newscast had broadcast the KSTP footage, ABC's Ted Koppel reached a very different conclusion on the Nightline broadcast later that evening (10/28/04). Koppel explained that "a friend" in the military had reminded him that he was actually at Al Qaqaa during the war, and that "my friend, the senior military commander, believes that the explosives had already been removed by Saddam's forces before we ever got there. The Iraqis, he said, were convinced that the U.S. was going to bomb the place." For some reason, the theory advanced by his military friend was apparently more credible to Koppel than the television footage ABC had aired hours earlier that debunked his thesis.

Ted's friends never steer him wrong, to be sure. Old Hank Kissinger never told a lie and certainly saintly Colin Powell never even thought one. Surrounded by all that "truth," it's surprising that Ted Koppel could ever be wrong (though he often is). Let's go back to that interview Amy Goodman conducted and we'll make a game of it, like "Where's Waldo." See if you can spot the problem on your own (answer follows excerpt):

TED KOPPEL: Right. I agree with you. But I must ask you in return, what was, you know, what would you have looked to for evidence that there were no weapons of mass destruction? There was evidence in 1998 that those weapons of mass destruction, not only existed, but were present in, just let me finish the plot--not only existed, but were present in Iraq. It did not make logical sense that Saddam Hussein, whose armies had been defeated once before by the United States and the Coalition, would be prepared to lose control over his country if all he had to do was say all right, U.N., come on in, check it out, I will show you, give you whatever evidence you want to have, let you interview whomever you want to interview. Logically at that time, it seemed as though weapons of mass destruction--did I believe at the time that there were weapons of mass destruction? Absolutely, I did.

Did you catch his error? (He didn't.) From Robert Parry's Secrets & Privilege (page 350-351):

But as anyone with a memory of those historic events should know, Iraq did let the U.N. weapon inspectors in and gave them the freedom to examine any site they wished. Iraqi officials, including Hussein, also declared publicly that they didn't possess weapons of mass destruction, contray to the repetition of the question posed by Bush's defenders that: "Well, if Saddam Hussein didn't have WMD, why didn't he say so?" The history is clear -- or should be -- that it was the Bush administration that forced the U.N. inspectors out of Iraq so the United States and its coalition could press ahead with the invasion.
Yet through repetition the Bush administration's favored narrative of the war had sunk in as a faux reality for Washington journalists, including Koppel, that Bush bent over backwards to avoid the invasion and was forced to attack because Hussein's intrasigence made it look like the dictator was hiding something. While Koppel's response to Amy Goodman might be viewed as a case of Koppel trying to spin the facts himself to dodge responsibility for his lack of pre-war skepticism, he clearly had gotten the idea for his misleading explanation from the Bush administration.

Goodman notes another problem, to Koppel, with his "logic:"

AMY GOODMAN: Well let me look at September 2002. Bush and Blair give their, have their news conference at Camp David. They say an I.A.E. report has just come out that alleges that Saddam Hussein will get nuclear weapons within six months.
AMY GOODMAN: This was six month away before the invasion.
AMY GOODMAN: Almost no mainstream reporter in this country reported, there was no such report.

That escaped Koppel's attention apparently. Perhaps he was thinking back on 1993 and a broadcast he did then (or possibly of a guest on that show. From FAIR, "Koppel's 'Tough Question': Should Doctors Be Killed?:"

Nightline's December 8, 1993 program was a prime example of imbalanced, irresponsible journalism. The issue was the killing of doctors who perform abortions: not how it can be prevented, but whether such attacks are justified.Invited into the studio to discuss this "issue" were Helen Alvare, a representative of the Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Committee, an anti-abortion group, and Paul Hill, the director of a tiny anti-abortion faction called Defensive Action, which advocates the killing of doctors. No one with a pro-choice viewpoint was allowed to participate in the live discussion. (The three soundbites from pro-choice sources in the pre-recorded portion of the broadcast were well outnumbered by 12 soundbites from advocates of anti-abortion violence.)
Koppel opened the show by comparing the number of legal abortions with the number of murdered doctors--an equation often made by those who justify violence against clinics. "Here's the latest casualty count from the battlefront between the pro-life and the pro-choice movements," Koppel began. "Thirty million aborted fetuses over the past 30 [sic] years since Roe v. Wade.... On the other side of the ledger, 7,709 incidents of violence and disruption targeting doctors and abortion clinics since 1977... [including] one attempted murder and one successful murder."
This sort of arithmetic leaves pregnant women--including the estimated 200,000 women who die each year during illegal abortions worldwide--entirely out of the picture. Hill picked up on Koppel's theme when given his opportunity to explain his advocacy of killing doctors: "We're saying 30 million children have died.... Sometimes you have to use force to stop people from killing innocent children."
[. . .]
Nightline's decision to treat the issue of doctor-murder as solely a tactical debate within the anti-abortion movement is peculiar. It is difficult to imagine the show bringing on representatives of a mainstream peace group and a far-left organization to discuss, say, whether bombing Army recruitment offices is a justifiable way to oppose U.S. military intervention.

Now let's stay with that for a moment, let's stay with that episode and with the guest Paul Hill.In FAIR's July/August 1995 issue of Extra!, Laura Flanders followed up on this with "Far-Right Militias and Anti-Abortion Violence: When Will Media See the Connection?:"

In late 1993 (12/8/93), Nightline's Ted Koppel hosted an in-studio discussion of doctor-killing. His only guests were Helen Alvare, are presentative of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (which issued a statement post-Pensacola comparing the violence of murder with the"violence of abortion"), and Paul Hill, director of the anti-abortion group"Defensive Action," which advocates killing doctors on the grounds that abortion is violence.
Ted Koppel echoed this definition of violence when he opened the show by comparing the number of legal abortions with the number of murdered doctors--what he called "the latest casualty count from the battlefield between the pro-life and the pro-choice movements." Although terrorism is one of Koppel's favorite subjects--FAIR's study of Nightline counted 52 programs on the topic in 40 months (Extra!, 1-2/89)--the word "terrorism"was never used by him to describe anti-abortion violence. Instead, a sympathetic Koppel said that Hill's advocacy of murdering doctors raised a "very, very difficult moral question." (See Extra! Update, 2/94.)
Hill, like Griffin, was a protege of John Burt, whose group issued a wanted poster for Dr. John Bayard Britton, Gunn's replacement. The poster "exposed" Britton "for the butcher that he is." Seven months after his appearance on Nightline, Hill gunned down Britton and James Barrett, his escort, at the same Pensacola clinic.

Is Nightline responsible when a guest goes out and kills someone? Absolutely not. But can Nightline be more responsible in whom they book? Absolutely. But as the two critiques from FAIR seem to indicate, Nightline's sole concern was in presenting a "pro-life" installment. They did that. They got a murderer on air before he committed the crime. Is Ted Koppel proud of making nice?

Okay, but he's been there on some issues, right? Like race. Well no, Nightline was one of the outlets that promoted The Bell Curve and "treated as fact Murray and Herrnstein's claim that black IQs are 15 points lower than whites."

Okay, but he's a knowledgable person, so, on politics, he provides astute commentary, right? Actually, he huffed and puffed, then finally bailed the 1996 GOP convention due to (his opinion) a lack of news coming from the convention (possibly the guests added to the spin factor? -- Frank Luskin, New Gingrinch).

Was he really upset about a lack of serious news in the coverage? Magic Eight Ball says, "Seems unlikely." Let's note Bob Somerby's "LIMOUSINE LIBERAL BIAS (PART 2)! The Post limned Ted--and we caught a glimpse of those troubling Millionaire Pundit Values:" (The Daily Howler):

[Larry] King was referring to the "bit" about the size and distribution of the Bush tax cuts--the campaign's largest budget proposal. Bush and Gore had battled about the shape of the plan--and in his charges of "phony numbers" and "fuzzy math," Bush had called Gore a Big Liar. The issues involved were stunningly basic. So try to believe that Ted said it:
KOPPEL: You know, honestly, it turns my brains to mush. I can't pretend for a minute that I'm really able to follow the argument of the debates. Parts of it, yes. Parts of it, I haven't a clue what they're talking about.
Koppel is paid millions of dollars a year. The facts about the Bush tax cuts had been clear for five months as he spoke (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/24/02). But it "turned his brains to mush," he said, to try to follow the Bush-Gore debate. In this moment, we saw the stunning insouciance of our insider press corps. In any other professional sector, a practitioner making such a startling admission would be subject to suits for misfeasance.
Simply put, Koppel didn't seem to give a fig about the most basic issue of the campaign.

Okay, well that was Koppel discussing a debate in 2000, but he was a guest on someone else's show. Certainly he's more prepared on Nightline, right? From Bob Somerby's "CHURLS IN CHARGE (PART 3)! Why do 'TV liberals' argue so poorly? Perhaps they aren't 'liberals' at all!:"

Item--October 14, 2004: Uh-oh! Koppel again! On Nightline, Koppel interviews Kerry-trasher John O'Neill--and it's obvious that Ted is unprepared. Koppel fails to catch his guest in a string of key misstatements. But then, where was Koppel earlier that evening, when he might have been preparing? Where else? He was attending a foppish "roast" for Colin Powell, one of the most powerful men in the world--and someone Koppel allegedly covers (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/19/04). At the roast, Powell reveals more secrets of the press corps' foppish ways. "Every couple of years, Ted will come by my house on the spur of the moment and we'll sit in the back yard and have a cup of coffee," the secretary/general says. "And he's usually driving one of his hot cars. He always has a fast car of some kind. And so about, oh, four or five years ago, he came by the house and he had this real muscle car, and after we had a cup of coffee and chatted for a while, he says..." Well, we'll spare you the rest of the manifest foppistry. But was this not another triumph of the press corps' High Foppist Values? Koppel has time to chat about his latest hot car with one of the people he's supposed to be covering. But he doesn't have time to prepare for a crucial TV session. Result? On his show, Kerrry gets crushed.

And who can forget his performance as a moderator at the 2003 Democratic primary debate?Not John Nichols. From his "Kucinich Makes Media an Issue" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

Koppel, served as a moderator for last week's debate in New Hampshire between the nine Democrats seeking their party's nomination in 2004. The veteran newsman's decision to focus vast stretches of last week's debate on insider questions about endorsements and polling figures rankled Kucinich, who has for some time objected to the neglect of his candidacy by most media. But he also did something else. By badgering Kucinich, the Rev. Al Sharpton and former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun with questions that suggested they should drop out of the race, Koppel exposed the dirty little secret of network television journalists who are covering the 2004 contest: They prefer easily described, sound bite-driven contests between a handful of well-known candidates, not wide open contests with lots of candidates and lots of interesting ideas.Journalists know that covering democracy is costly, and inconvenient. Covering coronations, in contrast, is relatively cheap and undemanding.By seeming to complain about having to deal with such a large field of candidates, however, and by so clearly indicating which candidates he would like to see leave the competition, Koppel turned attention away from the contenders and toward the question of whether the self-serving calculations of America's television networks are doing damage to America's democracy.
After gently poking Koppel for starting the debate with a round of questions regarding Al Gore's endorsement of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Kucinich suggested that it was wrong to steer the debate toward process questions when fundamental issues -- such as the war in Iraq, trade policy and national health care -- had gone unaddressed. Koppel then came back to Kucinich with a question about whether he, Sharpton and Moseley Braun weren't really "vanity" candidates who would have to drop out because they had not raised as much money as other contenders. That's when the sparks flew.
"I want the American people to see where media takes politics in this country," the Ohio congressman said. "We start talking about endorsements, now we're talking about polls and then talking about money. When you do that you don't have to talk about what's important to the American people."
The crowd at the New Hampshire debate erupted with loud and sustained applause.

They were applauding Kucinich's statements, not Koppel's performance. Here's Bob Somerby (The Daily Howler) on the same debate:

If you didn't see it, yes--it was bad. The second time Kucinich told Koppel to shut up, he got a long ovation from a frustrated audience. Ditto Kerry, moments later, telling Ted "where to put" his questions. At one point, we really thought that the audience might start heckling Ted. Too bad! Polite to a fault, they did not.Koppel, of course, has those Millionaire Pundit Values. After Bush and Gore's first debate, he couldn't explain the simplest facts about Bush's tax plan--but he's willing to bust his ass to learn the size of his neighbors' McMansions (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/3/03). For a summation of Koppel's performance this week, we refer you to Will Saletan, who captured it well in his opening paragraphs. Dan Kennedy has also weighed in. You know what to do. Just click here. Also here.
One last point--do read that profile by Howard Kurtz (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/10/03). Watch Koppel's staff as they proudly assemble the questions for which he was ridiculed.

More on this can be found in the editorial, "The Awesome Destructive Power of CPM" at The Black Commentator:

ABC finally showed its true corporate colors at the New Hampshire debate in the person of Nightline's Ted Koppel. Imperiously addressing the bottom trio, Koppel said:
"You've [to Kucinich] got about $750,000 in the bank right now, and that's close to nothing when you're coming up against this kind of opposition. But let me finish the question. The question is, will there come a point when polls, money and then ultimately the actual votes that will take place here in places like New Hampshire, the caucuses in Iowa, will there come a point when we can expect one or more of the three of you to drop out? Or are you in this as sort of a vanity candidacy?"
Kucinich, Sharpton and Moseley-Braun acquitted themselves well in the exchange. The real story here is that Koppel felt empowered to all but demand that the three most progressive candidates (and both Blacks) vacate the Democratic presidential arena. Koppel had fumed to the New York Times about the uppity intruders, the month before. The day after the debate, ABC withdrew its reporters from all three campaigns. (None of the other networks had even bothered to give full-time coverage to the bottom tier.)
Koppel's arrogance, so unbecoming to a journalist, is rooted in his actual status at ABC/Disney: he is a corporate executive who pretends to be a newsman on television. His professional history notwithstanding, Koppel and each of the high profile TV "news" personalities are millionaire executives who act as spokesmen for the corporate divisions of their parent companies. They interact with executives of other divisions, principally marketing -- the domain of sales and "impressions." Koppel is incapable of thinking in terms other than money and polls, an important marketing tool. He is proprietary about the political process because, as an esteemed executive in the ruling corporate class, he thinks he owns it.

Okay, politics were hard for Ted. (They were hard for Henry Kissinger too, at least overseas elections.) But the important stories, regardless of guests, were addressed, right? Right? For twenty-five years, Koppel has maintained the integrity of this show as it's tackled the hard issues?

Absolutely. Koppel may have passed the interview onto Forest Sawyer, but he didn't stand in the way of corporate synergy when it was decided his show would address the most pressing issue as 1990 drew to a close. Which is why December 3, 1990's episode dealt with the world shattering "news" topic: MTV's banning of Madonna's "Justify My Love" video. (No offense to Madonna, if "news" shows are stupid enough to offer, take the free promotion.)

Just to provide a little context, on December 2, 1990 Germany had their first "all German" (no longer partioned into "East" and "West") elections in fifty-eight years. December 3, 1990 Mary Robinson is elected the first woman president of Ireland. Also on December 3, 1990, you have a plane crash in Detroit that kills twelve. On the fourth of December, Saddam Hussein will release hostages. So it makes perfect sense that Nightline will instead honor it's corporate parent(s?) by promoting Madonna and her banned video (which Nightline played in full). Koppel's farming that interview out to Forest Sawyer doesn't alter the fact that Nightline "covered" it.

And more recently, they were there for the earth shattering anniversary of the release of the film Animal House. Animal House & Nightline? At first, it doesn't seem like they go together but think it through.

These and other "important" stories have oft been covered on Nightline. Take the 'pressing' issue of violence in figure skating. As FAIR noted, Nightline was there for "the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan saga. In about seven weeks (Jan. 24 to March 16), Nightline devoted five entire broadcasts to the figure skaters -- over 13 percent of total air time. During that period, Nightline offered no programs on such issues as unemployment, declining U.S. wages, world hunger or nuclear proliferation." (Multiple episodes are really important to Koppel, Katha Pollitt's noted his 1993 two-parter to explore whether or not the First Lady, Hillary Clinton, had too much power.)

You can't explore these "weighty" topics without something falling through the cracks. Which is why, as noted in FAIR's "Spinning the Libby Indictment: Pundits attack Wilson, downplay perjury," the day of Scooter Libby was indicted, here's how Nightline handled it:

On ABC's Nightline, Ted Koppel devoted only a few minutes to the indictment before beginning a scheduled town hall meeting on disaster preparedness. Koppel offered the following explanation:
Scooter Libby's indictment today is indisputably a major story. It was the lead on all the television network news programs earlier this evening. It will be the object of banner headlines in all of your morning newspapers tomorrow. As for its real impact on the lives of most American, though, not much. Not really. That's the strange thing about our business, the news business. Often, what seems so important to us, reporters that is, is of little or no consequence to many of you.
Why Libby's indictment is "of little consequence" is worth some explanation. Valerie Wilson's job at the CIA was preventing the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction; if blowing her cover jeopardized that work, then this story certainly does affect all Americans.

This wasn't news to Ted Koppel. As Democracy Now! noted, "For the first time in 130 years, a White House staff member has been indicted for crimes committed in the office." But to Ted Koppel, it depends, presumably, on what you definition of "news" is. Not surprising when you consider that this is the man whom looked at the 1992 Los Angeles riots and, as Susan Faludi noted on page 481 of Stiffed, saw his "next Tianamen." Violence must do something for Ted Koppel. The lack of it led to a lack of interest in covering the protest rallies in NYC during the 2004 GOP convention. Which lead Tracy Van Slyke to write a response to Koppel ("Ted Koppel's disturbing analysis," The ITT List, In These Times):

Is it my understanding that because there isn't blood running in the streets, that the protests aren't worth covering? This is not just bad judgment, this is terrible journalism.
I'm fed up with the mainstream media not acting like journalists, but fulfilling the role of snotty censors. These "protestors" have done a better job at home and in New York this week investigating and exposing the issues that go the heart of the American people than journalists themselves. They have talked about the economy, about jobs, about womens' rights, about labor, about the issue of war and its consequences and yes, even about the mainstream media itself. At least they are engaging discourse, whether or not everyone agrees with them. They have not repeated political rhetoric, pitted two campaigns against each other to see who draws more blood, and engaged in instant punditry as if that makes good journalism. How typical for the mainstream media to dismiss these protestors as a fringe element, not worth a look at unless there is disorder and mayhem in the streets.

So as Ted Koppel, "proud to be a friend of Henry Kissinger," gears up for his final Nightline broadcast, let's remember some of the above. There's plenty more that could be noted. Ted Koppel says farewell tonight and some may see that as "sad" or "disheartening." I'm more inclined to agree with Rebecca, "ted koppel go away already." Instead of being upset over the end of a (bad) era, we could, as Joel Bleifuss noted:

Support and build independent media institutions that challenge the smug righteousness of the likes of Ted Koppel, that perform a civic duty by engaging citizens with each other and their community, and that, in the words of In These Times mission statement, oppose "the tyranny of marketplace values over human values."