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WEEKEND OUTRAGE: ABC NEWS SUSPENDS PRODUCER FOR WRITING PERSONAL ANTI-BUSH E-MAIL

Posted in the database on Sunday, April 02nd, 2006 @ 20:16:56 MST (1324 views)
by Danny Schechter    newsdissector.org  

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Readers of my current Mediachannel piece on the unbrave world of media will note that I referenced a DRUDGE REPORT "expose" of a private e-mail sent by an ABC GMA producer expressing his personal disgust with our President's way of communicating.

Read it--and then read this item in Today's Saturday Washington Post. The ABC producer in question, John Green, has been suspended and forced to make a groveling apology to the White House, a gesture that sounds straight outta Stalinist Russia.

Talk about a chilling effect on personal expressions by any and all network producers. You can't even have a personal opinion and work in news anymore. Note to Kerry Marash, a former colleague I once admired and who as an ABC Exec did the dirty deed of dissing Green: employees are entitled to personal opinions and being open-minded doesn't mean being empty-minded. You shouldn't lose your right to free speech when you go to work for a network. (Although his views have yet to be represented with any frequency on the air). Walter Cronkite speaks about this in a statement on Mediachannel.org. He says: "Journalists shouldn't have to check their consciences at the door when they go to work for a media company. It ought to be just the reverse."

When the anti-war and media activists recently sought to meet at ABC to discuss war coverage, the request was referred to Kerry's office. SHE DID NOT CALL BACK, to my dismay even though we have always been cordial. ABC REFUSED TO HAVE AN OFF THE RECORD MEETING. Now I understand, even more, deeply how corporate environments corrupt, almost by osmosis.

This is so ironic because her husband Dave Marash, a great journalist who I once worked alongside, was not rehired by ABC when Ted Koppel retired, only to have his program, Nightline, replaced by "Nightline-lite." He has now joined AlJAzeera International. I am sure he has sent many an email to his wife about his dismay at working at ABC. I expressed mine in the book, "The More You Watch, The Less You Know."

Here's Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post today on the great e-mail threat to the integrity the Republic and ABC News, whose president of News, former corporate lawyer David Westin admitted publicly that ABC News was "not critical enough" in its coverage of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

"We let the American people down," he said.

Now, he's let the cause of free speech down. Read all about this petty act of corporate ass-covering and pay-back with disgust:

ABC Suspends Producer Over Bush-Bashing E-Mail

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 1, 2006; C01

ABC News suspended the executive producer of the weekend edition of "Good Morning America" yesterday over a pair of leaked e-mails in which he used inflammatory language to slam President Bush and Madeleine Albright.

John Green, whose unpaid suspension will last one month, apologized to the White House in a call to communications director Nicolle Wallace, while two ABC executives called the former secretary of state to apologize.

"No one is sorrier than John for the embarrassment that these albeit private e-mails caused to his colleagues and to the people who were the subjects of those comments," said ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider. "John would be the first to say this has been a real lesson to him. John is abjectly sorry for all the comments that have come to light, and that's appropriate."

In one of the e-mails, written during the first presidential debate in 2004 and leaked to the Drudge Report, Green wrote to a colleague on his BlackBerry: "Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke."

Green, who was not made available for comment yesterday, wrote his colleagues after that leak to say "how much I regret the embarrassment that this story causes ABC. It was an inappropriate thing to say, and I'm deeply sorry."

Wallace said yesterday that she "appreciated the call and the apology."

The second leaked e-mail surfaced Thursday on the New York Post's gossipy Page Six. In that note, Green wrote that Albright should not be booked on the show because "Albright has Jew shame."

Albright, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, acknowledged her Jewish heritage in 1997 after it was discovered by Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs in the course of researching a book.

Green wrote in that note that "she hates us anyway because she says we promised her five minutes and only gave her two . . . I do not like her." An ABC insider said Green was reacting to a heated dispute between Albright and a network producer.

The Albright Group, a global strategy firm founded by the former Clinton cabinet member, took the diplomatic route. "Secretary Albright has always had an excellent relationship with 'GMA' and with ABC and she still does," her office said in a statement. "In fact, she looks forward to appearing on 'GMA' on May 2 in connection with the release of her book on U.S. foreign policy and the importance of religious tolerance."

Both e-mails were disclosed at a time when public distrust of news organizations and their ability to be fair are at or near an all-time high.

The suspension was ordered by Kerry Marash, senior vice president for editorial standards, and approved by ABC News President David Westin.

Green, who got his job in 2004 as the Saturday and Sunday editions of the morning show were being launched, has worked for ABC for 12 years. He is highly regarded by many of his colleagues, and the show is in second place on Saturdays, trailing NBC's "Weekend Today," but is in third place on Sundays, when "CBS Sunday Morning" is No. 1.

It is widely believed at ABC News that the e-mails were leaked by a former employee who has a vendetta against Green.

"Everyone who works at ABC News is unhappy with the situation because it reflects on all of us," Schneider said. But, he said, "I don't think the e-mails tell us anything about the show John Green was putting on the air every Saturday and Sunday, which is fair and balanced and down the middle."

 

News VP Schneider appears briefly in my film WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception" insisting that ABC News played it "straight down the middle" in its coverage of Iraq. His boss David Westin would later contradict him.



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