LAWMAKER BLASTS CNN FOR AIRING INSURGENT VIDEO
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has urged the Pentagon to bar CNN from embedded positions with U.S. forces in Iraq following the cable news network's decision to air enemy footage of a U.S. soldier being shot in a crowd in Baghdad. Appearing on CNN's The Situation Room Monday night, Congressman Duncan Hunter asked, "Does CNN want America to win this thing?" He pointed out that in past wars, news photographers attempted to bring home images to the American public in support of American actions -- specifically mentioning Joe Rosenthal's inspiring picture of American soldiers raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima. "You can't be on both sides of the war," Hunter said. CNN said that it did not air the entire video, pointing out that footage of the shooting was taken from a distance, that the moment of impact was not shown, and that the film was clearly identified as enemy propaganda. On MSNBC, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson defended CNN's airing of the tape, saying that "it makes you less sympathetic to the insurgency, not more sympathetic." Meanwhile, the Britain's Ministry of Defense has banned members of Independent Television News (ITN) from embedded positions with British troops and after the television news service showed films of wounded soldiers in Afghanistan. The defense ministry's letter to ITN said in part, "You should be under no illusions about the level of anger that exists as a result of items you carried on your programs. ... However, until we have satisfactory answers ... the MoD feels unable to guarantee that our people will be treated fairly, honestly and their privacy respected."
WILL GOP HAVE A COW OVER SIMPSONS EPISODE?
An episode of Fox's The Simpsons scheduled to air two days before next month's midterm elections has stirred up a political flap. As reported by the online Radar magazine, the episode, titled "The Day the Earth Was Stupid," a spoof of The War of the Worlds, shows an invasion of the Simpsons' home town of Springfield, a prelude to an occupation of the entire planet. "Well, the Earthlings continue to resent our presence," one of the aliens says. "You said we'd be greeted as liberators!" The other replies, "We still have the people's hearts and minds." At which point, he holds up a heart and brain. Al Jean, the show's executive producer, told Radar that Fox raised no objection to the episode. Although Rupert Murdoch, the network's owner, is regarded as a conservative and a supporter of America's policies in Iraq -- his News Corp also owns the conservative-leaning Fox News Network -- he has maintained a hands-off policy towards The Simpsons, arguably the most profitable program the network has ever aired. "I'd like to take credit for being adventuresome," said Jean, "but I think we're expressing a viewpoint 69 percent of the country agrees with."
ADS FOR FILM DEPICTING BUSH KILLING BARRED BY CABLE NETS
Two cable TV networks have declined to run ads promoting the award-winning film Death of a President, which depicts the assassination of George W. Bush in 2007. Jason Klein, co-CEO of the ad agency Special Ops Media, told Online Media Daily that CNN was delaying the ad pending approval of its editorial division, while The History Channel refused to run it based on its content. The film is due to open on Friday, Oct. 27.
FEMALE CORRESPONDENTS DISAPPEARING FROM COURIC'S NEWSCAST
A study by broadcasting analyst Andrew Tyndall has disclosed that since Katie Couric took over as anchor of the CBS Evening News, female correspondents have received 40 percent fewer assignments than they did under her predecessor, Bob Schieffer. Moreover, Tyndall said in an analysis for Broadcasting & Cable magazine, the role of the anchor has been emphasized while the role of the correspondent has been downplayed. Couric, for example, now introduces each correspondent and has 20 percent more voice-over time than Schieffer did. CBS responded that it is attempting to provide "the best information told by the best correspondents every day -- without a preconceived plan as to the gender of the reporters." Meanwhile, on Monday Newsday TV columnist Verne Gay offered a devastating critique of the evening newscast -- taking aim directly at Couric."You're there to salvage one of the great franchises in broadcast history," he wrote. "It really is all on your shoulders, so why aren't you acting like this is the most exhilarating challenge in broadcast journalism, as indeed this is? Where's that ol' Couric spark? The exuberance? The wicked sense of humor? That devastatingly effective interview style -- your own unhittable cut fastball? For gawd's sake, CBS -- What have you done with Katie Couric?"
COURT RULES AGAINST DISH NETWORK
EchoStar Communications, which operates the DISH satellite service, said Monday that it plans to ask a U.S. district court in Miami to reconsider its decision not to lift an injunction barring DISH from providing the signals from distant network TV stations to subscribers who don't live in the area of their signals. Previously EchoStar had reached a $100-million settlement with affiliates of ABC, NBC and CBS. But Fox refused to go along with the deal and demanded that the court enforce federal rules barring the transmission of distant network channels.