01-09-2006, 06:21 PM
Media's most embarrassing moments of 2005

By Norman Solomon/San Francisco Chronicle

And now, the 14th annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the stinkiest media performances of 2005:

"First Do Some Harm" Award -- Radio reporter Michael Linder

Linder, a correspondent for KNX Radio in Los Angeles, was a media observer at the Dec. 13 execution of Stanley Tookie Williams by lethal injection.

In a report that aired on a national NPR newscast, Linder said: "The first hint that it would be a difficult medical procedure came as they tried to insert the needle into his right arm."

Medical procedure? During his brief report, Linder used the phrase twice as he described the execution. George Orwell's ears must have been burning.

Self-Praise Stealth Prize -- William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer

Effusive with praise for George W. Bush's second inaugural address on Jan. 20, Kristol told Fox News viewers that they'd just watched "a very eloquent speech ... one of the most powerful speeches, one of the most impressive speeches, I think I've seen an American president give."

Appearing on the same network, Krauthammer was no less enthusiastic as he likened Bush to John F. Kennedy and called the speech "revolutionary." But neither pundit mentioned that they'd been advisers who helped to write the speech.

Put Them in Chains Award -- Bill O'Reilly

"You must know the difference between dissent from the Iraq war and the war on terror, and undermining it," O'Reilly told his national audience on June 20. "And any American that undermines that war, with our soldiers in the field, or undermines the war on terror, with 3,000 dead on 9/11, is a traitor.

"Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything, and they don't care, couldn't care less."

Mickey Mouse Journalism Prize -- Correspondent Mike Barz and ABC

During a Sept. 12 report that aired on ABC's "Good Morning America," Barz said: "Based on all the smiles on all the faces of the children ... it looks like the magic of Disney is taking hold in China."

It was a very upbeat report about a new Disney-owned theme park -- on a TV network owned by Disney.

Outsourced to the Pentagon Award -- New York Times reporter Judith Miller

In October, after pressure built for Miller to explain her prewar reliance on dubious sources while frequently reporting that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction, she agreed to be interviewed by the Times.

The newspaper's Oct. 16 edition quoted her as saying: "WMD -- I got it totally wrong. The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them -- we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong."

But easily available sources were not "all wrong." Experts -- including weapons inspectors Mohamed ElBaradei, Hans Blix and Scott Ritter -- rebutted key White House claims about WMDs month after month before the invasion.

All the President's Man Prize -- Bob Woodward

During a Nov. 21 appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," the famous Washington Post journalist struggled to explain why -- for more than two years -- he didn't disclose that a government official told him that the wife of Bush war-policy critic Joe Wilson was undercover CIA employee Valerie Wilson.

Even after the Plame leaks turned into a big scandal rocking the Bush administration, Woodward failed to tell any Post editor about his own involvement -- although he may have been the first journalist to receive one of those leaks.

What's more, in TV and radio appearances, he disparaged the investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

Prime Slime News Award -- Nancy Grace and CNN Headline News

Since premiering in late February, the hourlong nightly "Nancy Grace" program has broken new ground with salacious prime-time programming on a so-called news channel.

Promoted as "one of TV's most experienced and passionate legal analysts ... drawing on her unique perspective as a former violent crimes prosecutor and as a crime victim herself," the host has taken prime-time "news" to new cesspools of prurience and exploitation of human suffering.

"This is no script, no made-for-TV drama, it's the real thing," Grace promises, "real people with real stories."

On a typical evening, the show led with these stories: "Tonight, breaking news. Human bones, human teeth -- police come across a gruesome scene at a Wisconsin car salvage yard, where they say it looks like somebody may have burned a body. ... Plus, a husband in court today for spiking his wife's Gatorade with anti-freeze, enough to kill her."

Norman Solomon is the author of the new book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

01-10-2006, 12:08 AM
I would give a "Phoning It In Golden Cell Phone" award to John Quinones of ABCs 20/20 for examining whether a Denver, CO "nutriceutical" company had developed an antioxidant pill that slowed aging by taking the pills and submitting to blood tests -- performed by the manufacturer's own staff of "scientists." Very nice work.

Roberto Aqui
01-10-2006, 01:16 AM
[[[[In a report that aired on a national NPR newscast, Linder said: "The first hint that it would be a difficult medical procedure came as they tried to insert the needle into his right arm."

Medical procedure? During his brief report, Linder used the phrase twice as he described the execution. George Orwell's ears must have been burning.]]]]]]

Technically it was a medical proceedure. Anethesia followed by the fatal execution dosage.

Frankly, I'm all for bringing back firing squads if they are going to have executions. 5 marksmen with high powered rifles at 20 paces targeting the heart is more merciful, final, and to the point than some of those botched medical executions and cheaper and more honest to boot.

Maybe 2 or 3 of the marksmen are lousy shots, but most assuredly at least a couple of bullets shatter the heart and bring instant death.

01-10-2006, 02:22 AM
I've always found it fascinating that in every official firing squad there is one rifle loaded with a blank. At least until recently, there were three buttons to press simultaneously at every electric chair execution, only one of which was hooked up to the juice. I guess everyone wants to have that little thing to cling to for their conscience's sake, that maybe they actually didn't kill the guy......

01-10-2006, 03:17 PM
I read about that once. They're called "cutouts." They only let an individual work on a tiny little piece of an execution so they can psychologically disassociate themselves and don't have to take responsibility. Needless to say, the job description of "executioner" isn't seen much these days.