News standards, practices …

ABC News has suspended for one month without pay John Green, executive producer of the weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” because of an e-mail he wrote. I say “an” e-mail, even though Mr. Green wrote at least two that have recently come to light. More about the second e-mail in a moment.

The first e-mail, published on the Drudge Report Web site, was written by Mr. Green to a colleague during the first 2004 presidential debate. It said: “Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the ‘mixed messages’ line one more time, I’m going to puke.”

When that e-mail became public, Mr. Green said, “… I regret the embarrassment this story causes ABC. It was an inappropriate thing to say and I’m deeply sorry.” Mr. Green also apologized to White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace.

The second e-mail was leaked to the New York Post and printed last week. In that one, Mr. Green said former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright should not be booked on the show because “Albright has Jew shame.” Albright was raised Roman Catholic, but has a Jewish heritage. Mr. Green added, “She hates us anyway because she says we promised her five minutes (of air time) and only gave her two …. I do not like her.”

For people who believe the broadcast networks are biased and employ mostly people who favor liberal Democrats and oppose conservative Republicans, ABC’s reaction to these e-mails provides additional confirmation. Notice ABC did not suspend Mr. Green after his critical remarks about President Bush were published. It acted only after his Madeleine Albright e-mail surfaced. There appears to be a double standard at ABC: one for those who bash conservatives and Christians who are Republicans and another for those who bash Democrats with a Jewish heritage.

Last Thursday, I served as the unpaid master of ceremonies for the Media Research Center’s “Dishonors Awards” dinner in Washington. The annual event highlights the most outrageous statements by media heavies about Republicans, the Bush administration, terrorism and other subjects. To see these sound bites presented one after another focuses the mind as nothing else does on the opinionated news that so much broadcast journalism has become.

There was MSNBC’s Chris Matthews praising Jane Fonda for saying about the Vietnam War that it was like states west of the Mississippi River attacking states east of the Mississippi River and would we like that? Mr. Matthews responded, “How do you step out of being an American to make such an objective judgment?”

There was NPR’s Nina Totenberg saying, “It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country,” for what she judged was mistreatment of suspected terrorist prisoners at undisclosed detention centers.

That some Hurricane Katrina victims had gone to live temporarily with good-hearted, church-going families raised the concern of CBS’ Harry Smith. Apparently seeking to reach the atheist demographic, Mr. Smith asked pastor and best-selling author, Rick Warren, “Do I need to be concerned that I’m going to go live with a church family, are they going to proselytize me, are they going to say, ‘You better come to church with me or else, I’m, you know, you’re not going to get your breakfast this morning’?”

CNN founder Ted Turner said on his old network that he believes North Korea’s despotic leader Kim Jong-il when he promises not to build nuclear weapons and that while he hasn’t met Mr. Kim, he’s seen his picture and “he didn’t look too much different than most other people I’ve met.”

An incredulous Wolf Blitzer noted the way Mr. Kim treats his own people, which included letting many starve to death. Mr. Turner responded, “Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but. …” The full list of award winners may be found at www.mrc.org. It’s worth the visit, especially for those in denial about mainstream media bias.

John Green should be reinstated. He and other members of the big media should be encouraged to say what they think, loudly and proudly. Like those labels on bottles, packages and cans at the supermarket, which inform shoppers about their contents, encouraging big media workers to label their ideological insides will benefit news consumers.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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