NEWS AND OPINION:
Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell has seen a lot of media abuse in his time as the master monitor of the liberal press. Now, he’s seen the very worst: The broadcast networks “all but spiked the largest legal action in history to defend our constitutionally protected religious freedom,” the analyst says, citing CBS, ABC and NBC for skimming over news that 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations filed a lawsuit Monday against the Obama administration.
CBS managed to air 19 seconds on the subject. But that was it, between all three networks.
“This is the worst bias by omission I have seen in the quarter-century history of the Media Research Center,” he says, insisting that the networks fear the lawsuit could compromise President Obama’s popularity with voters.
“This is not a mistake, nor is it an editorial oversight by the broadcast networks. This is a deliberate and insidious withholding of national news to protect the ‘chosen one’ who ABC, CBS and NBC have worked so hard to elect.”
Lead stories and in-depth reports are in order, he suggests, following revelations that the Catholic Church unleashed “legal Armageddon” on the White House, promising not to comply with health care reforms that would require religiously affiliated institutions to offer birth control to employees.
“Instead, these networks are sending a clear message to all Americans that the networks will go to any lengths — even censoring from the public an event of this historic magnitude — to prevent the release of any information that will hurt Obama’s chances of re-election,” Mr. Bozell concludes.
FRIENDS OF ELIZABETH
Let the show begin: President Obama isn’t the only Democrat to draw glittering Hollywood firepower. Silver-screen hunks Ben Affleck and Matt Damon — who both grew up near Boston — staged a “Massachusetts Evening” at a Santa Monica, Calif., production studio Monday night to raise money for consumer advocate and Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, who would like very much to take Edward M. Kennedy’s old U.S. Senate seat from Sen. Scott P. Brown, a hunk in his own right.
The event drew the interest of some 350 top-drawer donors who parted with $1,000 to $1,500 each. Among the stars and moguls present: Mr. Affleck’s wife Jennifer Garner, John Krasinski, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Braff, Dana Delany, Tobey Maguire, Ed Zwick, Steven Spielberg, Rob Reiner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sally Field, Michael King, Harvey Weinstein and Alan Ladd Jr.
“It was the first time Affleck has thrown himself personally into a major political fundraiser, but when word hits the street about that haul, it probably wont be the last,” predicts Hollywood Reporter correspondent Tina Daunt.
THE VIAL MATTER
Multiple news organizations were titillated and even gleeful over news that a British auction house is peddling a 31-year-old vial that once contained Ronald Reagan’s blood — a phenomenon first reported Sunday night in this very column, based on a lead from Washington Times editor Ed Kelley. The greater implications of the bizarre story — the top bid is now approaching $15,000 — are being explored by those with genuine respect for Mr. Reagan, and concern for his survivors.
They ask: What’s the responsibility of George Washington University Hospital, where the blood was drawn following John Hinckley Jr.’s 1982 assassination attempt on the president? There are also concerns about privacy rights and the untoward spectacle of the tale, plus inevitable “What if?” whispers about cloning.
“This is a depraved situation,” says a source close to the situation. “Now, here’s what should happen, ideally. The auction house should simply take the vial off the market and turn it over to the British government, which in turn should return it to the Reagan family. Case closed.”
Oh look, a nice talk about bikini season? Why, no.
Weight Watchers International Inc. convenes a policy summit Wednesday to examine “the growing national security threat posed by a shrinking pool of Americans lean enough to serve in the military.” Uh-oh. That dreaded state of chubbiness remains a leading medical disqualifier; 27 percent of potential recruits weigh too much to enlist in the armed forces, the organization says.
They’ve drawn some brass too. Among the speakers at the private event just two blocks from the U.S. Capitol: Rear Adm. James Barnett Jr., retired U.S. Navy Col. Heidi A. Warrington, Army Institute of Public Health, and David Kirchhoff, CEO and president of Weight Watchers.
NOT ON BASE
“Exactly half of Americans support the House-passed legislation to bar same-sex weddings at military facilities,” reports National Journal editorial director Ronald Brownstein, referring to a United Technologies/National Journal poll released Tuesday that explored several gay rights issues. Weddings prompted multiple opinions.
“The ban on gay weddings provoked a significant generation gap: 60 percent of seniors supported it, and 53 percent of those under 30 opposed it. Nearly three-fourths of Republicans backed the ban; a 53 percent majority of Democrats opposed it, and independents split almost exactly in half,” Mr. Brownstein says.
On Friday, the House approved the proposal to ban gay weddings at military facilities, within overall defense authorization legislation. The ban drew support from 222 Republicans and 77 Democrats.
AT THE CROSSROADS
It hits the airwaves Wednesday in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. That would be a $9.7 million buy for “Basketball,” a new issue ad from Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies detailing what they see as the Obama administration’s shoddy efforts to fix the economy, cut the debt and lower taxes.
“This ad expresses the human element of that debate,” said Steven Law, president of the grass-roots advocacy group, which is also interested in introducing the phrase “new majority agenda” to the public discourse.
See what they’re talking about, and view the ad here:
POLL DU JOUR
• 74 percent of Americans say freedom of religion should be protected even if it “goes against government laws.”
• 86 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of conservatives, 64 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of liberals agree.
• 72 percent overall say it is “morally wrong” to require health care professionals to perform a legal abortion against their religious beliefs.
• 86 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of conservatives, 57 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of liberals agree.
• 58 percent overall say health organizations should be able to opt out of performing abortions for religious reasons.
• 73 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of conservatives, 48 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of liberals agree.
• 52 percent overall say U.S. laws have made it harder for people to live according to their religious beliefs.
• 69 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of conservatives, 39 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of liberals agree.
Source: A Knights of Columbus/Marist poll of 1,606 U.S. adults conducted May 10 to 14 and released Tuesday.
• Nervous commentary, churlish observations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Jennifer Harper can be reached at email@example.com.
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