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Fluff, Sleaze & Slant -- or Business as Usual for FNL

Reported by Nancy - February 15, 2005 -

FNL today (2/15) was wall-to-wall Michael Jackson speculation, with a few minor distractions for actual news (Shandley sentencing, Pittman conviction, Syria, Lebanon). There was the usual fluff (Tom Selleck's new TV movie) & sleaze (Mary Kay LeTourneau, Pamela Rogers Turner). There was the usual hyperbolic report from Eric Shawn about the UN Oil-for-Food program that essentially was a conduit for Sen Norm Coleman's (R-MN) personal opinions. There was also the usual politically biased interview, slanted to showcase & support the most radical reactionary views.

FNL devoted the following segments to the Michael Jackson case:
*11:00am (all times ET) Brigitte Quinn was interviewing Harvey Levin (Celebrity Justice) re MJackson.
*11:02am there was an - ALERT - & the Levin interview was interrupted to go to sentencing of Paul Shandley, live until 11:11am, when Quinn summarized Shandley sentence, noting that he won't be eligible for parole until near 90 & that the judge "vowed" to make sure he doesn't get near kids.
*11:12am - teasers included: - why are some GOPs worried the party is headed in the wrong direction?
MJakcson; Tom Selleck new TV movie
*11:17am - teasers included: MJackson; Bush budget supplements; "monument to govt waste"
*11:21am - Bob Massi at the CA courthouse reported on celeb list of potential witnesses in the MJackson case & Quinn resumed the interview with Levin, with Massi also participating.
*11:39am - "tops" included: MJackson; PShandley; "call for justice" in UN oil-for-food "scandal"
*11:45am - teasers included: divers take the plunge for the record books; MJackson; Tom Selleck
*11:52am - ALERT - MJackson has been rushed to the hospital - no further info according to Asman, then Massi added one fact (that the judge announced that Jackson is at an ER), then Asman & Massi indulged in some speculation for 6 mins
*11:59am - ALERT - so Asman could repeat what he & Massi had just spent 6 mins "discussing" & Anita Vogel could add another speculative report & Asman then repeated the original limited info.
*12:13pm - teasers included: MJackson
*12:15pm - ALERT - Asman repeated that MJackson is in the hosp, added that Geraldo Rivera says Jackson "may" have a strep throat. Asman then interviewed Jared Shapiro (Star mag) & Sarah Murray (jury consultant) for still more speculation about what might or might not be going on.
*12:28pm - teasers included: MJackson; PShandley
*12:31pm - ALERT - so Asman could repeat that Jackson was rushed to a hospital & Massi could file another speculative report. Asman also repeated that Geraldo Rivera
*12:39pm - ALERT - so Asman could repeat that Jackson was rushed to a hospital
*12:44pm - Asman announced that MJackson has a severe case of the flu
*12:45pm - teasers included: students clash with police in Seattle; a TN gym teacher charged with statutory rape of 13yo student; Zoloft case; MJackson; Syria
*12:48pm - ALERT for "more details" about why Jackson had to go to the hospital; Asman interviewed Dr Steven Garner (St Vincent's Hosp, NY) about the flu
[Comment: I promise, this is the last time I document how much time FNL wastes on this -- otherwise I'd be spending hours doing it & you'd be bored to tears.]

Here's the slanted interview:
At 11:14am, saying that GOP "moderates complain" that the party has moved too far right but "given Bush's win" is that a legit complaint? Quinn interviewed Pete Dupont (R, former DE Gov). Quinn repeated the question of whether it was a legit complaint of moving too far to the right, & Dupont didn't answer the question, instead saying that the GOP changed from a minority party with the "Reagan Revolution" & Gingrich's CWA. He touted the GOP as the "party of individualism" that "represents the views of most Americans." Quinn then asked whether the GOP is "too conservative" on social issues. Again, Dupont evaded the question, noting only that the 2004 "election said gay marriage is on a lot of people's minds" before hitting the official talking points ("freedom around the world", "tax policy") & asserting that the GOP "represents miiddle-class Americans" & is "right in the mainsteam." Quinn asked whether Bush will win the fight re SocSec & Dupont said there will be a "big battle" but "he can win it." Quinn asked if Bush is "reshaping" SocSec & the GOP "for generations to come" & Dupont hit more talking points ("own your investment account", "ownership society"), adding that what Bush is doing is a "tremendous thing" that will "build the party further."
[Comment: if the issue is moderate complaints about the direction of the GOP, why not invite a moderate GOP who's complaining to discuss it?]

In connection with Eric Shawn's "report" (11:32am, essentially repeated at 12:05pm) on Oil-for-Food, Asman used a new phrase -- "one of the biggest official ripoffs in history" -- which is a semi-clever step back from Fox's previous assertions (repeated on FNL & elsewhere) that it was the "biggest financial scandal in history." Now everyone can parse what is or is not an "official ripoff" & decide whether Asman's phrase is correct or not. FNL still isn't "covering" the $9 billion in Iraqi money the CPA "lost", & if that isn't an official ripoff, what is?

NOTE TO READERS: Please try to stay on topic (FNL's coverage of the above issues). O/T comments will be deleted (eventually). Please use the O/T category -- see the list at right -- if you want to comment on anything other than the above. Thanks.

ADDENDUM 021605 at 4:11pm: I originally typed Harvey KORMAN instead of Harvey LEVIN (even though my notes said Levin; I must have been chanelling Carol Burnett). I have now corrected the error.