MEDIA DISGRACES – AT 8:59 A.M. ET: Two items caught our attention, reflecting the latest media disgraces and conflicts-of-interest:
A film dramatizing the "getting" of Osama bin Laden will be shown on nationwide TV just two days before the election, and the personalities involved make us seriously wonder what the intent is. From AP:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A film dramatizing the death of Osama bin Laden is set to debut next month on the National Geographic Channel, two days before the presidential election.
“Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden,” from The Weinstein Co. and Voltage Pictures, will air Sunday, Nov. 4, the channel said Thursday. President Barack Obama faces Republican challenger Mitt Romney at the polls two days later.
Weinstein co-chairman Harvey Weinstein is a prominent fundraiser for Obama’s re-election campaign, which has touted bin Laden’s death as an example of the president’s leadership.
National Geographic Channel chose the film’s debut date to help promote the start of its fall season, channel President Howard T. Owens said Thursday.
“Harvey obviously doesn’t schedule our network,” Owens said. He added that the channel is “not political. We are opportunistic from a programming perspective.”
Oh please. Does anyone believe that?
Owens said he and Weinstein have a previous business relationship: Owens represented Miramax Television while working at the William Morris Agency.
The impropriety here is blatant. It's the kind of thing that went on in old Soviet "republics." Dear Leader is lionized for the benefit of the adoring masses.
And then there's this, from NewsBusters:
James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal smelled a conflict-of-interest problem when "The Washington Post Co. said Monday that it has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Celtic Healthcare, a provider of skilled home health-care and hospice services in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions.”
The Post has offset losses in its core journalism businesses with profits from its Kaplan educational business. But federal money is part of the cash flow. A recent story on threatened accreditations noted “A loss of accreditation would mean the Kaplan campuses would no longer be eligible for Title IV loans from the Education Department, the source of nearly 90 percent of Kaplan higher-education revenue.” The Post’s foray into health care will also make the Post more dependent on government revenue:
Celtic Healthcare relies heavily on funds from Medicare, which provides hospice benefits "for extended periods of time based on the assessment of the patient," according to Celtic's Web site. In its blog last November and again last month, the company posted appeals from health industry groups asking people to lobby Congress to defeat Medicare funding cuts and increases in co-pays.
Taranto wrote: “One might wonder if there's a conflict of interest when the publisher of the major newspaper in the nation's capital acquires a company that has such a strong interest in the policy decisions that are made there. Also, in an era when people wonder about the survival of the traditional media, for a newspaper to go into the hospice business may not be the greatest symbolism.”
COMMENT: Truth in packaging: James Taranto is an acquaintance of mine. But James, as usual, gets it completely right. The Post is traveling in dangerous territory. It is simply inappropriate for a news organization to have a business relationship with the federal government. In fact, there are many relationships today involving news organizations that should be seriously questioned...including the overly cozy relationship between journalism and universities, which are major power institutions and news sources.
The Post disappoints us in its latest business move.
October 5, 2012