Monday, August 30, 2010

ABC News ‘Reprimanded’ Cameraman Who Tried to Provoke Ground Zero Mosque Protesters, but They Haven’t Gone Far Enough

See related:
1. Speaker at GZM Rally Witnesses Provocative Behavior from ABC News Staffer
2. Report: ABC News Admits Wrongdoing at Ground Zero Mosque Rally After Big Peace Expose’

by Andrea S. Lafferty

As Worth Reading readers–and Rush Limbaugh listeners–know, at last Sunday’s Coalition to Honor Ground Zero’s rally, I watched an ABC News crew stand by, ready to film, while one of their co-workers tried to provoke an angry or violent reaction at a New York rally protesting the Ground Zero mosque.

ABC News announced late yesterday that they had “reprimanded” the still unnamed audio man who was representing ABC News at the Ground Zero rally. Transparency is an elusive quality at ABC.

ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider tells TVNewser the network has looked into Lafferty’s complaint and agrees that the tech “aggressively” questioned members of the crowd with his personal camera.

After a lengthy conversation with Jeffrey Schneider myself, I am even more alarmed at how casually ABC treats its responsibility to attempt to be truthful and accurate. In covering the Ground Zero rally, the ABC News representatives were neither.

Mr. Schneider’s bottom line was to argue that no footage which was the product of ABC’s harassing effort appeared in their final coverage. I asked: what if the ABC News harassment of the people at the rally had been successful, would footage of “an angry mob” have been included in that night’s news program?

“I don’t deal in hypothetical situations,” was Mr. Schneider’s response.

Whether or not the situation was officially sanctioned by ABC News–and I’m pretty certain it wasn’t–the crew on the scene did its best to provoke the man at the rally. Their failure to get “angry mob” footage was why there was none in the report that finally aired. ABC News deserves no credit for not using bogus footage. After all, they seemed to try very hard, but were finally unable to stage a show for their viewers, even at the risk of creating an incident which could have mushroomed into violence.

It is important to note, of course, that the media’s lust for scenes of violence or contention only go one way; they have been totally uninterested in actual and substantial violence and far-out anti-American, anti-Semitic rhetoric and signs that were common at leftist protests throughout the presidency of George W. Bush.

ABC News should not just reprimand the contract employee (who actually did the provoking), but fire him along with the two other ABC New employees who stood by and watched him do it. The cameraman was standing nearby, poised and ready to record.

Mr. Schneider said he thought I was imagining some sort of “conspiracy” but you don’t have to see black helicopters to know that ABC News’ reaction to the situation borders on indifference. Journalists should not make-up news and they should not try to “improve” film footage when the real thing doesn’t have enough action. That ethic may be appropriate for some cheesy reality program on an obscure cable channel, but it has no place on a national network which purports to be serious about news reporting.

News reporters are told in journalism school to approach each subject with a “healthy skepticism.” From now on I am skeptical about what ABC News tells me occurred in the world that day.