Appall-O-Meter

Dave Mulcahey

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The Liberal Media 6.9

In These Times readers need no convincing that our news conglomerates are ethically compromised. It is fascinating nonetheless to glimpse corporate wussiness in action. Roll Call, the trade journal of Capitol Hill, reports that Walter Isaacson, the new chief of CNN, recently met with Republican heavies to discuss his network’s unpopularity with conservative TV watchers. 

It’s not clear what wisdom Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, House GOP Conference Chairman J.C. Watts, and Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska might have offered. But an aide to one of the Republicans present had this to say about Isaacson: He is panicked that he’s losing conservative viewers. … He said, Give us some guidance on how to attract conservatives.’ He said he wanted to change the culture’ at CNN. I think he perceived that they have a problem, and they do have a problem.” 

The problem in question is the burgeoning audience for CNN’s main rival, the transparently right-wing Fox News Channel. CNN has suffered much high-profile abuse from GOP zealots (such as House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, who likes to call CNN the Communist News Network”). Isaacson – who in 1997 infamously chided participants at the lefty Media and Democracy Congress for being elitist and out of touch – seems to be getting the message. 

Horsley’s List 9.3

Neal Horsley of Carrollton, Georgia cares so deeply about the right to life that a few years ago he and some pals got together and published a hit list of abortion practitioners around the country. Dubbed the Nuremberg Files,” the list appeared on the Christian Gallery, a Web site Horsley has run since 1995. When one of the abortionists on the list was wounded in an attack, his name appeared in gray. If he was killed, his name was crossed out. 

Now, according to a report by Inside​.com, Horsley is taking his anti-abortion campaign to a new level with a venture called Abor​tion​cams​.com. This new site features video and photographs of abortion patients, doctors and clinic employees. He intends to compile these images into television programs that he is encouraging fellow travelers to insert on public access cable channels across the country. 

Horsley’s dirty tricks might appear to constitute a threat of violence, or at least an invasion of privacy. But not according to an appeals court reversal of a $107.9 million judgment against the American Coalition of Life Activists, Horsley’s collaborators on the Nuremberg Files. The ruling, handed down in March, is all Horsley needs for a go-ahead. He’s even spoiling for a legal challenge from pro-choice advocates. Or, as he charmingly put it to Inside​.com, We’re laying in wait for their sorry asses.” 

Just Say Um 5.4

In a depressing field report on the inner void of the upper bourgeoisie, the New York Times describes a new kind of therapy for overly assertive female executives. Bully Broads, a program run by Jean Hollands of the Growth and Leadership Center in Mountainview, California, takes brassy, outspoken strivers (usually sent by their bosses, who find them a little too much to handle) and teaches them to hem and haw, blubber and just shut up. The results can be impressive. Some of the, um, modifications Jean suggested have helped me,” an ex-corporate shrew told the Times. I just said um.’ I never used to say um.’ “

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Dave Mulcahey, a former managing editor of The Baffler, wrote In These Times’ monthly Appallo-o-meter” feature for nearly 10 years, until the fall of 2009.
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