ABC Draws Fire After Naming Bashir as Co-Anchor of Nightline – MB#285

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ABC Draws Fire After Naming Bashir and McFadden as Co-Anchors of Nightline – MB #285 Decision to front Nightline with a trio of reporters, one of which is Bashir, has been roundly panned OCTOBER 25 2005 – As if independent researchers, analysts, non-conformist reporters and real investigative journalists needed more reasons to create “blogs” and fire up their podcasts, ABC just provided them with yet another. As I was perusing more drivel – this time from the Los Angeles Times in relation to Jackson’s charity single — I came upon the news that Martin Bashir and Cynthia McFadden along with Terry Moran were named as “co-anchors” of the “new” Nightline. Nightline is considered one of the last bastions of real journalism and is anchored by Ted Koppel. But the switch to turn it into a half hour copy of damn near every other ‘quick-hits’ magazine show, with the addition of a trio of anchors, has drawn the ire of many long time viewers of the show. It is much more of a slap in the face considering that two highly coveted hosting positions in that planned trio will go to the deceitful Bashir and the vapid McFadden. Is this ‘out with real journalism’ and in with entertainment based, holier-than-thou, mostly one-sided reporting? We shall see soon enough. With the exception of Terry Moran, Bashir and McFadden have fronted bash-and-trash-Jackson reports for ABC; Bashir with his 2 defamatory “specials” which aired on ABC, and McFadden with her one-sided report with leaked grand jury testimony. It would not be enough to lambaste the god-awful and rather disgusting way in which Bashir’s Jackson scandal blew up in his face. Or how he had to be dragged into the Santa Maria courtroom and refused to answer questions about his Jackson-con. Or how he praised Jackson to his face then meticulously edited-out such “praise” and replaced it with “disturbing” and inappropriate ridicule in the form of ominous voiceovers. One also has to investigate why Bashir’s tactics seemed to be so acceptable by ABC that they would offer him employment in some of the most coveted positions at the network despite the fact that his promised “breakthrough” reporting is all but non-existent. Bashir must know about a secret gay love affair that a person in power at ABC is having? He must have evidence that someone in power at ABC has a love child with an underaged girl? He must know about how someone in power at ABC has cheated on his taxes for the past 5 years? I have no idea if any of those three previous statements are true. I was simply trying to illustrate the confusion many people feel about this news because Bashir has received TOO many opportunities seemingly for no reason at all. In other words, as one observer put it, he must know where some of the bodies are buried to receive such perks at ABC. Is it an accepted modus operandi at ABC to purposely deceive interview subjects for one’s own financial gain and notoriety? Bashir seems to be a master at that, say some. Apparently a number of people can see the lack of credibility. Perhaps the ratings-driven bosses at the network think we all watched the alleged documentary “Living with Michael Jackson” because Bashir was the interviewer? Can they be that stupid? Jackson could have been interviewed by Bubbles the Chimp for that “documentary” and ABC’s ratings still would have gone through the roof. I shudder to think though that Bubble the Chimp probably would have done a more professional and more thorough job than the pathetic Bashir. Quite frankly, ABC has been declining in investigative reporting for some time now; or at least since the 20/20 travesty of broadcasting ‘Living with Michael Jackson’ and, afterwards, naming John Stossel and Elizabeth Vargas as co-hosts. Give me a break! My loyal viewership of 20/20 changed when, with Bashir’s taint, Barbara Walters parroted Bashir’s nonsensical voiceovers for ABC’s version of the “Living with Michael Jackson” alleged documentary. After which, I was done with both Walters and 20/20. Now, to witness Nightline circling the drain as well is truly a sad thing to see. It is yet unknown how much face time McFadden and Bashir will have, however. They could be there simply to smile and nod agreeingly with Terry Moran for all we know. But it’s still a rather pitiful development. There has to be one of two reasons why Bashir could continue to get promoted in such a public way at ABC. One reason may be because the money-driven big wigs at ABC have no idea what came out in court at the Jackson trial. Ironically, one of the reasons Bashir/ABC cited to keep Bashir from being subjected to the Santa Maria gag order was to allow him to cover the Jackson trial. I’ve yet to see one report from him where he “covered” the actual trial without the personal attacks and manufactured innuendo. The second reason Bashir may continue to get perks is that these same money-driven big wigs at ABC simply don’t care about putting forth an accurate and balanced report on Jackson, the trial, or how the case even made it to court. Maybe, to them, Jackson is not worthy of such treatment? I guess it’s more of ABC’s balanced, thorough reporting in action. Bashir’s promotion-worthy status certainly isn’t evidenced by his past performances. Putting aside the ludicrous way in which he behaved with Jackson, there is ample reason for people in power at ABC to be suspicious of him. __Running from the past__ Bashir’s past includes, but is not limited to, forgery allegations, losing potential evidence in a double child murder case, and allegations of blackmail by another one of his interview subjects. And these are only the things he’s accused of in Britain which we know about! The forgery allegations in Britain would hold weight alone, but they are made all the more interesting considering Bashir may have engaged in such behavior with Jackson, say some courtroom observers who were present during Bashir’s testimony. The previously loquacious Bashir turned mute on the stand in the Jackson “case” and hid behind the California Shield law when asked questions about his conduct. During the trial, Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau pointed out that two different contracts with Bashir – supposedly signed by Jackson – had two different signatures on them; enough difference to be apparent to anyone looking at the documents. Although Bashir’s lawyer, the annoying Ted Boutrous, objected to the question, it’s quite obvious the point was made. It may come back to haunt Bashir along with his previous allegation of forgery involving Princess Diana. According to Princess Diana biographer Andrew Morton, there’s a claim that Bashir used forged bank statements to convince a scared Princess Di to do the now famous (or infamous) interview with him in 1995. A report carried by the Sydney Morning Herald titled ‘Royal tales and true” dated June 29 2004 states:

Then there’s the claim that Martin Bashir used forged documents to persuade Diana to co-operate for the famous Panorama interview (since denied by Bashir and the BBC). Any further repercussions? “If there were, they’d have to go to court and explain why they forged these documents two weeks before the interview.” Nevertheless the documents were shown by Bashir. “Yes, forged bank statements which indicated payments by newspapers to shadowy offshore companies. He told Diana she was under surveillance and in danger.” Diana fell for it. She believed someone was being paid to bump her off. Moreover, Morton met Matt Wiessler, “the man who forged the documents”. “I tracked him down in a farmhouse in the wilds of England and he confirmed the story,” he says. “Also I spoke to Diana’s friends who confirmed she was doing the interview because she was terrified of the implications of those bank statements. She genuinely thought her life was in danger. She gave the interview to save her life.” Morton says she had zero rehearsal and zero control. Nor was she sent a list of questions. “Absolutely not.” (see Royal tales and true )

According to courtroom observers, Bashir denied he was ever accused of forging signatures in Britain, but never denied he was accused of using forged documents for a specific purpose. If that were all Bashir was accused of doing, he might have been able to downplay it. But it gets worse. Bashir was forced to deal with the way he misled a grieving father searching desperately for his missing daughter. Bashir apparently used deceptive practices to get the father to do an interview with him. According to a Feb 23 2003 report from The Mail on Sunday, the father, Farooq Yusof, revealed that he was blackmailed into appearing in the Bashir documentary about his daughter’s disappearance:

Farooq Yusof, father of runaway child prodigy Sufiah told the commission at a private hearing in London on Wednesday that Bashir had claimed to have vital information about his missing daughter — but would reveal it only if Mr. Yusof would appear in a Bashir documentary. (see I was blackmailed by Bashir, says child prodigy’s father

Yusof’s blackmail allegations were confirmed by Graham Baldwin. Baldwin is from a charity called Catalyst, whom Yusof reached out to in order to help him find his daughter. Baldwin spoke to The Mail on Sunday, saying:

“Bashir blackmailed us. He clearly said that he had very important information that he had got from his researchers and he wouldn’t give it to Mr. Yusof unless he did the programme. But there was no information. The way he behaved was outrageous.” (see I was blackmailed by Bashir, says child prodigy’s father

The complaint against Bashir was partly upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) — whose duties are now administered by the Office of Communications (Ofcom) — in Britain which concluded that Yusof was misled by Bashir. From their findings:

It was evident from the recording of the discussions between Mr Bashir and Mr Yusof on 31 January 2001 that Mr Bashir misled Mr Yusof into believing that he was investigating the involvement of the authorities in the disappearance of his daughter. It takes the view that the programme-makers had lulled Mr Yusof into a contrary belief for their own purposes and had not given him a clear indication as to the nature and purpose of the programme. The Commission therefore finds unfairness to Mr Yusof in this respect. (see Adjudication of the Yusof Complaint Against Martin Bashir (April 2003))

Is this the type of behavior ABC looks for in their journalists? Do the requirements for promotion include that you had to have been involved in misleading at lease one interviewee, while using false documents on another? Ah, but the infamous alleged miscreant may be more careless and/or shady than once thought. Another issue which came up last year revolved around an old, heinous double child murder known as the “Babes in the Wood” case. According to reports, the BBC was investigating accusations that it lost crucial evidence in relation to that case. One of the families whose child was murdered says Bashir lost items of their slain daughter’s clothing. He was apparently given the items in 1991 to arrange for DNA testing to be performed, reportedly in relation to a documentary he was doing about that case. A report from Manchester Online dated March 23 2004 titled “BBC ‘lost Babes in Wood case clothes’ ” details the travesty and the allegations from the 10 year old murdered girl’s family — Karen Hadaway’s family. From the report:

Karen’s relatives say they gave Mr Bashir and the BBC’s Public Eye programme clothing in 1991 for DNA testing as part of a documentary but never got them back. Mr. Bashir’s signature appears on a receipt given to Karen’s parents for the clothes but he now says he cannot recall meeting the family or taking the items. Mrs. Hadaway claims Mr. Bashir … promised to keep in touch about the documentary’s progress but never contacted them. He moved to Panorama a year later. Now the BBC has launched an inquiry in the hope of finding the items, including a sweatshirt, T-shirt, vest and knickers. (see BBC ‘lost Babes in Wood case clothes’)

The family hoped to build a new case against the man who allegedly killed their daughter with whatever DNA evidence which would have been on her clothing. That man, Russell Bishop, was jailed in 1991 for kidnapping and sexually abusing another girl, and was about to be eligible to get out of jail in “a couple of weeks” from the date of the Manchester Online article. In Britain, there is a law called the Criminal Justice Act 2003 whereby Bishop could be tried again for the murders if “new evidence” came to light. That’s why the Hadaway family needed the clothing which they had given to Bashir for that documentary in 1991. Bashir, as you read earlier, claims he doesn’t recall even meeting the family. Apparently he doesn’t remember whether or not he met a grieving family who turned over their dead child’s clothes for DNA testing in relation to one of his documentaries. How could something like that slip his mind?? Are these the characteristics of a person worthy of any anchor position at any network? And in replacement of Ted Koppel, no less?? Absolutely not. One thing Bashir should learn quickly is that karma is a bitch. Just ask Janet Arvizo…Tom Sneddon…or those two idiots who bugged Jackson’s private plane in 2003. __Viewers outraged over ABC’s decision__ Long time viewers of Nightline are really giving ABC a piece of their minds according to ABC’s Nightline public message boards. The ones who have posted thus far are very angry at the decision to ruin Nightline’s format and to add Bashir and McFadden as anchors. ABC member “JAWIWA” posted on ABC’s public forum that Nightline’s overseers have taken a “venerable institution” and made it “into a half hour version of the very many news programs which already are in existence”:

JAWIWA: …The joy of “Nightline” was that it spent a full half-hour (sometimes longer) on one story, enabling it to cover its stories more in depth and in a far more well-rounded manner. Now, it will be more of the same: 5-7 minute puff pieces that are indistinguishable from the spots on every other news show on every other network.

‘JAWIWA’ goes on to criticize the decision to include McFadden and Bashir in the list of anchors. More from his/her post:

JAWIWA: …Then, to add insult to injury, they are pairing the very good Terry Moran with absolute hacks like McFadden and Bashir. Why not Michel Martin or John Donvan or Chris Bury? You know, people that “Nightline” viewers have known and respected for years. …As someone who for years has always chosen ABC News as my primary television news source, I must now face the fact that it is a shadow of its former self.

‘Teebers_Gal’ says she would have preferred John Donvan as the sole anchor of Nightline, while ‘JDevil1735’ says he/she contacted Nightline:

I had e-mailed Nightline telling them I was no longer watching Nightline anymore when they first changed the format. …Nightline has been [dumbed] down into the same format that every other news magazine is. Why should I bother watching Nightline at 11:30 when i can see the same soundbite crap on every other channel and “news” program.

ABC board member ‘rovetisserie’ was much more blunt in his/her opinion and posted the following:

rovetisserie: Congrats, ABC! You’ve taken a silk purse and turned it into a sow’s ear, and not even a distinctive sow’s ear. Nightline is now like every other “news” program on broadcast TV: fast, hip and useless. …I’m actually starting to believe the Katie Couric replacing Jennings rumor!

Member ‘missclimpson’ takes the suspicious route, calling Bashir a “no-talent hack” who must know “where the body is buried” to be named as an anchor:

Martin Bashir must know where the body is buried. How else could this no-talent hack get jobs on 20/20 and Nightline? …The guy makes my flesh crawl. As far as I’m concerned, ABC news is in the toilet.

‘Econ622’ posted that “Bashir’s stuff has been nothing but tabloid and fluff junk”, and ‘dorisne’ says he/she will be watching Fox or CNN from now on. ‘Cattitudes’ is of the opinion that Nightline prosecutors do not care what its viewers think:

Cattitudes: …Some time ago two or three board threads covered this very subject, and many posters voiced concerns similar to those articulated throughout this thread. We strongly urged “Nightline” producers to rethink the new drive-by, dumbed-down format. But it seems the producers have opted to disregard the thinking people in the viewing audience and instead cater to those whose brains are limited to processing sound bites. The producers have left viewers two options: put up with the inferior format or stop watching the program altogether. When Ted Koppel leaves, I’ll choose the latter alternative.

Ouch. One has to wonder what these posters would think if they were made aware of the behavior Bashir engaged in prior to his ‘escape’ to the United States. Somehow Jackson was the final straw. Somehow people began to realize these tactics were not worthy of praise. Somehow Bashir has become a pariah and everyone can see it except for ABC. They deserve whatever misery Bashir brings upon them. -MJEOL

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