Monday, March 16, 2009

Open Letter to ABC News' Yunji De Nies: Here's Your Chance Not To Be a Hack

At about 7:00 pm the night of Monday, March 16, ABC reporter and World News Now co-anchor Yunji De Nies (or, as I should say since this is an open letter, you) sent the following message via Twitter (with explanations of tweet-imposed shorthand in parentheses for novices) :

"heading back into work 4 wnn (World News Now). working on a piece on the meghan mccain controversy for gma (Good Morning America) ... tweet me ur thoughts - was ingraham out of line?

"Was Ingraham out of line?" is the ONLY question that you thought to ask. As recovering litigator Ingraham might say: Leading the witness, your honor! Sounds like you only want one kind of answer. Where is the question of whether Meghan was out of line when she wrote of Ann Coulter, "Maybe her popularity stems from the fact that watching her is sometimes like watching a train wreck"?

Hopefully, Yunji, you won't fall victim to the freewheeling, biased culture of World News Now, which brought us this outrage on the subject of Coulter back on June 28, 2007, when then co-anchor Tania Hernandez suggested to deskmate Ryan Owens that Coulter and Paris Hilton engage in a "skinny death match." That statement of disdain for Coulter and Hilton -- with unsolicited commentary on womens' bodies to boot -- took place as the unknown WNN director called for the playing of Elton John's "The Bitch is Back".

If you missed that, and doubt it's how I describe it, don't worry, I can back it up. Here it is now:

You know that was no accident. But you have a chance to redeem World News Now and ABC News simply by being honest.

If you are more honest than the reporters who selectively edited Rush Limbaugh's multiple detailed explanations of the reasons why he 'wants Barack Obama to fail', you'll click here and listen to the ENTIRE part of Laura's show dealing with Meghan -- in context.

If you are an honest person, you will note that in Ingraham's stream-of-consciousness reaction to bytes from Ms. McCain's shallow interview with leftist MSNBC talkhost Rachel Maddow, she described Meghan as "kinda cute" before she referred to her as a "plus-sized model." Maybe in the looks-obsessed culture of TV news, being referred to as a "plus-sized model" is an insult. As a flamboyant heterosexual male who adores both the female form and the wondrous minds often contained within, I don't agree -- and I am on record as saying so.

If you are an honest person, you will review what Meghan has written about Ingraham's snide remark, and come to the realization Ms. McCain has completely transformed Laura's words into something completely different. To wit: In her turn on The View yesterday, Ms. McCain suggested -- without contradiction from the hosts, who were disinterested in the full picture, that Laura Ingraham meant to say 'She's fat, she's shouldn't have an opinion.'"

As a regular Ingraham listener, I understand what Laura meant: She was not making fun of Meghan's weight, she was making fun of her "valley girl" manner of talking, which is associated with shallowness. Ingraham's reference to The Real World was suggestive that Meghan wanted desperately to remain in the media spotlight, but wouldn't be cast on that show since the only women who make it onto that show are the hard-bodied, scantily-clad types.

Now, for some honesty of my own: As a big Laura fan, I don't think it was a fair attack, and don't think it was funny. Getting on Meghan for her voice and speech pattern rather than the content of her argument is no better than the way Sarah Palin critics (look around, Yunji, they're all around you on the set) unfairly suggested she was an airhead because of her Alaska accent and dropped "g's." I said as much as I could in the space of a tweet to Meghan:

@McCainBlogette Although I am big
Laura I. fan, I've researched situation,
and Laura was out of line. That being
said, you need thicker skin

But once again Yunji, you have the golden chance to show the journalistic power of honesty in reporting. You can show you are a cut above the common MSM hack, and thus prove that you don't use your precious, powerful perch as The Face of The News to twist the truth to settle scores, act as an unpaid political aide, or gratuitously steer public opinion against someone you don't like for petty reasons.

I know it's late, but you still have time to reverse the tone of any outrageous copy you've already written. You can do it!

I'll be watching (well, actually, taping). And you can bet I will let you know what I think either way. C U on Twitter.


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