(A column to appear in my campus newspaper, *The Pitt News*. Thought it might be of interest. )
DISNEY/ABC: ALL IN A WEEK'S WORK
by John Lacny
Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" was always more of a contract with a company union. You know the sort of thing: one of those fake organizations set up by the boss's stool-pigeons to "represent" you at the bargaining table. Gingrich's successor Bob Livingston has breathed new life into this analogy by crossing a picket line of ABC technicians in order to appear on the show *This Week*. Even Al Gore-- a stalwart of the anti-labor Democratic Leadership Council-- has refused to appear on ABC, yet Livingston still knows no shame.
No doubt the ghost of America's most beloved Nazi sympathizer and Hollywood fink for the House Un-American Activities Committee smiled down on the scene. After all, the many-tentacled monstrosity which Walt Disney has bequeathed to the world has long since swallowed up ABC. One of its appendages sucks the lifeblood from Haitian workers making Disney paraphernalia at 19 cents an hour, while another locks out technicians at its TV network, simultaneously sustaining the unfortunately long-lived careers of the likes of George Will, George Stephanopoulos, and Ted Koppel.
Count the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as another of the monster's servile attendants. It ruled that the company's lockout was *legal* because the workers had staged a surprise one-day job action. It is at moments like these that one stands back in sheer stupefaction and wonders when the NLRB will abandon its contrived position of "mediator" and simply declare unions illegal.
For obvious reasons I have not watched *This Week* for some time. However, the one or two pre-strike episodes of which I caught a glimpse were truly amazing in that the show had actually managed to go *down*hill. The welcome retirement of David Brinkley has merely led to the ascendancy of Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, perhaps the media's most stunning examples of Establishment arrogance.
Donaldson was a co-host with Diane Sawyer of ABC's "Prime Time Live" when the show attacked the Children's Disability program. Donaldson and Sawyer claimed that disabled poor children were defrauding the Treasury, and the report lent an impetus to the passage of the welfare bill signed by Bill Clinton in August of 1996. Among the victims were some 150,000 disabled children who were removed from the rolls.
Millionaire Donaldson continues to collect $97,000 per year in federal subsidies for his New Mexico sheep ranch.
Regarding Roberts, it is possible to go on for some time, although I fear exceeding my vitriol quota for this column. This walking conflict-of-interest and author of the tautologically-titled *We Are All Our Mothers' Daughters* describes so many of the Washington politicians she purports to cover as "very dear friends" that it is a wonder her ethical vacuity does not set off alarm bells even in the depraved universe of TV network news. Nuclear industry giants General Electric and Westinghouse have on occasion put up the cash for her staggeringly high speaker's fees, earning Roberts the dubious distinction of having been on the payroll of the owners of *all three* major TV networks. An achievement worthy of the "journalist" who once faked a broadcast "from Capitol Hill" by donning an overcoat and standing in front of an electronic backdrop of the Capitol.
*This Week* has also become the stomping grounds of Bill Kristol, a man clueless enough to believe that having been an assistant to Dan Quayle redounds to his credit. Kristol's ABC paychecks help him keep the *Weekly Standard* afloat, which in turn allows him to provide a badly-needed magazine job to John Podhoretz, that other talent-free hellspawn of a well-known neoconservative. These guys give a new and twisted meaning to the word "solidarity."
It's all in a week's work for Disney/ABC, although nowadays all of that work is being done by scabs.