Reed Irvine - Editor
  March A, 1993  

IT WAS ADVOCACY, STUPID

 THIS ISSUE:
  • IT WAS ADVOCACY, STUPID
  • The First Confession
  • The Second Confession
  • Rotten To The Core
  • GM's Side Of The Story
  • Muddying The Clearwater
  •  What You Can Do
  • Notes
  • Michael Gartner resigned as president of NBC News six days after NBC had made its second on-the-air apology in 15 days for having used fakery in its news shows. On February 9, it confessed to having rigged crash tests of GM C/K pickup trucks to support the claim on Dateline NBC that these trucks are "rolling fire bombs waiting to explode." On February 24, Tom Brokaw admitted that his Nightly News program of January 4 had misrepresented film clips shown to buttress its contention that fish were being killed by pollution from logging operations in the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho. He also acknowledged that other film clips purporting to show the effects of clearcutting in the Clearwater may also have been misrepresented.

    Much of the media joined in denouncing NBC News for its dishonest crash tests of the GM pickups. Liberal columnist Richard Cohen of the Washington Post wrote of an "ethical felony" and said that NBC News president Michael Gartner "owes his profession the courtesy of leaving it." A Los Angeles Times editorial criticized NBC for "bad journalism .... and...abuse of a constitutional privilege." The TV talk shows suited up platoons of media, academics and other "experts" who happily pounded away at NBC. Tom Brokaw's apology for the misrepresentation of film clips shown in the report on the Clearwater National Forest attracted less media attention and comment, but it was serious enough to give NBC News a second black eye.

    There was a disturbing common thread in NBC's apologies and among most of the reports and comments on NBC's flawed conduct--that the errors did not diminish the basic truth of either NBC report. Don Hewitt, executive producer of CBS's 60 Minutes, claimed on Larry King Live that NBC had a "smoking gun"--i.e., a legitimate story about truck safety--but proceeded "to shoot itself in the foot with it" by rigging the crash test. Bill Carter, the TV reporter for the New York Times, in a long account of the Clearwater story on February 27, accepted the claim of NBC's public affairs vice president, Betty Hudson, that the misrepresentation of the film clips used in the report was "analogous to a newspaper miscaptioning a picture." We saw no effort by the media to determine whether NBC should have admitted that its errors were far more serious than rigged tests and mislabeled videotape.

    There are other disturbing elements about NBC's retractions. GM held a news conference on February 8 at which it showed that NBC had failed to honor its commitment to do a fair and balanced story about the truck controversy, with the rigging of the test crashes presented as the centerpiece of the case. Michael Gartner faxed a letter to GM that day in which he insisted that there were no statements in its November 17 broadcast that were false or misleading. He said, "We believe the Dateline report accurately detailed widespread concerns about the safety of those pickup trucks arising from the placement of the gas tanks outside the frame." That statement was reported on the NBC Nightly News on February 9, indicating that Gartner was still refusing to admit there had been any error. But because GM had filed a lawsuit, NBC's lawyers had become involved, and the stonewalling ended at 10:30 p.m. on February 9 when the retraction, quoted below, was delivered on Dateline NBC by Jane Pauley and Stone Phillips.

    The First Confession

    JANE PAULEY: "Within the past couple of hours, the people at General Motors and our bosses at NBC have agreed to settle GM's lawsuit against NBC. They've asked us to read the following statement: 'On November 17, 1992, Dateline NBC ran a segment about GM's 1973 to 1987 C/K pickup trucks which was entitled "Waiting to Explode." The 15-minute segment contained a short dramatic portion which featured two side-impact tests, which NBC had run to purportedly demonstrate what could happen when the GM C/K pickup trucks are struck in the side. Yesterday, GM sued NBC, alleging defamation and damage to its reputation. First and most importantly, we want to emphasize that what we characterized in the November Dateline segment as an unscientific demonstration was inappropriate and does not support the position that GM's C/K trucks are defective. Specifically, NBC's contractor did put incendiary devices under the trucks to ensure that there would be a fire if gasoline were released from the truck's gas tank. NBC personnel knew this before we aired the program, but the public was not informed because consultants at the scene told us the devices did not start the fire. We agree with GM that we should have told our viewers about these devices. We acknowledge the placing of incendiary devices under the truck was a bad idea from start to finish.'"

    STONE PHILIPS: "The trucks were hit in two side- impacts which we expected to cause the trucks to catch on fire. The tanks did not rupture in either demonstration. The Dateline reporter, however, said in respect to one collision, 'At impact a small hole was punctured in the tank.' That was based on a report from a consultant at the scene. GM has now X-rayed that tank and found no hole. We performed no such tests, but do not dispute their X-rays. We said the speeds at impact were around 30 miles per hour and about 40 miles per hour. GM says the speeds were at least 39 miles per hour and 47 miles per hour and says that we substantially misrepresented the energy involved in each of these side impacts. We do not dispute GM's calculations. Lastly, in reporting on the crash that resulted in a fire, we said the crash 'forced gasoline to spew from the fuel cap.' GM says since the gas cap, which now cannot be found, was the wrong cap for the GM filler tube, and because the gas tank was over- filled, the cap came off when the impact occurred. The gasoline came out of the open end of the filler tube. We do not dispute this. Therefore, this unscientific demonstration was not representative of an actual side- impact collision.

    "The safety issue is the frequency of post-collision fires, and the frequency of deaths and serious injuries resulting from post-collision fires. Of course, the safety of C/K trucks should be objectively evaluated by analysis of relevant data by appropriate forums. That is the real-world measure of the overall safety performance of any motor vehicle. We acknowledge and take responsibility for the problems that GM had identified in the demonstration crash. We believe we presented in the balance of the segment all sides of the controversy over the safety of the GM trucks. We deeply regret we included the inappropriate demonstration in our Dateline report. We apologize to our viewers and to General Motors. We have also concluded that unscientific demonstrations should have no place in hard news stories at NBC. That's our new policy."

    The Second Confession

    On the Clearwater story, NBC ignored complaints by logging industry and Idaho residents and officials for over a month. When the GM story broke, the National Enquirer asked AIM for other examples of TV network fakery, and we cited the NBC Clearwater story. The Enquirer did a good full-page story about this and three other examples we gave them in its issue that hit the newsstands on February 20. Rush Limbaugh mentioned it on his radio show. On February 24, Senator Larry Craig (R., Idaho) exposed the fraud in a floor speech that was aired on C- SPAN. Only then did NBC News acknowledge that there had been any flaw in its January 4 story. Tom Brokaw made the follt)wing statement at the end of his broadcast.

    BROKAW: "Last month we reported on Forest Service employees in Idaho's Clearwater National Forest who felt the forest was overcut, causing fouled streams and endangering fish. At one brief point, we inadvertently used footage of dead fish from another forest farther south, not from Clearwater. We also showed workers conducting tests on water in the Clearwater where fish appeared to be dead. In fact, they were not; they had been stunned for testing purposes. And finally, we showed a large area of land that the timber industry claims was burned and not cut. Our information remains that the video accurately portrayed the clearcuts, although some portions may have been cut after a fire. We regret the inappropriate video to illustrate that was otherwise an accurate report."

    Rotten To The Core

    The fakery involved in the two NBC stories reflects a rottenness--the acceptance of advocacy over objective reporting. The mess that NBC finds itself in with respect to the report on the fire hazards of GM pickup trucks and the Nightly News report on the Clearwater National Forest is traceable to the decision to promote causes instead of reporting the news straight.

    In a letter sent on February 25 to Robert C. Wright, the president of NBC, AIM said, "NBC News must admit that the fault with these two broadcasts was not simply the rigging and the misidentification of footage. The fundamental flaw was setting out to prove something that wasn't true. The wrong was not .just in the rigging of the videos, it was in reaching a verdict and then assembling or creating the evidence to justify it. This affair will be a blessing to NBC News and the nation if it results in replacing the present management with people who know that is wrong."

    Dateline NBC set out to prove that the GM pickups were firebombs "waiting to explode." There was no genuine investigation to determine if that was a fair and accurate description of these vehicles. The NBC producers were being guided and directed by advocates of the firebomb theory--the consultants who make their living advising and testifying on behalf of plaintiffs who are suing or thinking of suing the auto companies. The dramatic centerpiece of the Dateline segment was crash tests conducted by The Institute for Safety Analysis, of Indianapolis. GM has maintained in court papers that "TISA's primary business is to testify and to provide litigation support for plaintiffs in personal injury actions brought against vehicle manufacturers." According to documents obtained by GM lawyers--information the media largely ignored--NBC chose TISA at the suggestion of a Maryland group called the Institute for Injury Reduction (IIR), which was founded in 1988 by Benjamin Kelley and a group of trial lawyers engaged in litigation on auto safety issues.

    On January 25, 1993, IIR president Ben Kelley wrote a fund-raising letter stating that IIR was doing tests showing the "rupture-and-fire outcome of side impact involving GM trucks." He said that "IIR is considering having a test conducted for this purpose by the contractor used by Dateline NBC at our suggestion, with a modified design further enhancing the likelihood of a real-world impact resulting in fire due to the defect." The tests would be made available for "public dissemination and litigation use" by lawyers suing GM. According to AutoWeek, Kelley provides "controversial videotape containing crash footage to television stations, which frequently run the made-to-order TV segments." AutoWeek says Kelley is a believer in trial by television: "Get your message broadcast into hundreds of thousands of households today and you've got the eyes and ears of tomorrow's product liability jury pool."

    NBC also relied on the advice and an on-air appearance of Byron Bloch, a self-trained auto safety expert who, according to AutoWeek, "specializes in making safety stories--replete with victims and visuals--easy for the networks." AutoWeek points out that Bloch, who has no formal training in auto safety or law, is "a one-man media and legal conglomerate" who has helped ABC produce three stories on auto safety hazards in the last two years. Bloch earns as much as $50,000 for a videotaped segment. He also earns fees as an expert witness in suits against auto makers.

    "Waiting to Explode" was not intended to be an even- handed public weighing of the evidence for and against the GM pickup trucks; it was to be a trial by television, with the verdict first. This is shown by the fact that NBC News secretly carried out its rigged test crash of the two trucks on October 24 at the same time its producers were assuring GM that their goal was to do a "fair and balanced" piece about the controversy. Note that the NBC confession said, "The trucks were hit in two side-impacts which we expected to cause the trucks to catch on fire." That was nearly three weeks before NBC News interviewed GM senior engineer Robert A. Sinke ostensibly to get GM's side of the story. That interview was simply window- dressing. NBC used only 63 disjointed seconds of the two- and-a-half hour interview in the Dateline segment.

    GM's Side Of The Story

    Fortunately, GM made a videotape of the interview. It shows Robert Sinke patiently and repeatedly explaining to correspondent Michele Gillen that the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) data base maintained by the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency showed that the GM C/K pickup trucks performed as well or better in terms of safety as other pickups made during the same period. He acknowledged that this data base also showed that the GM trucks had a higher rate of fire involved in fatal side4mpact crashes, but he said the data did not indicate either the causes of the fatalities or the fires. He said that data provided by individual states that were more detailed than FARS showed that there are no more fatalities caused by fire in GM pickups than in other makes.

    Sinke argued that what was important was the overall ability of the vehicles to protect the occupants in the event of an accident. Gillen asked what the odds were of a person dying from a crash involving fire in a GM C/K pickup. Sinke replied that you would run the risk of dying in a crash involving fire once in every 1.17 billion miles. He said the risk was about equivalent to the chances of being killed by riding a bicycle for two minutes or riding in a commercial airliner for three and a half minutes. He said, "We're talking about probabilities that are extremely small. So that's why, in my view, this is a situation that has been taken way out of proportion in terms of what we're talking about in the way of risk."

    Gillen asked Sinke to repeat that statement, saying she wanted to make sure he got his point on, but the point did not get on the show. Gillen's main interest was the report that the incidence of fire in fatal side-collisions involving GM pickups was higher than for other makes. "Doesn't that say to you that there may be a problem?" she asked. Sinke replied, "No. it doesn't say to him that there may be a problem. It says to me that the vehicles may perform differently. It does concern me, however, from an image point of view, if it's blown out of proportion." He went on to explain that he probably would be concerned if the data showed that the GM pickups had both a higher frequency of fuel-fed fires and higher fatalities overall, but that was not the case. The only part of this reply used in the program were the words in italics.

    At its news conference on February 8, GM presented data collected from accident records in six states that showed that its C/K pickups experienced 1.8 post- collision fires for every 1,000 collisions, compared to 1.8 and 1.6 for comparable Dodge and Ford pickups respectively. On side-impact collisions, the rates of fire per thousand collisions were 1.3 for Dodge, 1.1 for GM and 1.0 for Ford. These data support Sinke's claim that the GM trucks have a fire safety record as good or better than the other makes. The safety record of all these large trucks is substantially better than the record of light pickup trucks regardless of maker.

    Sinke said that GM used the side-saddle gas tank design because buyers adapted the basic pickups as campers, wreckers and utility vehicles. Campers wanted large tanks because the weight of trucks lowered fuel economy. Many persons, Strike said, "were jury-rigging them on our fuel system, and some of them were very scary. If we didn't give them the fuel capacity, they were going to put it on themselves, and in very unsafe fashion."

    Using only a few of the least telling words in the Sinke interview, NBC stacked the deck against GM with emotional interviews with relatives of persons killed in crashes of GM trucks. Walter Goodman of the New York Times described the effect this way, "The General Motors' position was delivered blandly and not altogether coherently [Ed. note: as edited, of course] by a company executive and one of its lawyers. Set against this pair, seated in an impersonal setting, were at-home interviews with sorrowing parents of children, shown in family snapshots, who had died in the fires from crashes....When the General Motors pair appeared, the tube seemed to be drained of all color and of emotion as though mannequins had taken over from the real folks."

    Muddying The Clearwater

    NBC's hatchet job on the Clearwater National Forest was even less defensible. NBC executives were quoted as saying this was just an "honest mistake" of the kind that occasionally happens to any news organization.

    That's hoakum. The entire premise of the report was false. It was handed to NBC News by radical environ- mentalists who are fanatically opposed to using lumber from our national forests to build houses and other products useful to man. The Clearwater National Forest is estimated to grow about 250 million new board feet of timber each year. The Forest Service 10-year plan calls for annual sales of up to 173 million board feet per year. In FY 1992, sales were a mere 26 million board feet, mainly because of obstacles to sales imposed by environmentalist lawsuits and appeals. Three-fifths of the forest has never been opened to logging.

    To support the absurd contention that the forest is endangered by too much logging, NBC had to resort to misrepresenting video footage purporting to show the devastation and pollution caused by logging in the Clearwater. The "dead" fish shown in a Clearwater stream were not dead. The video of those really dead had been taken thousands of miles away, somewhere in the South, probably killed by a chemical spill. NBC had obtained the footage from a radical environmental group called Lighthawk. The Clearwater area supposedly devastated by clearcutting had been devastated by fire, followed by some salvage cutting. Another scene of a ravaged area was from the Olympic National Forest in the neighboring state of Washington. This was an area which had been intensively logged pursuant to a legislative mandate to save a town.

    The campaign to block the harvesting of the rich timber resources of the national forests is being aided by Fenton Communications, the radical PR firm that helped wreck the apple market in 1989 with its campaign to convince the public that Alar, a growth regulator used on apples and other crops, was a dangerous carcinogen that was threatening the health of the nation's children. Now Fenton is out to do to loggers and lumber workers what it did to the apple growers. Fenton is working for a group called the Native Forest Council, headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, which takes the position that "there is no economic or ecological justification for logging native forests on public lands." The Native Forest Council boasts that, with Fenton's help, they have succeeded in getting their message covered by NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, the AP, USA Today, MacNeil/Lehrer, Reuters, the Oregontan, Knight-Ridder, People and CNN.

    Last year, Fellton prepared a public service announcement narrated by actor Paul Newman which was used to spread an apocalyptic message. Newman said, "Someday very soon when most of the trees in America's National Forests are gone it will be too late to tell you this is public land. Our land....That every day over 600 acres of America's National Forests are destroyed. Someday, someone would tell you the staggering number of jobs that were lost, jobs from vital industries that keep more Americans working than those industries which destroy the forest. You'll wonder why someone didn't tell you. You have the power to make a difference now. Take it into your own hands. Call 1-800-BE-A-HERO. This is Paul Newman asking you to send an urgent message to both presidential candidates demanding the permanent protection of America's National Forests."

    NBC became an advocate when it aired the segment about the Clearwater National Forest on January 4, it was doing what NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, speaking at an environmental conference in 1989, said NBC and the other networks were doing. After Time's science editor, Charles Alexander, admitted Time had "crossed the boundary from news reporting to advocacy" on environmental issues, Mitchell said, "Clearly the networks have made that decision now, where you'd have to call it advocacy." Michael Gartner saw nothing wrong with that statement, and it was this lack of concern that created the mess that cost him his job as president of NBC News.

    What You Can Do

    Send the enclosed card or your own letter concerning the successor to Michael Gartner to John F. Welch, Jr., Chairman of General Electric, which owns NBC.

    AIM REPORT is published twice monthly by Accuracy In Media, Inc., 1341 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, and is free to AIM members. Dues and contributions to AIM are tax deductible. The AIM Report is mailed 3rd class to those whose contribution is at least $15 a year and 1st class to those contributing $30 a year or more. Non-member subscriptions are $35 (1st class mail).

    NOTES FROM THE EDITOR'S CUFF By Reed Irvine

    TWO DAYS AFTER NBC NEWS APOLOGIZED FOR ITS INFAMOUS RIGGING OF THE TESTS on GM pickup trucks, Paula Lyons, the consumer reporter for ABC's Good Morning America, argued, "We should keep the spotlight where it belongs. And the problem with the GM trucks is that the gas tank location is questionable ..... outside the frame rails rather than inside." Lyons maintained that NBC could have shown the danger by airing footage of a test crash conducted by GM itself. She proceeded to show footage of a test which GM had made public pursuant to a court decision last fall. It showed a car slamming into the side of a GM pickup truck with such velocity that the truck was shoved backwards and spun around. Liquid gushed from the gas tank. Since a liquid other than gas was used for the test, Lyons pointed out, "There's no flame here. But there was tremendous leakage..." It showed that a gas tank could be badly ruptured in a high speed side-impact crash.

    BUT LYONS DID NOT DISCLOSE IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THIS FOOTAGE. GM SAYS the crash was filmed during what GM calls its "test-to-failure" program of an experimental fuel system that was never used on production models. In these tests impact speeds were increased to find the point at which the tank would rupture. In this case the speed was over 50 miles per hour, over two and one- half times the speed which federal standards say a gas tank must survive. At that speed, the force of the impact is more than five times the force at the federal standard of 20 mph. I asked Paula Lyons if the failure to disclose these facts did not constitute a misrepresentation that should be corrected on the air. Lyons replied that she would have to give that some consideration after checking to see "what we knew and when we knew it," and she promised to get back to me. Since then, she has not returned my calls. It was clear to me that Lyons is convinced that the GM trucks are dangerous. While agreeing that relative risk was a factor that had to be taken into account, she seemed to think that one fatal fire in over a billion miles was an unacceptable risk. Her view was that GM had made a "marketing" decision to place the gas tanks on the side and that was wrong if it increased the risk of a death by fire even minutely.

    MARKETING DECISIONS ARE IMPORTANT IN THE DESIGN OF ALL MOTOR VEHICLES sold to the public. If safety were the only consideration, auto makers would produce unattractive tank- like vehicles that sacrificed appearance, fuel economy, comfort, speed, convenience, etc. to insure that the occupants would survive any conceivable accident. (The stock cars you see racing on TV are built with internal "crash cages" of high-strength tubular steel.) Accident data show that the GM pickup trucks that NBC attacked are safer than light pickup trucks and passenger cars, but even in one of these vehicles you stand a good chance of being killed if a drunken driver hits you broadside at 68 mph. That was what happened to Shannon Moseley, the teenager whose parents won a $105 million judgment against GM because he died in such a crash. Only in America would the maker of a vehicle that failed to protect the occupant against death in such a crash be deemed at fault. Millions of the GM C/K trucks are on the road in Canada. There has never been a suit there against GM over these vehicles. Why? Because the legal system there doesn't encourage it.

    THE FEDERAL SAFETY STANDARD FOR SIDE-MOUNTED FUEL TANKS REQUIRES THAT they be able to withstand a side-impact crash of 20 miles per hour with minimal gasoline spillage. That was adopted during the Carter Administration when Joan Claybrook, a close associate of Ralph Nader, headed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. No federal standards existed when the C/K pickup truck was first designed, so GM adopted its own standard of 30 mph, 50 percent higher than the federal standard approved by Joan Claybrook, who now argues that this is not good enough. Even the rigged NBC tests demonstrated that the gas tanks didn't leak when hit at a speed of 47 miles per hour, withstanding about five times the force required by the government.

    THE SCANDAL WAS EXPOSED ONLY BECAUSE FIREMEN FROM AVON AND BLOOMS- burg, Indiana, have more ethics than the NBC crowd. The firemen were called to the test site outside Indianapolis as a safety precaution, and they watched as the rocket motors were put under the gas tanks. Chief Andrew S. Burnett of Avon asked what was going on and was told that "they didn't want a tank rupture and no resultant fire." But was this fair? Someone replied that the procedure would be explained when the segment aired. During the tests, a fire truck was parked on the road just beyond the GM truck. A video camera mounted on its dashboard had a "head-on" view of the crash. The video showed a brief burst of flame upon impact, then a patch of grass burning alongside the truck for perhaps 15 seconds. In contrast to NBC's angle, which implied a fireball. the firemen's video showed how small and brief the fire actually was. When the segment aired, the firemen were surprised that NBC did not mention the rocket engines.

    EVENTUALLY ONE OF THE FIREMEN READ A SKEPTICAL COLUMN ABOUT THE NBC segment written by Pete Pesterre, editor of Popular Hot Rodding, of Los Angeles. Pesterre had owned GM pickups and gone through a crash in one of them and simply did not believe what NBC reported. The fireman called Pesterre and told him how the tests had been rigged; Pesterre called GM, and in due course GM lawyers scoured Indianapolis junkyards and found the four test vehicles. A rocket motor was still on one of the trucks, held in place by duct tape. The "burned" vehicle proved to have only minor paint blistering on one door. The lawyers also obtained the firemen's tell-tale tape and statements about how the test crew overfilled the gas tank on the test truck, and proof that the gas cap was defective. GM asked NBC for a retraction but said nothing publicly. When NBC refused, GM made its evidence public during a two-hour press conference during which general counsel Harry Pearce, announcing that GM was suing NBC, said he would be happy to have an Indiana jury judge NBC's ethics. NBC retracted the next day.

    PHIL AVERBUCK, OUR AIM COORDINATOR FOR MASSACHUSETTS, WAS CURIOUS about what he felt was biased reporting by Lauren Robinson of the Boston Globe in her accounts of a citizens' drive for a return to neighborhood schools. Averbuck complained to the Globe that her overall coverage reflected the "bureaucratic inertia/obstructionist point of view of the committee, the attitude that any serious school reform will be expensive, ineffective and racially divisive." One of three major stories Robinson did on the subject in 10 days featured the opposition of Paul Park, chairman of the Boston School Committee (the school board), who said he was "unalterably opposed" to the idea. Three days after her last story ran, reporter Robinson took a $67,000 job as the school committee's executive secretary. The Globe reported her hiring but did not comment on the obvious ethical question involved. But Averbuck did, and he asked Globe editor Matthew V. Storin, "What kind of negotiations was she having with Boston School Committee officials while she was writing about them? Isn't this a blatant conflict of interest?" Storin agreed. He wrote Averbuck, "I agree that Lauren Robinson was guilty of an egregious conflict of interest. It does not reflect well on our newsroom or our profession." But Storin defended the Globe's coverage of the dispute.

    PHIL AVERBUCK'S LETTERS TO THE GLOBE WERE MODELS: MODERATE IN TONE WITH specific quotes, no inflammatory language and an explanation of why the stories were off-base. We passed Phil's material to Howard Kurtz, who covers the print media for the Washington Post. Kurtz agreed that Robinson's conduct was out of bounds and wrote about the situation under the headline "Education Reporter Gets School Job, Lesson in Ethics." If any of you in Massachusetts would like to work with Phil, you can reach him at 6D Locust Lane, Watertown, MA 02172.

    I REGRET TO REPORT THAT THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION STAFF ruled that Time-Warner would not have to submit AIM's embarrassing shareholder resolution about its defense of Ice-T to a vote, accepting the argument that it dealt with "ordinary business." The SEC staff is now regularly using this as a cop-out to spare corporations the embarrassment of having to submit controversial actions to a vote of their shareholders. The Time Warner annual meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 20. I am looking forward to attending to see if CEO Gerald Levin has really repented his defense of Ice-T and his "music." Ice-T continues to make a monkey out of Levin. During a recent talk at Harvard Law School, Ice-T claimed that he is making more money now because he records on his own label -- $7 per record, rather than the 98 cents royalty from Warner. Perhaps -- but he won't have the massive Time Warner distribution network behind him. During the talk, according to reporter Jennifer Kingson Bloom of the Boston Globe, Ice-T threatened to mobilize young gang members against Los Angeles police. "I've got my thumb on the pulse of 50,000 killers," Ice-T said. He claimed to have founded a gang, "Hands Across Watts," and described members as "basic killers .... they're getting ready to move on the police." He also told the law school audience about spending his youth as a criminal and street hustler. "All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a pimp," he said. Ice-T scoffed at people who accused him of promoting crime. "Crime is very glamorous," he said. "Crime is intoxicating -- you get off on it more than any drug."


    Like What You Read?

    Back To AIM Report Section

    AIM Main Page