Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Thin Line

By Christopher Johnson

July 21, 1997: 

Talk Show of the Town

Fans rabid for the ribald pleasures of "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" will partially get their way. Last Thursday, July 10 at 9 p.m., "Politically Incorrect" made its Albuquerque debut on KOAT-TV 7. ABC is trying to move the popular talk show from its late-night hot spot into prime time. Thanks to KOAT, the shows will air again for the next three Thursdays through July. A new half-hour show will debut at 9 p.m., and an encore episode will immediately follow. KOAT-TV program director Roy Leone says the reason the show has not regularly aired here was that the current affiliate agreement dictates the kind and quantity of ABC programming KOAT must run. "We have an affiliate agreement which specifies this many hours and these shows," said Leone. And that the agreement runs "somewhere into the year 2000," predating "Politically Incorrect's" inception. Nevertheless, Leone assured Weekly Alibi that in spite of that existing agreement KOAT is still "working with ABC to take on additional programming."

Webb Pages

One of the most interesting side issues to come out of the San Jose Mercury News' "Dark Alliance" series by Gary Webb (see feature on p. 10), is the debate it has provoked about journalism and the World Wide Web. When papers across the country ignored the story of how CIA contractors may have trafficked in drugs, people turned to the Web for information. The Merc's Web pages devoted to the series (www.sjmercury.com/drugs/) contained not only the story itself, but a timeline, court testimony, bios of the players and other documentation too lengthy to publish in its print version.

A year later, the site has also catalogued the reaction stories from other papers, letters to the editor and the Merc's May apology for parts of the story--parts that author Gary Webb stands by to this day. Among the commentary, the most interesting links are syndicated columnist Norman Solomon's defense of Webb's reporting (www.fair.org/fair/) and G. Beato's critique from FEED magazine (www.feedmag.com) on how the Merc tailored its coverage for the cyber community. "Dark Alliance, the exciting news miniseries from the San Jose Mercury! Thumbs down from the Post and the Times, but Siskel and Ebert love it!" gibes Beato on the site's slickness. Maybe it's slick, but the site's ongoing existence comprises an interesting chapter in Web journalism.

--Christopher Johnson


"Webb Pages" by Angie Drobnic

Weekly Wire Tangents

  • The Truth Hurts - Why did the San Jose Mercury News recant reporter Gary Webb's story detailing the CIA's link to drug trafficking?

  • On Assignment - Mainstream has a history of gullibility when it comes to reporting on the CIA.

  • Snow Job - The Establishment's Papers Do Damage Control for the CIA from the upcoming Jan./Feb. issue of EXTRA!, the magazine of FAIR.

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