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Z on TV
Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV
Ben Carson's very bad media day ends in apology for comments on homosexuality

Only one day into the "exploratory" phase of his presidential campaign, Ben Carson had a media meltdown starting with remarks he made on CNN's morning show Wednesday.

When "New Day" host Chris Cuomo asked Carson if he thought homosexuality was a choice, the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon said "absolutely."

His evidence for that belief?

"A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight -- and when they come out, they're gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question," Carson said.

The 63-year-old GOP candidate then went on Sean Hannity's radio show Wednesday afternoon and said he was through talking about his views of homosexuality.

"Here's the point: I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. I also believe that our Constitution protects everybody regardless of their beliefs, and that includes people who are gay," Carson said.

"I simply have decided I'm not going to really talk about that issue anymore because every...

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Spoilers: 'House of Cards' Season 3 takes daring, hard-eyed look at presidency

If you have not seen all 13 episodes of Season 3 of “House of Cards,” stop reading now. This piece is full of spoilers. Really, go away and come back after you’ve seen the full season at Netflix.

One pot of home-brewed Starbucks expresso and two bags of Skinny Pop popcorn, and I was done with Season 3 of “House of Cards” at 10:05 a.m (ET) Friday - just over seven hours after it dropped.

I had an edge: Netflix let me screen the first six hours for a column without spoilers that appeared last Sunday in The Sun.

My only major reservation based on seeing the first half of the season was that screenwriter Beau Willimon spent too much time in the first episode focused on Doug Stamper’s (Michael Kelly) climb back from the near-dead.  

There’s Spoiler #1: Doug isn’t dead.

And even as the time spent with Doug in Episode 1 started feeling a little grim and tedious, I decided after two seasons to trust that Willimon was spending those extra beats with Doug for a dramatic reason that would pay off...

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Bill O'Reilly ratings rise in spite of allegations on his Falklands claims

Based on Monday-night Nielsen ratings, the controversy surrounding Bill O’Reilly’s accounts of his reporting during the Falklands conflict in 1982 does not appear to be having a negative effect on his audience.

On the contrary, his ratings for Monday were up week to week and year to year with him reaching an audience of 3.3 million viewers and 568,000 in the key demographic of 25 to 54 years of age.

That is an increase of 12 percent in total viewers, and 15 percent in the demo compared to Monday of the week before, Feb. 16.

Compared to the year before, O’Reilly’s Monday-night ratings show him to be up 9 percent in total viewers and 19 percent in the key demographic.

It was O’Reilly’s largest total audience since Nov. 25, 2014, in the wake of a verdict being announced in the Ferguson (Mo.) case of a white police officer shooting an unarmed African-American teenager.

O’Reilly has been No. 1 in total viewers in cable news for 160 months.

Fox News finished No. 1 in prime time among all...

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Oscar-winner 'Citzenfour' comes to HBO tonight - Don't miss it

If you haven't seen "Ctizenfour" in a theater, here's why I think you should move heaven and earth to see it tonight at 9 on HBO.

The Oscar it won Sunday for best documentary was just icing on the cake. It was already widely celebrated since its release in theaters, winning honors from numerous film critics groups.

There's no question of its quality; it's another extraordinary work of documentary filmmaking by Laura Poitras ("My Country, My Country").

But here's why it really matters now. Today.

The administration of President Barack Obama, which has authorized unprecedented intrusions into our privacy and used every bit of the massive power at its disposal to silence anyone in government who would question its actions, has tried to brand Edward Snowden as a traitor.

He has become the Obama administration's Public Enemy No. 1,  and it has used the techniques of pure propaganda to vilify him.

What recourse would any whistleblower have against such forces?

Well, in this case, Snowden...

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Former CBS staffer Eric Engberg goes on CNN to rip Bill O'Reilly Falklands claims

Former CBS News correspondent Eric Engberg followed his blistering Facebook post on Saturday about Bill O'Reilly with an appearance Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources."

O'Reilly came under fire Thursday in a story in "Mother Jones" that claimed he exaggerated his wartime reporting in the Falklands much like suspended NBC anchorman Brian Williams had with his work in Iraq.

On Sunday, O'Reilly and Engberg squared off on dueling 11 a.m. media shows. Here's video of O'Reilly blasting Engberg on Fox News' "Media Buzz."

And here's the transcript below of Engberg challenging O'Reilly on CNN's "Reliable Sources."

Here's a key passage.

In a 2009 interview on Hampton's TV, O'Reilly said he was the only CBS correspondent covering a demonstration on the streets of Buenos Aires. He said the other CBS staffers, which included Engberg and Bob Schieffer, were "hiding in the hotel."

What he just said was a fabrication, a lie.  There were five CBS correspondents, including him, assigned to the bureau. ...

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Bill O'Reilly hits back hard against former CBS colleague on Falklands claims
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