Thursday, June 22, 2006

Foster care in America: Big Media takes a meeting

DECEMBER 1, 2011: This post, and several that follow, originally were posted before this Blog was on Blogger.  Because ABC News coverage of foster care is again an issue, I've reposted them.  Dates are the actual dates for the original posting, and the content is unchanged. 


            Say this much for the people at ABC News – the ones I’ve been criticizing for much of this month:  Unlike most of the rest of what I’ll call “Big Media” – the huge, national news organizations like The New York Times, and some other broadcast news organizations, at least they’re willing to listen.

            Just over a week ago, I made my second request to ABC News executives for a meeting.  I said I wanted to include in such a meeting members of the Child Welfare Organizing Project, an excellent grassroots group in New York City, so they could hear the stories of birth parents who not only deserved to get their children back (as these birth parents did) but never should have had their children taken in the first place.

            The answer surprised me.

I’d expected to be turned down.  It’s one thing to ask to meet with an editorial board with which you have no grievance or introduce yourself to the new reporter on the child welfare beat.  Aside from some journalists at some of the largest news organizations, almost all are willing to at least take time to listen to a wide range of points of view.

But it’s different when trying to meet with executives on the news side when you have a complaint, particularly when one approaches Big Media.  Big Media usually hates to meet with advocates.  We usually are dismissed and disdained as “pressure groups.”  They hate even more to meet with advocates who are critical of their stories.  And they especially hate to meet with such advocates when they’re from very small groups that have no leverage other than the force of their arguments.

            This incident, recounted in a 2004 story in Columbia Journalism Review is pretty typical:

a group of doctors and scientists was  lobbying The New York Times to drop terms like crack baby from its pages. The group included the majority of American researchers investigating the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure or drug addiction. They were spurred to action by the papers coverage of a New Jersey couple found to be starving their four foster children in late 2003. For years the couple had explained the childrens stunted growth to neighbors and friends by saying, among other things, that they were crack babies. The Times not only failed to inform readers that crack babies dont exist, but reinforced the myth by reporting, without attribution, that the youngest [of the children] was born a crack baby.

Assistant Managing Editor Allan Siegal refused to meet with the researchers, saying via e-mail that the paper simply couldnt open a dialogue with all the advocacy groups who wish to influence terminology.After some haggling, he did agree to publish a short letter to the editor from the researchers. 

            But ABC was different.  The senior producer of the Primetime program, a field producer, and the network’s Director of News Practices welcomed CWOP’s Executive Director, the chair of CWOP’s Board, two other parent advocates and myself and discussed child welfare with us for well over 90 minutes.  They listened carefully as the parents told their personal stories, and they asked good questions.  We even discussed terminology.

            I don’t know how any of this will affect future programs, if at all. A meeting is not an end in itself.  But it’s a beginning.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The caseworker shortage: It's worse than we thought!

The Seattle Times picked up an award yesterday for a story following one case, while the Seattle Post-Intelligencer picked up an award for a story following one caseworker.  But apparently, in all of Seattle, there is only one worker to follow:

Baby M was 2 days old when Mary Marrs, a veteran CPS investigator, showed up. “Do you know why I am here?” she asked Liz and Mike.
--Seattle Times, December 8, 2005


"Why do you think I'm here?" Marrs asked the young mother, beginning the same way she always does.
                                                                --Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 28, 2005

Monday, June 12, 2006

Foster care in America: Primetime gets it wrong, part four

  In one of his excellent mystery novels, Chinese émigré writer Qiu Xiaolong tells us that in China, under Mao Zedong, the People’s Daily sometimes would run stories about “National Model Workers,” designed to inspire the masses.  One also can find such stories in the United States.  In fact, they’re a staple of child welfare reporting.  You’ve almost certainly seen them.  They’re the day/week/month/year-in-the-life-of-a-caseworker stories.  Sometimes, they are touted as an inside look at the system.  And sometimes, reporters break the usual boundaries of the genre and achieve something close to that.  But often, they are a whitewash.

            That’s not necessarily the fault of the journalists who write them.  No child welfare agency lets reporters choose the worker at random.  They’re almost always, well, National Model Workers -- the ones portrayed as having boundless enthusiasm, astonishing dedication, unusual savvy and far more experience than the typical CPS caseworker, who only lasts a year or two.

Such was the case when Primetime did the National Model Worker story as part of its report about foster care on June 1.  One actually saw very little of the NMW on the air.  The follow-her-around segment was bumped to a webcast and there also was a print story on the ABC News website.

The story begins with a basic factual error, one of several in the program.  It refers to all CPS workers as “social workers.”  The NMW is, in fact, a social worker.  But that’s actually unusual.  Typically, a bachelor’s degree in anything and a quickie training course is the extent of the qualifications.  Thus, the impression ABC News seeks to leave, that removal decisions are made carefully, by trained professionals, often is incorrect.

A staple of almost every National Model Worker story is a complaint like this from the caseworker:
"If we remove we acted too quickly, and if we don't remove and something bad happens, we did not pay enough attention."
That’s a claim I addressed in this Blog on April 17:

            “Caseworkers for child protection agencies are not jack-booted thugs who relish destroying families.  By and large they are dedicated and caring.  But they’re often underprepared, undertrained and overwhelmed.  But I lose sympathy for caseworkers when they complain that they’re subject to terrible criticism and sanction if they take away too few children – or too many.  Countless news stories have accepted at face value the claim by caseworkers that “you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”   

            “I have been following child welfare for 30 years now, first as a reporter, more recently as an advocate. In all that time, in child welfare agencies all over the country, I have never seen a caseworker fired, demoted, suspended or even slapped on the wrist for taking away too many children. All of these things have happened to workers who left even one child in a dangerous home … caseworkers know full well that when it comes to taking away children you’re not damned if you do and damned if you don’t – you’re only damned if you don’t.”

Primetime’s National Model Worker continues:
"I hear crazy rumors out there like we get bonuses for removing kids. Removing kids is the saddest part of the job. We are underpaid and overworked, but we do what is best for the children under our watch."
No, workers dont get bonuses for removing kids.  But states get bounties for every finalized adoption over a baseline number, an issue that has arisen in connection with adoption tragedies in Michigan and Ohio.
Im sure the National Model Workers sadness about removing children is genuine.  But she also said this:
"I believe that children have the right to an education, to medical needs, mental-health needs and permanency,"
So far, so good.  But she continues:
"And if that can't happen in the home with their natural parents for one reason or another, if a parent is not providing those needs, then the children need to be removed."
Regardless, it seems, of whether the parent is at fault. That is a brief for the confiscation of the children of the poor.  If thats now the model workers feel, what about the rest?
The NMW is heard making this comment after taking children from parents whose children were, according to Diane Sawyer not being sent to school and left dangerously unsupervised. Thats it, aside from the claim that child protective services had been monitoring this family for years.  Perhaps things would be different had they tried helping the family  not with a cookie-cutter service plan full of meaninglesscounseling and parent education but with concrete help geared to what the family actually needed. 
But now that theyve been taken away, Sawyer tells us that the children are frightened, but safe.  Frightened?  Definitely.  Safe? Maybe  given the rate of abuse in foster care, no one can be sure.
But the National Model Worker was the personification of restraint compared to Diane Sawyer.  She accompanies our NMW to check up on a single mother, who like many impoverished single mothers, sometimes gets overwhelmed and yells at her child.  The camera is there for what Maine foster parent Mary Callahan would call the gotcha moment, when the child imitates her mother yelling at her.
That child is not removed  yet.  But there is no indication that this mother is getting anything but the usual counseling and parent education” – nothing to actually ease the burdens overwhelming her.  So what happenes after they work with her for years?
Back in the NMWs car, the multi-millionaire anchorwoman who probably hasnt had to cope with a mundane chore of day to day living  much less the stresses of poverty  in decades asks the NMW: What keeps you from wanting to take some of these parents and just shake them and say: Whats the matter with you? these are your kids! Come on!
This prompted the following response from Charles Baker, the retired CEO of the Presbyterian Child Welfare Agency in Kentucky:
Instead of "shaking her," shouldn't we be shaking Congress for failure to raise the minimum wage? Or for any commitment to provide adequate hosing or health care for all US children? Shouldn't we be shaking the media for not interviewing a single expert for any alternative to child rescue?
Later this week: Primetime saves the worst for last.

UPDATE,JUNE 14: TIME OFF FOR BAD BEHAVIOR?

In Monday’s Blog, I quoted the “National Model Worker,” the Kentucky caseworker ABC News followed around for its Primetime program about foster care.  At one point she says:  "I hear crazy rumors out there like we get bonuses for removing kids….”

            As it happens, NBC News also was in Kentucky recently, following up on some excellent reporting by the Lexington Herald-Leader.  The newspaper disclosed pressure on caseworkers to remove children from their homes needlessly and rush them to adoption, in order for the state to collect the bounties offered by the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act.

            And in this story, NBC reports that in Kentucky, workers don’t get extra cash, but they can get extra time off.  According to the story, “ States can earn federal bonuses for keeping adoption numbers high,and in Kentucky workers can even get extra vacation” [emphasis added].

            Good thing somebody’s checking those “crazy rumors.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Foster care in America: Primetime gets it wrong, part three


Friday’s blog offered an overview of the failings of ABC News’ Primetime report on foster care.  Today, the start of a look at the program segment-by-segment.

            Much of the program is devoted to a staple of mediocre journalism: The puff piece about a “residential treatment center” in this case Maryhurst in Louisville, Ky.  And Maryhurst knew it would be a puff piece. Days before the program aired, the institution was promoting it, complete with a picture of CEO Judy Lambeth posing with Diane Sawyer.

Like many other Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs), Maryhurst has lovely grounds and a slick p.r. operation.

RTCs know how to sell themselves.  They know how to explain how things like not being able to so much as open the refrigerator to get a snack without permission actually is part of the “therapeutic milieu” and is simply the “structure” that the children need.  Actually, it’s needed to keep the institution running when you take a bunch of troubled children at an age when they are most influenced by peers and put them all in one place.  (As I noted yesterday, I expect Maryhurst to claim that having an 11-year-old’s face on camera as she told about being sexually abused, and abusing others, was “therapeutic” for her). 

They always have a couple of anecdotes about success ready – well, maybe one.  But the anecdotes don’t match the data.  Residential treatment is among the biggest failures in child welfare.

· A U.S. Surgeon General's report found only "weak evidence" of residential treatment’s effectiveness.

· Another study found that within six years, 75 percent of the children released from the centers were back to living in the only places they understood - institutions - either mental health facilities or jails.

· A comprehensive review of the literature by the University of North Carolina School of Social Work found that "when community-based services are available, they provide outcomes that are equivalent, at least [to RTCs]."

· Even the head of the trade association for child welfare agencies nationwide, the Child Welfare League of America, admitted that they lack “good research” showing the effectiveness of residential treatment and “we find it hard to demonstrate success…”

How does Primetime deal with this? By ignoring the facts in favor of pretty pictures and syrupy music.  Maryhurst doesn’t even claim success - -except for one former resident who now works there on the staff.  In other words, even the one success story could be comfortable as an adult only at the institution.  (An almost identical puff piece on another institution, on Now with Bill Moyers a couple of years ago, also could show only one success story, also someone who came back to work at the institution.  As a result, that institution’s innovative new CEO is trying to reduce institutionalization.  Now would find a very different story if they went back).

Primetime avoids confronting all this failure by saying, in effect: What do you expect?  The kids are so troubled.  In a comment that is astounding for its arrogance, CEO Lambeth declares that "If we're not successful, no one can be. These are the children that nobody else can handle.”

Wrong.

There are better alternatives that have shown more success with exactly the same kinds of children.

In 2002, the Journal-News in Westchester County, N.Y. looked at Wraparound, pioneered in Milwaukee, as part of a comprehensive examination of residential treatment.  They found that “[Wraparound] cut the number of Milwaukee children in RTCs by 90 percent, dramatically shortened their stays, reunited hundreds of families, reduced the incidence of crime and saved millions of dollars in treatment costs. It became a national model for treating emotionally disturbed children, offering a more effective and economical means of helping youngsters without the traditional reliance on costly and controversial institutions. …”

Of course, the institutions didn’t shrink without a fight.

“I remember meeting with groups of people and folks saying, 'Let's get some reports out that show they [Wraparound] are going to start hurting kids now,' " the head of a large institution told The Journal News.  "Well, nobody could ever bring the reports to the meetings, 'cause there were none that existed that said we were doing anything all that great. We didn't really have any solid anything that demonstrated we were able to fix kids. … I think, looking back on it now, what we’re doing for kids today [with Wraparound] is far more helpful.”  The full story is available here.

            And sometimes, institutions have crises of conscience. After studying their own program and finding it didn’t work, EMQ Child and Family Services of California closed 100 of its 130 institutional beds.  Now they serve more children at less cost in their own homes or foster homes.  According to this story in the authoritative trade journal Youth Today, EMQ’s biggest obstacle was “the group home industry” which tried to stop the state from funding EMQ’s alternative approach.

Youth Villages in Tennessee also embraced community-based care after finding that residential treatment failed – and their biggest problem also was getting the state to fund it, even though it costs less. Says Youth Villages’ visionary director, Patrick Lawler: “In the 28 years I have been entrusted with caring for other people's children, some of whom come from dire circumstances, I have learned firsthand there is no substitute for a child's birth family. I used to think we could do a better job of raising these children. We know better now. The best way to help a child is to help his or her family.”

And that includes adoptive families.  Primetime is a mass of internal contradictions and one of them is seen here.  Even as the program pushes adoption-as-panacea, it chronicles an adoption that is failing; the adoptive parents are returning their adopted child, -- the 11-year-old seen on camera -- and shipping her off to Maryhurst.  For this child, the “forever family” – wasn’t.  Perhaps things wouldn’t have come to that were Wraparound services available.  But as long as RTCs like Maryhurst bleed systems of so much of their limited funds, there won’t be alternatives.

Of course ignoring community-based alternatives in favor of residential treatment has another advantage: A residential treatment center is a great source of horror stories about the relatively few birth parents who really are brutally abusive and really should have their children taken away. 

But intriguingly, even one of the cases highlighted by Primetime involves a family that might have been saved, the family of a girl who desperately misses her mother.  This child’s mother did not beat her or torture her or starve her.  She may have neglected her because she used marijuana and cocaine.  We see the child visit her mother in jail, and we hear Diane Sawyer’s contempt as she makes clear the child is naïve to chink that mom won’t let her down once again.

But what if, early on, her mother had been offered family-based drug treatment, at a place where parents can live with their children? Such places have excellent track records. What if Maryhurst had been such a place, instead of an institution that scarfs up $186 per child per day for a program that can’t show success?

As it happens, Louisville is home to two safe, successful alternatives to substitute care: Community Partnerships for Child Protection and Family to Family (a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation which helps to fund NCCPR).  We predicted that Primetime would ignore these programs.  We were wrong.  Elements of one of them were mentioned for all of one minute and 40 seconds, barely noticeable between the endless parade of horror stories about the brutes and the sadists.  There also was a brief mention of the programs on the ABC News website.  It misconstrued how they work and what they’re about. 

            These programs involve working with families, not demonizing them or patronizing them.  These programs recognize how often “neglect” is really poverty.  But that’s not the Primetime worldview. So instead of demonstrated success, Primetime lavishes attention on a proven failure:  residential treatment.

            Later this week: The “National Model Worker” story. 

Monday, June 5, 2006

Foster care in America: Primetime gets it wrong, part two


            I’d planned to devote this blog entry to discussing in detail the failings in one part of Thursday night’s Primetime program about foster care, the part extolling residential treatment.  But that can wait until tomorrow.  There’s more that needs to be said about the program’s most egregious failing: exploiting an 11-year-old-child.

            The child poured out her secrets about being sexually abused, and about abusing younger children, on camera, her face visible throughout and her real (and unusual, so therefore memorable) first name used.

            As I noted on Friday, there was no one in this child’s life with the moral right to give informed consent.  Her adoptive parents were in the process of abandoning her to the residential treatment center, and the RTC had a vested interest – getting a puff piece from ABC.

            And ABC is likely to cite that permission to justify its exploitation.  The network also may cite an outpouring of sympathy for the child, including people coming forward to say they want to adopt her.  But there are plenty of effective recruitment techniques that don’t require a child to describe on camera how she abused other children, with her face visible the entire time.  (One poster to a message board on the ABC News website, whose comments leave the impression that s/he is a foster parent, already has warned people away from adopting her, describing her as both a “ a victim AND a predator” [emphasis in original].)

            Incredibly, two national child welfare organizations put out press releases associating themselves with this program – after it aired.  One is the Pew Commission on Foster Care, one of those OBRCs (Obligatory Blue-Ribbon Commissions) that often pop up in child welfare.  This one is different, though: While its recommendations rate a C, it’s marketing is A+.  They never miss an opportunity to get their name out there.  While the Commission did not explicitly endorse the program, it did seek to use the program to gain publicity for itself, when it should have condemned the program for its exploitation of a child.

            The second press release, from the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute, was worse.  It actually said that ABC News should be “commended” for its efforts.  Perhaps CCAI feels that as long as a television program shares the organization’s adoption-at-all-costs mentality, the ends justify the means.

            But there is another possible explanation.  The press releases came out within minutes of each other, via US Newswire, with the same contact person for each.  So perhaps the problem is simply one flack with very poor judgment.

            NCCPR has e-mailed both organizations urging them to dissociate themselves with the program, and condemn ABC’s exercise in child exploitation.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Foster care in America: Primetime gets it wrong, part one

           If nothing else, it’s convenient.  Just about everything wrong with how journalists typically cover child welfare, in about 48 minutes.  I’m speaking of the special edition of the ABC News magazine Primetime which aired last night concerning foster care. That program, and related material on the ABC News website, are filled with misleading data, horror stories, grievous sins of omission and plain factual error.  Each segment of the program is an archetype, regurgitating conventional wisdom.  And they topped it off with the shameful exploitation of a young child.

            And that makes the program dangerous to children.  It’s the kind of journalism which, when repeated over and over, encourages foster-care panics.    And over and over again, foster care panics not only drive children needlessly into the very system ABC News rightly condemns, they also have been followed by more child abuse deaths.

            Indeed, the extent of the harm of this kind of journalism can be seen in a poll ABC News commissioned.  

            Among the questions: “In the case of a child who has been removed from home because of abuse or neglect, which of these do you think should be the main goal of the foster care system –to send the child back to live with his or her parents once the parents have gone through counseling or rehab, or to permanently place the child with another family?”

            Scarier than the way the question itself stigmatizes families (any parent who loses a child must need ‘counseling or rehab’) was the answer: Fully 44 percent said the goal – for each and every child – should be to tear him from his parents forever and place him with another family.  Think of what that says about people’s assumptions concerning who loses children to foster care and why.  For this huge proportion of the population, the notion that a child could be in foster care for any reason other than heinous maltreatment is, literally, unthinkable.

            Where are they getting that impression?

            The program, and related material on the ABC News website also are filled with internal contradictions.  On the website, a “letter form Diane Sawyer” declares that it is time to stop “lurching from horror story to horror story.”  Too bad she began the same letter with two horror stories about children brutally abused or horribly neglected by birth parents.  And the program itself offered a litany of such horrors, taking a tiny fraction of what child protective workers see, and treating it as the norm.

            This isn’t a case of journalists trying to sensationalize, and score ratings points.  It’s worse.  The producer of this program is sincere, and that makes it even harder to get him to consider other perspectives. We spoke a few years ago, and he’s on NCCPR’s list of journalists – the one that gets a child welfare news story once or twice a week.  He believes passionately in the cause of helping children through journalism. But he also believes the conventional wisdom: that the system used to bend over backwards to coddle abusive parents and the primary solution is adoption. And he’s flat wrong.

            The problem isn’t that what he believes is wrong.  The problem is that on this program and others he’s produced, he allows no dissenting point of view to be heard.

            Viewers probably will be able to find real solutions on ABC – briefly, tonight.  A segment of World News Tonight scheduled to air this evening (June 2) deals with the reformed system in Pittsburgh, which has dramatically improved child safety by emphasizing safe proven programs to keep families together.  But apparently real solutions are not ready for Primetime.

            Given the producer’s track record, the result was predictable.  As a matter of fact, NCCPR predicted it in a long e-mail to Kerry Marash, the Vice President for Editorial Quality at ABC News.  It was sent on May 30.  The letter predicted what the program would include and what it would leave out.  We got it about 90 percent right.  To date we have received no response.  But what would have been the worst segment of the program, about a child taken from loving foster parents only to be returned to the aunt and uncle now accused of killing her, was deleted.  Whether this was in response to us or to the fact that ABC’s live coverage of the National Spelling Bee ran long, and Primetime was truncated to end at 11, I don’t know.

            Yes, helping to keep families together gets token attention.  And no, birth parents aren’t all portrayed as evil.  Some of them are simply sick.

            Thus, it may be o.k. to reunite a family – but only if the parent has repented, seen the error of her ways, accepted all the “counseling” and “parent education” the system has to offer and so been appropriately “rehabilitated.” Anchor Diane Sawyer repeatedly presented the issue in terms of how many “chances” a parent should be “given.” In Primetime’s world there is no such thing as a parent who loses her child when it’s not her fault – when poverty is confused with neglect.  There is no such thing as an innocent parent.  There is no such thing as wrongful removal.

            Even a good story on Nightline, about the problems faced by children “aging out” of the system, was tainted by this bias.  The program focused on an 18-year-old who’d been placed in foster care at age 14 because, according to reporter Cynthia McFadden, “his mother drank.”  Nothing more.  By the end of the segment the evidence is overwhelming that helping the mother with her drinking problem would have been far better for this young man.  But reporter McFadden strives mightily to disabuse us of the notion, explaining that the child was taken because: “His father left long ago.  His mother drank.  But like most kids in foster care, he still defends her” [emphasis added].

            In other words: Pay no attention to the children; they don’t understand how sick and/or evil their parents are – isn’t it sad that they delude themselves so.  And that’s because anything else would contradict ABC News’ message, which is that the only solutions are: Become a foster parent, hire a lot more caseworkers, warehouse children in residential treatment, and adoption, adoption, adoption.  Diane Sawyer’s repeated calls upon viewers to get involved always revolve around adoption or other actions to support the children in isolation.  There is, so far, not a word about getting involved by helping birth families.  This is exactly what we’ve tried to do for generations, most fanatically for the past ten years, thereby creating the mess we’re in now.  To the journalists at Primetime, that, apparently, is irrelevant.

Exercise in Exploitation

            But perhaps worst of all was what Primetime did to a child.

I am a strong proponent of openness in child welfare; I believe in open courts and open records and I believe agencies should not only be allowed to discuss individual cases, in many situations it should be required – because I think it’s the only way to hold these systems accountable.  In fact, just last week, I made the case to an official in a child welfare system that such accountability is so important that it is in the best interests of children even when it might embarrass a child.

            But that kind of openness does not require what ABC did.

            The longest single segment of the program focused on an 11-year-old girl.  It included a discussion of both the sexual abuse she endured and the fact that she now was inappropriately touching younger children – indeed she spoke of it herself.  Cameras also were rolling at the moment she found out her adoptive parents were, in fact, abandoning her to a residential treatment center, and she’d never go home to them again.

            Through it all, ABC used this child’s real first name, a name that is unusual and, therefore, memorable.  And her face was on camera throughout.

            There is no way an 11-year-old can give informed consent to something like this.  And whatever the law says, there was no one in this child’s life with the moral authority to give such consent.  There were only adoptive parents about to give up on her, and a residential treatment center selling the public on what a wonderful place it is.

            There was no issue of accountability here.  On the contrary, were this child alleging abuse by the treatment center, you can bet they’d be screaming “confidentiality” and not letting journalists anywhere near her.

            And ABC could have gotten a story with just as much impact while changing the child’s name – and 90 percent of the impact while obscuring her face.

            This same producer was similarly exploitative of a birth parent in an earlier Primetime program.

            Part of the case for openness depends on the fact that the media have shown admirable self-restraint when it comes to naming child victims and showing their faces.  Now every agency that wants to cover up its failings, every judge who doesn’t want the public to see what really happens in juvenile court can point to what ABC News has done to make it harder for advocates of openness to make their case.

            All this is doubly sad because it trashes not only families, but also, indirectly, better journalists once at ABC News.  The network looked at foster care in two compelling documentaries (back when commercial networks aired such things) in 1979 and 1988.  The latter program included the comments of a 12-year-old named Boyd, who spoke movingly of how he’d been separated from his loving mother for five years, and how much he missed her.  His mother did not beat him, or torture him.  She was not a drug addict.  Her crime was lacking adequate housing.

            If such a child were to show up at ABC News headquarters today, the producers of last night’s program probably would say “go ‘way kid, ‘ya bother me.”
           
            Monday: an analysis of the program’s failings, segment-by-segment.