Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center (MRC), the publisher of NewsBusters. He’s been the central figure in the MRC’s News Analysis Division since the MRC’s 1987 founding and in 2005 spearheaded the launch of NewsBusters.
Baker oversees the selection of the award nominees and “winners” for the MRC’s “DisHonors Awards,” presented at an annual gala, and each week he helps the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard select a “Mainstream Media Scream.” Those picks are added, on a one week delay, to NewsBusters. (Archive for 2012-2014 on MRC.org)
In 2001, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes dubbed Baker “the scourge of liberal bias.”
For 13 years he compiled and edited the daily CyberAlert e-mail and online report. In late May of 2009 the CyberAlert became an e-mail-only product based on BiasAlert postings on the MRC's Web site. BiasAlerts since early 2012. (In February 2015, the MRC discontinued posting BiasAlerts on MRC.org and began feeding the newsletter via CyberAlert posts on NewsBusters).
An avid fan of the Washington Capitals NHL hockey team, in January of 2009 the Washington Post's "DC Sports Bog" took note of Baker's attendance at a Caps game with John Kerry: "The Caps, John Kerry and a Scourge."
Baker lived in Massachusetts through high school, whereupon he fled the liberal commonwealth for George Washington University in DC and, since graduation, a life in Northern Virginia. Full bio on MRC.org.
After asserting that “it is looking more and more like Senator Joe Biden is the choice,” reporter Andrea Mitchell contended “Biden, with blue collar roots, could help reinforce Obama's latest message” conveyed in an Obama TV ad: “Call it country club economics. How many houses does he own?”
Following her story, Williams returned to what interested him the most: “Back to the McCain campaign and this issue they're fighting which you predicted yesterday would go down as one of those moments in a campaign. Does this live on and on and on, do you think?” Mitchell maintained it's now an “emblematic” issue which arrived “just when” Obama “needed it.” So, what a coincidence the media have pounced to assist Obama. Mitchell answered:
I think it does, it becomes emblematic and it gives Obama an opening just when he needed it. He was having trouble identifying himself, defining himself. The McCain people were having a couple of good weeks. This has definitely been a setback.
ABC, which in 2004 aired Kerry's comment a day later when Dick Cheney raised it, didn't lead Thursday with McCain's failure Wednesday to say how many homes he and his wife own, but devoted a full story-plus to it with Jake Tapper deciding “it could be a seminal moment” in the campaign before George Stephanopoulos relayed how the Obama camp thinks “this is one of those metaphorical moments.” He recalled 1992, “when it seemed like President Bush didn't know what a supermarket scanner was.”
Fill-in CBS anchor Maggie Rodriguez led: “John McCain couldn't answer a question most Americans would find simple, how many homes do you own?” NBC's Brian Williams, back in Manhattan from Beijing, opened with how though “reporters are busy chasing down all available clues” on Obama's VP pick:
This was not the biggest political story of the day. That came from John McCain in response to a question about how many houses he owns. He didn't answer. The actual answer is a sizable number.
An Emmy winner, she joined CNN's political unit in 1999 and met Rospars while filming a documentary on Dean. When she heard that Rospars was working for Obama, Albright-Hanna called and said she wanted to produce a doc on Obama. The campaign planned to develop its own video content, Rospars said. Intrigued, Albright-Hanna sent him a proposal on video strategy. Weeks later, she left CNN and moved with her husband and 3-year-old son to Chicago.The key phrase: “weeks later, she left CNN...” So while working at CNN she was simultaneously developing a plan for Obama which, given their decision to hire her, they liked and she's implementing.
Before CNN, she was an intern in the Clinton White House and, in a Dateline NBC story days after the Monica Lewinsky story broke, she was featured by reporter Dawn Fratangelo as one of a group of former interns who “simply don't find it plausible the President of the United States could have an affair with an intern.” In a soundbite (see slightly snowy screen shot from the MRC's archive), Albright-Hanna asserted: “I can't imagine how that would happen.”
Yet the McCain campaign continues to run ads attacking Obama on a personal level, belittling him as a shallow celebrity and describing him as fussy, hysterical, or testy. And while Obama's been fighting back lately, our poll found a majority believes McCain spends more time attacking Obama [52%] than explaining what he would do as President [38%].Reynolds then concluded by acknowledging that “with the race getting closer, there's a sense that whatever voters may think about it” -- and, though he didn't say it, journalists -- “McCain's strategy may be helping him catch up.”
So tune in to see if the list is restored to the show (doubtful), or the show airs again as it did the first time (most likely). Letterman read the list for the studio audience immediately after the second ad break and just before guest Kevin Costner. As originally aired, the show went straight from the ad break to Letterman introducing Costner.
My August 6 NewsBusters item. “Non-Scandal: CBS/Late Show Did Not Spike Anti-Obama 'Top Ten,'” explained the allegations and the reality. I since updated that post with an image of the list as published in the August 11 e-mailed Late Show Newsletter: “From the Home Office in Wahoo, Nebraska...An Exclusive Un-Aired Top Ten List Edited from the 7/29/08 Broadcast: 'Top Ten Signs Barack Obama Is Overconfident.'” Image here is of the list in last week's newsletter. Go below the break to see a larger version.
What set off Cafferty? McCain's “shallow, simplistic and trite” answers during Saturday's Saddleback forum in which “he showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none.” The contributor of “The Cafferty File” segments on The Situation Room complained in his posting: “Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day.”
CBS and NBC led Tuesday night with speculation over the VP picks, but moved quickly, without citing any proof of John McCain's supposed scurrilous attack on Barack Obama's patriotism, to Obama condemning McCain for questioning his patriotism.
“Patriot games,” CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith teased, “Barack Obama fights back.” Viewers then heard a clip of Obama before the VFW: “I will let no one question my love of this country.” Reporter Dean Reynolds described how “Obama is pivoting toward a more combative style, rebuking the Republicans for habitually turning differences over policy into questions about patriotism, a habit he said John McCain has readily embraced.” CBS ran two Obama soundbites, yet on Monday, when McCain addressed the VFW, CBS didn't show a second of him. Reynolds soon asserted that McCain and Republicans “had the stage to themselves last week while Obama vacationed.” Certainly not on the CBS Evening News which spent the week puffing Obama.
On the NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell touted how “Obama strongly defended his patriotism today to veterans, the same group that heard John McCain attack him yesterday,” and relayed how Obama's “hearing a lot of messages from all across the country that he has not been tough enough. He has to go after John McCain, he's got to be more aggressive.”
Based on past Pew polls, CNN touts itself as “the most trusted name in news,” but the percent who “believe all or most” of what CNN reports has fallen 12 points, to 30 percent, since Pew first posed the question in 1998. Yet, in a sign of how far the news media have fallen in the eyes of the public, that puts CNN at the top of the 12 television news outlets analyzed, as well as above all the newspapers and online sources. Believability for ABC News, CBS News and NBC News is down six points over the past ten years, to 24 percent for ABC and NBC, 22 percent for CBS, but that's still better than the mere 18 percent who “believe all or most” of what they read in the New York Times.
The extensive polling conducted in May also discovered that the audiences for CNN and MSNBC, “which were heavily Democratic two years ago, have become even more so: fully 51 percent of CNN's regular viewers are Democrats while only 18 percent are Republicans. MSNBC's audience makeup is similar -- 45 percent of regular viewers of MSNBC are Democrats, 18 percent are Republicans” and “the regular audience for nightly network news also is now about two-to-one Democratic (45 percent vs. 22 percent Republican).”
When George W. Bush named Dick Cheney, Rather introduced the Tuesday, July 25, 2000 CBS Evening News story by relaying the derisive and negative Democratic spin against the GOP ticket:
In the presidential campaign, the official announcement and first photo-op today of Republican George Bush and his running mate Richard Cheney. Democrats were quick to portray the ticket as quote 'two Texas oilmen' because Cheney was chief of a big Dallas-based oil supply conglomerate. They also blast Cheney's voting record in Congress as again quote, 'outside the American mainstream' because of Cheney's votes against the Equal Rights for Women Amendment, against a woman's right to choose abortion -- against abortion as Cheney prefers to put it -- and Cheney's votes against gun control. Republicans see it all differently, most of them hailing Bush's choice and Cheney's experience.But two weeks later, his glowing Tuesday, August 8, 2000 set up of the Gore-Lieberman pairing forwarded the Democratic ticket’s boasts about themselves which included a sly dig at Bush-Cheney:
Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore officially introduced his history-making running mate today, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. History-making because Lieberman is of Jewish heritage and faith. The two started running right away. In their first joint appearance they gave a preview of the Gore-Lieberman fight-back, come-back strategy. Their message: They represent the future, not the past, and they are the ticket of high moral standards most in tune with real mainstream America.
On Warren, CBS reporter Ben Tracy trumpeted “Warren's attempt to redefine evangelicals by breaking with the politics of the past” and how Warren “doesn't want to talk about just abortion and gay marriage, but also poverty and disease.” NBC's Mitchell recalled that in 2004, 80 percent of evangelicals “voted for George Bush over John Kerry,” but “this year they could be less predictably Republican” and “that's because Rick Warren says many younger evangelicals define social issues broadly -- to include global warming, human rights, poverty, not just abortion.” She then featured a soundbite from Warren:
I call myself whole life, which means I don't just believe in that little girl before she's born but I believe that it's important to care about after she's born, whether she's poor, whether she's educated.
Sieberg soon trumpeted how on BarackObama.com “kids have their own special area, including a logo to color,” while the dour McCain “offers a game called Pork Invaders on his Facebook page,” but if you do well, Sieberg sarcastically noted, “you're rewarded [pause] with a statement about pork-barrel politics.” Withe the contrasting numbers on screen, the CBS reporter also championed Obama's transcendence on social networks which are largely only used by younger people:
The Obama campaign may hope the Internet will do for Obama what television did for John F. Kennedy in 1960. Just compare the candidate's popularity on the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. While both campaigns hope their supporters spread the word, Obama is "friended" almost seven times more than McCain.
Bauder observed that the program's “debut is timed for the Democratic National Convention” and that BET “will also air Barack Obama's speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination on Aug. 28 live, just like its competitor TV One. Neither network, however, is airing John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican convention the next week.” Amongst “news specials” BET will air during the nights of the Democratic convention: one “focusing on how ex-convicts can't vote” and another on “whether Obama could be considered a manifestation of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech.”
For the third weekday as Barack Obama vacations in Hawaii, John McCain on the campaign trail received more hostile coverage from the broadcast network evening newscasts -- to the extent they bothered to cover the presidential campaign. In a full story on CBS, Dean Reynolds recalled how McCain promised “to conduct a respectful campaign,” but citing McCain's celebrity ad, charged “now it frequently seems respect takes a backseat to ridicule.”
NBC, which also didn't touch the campaign on Monday or Tuesday, ignored it again Wednesday, though in a story on TV ads during the Olympics Chris Jansing asserted the Obama ads deliver “optimism and hope” while McCain's have a “more negative tone.” For the first time this week, ABC skipped the campaign, but anchor Charles Gibson raised Obama's “windfall profits” proposal with Exxon Mobil's chief: “When the public sees the kind of profits that the oil companies are making, isn't it fair that they wonder, 'why not?'”
He characterized John McCain's assessment, about how Vladimir Putin's "ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire,” as “ominous” and warned that such language may hurt McCain since it could cause “some voters” to “worry: Does he want to start a new Cold War?” Schneider argued: “The risk for McCain is that he could overplay the issue and frighten war-weary voters, whose priorities are at home right now.”
Over video of Obama in Kailua, Couric relayed how “Barack Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, put out a statement repeating his call for Russia to stop its attacks.” Greenfield recited how chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn “wrote, quote: 'I cannot imagine America electing a President during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values'” As video played of parts of two McCain ads, including the one with Paris Hilton which Couric last month denounced as “infamous,” Greenfield asserted:
To look now at some of John McCain's TV and Web ads, it is almost as if his campaign is following Penn's outsider strategy to the letter. For instance, the constant reference to Obama as a celebrity.
ABC centered an entire piece around revelations Hillary Clinton campaign operatives planned to “question Obama's authenticity as an American. She rejected that strategy,” yet ABC managed to twist the story into Obama victimization as anchor Charles Gibson fretted: “There are indications that John McCain may be adopting it now.”
Reporter Jake Tapper warned “some say that John McCain has tried to subtly portray Obama as not quite American enough, playing up Obama’s popularity abroad.” The proof? This from McCain at a South Dakota motorcycle rally last week: “Not long ago, a couple of hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I'll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day!” Tapper moved on to how McCain's ad narrator saying “John McCain: The American President Americans have been waiting for” is “a line many saw as implying something not American about Obama.” Tapper ominously concluded:
ABC News has learned that an independent conservative group has been filming in Indonesia where Obama spent a few years during his childhood. So even if Senator McCain does not draw attention to that unusual quality of Obama’s youth, someone will.
Trumpeting the “major endorsement” from John Edwards for Barack Obama, the day after Obama was trounced by 40 points in West Virginia all three broadcast network evening newscasts led Wednesday night with the “dramatic” announcement of the “political prize” that gives Obama a “major boost.” Katie Couric returned at the end of the 6:30 PM EST CBS Evening News feed to reiterate “our top story tonight” as she effused over live video of Edwards speaking at the rally: “John Edwards endorses Barack Obama, saying he's one man who knows in his heart that it's time to create one America, not two.”
ABC was so excited that its 6:30 PM feed of World News went live at about 6:40 PM to Grand Rapids, Michigan for 90 seconds of Obama introducing Edwards, compete with a Bruce Spingsteen song as Edwards bounded on stage. Gibson then acknowledged:
Timed for maximum exposure, timed to coincide with the evening newscasts, timed to give Barack Obama a needed boost after his bad defeat yesterday in West Virginia. George Stephanopoulos, this is the kind of publicity that you can't buy.Indeed, no need to pay for it when ABC News is eager to give it to you for free.
Progress in Germany and Russia had nothing to do with the Olympics, and everything to do with the U.S. fighting for freedom in two global conflicts: World War II and the Cold War. America didn't win by playing ping-pong.Neuharth had contended:
Nazi Germany hosted the Games in Berlin in 1936. Now that country is one of the world's proudest democracies. Communist Moscow was the host city in 1980. Now Russia has moved close to true democracy, although it's not quite there yet. This is not a prediction that communism will disappear from China quickly. But betcha the Olympic Games will bring 1.3 billion closer to that goal. So China and the world will win. Ping-pong might even become a global pastime.