Rich Noyes is currently Research Director at the Media Research Center where he is co-editor of Notable Quotables, MRC’s bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, and the Media Reality Check, a regular analysis of how major news stories are distorted or ignored.
Noyes has authored or co-authored many of MRC’s authoritative Special Reports, including: The Censorship Election: How the Broadcast Networks Buried the Bad News That Threatened Barack Obama’s Quest for a Second Term; TV’s Tea Party Travesty: How ABC, CBS and NBC Have Dismissed and Disparaged the Tea Party Movement; Cheerleaders for the Revolution: Network Coverage of Barack Obama’s First 100 Days; Better Off Red? Twenty Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Recalling the Liberal Media’s Blindness to the Evils of Communism; and Megaphone for a Dictator: CNN’s Coverage of Fidel Castro's Cuba, 1997-2002.
An expert with nearly 30 years of experience studying the news media’s impact on U.S. politics, Noyes has discussed the issue of liberal bias on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC and dozens of radio talk shows, and has authored articles which have appeared in the Journal of Political Science, New York Post, Investor’s Business Daily, Roll Call and Human Events.
The top story at NYTimes.com Friday afternoon, presumably headed for the front-page of Saturday morning’s newspaper, touted how: “Immigration Law in Arizona Reveals G.O.P. Divisions.” All but one paragraph of the 30-paragraph report by Jennifer Steinhauer described the dilemma for Republicans torn between popular sentiment in favor of Arizona’s pro-enforcement stance, and the need to not alienate Hispanic voters.
Fair enough. But the Democrats are ostensibly in worse shape, having publicly and visibly denounced (with the President of Mexico) a popular law that 64% of Americans support, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
But the Times casts the GOP as stymied by the “delicacy of the issue,” even going so far as to seek wisdom from Karl Rove (not a Times favorite), identified with the soft-line approach that helped erode President Bush’s popularity among conservatives a few years ago:
The only network to mention the proposal to test the depths of the city’s commitment to liberal sanctimony was ABC, MRC intern Matthew Hadro discovered. White House correspondent Jake Tapper first noted how President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon both criticized Arizona’s new immigration law at the White House, then reported:
JAKE TAPPER: The debate is intense. The Los Angeles City Council voted last month to boycott all official business in Arizona, prompting an Arizona utilities commissioner to all but threaten to cut off the electricity Arizona power plants provide L.A.
GARY PIERCE, ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSIONER: You can’t call a boycott on the candy store, and then decide to go in and pick and choose candy you really do want.
It will be interesting to see whether, if Specter is indeed rejected in favor of the more liberal Congressman Joe Sestak (late polls show a virtual dead heat), if that will trigger hand-wringing about the “fringe” of the Democratic Party drumming out a more “moderate” Senator.
A review of how the media have promoted Specter as more desirable than the rest of the GOP over the years, starting with Specter’s (brief) 1995 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination:
In contrast, all three networks made a major deal out of the last person nominated by a Republican President for a slot on the Court, Justice Samuel Alito. Out of the first 21 stories on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows after Justice Alito’s selection, correspondents conveyed ten explicit “conservative” labels during the first 36 hours of coverage. In contrast, Graham documented just one “liberal” label in 14 Kagan stories during the equivalent time period after her selection.
In Alito’s case, the networks began trumpeting ideology from the moment he was picked. Anchor Charles Gibson opened ABC’s Special Report announcing Alito’s nomination: “He is very conservative. This is a liberal appellate court, but he is the most conservative member on it....The President has picked someone very conservative, but a very accomplished jurist as well.”
Good Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos agreed Kagan had a “reputation for bringing conservatives and liberals together,” and recounted how he and Kagan worked side-by-side in Bill Clinton’s White House: “She does have a great temperament, very easy-going, a good sense of humor.” Then, as Kagan and President Obama strode to the podium, Sawyer quoted the nominee complimenting herself: “We had a soundbite from her saying she had a reputation for being a very good teacher.”
Now, there are gentle suggestions that the Obama administration dropped the ball in the days after the oil rig explosion that triggered a 5,000 barrel per day leak that threatens to eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill as the worst in U.S. history. Today’s lead story in the New York Times determined that “a review of the response suggests it may be too simplistic to place all the blame for the unfolding environmental catastrophe on the oil company. The federal government also had opportunities to move more quickly, but did not do so while it waited for a resolution to the spreading spill from BP,” a theme echoed in an editorial, as Noel Sheppard notes below.
Not exactly “righteous indignation,” but the story isn’t over, yet.
In contrast, here’s some of what the critics had to say about the media’s adversarial approach when George W. Bush was in the White House:
A new study from the MRC’s Business & Media Institute documents how ABC, CBS and NBC have been just as strident in their advocacy in the months following “ClimateGate” as they were in the 20 years that preceded the scandal. At the same time, a review of the Media Research Center’s archives going back to the late 1980s shows just how strongly reporters have pushed the liberal line on global warming. Here are just some of the many examples:
The Tea Party movement launched one year ago, in response to the unprecedented expansion of government by President Barack Obama and congressional liberals, a massive increase in spending that will create economy-crushing fiscal burdens for future generations of taxpayers.
In that relatively brief period, the Tea Party has demonstrated it is a formidable political force. The pressure the movement brought to bear at the grassroots level put liberals on the defensive for much of the health care debate, and nearly succeeded in torpedoing the entire scheme in spite of Democrats’ overwhelming congressional majorities. And Tea Party activists proved decisive in a string of electoral defeats for liberals, culminating in Republican Scott Brown’s victory in the special election to succeed Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate.
So how have the supposedly objective media covered one of the biggest political stories in recent years? The Media Research Center has a new report out today, reviewing every mention of the Tea Party on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening newscasts, Sunday talk shows, and ABC’s Nightline from February 19, 2009 (when CNBC contributor Rick Santelli first suggested throwing a “Tea Party” to protest government takeovers) through March 31, 2010. Among the major findings:
If You’re Anti-ObamaCare, You Must Be a Bigot
“What are the Tea Partiers really angry about? Health care reform, or the fact that it was an African American President and a woman Speaker of the House who pushed through major change?” — MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at the top of Hardball, March 29.
The two reports, which aired back-to-back at the top of the March 20 program, were a good illustration of the liberal media trope that Republicans sink to using offensive hardball tactics while Democrats are seen as offering lofty arguments.
On the one hand, Martin’s story showed only soundbites from Democrats: President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a freshman Congressman who was switching his vote from “no” to “yes.” Martin helped cast Representative John Boccieri as a profile in courage:
The end of Congress’s long debate over ObamaCare could be near, as the President pushes for a final vote this week before his Asia trip, and House Democrats want a resolution before next week’s Easter break.
Yet whether or not liberals’ dreams are ultimately realized, they have had a huge advantage throughout the process. Over the past twelve months, journalists have continually stacked the deck in favor of a big government takeover of health care.
A review of the worst spin:
Berry was making the point that new media technologies such as Facebook lets citizens inform each other and mobilize to affect public policy without being dependent on a relatively few unrepresentative journalists: “The ability for people to communicate and to interact in the way that Facebook allows is an absolute game changer....People that can’t get hired at big newspapers or big TV stations [are now] changing public policy in profound ways.”
Here’s some of what Berry had to say near the beginning of the first hour of the March 4 Mark Levin Show (Levin was off that night getting ready for his Friday night speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.)
The near-media blackout means that the success of President Bush’s “surge” policy in 2007 — a policy opposed by President Obama and Vice President Biden when both were presidential candidates and ridiculed by the networks as a "Lost Cause" — has gone virtually unreported in the past year. This week’s Newsweek is an exception, with a big Iraq War cover story declaring “Victory at Last.”
Here are some of the choicer quotes from this issue; the entire package (with five audio/video clips) is posted at www.MRC.org. You can also sign up to get each issue sent to you via e-mail (next issue will be March 8).
Scolding “Harsh Rhetoric” of Tea Party “On the Fringe”
ABC’s John Berman: “The business of this first ever national Tea Party convention is the nuts and bolts of politics, like voter registration....But barely scratch the surface, and there’s a tone of anger and confrontation....When we asked delegates what they thought, their feelings about the President were almost universal.”
Unidentified Man: “I believe he is a socialist ideologue.”
Unidentified Woman: “You just read his history, he’s a Marxist.”...
Berman: “One of the goals of this convention is to turn this movement into a political force. The question is, does the harsh rhetoric keep them on the fringe?” — ABC’s World News, February 5.
The MRC has now created a one-stop online resource, “Media Bias 101,” detailing more than 40 surveys revealing journalists’ liberal opinions and the public’s attitudes about bias. The report also contains page after page of quotes from top reporters discussing media bias — most denying the problem, but some admitting it.
On his Thursday show, Rush Limbaugh scoffed that “I was all set to say that I think maybe Obama is dumber than Biden, until I heard that....This is worse than chutzpah, folks. This is insulting everybody’s intelligence.”
But during the 2pm of MSNBC Live on Thursday, anchor Tamron Hall -- noting that "the Right [is] really honing in on this comment" -- sought reassurance from the Huffington Post’s “senior congressional correspondent” Ryan Grim, who insisted that Biden was correct. “If you can have 90,000 troops leave there, and if it were still a stable country, then actually leaving the country would be a great achievement,” Grim declared, adding: “And it would also, it’s worth nothing, be an achievement for the anti-war movement.”
Grim also refused to see any connection between Bush’s troop surge and the resulting drop in violence: “It’s an open question exactly what led to the decrease in violence that coincided with the surge.” And he deplored how conservatives blame Obama for the poor state of the economy, but refuse to let Obama take credit for the success in Iraq: “This is just utter nonsense.”
On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric and White House reporter Chip Reid cast President Obama’s push for “bipartisanship” in a favorable light, with Obama “working hard,” “following through on a promise” and “open to ideas from Republicans.” But in an item posted on CBSNews.com, Reid’s fellow CBS White House correspondent, Mark Knoller – who has covered every President since Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s – was far more skeptical: “When a sitting President calls for bipartisanship by the opposition – he really means surrender.”
Knoller’s blog, with the jaundiced headline: “Obama Says Bipartisanshp, But What He Wants Is GOP Surrender,” was posted at roughly the same time the CBS Evening News was airing on the East Coast. [Here in Washington, D.C., the CBS affiliate WUSA-TV pre-empted the Evening News in favor of local weather coverage, but I was able to view the entire February 9 broadcast at CBSNews.com.]
Knoller painted the President as motivated by frustration: “His top legislative priorities are going nowhere and he’s searching for a way to get them out of lockup.” After recounting past Presidents’ tactical demands for bipartisanship, Knoller outlined the political motive:
Actually, the jobs “created” by the snow storm might resemble those “created” by the government in that the work is only temporary, but the snow-clearing work also sprouted spontaneously based on actual demand and without the need for huge government bureaucracy to manage the process.
And nearly 48 hours after the snow stopped falling, most private businesses and individuals have dug out their own property, while local governments have yet to finish clearing residential areas. Maybe instead of demonizing profit, liberals could finally recognize how effective the profit motive is at inspiring people to engage in productive work.
Reporting this morning on the Obama administration’s push for another $100 billion in spending, supposedly for “job growth,” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie fell into the second category. Rather than amplify the growing chorus of critics who argue that we can’t afford more massive spending when the previous “stimulus” was so expensive and ineffective, Guthrie on NBC’s Today saluted the President for making a “judgment call” that “all economists” could support:
This is a budget where the President makes a judgment call. He's asking for $100 billion to spur job growth, things like tax cuts for small business, tax breaks to increase wages. And he's doing this knowing that it will drive up the deficit, certainly even more in the short term, but all economists agree the real way to get a chunk out of the deficit is to increase hiring.