Today, the news is all about the U.S. military’s successful elimination of Osama bin Laden (go USA!), but for much of the last two weeks the media have preoccupied themselves with demanding higher taxes and scorning proposed Republican budget cuts as mean-spirited attacks on the poor.
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.
This week’s edition of MRC’s Notable Quotables newsletter is chock full of liberal media quotes showing reporters’ slanted approach to the tax and budget issues now at center stage. In fact, there’s so much bad material, we had to add an extra page to our usually three-page newsletter (you can view/download the PDF here).
The whole issue is up over at www.MRC.org. Here’s a baker’s dozen of the worst quotes (including two video clips), all collected in the last couple of weeks:
Reporters are eagerly anticipating President Obama’s budget speech this afternoon, with NBC’s Chuck Todd assuring viewers of Wednesday’s Today show that now, finally, “the President’s going to add his voice to this, debate, essentially, over what to do about the ever-growing deficit and debt.”
But over and over again over the past two years, the media have painted Obama as a leader committed to “slashing” the deficit, only to have the absurdity of such spin later revealed by the administration’s actual policies.
Let’s start the trip down memory lane with coverage of President Obama’s first budget speech in February 2009, which reporters claimed would include steps to aggressively reduce the deficit. ABC’s David Muir began the February 21, 2009 World News by pitching how the President was “slashing the deficit by at least 50 percent by raising taxes on the wealthy, people making $250,000 and above, and cutting war spending by bringing troops home from Iraq.”
Prior to this week, President Obama had been so detached from the budget debate that some in his own party have openly criticized him. Obama, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin declared in early March, has “failed to lead this debate or offer a serious proposal for spending and cuts that he would be willing to fight for.”
Yet when the President chose to parachute into the budget talks earlier this week, most of the mainstream media neglected to remember his long absence, but instead acted like White House stenographers in praising his “adult” and “grown-up” approach — conveying the obvious implication that House Republicans and/or the Tea Party have been acting like children.
A video compilation of some of the more noteworthy these comments appears below the fold; a link to audio of remarks by CBS’s Chip Reid, CNN’s Gloria Borger and CNN’s Eliot Spitzer, all from April 5, is here.
AP’s Dave Bauder reported this morning that CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric would be leaving that post. An exact departure date was not announced, but Couric’s contract with CBS News is set to expire on June 4, 2011, although Bauder suggested that if Couric strikes a deal with CBS for a syndicated daytime talk show, she might stay on temporarily if there was “an extended search for her successor.”
The Media Research Center has just updated our “Profile in Bias” recounting the liberal slant that Couric promoted as CBS Evening News anchor. (An earlier report covered the bias she conveyed as a longtime co-host of NBC’s Today). Here are some of the choicer examples from her disastrous tenure at CBS:
Tea Party = “Moderate Republicans” an “Endangered Species”
“The party crashers. Big primary victories by fringe candidates open a rift in the GOP....After big victories this week by candidates of the Tea Party, the Grand Old Party is in turmoil....Does this mean moderate Republicans are becoming an endangered species?”
— Katie Couric on the September 16, 2010 CBS Evening News.
The Obama administration launched its air war against Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya after a vote of the UN Security Council, but without any congressional authorization — and apparently not even very much consultation with congressional leaders. A review of the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from Friday night through Monday night finds virtually no network interest in Obama’s bypassing of Congress — an attitude in stark contrast to their approach to the Bush administration during the run-up to the Iraq war in late 2002. (Video montage below jump.)
With Libya, only the NBC Nightly News has even mentioned the controversy over the Obama administration’s decision to cut Congress out of the decision-making. On the March 20 Nightly News, White House correspondent Chuck Todd offered one sentence taking note of John Boehner’s objections in a laundry list of other congressional complaints:
The Media Research Center is out with another edition of our bi-weekly Notable Quotables newsletter, a compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Highlights from this issue include: Network reporters contrasting left-wing union protests in Wisconsin with recent uprisings against brutal Middle Eastern dictators, and journalists suggesting a “coordinated” Republican “assault on unions,” with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski badgering Governor Scott Walker: “How this is not an attempt to crush the unions.”
In other NQ news, we think we’ve finally fixed the problems that have plagued MRC’s e-mail newsletters over the past few weeks, so if you’d like to subscribe (or unsubscribe) to Notable Quotables or any of the MRC’s other fine newsletters, click here.
Loud protests by Wisconsin public employee unions against a budget reform proposal from new Governor Scott Walker have drawn considerable national network news attention since Thursday, the day Democratic state senators fled the state in a last-ditch gambit to prevent the bill from becoming law. A story-by-story analysis by the Media Research Center shows the Wisconsin protests are a perfect case study in the media’s longstanding double standard favoring left-wing causes while demonstrating much more hostility to the Tea Party and conservative protest.
Last March, as thousands protested on Capitol Hill in the days before the passage of ObamaCare, CBS’s Nancy Cordes slammed it as “a weekend filled with incivility,” while World News anchor Diane Sawyer painted the Tea Party as a violent gang, with “protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets.” In August 2009, ABC anchor Charles Gibson complained how “protesters brought pictures of President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache to a town hall meeting,” failing to mention that the signs were produced by Lyndon LaRouche’s wacky fringe movement, not the Tea Party or conservatives.
On Saturday morning, TVNewser summarized the news networks’ plans for covering former President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday tomorrow — Fox News plans a documentary for Sunday night, CNN will have live programming Sunday afternoon and NBC’s Meet the Press will originate from the Reagan library with guests including James Baker, Reagan’s first White House chief of staff.
The effort seems a bit modest for the most successful conservative president of the 20th century, who re-invigorated the American economy and helped bring the Soviet Union’s communist empire to its knees. The best contrast is with late January 1982, when the towering liberal president of the 20th century, Franklin D. Roosevelt, reached his 100th milestone.
For that anniversary, NBC carved out an hour of primetime on Sunday, January 24, for a documentary narrated by newsman John Hart: “Nothing to Fear — The Legacy of FDR.” And ABC worked up a three-hour documentary, "FDR," which aired on Friday, January 29, 1982, the day before Roosevelt’s actual birthday.
Every two weeks, the Media Research Center compiles the most outrageous liberal media quotes for our Notable Quotables newsletter. For the issue dated Monday, January 24, it’s a special edition, “Conservatives in the Crosshairs,” documenting the smarmy attempt by the liberal media to link conservatives — especially Sarah Palin, talk radio and the Tea Party — to the horrific shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords that left six others dead.
After the jump, you'll find some of the choicer quotes we’ve uncovered, including three video clips. The full issue will be is now available at www.MRC.org by 9am Monday:
Almost immediately after the shooting in Tucson that killed six people and left Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords severely wounded, the media establishment linked the attack with a debate about “civility,” suggesting an association between Jared Loughner’s rampage and the words and phrases used in national political debates.
Many of these network news stories offered ambiguous references to, as CBS’s Bob Schieffer put it on the January 9 edition of Sunday Morning, “the mean and hateful tone that now marks our modern politics.” Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, in a soundbite on NBC’s Today the next morning, pointed his finger at “the left and the right” as contributing to what he termed “the climate of violence.”
There’s certainly no shortage of instances of the Left deploying violent rhetoric, but how evenly did the media divide the blame during the first few days of this national debate about civility? MRC analysts reviewed all 55 broadcast network stories or segments discussing the discourse from just after the shooting (January 8) through the evening of the national memorial service on January 12, reviewing the ABC, CBS and NBC morning, evening and Sunday talk shows.
Three days after a mentally-deranged man — whose backyard in Arizona featured a bizarre shrine decorated with a human skull and rotted oranges — killed six people and severely wounded Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the liberal media continue to cynically link Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and mainstream conservatives with the crime.
There is, of course, absolutely no evidence that “heated rhetoric” in any way motivated Jarred Loughner’s shooting spree, but the media’s repeated association of political speech with the attack suggests an attempt to exploit the tragedy to discredit mainstream conservatives by smearing them as somehow culpable.
As scornful as the media were of conservatives last year, they were just as adoring of top liberals, as documented by the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2010. Topping the MRC's annual "Media Hero Award," ABC's World News anchor Diane Sawyer fawned over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the passage of ObamaCare in March:
“All agree she gets credit for locking up this vote, one of the biggest since Medicare in the 1960s. And she’s said to have done it with an epic blend of persuasion, muscle and will, even when half the town said it couldn’t be done....Their indefatigable, unwavering almost 70-year-old Speaker, mother of five, grandmother of seven....[to Pelosi] What do you think your dad and your mom would have said about this moment?”
The liberal press likes to scold what it sees as lapses in civil rhetoric, usually from conservatives who fail to properly respect the icons of the Left. But as documented by the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2010, the media elite itself lurched into some pretty uncivil rhetoric this year — especially when the targets were Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party and other conservatives.
PBS's Tavis Smiley won MRC's "Poison Tea Pot Award for Smearing the Anti-Obama Rabble" (and was runner-up for "Quote of the Year") for arguing with author Ayaan Hirsi Ali that everyday Christians and the Tea Party were just as dangerous as radical Muslims.
Condemning everyday Americans as racist, anti-immigrant Islamophobes was a favorite media theme in 2010, as documented by the Media Research Center's year-end Best Notable Quotables of 2010. Polls showed most Americans supported Arizona's effort to curb illegal immigration and opposed building an Islamic center near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers — but on both scores the media elite stacked their coverage against the public.
Winning the "Hazing Arizona Award for Denigrating Immigration Enforcement" was longtime New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who summoned images of resistance to Nazi occupation in an April 27 op-ed hoping for protests of the "police state" she claimed Arizona had become for trying to protect itself from illegal immigration.
Every year, the Media Research Center invites a distinguished panel of expert judges to sift through the dopiest, wackiest quotes of the year, and every year it seems the honor roll of idiocy gets longer and longer.
This year, top honors in the MRC's "Audacity of Dopes Award for the Wackiest Analysis of the Year" went to the Boston Globe Magazine's Charles Pierce, for a January 10 column he addressed to Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown just days before the Massachusetts special election. In Pierce's highly-esteemed opinion, Brown's cause was hopeless:
Even as the public grew increasingly disenchanted with Washington's full-throated liberal policies in 2010, the media elite's partisanship remained on full display. The Media Research Center's Best Notable Quotables of 2010 captured the highlights, as journalists continued to blame America's misfortunes on George W. Bush, even as they also insisted that Barack Obama deserved more credit for his amazing accomplishments.
In the MRC's "They Don't Miss Him Yet Award for Still Bashing Bush," Time's Joe Klein took the prize for insisting that the April 2010 Gulf oil spill was really Bush's fault: "This is more Bush’s second Katrina than Obama’s first,” Klein lamely insisted on The Chris Matthews Show. Klein made his crack on May 30, nearly 500 days after Bush left the Oval Office.
Late last week, CNN announced its plan to team up with the Tea Party Express to co-sponsor a Republican presidential debate in September. While this creates the possibility that Republican candidates will actually face questions of interest to Republican primary voters (as opposed to the typical liberal media agenda), it’s also probably the first time a media organization will partner with a group that its on-air correspondents and commentators have trashed over the past two years.
CNN’s liberal commentators have been savage to the Tea Party. Back in 2009, longtime CNN house liberal Paul Begala slammed the Tea Party as “a bunch of wimpy, whiny, weasels who don’t love their country.” A couple of weeks before this year’s election, CNN’s 8pm ET co-host Eliot Spitzer said the Tea Party was “vapid” and leading America “down a dangerous road....They’re going to destroy our country.”
But CNN’s supposedly objective correspondents and anchors have showcased a similar hostility to the Tea Party, attacking them as racist, extremist, pawns of Fox News, or using the vulgar “tea-bagging” nickname favored by left-wing activists to disparage the group. A few of the choicer examples from the MRC’s archive (including video):
With all but one of the House races now resolved, Republicans have picked up at least 63 seats, the most in a midterm election since 1938. So, it might be fun on this Thanksgiving Day to recall how, just 18 months ago, Time's Michael Grunwald was arguing in a big cover story that demography and its "extremely conservative" philosophy meant the Republican Party could be on the verge of extinction.
Back in May 2009, Newsbusters Brent Baker picked up on Grunwald's piece for the ridiculous way he painted the GOP as extremist:
They are extremely conservative ideas tarred by association with the extremely unpopular George W. Bush, who helped downsize the party to its extremely conservative base.
But re-reading the piece today, it's even more striking how Grunwald's "analysis" was based on liberal wishful thinking that small government conservative policies were like political arsenic, and how Republicans had to drop tax cuts and cultural conservatism if they ever hoped to come back from the wilderness.
In other words, move left. But the GOP instead moved right, and was rewarded by voters. Which is why conservatives should probably not take strategic advice from their ideological adversaries in the media.
While the broadcast networks have generally empathized with the distress of airline passengers over the TSA’s new and intrusive airport searches, they have not — thus far, at least — gone so far as to impugn the Obama administration as launching a war against Americans’ civil liberties.
Indeed, NBC’s Matt Lauer on Monday even sympathized with TSA Administrator John Pistole: “I hate to even think of what happens if the government caves in on this, and relaxes these procedures, and someone manages to get something on board a plane and causes harm. Imagine the questions you'll be asked at that point.”
But that’s not the approach those networks took when it was the Bush administration taking steps to protect citizens against potential attack. Instead, as a 2006 analysis by the Media Research Center documented, the networks firmly aligned themselves with those who saw the Patriot Act and the electronic surveillance of international phone calls as a dire threat to civil liberties.