Polls have shown for some time now that Americans believe the news media has a political bias, and that that bias is a liberal one. A new Rasmussen survey once again confirms the trend.
Acccording to the poll, about two thirds of those surveyed (67 percent) said that political coverage will generally be more friendly to candidates and parties that align with the reporter's political views. Forty-five percent said they think the average reporter is more liberal than they are, while only 18 percent said the average reporter is more conservative.
While the prospect of a US withdrawal from Afghanistan is looming, some are at work pushing a revisionist history of America's involvement there. One NPR host even went so far as to claim that the Taliban, the brutal government toppled during the 2001 US invasion, "was never an enemy of the United States."
Even a cursory review of the history of the invasion belies that hat statement, made by radio host John Hockenberry, also a former ABC and NBC reporter, whose show "The Takeaway" broadcasts on NPR stations nationwide. Check below the break for video and a transcript (via former NBer Jeff Poor), as well as a brief but thorough debunking of Hockenberry's preposterous claim.
I've written a number of times that objectivity in political reporting is unattainable. I think that the American people realize that fact as well. The growing mistrust of the news media stems from the recognition that only the very rare reporter is a truly neutral arbiter. Those who have opinions will invariably give their reporting a point of view.
But despite this seemingly self-evident fact, most major news outlets still claim to be truly objective observers. The New York Times, being as it is an institution of old school journalism, is usually right out front making these claims. But in a letter published in the paper Sunday, its editors made explicit what has been an ongoing trend at the Times for a while: the paper is not really a fan of the supposedly inviolable line between news and opinion content.
"If Time-magaziner-turned-White House-press-sec Jay Carney ever tires of defending President Obama," wrote NB's Mark Finkelstein earlier this year, "Norah O'Donnell clearly seems ready to step in."
News broke Thursday that O'Donnell will, in fact, be moving to the White House briefing room, but she'll staying on the same side of the podium as CBS's Chief White House Correspondent. But that doesn't mean her incessant cheerleaeding for the Obama administration and its party will relent.
O'Donnell is one of television news's more blatantly liberal non-prime time personalities. In light of the move, let's review just a few of her "greatest hits."
UPDATE: Check out reaction from some of the chief Weiner-defenders below the break.
The so-called Weinergate scandal provided a true spectacle of media bias and conspiracy theorizing. While there was certainly plenty of good reporting throughout, many opted to take Rep. Anthony Weiner's claims at face value and search for other culprits or scapegoats.
Others devised more malicious theories about why a lewd picture had appeared on the congressman's Twitter feed. It was Andrew Breitbart's attempt to gin up another bogus story, or a coordinated effort by conservatives to provide cover for Clarence Thomas. These wild theories actually gained quite a bit of traction among liberals online, and even a few mainstream personalities.
We know now, by Weiner's own admission, that they were all nonsense. So with the facts readily available, it's worth reviewing some of the dominant narratives that pervaded media coverage of the scandal.
Last time it was your refrigerator's ice maker, and we wondered what the media would come with next. They have outdone themselves. The latest climate culprit: Internet search engines.
The Vancouver Sun calculated in an article last week that each search engine submission emits a minuscule one to 10 grams of carbon dioxide via a small amount of electricity usage. Add up the hundreds of millions of daily submissions, the Sun wrote, "and you're making a serious dent in some Greenland glaciers" (h/t Hot Air headlines).
Some time on Thursday, the New York Times scrubbed a very telling quote from its website. "In my house growing up," said the paper's new executive editor, Jill Abramson, "The Times substituted for religion. If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth."
Well isn't that nice. The paper's new head honcho was indoctrinated in Times-ology from childhood. When someone says they read the paper "religiously," we tend to think of it as a figure of speech. No so for Abramson. The paper was apparently her veritable scripture.
Does she still feel that way? Well, since being tapped for chief editor, Abramson said it was like "ascending to Valhalla."
Former National Public Radio president Vivian Schiller, who was at the center of a pair of controversies that roiled NPR in recent months, has reportedly taken a position with NBC News.
Schiller resigned from her post at NPR after footage surfaced showing two of NPR's senior fundraising executives making offensive comments towards conservatives. Though Schiller was not in the video, she accepted responsibility as president of the organization. Schiller also came under fire for her handling of the firing of Juan Williams late last year. She was forced to apologize for suggesting that Williams should seek psychiatric care.
Many believe that the Fairness Doctrine was repealed in the 1980s. In fact, it remains on the books, as Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell recently noted. President Ronald Reagan's FCC - and each one since - opted to not enforce the law for constitutional reasons, but the law itself still exists.
Two House Republicans have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asking him to officially remove the law - and a few related measures - from the Code of Federal Regulations.
Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the panel's Communications and Technology Subcommittee, have given Genachowski until Friday to confirm that the regulations will be removed. Will the FCC Chairman, who has a record of liberal views on contentious communications issues, comply?
This just in, by way of St. Petersburg Times fact-checking website Politifact: when considering irrelevant and misleading employment statistics, Texas has not, in fact, created more jobs in the past five years than the rest of the country combined.
Sure, when considering the relevant numbers - the ones that most honest observers would use - the claim, made by the Texas Public Policy Foundation in a recent ad, is perfectly factual. But through an exercise in pure semantics, Politifact was able to draw out a meaningless retort to TPPF's claims.
Politifact rated the statement "half-true" for using data on net job creation instead of gross job creation. In other words, taking into consideration that states can help and hinder job creation (and that doing the former isn't so useful if you're also doing the latter) was enough to penalize TPPF in Politifact's judgment. (Check below the break for further explanation on that score.)
President Obama is revving up his reelection campaign with a push to secure the American Hispanic vote ahead of 2012. Part of that effort, it seems, is the creation of an "Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics."
While the commission is certainly noble in purpose and its members are undoubtedly qualified, the appointment of Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks, raises some concerns about disclosure and political neutrality on some of the nation's most popular Spanish language news programs.
Many have noted that homelessness seems to always become a concern for the legacy media when a Republican is president. Similarly, during Democratic administrations, media outlets always seem to find good things about bad economic news (remember "funemployment"?).
The latest such attempt comes from MSN Money, which on Wednesday tallied ten reasons that "you should love $5 gas." While keeping in mind that the media had little interest in pointing these sorts of things out during the 2008 oil price spike, here are the reasons that $5 gas shouldn't get you so upset:
Liberals are quite fond of chalking up President Obama's shortcomings to his near-inhuman intelligence. His repeated failures to offer policies that are both popular and successful are routinely written off as failures in "messaging." Honestly presented, that translates roughly to "too smart for the rubes he governs."
But now Obama isn't just too smart for the country, he's apparently too smart for…himself! He is so intelligent, in fact, that he has developed a stutter. Sorry, an "intellectual stammer," as Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum dubbed it. Our president's mind moves too fast for his tongue.
It's interesting to remind ourselves from time to time which social institutions the fixtures of our culture's commanding heights consider dated or irrelevant. If you need more affirmation of the wide, wide chasm between American culture and American pop culture, Cameron Diaz is here to convince you.
The actress recently informed Maxim magazine that marriage is dying, is no longer relevant in the 21st century, and is all, you know, old and stuff. Check out an preview of Diaz's Maxim interview below the break (h/t David Harsanyi).
A software upgrade at Facebook has some conservative groups worried that their hard-earned followings might be rendered useless. The upgrade will "archive" all existing Facebook groups, thereby revoking administrators' access to member lists, unless they receive an exemption from Facebook (and the accompanying software).
The company has not revealed how groups are being chosen for these exemptions, but a number of prominent conservative groups recently told the Daily Caller that they had not received one, and feared they wouldn't. Losing access to member lists would remove key functionality, as administrators would no longer be able to contact group members en masse (Facebook "pages" will not be affected).
Facebook insisted in a statement that the company "determined what groups to archive based on a number of factors, including the amount of recent activity."But a quick look at a few of the groups that did and did not get these exemptions demonstrates that neither activity nor group size was the overriding factor. Indeed, plenty of conservative-leaning political groups with active memberships are still waiting on the software given to smaller, far less active liberal-leaning groups.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, D, can't seem to make up his mind on whether Fox News is "fair and balanced," or an ideologically-stilted - possibly malicious - political operation.
Rendell appeared on Ed Schultz's program Monday night to announce - presumably with a straight face - the removal by a New York Magazine cover story of the "thin veneer of impartiality that Fox may have."
But just a few years ago, when Rendell was campaigning hard for Hillary Clinton, he had effusive praise for Fox, which he called "the most objective of all the cable networks."
Many in the press are gearing up to present today's special election in New York's 26th Congressional District as a referendum on Republican budget proposals and plans to reform entitlement programs.
MSNBC's website collected examples of such claims from numerous news outlets, including the Associated Press, Roll Call, the Hill, and a pair of local newspapers. Left-wing news outfits such as the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo have also tried to play this card.
The facts belie these claims. A conservative third party candidate seems to have siphoned significant support from the Republican candidate, and polling data suggests district residents support Republican Medicare reform proposals. But don't expect that to stop reporters from making their referendum claims, just as they did after the 2009 special election in upstate New York.
A controversial article from Harper's Magazine, which won the National Magazine Awards' prize for reporting, what many consider the Pulitzer Prize for magazines, continues to be plagued by accusations of factual inaccuracy. A Monday article from AdWeek further suggested that the award had more to do with the issue's politics than the article's merits.
The piece, which suggests a possible conspiracy in covering up murders of inmates at Guantanamo Bay, was supplied wholesale to the folks at Harper's, who went to press despite a lack of hard sourcing for the story. In fact, the evidence undergirding it was apparently so thin that even the hard-left New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh, who has crusaded against a number of prominent elements of the war on terrorism, including Guantanamo, would not touch it.
New facts released by the office of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., reveal a hidden tax increase in President Obama's budget proposal. Obama's plan would, these facts demonstrate, impose a 20 percent increase in the top income tax rate - a significantly greater increase than the president has admitted.
The news media fancies itself a watchdog, so if the president is going to dramatically hike taxes, one would hope that Americans would hear about it first. But thus far, there has been almost no coverage of these stealth tax hikes. On Monday, Washington Post fact-checker Greg Kessler confirmed the veracity of Ryan's claims. Whether other major media outlets report on them will be the true test.
Congressman Ryan broke down the president's proposed tax hikes into a pair of separate measures that effectively increase the top tax rate. Taken with an existing Medicare payroll tax, the new top tax rate under Obama's plan would be 44.8 percent, not the 39.6 percent the administration claims - and significantly higher than current top tax rates.
Update: Reaction from NB publisher Brent Bozell below the break.
For some time now, it's been painfully obvious that objectivity in political reporting is a farce. So it should come as little surprise that when asked who they trust most for political reporting, many Americans draw a blank.
That, at least, is what pollsters at Suffolk University have discovered. A 36 percent plurality of respondents to a recent Suffolk poll, asked who they most trusted for political news, answered "not sure" or "none." Fox News's Bill O'Reilly came in third with 9 percent.
In fact, 22 percent said they trusted some Fox News personality most, compared with only 16 percent who said they trusted a network news anchor most. Only six percent said an MSNBC host was most trustworthy on political issues (h/t TV Newser).
In October of last year, the far-left blog ThinkProgress alleged - with exactly zero evidence - that the Chamber of Commerce was illegally using money collected from foreign corporations to fund its American political activities. The charge was breathlessly repeated by major media outlets, including the New York Times and MSNBC.
Well it turns out that the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the organization that runs ThinkProgress, itself takes money from foreign sources.
Surely CAPAF has adequate controls in place to prevent money acquired from foreign donors from being funneled into its electioneering activities (right?), but it was ThinkProgress itself that mere months ago was demanding that the Chamber reveal its own inner workings to hostile political observers to prove such constraints existed. A number of media personalities, most notably MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz and the folks at the New York Times editorial board, were happy to play along with the baseless smear campaign.
The notion that conservative political views can stunt one's acting career in ultra-liberal Hollywood is occasionally derided as exaggeration at best, or conspiracy-mongering at worst. So it behooves us to point out the actual victims of this sort of McCarthyite blacklisting.
The latest person to provoke the wrath of Hollywood's thought police - or at least to reveal the consequences of that wrath - is former "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Patricia Heaton. Heaton claims that she has been denied roles precisely - and explicitly - because she is "lumped together with conservatives," according to PopEater.com.
People who approach an issue with certain beliefs are generally less likely to check claims that comport with those beliefs. It's called confirmation bias. Observe: Tuesday's New York Times carried this correction, highlighted by John Hinderaker at Powerline:
An article on May 7 about the Obama administration's appointment of a panel of experts to find ways to make hydraulic fracturing safer misstated the prevalence of cases in which fluids from the gas drilling process have been proven to have contaminated drinking water. There are few documented cases, not numerous ones, although federal and state investigations into reports of such incidents are continuing.
In other words, hydraulic fracturing is not, by and large, a danger to drinking water supplies. Since potential dangers to drinking water are integral to virtually every argument mounted against the practice, the incidence of contamination is crucial to the debate.
The Barack Obama White House rewards its friends and punishes its enemies. News outlets would be wise to ensure that they don't fall into the latter category.
That is the message the Obama Campaign tried to send in 2008 when it sicced campaign activists on talk radio shows that dared to give voice to Obama's critics. It was the message the White House sent with its assault of the Fox News Channel. And now it's the message the administration is sending by reportedly threatening to bar Boston Herald reporters from full access to presidential events simply because the White House does not approve of the paper's editorial judgment.
The Herald gave former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney front-page op-ed space in March, bumping off a story about a presidential visit to Boston. That, the White House claimed, signaled that the paper is not "fair" or "objective" in its coverage. Hence, the Herald will be barred from pool duty on presidential visits, a White House spokesman implied.
Since last year's elections, the GOP has spearheaded a number of efforts derided by various reporters as wastes of time or distracting political gimmicks. None of the reporters so concerned about Congress's valuable time, however, seemed too concerned when Harry Reid brought bill to the Senate floor Tuesday evening fully aware that it could not gain congressional approval for the simple reason that it was unconstitutional.
Reid's admitted goal was simply to score political points against Republicans by forcing them to preserve standard tax benefits for oil companies (benefits enjoyed by virtually every American company). But he acknowledged Tuesday that he knew the measure was unconstitutional, so the whole thing was just a political farce.
And yet it hasn't drawn the media scorn to any notable degree, in stark contrast to GOP proposals to read of the Constitution to kick off the session in January or to repeal ObamaCare later that month, both of which were blasted in the press as, essentially, wastes of time.
Pro-government union protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere have provided some stunning insight into the double standards that pervade coverage of major protest movements. One such double standard lies in media treatment of threats against public officials. News of the release of more than 100 pages of documented threats against officials of both parties in Wisconsin has brought that double standard to light.
Very often such threats are most intensely focused on a single individual perceived as the leader of the ideological or political opposition. President Obama was the target of perhaps less overt, if certainly as menacing threats during the early stages of his administration when a handful of demonstrators brought firearms to a presidential town hall meeting. That of course dominated the airwaves for the following week, as many in the media bemoaned what they presented almost uniformly as hints at assassination.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, like President Obama, became the target of much of the rage from pro-union demonstrators. And like Obama, Walker received some very vocal - and in many cases more overt - threats against his life. Unlike threats against the president, however, those directed at Walker have received scant press attention outside of Wisconsin media.
If there is one characteristic that has defined Wikileaks proprietor Julian Assange, it is utter hypocrisy - his complete and total unwillingness or inability to abide by his own principles.
The man was complicit in an theft on an epic scale, but had the gall to criticize the UK Guardian for publishing government cables obtained by Wikileaks without the organization's permission. The grounds for his complaint: "he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released." Assange is also not a fan of media outlets publishing leaked information about him. He lashed out at the Guardian late last year for "selectively publish[ing]" police reports about rape charges against him.
And now, despite his active efforts to literally render the American government unable to function, Assange is invoking rule of law to protect his "property" (you know, all the stolen documents in his possession). He has reportedly forced Wikileaks employees to sign a draconian confidentiality agreement that would put them on the hook for roughly $20 million if they release Wikileaks documents without permission.
Some traditional media outlets, faced with harsh economic realities in the digital age, have begun to turn ideologically inward in the hopes of shoring up support among an enthusiastic and sympathetic audience. The goal is to raise the floor of potential readers or viewers, even while the ceiling drops.
The New York Times, for its part, has decided to revamp its Sunday opinion section - currently called Week in Review, but which might change its name to Sunday Review - to place more emphasis on opinion content. The move may be rooted in the recognition that opinion sells. For the Times generally, it means a more overt, in-your-face liberalism.
Most of the conspiracy theories about libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch have originated in the left-wing blogosphere. But a few media outlets, most notably MSNBC and the New York Times, have served to filter the anti-Koch campaigns into the mainstream political conversation.
The Times, which has printed numerousfactualinaccuracies relating to the Koch brothers of late, recently published a piece on its website that focused on a relatively obscure left-wing non-profit's attack campaign against them.
The article spurred Koch Indutries, the massive conglomerate owned by the billionaire brothers, to hit back at the paper. In a letter to its public editor, the company's general council asked whether the Times was "reporting on events or participating in them?" See the text of that letter below the break.
During the 2008 campaign, much of the press succeeded in painting a portrait of Barack Obama that bore almost no resemblance to either the Chicago politician he was before, or the president he's been since. We were sold Hope and Change, but ended up with what Washington Examiner columnist David Freddoso decries as "Gangster Government" in a new book bearing that title.
Gangster government is "about governing without recognizing the legitimate limits of one's power," as Freddoso describes it. "It's about officials who use public office to make winners into losers and losers into winners; who bend, break and make the law to help their friends and punish their enemies."
Freddoso contends that the term describes Obama's administration better than any before it. The man cut his teeth in Chicago, the mecca of gangster government, by Freddoso's telling, and exported that brand of public policy - with the aid of a pair of complacent watchdogs in the news media and Congress - into the Oval Office.