Hypocritical Schieffer Lectures on Superiority of ‘Old Media’ Over ‘New Media’

Four months after leading Face the Nation with uncorroborated allegations from left-wing bloggers about racist and homophobic outbursts by anti-Obamacare protesters, spread in an effort to discredit President Obama’s opponents, CBS’s Bob Schieffer cited the Shirley Sherrod case to propound on the superiority of his fact-checking “Old Media” over the careless “New Media.”

In his commentary on Sunday, Schieffer boasted of how “we still call people involved in a story to get their side; editors fact check; and we never publish or broadcast anything unless we think it's true.” In contrast, he lectured, “last week, we saw what can happen when it's done the other way. A partisan blogger with an agenda -- not a journalist -- put the heavily edited, totally out of context, now infamous soundbite of Shirley Sherrod on the Internet. Some of the cable folk picked up the story, and demanded the woman's ouster.”

Schieffer scolded: “No calls to those involved, no checking of any kind -- just throw it out there and leave it to the woman to defend herself.” Very much like Schieffer left the conservative citizens he smeared at the top of the March 21 Face the Nation:
So today is the day. The House will finally vote on health care reform and a year-long debate that's been rancorous and mean from the start turned even nastier yesterday. Demonstrators protesting the bill poured into the halls of Congress shouting “Kill the bill!” and “Made in the USSR.” And as tempers rose, they hurled racial epithets, even at civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia, and sexual slurs at Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank. Other legislators said the protesters spit on them and one lawmaker said it was like a page out of a time machine.
Schieffer’s commentary on the July 25 Face the Nation:
All this controversy has caused talk lately about the differences in how the New Media and the Old Media operate and how the Old Media better get on the stick. In case you hadn't noticed, I am Old Media with a capital O. Proud of it, actually. And yes, we do operate differently than some in the New Media and I again underline some.

Here's one way: Old Media makes its share of mistakes, but not if we can help it. We still call people involved in a story to get their side; editors fact check; and we never publish or broadcast anything unless we think it's true.

Last week, we saw what can happen when it's done the other way. A partisan blogger with an agenda -- not a journalist -- put the heavily edited, totally out of context, now infamous soundbite of Shirley Sherrod on the Internet. Some of the cable folk picked up the story, and demanded the woman's ouster.

No calls to those involved, no checking of any kind -- just throw it out there and leave it to the woman to defend herself. Even worse, an administration so anxious to wash its hands of the controversy before the evening news came on didn't check, either, and fired her. You know the rest of the story, including all the apologies.

I know the Old Media can always learn a thing or two from the New Media, and I sure don't want to lecture the young folks -- even the older ones masquerading as New Media. But hey, if you would just make a call every once in a while to check these things out before you put it on the Web, you could save all of us a lot of trouble.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center