On ABC and CBS, 'Conservative' Beck and Allies Countered by 'Civil Rights Leaders'

Just as they did in the morning, on Friday night the broadcast network stories on Glenn Beck's “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, DC were pegged to left-wing complaints his event is scheduled for the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech, except the reporters refused to identify the ideology of Beck's critics while showing no such reluctance to tag him and/or his allies.

“The rally in Washington. Followers of conservative radio and TV host Glenn Beck already gathering in the capital,” fill-in anchor Erica Hill teased at the top of the CBS Evening News. “In Washington,” she introduced the subsequent story, “followers of conservative talk show host Glenn Beck are already gathering on the Washington mall for tomorrow's rally...” Reporter Wyatt Andrews, however, refrained from labeling: “Critics, like the Reverend Al Sharpton, say that Beck, who has described the President as [Beck: “a racist”] and who has railed against government programs for the poor, has no business invoking Dr. King.”

Over on ABC's World News, Claire Shipman warned: “While the comedians poke gleefully at the 'Beckapalooza,' as [Jon] Stewart calls it, civil right leaders worry the day will be tarnished.” Yet seconds later she found it necessary to apply a label: “Martin Luther King's niece, a conservative activist, will appear supporting Beck tomorrow, as will Sarah Palin.”

(Katrina-obsessed NBC Nightly News didn't cover Beck-Sharpton)

In an earlier post, “Labeling Contrast: Beck a 'Controversial Conservative,' Al Sharpton Just an 'Activist,'” Rich Noyes noted how ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today on Friday both identified Beck as “conservative” while failing to tag Sharpton. On CBS's Early Show:
Correspondent Whit Johnson labeled Beck a “controversial conservative,” event speaker Alveda King (a niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.) a “longtime advocate for conservative causes”...

Yet talking about liberal rabble rouser and onetime Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton, Johnson offered no ideological labels or even a tag that Sharpton might be “controversial.” Instead, Sharpton’s event was described as a rally “hosted by civil rights leaders...”
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