Goldberg: Scandal Reporting Needs to Focus on Hard News, Not Political Spin

Bernie Goldberg, a 12-time Emmy winning journalist and commentator for Fox News, appeared on the O'Reilly Factor Tuesday night to discuss the biased reporting that the liberal media is employing in their coverage of the IRS scandal, particularly how the media are desperate to spin the IRS scandal in the best possible light by holding it's likely not directed from the top echelons of the Obama White House. [Link to the audio here]

Goldberg held out as an example a recent discussion between CNN's Candy Crowley and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) about "whether it's political," referring, of course, to the recent IRS scandal of targeting conservative organizations while protecting liberal groups. Goldberg quipped that Crowley's question was tantamount to "asking a scientist, is it possible that the Earth is flat?" It can't simply be rogue IRS agents and there has to be "something much bigger going on" in the situation, the veteran political journalist insisted, going on to note the media double standard in handling scandals like this depending on who's in the White House.


"[I]f it's a Republican scandal, it's always covered as a scandal," but, "if it's a Democratic scandal, it's covered as, how are these cynical Republicans are going to take advantage of this for political points?" In defense of his position on the issue, Goldberg rattled off a number of recent examples of such bias in the media reporting.

 First, Goldberg noted, about a week ago, the New York Times ran a story on the front page about the IRS scandal with the headline, "IRS Focus on Conservatives Gives GOP an Issue to Seize On." Next, Goldberg quoted from an Associated Press story that complained that "The scandals dogging President Obama are political gifts to Republicans," although "it's unclear how they are going to capitalize on this politically."  

Goldberg's final example was a quote from an MSNBC contributor who said that "unless you're trying to form a tax exempt 501(c)(4), this story isn't about you." Goldberg's issue with these reports are that they make the story not about the IRS abuse, but instead "about how are Republicans going to take advantage of it." 

That sort of partisan narrative-weaving, he argued, shows the demise of journalism in America, as Americans are not informed about what's really going on in the world. Even worse, such ignorance has helped liberal Democrats and could well "enable Barack Obama to get through these [scandals], as he has gotten through everything else." 

For reference, the transcript of the entire interview is provided below:

The O’Reilly Factor
5/21/13
8:00 PM
 
BILL O’REILLY, host:  Weekdays with Bernie segment tonight. We believe the Benghazi, the IRS, and the AP snooping around has been fair. If you disagree, please let me know by email. Over at CNN, they have not covered those stories all that much, and there is a slightly sceptic tone. 
 
CANDY CROWLEY: Can you see in your mind's eye a way that this might not have been political, that this was a misguided stupid way to sort but that they didn't intend it to be some kind of political attempt to harass the Tea Party? 
 
Sen. RAND PAUL: I would think that if there was any chance that this was a mistake the investigator general wouldn't be coming out and saying otherwise, and the IRS themselves wouldn't be admitting. 
 
CROWLEY: They say it's a mistake; the question is whether it's political. 
 
O’REILLY: Yesterday I talked with Bernie Goldberg about the CNN situation. 
 
O’REILLY: Anything wrong with Ms. Crowley's posture? 
 
BERNIE GOLDBERG: You know what? I'm not going to lose much sleep over her asking was it a mistake instead of being political. She gave him a chance to answer, but it does fall into the broad category of a reporter 
asking a scientist, is it possible that the earth is flat? because the chances of the earth being flat are exactly the same as the IRS thing being simply a mistake. But, Bill, there is something much bigger going on here; it's how the mainstream media, so-called mainstream media, covers scandals in general. If it’s a Republican scandal, it's always covered as a scandal. If it's a Democratic scandal, it's covered as how are these cynical republicans are going to take advantage of this for political points?
 
A classic example, page one of the "New York Times" a week ago, page one. This is a headline you can't make up. “IRS Focus on Conservatives Gives GOP an Issue to Seize On.” Now, come on. In other words, the story isn't the IRS abuse; it's how is the GOP is going to seize on this? I have two more examples. The Associated Press, you know, the gold standards of American journalism, so they write a story that says, “the scandals dogging President Obama are political gifts to Republicans, but it's unclear how they are going to capitalize on this politically.” Again, story is not about the abuse. The story is about how are republicans going to take advantage of it. And the third example is truly pathetic. It happened on MSNBC, a contributor by the name of Joy Reid said that “unless you're trying to form a tax exempt 501(c)(4), this story isn't about you.” The ignorance of that statement is breathtaking. If you are not trying to form a tax exempt organization, it's not about you? This is how far liberalism has fallen in this country. 
 
O’REILLY: A couple of observations from me, your humble correspondent. Number one, 
Candy Crowley is the big kahuna as far as politics is concerned at CNN. Covered the debate. Moderated the debate. She got criticized there for leaning toward Obama; we all remember. 
 
GOLDBERG: Right. 
 
O’REILLY: It seemed that she was promoting. She just didn't ask Rand Paul about could it have just been a mistake line Lanny Davis was saying earlier. Hey, you know, maybe they just didn't know. Okay, but she, at the end with her comment, was almost arguing with him and Paul had a good answer. Look, the IG would have pointed out if it was a mistake, they say it was done on purpose, why are you sticking up for them. Candy comes back. If she is a commentator like you, Goldberg, and me, O’Reilly, she could do that all day long, but as their chief correspondent. Come on. The second thing is you can do a legitimate side bar on the Republicans taking advantage of the story because surely they are. But the main story has to be, is this credible? Did they do it and who did it? 
 
GOLDBERG: Exactly. 
 
O’REILLY: I just wanted people to know there is a legitimate story on the politics end but that's not your lead. 
 
GOLDBERG: Page one of the "New York Times." This is not page 27. By the way, the main story, a day earlier, was on page 11. So page 11 is where they tell the hard news story, and page 1 is where they give the political spin. Can I make a point about something that you did last week on your show that I think is important to all of this? 
 
O’REILLY: Sure. 
 
GOLDBERG: I wrote about this in a piece on my web site at bernardgoldberg.com that I hope people will look at. It's about the interview that one of your guys, Dan Bank, did on the street with people in Manhattan. It was fascinating. I mean, he interviewed people about Benghazi and a whole bunch of them never heard of Benghazi. He interviewed a college student who’s enrolled at Cal-Berkeley, one of the finest schools in America, who didn't know who the Vice President of the United States is. These are precisely the kind of clueless people that Barack Obama is counting on because the mainstream media isn't going to further this story, any of these scandals. The American people can't count on them, and as long as you have enough clueless people out there. 
 
O’REILLY: We have them. 
 
GOLDBERG: Who don't care, who don't know, these are the people that will enable Barack Obama to get through these, as he has gotten through everything else, I believe.