Are U.S. journalists missing the news right in front of their eyes? Even as the violence ebbs and Iraqi refugees are returning home by the thousands, a new survey of Iraq war correspondents finds most are still deeply pessimistic about conditions in Iraq, with one in six (15%) saying that they believe news coverage "makes the situation look better than it is," compared to just three percent who think news reports have been inordinately negative.
The poll of 111 U.S.-based journalists who are now covering the Iraq war or who have been posted there over the past four-and-a-half years was conducted over the past several weeks by the Pew-funded Project for Excellence in Journalism, which promises to release a content analysis of the media's Iraq war coverage later in the year. At the same time, polls show the public is having growing faith in the success of the war effort.
Former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson suggested she endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States last month because she couldn’t think of anything else to say when the Democratic candidate called on her at a political event. “I kept trying to get her attention,” Simpson told the Boston Globe’s Peter Schworm. "When I did, I realized I didn't have anything to say. I felt like a deer in headlights."
So rather than tolerate a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, Simpson told Clinton: “I want to tell you tonight, because I happen to be here with my students, that I endorse you for president of the United States.”
Would the Democrats have been better off if Fox News had run their debate? The candidates are boycotting Fox as a way to please their far-left base, but Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace on this morning’s Fox & Friends criticized how CNN’s Wolf Blitzer repeatedly interrupted exchanges among the candidates last night (“It reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.”) and forced candidates like Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich to beg for airtime.
“Fox, I have to say, I think we’re smarter,” argued Wallace, who has moderated a couple of GOP debates this year and would presumably play a role in a Democratic debate on FNC if the candidates dropped their boycott. “We let the guy talk for a minute. At the end of the minute, the bell rings, and that’s it. You’ve got a minute, and you can do with it what you want. But instead we have Wolf Blitzer every 30 seconds going, ‘Okay, okay, okay.’ It reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.”
A Pew Research Center poll released late last month found that while four out of five American adults (81%) could name one of the Democratic presidential candidates, far fewer (just 59%) could recall any of the GOP candidates. Even among self-described Republican voters, Pew found “Clinton and Obama are much more visible than Giuliani or any other GOP presidential candidate.”
One reason may be that the big broadcast networks have treated the Democratic frontrunners like celebrities worthy of intense coverage, while the Republican candidates have received far less TV time. A new Media Research Center study of the ABC, CBS and NBC morning news shows has found that in the first 10 months of 2007, the networks spent more time covering the Democratic race and spent far more time interviewing the Democratic candidates than the Republicans. And those interviews were much friendlier to the Democrats, with the morning show anchors emphasizing a predominantly liberal agenda.
Back in the 1990s, TV journalists worried that Bill Clinton wasn’t getting enough credit for the wonderful things that happened while he was President. NBC’s then-White House correspondent Andrea Mitchell whined on CNN’s Larry King Live back on August 18, 1994 that her fear was that Clinton “doesn’t get credit for a lot of the good, positive things he’s done.... The economy is in better shape....He should be getting some credit for the economy.”
Now that a tax-cutting Republican is in the White House, however, big media types are working to bury the news of America’s strong economy. Today’s Investor’s Business Daily has a fine summary of recent good news in an editorial headlined, “The Media’s Blackout on the Boom.” Here’s a key excerpt:
Friday's employment report, showing a much-higher-than-expected increase of 166,000 in nonfarm payroll jobs, was only the latest in a spate of remarkable reports showing the economy's stunning resilience.
According to a new study, those news organizations that hold themselves up as the most neutral and professional — big newspapers, the broadcast networks and taxpayer-subsidized National Public Radio — are actually producing campaign stories that are the most tilted in favor of Democrats, while online news and talk radio have actually been the most balanced.
The study, released Monday from the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, found newspapers and broadcast TV outlets devoted far more time to covering the Democratic candidates than the Republicans and that the tone of those stories was much more favorable to the Democrats, mirroring the results of a Media Research Center study released in August.
To commemorate the Media Research Center’s 20th anniversary this month, we’ve just published a special expanded edition of our ‘Notable Quotables’ newsletter with more than 100 of the most outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes we’ve uncovered over the past 20 years. To wrap up this week’s posts, I thought I’d list a few of the most outrageous or moronic quotes we’ve come across since 1987.
For sheer wackiness, it’s hard to top then-CNBC anchor Geraldo Rivera, who sang his disdain for independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr during the height of the Lewinsky scandal, July 21, 1998, on his Rivera Live program, to the tune of “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”
To commemorate the Media Research Center’s 20th anniversary this month, we’ve just published a special expanded edition of our ‘Notable Quotables’ newsletter with more than 100 of the most outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes we’ve uncovered over the past 20 years. Earlier this week, I presented quotes showing the media’s hostility towards Ronald Reagan and other conservatives, and sycophantic coverage of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Today’s installment: America the Awful. On Monday, I recounted how many journalists offered sympathetic coverage of totalitarian communist regimes. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, too many journalists opted to take a harsher approach with their own country. In a commencement address at the State University of New York at New Paltz back on May 21, 2006, New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., exposed his extreme left-wing agenda as he railed against everything he saw as wrong with America:
To commemorate the Media Research Center’s 20th anniversary this month, we’ve just published a special expanded edition of our ‘Notable Quotables’ newsletter with more than 100 of the most outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes we’ve uncovered over the past 20 years. Earlier this week, I presented quotes showing the media’s sympathy towards totalitarian communism and hostility towards Ronald Reagan and other conservatives.
Today’s installment: The media’s love affair with Bill and Hillary Clinton. For 15 years, liberal reporters have made themselves looked like the sycophants they are, as they made excuse after excuse for the Clintons’ moral failings even as they applauded the couple’s supposed greatness. But perhaps no one looked sillier than Dan Rather on May 15, 2001, when the then-CBS News anchor was asked on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor if he thought Bill Clinton was honest.
To commemorate the Media Research Center’s 20th anniversary this month, we’ve just published a special expanded edition of our ‘Notable Quotables’ newsletter with more than 100 of the most outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes we’ve uncovered over the past 20 years.
Yesterday, I wrote about the liberal media’s softness when it came to totalitarian communism. Today’s installment: The liberal media vs. Ronald Reagan and the GOP. TV reporters regularly condemned Reagan for his supposedly ruinous conservative policies, but it’s still astonishing to hear then-ABC reporter Richard Threlkeld castigate the Gipper on his last day as President, January 20, 1989.
To commemorate the Media Research Center’s 20th anniversary this month, we’ve just published a special expanded edition of our ‘Notable Quotables’ newsletter. This issue contains more than100 of the most outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes we’ve uncovered over the past 20 years.
Over the next few days, I’ll be writing about some of the more obnoxious quotes we’ve uncovered over the years. To read the full issue, and watch any of the 50 video clips that accompany the issue, please visit www.MRC.org.
Today’s installment: The liberal media and communism. Probably the most sickening display of pro-communist propaganda to air on an American network was the seven-hour series ‘Portrait of the Soviet Union,’ produced by (you guessed it) Ted Turner. It aired back in March 1988 on Turner’s TBS, and was narrated by ‘Jaws’ actor Roy Scheider. Here are a few excerpts from the first night’s installment:
Saturday’s Good Morning America kept up the applause for Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize award, featuring a completely one-sided report from correspondent Bill Blakemore -- who said that scientists were “joyous” over the award to Gore because “scientists have been far more worried than anyone about global warming, finding it's far more dangerous, coming much quicker, than they expected” -- followed by an equally slanted interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who lectured an admiring Bill Weir that the media have failed to suppress any disagreement with his liberal views “because of a massive propaganda campaign by the Exxon corporation.”
Kennedy claimed: “In the scientific community, there was literally zero dissent. But at the same time, in the United States press, over 60% of the newspaper stories and, particularly, the television stories published, expressed some doubt about this issue. Why is that? The reason is because of a massive propaganda campaign by the Exxon corporation and by others -- but largely funded by Exxon -- that has been very, very successful at persuading the media not to cover this issue seriously and reporters simply don't go read the science.”
In a week when Democratic senators tried to intimidate executives at Clear Channel Communications based on a false interpretation of Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” comment, MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Thursday decried what he said were complaints from the Bush White House to MSNBC executives about the content of his show. “They will not silence me!” Matthews declared at a celebration of the 10th anniversary of his "Hardball" show, the (Washington, D.C.) Examiner reported.
Talking about the Democrats’ threats to silence Limbaugh on Tuesday, Matthews put all of the onus on Limbaugh’s speech, not liberals’ attacks on the First Amendement. “Do you think that Rush Limbaugh was right to call people who oppose the war who have served ‘phony soldiers?’” Matthews demanded of a panelist, distorting the facts. “So we’re agreed, so we all disagree with Rush Limbaugh,” he later claimed.
On CNN’s Larry King Live Thursday night, Dan Rather insisted that his $70 million lawsuit against CBS was an attempt to save “our democracy” from “big government interference and intimidation in news;” claimed once again that his 2004 60 Minutes story on President Bush’s National Guard service was correct “and I think most people know by now that it was correct;” and charged that CBS’s investigation was “a fraud. It was a setup.”
And when Larry King asked him about Peter Arnett — whose career at CNN ended over a fraudulent 1998 report alleging the U.S. murdered defectors and used nerve gas in Vietnam, and who was last seen making propaganda films for Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq — Rather embraced him: “Peter Arnett is a great reporter. He was then and he is now.”
Three weeks ago, when Republican Senator John Warner suggested a withdrawal of about 5,000 U.S. forces from Iraq by Christmas, the networks trumpeted the idea as evidence of a major “turning point” in the war. Thursday night, President Bush announced he would, in fact, lower U.S. troop levels by 5,700 by Christmas, but those same networks were dissatisfied, with NBC’s Tim Russert grumbling that the President’s idea was really “U.S. military involvement in Iraq this year, next year, and well after I leave the presidency.”
As MRC’s Brent Baker noted back on August 23, Warner’s suggestion of a small withdrawal was met with giddy excitement: “CBS’s Katie Couric touted a ‘major blow tonight to President Bush’s Iraq policy’ and ABC’s Martha Raddatz saw a ‘stunning announcement that could have a powerful effect on the war’ as the NBC Nightly News, for the fifth time in two years, heralded a ‘turning point’ against the war.”
Touting it as a “Geraldo at Large investigation you won’t soon forget,” FNC’s Laurie Dhue filed a report from inside a men’s bathroom on what supposedly happened last June between Senator Larry Craig and an undercover police officer, with actors in separate stalls rubbing their feet together.
After pointing out that the chances that Craig’s conduct was simply misunderstood by the police officer were “extremely low,” Dhue suggested that any stigma on homosexual behavior was the fault of the Republican Party.
Dhue declared: “I think the sad part about all this is that Larry Craig had to go to a public place — if it’s true, if he is gay — he had to go to a public place, and that’s the shame of homosexuality in this country right, today — at least the shame that the Republican Party puts on it.”
After more than two decades in which Dan Rather used his anchor desk to push a liberal agenda — culminating in the forged document scandal in 2004 — the CBS Evening News needed its new anchor to be the epitome of fair and balanced journalism.
Instead, the CBS brass hired Katie Couric, who put her liberal fingerprints all over Today during her 15 years at NBC. Making the switch to CBS, Couric could have reinvented herself as a fair and down-the-middle reporter. After one year on the job, however, the ratings for her version of the CBS Evening News are as low as they've ever been, down to an average of just 6 million viewers per night.
And Couric has maintained the same liberal approach that got Rather into such trouble in 2004. A short review:
What a difference a headline makes. An alert tipster in Minnesota sent the Media Research Center a clip from the August 10 St. Paul Pioneer Press, which included this scary-sounding headline over a story about a Food and Drug Administration report: “Heartburn Drugs Subject of Federal Safety Inquiry.”
The story, distributed by the Los Angeles Times News Service, was about whether two commonly prescribed drugs, Nexium and Prilosec, might cause heart problems. Maybe, suggested writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar: “Federal regulators Thursday said they have opened a safety investigation of two popular heartburn drugs — Nexium, marketed as the ‘purple pill,’ and Prilosec, its older chemical cousin — after receiving clinical data that appeared to link them to serious heart problems.”
Many Americans do not believe the news media are fair, accurate or even moral, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. The poll of 1500 Americans conducted late last month found that most of the public thinks news organizations are politically biased (55%) and often publish inaccurate stories (53%), and that roughly a third of the audience say the media are too critical of America (43%), hurt democracy (36%) and are immoral (32%).
Half of Americans (52%) label the media as liberal, led by self-described Republicans (75%) but also large percentages of independents (49%) and even Democrats (37%). And while journalists tout themselves as the public's objective eyes and ears, many more Americans are confident that the military provides an accurate view of the war in Iraq (52%), compared with 42 percent who trust that the press offers accurate reports.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Pew found that those who have chosen to bypass traditional news outlets in favor of the Internet give the “harshest indictments of the press.”
An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal tweaks the New York Times and other liberal critics of Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of the Journal. Noting how some of the fussier media outlets are competing with the Journal at a time when all newspapers are fighting the Internet tide, “readers can judge if the tears these papers and their writers claim to shed for the Journal's future are real, or of the crocodile variety.”
As for the ideology Murdoch’s News Corp. might bring to the Journal, the editors of the famously conservative editorial page mocked: “The nastiest attacks have come from our friends on the political left. They can't decide whose views they hate most — ours, or Mr. Murdoch's. We're especially amused by those who say Mr. Murdoch might tug us to the political left. Don't count on it.”
A federal appeals court today overturned a Carter-appointed judge's opinion last August that the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program, dubbed by opponents as "domestic spying," was unconstitutional. Eleven months ago, the media latched on to the decision as a "major legal defeat" for the Bush administration, with CNN's Jack Cafferty crowing about how the decision proved "President Bush violated his oath of office, among other things, when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States."
Both ABC and MSNBC hosted constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley, who suggested the President should be impeached as a result of the ruling.
While ABC and NBC both led off their Thursday night newscasts with the Supreme Court decision barring an exclusively race-based approach to assigning students to various schools, the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric began with the demise of the Senate immigration bill. CBS’s reporters emphasized how the vote was a defeat for President Bush, even though top Senate Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid, plus a few Republicans like John McCain had also fought for the measure and failed.
CBS White House correspondent Jim Axelrod asserted that Thursday’s vote marked “a defining day in the Bush presidency.” CBS’s resident historian (and John Kerry biographer) Douglas Brinkley went even further: “George Bush is beyond being a lame duck President. He’s a dead duck President.”
During a World News report on American options in the aftermath of Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza last week, ABC’s Dean Reynolds on Monday got out the ten-foot pole to describe the group whose suicide bombers have killed numerous Americans in Israel as well as hundreds of Israeli civilians: “Now that Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Washington, has taken command in Gaza, some things are becoming painfully clear about the Bush administration’s course of action up to this point.”
“Considered a terrorist organization by Washington”?! That’s an echo of the formula favored by the late Peter Jennings, who in 2002 referred to the group that blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut this way: “The Bush administration says Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.” As if it’s only our government’s biased opinion.
The Politico reports that former ABC News reporter Geoff Morrell is going to be named the new spokesman for the Pentagon. The Politico’s Mike Allen reports that the idea of picking a working journalist like Morrell was that of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “in an effort to improve press relations at a time when the administration is under pressure to show progress in Iraq.”
Back in 1993, the Clinton administration also selected an ABC journalist, Kathleen deLaski, as its on-air Pentagon spokesman. At the time, an MRC review found deLaski’s reporting for ABC was “in step with Clintonite thinking that ‘tax and spend’ equals caring.” For more, see “deLaski’s Defensive Detail” in the August 1993 MediaWatch.
When President Bush wanted a media professional to boost his White House publicity machine, he hired Tony Snow, a polished performer with solid conservative credentials. Geoff Morrell is no Tony Snow.
The immigration bill crafted by U.S. senators and White House negotiators behind closed doors may have been Topic A on talk radio over the past few weeks, but after heavy positive coverage of the “landmark” deal on May 17 and 18, ABC, CBS and NBC provided surprisingly little airtime to the hot debate.
MRC’s Matt Balan and I examined the broadcast networks' morning and evening news coverage from May 17 through June 8. We found just 73 stories (36 full reports and 37 brief items) totaling 104 minutes, or one percent of available airtime.
Nearly half the coverage (45%) aired May 17-18 as the deal was introduced, after which the issue virtually disappeared. The CBS Evening News, for example, ran no stories from May 22 until June 7, when Katie Couric read a brief item on the bill's imminent failure.
With no shortage of items documenting how the American media are liberally biased, it’s often easy to forget how the European media are so much more dominated by the hard left. In his cover story on the war in Afghanistan in the June 11 Weekly Standard, Michael Fumento recounted his experience embedded with the U.S. military at Forward Operating Base Lagman in the Zabul province of Afghanistan.
Fumento was assigned quarters with two Spaniards working for the Associated Press. One of them seems to be in a mind-meld with Rosie O’Donnell (“he believes 9/11 was a Bush administration conspiracy hung on al Qaeda”) while the other reporter “never takes off his Che Guevera T-shirt.”
No wonder the European press thinks our media are just a bunch of Bush administration cheerleaders!
“Critics say it is harmful to schoolchildren,” co-host Robin Roberts teased at the top of Friday's Good Morning America. “Mainstream scientists worry that because this museum is so sophisticated it will be more effective at giving children a distorted view of science,” ABC reporter Dan Harris argued.
Back in 1999, a New York City art museum showcased an exhibit featuring a portrait of the Virgin Mary surrounded by elephant dung and cutouts from pornographic magazines. But then the media only saw a threat to free speech if the artist or museum were deprived of public funds. The New York Times then argued: “One man’s blasphemy is another man’s faith."
Former Clinton spinner George Stephanopoulos, now ABC’s “chief Washington correspondent,” argued on Friday’s Good Morning America that Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s votes last night against funding U.S. troops was a smart move to “keep them in the game,” and speculated that by next year the vote could look “prescient” because “either American troops will be on their way home, or the war will be so unpopular, that everyone else will be coming along to their position.”
As Stephanopoulos repeated the logic of the Democratic campaign operatives, nowhere in his equation did he suggest the possibility that either the situation in Iraq may be significantly improved — making the Democrats urge to surrender now seem foolish — or that if the Democrats succeed in forcing American troops off the battlefield, they would be blamed if the bloodshed becomes far worse.
In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards rejected the “metaphor” of the “war on terror” that America has been fighting since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
But appearing on ABC News on September 11, 2001, just a few hours after the attacks occurred, Edwards left no doubt how he felt the country should respond to al Qaeda’s terrorism, declaring “We should treat it as an act of war.” Video: Real (398 KB) or Windows (442 KB) plus MP3 (65 KB)
Back on April 23, as NewsBuster Scott Whitlock noted at the time, ABC’s Diane Sawyer fretted about the supposedly sky-high stock market. “Is this the thrill before the meltdown?” she panicked. “What should you do this morning to protect your money?” ABC's on-screen graphic ridiculously wondered: "Is Unstoppable Market Good or Bad?"
Today, an Investor’s Business Daily editorial mocks Sawyer’s Chicken Little approach. “We’re still waiting for the ‘meltdown’ that ‘Good Morning America’ stock guru Diane Sawyer was warning us about a month (and 600 Dow points) ago, when she devoted a segment to what we should do ‘to protect our money.’”