CNN's John Roberts Whines About 'Media Research Council'

CNN anchor John Roberts complained in an October 15 interview to Media Life magazine about the "Media Research Council" (he meant Media Research Center) giving him an award in 2001 for being one of the most liberally biased journalists during George W. Bush's first 100 days in office.

In the interview, Roberts labeled himself an "equal opportunity holder of feet to the fire," and lamented that "within the first 100 days [of the Bush administration], the Media Research Council [sic] named me the worst White House correspondent because I was so unswervingly tough on the new administration."

Roberts, who hosts CNN's "American Morning," crowed about his network's "intense desire" to provide "nonpartisan, non-biased information." He argued that he proved his independence during the 2000 campaign: "President Bush later shook my hand, I think saying thanks for being so tough on the Al Gore campaign."

Of course, this is the same journalist that began a May 5, 2008 interview with Senator Barack Obama by saying he would not press the Democratic senator about his ties to radical preacher Jeremiah Wright. Roberts groveled, "I want to just stipulate at the beginning of this interview, we are declaring a Reverend Wright-free zone today."

The "non-biased" journalist added, "So, no questions about Reverend Wright. Our viewers want us to move on, so this morning we're going to move on." Roberts then asked, "Is that okay with you?" Not surprisingly, it most certainly was "okay" with Obama.

On August 29, Roberts speculated that Governor Sarah Palin might not be able to balance both being a mother and vice president: "The role of Vice President, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?"

In the Media Life interview, the CNN host pointed out that he lives in Virginia, which does not register political affiliations of voters. He contended, "But if there were, I would be a certified independent. I adhere to no party ideology, I’ll vote for the person who I believe is best for the country and can best address the concerns I have going forward."

A collection of some of the 2001 quotes that caused the Media Research Center to label Roberts, and his (then) fellow CBS colleagues, the worst White House correspondents can be found below. Highlights include Roberts asserting that America in 2001 was "still paying the bill" from Ronald Reagan's tax cuts. (This was during the debate over President Bush's proposed tax cut.)

He also dismissed Bush's claim to being a uniter for advocating restrictions on abortion, among other issues:

A Uniter Would Not Back Conservative Policies

"The Bush White House packaged in its first week an image of the President as a uniter. But Mr. Bush’s message has often been at odds with the mission: The Ashcroft nomination, new restrictions on abortion counseling, plans for school vouchers, an in-your-face attitude that has Democrats reluctant to let down their guard."

– Reporter John Roberts, January 26 CBS Evening News.

Still Paying Reagan's Bill

"Democrats, collaborating on a smaller tax cut proposal, have vowed to fight the Bush plan, targeting it as a budget buster that caters to the rich....On the Republican side, Mr. Bush faces a different problem. Already they’re talking up adding more tax cuts to his plan. And then, there’s the lobbyists who wonder why Mr. Bush gave nothing to corporate America. Critics charge the bill could eventually top $3 trillion....Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice can’t forget the last time Congress went on a tax cut spree in 1981. America is still paying the bill."

— CBS White House correspondent John Roberts, February 5 CBS Evening News.

On February 28, 2001, the same day CBS released a poll finding 67 percent of voters supported the Bush tax cut, Roberts and "CBS Evening News" host Dan Rather focused on those who dismissed the concept:

CBS Found 67% Want Bush’s Tax Cut, But...

Dan Rather: "President Bush insists what the economy really needs is his major tax cut. Democrats and some independent economists believe the Bush push is risky business...."

CBS News reporter John Roberts: "...The debate now is over which way to go: Mr. Bush’s plan or the Democrats’ proposal for smaller targeted tax cuts. At the Stage Right Cafe in Omaha, where the sarcasm runs as strong as the coffee, they’ve heard all the talk about tax cuts."

Woman: "Some people think it’s too small. Some people think it’s too big. And some people think it’s just right. Isn’t that what it was?"

Roberts: "What do you think?"

Woman: "I think it could probably be reduced."

Roberts: "Jan Dill believes if Mr. Bush can hold the line on spending, his tax cut could work, but Sue Kilgarin fears the President is rolling the dice on eight years of success just for political gain."

Kilgarin: "I think a big tax cut is just a real feather in someone’s cap."

– February 28 CBS Evening News story the day CBS News released a poll which found 67 percent support for Bush’s tax cut, a result the Evening News failed to report.

Roberts was also interviewed by NewsBusters during the Republican convention. He labeled media bias claims by conservatives "convenient."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org