Are the Fox News Channel and MSNBC bad for America?
Such was implied on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday when host Howard Kurtz invited the Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik, "USA Today Live's" Lauren Ashburn, and the BBC's Matt Frei on his program to discuss the "increasingly partisan nature of cable news."
By the end of the conversation, Ashburn said "[T]he bottom line is this is not good for society," and Zurawik agreed: "That's absolutely right...The effect on society and on this democracy of this angry, polarizing, bitter kind of putdown conversation is dangerous."
Not surprisingly, Kurtz and his guests didn't include CNN amongst the partisans, with the host making sure to regularly inform his audience that "CNN, by and large, tries to play things down the middle, with liberal and conservative guests taking each other on."
Despite the obvious bashing of competitors while falsely holding his employer up as the model of impartial journalism on cable, the discussion was actually quite interesting (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section begins at 11:44 with commentary to follow):
A rather peculiar thing happened on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday: Bill Maher trashed liberals.
Speaking with Howard Kurtz about how he always gets booed when he tells an Obama joke, Maher said "we get a very supersensitive liberal audience" on HBO's "Real Time," and "it's always that limousine liberal crowd that just has their finger on the politically correct button...That's what bugs me the most about liberals is that they just -- they object before they even know what they're objecting to."
Despite Maher also claiming that "especially on campuses in the last 10 or 15 years, the repression of speech has come more from the left," one got the feeling the "Real Time" host wasn't being completely honest about his distaste for liberals when he later complained about Democrats: "We don't really have a party that represents me or any progressives."
As you'll see from the following partial transcripts, Maher's positions were rather hypocritical (video embedded below the fold, relevant sections at 24:00 and 31:30):
It's likely a tired story to many by now, nearly a week after the Miss USA pageant and the controversy that ensued over Miss USA runner-up, Miss California Carrie Prejean's answer to a question from same-sex marriage activist and gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who was judging the event. However, it took CNN host and Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz to ask Hilton some of the pertinent questions surrounding his curious rage over her answer.
Hilton appeared on CNN's April 26 "Reliable Sources" and justified some of his vitriolic insults hurled at Prejean by saying that was just part of the vernacular he uses on his Web site. He didn't address the point some have made that his use of misogynist language might have been as equally or more offensive than how he perceived Prejean's answer at the Miss USA pageant.
"I was very angry," Hilton said. "And it's almost insulting to me that people expect me not to be outraged, when I am told I am a second-class citizen and shouldn't deserve the same rights that heterosexuals get."
In today's You've Got To Be Kidding Me moment, former CNN personality Frank Sesno scolded Fox News for its coverage of last week's Tea Parties while defending the disgraceful behavior of Keith Olbermann and Susan Roesgen.
This from a man who is now a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University.
Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources," this was Sesno's opinion of the Tea Party involvement of Fox News's Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck (file photo):
With the Tax Day tea party rallies just three days away, outside of the Fox News Channel, the coverage has been lacking. And, it was something that even Washington Post media columnist and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" Howard Kurtz acknowledged on his April 12 program.
"The folks at Fox News have found something to be for in this age of Obama," Kurtz said. "They are firmly in favor of tea parties. On Wednesday, that would be April 15th - there will be tax protests around the country on the theme of the original Boston Tea Party. TaxDayTeaParty.com says it was inspired by that rant against President Obama's mortgage aid plan by CNBC's Rick Santelli."
However, Kurtz didn't condemn his network and other networks for lack of coverage - but instead explored the notion that Fox News was giving it too much coverage.
Everywhere it's been tried - liberal, or progressive as it's sometimes described as, talk radio hasn't taken off with the success conservative talk radio has.
Case and point - the top six of March 2009 Talkers magazine "Heavy Hundred" talk show hosts are conservative. The top liberal host, Thom Hartmann, come in at number 10. However, liberal talk show host Stephanie Miller appeared on CNN's April 5 "Reliable Sources" and insisted there is more at play than just pure market forces holding the liberal format back.
"Well, you know - I just did a panel on the Fairness Doctrine," Miller said. "I have to tell you, I brought ratings information. And people like me and Ed Schultz are consistently beating conservative shows in many, many markets. And yet - there is 10 percent liberal radio in this country. Ninety percent of the stations are conservative. You just cannot argue anymore it's because liberal radio can't compete."
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz caused a little stir on Friday by questioning the excess of media goo over Michelle Obama. But when he tried to assemble a panel for his CNN show Reliable Sources on Sunday, everyone agreed that Michelle goo was great fun to watch. Liberal blogger Keli Goff and liberal BBC journalist Matt Frei were not surprising. But sadly, the "conservative" on the panel, Danielle Crittenden of NewMajority.com (Mrs. David Frum), was enjoying the fawning over Michelle as much as the liberals:
KURTZ: Danielle Crittenden, she's been compared to Jackie O., to Princess Diana. Isn't the coverage getting a little breathless?
DANIELLE CRITTENDEN: Well, it's probably a little breathless, but it's fun. I happen to enjoy reading it. I think it's more actually the analogy is that this -- they are like the Brangelina of politics right now. We call them Barchelle -- go to Europe.
She's also, I think, the first post-feminist first lady we've had in that she seems to really be embracing her role as first lady. She finds it fun. It's a great job.
Crittenden actually echoed the liberals again when Kurtz tried to ask about the crowding out of substance on the G-20 summit:
In the midst of a segment on Rush Limbaugh on Sunday morning's Reliable Sources portion of CNN's State of the Union, host Howard Kurtz scolded his journalistic colleagues for a remark which “totally got missed by the media,” how CNN host D.L. Hughley charged “that the Republican convention 'literally looks like Nazi Germany.' I don't understand how he can get away with saying that. I think that is an outrage.”
Kurtz, the Washington Post's media reporter, interjected his criticism after guest Amanda Carpenter of the Washington Times, and formerly with TownHall.com, had defended RNC Chairman Michael Steele's characterization of Limbaugh's rhetoric as “ugly,” a slam on Limbaugh he made on Hughley's show, D.L. Hughley Breaks the News, last weekend. She guessed Steele was thinking of “Rush Limbaugh's interpretation of 'Barack the Magic you know what,' so when he said 'ugly,' that was ugly, that was a very ugly part of the discussion that was in the run up to his election.” (Of course, “Barack the Magic Negro” was a song parody inspired by a black writer who used that term in a Los Angeles Times op-ed about Obama.)
During a segment on the “Reliable Sources” hour of CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, PBS’s Gwen Ifill and Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson agreed that it was fine for President Obama to call on Sam Stein of the Huffington Post at his first press conference, and that the correspondent’s left-wing question on a proposed “truth committee” investigation into the Bush administration was “perfectly reasonable.” Carlson also agreed with host Howard Kurtz’s assessment that the “White House press corps not exactly rolling over for the new president.” Her response: “Never do, do they?”
Ifill and Carlson participated in a panel discussion with The Washington Times’ White House correspondent Christina Bellantoni at the beginning of the 10 am Eastern hour of the CNN program. Kurtz brought up the topic of the first presidential news conference, and specifically, how Stein was one of the reporters who asked a question: “So is this a new era for bloggers, in terms of the White House recognition?”
On CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, CBS anchor Katie Couric unloaded on her critics again as “a lot of unhappy, insecure, vitriolic people out there.” She claimed to feel bad that they would waste their time offering critiques of her work.
KURTZ: Some of the early criticism, you know, turned kind of personal, and is a woman really right for evening news anchor? And I just wonder whether that was a painful period for you at all?
COURIC: I mean, you know, listen, it's not a lot of fun being pummeled in the press. But on the other hand, I've always had enough confidence in my abilities and my work to know that sometimes there are larger issues at work here about the role of women in society and, you know, sort of -- I didn't really take it that personally. I think that there are a lot of unhappy, sort of insecure, vitriolic people out there, and I always sort of feel bad for them, that this is how they spend their time.
“The View” moderator Whoopi Goldberg is apparently still unaware that the Constitution explicitly forbids slavery. Appearing on the December 21 edition of “Reliable Sources” (video here), host Howard Kurtz played a clip of Whoopi Goldberg questioning John McCain, that is he were to appoint strict constructionist judges, if she should fear a return to slavery.
Unfazed, Whoopi replied “I thought that was reasonable.” After complaining many took her remarks out of context, the daytime star continued “if you were going to say you wanted strictly by the Constitution, it has to be a fluid thing, because we'd still -- I'd be working for somebody right now.” Goldberg, months after the interview, apparently still does not know that slavery was banned by the 13th Amendment, something a strict constructionist judge can very clearly understand.
The election is over, but quite clearly the Palin Derangement Syndrome suffered by many in the mainstream media isn't. This morning's CNN Reliable Sources was typical. Joining host Howard Kurtz to discuss Sarah Palin were Beth Fouhy, an Associated Press political reporter, Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik, and Julie Mason, the Washington Examiner's White House correspondent. Mason opined: "I don't think she helped herself at all this past week. I think she actually probably made it worse." To Zurawik, the Alaska governor's recent interview with NBC's Matt Lauer "shows you how in a way, deviously clever Palin is in trying to repair her image." Then it was the AP reporter's time to take a few shots:
FOUHY: Well, I think what we learned is that she is extremely ambitious. I guess we already knew that, but she's as ambitious as ever despite the brutal campaign that she herself described that she went through. But she's also pretty unprepared.
In response to Chris Matthews' claim that his job is to make the Barack Obama presidency a success, the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief Doyle McManus suggested the MSNBC host needs to see a neurologist.
Although I agree that Matthews clearly has a fixation that needs attention, I'm not sure it's physiological rather than purely psychological.
Regardless of the cause, the symptom was the source of discussion on Sunday's "Reliable Sources":
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about Obama’s Wednesday night campaign infomercial and Schieffer offered rave reviews: "...this was something we haven't seen the like of in American Politics...It reminded me so much of the commercials that Ronald Reagan ran in 1984, the ‘Morning in America’...What Barack Obama’s message was last night, ‘things are not so good, but take heart, because we can make it okay.’ I thought it was very, very effective...it was a very effective piece of campaign advertising."
Following Rodriguez’s discussion with Schieffer, co-host Harry Smith talked with Washington Post media critic and CNN contributor, Howard Kurtz, about the commercial. Kurtz’s review was a bit more mixed: "This wasn't a 60-second ad. It wasn't a "Morning America" ad by Reagan, it was a show, and as a show it had to draw people in. I think it did a pretty good job of that, but as I said, at times it was a bit over the top." Earlier, Smith asked Kurtz: "What did you not like?" and Kurtz replied: "Well, for example, Maggie mentioned the faux Oval Office at the beginning, a lot of people, I think are going to find that a tad presumptuous-" Smith interrupted: "The Oval Office is not brown. It doesn't -- I don't think the Oval Office is brown, but go ahead." Kurtz pointed out: "Look at that tree in the window, it looks just like the South Lawn, he's got the flag." As Kurtz mentioned, in her discussion with Schieffer, Rodriguez observed: "...it opens with him standing in an office that some people thought looked like the Oval Office."
Time magazine's Mark Halperin on Sunday made one of the strongest insider indictments to date about how the Obama-loving media have behaved during this presidential campaign.
Talking with CNN/Washington Post media analyst Howard Kurtz about the "clear, unambiguous double standard" concerning how differently Barack Obama's fundraising and flipflop over taking public campaign funds would be covered by the press if he was a Republican, Halperin boldly stated that any reporter who doesn't ask why that is "is doing themselves and our profession and our democracy a disservice."
Frankly, no greater truth has been spoken about the media's deplorable election coverage the past eighteen months (file photo):
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN host Howard Kurtz seemed to question whether the media are unfairly hyping inflammatory words from audience members at John McCain rallies that are of the kind one would expect to sometimes see at political rallies to make them fit into the narrative of the McCain campaign fueling anger at Barack Obama. Kurtz: "I've gone to a lot of rallies where a lot of crazy things have been said. Why are the media this week pumping up this story about McCain’s and Palin's crowds as if it is their fault if there's a bit of ugliness that breaks out?" Speaking to Politico.com’s Roger Simon, he later added: "It seems that the press has kind of adopted this theme that McCain and Palin are stoking the anger."
Simon responded with his view that McCain was indeed "stoking the anger." Simon: "Well, it may be that McCain and Palin are stoking the anger. It seems to me that John McCain is riding a tiger, and he's trying not to fall off that tiger and get eaten by it. When your vice presidential running mate goes around the country saying Barack Obama is ‘palling around with terrorists,’ and when you run ads that say, you know, he's a liar, he's not telling the truth about this unrepentant terrorist, and then you wonder why people in the crowd shout out ‘terrorist’ when you mention the name Barack Obama. This anger is coming from somewhere. It is being ginned up by a campaign, and it is logical, I think, to assume that these people are only responding to what they have heard from the candidate's mouth. And it's fair game, and it's, in fact, responsible for us to report how the crowds are reacting."
Politico's Roger Simon claimed Sunday that John McCain and Sarah Palin are responsible for the anger being expressed towards Barack Obama by their supporters.
Unfortunately, he had nothing to say about who's responsible for the hatred being expressed towards Sarah Palin on television, at rock concerts, and even at sporting events.
I wonder why.
Appearing on Sunday's "Reliable Sources," Simon gave the following response to host Howard Kurtz's question concerning whether or not it's fair of the press to blame McCain and Palin for some recent ugliness at campaign events (file photo):
Now that the National Enquirer has been vindicated for revealing John Edwards' affair last October, liberals in the media are having to explain why they ignored this story for many months.
Some truly extraordinary hypocrisy was onstage for all to see Sunday when Howard Kurtz invited CNN's Jessica Yellin and Salon's Joan Walsh on "Reliable Sources" to discuss why the press boycotted the Edwards scandal as long as it did.
Two of the most absurd explanations: anonymous sources, and Edwards wasn't a top contender for the Democrat presidential nomination.
On Sunday, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz continued his mission of exposing the absurd amount of coverage the media are giving to Barack Obama as compared to John McCain.
On CNN's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz amazingly asked his guests, "Where does journalism get off saying it's OK to give one candidate twice as much coverage -- this week, I would say four times as much coverage -- as the other candidate running for president?"
This followed last Sunday's warning by Kurtz that "there could be a big backlash against news organizations if this trend continues":
More than three times as many Americans see a media tilt in favor of Democrat Barack Obama than toward Republican John McCain. A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey released Monday, of 1,000 likely voters, “found that 49 percent of voters believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage, up from 44 percent a month ago,” compared to a piddling 14 percent who “believe most reporters will try to help John McCain win” while “just one voter in four (24%) believes that most reporters will try to offer unbiased coverage.”
Exactly half, 50 percent, “believe the media makes economic conditions appear worse than they really are,” a separate Rasmussen Reports telephone survey posted on Monday determined. That poll discovered “a plurality of Americans (41%) similarly believe that the media has tried to make the war in Iraq appear worse that it really is, while 26 percent say reporters have made it look better than reality and 25 percent think they’ve portrayed it accurately.”
For months, CNN's Howard Kurtz has been one of the loudest mainstream media voices accusing his fellow press members of being disgracefully in the tank for presumptive Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama.
On Sunday, Kurtz continued his finger-pointing by accurately stating, as it pertains to the focus on the junior senator's trip to the Middle East, "the media in general, not just the networks, are -- seem to me to be covering Obama as if he were already president."
In fact, this was basically the theme for the first segment of Sunday's "Reliable Sources" on CNN:
Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of becoming host of CNN's Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer defended Al Gore's famous statement that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet," as the CNN anchor argued that Gore's words, which came during a March 1999 interview with Blitzer, were "misreported" and "twisted" by the media. Blitzer: "It never dawned on me that that would be exploded and, to a certain degree, misreported on what he said. He never said, 'I invented the Internet,' although that headline was so damaging to him, as a result of that interview."
After host Howard Kurtz asked if the media "kind of twisted the meaning of the words," Blitzer agreed with that assessment, and credited Gore with work in Congress that "resulted in a lot of other people creating the Internet." Blitzer: "Yes, yes. Because if you look precisely at what he said ... when he was a member of the Congress, he did take the initiative in passing the legislation that eventually resulted in a lot of other people creating the Internet, not necessarily him. But all of it, as you correctly point out, was lost because the headline was 'I invented the Internet.' And that really, that really hurt him a lot." (Transcript follows)
Can a publisher, editor, and owner of magazines be any more biased than proudly admitting on national television that he's contributed to Barack Obama's campaign?
While you ponder, consider that on Sunday, the publisher and editor of Rolling Stone -- who just so happens to also own Men's Journal and Us Weekly -- told CNN's Howard Kurtz that he's given money to the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee.
In fact, Jann Wenner did so without batting an eye in an interview aired on "Reliable Sources":
For the second week in a row, CNN's Howard Kurtz, while hosting Sunday's "Reliable Sources," seemed absolutely befuddled by the media's lack of interest in reporting presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign flip-flops.
Last week, it was the junior senator's change of heart concerning public campaign finances. This Sunday, it was Obama's curious reversal on handguns.
After two weeks, Kurtz finally got his answer: the press think flip-flopping makes Obama a great politician. I kid you not:
Has the media's love affair with Barack Obama gone too far?
CNN's Howard Kurtz seems to think so, for on Sunday's "Reliable Sources," the Washington Post columnist strongly took issue with how press outlets reported last week's news that the Democrat presidential nominee was going back on a campaign promise to accept public funds:
And all these liberal commentators who have always supported campaign finance reform, getting big money out of politics, many of them are defending Obama. And I have to think the press is cutting him a break here.
Better still, as the following partial transcript demonstrates, getting guests Lola Ogunnaike of CNN, Julie Mason of the Houston Chronicle, and Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post to agree with him was like pulling teeth (file photo right):
On Sunday's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz played a clip of CBS reporter Byron Pitts on Wednesday's CBS Evening News hailing Barack Obama's Democratic nomination victory as proof “one of America's oldest and ugliest color lines has been broken, and there is a new bridge for a new generation,” then proposed: “You obviously are paid to be an objective journalist, but some part of you must be excited that Barack Obama won this nomination.” Pitts confirmed his excitement:
Well, certainly. I mean, as an African-American man, this is significant. I mean, look, for my entire life I've been able to, as a man, dream of doing great things. But a dream I could never have was being President of the United States. Now, for instance, my sons, my nephew, they can have that dream. And I think those kinds of images are important.
Since Barack Obama declared himself the Democrat presidential nominee Tuesday, supposedly impartial press members have been sycophantically gushing over the "fist bump" he and his wife shared that evening just prior to his victory speech (video embedded right).
Such has been reported by NewsBusters here and here.
On Sunday's "Reliable Sources," CNN's Howard Kurtz and guests discussed the media's fascination with the bump, and demonstrated just how separated from American society these folks really are.
After showing video clips of how various outlets reported the bump, Kurtz asked CBS National Correspondent Byron Pitts the following:
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN host Howard Kurtz ended the Scott McClellan analysis segment of his show with his own two cents: "For McClellan to turn on Bush is clearly a ticket for him to be embraced by the media. I watched all the interviews and I've read all the interviews. He's not fully been able to answer these questions. Why didn't he speak up before even in private? Why didn't he resign if he was so troubled by the questions? And is he doing this for money?"
Former White House speechwriter David Frum, whose own Bush memoir was fairly supportive and hence was largely ignored by the media, let loose on McClellan: "One of the things that President Bush, one of the great failures as a manager is he put loyalty ahead of competence. And Scott McClellan is proof positive. He had no business being press secretary. He was awful at the job. It was painful to watch him. He got the job because he was somebody's deputy. And one of the way the Bush administration works is they promote the deputy then the deputy of the deputy of the deputy and then the deputy of the deputy."