One of the finest examples of media bias this campaign season occurred last Sunday when Democrat vice presidential candidate Joe Biden guaranteed an international crisis would befall our nation in six months if Obama is in the White House, and the American press almost completely ignored his warning.
To give you an idea of just how absurd the lack of coverage concerning this event was, the entire panel on Saturday's "Fox News Watch" agreed that this shows just how in the tank the press are for the junior senator from Illinois.
Even the left-leaning Kirsten Powers said "if there's any doubt there was a double standard in this race, it is completely laid to rest by this because there is no way that this can be ignored."
Stunning Fox News Watch host Bill Hemmer, panelist Jim Pinkerton, picking up on a NewsBusters post with video (“Maher: Matthews and Olbermann 'Were Ready to Have Sex with' Obama”), from just hours before the FNC show aired live at 6:30 PM EDT Saturday from St. Paul, pointed out that MSNBC's Democratic convention coverage was so adulatory that it led to:
Bill Maher, who's no conservative, who hates Bush, to joke that he thinks that Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews want to have sex with Obama. That's no slap at Obama, of course. He's innocent.
As the other panelists laughed, Hemmer was incredulous, interjecting “whoa, whoa” before pressing for corroboration: “Bill Maher said that?!” Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Juan Williams all chimed in with confirmation and then Hemmer, putting his finger to his earpiece, informed viewers: “I'm hearing that we have a sound clip of that. Do we? Alright, roll it. Here's Bill Maher.” Viewers were treated to the video of Maher from his Friday night HBO show:
I think there is a problem, though, with the media gushing over him too much. I don't think he thinks that he's all that, but the media does. I mean, the coverage after, that I was watching, from MSNBC, I mean these guys were ready to have sex with him.
Audio: MP3 clip from FNC which matches video above (1:15, 450 Kb)
Saturday's Fox News Watch devoted a few minutes to the controversy, which was documented previously by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, over NBC's Matt Lauer claiming during an interview for the Today show that "some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life, something around 80 percent," but that in America, "only about 25 percent." Liberal panelist Patricia Murphy of Citizen Jane stated her belief that Lauer simply made an "error" in misstating a Pew Research poll which found that, when asked if they were "satisfied with the direction of the country," 86 percent of Chinese respondents said yes, but when asked about "personal satisfaction," that "the number was much, much lower."
Conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton theorized NBC was being soft on China because the network is making money off the Olympics: "Could it be because NBC paid China a billion dollars to cover the Olympics? And they can't afford to have their reporters and sportscasters kicked out for telling the truth about China. So they have no choice but to cover up." (Transcript follows)
Why would the New York Times divulge information that could prove harmful to the national security of the United States? Because, so consumed is it by hatred of President Bush, that the paper actually wants America to lose. Such is the considered opinion Jim Pinkerton expressed on yesterday's Fox News Watch. The case in point was an article the Times published on June 30, 2008, Amid U.S. Policy Disputes, Qaeda Grows in Pakistan, which quoted from a "highly-classified Pentagon order" describing internal disputes at the Pentagon over plans to capture Osama Bin Laden and defeat al Qaeda.
JIM PINKERTON: We endanger national security when you leak sources and methods. For example, the story that Cal [Thomas] alluded to before, about the wiretaps across the world.
JANE HALL: That's a different deal.
PINKERTON: OK. I think—just a hunch—that the New York Times hates the Bush administration so much that they want us to lose, that's what I think.
This week's Fox News Watch was a mix of the candid, the intriguing and the downright comical. Let's start with the humor. Well-intentioned liberal panel member Jane Hall, wringing her hands over the fact that the Wright matter has injected race into the campaign, got off this bit of unintentional comedy.
JANE HALL: Unfortunately, this is going to be what's going to be associated [with Obama]. I mean, it's like Willie Horton, except that Obama knew Reverend Wright,* and on Fox and other networks he is visually linked, it gives one more excuse to run this incendiary footage. I really regret that race, which Obama tried to transcend, is now going to become a very ugly subject in this race.
So it's unfair to pin this Wright stuff on Obama, except for the fact that, well, it's . . . fair. Moreover, whose fault is it that race has been injected into the race? If Obama were really the kind of person to transcend race, he wouldn't have been hanging around with Rev. Wright for 20 years.
Saturday's Fox News Watch featured a discussion on revelations that CNN staff were sent a memo advising them to make positive claims about Fidel Castro to balance out the regime's critics, crediting the communist dictator as a "revolutionary hero" to leftists who established "free education and universal health care." FNC's liberal contributor and NPR correspondent Juan Williams took exception:
I don't know what was going on there. ... what news man is at work and saying here is what we want to say nice about a man who was an oppressive force in his culture, in his society? A man who long ago left the heroic stance, the Che Guevara time period, and became somewhat of a hard hand that has left his people living at a low quality of life. I don't get it.
Should I be worried? I just agreed with something Neal Gabler said. On yesterday's Fox News Watch, the liberal media critic opined that the MSM is backing Benazir Bhutto over Pervez Musharraf in the current Pakistan crisis -- and not for the loftiest of motives.
And could Hillary fall prey to the scenario that brought down Michael Dukakis?
As NewsBusters reported Saturday, Neal Gabler implied on FNC's "Fox News Watch" that he wanted the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol to go to Iraq and be killed so that he could attend the conservative writer's funeral.
On Monday, FNC's John Gibson took issue with Gabler's despicable comments during his radio program, calling Gabler a "lowlife," and "a coward" because "he will not come on the air to defend the things he says."
Jim Pinkerton found a graphic way to express his displeasure over Fox News Watch's decision to devote a segment to Lindsay Lohan's latest run-in with the law. With a nod to MSNBC newsreader Mika Brzezinski, who as I chronicled here had torn up a Paris Hilton story in protest, Pinkerton ripped a page or two on tonight's show.
FOX NEWS WATCH PANELIST JIM PINKERTON: This speaks to formula, right?. We all know that Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Ritchie are fighting to get the Anna Nicole Smith slot for this year.
FOX NEWS WATCH HOST ERIC BURNS: Nicole Ritchie, who has just been sentenced herself.
PINKERTON: Exactly. I'm going to honor another formula [as he ceremoniously tears the story in two]. That would be Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC and Jack Cafferty on CNN, who refused to read their copy. It might have been a show, it might have been an act for the cameras, but I'm going to do the same thing and see what happens. Because I don't think this is really worth covering on our segment.
On last night's Fox News Watch, panelist and conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton mentioned that, when it came to analyzing the reasons for the collapse of John McCain's candidacy, Media Research Center [MRC] got it right: it was the Arizona senator's avid support for the amnesty-based immigration plan, and not his backing of the Bush Iraq policy, that did him in with GOP primary voters.
FOX NEWS WATCH PANELIST JIM PINKERTON: The mainstream media said "[McCain's] toast because of the Iraq war. In fact, he's toast because of the immigration bill, and it was only the MRC that caught that, saying the real thing that hurt him with the Republican base, the people in the primaries, was immigration and not Iraq.
If Neal Gabler had been around in the late 1930s, would he have been praising Neville Chamberlain's complacency toward Hitler while condemning Churchill and FDR for their "hysteria"? Maybe so, judging by the liberal Fox News Watch panelist's comparison of the reaction of the British and the Americans to terror.
Gabler appeared on last evening's Fox News Watch.
FOX NEWS WATCH PANELIST NEAL GABLER: The [British] coverage was I think very responsible, very even-tempered, very fact-based, very cool, and I'm wondering if this isn't a function of the way the British government responded, which was very even-handed, very temperate, very cool . . . When we get terrorist threats in this country, I mean they are hyped, there's hysteria, and is that a function of the fact that the admistration hypes these things?
Forget the banter about Paris Hilton among the panelists on last evening's Fox News Watch. A deadly-serious matter later arose. Conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton flatly alleged that to promote multiculturalism and allay Americans' concerns about immigration, the MSM and the Department of Homeland Security spiked a story about a terrorist dry run by 12 Syrians.
Would you take a paycheck from an organization you consider illegitimate? Neal Gabler apparently would.
"I don't want to bite the hand that feeds me my Kool-Aid," claimed Gabler on this evening's "Fox News Watch." He then proceeded to do just that, claiming that Democrats pulled out of the Fox-sponsored presidential candidate debate in Nevada "for the same reason that Republicans would not go on Air America -- it doesn't make any political sense. Why in the world would you want to legitimize a network that spends hour after hour after hour after hour to, to."
Neal Gabler called Media Research Center "liars" on this evening's Fox News Watch. The accusation against NewsBusters' parent organization came in the course of a discussion of media coverage of Mitt Romney's announcement of his presidential candidacy.
I was curious as to how Neal Gabler would opine. Surely, there was no way the resident aggressive lefty at Fox News Watch would defend the odious statements of William Arkin, who in this column libeled the US military as "mercenaries" and claimed we treat them to "obscene amenities." As it turns out, Gabler didn't, even going so far as to call Arkin's statements "idiotic."
However . . . that doesn't mean that Gabler didn't find something to complain about in the way conservatives reacted to the column. Kvetched Neal:
"There are literally tens of millions of bloggers out there. Singling out this particular blogger is an instance of cherry-picking by Fox News, who've been on this story, by Rush Limbaugh. And what's worse, in my estimation, as idiotic as these words are, is then to ascribe these to ascribe these attitudes to the entire left, which O'Reilly has done, and which Rush Limbaugh has done, and that is idiotic."
Cal Thomas had the line of the night on this evening's Fox News Watch. Here's how the conservative commentator explained Americans' dissatisfaction with progress in Iraq:
"Part of the problem here is we have Desert Storm with the 100-hour war. Everybody came home. There were victory marches, General Schwarzkopf leading. The press was full of stories: 'we finally got the Vietnam monkey off our back.' Now we're used to the very quick action. It's not going to happen, except thank goodness Jack Bauer is coming back to make it happen on '24' - that's what we're waiting for."
This evening's episode of Fox News Watch was more jam-packed than Smucker's at harvest time. But for space restraints, the headline would have been much longer. Let's get this party started:
Jim Pinkerton took an unvarnished shot at Charley Gibson, anchor of ABC's World News. Said Pinkerton, discussing Nancy Pelosi's shameless photo-op, shown here::
"The picture of Nancy Pelosi holding the baby inspired that genius of analysis Charles Gibson on ABC to say 'Oh! Nancy Pelosi is taking care of a baby and taking care of the country at the same time.' That's a total home-run for the spin doctors. They put a picture in front of it, and some dumb TV reporter just said 'oh yeah, well, I guess she's taking care of the country."
View edited video of several clips from this evening's show here.
As NewsBusters has also noted [here and here], Rich Lowry of National Review, pinch-hitting for Cal Thomas, observed: "There has been a big contrast in the media coverage of this takeover and the Republican takeover in 1994. Time magazine ran a cover story on Newt Gingrich in December, 'Mad as Hell'. Democrats were just as angry at George Bush this time around as Republicans were at Bill Clinton, but you would never see that sort of coverage on a major newsweekly now, because of the liberal media bias, right Neal?"
How do you know the Iraq Study Group report is dead? When on this evening's Fox News Watch conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton declares its "total evaporation" and the most aggressive liberal panelist doesn't bother to deny it.
"I think the most interesting thing has been the total evaporation of the Baker-Hamilton commission as a force in American politics. Of all people Laurence O'Donnell at the Huffington Post had a headline: 'Rush Limbaugh Is Right,' about the report, saying it is a formula for surrender. And whether you like it or not, Neal, Bush is not going to surrender Iraq."
How do you know when you've gone overboard with political correctness? When even the liberal panelists of Fox News Watch chide you for it. Host Eric Burns normally stays above the fray. But for some reason, on this evening's show he chose to criticize US Airways for removing from one of its flights six imams whose actions had made other passengers uneasy.
Said Burns, introducing the segment: "There were two stories in the news this week about religion. First, Pope Benedict in Turkey tried to encourage tolerance between Catholics and Muslims. Second, a story of tolerance of U.S. Airways and Muslims - there wasn't any - as six Muslim religious leaders, or imams, were recently yanked off a US Airways flight for no apparent reason other than that a passenger thought they were behaving strangely. Jane, I wonder if the moral of these two stories is first that the media are not at all captivated by this Pope . . but they are captivated by stories that seem to show that anti-terrorist policies sometimes go too far."
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann included Fox News Watch as one of the nominees in his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment. Awarding the FNC show third place with the "bronze" distinction, the Countdown host relayed conservative columnist Cal Thomas' choice of Olbermann as "Turkey of the Year" during last Saturday's show. While Thomas had taken Olbermann to task generally for "inaccuracies" and "hot air," Olbermann only mentioned Thomas' joking comment about Olbermann accusing him of dying his hair as he made fun of the FNC show's misspelling of his name (Olberman) in its on-screen graphic. Olbermann also labeled Fox News Watch as "the only program on Fox News Channel that tries to live up to the network's otherwise ironic slogan 'Fair and Balanced.'" Notably, as documented here by NewsBusters, Olbermann last year posted on his Bloggermann Web site that Fox News Watch was one of "ten television shows worth watching," quipping that it was created by Roger Ailes "to fulfill some legal requirement that his network actually be at least .0005% 'fair and balanced.'" (Transcript follows)
On FNC's Fox News Watch on Saturday, conservative columnist and FNC contributor Cal Thomas took to task MSNBC host Keith Olbermann for Olbermann's "inaccuracies" and "hot air" as the show's panelists got to voice their picks for the second annual "Turkey of the Year" award, which allows each panelist to dishonor media figures for disreputable behavior. Olbermann, who often uses his Countdown show's regular "Worst Person in the World" segment to attack conservative public figures, was called out by Thomas as someone who "is the greatest contributor to global warming because he spews more hot air than any other cable television show host." (Transcript follows)
Fox News Watch led this week's show with Brent Bozell's condemnation of the press' coverage of the just-concluded congressional campaign. Host Eric Burns noted that Bozell is "head of an influential conservative media watchdog group called the Media Research Center" - which also happens to be the parent organization of NewsBusters.
FNW played a video clip of Bozell stating:
"In 25 years of looking at the national media I have never in my life seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news and non-news by the national press. The national press ought to be collectively ashamed of itself. They might as well take up membership in the Democratic national party. They were the simple microphones for the party. They need to be ashamed of themselves for what they did."
A month or so ago I would have said that Neal Gabler and I inhabit different planets, but his apparent home has recently been demoted from planetary status. While I'm off searching for another metaphor, let me pass along the latest comment from the decidedly liberal denizen of Fox News Watch that made me reflect on just how distinct a world view we have. In the course of discussing on this evening's show the controversy that erupted this past week over Rush Limbaugh's comments about Michael Fox, Gabler had this to say:
"The media has tread lightly on Rush and his criticism of [Michael J.] Fox. To my mind, Rush is a cancer to America and hatemongers are marginalized, and why the media does not marginalize Rush, I don't know."
On last night's Fox News Watch, Cal Thomas offered assessments of the way in which the independence of two of his fellow conservative commentators is viewed. While acknowledging that the two top-rated talkers have recently chided the administration, he suggested there is a perception that, by and large, the pair lack political autonomy.
In the context of a discussion of President Bush's efforts to shore up support among conservative radio talk show personalities, Thomas stated:
"Even Rush Limbaugh,whois seen as being in the pocket of the administration, has been critical of Republicans not being more like Republicans."
On this weekend's Fox News Watch on FNC, liberal panelist Neal Gabler, rejecting the Media Research Center's contention of liberal bias in coverage of North Korea's nuclear test, damned the MRC with faint praise in ridiculing the MRC's mission: "MRC can find a needle in a hay stack. We ought to sic them to find Osama bin Laden because they always find what they're looking for, and liberal bias is what they're looking for." Host Eric Burns had set up the lead segment: “The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, charges that some American news organizations are, to an extent, defending the action [atomic test] because North Korea is worried about an attack from the United States and hopes the bomb tests will be a deterrent.” Conservative panelist Cal Thomas pointed out how “ABC's Mark Litke made this point on World News Tonight.” Indeed, an October 10 MRC CyberAlert article, posted the night before as a NewsBusters item, “ABC: North Korea Has Rational 'Historic Fear' of U.S. Worsened by Bush's 'Axis of Evil,'” detailed Litke's October 9 story.
Being a regular Fox News Watch viewer, there was nothing surprising, tuning into last evening's discussion of the Clinton-Chris Wallace dust-up, in hearing lefty panelist Neal Gabler take his employer and colleagues to task.
Among his moves, Gabler:
Claimed "this network's reputation [presumably as right-leaning] precedes it."
Asserted that Chris Wallace "did not frame the question properly. He asked 'why didn't you do more?' Which is like asking 'will you stop beating your wife?'"
Defended Wallace only at the expense of other Fox colleagues: "He is not a Hannity, he's not an O'Reilly he's not a Brit Hume, Cavuto, Gibson." Hume of course is not merely an on-air personality but also the powerful FNC managing editor.
Spurned host Eric Burns' entreaty to add someone from another network to his list of partisan TV personalities.
Later, amiable liberal Jane Hall chimed in - after smilingly mentioning that she was glad she had recently re-signed with FNC [and thus presumably was not vulerable to recriminations]. Claimed Jane: "this network's commentary beat up on him, beat up on Clinton, and did not beat up on Bush."
Summer's over, but it's still way too warm for hell to freeze over. And yet . . .
The usually reliably liberal Neal Gabler has lambasted Jim McGreevey for his more-than-we-needed-to-know confessions about his homosexuality. Even more shockingly, Gabler singled out Sean Hannity for praise for conducting the toughest interview of the Oprahfied former governor.
On last evening's Fox News Watch, there was unanimity from right to left that McGreevey's book, 'The Confession', and his media blitz to promote it, was an unseemly undertaking in which his family paid the price while he basked in the limelight - and cashed large checks for advances and royalties.
Gabler's fellow liberal Jane Hall was not in a forgiving mood. She let it be known that had she been in Oprah's audience, she would not have been applauding. She noted the pain McGreevey had caused his wife and the "corrupt way" in which he put his alleged lover in office. When Hall spoke disparagingly of McGreevey's "coming of age," Gabler chimed in sarcastically about McGreevey's supposed "courage."
Eric Burns, host of Fox News Channel's Fox News Watch, recently gave an interview to Bill Steigerwald of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Following are two large portions of the Q&A, with emphasis added. What Burns has to say in the first will annoy much of the left, but some of his comments in the second presumably won't sit well with NewsBusters readers. Portion one:
Q: You don't give away much on the air. You're pretty good at playing the middle - the centrist. Can you tell us what your politics are, generally?
A: No. I won't do that because that's not what I'm paid for at Fox. There are a lot of people who do give their political opinions on the air. And I make it a point - and a point of pride - to have people not know my politics. I don't think they are relevant to a show that analyzes the news, so I prefer to keep them to myself off the air, as I do on.
I don't know about you, but by the end of the Bush-bashing festival that was the MSM's coverage of the one-year Katrina anniversary, I was about ready to climb up on my roof with a bedsheet message begging to be evacuated by helicopter.
Neal Gabler also has a complaint about the Katrina anniversary coverage: there wasn't enough of it.
On this evening's Fox News Watch, Gabler made his comment in the context of the panel's discussion of the John Mark Karr fiasco. Griped Gabler:
"The embarrassment isn't that he wasn't guilty, the embarrassment is the disproportionate amount of coverage he got even if he had been guilty. The problem is there [were] virtually no [TV news] minutes devoted to Katrina on the eve of the Katrina anniversary."