Media Business

By Ken Shepherd | August 16, 2010 | 12:00 PM EDT

While Newsweek's David Graham is hard at work defending President Obama's summertime leisure -- "A Short History of Presidential Vacation Outrage" -- by insisting that the press corps always complains about any president's vacation habits, it's instructive that he failed to indict his own magazine.

"War on terrorism stalled, economy on precipice, time for a month on the Crawford ranch."

Accompanied by a disapproving down arrow, that's how the August 5, 2002 Newsweek feature "Conventional Wisdom" derided President Bush's working vacation a mere three months before midterm elections in his first term.

Elsewhere in Newsweek's coverage at the time, writers put the term working vacation into derisive quote marks, and otherwise presented President Bush's time away from Washington, including a quasi-campaign swing called the "Heartland Tour," as a nakedly political move to bolster his sagging approval numbers.

From Martha Brant's August 7 "Web exclusive" entitled "Look Who's Back":

By Kyle Drennen | August 13, 2010 | 6:00 PM EDT

Storm Coverage, WUSA9 Live, August 12 program | NewsBusters.orgOn Thursday, instead of showing the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, the network's Washington DC affiliate, WUSA-TV, decided to continue with live storm coverage. The last time the CBS broadcast was preempted by local coverage occurred during the massive winter blizzards, which buried the region in a few feet of snow.

The Evening News has consistently ranked third among the network evening newscasts during Couric's tenure. During the week of August 2, the Evening News was around 2 million viewers behind competitors ABC Worlds News with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Couric is about to mark her 4th anniversary in the anchor chair.

By Lachlan Markay | August 11, 2010 | 9:58 AM EDT
On last night's 'O'Reilly Factor,' Fox Business Network reporter Charlie Gasparino claimed that during his time at CNBC, General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt suggested to senior CNBC staff that they were being too hard on President Obama.

Gasparino did not say that it became official CNBC policy to tone down criticism of the president. But he claimed that "the question of whether they were being fair to the president was brought up" and that he had "never heard that before." Keep in mind that at the time GE stood to make a whole lot of money from some of Obama's key policies. NBC and its affiliates have conspicuously shilled for such policies before.

Even absent an official NBC or CNBC policy on criticizing the president, the incident demonstrates a profound lack of journalistic neutrality. There has always been a looming conflict of interest at GE's television arm. The possibility that higher-ups suggested reporters go easy on the president raises all sorts of questions about the abilities of NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC to fairly and accurately report the news (video and transcript of Gasparino's statement below the fold).

By Mark Finkelstein | August 9, 2010 | 10:45 PM EDT
From the Department Of People In Glass Houses . . .

Early in his MSNBC show this evening, Ed Schultz mocked Karl Rove's performance in filling in for Rush Limbaugh today.  In particular, Schultz slammed Rove for his brief problem in providing the show's call-in number.  

But later in the show, Ed himself ran head-first into a rhetorical roadblock, stumbling badly when it came to pronouncing the most famous name in the world of ocean studies: Cousteau.
By Brent Bozell | August 3, 2010 | 11:14 PM EDT

There’s something oddly funny about the cluelessness of liberal media companies when their ratings fall or their subscriptions collapse. They just refuse to admit, even consider that the business problem could be (at least in part) their own incessant liberal agitating. Instead, they seem to double down and make things even worse.

ABC’s Sunday show “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” could never beat NBC, so what did the ABC braintrust do? They promoted the Bill Clinton spin artist to an everyday anchor job on “Good Morning America.” Then they doubled down and replaced him with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who is married to another Bill Clinton spin artist, Jamie Rubin. Can it get more insular?

Here’s another case in point: Newsweek’s subscriptions collapsed a couple of years back. How could it not be (at least in part) the umpteen Obama-worshipping cover stories that caused some subscribers to cancel. Then they really abandoned the “News” half of their title and wrote cover stories like “We’re All Socialists Now” and “Is Your Baby Racist?”

Newsweek was put on the market, and the market has spoken: a $1 sale.

By Brent Bozell | August 3, 2010 | 4:20 PM EDT

Managing Editor's Note: NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell issued the following statement about The Washington Post Company selling Newsweek to the guy from RoboCop Sidney Harman, for a grand total of one dollar:

There’s something entirely believable about the Newsweek sale.  A left-winger pretending to be centrist sold it to another left-winger pretending to be centrist. Newsweek is a dying magazine because no one wants to read their left-wing propaganda masquerading as ‘news.’ The $1 price tag, then, is probably just about right.

For more information on the sale, read the NewsBusters’ story here.

By Brent Bozell | July 28, 2010 | 12:50 PM EDT

Managing Editor's Note: What follows is an open letter from NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell to Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli about the controversial [now defunct] e-mail listserv JournoList, founded and operated by the Post's Ezra Klein.

The JournoList scandal is getting worse every day and The Washington Post is at the center of it. Blogger Ezra Klein ran the operation and at least three other staffers were members. (Blogger Greg Sargent claims he wasn't a member after he joined the Post.) In addition, at least one member of Slate and two from Newsweek, also owned by Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, were members.

The almost constant revelations of political activism and journalistic conspiracy raise an enormous number of questions about Post policies, professionalism and ethics. As a conservative, and therefore a member of the movement JournoListers sought to demonize, I feel Post readers are owed full disclosure.

Any understanding of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics makes clear this list and the Post's involvement violate a number of ethical guidelines. In fact, much of the code seems to have been ignored. Here are just a few examples from the code.

Journalists should:

By NB Staff | July 23, 2010 | 6:19 PM EDT

Editor's Note: For the list of NewsBusters T-shirt contest winners, skip to the end of this post.

As we approach our 5th anniversary at NewsBusters, our celebration would not be complete without a recap of our best posts. It was a tough call, but we came up with the top 25, broken down evenly into five categories of five each.

We call it our Five-for-Five.

Each Friday through August 13 we'll publish a Five-for-Five list.We've saved the very best for last: On Monday, August 16, we'll publish the Top Five Outrageous Outbursts.

But we start today with a much lighter note. The first category for Five-for-Five is The Top Five Media Flubs Caught by NewsBusters. (Also check out a short video-cast with NewsBusters bloggers talking about how they caught the flubs.)

In no particular order we remember...:

By NB Staff | July 23, 2010 | 11:25 AM EDT
Appearing on the Fox News Channel "Hannity" program last night, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell tackled the media's bewilderment that Obama's legislative successes aren't translating into healthy job approval numbers ahead of the upcoming November midterm congressional election.

"Yes, [President Obama is] getting his legislative agenda accomplished, the problem is, this is a socialist legislative agenda the American people didn't bank on, and the more they see it, the less they like it," the Media Research Center founder and president argued in a recurring segment devoted to media bias entitled "Media Mash."

Also discussed on the July 22 program, "Good Morning America" host and former Bill Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos downplayed terrorist threats against the United States, insisting that "if you set aside the Fort Hood bombing in Texas and the failed Christmas bomber, there has not been a major attack that has been anything close to successful on American soil."

By Ken Shepherd | July 22, 2010 | 4:13 PM EDT

My colleagues Brad Wilmouth and Lachlan Markay have catalogued how Fox News hosts played no role in the forced resignation of former USDA bureaucrat Shirley Sherrod over perceived racist remarks.

But why let the truth get in the way of a good screed? Just ask Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, who published a postmortem yesterday to the magazine's The Gaggle blog on "[h]ow the administration mishandled a manufactured scandal":

How could the White House have screwed up so badly in the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia USDA official who Wednesday received an apology from the Obama administration (through Robert Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack)?

Sherrod was the victim of a smear by the right-wing agent provocateur Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News. (Yes, that side has adopted some Leninist tactics, as conservative antitax activist Grover Norquist has admitted over the years.) They took a two-and-a-half-minute clip from Sherrod's address to the NAACP and used it to depict her as a black racist who discriminated years ago against a white farmer. It turns out the farmer thought Sherrod had been a terrific help, and a full review of Sherrod's speech suggests that, far from being a racist, she had honestly (and successfully) worked through the complex racial preconceptions we all carry around in our heads.

Later in his post, Alter added more spin and half-truths by noting that:

By Brent Bozell | July 22, 2010 | 12:18 PM EDT

Managing Editor's Note:  NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell today reprimanded members of the press in light of the recently exposed e-mails from the now-defunct JournoList that show a blatant, deliberate campaign to smear conservatives. That statement is published below. Click here for more background on JournoList.

The revelation of these e-mails simply proves that we have been right all along.  The liberal media have no interest in being fair or unbiased.  In fact, they are deliberately violating any sense of journalistic ethics.

There is no excuse – none- for the attitudes and lack of professionalism these so-called journalists displayed not only in these e-mails but in their reporting.  Any member of the media that was privy to these Journolist emails, and remained silent, is just as much to blame as the folks that crafted these e-mails. Their silence indicts them. 

We said in 2008 that the media were making excuses for Jeremiah Wright and now we have the proof. Just today we learned from the Daily Caller that these people went so far as to say that Rush Limbaugh ‘deserves’ their hate.  Sadly, I am not surprised, as this is what we have been exposing year after year about the media.  And it’s exactly why Americans refuse to trust them.

By Tim Graham | July 21, 2010 | 8:28 AM EDT

Jonathan Strong of the Daily Caller has more shocking e-mails from liberal journalists today. He starts with an NPR producer who admits flaming hatred for Rush Limbaugh:

If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, that isn’t what you’d do at all.In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”

So much for the idea that NPR is an oasis of civil discourse in a desert of vituperation. Spitz is a producer for trendy-hot NPR station KCRW and its nationally distributed talk show Left Right & Center (which could be called Three Leftists and Tony Blankley). But Spitz has also done stories for NPR's evening newscast All Things Considered.