New ABC "World News Tonight" anchor Elizabeth Vargas has long been a team player on the liberal-bias teams at ABC and NBC. One of her most unforgettable stints -- displaying ABC's cultural bias, not political bias -- was a one-hour special highlighting the "legends" behind the novel "The DaVinci Code," and novelist Dan Brown's claims that in our nonfiction world, the Catholic Church has tried to strangle the "truth" that Jesus Christ had sex with Mary Magdalene and she took their son to France after the Crucifixion. Brent Bozell described it here. Here's a few other samples of Vargas bias over the last decade:
Democrat Governor’s Law Now Alito’s Idea: "On World News Tonight, President Bush’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court. Conservatives are thrilled, liberals incensed. He once said a woman should tell her husband before she gets an abortion." — ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas introducing the October 31, 2005 World News Tonight. (Alito found Pennsylvania’s law under Democratic Gov. Bob Casey, which included a spousal-notification requirement, was reasonable.)
The three broadcast networks all did segments this evening on the former 9/11 commission’s report card released today. Though all three focused on the negatives, only the "CBS Evening News” ignored the good grades given by the commission, while also failing to mention that a key problem highlighted in this report is already being addressed by legislation pending in Congress (video link to follow).
Bob Orr quickly gave a rundown of the “F’s” and the “D’s” given by former commission members for the government achieving a set of priorities they deemed necessary to avert another terrorist attack. However, as can be seen in the full report card, Orr chose not to mention any of the 12 “B’s” given by the commission, or the “A-” obtained for “Terrorist Financing.” Orr also reported:
ABC News today named Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff as the anchors of its evening flagship program "World News Tonight."
From the press release:
Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff were named co-anchors of an expanded version of ABC News’ flagship broadcast “World News Tonight,” News President David Westin announced today. Beginning Monday, January 2nd, when Vargas and Woodruff debut together as co-anchors, “World News Tonight” will become the first evening newscast to broadcast a live version to the West Coast each night. World News Tonight will also make various versions of its reports available over the Internet throughout the afternoon and evening.
“Elizabeth and Bob together will be the anchors for this new broadcast and digital age of World News Tonight. Their experience as journalists, their familiarity to our audiences, and their commitment to gathering and delivering the news anywhere, anytime and in every way make them the right team to take us forward for the next generation,” said Westin.
He continued: “World News Tonight has been and will continue to be the source for millions of Americans to get careful, comprehensive and insightful reporting of the news of the day. Now we will be providing that news live throughout the evening on television; now we will be making that news available to Americans throughout the afternoon and evening to those who want it over computers, mobile telephones, and the countless other digital means.”
“I know, Dan, the President’s giving a speech on the economy coming up, but there are people, including Alan Greenspan of the Fed, and also the GAO, the top auditor in the country, who have said with these deficits, these mounting deficits, it is simply hard to look at this economy as anything but on thin ice, no matter what. No new taxes?”
-- Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer to Dan Bartlett, White House counselor, December 5, 2005.
Ken Shepherd alerted me to a story ABC's Dan Harris did on "World News Tonight" on evangelical Christian sensation Rick Warren ("The Purpose-Driven Life") and his new passion for an AIDS ministry. This Harris sentence really stuck out: "He's urging them to start serving people with HIV/AIDS — a disease that many evangelicals have either long ignored or called God's punishment of gays."
Harris doesn't provide any evidence for this broad-brush attack, this alleged apathy and ill will on the part of evangelical Christians -- just the anecdotal evidence that Warren seems quite contrite about not having done enough until now. He underlined the notion that Christians are behind the curve with an affirming quote from Dr. John Green of the liberal Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: "For many years, evangelicals have claimed that they hate sin but love the sinner. Now here's an example where they're starting to live that out." They're just starting to have compassion. No one offering a counterpoint is aired.
Don't miss my latest writing for the Free Market Project: Media claims about a “housing bubble” are nothing new. Since before the 9/11 terror attacks, the media have been calling the housing market a “bubble” while predicting an imminent, devastating decline. Not only have they been wrong in forecasting such a top, they have thoroughly mischaracterized what an investment bubble is. Now that the market for homes has finally slowed a bit, the media are declaring the bubble has burst.
A Bubble?: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has denied the existence of a national housing bubble for several years, but the media have used the term repeatedly.
Strong Gains: The increase in real estate values the past five years has not resembled the rapid rise typically seen in a bubble. In 2000, the national median existing-home value was $139,000. This grew to $215,900 by the third quarter of 2005 – a 55-percent nominal increase but a 34-percent inflation-adjusted gain.
Home Sales Still Going Up: New home sales jumped another 13 percent in October. While sales of existing homes were down 2.7 percent from September, the median national price rose to $218,000, a 16.6 percent increase since October 2004.
The websites of many major media organizations (including USA Today, MSNBC, ABC News, and CNN) aren't wasting any time reporting the guilty plea by California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a Republican who admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes. They all are placing his story high on their homepages. That alone isn't bias, as corruption by public officials should always be at the top of the news headlines.
However, I'm guessing that few who hear about Cunningham have ever heard of former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance, a Democrat who as a North Carolina state senator used his official position to channel public funds into a private nonprofit that he operated. He received a four-year sentence in federal prison on Oct. 12 after admitting guilt to redirecting taxpayer dollars for his private use. He had resigned his congressional seat last year.
Like some of the other shows, it seemed a little unanimous on CNN's "Reliable Sources" today. They began with a panel of raving leftist New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, liberal historian Robert Dallek, liberal CNN correspondent Bruce Morton, and UPI Pentagon correspondent Pam Hess, who must qualify as the most conservative one on the panel. Krugman muffed it early when host Howard Kurtz asked if Walter Cronkite could galvanize the anti-war movement today by saying we've lost, we should withdraw: "If Walter Cronkite were alive -- sorry, he is alive. If Walter Cronkite were on the news today, if a Walter Cronkite equivalent were on the news, he would -- immediately after that broadcast we just saw, he would have been called a traitor."
It’s probably not the first time it has happened, but with the exception of ABC’s George Will – who, of course, has been a regular on that network’s “This Week” for many years – the networks’ Sunday political talk shows had no established conservative guests to participate in their weekly panel discussions. Joining George Stephanopoulos and George Will this morning were Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile, TIME magazine’s Jay Carney, and ABC’s Claire Shipman. NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” featured Katy Kay of the BBC, Michael Duffy of TIME magazine, Norah O’Donnell of MSNBC, and Terry Neal of the Washington Post. CBS’s “Face the Nation” did its annual Thanksgiving “historians” program.
The most left-leaning of the panels was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” where Tim Russert invited Judy Woodruff, formerly of CNN’s “Inside Politics,” David Broder of the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson also of the Washington Post, and David Gregory of NBC News. While the “This Week” and “Matthews” panels actually engaged in a comparatively well-rounded discussion, the “Meet the Press” group spent the bulk of its half-hour talking about the “disaster” in Iraq. For instance, Robinson said, “I think that there's general agreement now that there will be a mess in Iraq when U.S. troops finally withdraw and it certainly won't be an Athenian democracy, as the administration said it was out to create.” Gregory agreed, “And unfortunately, perhaps the only outcome is a kind of low-level civil war that's akin to the Arab- Israeli situation with U.S. soldiers in the way.”
Woodruff then joined in by paraphrasing a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly:
Dave Huber explains at Oh, That Liberal Media that the Boston Globe erred in its headline in an AP story with the words "Teacher Under Investigation for Alleged Liberalism":
The school superintendent whose district includes Mount Anthony Union High School has labeled "inappropriate" and "irresponsible" an English teacher's use of liberal statements in a vocabulary quiz.
"I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes," said one question on a quiz written by English and social studies teacher Bret Chenkin.
ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday broke a story about Michael Jackson that has received surprisingly little press. In a report about the pop star’s finances, as well as his relationship with financial advisors, an audiotape was played of a telephone message Jackson left for a former business associate:
JACKSON: They suck - they're like leeches. I'm so tired of it. They start out the most popular person in the world, make a lot of money, big house, cars, and everything, end up with, penniless. It is conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose.
In his Monday chat with Charlie Rose on PBS, Ted Koppel played armchair general or armchair Secretary of State and explained why he would not have gone to war with Iraq, didn't see the urgent need to remove Saddam, saw no connection with terrorism, and worst of all, smeared Ronald Reagan as not caring about the gassing of Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988. This is, as a matter of historical record, untrue. Reagan went and denounced the gassing from the podium of the United Nations. Secretary of State George Shultz also denounced it in no uncertain terms. The ironic thing about Halabja? Our media didn't cover it very hard or very long at the time. So take a look at how much Koppel sounds like Joe Biden or John Kerry:
Ted Koppel did a long interview with Charlie Rose on PBS Monday night, a day before he retired as host of "Nightline." One segment of the interview that stuck out was their discussion of racism and racial inequality and how passionate they are about it. Koppel said it "just infuriates" him. Rose agreed:
Rose: Regrets about this "Nightline" thing in terms of – where you think, God, I missed it that day, I didn't go, or we talked about if we could have been tougher, raised better questions about war and peace with respect to Iraq, should they have waited, all of that, and questions -- You and I share another passion which is the passion about race and civil rights in america.
Ted Koppel closes up shop on "Nightline" tonight. He will be widely revered and remembered as a voice for hard news and serious long-form reporting. Several decades ago, Koppel’s format was even welcomed by conservatives at the time as a place to be heard for more than six seconds. ("The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour" was another. Both were biased at times, but offered some space to be heard.) But Koppel also has a record with some serious (sometimes atrocious) liberal bias. One of the most recent: going to Vietnam to interview communists to prove John Kerry was right about his war record.
The first that comes to mind: "Nightline" devoted a one-hour special resurrecting the October Surprise myth that Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign operatives nefariously delayed the release of American hostages in Iran for political gain. When media and congressional investigations again proved the theory a farce, we asked for a retraction and an apology, and a "Nightline" spokeswoman told us: "That is not a broadcast for Nightline. That's a headline. That's not a half-hour show." There’s a list of bias examples in this Brent Bozell column from 1997. For something more up to date, you can consider the hard-left sources Koppel dug up to explain those thuggish neoconservatives wanting to wage war on Saddam here.
As reported by the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker, the network evening news broadcasts tonight all lead with Congressman John Murtha’s (D-Penn.) call for the removal of American troops from Iraq. Yet, they seemed disinterested in focusing much attention on Rep. Murtha's “denouncement” of the Iraq war more than a year ago. (Please see a May 10, 2004 CNN story stating, “Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, in a news conference with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the problems in Iraq are due to a ‘lack of planning’ by Pentagon chiefs and ‘the direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable.’") Maybe most important, the networks totally ignored the fact that Rep. Murtha has been expressing disgust with the Bush administration’s prosecution of this war since six months after it started.
Rep. Murtha first voiced his displeasure with how things were going in Iraq on September 16, 2003, when he called for the immediate firing of President Bush’s defense leadership team. The network news organizations this evening chose not to inform their viewers of this, and, instead, implied that Rep. Murtha was a "hawk" that has always supported this war, and that his statements today were recent revelations.
Quite the contrary, the New York Times reported on September 17, 2003 (link courtesy of Common Dreams.org):
Rep. John Murtha is getting a second round of liberal media gravitas for opposing the Iraq War after he voted for it. Brent Baker just noted the May 7, 2004 CyberAlert, where Koppel used Murtha and former Reagan official William Odom (whom he later acknowledged opposed the war before it occurred), as grist for his question of the day (or every day): "Tonight, Hanging in the Balance: Is Iraq an unwinnable war?"
In fact, Koppel liked Murtha's pessimistic stance so much, he devoted the entire May 10, 2004 Nightline to an exclusive interview with the pessimist. One choice exchange came in the discussion of whether Defense Secretary Rumsfeld should resign, or if he's responsible for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib:
ABC "Nightline" reporter Dave Marash gets a little overwrought in saluting the end of his (and Ted Koppel's) era on the late-night ABC beat:
"I am deeply endebted [sic] to ABC News for giving me 16 years in 'professional Heaven,' Ted Koppel's Nightline. My debt to Ted himself, and to executive producers Tom Bettag and Leroy Sievers is even greater, for the opportunity to travel the world, learn from it and report on it, with some nuance and detail. If news were a religion, Reality would be its diety [sic], and Ted, Tom and Leroy were resolute in building a broadcast which consistently served its audience by serving Reality. Nightline subordinated, or at the very least, harmonized, personality and style to an aggressively transparent presentation of the complexities and complications that define the Real World Out There. Truly, Nightline has been a 'first draft of history,' not of Page 6." (For non-vets of the New York Post, that's their gossip page.)
Media Wrong About Dollar: As the frequency of pessimistic reports increases, their accuracy seems to decline.
Since the stock market’s collapse between March 2000 and October 2002, the Free Market Project media have continually been making gloomy and bearish economic forecasts, from predictions of a housing bubble implosion to gasoline prices heading to $5 per gallon and even an economic downturn due to Hurricane Katrina. As The Free Market Project has reported, none of these have panned out.
Other examples of media gloom and doom that ended up being inaccurate were the press’s opinions of the falling dollar at the end of last year, and what they believed were the likely consequences. Tom Fenton of CBS News went so far as to link the decline to the start of the Bush presidency. “Since the end of the Clinton administration – or to put it another way, since the beginning of the Bush administration – the dollar has been heading south at an alarming rate,” he argued in a Dec. 6, 2004, piece.
Is Wal-Mart good for America or destroying its families? Two new documentaries show opposing views on the world’s largest retailer, but the media didn’t.
The anti-Wal-Mart film “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” has received most of the attention. The movie on the benefits of Wal-Mart, “Why Wal-Mart Works & Why That Makes Some People Crazy” was slighted. When both did get attention on “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” with the anti-Wal-Mart film getting more airtime from an agreeable Dobbs according to a report by the Free Market Project.
NBC began a November 1 “Today” segment with “A media blitz is under way about Wal-Mart and from Wal-Mart.” Text then appeared on the screen that read “Wal-Mart drives down retail wages $3 billion every year.” Despite mentioning the “media blitz” from Wal-Mart, the only official representation of the store was two lines from an ad. Reporter Dawn Fratangelo mentioned Wal-Mart’s new environmental programs and new health care plan. She then added “But critics call it a publicity stunt,” and interviewed a man from union-backed wakeupwalmart.com about it. Only anti-Wal-Mart people were featured in the story, and nothing positive about the company was included.
The mainstream media seemed to have settled on the sobriquet of “youths” to describe the people who are in their 13th night of burning cars, buildings, and in one instance a handicapped woman, in cities across France. Of course, it is hard to get an exact demographic profile of rioters on the run; however, reports on those who have been arrested are that only 30% are under 21.
Typical of the 2,300 stories on this subject currently available on Google News, is this one from ABC International, posted in written form on the Net on 6 November, entitled “Chirac vows order as French riots spread.”
This two-page article refers to the perpetrators alternately as “rioters” or “youths,” using both phrases multiple times. Not until near the end does the article make any reference to the fact that most of these rioters, in Germany and France, are Muslims.
On this morning’s “The Chris Matthews Show” on NBC, ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson said that Vice President Cheney certainly knew what his chief of staff I. Lewis Libby was doing when he told reporters about Valerie Plame working for the CIA. In addition, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman first compared President Bush to Tony Soprano of the HBO series “The Sopranos,” then called him “The Godfather,” referring to a part played by Marlon Brando wherein he was the mafia chief of America’s largest crime family named Vito Corleone.
As NewsBusters has been reporting the past 24 hours here, here, and here, CBS News released a poll yesterday depicting President Bush’s declining job approval numbers that were based on a sample that was in no way reflective of the country’s population. Just hours ago, some new poll numbers were released by the Washington Post and ABC News, and they too have over-sampled Democrats and Independents.
“An increasingly unpopular war, an ethics cloud, and broad economic discontent have pushed public opinion of the Bush administration from bad to worse, infecting not only the president's ratings on political issues but his personal credentials for honesty and leadership as well.
Filling up at the pump is costing less and less each day – 45 cents per gallon less since its post Rita peak of $2.94 as of October 30. Despite that huge drop, all three broadcast networks have reported on rising or high gas prices four times as often as falling prices. Here are some of the key results:
ABC the Worst: ABC mentioned falling gas prices only once out of 11 reports and that was only after three straight weeks of price declines.
Dropping Prices Have Little Impact: Gas prices dropped every business day from October 6 through October 30, but the three networks still mentioned rising or high prices 79 percent of the time.
Eight days ago, Steve Gilliard, a liberal blogger critical of Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R-MD), a black conservative seeking the Republican senatorial nomination in his state, altered a photograph of the candidate to portray a minstrel in blackface, and accompanied it with the caption, "I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House."
[Gilliard has since removed his original artwork, but blogger Charles Bird saved the image before Gilliard took it down and documents it on redstate.org, a conservative team blog.]
Understandably, this set off a storm in the blogosphere, with many conservative and some liberal bloggers decrying the racist post as beyond the pale. As I blogged last week, even the Washington Post reported it in their Metro section. Well, the story has evolved a bit more. While the Maryland Democratic Party also issued a statement criticizing it, lately, some elected Maryland Democrats including a white Democrat vying for Governor, have excused the attack on Steele as valid owing to Steele's affiliation with the GOP.
So far there has been no coverage of this new development in the mainstream broadcast media.
It’s the Poor Innocent Consumer vs. Big Bad Oil, with a side of Politicians to the Rescue.
The media love a good controversy – so much so that they stir things up when the facts don’t warrant it. Since oil companies released their profit numbers last week, the news template has been one of angry consumers claiming they’ve been harmed and politicians vowing to do something about gas prices. Both parties have been aided by the media, who declared that oil profits were "beyond imagination."
On “CNN Sunday Morning” October 30, hosts asked viewers to respond to the question, “Who do you hold accountable for high gas prices?” Ignoring market forces that set prices in favor of playing a political game, Anchor Tony Harris also rephrased the question: “Who are you blaming?”
CNN’s Miles O’Brien framed a report about high third-quarter oil profits as “something to get your blood boiling” and “get you a little outraged” on the October 28 “American Morning.”
The fact is, when the price of a product goes up, the people who sell that product make more money. The only way this happens is if consumers keep buying.
That’s the oversimplified version of what happened to oil companies’ profits in the third quarter of 2005. Interruptions from the hurricanes tightened supply, but consumer demand stayed high, fueled by China and India – so gasoline prices went up. Oil companies profited from the situation, but they didn’t arbitrarily set their prices extra-high. Market forces determined prices.
Unfortunately, most journalists haven’t been getting it. Rather than accepting the way the market works, they have pitted consumers against oil companies, bolstering the case of those who call for a “windfall profits tax” on the companies’ earnings. That includes members of Congress, who have scheduled a hearing on energy pricing and corporate profits for November 9.
Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) summed up the news template when she said, “At a time when the American people are struggling to pay their energy bills and the residents of my own state of Maine will be hard-pressed to pay their home heating costs this winter, it is deeply concerning and, frankly, outrageous that oil companies are boasting record-breaking profits,” according to the October 28 Los Angeles Times.
The broadcast network morning shows did segments today concerning yesterday’s surprise “closed session” in the Senate demanded by Democratic minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). All three appeared quite pleased with what occurred while suggesting that it was a big win for the Democrats, and indicating that the Republicans were very angered by “the stunt.” However, even though they have now had almost a day to research the history of such events, much like what was reported by NewsBusters yesterday, not one of the programs discussed just how rare these sessions are, or questioned why this subject matter warranted a closed session. (Video links of the CBS and NBC segments to follow.)
Former Republican house majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) had a large victory in court yesterday, but ABC and NBC didn’t think it was important enough to include in their evening news broadcasts.
As reported by the Washington Post: "Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) won an early round in his money-laundering and conspiracy trial Tuesday by getting a judge aligned with Democratic candidates and causes removed from the case."
Yet, even though the announcement of DeLay’s indictment on September 28 was headline news, neither ABC nor NBC thought that this legal victory for the former majority leader warranted informing their evening news viewers.
Wendy Wright at Concerned Women for America e-mailed that they had a surprise in their e-mail. It seems ABC reporter Linda Douglass sent them e-mail through their press person Stacey Holliday by mistake, an e-mail dripping sarcasm about their best wishes to Harriet Miers.
-----Original Message----- From: Douglass, Linda D [mailto:Linda.D.Douglass@abc.com] Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2005 10:14 AM To: Stacey Holliday Subject: Re: CWA Wishes Miss Miers All the Best
Ever the polite ladies, Concerned Women for America wish Miers "all the best". Yesterday they slammed her as someone who promotes a radical feminist agenda and called upon her to withdraw.
From television to newspapers, the media have gone wild over oil companies’ profit reports this week, asking “how much is too much?”
That question alone demonstrated journalists’ omission of free market principles in their reporting. America’s free market allows the small businessman to become a large business if he is able. Once companies are publicly traded, millions of others share in the business’s profits. Yet, the media have pitted businesses against consumers, leaving out the fact that these large companies distribute dividends to millions of individuals.
Covering oil companies’ profits, reporters operated on the assumption that there should be a profit ceiling for a business, and that anything above that would be unacceptable. They also attempted to whip up consumer “outrage,” even though it is consumer demand and oil scarcity that drive up prices – not an arbitrary decision by oil companies. Just a few highlights: