Is PBS too conservative? Is it "too balanced"? The radical leftists at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have produced another stilted study of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer accusing the show of presenting "virtually the same voices as corporate media, voices that overwhelmingly represent those in power rather than the public PBS is obliged to serve."
This study can be picked apart in many ways, but let’s start close to home, where they’ve made at least one obvious factual error. Authors Steve Rendall and Julie Hollar complain about the exclusion of "public interest groups" from the debate: "such groups, which ranged from progressive groups like the NAACP and Greenpeace to the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform and Media Research Center – provided just 4 percent of NewsHour’s guests." MRC did not appear on the NewsHour in FAIR’s study period. We checked Nexis to double-check, even adding the Parents Television Council and CNSNews.com into the mix to see if our related groups were interviewed. No.
In a discussion on Inside Washington about the situation in Iraq and Bob Woodward's book, Colby King, Deputy Editor of the Washington Post's editorial page and a weekly columnist, made clear his disgust with President Bush -- to the point of rejecting Bush as Commander-in-Chief and arguing Bush is more deserving of impeachment than was President Clinton. “If we had a draft today and my sons had to go in the service under this Commander-in-Chief and his military advisors, I'd be hard-pressed,” King revealed, “to say serve under them." Citing how too many are being killed in Iraq “because of dumb decisions made by these people in the Pentagon,” an exasperated King recalled how “they impeached the President...for having some relationship with an intern. What about the people who got us into this mess?"
A bit later in the program aired Friday night on Washington, DC's PBS station, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg predicted: “When the history books are written, we will not be proud of this country or this President.”
CNN's Lou Dobbs eagerly promoted PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers on Tuesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight, describing him as a "distinguished journalist" and "certainly one of this country's most respected journalists." Not as one of the country's most liberal journalists. Dobbs not only promoted his Wednesday PBS show "Capitol Crimes," those words were also the graphic for the segment. Dobbs and Moyers agreed that campaigns today are merely the exchange of bribes, and Moyers added that the McCain-Feingold crackdown on campaign speech is a mere "fig leaf" of regulation.
Dobbs began: "Let's hear what one of the people you chronicle and hear from in the special says, R.G. Ratcliffe, the Houston Chronicle reporter."
R.G. Ratcliffe, Houston Chronicle: "Just the kinds and ways that dollars have flowed into the system in recent years have led to something of a form of institutional corruption. And the kind of thing that you want to watch for, it is not a very big step from a campaign contribution to a bribe."
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers previewed large chunks of his Jack Abramoff "Capitol Crimes" documentary (airing on PBS Wednesday) on far-left Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" program on Tuesday. Asked why he was once again hammering away on conservatives on taxpayer-funded PBS stations, just weeks before the elections, Moyers predictably declared that America is going to hell in a handbasket under the right wing: "our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression." He told host Amy Goodman:
As I listened to you begin this broadcast with the litany of reality that you report, I got a slow burn, you know, at just what's happening to this country, to our government and to America under the reign of the corporate, political and religious right. And there are so few places that, as you are doing, are just simply telling the other side of the story, letting the facts add up, that I realize I couldn't sit in the rocking chair and comfortably enjoy the books I’m reading, while our democracy, it needs all the information those of us who are independent journalists can provide. So I came back, because there just is too much to report and too much to tell, at a particular time when I think we’re in a -- when our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression.
It's always interesting in a fall election season to see what your taxpayer dollars are buying at the Public Broadcasting Service. Some might call it an "in-kind contribution" to your friendly local Democratic candidate. Liberals would never favor a McCain-Feingold-style bill that made PBS political programs go off the air in the last 60 days of an election cycle. A colleague sent this notice from TV Guide:
"The always-cerebral Bill Moyers looks at diverse topics in this three-part series. The first explores corruption in politics by focusing on the Jack Abramoff scandal."
This new miniseries will air on the first three Wednesdays in October. Screening the videos on the Moyers site, the first episode, titled "Capitol Crimes," focuses on Abramoff, with a heavy emphasis on the lobbyist in pictures with Ronald Reagan and Tom DeLay. Is there anything more mind-numbingly predictable than Bill Moyers raging against lobbyists? (Unless they're lobbyists for PBS fat cats.)
New York Times columnist (and former Times reporter) Maureen Dowd appeared on the "Tavis Smiley" show on PBS on Wednesday night with her typical take on the news: Bush and Cheney are suffering from testosterone poisoning, and she urged the media to keep pushing because "checks and balances is what Dick Cheney is trying to destroy." But Hillary Clinton is too cautious, "fetches coffee for older male Senators," and needs to be more outspoken: "I would love to see Barack Obama and Hillary speaking out more."
Smiley asked Dowd about if it was tough to write her column: "The first couple of years I had the column, I was curled up in a ball on the floor of my house, crying a lot." (Like Linda Greenhouse? Is this a standard practice for New York Times reporters?) She continued: "But as a student of literature and Shakespeare, you know that power can be poisonous. And in the case of Bush and Cheney, testosterone can be poisonous. And it’s just my job to tweak them and say before the Iraq war, we should not be ginning this case up to go to a war unless we’re sure that we understand the culture, and we didn’t. So I feel that journalism has a really important place in checks and balances, without being corny about it. And checks and balances is what Dick Cheney is trying to destroy. So I feel that it’s important that we keep pushing."
There still is a Blame America First lobby. On Friday's edition of "Inside Washington" on PBS affiliate WETA, National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg couldn't simply deplore Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez's remarks that President Bush was "the devil." She had to put the blame on the United States government for paying excessive attention to him. After Colbert King of the Washington Post dismissed Chavez as a "class clown," Totenberg went into her spin cycle:
Nina Totenberg: "I want to see -- say one thing about him. He is the class clown, but we have made him. We should have ignored him long ago. We were demonizing him at the beginning, trying to get him overthrown."
On the chat show "Inside Washington" on PBS station WETA last night, the spin was in: Plamegate was a massive zero. No one was more enthusiastic than Newsweek's Evan Thomas. I'm sure the reporting of his colleague Michael Isikoff has him completely persuaded. But here's what didn't come up: how much ink did Newsweek spill hyping this "zero" story up? (Hint: here's just one example.)
When the show's substitute host Kathleen Matthews (wife of Chris Matthews) asked what the bottom line was on Plamegate, Thomas declared: "Nothing! Nothing! This is a big zero of a story that most of the American public has ignored, Washington has been feverishly consumed by, and it means something for Scooter Libby, who may go to jail, so it has some personal consequences, but in the great sum of American body politic, it means nothing."
This past Sunday on "60 Minutes," CBS correspondent Byron Pitts interviewed New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, about New Orleans’ recovery since hurricane Katrina. Pitts’ hit Nagin with statements full of hyperbole, claiming there are "few visible signs of recovery" in New Orleans, and that there is "tons of debris still scattered about," yet, Pitts offered little in the way of facts and figures to back up his claims. However, a anyone viewing Tuesday’s "NewsHour" on PBS would have heard hard facts that contradict Pitts’ gloomy assertions. For example, Pitts claimed:
"Today, in one of the few visible signs of recovery, the 220 miles of levees damaged by the storm have been repaired by the Army Corps of Engineers."
This past Friday, on PBS’s "Washington Week," NBC’s Andrea Mitchell noted that Hezbollah is winning the PR war around the world:
"And, I have to say, if you look at the mainstream media around the world everywhere other than in the United States, it is remarkably pro-Hezbollah. Hezbollah at this point is being described in most places now as a social service organization and a legitimate part of the Lebanese government, not as a terror group.
Was she critical of the world press for covering Hezbollah in this light, or critical of the American press for not being Hezbollah boosters? Her own comments about Hezbollah may provide some insight. As mentioned in Brent Baker’s July 18 CyberAlert, Mitchell praised Hezbollah as a group that provides social services and it’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, as a populist:
On last night’s "News Hour" on PBS, reporter Jeffrey Brown conducted a segment on media bias as it pertains to the coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. As his guests, Brown talked with Timothy McNulty, public editor of the Chicago Tribune, Andrew Kohut, President of the Pew Research Center, and Lee Ross, professor of social psychology at Stanford University. Surprisingly, not a media critic among them. The panel attempted to portray the media as fair, pointing to a Pew Poll that showed that 61% of Americans believed the media coverage of the Middle East was fair. But the PBS newscast is selective in publicizing Pew polls. PBS did not report the new Pew Center finding, as reported by Brent Baker in the August 9, 2006 Cyber Alert:
Here's an excerpt from an excellent editorial by Gary Witzenburg, a former auto engineer who helped design the GM EV1, the early '90s electric car that left-wing conspiracy theorists think the big ol' meanies at Big Oil killed. Suffice it to say, Witzenburg was nowhere to be found on the taxpayer-funded infomercial for "Who Killed the Electric Car" on the June 9 edition of "Now with David Brancaccio."
Here's an excerpt of his August 8 "Another View" editorial in "USA Today":
Widespread acceptance of battery-powered EVs will not happen until someone develops battery technology competitive with a tank of gas (or diesel) in every way. It must be absolutely safe, long-term durable, capable of operating reliably in extreme weather and temperatures, mass-producible at low cost, able to carry comparable energy in a package of comparable size and weight, and able to be quickly recharged. None comes remotely close.
Friday night's edition of "Now" with David Brancaccio on PBS followed the old Bill Moyers formula of two leftists having an echo-chamber conversation. Brancaccio and Berkeley journalism dean Orville Schell agreed and agreed about how the press aren't liberal enough, the people don't want another Watergate/Vietnam era enough, and the free market can't be counted on to provide "independent" (read: thoroughly ultraliberal) journalism. "We're all [a] slave to the market," Brancaccio suggested.
Since Schell was a China scholar, Brancaccio even suggested the current administration might be inspired in their devotion to squelching the press by the Chinese communists. "I'm not sure I want to give government ideas on this particular point, but maybe our government could look to China, which has really raised this notion of, of censorship of their news media to almost a scientific level."
PBS’s left-wing program "Now" with David Brancaccio is interviewing another left-wing expert tonight to make a left-wing argument: that the national media is too soft on warmongers like George W. Bush. The guest is the dean of Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Orville Schell, a contributor to Mother Jones and The Nation, among other hard-left publications. From the PBS website preview on Schell:
"The press has been accused of being the lap dog in the run-up to the war ... we gave the government the benefit of the doubt, I think, to the detriment of the nation as it turned out," he says.
Schell, who is the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, describes the dilemma journalists face when reporting the news in wartime.
There’s absolutely no doubting where The New Yorker magazine has come down on the War on Terror – it’s been there from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib to insist the anti-terrorist side is full of human rights abusers. Former Time reporter Jon Lee Anderson is the latest New Yorker correspondent on the bandwagon, finding Israel has completely mucked up Lebanon and Hezbollah. PBS gave him a platform on the July 31 edition of "Charlie Rose."
MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro transcribed the exchange. Rose asked simply where "we are in this war," and Anderson was quick to whack Israel: "It’s a scene of devastation in a lot of the places and people coming out, old people, you know about Qana yesterday, the dead children. A fundamental error of the type that often happens in these air wars where inevitably, a refuge full of women and children gets killed and sort of wrong-foots the warring party, in this case Israel, with the preponderance of the military might."
All those millions the taxpayers have lavished on the Public Broadcasting System over the years haven't gone for naught. They've achieved at least one significant thing: given Bill Moyers a base from which to launch a presidential campaign. At least in the mind of Molly Ivins.
While Molly doesn't expect Moyers to win the election or even the nomination, she believes his candidacy would have a salutary effect on other Democratic contenders. Here's the essence of her thesis:
"Just get him into the debates. Think about the potential Democratic candidates. Every single one of them needs spine, needs political courage. What Moyers can do is not only show them what it looks like and indeed what it is, but also how people respond to it. I’m damned if I want to go through another presidential primary with everyone trying to figure out who has the best chance to win instead of who’s right. I want to vote for somebody who’s good and brave and who should win."
On Friday's edition of "Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason," the PBS omnipresence hosted a discussion more on Greek mythology than religion. The guest in his first half-hour was lesbian novelist Jeanette Winterson, who bitterly mocked her fundamentalist parents and suggested the Christian Bible showed a God and scriptures full of contradictions. Yawn. Standard "transgressive" PBS.
But it took a political turn about 20 minutes in, when Winterson elaborated on how Prometheus stealing fire from the gods for mankind led to suffering and punishment, his liver being ripped out daily by an eagle. To which Moyers responded: "Why do you think we're so fascinated with the stories of heroes and gods brought down by sex? I mean, do you think Bill Clinton wished he had known his mythology when he got into the White House?" It continued:
Just when you thought the arguments of the pro-illegal immigrant crowd couldn't get any more preposterous . . . Now, the United States is being condemned for deporting illegal aliens who are violent, hardened criminals - members of homicidal street gangs.
The Los Angeles Times saw fit to allot some of its precious op-ed space today to this column by Ricardo Pollack [pictured here] who, we are told, is a "documentary director and producer. His film, '18 with a Bullet,' airs tonight on KCET as part of PBS' 'Wide Angle' series." PBS, eh? Your tax dollars at work!
On Friday night’s edition of Inside Washington, a program which airs on the Washington DC area PBS station WETA, and re-airs on Sunday mornings on the DC ABC affiliate, WJLA, and consists of a round table of political pundits, one of the topics discussed was North Korea. As was widely discussed last week, North Korea test fired a long range missile that could potentially hit the United States called the Taepodong 2 missile. Panelist Mark Shields attempted to make a joke out of the name:
"Does anybody else think Taepodong sounds like a male enhancement device available on cable?"
However, the rest of his exchange with fellow panelist Charles Krauthammer was not so light hearted. Shields used the subject of North Korea to segue into an attack on the administration’s Iraq policy, suggesting that an attack on North Korea would have been a better strategic move than the war in Iraq. Charles Krauthammer disputed this, noting the differences between Iraq and North Korea.
David Brooks of the New York Times has been on quite an anti-liberal blogosphere roll of late. After eviscerating Markos Moulitsas Zuniga – the proprietor of the Daily Kos – in a June 25 op-ed entitled “Respect Must be Paid For,” Brooks again ripped into Kos on Friday night’s “The News Hour” on PBS (video link courtesy of Crooks and Liars). Brooks followed this up with another op-ed tangentially on this subject Sunday.
On Friday evening, the discussion between host Jim Lehrer, Mark Shields, and Brooks centered around Joe Lieberman’s problems in Connecticut. Lehrer asked Brooks how Lieberman is impacting the 2008 presidential campaign. Brooks responded (emphasis mine):
Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, was on the PBS "NewsHour" last night to discuss the fallout over the fact that on June 23, The New York Times among other papers, revealed classified anti terrorism programs. Mr. Keller attempted to downplay the revelation as not a big deal because:
"We weighed very heavily and looked in excruciating detail at claims that this was not something that terrorists knew, that this would somehow be useful to terrorists. And the fact is, you know, you can find more useful detail about what the Treasury is doing in the Treasury's own public briefings."
If there is more useful detail on the public record, then why didn’t the Times print that instead? How does the Times know that the terrorists were already aware of the SWIFT program they wrote about? Did they talk to any terrorists to find out? The fact is, as Bill Keller goes on to mention:
Monday night's hour of conversation between PBS anchor Jim Lehrer and long-time Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, titled "Free Speech," was a cozy liberal-media insider chat, but awfully dull -- dull enough to make you feel for journalism students that are going to be forced to watch it in class. Cozy snippet example number one is Lehrer asking Bradlee near the end: "One of the other cliches they say about folks like you and me, people who practice journalism is that, we pessimistic; that we're cynical. You don't buy that, do you?" Perish the thought.
Perhaps the frankest moment for Bradlee was admitting that the WashPost editors all bought the Janet Cooke eight-year-old-drug-addict story because she was black and went to neighborhoods they never visited:
Back from a break for heart surgery, PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose devoted his entire hour-long show Monday night to Al Gore, promoting his doom-documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Rose pressed Gore comfortably from the left: if the president has an "intellectually dishonest" position ignoring the facts, and why no one is having an "enlightened conversation" with President Bush on global warming. Once Rose shifted to Iraq, he laughed at Gore when they discussed whether Bush knew he would invade Iraq as he campaigned in 2000: "I don’t think Dick Cheney had told him yet that he was going to invade Iraq.” This, after Gore said he was trying to convey a "textured and subtle" foreign policy mindset.
A new documentary about Vice President Dick Cheney is set to air this evening on PBS. It’s called “The Dark Side,” and based upon a review published in today’s New York Daily News, it doesn’t appear to be very flattering.
First, the title comes “from a quote by Vice President Cheney in the wake of 9/11. Cheney said that the CIA, the Pentagon and other intelligence-gathering U.S. forces would have to ‘work from the dark side’ to glean information and combat and defeat terrorism.”
However, let’s be serious: what viewer isn’t going to assume that the title is a more direct reference to the movie “Star Wars,” and that Cheney is being depicted as Darth Vader? Forgive me, but as George Carlin said many years ago, you don’t have to be Fellini to figure that out.
The documentary then picks up some rather familiar liberal themes that we’ve all been hearing ad nauseum for years:
PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose returned to his set on Monday night after some weeks off for heart surgery. While he was out, PBS used a rotating set of liberal-media stars as hosts, including Barbara Walters, Brian Williams, and CNBC's Maria Bartiromo. Just last week, MRC intern Chadd Clark found some typical liberal thoughts coming from guest hosts.
On June 5, former CNN anchor Judy Woodruff interviewed Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and she echoed Charlie Gibson's lame idea that public opinion on so-called "gay marriage" is a 50-50 polling proposition:
The United States Senate today, spending the day debating an amendment to the US Constitution to ban gay marriage. President Bush lobbying hard for it. The polls show the American people almost split down the middle. You've written a letter urging members of the Senate to vote for the ban. Why?"
Not that there's been any doubt as to the politics of NPR and PBS - home to world-class Republican haters such as Bill Moyers. Still, it's instructive to see just who has launched a massive organizing effort to ensure continued taxpayer funding of the two organizations. Turns out . . . it's none other than the far-left MoveOn.org.
Here's a mass email sent out today by Move-on:
From: Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org Civic Action Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 12:27 PM To: Subject: Deadline tomorrow! Re: Save NPR and PBS (again)
Rick Klein at the Boston Globe reported Thursday that Republicans in the House are proposing a cut for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) again, which completely failed last spring:
On a party-line vote, the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health and education funding approved the cut to the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes money to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. It would reduce the corporation's budget by 23 percent next year, to $380 million, in a cut that Republicans said was necessary to rein in government spending...
A similar move last year by Republican leaders was turned back in a fierce lobbying campaign launched by Public Broadcasting Service stations and Democratic members of Congress, in a debate that was colored by some Republicans' frustration with what they see as a liberal slant in public programming.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg claimed that the United States was becoming East Germany on the program "Inside Washington" which airs on some PBS affiliates, and in the Washington D.C. market on News Channel 8 as well as the local ABC affiliate.
Host Gordon Peterson, opened a discussion segment regarding a report by ABC News Investigative reporter Brian Ross, who asserted that a federal law enforcement officer advised him and his producer to get new cell phones because the government was tracking the phone numbers dialed in an effort to root out confidential sources. Peterson wondered what effect this would have on reporters:
"He says the official told him ‘it's time for you to get some new cell phones quick.’ Reporters are going to start functioning like al Qaeda operatives? Go to a pay phone if the can find one?"
Thursday morning's Today contained a few pop-culture nuggets that revealed liberal media attitudes. As Kathryn Lopez noted on The Corner, in the 7:30 half hour, Katie Couric turned the "American Idol" chat into a peek at her feminist parenting habits (and once again, she plugged her love for Helen Reddy):
Couric: "Oh you're so hip. A lot of people expected Chris [Daughtry] to go all the way, but last night. He got sent packing although, you were so funny. I was playing Helen Reddy on my CD player yesterday."
Lauer: "I thought it was weird. I literally, I walked past her dressing room going out of here yesterday and Helen Reddy blaring on the, on the stereo. She's in the thing like this." [Snaps fingers]
Perhaps it should strike no one as big news that PBS and Democrats often go together like peanut butter and jelly. The Honolulu Star Bulletin reported today that the president and CEO of PBS-Hawaii, Mike McCartney, is running for chairman of the state's Democratic Party:
McCartney says he has taken a leave of absence from the statewide public television operation and will step down next month.
McCartney previously said he was considering either a campaign for governor or lieutenant governor this year, but withdrew in favor of working as a party leader.
"I believe in the party, and I want to get back into public service," McCartney said.