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.
One Koppel quote really summarizes for me the mentality of the liberal media in the Cold War years, how the Soviet Union was not an oppressor but an unmissable ally for geopolitical stability at the expense of liberty:
"We may well over the next 10 or 15 years come to view the Soviet Union as being the power, the only power, that has the capacity of keeping China out of Europe, the only power that has the capacity of keeping Moslem fundamentalism out of Europe, the only power, in fact, we may find ourselves looking back wistfully five or ten years from now at Eastern Europe and saying 'Boy, I remember when Eastern Europe used to be nice and quiet.' "
-- Ted Koppel on McLaughlin: One on One, June 3, 1990.