CBS Producer: 'Howling' About Media Bias Just A Fundraising Ploy

On the CBS News "Public Eye" site, CBS Evening News producer Ward Sloane was interviewed in the "Ten Plus One" feature. The Public Eye team asked ten questions, and then added one from an outsider, who asked about media watchdog groups: "There is always a lot of criticism, particularly in the realm of political reporting, about journalists being biased against liberals or conservatives. There are organizations that exist primarily to highlight instances of such bias. How do you think that climate affects political coverage, if at all?" Sloane said all the media-bias talk was just fundraising hucksterism: 

I do not believe that honest journalists worry about what such organizations say about their stories and pieces. Of course, political stories I’ve worked on have been picked up by both conservative and liberal organizations as being “unfair.” But for these folks, “unfair” is anything that doesn’t promote their agenda. And it is my belief, though I don’t have any evidence of this, that a lot of the howling about media bias is primarily a vehicle to raise money.

Do I think these organizations can be helpful? Not really; I think they just want to use journalists and their media outlets for their own purposes. People who read or subscribe to those organizations are going to think the media is biased anyway. Once in a blue moon, it may be that they do serve the purpose of poking a stick in my eye and asking, hey, did I slant that item?

Like that blue-moon time the CBS Evening News was selling fake documents about President Bush's National Guard service? Sloane says it's up to the media to try not to be used by one side or another. But we can take his cynical disdain for media watchdog groups and turn it right back on the media, like this: "For these folks at CBS, a lot of the howling about the problems in the world is just a way for a network news division to make money. Do I think CBS can be helpful? Not really. They just want to use their news reports for their own purposes...." How does Sloane think that sounds? A bit....harsh, perhaps?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis