History

By Brent Baker | November 25, 2010 | 2:34 PM EST

Thanksgiving afternoon at 3 PM EST, with another re-run overnight at 2 AM EST Thursday night/Friday morning, the Fox News Channel is re-running the first three hours of the six-part Fox News Reporting: The Right, All Along: The Rise, Fall & Future of Conservatism, the documentary series hosted by Brit Hume.

> At 3 PM EST/12 noon PST (and 2 AM EST/11 PM PST): “Right from the Start”

> At 4 PM EST/1 PM PST (and 3 AM EST/12 AM PST): “A Time for Choosing”

> At 5 PM EST/2 PM PST (and 4 AM EST/1 AM PST): “Path to Power”

Part 4, “Reagan’s Resolve,” will debut this coming Sunday at 9 PM EST/6 PM PST. A preview and more about the series.

By Rich Noyes | November 22, 2010 | 1:08 PM EST

While the broadcast networks have generally empathized with the distress of airline passengers over the TSA’s new and intrusive airport searches, they have not — thus far, at least — gone so far as to impugn the Obama administration as launching a war against Americans’ civil liberties.

Indeed, NBC’s Matt Lauer on Monday even sympathized with TSA Administrator John Pistole: “I hate to even think of what happens if the government caves in on this, and relaxes these procedures, and someone manages to get something on board a plane and causes harm. Imagine the questions you'll be asked at that point.”

But that’s not the approach those networks took when it was the Bush administration taking steps to protect citizens against potential attack. Instead, as a 2006 analysis by the Media Research Center documented, the networks firmly aligned themselves with those who saw the Patriot Act and the electronic surveillance of international phone calls as a dire threat to civil liberties.

By Kyle Drennen | November 17, 2010 | 4:30 PM EST

In the November 22 issue of Newsweek magazine, Daniel Stone defended the Obama administration by blaming the institution of the presidency for failures rather than the chief executive himself: "The issue is not Obama, it’s the office....Can any single person fully meet the demands of the 21st-century presidency?" The same argument was used to excuse an overwhelmed Jimmy Carter 30 years earlier.

The sub-headline for the piece read: "The presidency has grown, and grown and grown, into the most powerful, most impossible job in the world." At one point, Stone explained: "Among a handful of presidential historians Newsweek contacted for this story, there was a general consensus that the modern presidency may have become too bloated." A January 13, 1980 Washington Post article made a similar conclusion about the beleaguered Carter administration: "Voters have lowered their expectations of what any president can accomplish; they have accepted the notion that this country may never again have heroic, larger-than-life leadership in the White House."

By Brent Baker | November 17, 2010 | 12:19 PM EST

Seeming to resurrect a favorite paranoid conspiracy of the 1980s, Shawn Carter, who goes by the stage name “Jay-Z” and is out with an autobiography, Decoded, about the origins of rap music, suggested on Tuesday's Late Show that “Reaganomics” and “Iran-Contra” put crack into urban neighborhoods.

By Rich Noyes | November 2, 2010 | 3:09 PM EDT

The actual voting results are just part of what makes for an Election Night in today’s mass media world. Perhaps as important — in some years, more important — are journalists’ first stab at interpreting the results, telling audiences what they voted for (and against).

If history is a reliable guide, listen for: smug journalists slamming “angry” or stupid voters; claims that there’s no mandate for conservative policies; slams that the Republican winners are “extremist” or “radical;” and arguments that the Democrats failed to follow through on their liberal agenda. Oh, and don’t forget the racism.

By Rich Noyes | November 2, 2010 | 11:11 AM EDT

Sixteen years ago, the Republicans picked up 54 seats in the House of Representatives, taking control of that chamber for the first time since the 1950s. So how good were the media’s predictions back then? Trolling through the MRC’s archives, I came across these quotes from coverage just before the 1994 vote:

By Tim Graham | October 22, 2010 | 6:37 PM EDT

The Washington Post is apparently an easy mark for someone selling 19-year-old sex allegations – or in this case pornography allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In 1991, during the Hill-Thomas hearings, Lillian McEwen kept quiet. But now, she has a memoir she's "shopping to publishers." The Post splashed her face across the front of Friday's Style section. The headline was “I have nothing to be afraid of,” leaving out “and a book deal to gain.” The subhead was “Nineteen years after his turbulent confirmation, Lillian McEwen opens up with telling details about her intimate relationship with Clarence Thomas.” But are the “telling details” true or false?

Reporter Michael Fletcher (co-author of a critical biography of Justice Thomas) downplays that McEwen was a Democrat and lawyer for Senator Joe Biden on the Judiciary Committee. In their 1994 anti-Thomas book Strange Justice, reporters Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer quote Sukari Hardnett (another Thomas accuser) claiming Thomas discussed his personal life with her, complaining that McEwen viewed him as “a puppet of the Republicans.” 

By Matt Hadro | October 1, 2010 | 3:39 PM EDT
Meghan McCain apparently thinks there will be a "bloodletting" in the GOP in the next election, because the party has no room for controversial socially liberal figures like her.

Appearing on CNN's "American Morning" Thursday, McCain criticized the current state of the Republican Party, which she believes is too conservative and narrow-minded to include more moderate and independent thinkers like herself. This focus, McCain warned, will cut down on the number of party voters.

When the subject of "RINOs" (Republican-In-Name-Only) surfaced, McCain asserted that conservative icons Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan "would both be called that today." In addition, McCain had dark predictions for the GOP in the "next election," predicting a party purge of sorts. "I'm scared of a bloodletting in the next election," McCain worried.

CNN co-anchor Kiran Chetry did not challenge McCain's questionable claims, but rather set up the podium for her to criticize the Republican Party. "Are you afraid that the party is changing or going in a direction that's going to leave it in the dust when it comes to attracting young people?" Chetry asked.
By Matt Hadro | September 23, 2010 | 4:19 PM EDT
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough – who when a Republican congressman voted to impeach President Clinton – seems to believe that a former President should be able to legally  run for office again after taking "a term or two off." His comments followed a gushing slew of praise for former President Bill Clinton, and he noted that many viewers "are just sitting there thinking 'Why can't [Clinton] run for President in a couple of years?'"

"It seems so short-sighted, just because the Republicans were upset that FDR was President for four terms," Scarborough complained of the 22nd Amendment, ratified during Truman's second term but passed out of Congress four years earlier in March 1947. Republicans did control both houses of Congress then, but the amendment would have excluded then-President Harry Truman and was supported by some Democrats.

Co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski conducted a glowing  interview of the former president at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
By Matt Hadro | September 22, 2010 | 4:24 PM EDT
In a zinger that roused the indignation of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson cast Christine O'Donnell as Sarah Palin's protege – but "with not a fully-functioning human brain." But in 1992, Carlson gushed over the primary victories of current Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein. Does she hold a double-standard?

Co-host Mika Brzezinski was taken aback when the panel had to discuss Carlson's piece for The Daily Beast, "Watch Your Back, Sarah." She silently mouthed the word "bitchy" to Carlson to describe the article, adding that it was "searing."

Carlson's piece focuses on the emergence of the Republican Delaware Senate nominee as the next Sarah Palin protege, predicting a political catfight of sorts between the two female GOP stars. Carlson labeled O'Donnell an "obvious knockoff" of Palin, "hawking her wares on the shores of the Delaware."

Appearing on "Morning Joe" Wednesday, Carlson sneered that O'Donnell lacks a "fully-functioning human brain."

Of course, there was a time when she smiled upon the emergence of female Senate candidates.
By Brent Baker | September 19, 2010 | 10:42 PM EDT
CBS broke into summer re-runs of 60 Minutes to let Lesley Stahl promote Jimmy Carter’s new book, White House Diary, which he maintained delivers “absolute unadulterated frankness” and which she described as an “often harsh critique” of his presidential term. She, however, was far from harsh toward him.

Noting an “image of ‘a failed President’ haunts the Carters,” Stahl trumpeted: “Carter argues that despite the image of failure, he actually had a long list of successes, starting with bringing all the hostages home alive,” as if that wasn’t because of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. Stahl proceeded to tout as a success his installation of “solar panels on the roof of the White House.”

Absolving Carter of responsibility, Stahl contended he “was cursed by a dismal economy, poor relations with Congress, and a nightmarish standoff over 52 Americans held hostage by Iran.” Yet, “when all is said and done, and many will be surprised to hear this,” Stahl insisted, “Jimmy Carter got more of his programs passed than Reagan and Nixon, Ford, Bush 1, Clinton or Bush 2.” She empathized with his treatment from an unappreciative public: “And yet, as I say, there's the sense that you were a failed President.”
By Matt Hadro | September 14, 2010 | 5:47 PM EDT
Appearing on MSNBC to present his magazine's feature piece critical of the "Baby Boomer" generation, James Bennet of The Atlantic named George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Bill Clinton as the three worst "baby boomers" who did the most harm to the country's political culture and its economy.

"It'd be hard not to point to George W. Bush as having done a lot of damage," Bennet asserted.  Bush, he added, "created a lot of programs that costed us a huge amount of money, without a lot of regard for what the effects are going to be on the folks that are going to have to pay for those for many years."

Bennet also blamed President Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for failed policies. However, Bennet was quick to reference the "surpluses as far as the eye could see" at the end of the Clinton administration, as a counterweight to Clinton's damage while in office. He bafflingly lauded President George H.W. Bush's tax hike as "politically brave" and which helped create the prosperity of the Clinton years.