What’s the difference between a political scandal involving a Republican and one involving a Democrat? When it comes to news coverage, reporters almost always identify the political party of a Republican caught in a scandal, but when the culprit is a Democrat, the party label is usually left out of the story.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but not many. To prove the point, here’s how ABC, CBS and NBC have identified (or failed to identify) the figures in 16 political scandals — 8 Democrats, 8 Republicans — as documented by NewsBusters during the past few years:
Sean Hannity interviewed MRC president Brent Bozell on his Fox News show on Wednesday night. The topic? MRC research on the revolving door between the “objective” media and the Obama administration, which now has a list of 30 people.
“This is out of control,” said Bozell. “We've been looking at this since 1987. And that revolving door is always there. It's always predominantly liberal Democrats going into politics or going from politics into journalism. But in the last several years it's on steroids.” Start with the 1 pm and 2 pm hosts on MSNBC (video, transcript below):
As promised, following its launch last week, the Media Research Center’s new Hispanic media arm, MRC Latino, is conducting ongoing analysis of the news coverage on the country’s top Spanish-language television networks. In this space, as well as bilingually on the Facebook page and Twitter account of MRC Latino, we’ll be calling out instances of slanted, incomplete or inaccurate news coverage on these networks as we see it, as well as pointing out especially well-done news stories, whenever merited.
Along those lines, it’s worth noting that in the days since MRC Latino’s launch, there have been some indications of an uptick in participation by conservative leaders being quoted or cited in major Spanish-language media news stories, including those covered by the flagship national evening news programs of Univision and Telemundo (the subjects of MRC Latino’s initial study).
For millions of Americans, big political contests such as presidential elections and pivotal congressional hearings are still largely witnessed through the lens of ABC’s, CBS’s and NBC’s evening newscasts. According to Nielsen Research, more than 20 million viewers tuned in over the past twoweeks for the Big Three’s take on the shutdown drama.
What those viewers heard, according to a just-completed Media Research Center study, was a version of the shutdown story that could easily have emanated from Barack Obama’s own White House. The broadcast networks invariably blamed Republicans for the impasse; spotlighted dozens of examples of how Americans were being victimized; and ran scores of soundbites from furloughed federal workers and others harmed by the shutdown — even as they ignored examples of how the Obama administration and Senate Democrats were working to make the shutdown as painful as possible.
On Monday morning, Time/MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin explained an obvious political reality to his fellow Morning Joe panelists: “The White House does not have much incentive” to negotiate on the government shutdown, because Democrats expect the liberal news media to hand them a public relations victory. As Halperin put it: “The press is largely sympathetic to their arguments that it’s the House Republicans’ fault.”
In fact, as a new Media Research Center analysis of broadcast network evening news coverage shows, ABC, CBS and NBC spent the two weeks prior to the shutdown almost universally pinning the blame on congressional Republicans, especially conservative/Tea Party House Republicans. By the time the shutdown actually took place on October 1, news audiences had been repeatedly instructed to think about it as a GOP-generated crisis.
Last year, the national media spent the campaign highlighting (or inventing) problems for the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, while downplaying or ignoring the shortcomings in Barack Obama’s record as President. Next year, we’ll find out if the media will be more successful than they were in 2010, when they attempted to marginalize and discredit conservative Tea Party candidates in a campaign that turned out to be a crushing defeat for liberals.
This year, however, there’s really only one major political race on the political radar: the Virginia governor’s race between former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe (a longtime associate of Bill and Hillary Clinton) and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, currently the state’s attorney general. And a new MRC study of major newspapers in the state finds the GOP candidate is receiving far more negative coverage than his Democratic counterpart — just four positive stories vs. 95 negative ones, a whopping 24-to-1 margin.
When CBS’s longtime Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer sits down in Boca Raton, Florida, tonight to moderate the final 2012 presidential debate, he’ll be following three journalists who became targets for criticism over how they handled their moderating duties.
Upset liberals scorned PBS’s Jim Lehrer for taking a hands-off approach in the first debate on October 3, with MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman slamming him as “practically useless” for not jumping into the debate on behalf of President Obama.
Tonight’s town hall-style presidential debate will ostensibly feature questions from undecided voters, but the evening’s agenda will really be decided by the moderator, as CNN’s Candy Crowley will select which of the more than roughly 80 voters in the room will actually get a chance to talk to the candidates.
Reviewing the five previous town hall debates, the journalist-moderators have tended to skew the agenda of these so-called citizen forums to the liberal side of the spectrum, but not always. Overall, questions have been twice as likely to favor liberal causes versus conservative ones.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule any day now on the constitutionality of ObamaCare, the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s presidency thus far. How the media cover such a decision remains to be seen, but between 2004 and 2008 the Court issued multiple rulings tossing out key elements of George W. Bush’s war on terrorism, the policy centerpiece of that administration.
The MRC studied how the broadcast networks covered those decisions overruling Bush’s policy on detaining terror suspects, looking at the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news coverage from the day each ruling was handed down — June 28, 2004, June 29, 2006 and June 12, 2008. On those nights, the networks aired a total of 15 stories about the Supreme Court rulings, totaling nearly 35 minutes of airtime. The results provide a template for how the networks might cover a decision voiding some or all of President Obama’s health care law — assuming network journalists approach their job without regard to partisanship, that is.
Even in this campaign, reporters have sneered that conservatives like Rick Santorum are seeking a theocracy like Iran or a Christian version of Sharia law. We've gone all the way back to the MRC's founding in 1987 to remember this bias over the years.
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien returned to the anchor desk Monday morning as the network reworked its morning anchor line-up for the second year in a row. In 2007, O'Brien was removed as the co-host of CNN’s ratings-challenged American Morning in an effort to jump-start the flagging program. Now she returns to host Starting Point, the second half of CNN’s morning coverage that airs from 7-9 a.m EST.
During her stint as American Morning co-host and as a CNN correspondent, O'Brien repeatedly exhibited a liberal bias -- particularly through her coverage of gay rights issues, her flattering treatment of President Obama, and her promotion of Democratic talking points in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Some of her most outrageous moments on-air are documented below.
With the 2012 elections less than a year away, the liberal media are attacking President Obama's potential opponents on a number of fronts, but especially on religion. ABC, CBS and NBC have used religion in two ways, either painting the field of GOP primary challengers as a God Squad of religious zealots or playing up differences in their faith. Whether they're letting viewers know that "Rick Perry's gonna have to answer some questions about the people" he prays with, fretting that God "told Michele Bachmann," to enter politics, or devoting no less than 40 segments to the question of whether Mormonism is "a cult" or if "Mitt Romney is a Christian," the networks have repeatedly used faith against the GOP field.
Media preoccupation with the GOP candidates' faith is the exact opposite of how they covered (or didn't) candidate Obama's 20-year attendance at the church of a racist, anti-American pastor who subscribed to "black liberation theology," or Obama's half-Muslim heritage. The MRC's Culture and Media Institute studied network news reporting on the GOP candidates and religion from Jan. 1-Oct. 31, 2011, and compared it to coverage of the Democratic presidential primary candidates over the same period in 2007. The discrepancy, in both the amount and tone of the coverage, was striking. Network reporters, so disinterested in the beliefs of Obama and his rivals for the 2008 nomination, took every opportunity to inject religion into their coverage of the GOP field. (CMI's key findings after the jump)
For most Americans, the 2012 presidential campaign will be experienced on television, and voters will evaluate the candidates based on their performances at televised debates, daily news coverage, and in long-form interviews. Even with all of the changes in the media landscape over past several years, the most-watched regular forums for candidate interviews are the broadcast network morning news programs — NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS’s The Early Show, with a combined weekday audience of more than 13 million as of the second quarter of 2011.
On the August 19 "Fox & Friends" panel segment, co-host Gretchen Carlson highlighted the Media Research Center's (MRC) "revealing" labeling study comparing broadcast network coverage of the 2007 Democratic primary to the 2011 Republican primary.
Published by MRC Research Director Rich Noyes on Tuesday, the study reviewed the ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs from January 1 through July 31, 2011 and found 62 "conservative" tags for Republican candidates, compared to only three "liberal" labels for Democratic candidates running during the same time period in 2007.
"That's a 20-to-1 margin, if you're doing the math with us this morning," remarked Carlson.
George Soros is arguably the most influential liberal financier in the United States, donating more than $8 billion just to his Open Society Foundations. In 2004, he spent more than $27 million to defeat President George W. Bush and has given away millions more since to promote the left-wing agenda. But what goes almost without notice is Soros' extensive influence on and involvement with the media.
Since 2003, Soros has donated more than $52 million to all kinds of media outlets - liberal news organizations, investigative reporting and even smaller blogs. He has also been involved in funding the infrastructure of supposedly "neutral" news, from education to even the industry ombudsman association. Many other operations Soros supports also have a media component to what they do.
As much as liberals might complain the Anthony Weiner scandal was some sort of feeding frenzy, the networks did not attack it, especially the evening news. They seemed to agree with just-departed CBS anchor Katie Couric, who asked on Twitter: “I’m curious if anybody thinks this Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal is a legit news story or just fodder for late-night comedians.”
That’s not the way the networks acted in the fall of 2006, when the MRC demonstrated a real feeding frenzy in the case of Republican Rep. Mark Foley, who quickly resigned after ABC’s Brian Ross reported he’d sent lewd AOL instant messages to former congressional pages. In the first 12 days of that story, the networks “flooded the zone” with 152 stories (55 evening stories and 97 morning stories or segments).
By contrast, Democrat Weiner’s weeks of trying to avoid resignation didn’t draw a similar flood. In the first 12 days of the Weiner scandal (from May 29 through June 9), the networks filed only 56 stories (just 11 in the evening, 45 in the morning).
While most Americans appreciated Ronald Reagan’s love of country and common sense conservatism, the media elite scorned him as either a showman fooling his audience, or a dunce who was unfit for high office. As the media told the story, Reagan was an airhead living in a fantasy world, a mesmerizing Music Man fooling the public with a phony bill of goods, a man who was cruel or uncaring to poor people and a puppet for the greedy rich. Reporters often agonized over why the American public liked Reagan and could not see through the White House spell and share the media’s contemptuous view of him.
CNN has launched a new advertising campaign, claiming to be the only cable network without an ideological ax to grind. “If you want to keep them all honest, without playing favorites, the choice is clear: CNN, the worldwide leader in news,” the on-screen message argues.
So, did CNN “play favorites” during the midterm campaign? MRC analysts reviewed all of the guests and commentators on CNN’s primetime weekday programs from October 4 through October 29, the last four full weeks before the November 2 elections. Guests were grouped into three categories: “Democrat/liberal,” “Republican/conservative,” and “Other.” The latter category included all non-political guests, as well as guests who were not associated with a clear political point of view.
On Monday’s O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly and former CBS News correspondent Bernie Goldberg talked about MRC’s study of the broadcast networks’ Campaign 2010 coverage, which has only talked about conservatives and Tea Party Republicans as “extremist” or “fringe,” not liberals or congressional Democrats.
Goldberg argued that the problem is that “too many liberal journalists they don’t think there’s any such thing as an extremist on the left. Barney Frank isn’t an extremist on the left. Dennis Kucinich isn’t extreme. Alan Grayson, the most embarrassing member of Congress, who thinks that Republicans want you to die quickly, isn’t extreme. But, a conservative politician, especially if he or she is a member of the Tea Party is extreme.” (Video after the jump)
The Democrats’ strategy to salvage the 2010 campaign was to distract voters from their record over the past two years and paint their opponents as wacky extremists. Win or lose, the Democrats got a lot of help from their friends in the supposedly objective “news” media. MRC analysts reviewed the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through October 25. Key findings:
■ Only conservative/Tea Party candidates cast as “extreme.” Congressional Democrats and President Obama are facing voters’ wrath because of their extreme agenda over the past two years: government-run health care; massive unsupportable spending; a proposed “cap-and-trade” tax on energy, higher income taxes, etc. But MRC analysts found 35 evening news stories which conveyed the Democratic spin point that conservative and Tea Party candidates are “extreme,” “fringe,” or “out of the mainstream,” vs. ZERO stories conveying the charge that left-wing Democrats are “out of the mainstream.”
After some discussion of a Gallup poll showing Americans have little trust in the mainstream media, host Uma Pemmaraju shifted the discussion to the new Supreme Court study from Times Watch. (Watch the video here.)
Fox News Host Uma Pemmaraju: "But there's another poll, out right now that looks at media behavior as well and specifically how the media handles the Supreme Court nominees, how are those related?"
On August 1, former CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour will become the permanent host of ABC's This Week, replacing Jake Tapper. In preparation, the MRC has compiled the top ten examples of the journalist's over-the-top liberal bias.
Despite asserting in 2009 that "nobody knows my biases," Amanpour has gushed over many left-wing politicians, including Hillary Clinton: "...A lot of the women that I meet from traveling overseas are very impressed by you and admire your dignity." She also justified Barack Obama's Nobel Prize win, lauding, "He's obviously done something very significant" since the U.S. now has a "new relationship with the rest of the world."
Here are some of the highlights of what the MRC has uncovered. For the full top ten list, including video and MP3 audio clips, visit MRC.org's Profile in Bias.
The TV networks have aggressively demonstrated their dislike of Arizona’s state law “cracking down on illegal immigrants,” a law that “pits neighbor against neighbor.” An MRC review of morning and evening news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC from April 23 to July 25 found the networks have aired 120 stories with an almost ten-to-one tilt against the Arizona law (77 negative, 35 neutral, 8 positive).
The soundbite count was also tilted over the last three months -- 216 to 107, or an almost exact two-to-one disparity. Network anchors and reporters sided against defenders of border control and championed sympathetic illegal aliens and their (usually American-born) children. In 120 stories, they never described “immigrants rights activists” as liberals or on the left.
Between them, the three networks described the Arizona law as “controversial” on 27 occasions, despite its popularity in opinion polls. The Obama administration’s decision to sue file a lawsuit against Arizona to crush the law was never described as “controversial.”
When President Obama picked Elena Kagan to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the broadcast networks referred to the upcoming Senate confirmation process as “contentious” a “meat grinder” and a “battle,” warning Kagan was “in for a fight.”
But a Media Research Center analysis of the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in the six weeks since Kagan was nominated shows the broadcast networks have failed to cover the “fight,” and have ignored most of the controversies that could lead to suspenseful hearings next week.
MRC analysts found that the broadcast network evening newscasts aired just eleven stories about Kagan since her May 10 nomination (six on CBS, three on ABC and two on NBC), plus another three brief items read by the anchor. All but one of those stories appeared during the first week after Kagan’s selection; only the CBS Evening News, in a June 3 report, has bothered to cover any of the thousands of pages of Kagan documents released in recent weeks.
For more than a month, the American Gulf Coast has been threatened by a gigantic oil spill, caused by the April 21 explosion of a British Petroleum deepwater rig. Yet unlike five years ago — when the media were quick to put the onus on the Bush administration for its handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — for four weeks, ABC, CBS and NBC failed to scrutinize the administration’s ineffectual response to this disaster, now blasted even by such Democratic stalwarts as ex-Clinton operative James Carville.
On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, Carville accused the President of “political stupidity” for not making the oil spill a top priority. “It just looks like he’s not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We’re about to die down here!” Carville specifically faulted Obama for not deploying sufficient federal resources to protect the valuable marshes in southern Louisiana.
Last night on his program, Bill O'Reilly talked with Fox News contributor and friend of the Media Research Center Bernard Goldberg about the findings of an MRC study on the media's coverage of the new Arizona anti-illegal immigration law.
Goldberg noted that he had a minor quibble with our study, arguing that stories focused on rallies against the law were bound to be skewed in their soundbites against the law, by virtue of the crowd at the venue being overwhelmingly opposed. Of course, Goldberg conceded, it should be incumbent on the media to balance coverage of those rallies with interviews with people who support the law.
For the record, our MRC Reality Check study noted about that soundbite count that it:
"As the MRC calculated, the coverage was 12-to-1 against the Arizona law," Pinkerton noted as he asked liberal contributor Ellis Henican if that disparity in the media's coverage of the issue bothered him.
When Henican brushed off the MRC study, Pinkerton also brought up how MSNBCer Tamron Hall posited that an Arizona sheriff's deputy may have "staged" a shooting to gain political support for the new Arizona law.
When political scientists compare populism and elitism, they could certainly find a test case in the new Arizona law on immigration enforcement. While Rasmussen found 70 percent of Arizonans favored the crackdown on illegal aliens, and new national media polls found majority support as well, ABC, CBS, and NBC denounced the popular will as short-sighted and discriminatory.
From April 23 to May 3, the top three television networks offered viewers 50 stories and interview segments on their morning and evening news programs. The tone was strongly hostile to the law and promotional to the "growing storm" of left-wing protesters: 37 stories (or 74 percent) were negative, 10 were neutral, and only three were positive toward the Arizona law's passage -- 12 negative stories for every one that leaned positive.Stories were much kinder and sympathetic to illegal aliens than they were to police officers. Cops were potential abusers of power. Entering the country illegally was not an abuse of power. It was portrayed as an honorable step by the powerless.
The soundbite count was also slanted, with 92 quotes against the law and only 52 in favor. The pro-law numbers, however, included many soundbites of Arizona public officials defending themselves against liberal charges that they were racists or in favor of racial profiling.
On Saturday's Fox News Watch, while discussing media coverage of environmental issues on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, host Jon Scott cited a special report from the Media Research Center's Business and Media Institute: "The Media Research Center posted a special report this week claiming networks generally hide the decline in credibility of claims of climate change."
Scott went on to add that: "48% of Americans, according to a March 2010 Gallup poll, think the threat of global warming is greatly exaggerated." Show panelist and Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers admitted: "It probably is exaggerated by some people....I know some very smart environmentalists who think that Al Gore has exaggerated it too much and has made it to a point where it's losing credibility." However, she quickly added: "it's still a very serious threat and so, just because it's exaggerated, doesn't mean it's not a serious threat."
Earlier in the discussion, Powers argued that environmentalists warning of global warming is similar to calls to stop using toxic lead paint: "people who believe in global warming, like myself, you know, are called 'doom and gloom people.' Well, guess what they used to be called when they were talking about lead paint and they were talking about the water being polluted, 'doom and gloom people.'"