The Washington Post’s TV Week (your weekly TV listings) promoted the liberal CBS 60 Minutes team on its cover on Sunday with a team photo and the headline "Like Clockwork: Time-Honored 60 Minutes Enjoys Ratings Boost." Freelancer Marc D. Allan finds Indiana University professor Julia Fox to explain that the show’s improved ratings:
"Everyone jokes about how old the personalities are on 60 Minutes," she said, "but the fact is, they've been in the business for many, many years, and they're very credible."
There’s no mention in the article that the credibility of 60 Minutes took an enormous hit from Dan Rather and Mary Mapes using phony documents to try and torpedo George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. There’s only room for congratulations:
Longtime correspondent Lesley Stahl accepts the compliment about credibility and suggests a couple of other reasons for the resurgent ratings: the public's appetite for news and explanatory journalism, and the timeliness of the show's stories this season, including the first major interview with President-elect Barack Obama.
The ratings are up again, but Allan also avoids the idea that while 60 Minutes drops bombs on Republicans from Bush to Tom DeLay, their interviews with liberal Democrats like Obama and Barney Frank have been gooey tributes, which certainly suggests a strong bias of the Rather-Mapes flavor lives on. One reason why the article goes so easy on CBS comes midway through the article:
CBS News President Sean McManus said more viewers are tuning in because "60 Minutes" is doing "important stories."
"It's not doing pregnant men and it's not doing prostitutes," he said. "It's doing really good reporting. The broadcast is as strong in terms of quality and ratings as it's been in a decade or so." (The Washington Post and "60 Minutes" have collaborated on several stories, the most recent being an investigation of Internet gambling fraud.)
So The Washington Post wants its readers to know that 60 Minutes is on a roll of serious journalism, thanks in part to....The Washington Post.
The Post isn’t afraid to use its own TV guide for a little collegial journalistic back-scratching.