Times media reporter Jacques Steinberg watched the popular ABC morning chat fest "The View" and actuallyfound a liberal slant. Tuesday's Arts section lead, "'The View' Has Its Eye on Politics This Year," basically contradicts what the paper claimed on September 13, when it said the show was "generally friendly territory for politicians." In a reversal from usual media denials of liberal media bias, Steinberg actually noticed a pro-Obama slant on the part of the show's co-hosts.
Barbara Walters said she left the set of "The View" on Sept. 12 believing that she and her fellow panelists had conducted a fair on-the-couch interview with Senator John McCain, and later in the episode one with him and his wife, Cindy. That was the live conversation in which Whoopi Goldberg asked Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, if she should fear "being returned to slavery" if he won, and Joy Behar complained to him about the untruths she saw in his campaign advertisements.
But soon after it was broadcast, Ms. Walters recalled in an interview at her ABC office on a recent afternoon, she received an e-mail message from Rosie O'Donnell, a former "View" co-host whose on-air monologues were often far left of center.
"Now I know I'm in trouble," Ms. Walters said she thought. "I've got a lovely e-mail from Rosie complimenting me on the interview."
Before long Mrs. McCain could be heard telling a fund-raising event, in video obtained by ABC News, that Ms. Walters and her crew had "picked our bones clean."
As it turns out, the McCain interview - in which he received tougher treatment than either he or his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, had experienced in previous appearances on "The View" - was part of a conscious effort by Ms. Walters and her producers to insert their daytime talk show forcefully into the nation's political conversation this fall.
And yet, as might be the case on many night-time cable news shows, the women of "The View" prefaced their questions to Mr. McCain on Sept. 12 with what seemed to be thinly veiled references to how they were leaning in the election - with Ms. Behar and Ms. Goldberg expressing obvious disappointment with Mr. McCain, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck saying he could count on her vote.
Steinberg suggested that Walters was leaning toward Obama as well:
While Ms. Walters has been a tougher read, she pressed Mr. McCain in her first question about whether he actually believed Sarah Palin to be, as he has said, the "greatest" vice presidential nominee in the nation's history. She wondered aloud whether Ms. Palin could ever be compared to John Adams. (He responded that he should probably be more wary of "hyperbole.") Ms. Walters then asked about Ms. Palin's mandate to be a Washington reformer, asking, "Who is it that Governor Palin is going to reform? You? The Senate?"
By contrast, when Mr. Obama appeared on "The View" in March, when he was not yet the Democratic nominee, Ms. Walters greeted him by relating a backstage conversation with her co-hosts. "Maybe we shouldn't say this," Ms. Walters told Mr. Obama. "We thought you were very sexy."
Walters concluded with this dubious assertion:
"Because it's an election year," she said, "I have perhaps expressed my feelings in a stronger way than I did years ago. Still, I don't think anyone knows my political opinions."
The Media Research Center, which has tagged journalist Walters' liberal views for years, would strongly disagree. Here's what Walters said about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro on ABC in 2002:
For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth.