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Media Credibility Plummets, Just 30% Believe 'Most Trusted' CNN --8/19/2008


1. Media Credibility Plummets, Just 30% Believe 'Most Trusted' CNN
"Over the last 10 years," the just-released biennial news consumption survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press determined, "virtually every news organization or program has seen its credibility marks decline" and "Democrats continue to give most news organizations much higher credibility ratings than do Republicans." Based on past Pew polls, CNN touts itself as "the most trusted name in news," but the percent who "believe all or most" of what CNN reports has fallen 12 points, to 30 percent, since Pew first posed the question in 1998. Yet, in a sign of how far the news media have fallen in the eyes of the public, that puts CNN at the top of the 12 television news outlets analyzed, as well as above all the newspapers and online sources. Believability for ABC News, CBS News and NBC News is down six points over the past ten years, to 24 percent for ABC and NBC, 22 percent for CBS, but that's still better than the mere 18 percent who "believe all or most" of what they read in the New York Times. The extensive polling conducted in May also discovered that the audiences for CNN and MSNBC "which were heavily Democratic two years ago, have become even more so: fully 51 percent of CNN's regular viewers are Democrats while only 18 percent are Republicans." And "the regular audience for nightly network news also is now about two-to-one Democratic (45 percent vs. 22 percent Republican)."

2. NYT Implausibly Says Stewart Has 'Deep Mistrust of All Ideology'
The New York Times' liberal book critic Michiko Kakutani profiled Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, and managed not to notice he's a liberal (as are the vast majority of his fans). A picture of Stewart on the set took up the entire above-the-fold space of the Sunday Arts & Leisure section, under the headline: "Is This the Most Trusted Man in America?" She insisted: "For all its eviscerations of the administration, The Daily Show is animated not by partisanship but by a deep mistrust of all ideology." What show has she been watching?

3. Pressed by CNN, Warren Contends Obama Had a Competitive Edge
On Sunday night's Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez pressed megachurch leader Rick Warren about Obama campaign charges that John McCain was cheating by not being in a "cone of silence" during Obama's interview. "Last night, I heard you say that McCain would be in a cone of silence, and then half-hour into the event, I hear our guys here at our political desk announced that McCain has just arrived at the worship center. And I'm thinking, you know -- hey, if he just arrived at the worship center, he couldn't have been in the cone of silence, right?" Warren acknowledged that McCain had not arrived when the Obama interview began. But later, Warren added that he given Obama advance notice of one of the questions, a question that the pastor didn't get a chance to tell McCain about beforehand. After Warren give his initial answer about McCain being in a "Secret Service motorcade," Sanchez pushed two follow-up questions on the matter. In the first, he asked, "Did you think at the time -- when you said that, did you think he was in the cone of silence -- did you think he was in the building?" Warren admitted in his answer that he had given Obama a bit of an edge with regards to one question on large-scale government aid to orphans.

4. NBC's Todd Apologizes for Saying Evangelical 'Hatred' for Dems
On a special Saturday edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while previewing that night's presidential candidates forum hosted by evangelical leader Rick Warren, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd seemed to suggest that it is not out of the ordinary for evangelical Christians to feel "personal hatred" toward a Democratic presidential candidate: "It's a huge opportunity for Obama tonight to at least not be hated by the evange-, look, these folks are not going to ever support him. They know what kind of judges he's going to appoint. It's going to be judges that evangelicals aren't going to be happy with. But they're not going to, if they don't have a personal hatred of him, then that's a good thing for Obama." Todd read the NewsBusters posting of his quote and apologized via e-mail for the bad choice of words: "Clearly, I should not have used that word, but I was using it in terms of political hate, which I view as differently. But it clearly came across the wrong way. Message received."


Media Credibility Plummets, Just 30%
Believe 'Most Trusted' CNN

"Over the last 10 years," the just-released biennial news consumption survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press determined, "virtually every news organization or program has seen its credibility marks decline" and "Democrats continue to give most news organizations much higher credibility ratings than do Republicans."

Based on past Pew polls, CNN touts itself as "the most trusted name in news," but the percent who "believe all or most" of what CNN reports has fallen 12 points, to 30 percent, since Pew first posed the question in 1998. Yet, in a sign of how far the news media have fallen in the eyes of the public, that puts CNN at the top of the 12 television news outlets analyzed, as well as above all the newspapers and online sources. Believability for ABC News, CBS News and NBC News is down six points over the past ten years, to 24 percent for ABC and NBC, 22 percent for CBS, but that's still better than the mere 18 percent who "believe all or most" of what they read in the New York Times.

The extensive polling conducted in May also discovered that the audiences for CNN and MSNBC, "which were heavily Democratic two years ago, have become even more so: fully 51 percent of CNN's regular viewers are Democrats while only 18 percent are Republicans. MSNBC's audience makeup is similar -- 45 percent of regular viewers of MSNBC are Democrats, 18 percent are Republicans" and "the regular audience for nightly network news also is now about two-to-one Democratic (45 percent vs. 22 percent Republican)."

Fox News Channel attracts a more balanced audience: "Currently, 39 percent of regular Fox News viewers are Republicans while 33 percent are Democrats; in 2006, the margin was 38 percent to 31 percent."

("Regular viewers of The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," not surprisingly, "are much more liberal than the public at large. More than a third of Colbert's regular viewers (36%) describe their political views as liberal and 45% of regular Daily Show viewers say they are liberal.")

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The "Watching, Reading and Listening to the News" section with the numbers on who watches what by party: people-press.org

The Pew numbers, in the massive report titles "Key News Audiences Now Blend Online and Traditional Sources: Audience Segments in a Changing News Environment," were released on Sunday, August 17: people-press.org

Methodology:

Results for this survey are based on telephone interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International among a nationwide sample of 3,615 adults, 18 years of age or older from April 30 to June 1, 2008 (2,802 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 813 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 269 who had no landline telephone)....Results for May 2008 Political/Believability Survey reported in Section 7 are based on telephone interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International among a nationwide sample of 1,505 adults, 18 years of age or older, from May 21-25, 2008.

The 130-page PDF of the full report: people-press.org

Traditional news outlets fared much better, however, that online ones:

Online news outlets are viewed with more skepticism than their print, broadcast and cable counterparts. Of seven organizations evaluated, none is viewed as highly credible by even a quarter of online users able to rate them.

Only Google News and Yahoo News -- which derive much of their content from traditional news organizations -- receive positive marks for credibility by most users who could rate them. Six-in-ten give Google News a rating of three or four, but just 13% give Google News the highest rating for credibility. Nearly as many give Yahoo News a rating of three (46%) or four (11%). AOL News gets a rating of three or four from fewer than half of internet users who could rate it (46%).

Online magazines Slate and Salon do not fare as well. Among those who could rate them, just 31% give Slate a three or four credibility rating, while 28% offer such similar ratings for Salon. These ratings are based on a relatively small group able to rate these outlets: 70% of internet users could not rate Salon, and 67% could not evaluate Slate.

When asked about the Drudge Report, four-in-ten internet users who could rate it give it a believability rating of three or four. Slightly more than a third (35%) said the same about the Huffington Post. More than half of internet users could not rate the Drudge Report (56%) or the Huffington Post (59%).

An excerpt from the "Media Credibility" summary:

The public continues to express skepticism about what they see, hear and read in the media. No major news outlet -- whether broadcast or cable, print or online -- stands out as particularly credible.

There has been little change in public perceptions of the credibility of most major news organizations between 2006 and 2008. Over the last 10 years, however, virtually every news organization or program has seen its credibility marks decline.

In 1998, for example, 42% of those who could rate CNN gave it the highest rating for credibility (four on a scale from one to four). That fell to 28% in 2006, and remains low in the current survey (30%). Credibility ratings for several other television news organizations -- including the three major broadcast news outlets -- also have declined since 1998. Comparable percentages say they can believe all or most of what NBC News (24%), ABC News (24%) and CBS News (22%) report (based on those who can rate those organizations).

Credibility ratings for the Fox News Channel have remained largely stable in recent years. Currently, 23% say they can believe all or most of what they hear from Fox, down slightly from 2006 and 2004 (25%).

About a quarter (27%) who can rate NPR give it the highest credibility rating, up five points since 2006. NPR is viewed as somewhat more credible today than in 1998 (27% vs. 19%)....

A quarter of those able to rate The Wall Street Journal give that newspaper the highest credibility marks. That is slightly more than say the same about their own daily paper (22%). The Journal also gets higher marks than The New York Times (18%) or USA Today (16%)....

Ratings for the Times have been fairly consistent since 2004, the first year the newspaper was asked about. Ratings for USA Today are somewhat lower now than they were in 1998 or 2000 (23% then vs. 16% currently).

Partisan Gap in Credibility Ratings

Democrats continue to give most news organizations much higher credibility ratings than do Republicans....Far more Democrats than Republicans also give believability ratings of four to NPR, PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, NBC News, and several other news organizations.

Republicans are substantially more likely to give the highest credibility rating to the Fox News Channel (34%) than are Democrats (19%). Fox ranks very low in credibility among Democrats; still, Fox's ratings among Democrats are much higher than Republican ratings for The New York Times (10% give it a four) or BBC (9%).

Partisan differences in credibility ratings for news organizations have fluctuated in recent years. In 2004, for example, there was a 19-point gap between Democrats and Republicans when it came to CBS News. That dropped to 11 points in 2006 and 8 points this year. The gap for ABC News fell from 18 points in 2004 to 9 points in 2006 and remains at 9 points this year. Most of the narrowing of the difference has been driven by Democrats lowering their estimation of each network's credibility.

By contrast, evaluations of The New York Times have become more divided. In 2006, 16% of Republicans gave the newspaper a top-credibility rating; that fell to 10% in the current survey. Democratic ratings for the Times have remained stable (23% top rating in 2006, 24% in 2008)....

END of Excerpt

For the Media Credibility section: people-press.org

The "How the Public Views the Media" section of the MRC's "Media Bias Basics" lists many more surveys of how the public perceive journalists and the news media: www.mediaresearch.org

NYT Implausibly Says Stewart Has 'Deep
Mistrust of All Ideology'

The New York Times' liberal book critic Michiko Kakutani profiled Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, and managed not to notice he's a liberal (as are the vast majority of his fans). A picture of Stewart on the set took up the entire above-the-fold space of the Sunday Arts & Leisure section, under the headline: "Is This the Most Trusted Man in America?" She insisted: "For all its eviscerations of the administration, The Daily Show is animated not by partisanship but by a deep mistrust of all ideology." What show has she been watching?

[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Monday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

An excerpt from the August 17 article:

The same liberal instincts that dominate Kakutani's book reviews are evident in her long, flattering profile of Stewart and the cast of the liberal Daily Show, of which Kakutani is clearly a fan.

It's been more than eight years since "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" made its first foray into presidential politics with the presciently named Indecision 2000, and the difference in the show's approach to its coverage then and now provides a tongue-in-cheek measure of the show's striking evolution....

Most important, at a time when Fox, MSNBC and CNN routinely mix news and entertainment, larding their 24-hour schedules with bloviation fests and marathon coverage of sexual predators and dead celebrities, it's been "The Daily Show" that has tenaciously tracked big, "super depressing" issues like the cherry-picking of prewar intelligence, the politicization of the Department of Justice and the efforts of the Bush White House to augment its executive power....

Following 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, the show focused more closely not just on politics, but also on the machinery of policy making and the White House's efforts to manage the news media. Mr. Stewart's comedic gifts -- his high-frequency radar for hypocrisy, his talent for excavating ur-narratives from mountains of information, his ability, in Ms. Corn's words, "to name things that don't seem to have a name" -- proved to be perfect tools for explicating and parsing the foibles of an administration known for its secrecy, ideological certainty and impatience with dissenting viewpoints.

After chortling along with Stewart's "eviscerations of the administration," Kakutani implausibly turned around and claimed the show isn't partisan and takes equal aim at both right and left, a characterization not even ABC's Chris Cuomo, son of New York's Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo, buys. Cuomo said Stewart was "clearly a lefty." See: newsbusters.org

Kakutani's avowal would be unconvincing to even a casual viewer of the show:

For all its eviscerations of the administration, "The Daily Show" is animated not by partisanship but by a deep mistrust of all ideology. A sane voice in a noisy red-blue echo chamber, Mr. Stewart displays an impatience with the platitudes of both the right and the left and a disdain for commentators who, as he made clear in a famous 2004 appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," parrot party-line talking points and engage in knee-jerk shouting matches. He has characterized Democrats as "at best Ewoks," mocked Mr. Obama for acting as though he were posing for "a coin" and hailed MoveOn.org sardonically for "10 years of making even people who agree with you cringe."

END of Excerpt

For the entire piece: www.nytimes.com

Comparing Democrats to Ewoks is one way of saying they are wimps who lack the guts to go after Republicans like they deserve.

Here's a taste of Stewart's purported non-partisanship: Back in September 2006, Stewart called conservative journalist Robert Novak a "vampire demon" and an enemy of "American democracy." See: www.mrc.org

Pressed by CNN, Warren Contends Obama
Had a Competitive Edge

On Sunday night's Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez pressed megachurch leader Rick Warren about Obama campaign charges that John McCain was cheating by not being in a "cone of silence" during Obama's interview. "Last night, I heard you say that McCain would be in a cone of silence, and then half-hour into the event, I hear our guys here at our political desk announced that McCain has just arrived at the worship center. And I'm thinking, you know -- hey, if he just arrived at the worship center, he couldn't have been in the cone of silence, right?" Warren acknowledged that McCain had not arrived when the Obama interview began. But later, Warren added that he given Obama advance notice of one of the questions, a question that the pastor didn't get a chance to tell McCain about beforehand.

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

After Warren give his initial answer about McCain being in a "Secret Service motorcade," Sanchez pushed two follow-up questions on the matter. In the first, he asked, "Did you think at the time -- when you said that, did you think he was in the cone of silence -- did you think he was in the building?"

Warren admitted in his answer that he had given Obama a bit of an edge with regards to one question on large-scale government aid to orphans:: "...I also told Senator Obama, since there was one question where I was going to ask for a commitment, it was the commitment later about would you allow a PEPFAR type president's emergency plan for orphans, and I thought if I was going to ask them for a public commitment, I ought to let him know in advance. I got to tell Barack Obama that in advance. I did not get to tell John McCain that in advance. It caught him by surprise, I'm sure."

Sanchez didn't seem to blink at the idea that Obama was favored. He stuck to the script that Obama was wronged and grew very specific in his point with his second follow-up: "I mean, just out of fairness. I mean, look, this is CNN. We try to be as exact as we possibly can. I just wanted to get it on the record, and, of course, there's going to be people out there, pastor, who are going to say, well, if he wasn't there, like a half-hour before the event started, what would have stopped him from watching an event that was on all three channels, on the radio, there's Blackberries, there's the Internet. There's everything else. So, I guess you don't know and I don't know whether he had the questions or not."

Despite this hinting at the possibility of McCain cheating, Sanchez concluded after Warren answered the third question, "Well, yes, and let's be fair. We called Senator McCain's office and they said that, no, we did not listen. We did not know. So what you're saying is part of that, we're just going to have to go on the honor system, and we certainly respect that."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Sanchez and Warren segment, which began 16 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour of Sunday's Newsroom program:

SANCHEZ: ...Let me ask you about this. Last night, I heard you say that McCain would be in a cone of silence, and then half-hour into the event, I hear our guys here at our political desk announced that McCain has just arrived at the worship center. And I'm thinking, you know -- hey, if he just arrived at the worship center, he couldn't have been in the cone of silence, right?
WARREN: Well, that's true. He was in a cone of -- a Secret Service motorcade. That's exactly for sure.
SANCHEZ: But you said -- I'm going to quote you. I will press you just a little bit on this, because I love this cone of silence thing, and I want to borrow it with my four kids at home, by the way. 'We flipped a coin,' you said, 'and we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence.' That's what you said.
WARREN: Yes.
SANCHEZ: Did you think at the time -- when you said that, did you think he was in the cone of silence -- did you think he was in the building?
WARREN: Actually, yes, I did. There was actually a question I got to Senator Obama in advance that I didn't get to Senator McCain because he wasn't there. I actually wrote down on a piece of paper the very first question, because I wanted them both to be relaxed. I said here's the very first question. I gave it to both of them to ask that. But I also told Senator Obama, since there was one question where I was going to ask for a commitment, it was the commitment later about would you allow a PEPFAR type president's emergency plan for orphans, and I thought if I was going to ask them for a public commitment, I ought to let him know in advance. I got to tell Barack Obama that in advance. I did not get to tell John McCain that in advance. It caught him by surprise, I'm sure.
SANCHEZ: I mean, just out of fairness. I mean, look, this is CNN. We try to be as exact as we possibly can. I just wanted to get it on the record, and, of course, there's going to be people out there, pastor, who are going to say, well, if he wasn't there, like a half-hour before the event started, what would have stopped him from watching an event that was on all three channels, on the radio, there's Blackberries, there's the Internet. There's everything else. So, I guess you don't know and I don't know whether he had the questions or not.
WARREN: You know what -- you know what? In the first place, we asked him. We flat-out asked him. Did you hear any of the debate -- I mean, any of the discussion, and I trust the integrity of both John McCain and Barack Obama that they said they would abide by the rules. They knew the rules way in advance, that I would not give them the questions. I did tell them all of the themes, and went through all of the themes, said here's the kind of question, the themes that I'm going to deal with. I'm going to probably throw out a question about the economy. I'm going to probably throw out a question about climate change, which by the way I never got to, and a number of other issues. But I would not give them the wording of what specifically -- like for instance, it is one thing to say I may ask a question about the courts. It is another question to say, which of the existing Supreme Court would you not appoint.
SANCHEZ: Well, yes, and let's be fair. We called Senator McCain's office and they said that, no, we did not listen. We did not know. So what you're saying is part of that, we're just going to have to go on the honor system, and we certainly respect that --

NBC's Todd Apologizes for Saying Evangelical
'Hatred' for Dems

On a special Saturday edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while previewing that night's presidential candidates forum hosted by evangelical leader Rick Warren, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd seemed to suggest that it is not out of the ordinary for evangelical Christians to feel "personal hatred" toward a Democratic presidential candidate.

Todd, who is normally relatively balanced in his coverage of politics, once even admitting to being a "fan" of the MRC despite a history of working for liberal Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, made the uncharacteristic remarks as he contended that the forum would give Barack Obama an opportunity to keep evangelicals from feeling "personal hatred" toward him. Todd: "It's a huge opportunity for Obama tonight to at least not be hated by the evange-, look, these folks are not going to ever support him. They know what kind of judges he's going to appoint. It's going to be judges that evangelicals aren't going to be happy with. But they're not going to, if they don't have a personal hatred of him, then that's a good thing for Obama."

For Todd's comments about the MRC: www.mrc.org

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

As reported by Mark Finkelstein of the MRC's NewsBusters blog, Todd read the NewsBusters posting of his quote and apologized via e-mail for the bad choice of words. As recounted by Finkelstein:

Todd today contacted NewsBusters, acknowledging:

"Clearly, I should not have used that word, but I was using it in terms of political hate, which I view as differently. But it clearly came across the wrong way. Message received."

Added Todd: "I deserve the hit. [My remark] reads awfully."

Finkelstein's post: newsbusters.org

Below is a transcript of Todd's comments from the Saturday, August 16, Hardball on MSNBC, substitute-hosted by Andrea Mitchell:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Let's talk about the subject of tonight's forum and the evangelicals, which could be a game changer in a close race. Certainly in Ohio in 2004, Karl Rove felt that the turnout, the enthusiasm of white evangelicals for George W. Bush made the difference in Ohio, which was the difference in the election. You've got the latest Pew poll finding, which is that 68 percent favor John McCain, 24 percent favor Barack Obama. Obama has the ability to talk about faith and social values, but you still have 12 percent of the people in the Pew poll thinking that he is Muslim. And he wants to counteract that. And he also has a certain number, you know, concerns still about Reverend Wright.
CHUCK TODD: Look, this is, though, a huge opportunity for Obama. McCain's playing defense tonight. He's going to this thing because it would have been terrible if he didn't. Obama's going, and it looks like, "Oh, wow, look at him reaching out to evangelicals." As you mentioned, there is that one in eight people still think he might be Muslim and that he isn't a Christian.
MITCHELL: How many times tonight are we going to hear him talk about his Christian faith.
TODD: He will probably say the word "Jesus" many more times than McCain will. McCain really is an old school Western conservative Republican-
MITCHELL: Ronald Reagan.
TODD: -like Reagan, Alan Simpson, Barry Goldwater, these guys didn't talk, Richard Nixon, these guys didn't talk about their faith in public. It's just not what they did. It's very much a Southern Republican thing to do, not a Western Republican thing. Obama being, you know, sort of, almost a born again Christian in some ways, not born again in the way George W. Bush is, but he sort of chose his Christianity, and so he's very comfortable with it. You'll see him tonight almost look more at home with this crowd, probably bond a little bit more personally with Rick Warren than John McCain would. It's just not, it's just not his comfort zone. So it's a huge opportunity for Obama tonight to at least not be hated by the evange-, look, these folks are not going to ever support him. They know what kind of judges he's going to appoint. It's going to be judges that evangelicals aren't going to be happy with. But they're not going to, if they don't have a personal hatred of him, then that's a good thing for Obama.

-- Brent Baker