Journalists Denying Liberal Bias, Part One
In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many journalists still refuse to acknowledge that most of the establishment media tilts to the left. Examples:
Host Stephen Dubner: “There is a kind of, I think, common analog, I hope I’m not overstating it by saying that it’s common, that Fox News is to the right what the New York Times is to the left. I’m guessing you would see that as a false equivalency on a lot of levels. Tell me if I’m right.”
Editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal: “I think it’s the word I want to use here, but even on public radio-”
Dubner: “Please, we bleep so much on this show.”
Rosenthal: “Well it begins with ‘bull’ and ends in ‘it’ and you can figure out what comes in between. I think it’s absolute pernicious nonsense....Fox News presents the news in a way that is deliberately skewed to promote political causes, and the New York Times simply does not.”
— Exchange during the New York Times “Freakonomics” radio podcast, February 16, 2012.
“I think the thing that is underappreciated about MSNBC is that we don’t really do anything as a company, that we all sorta get to do our own thing. There may be liberals on TV at MSNBC, but the network is not operating with a political objective.”
— MSNBC 9pm ET host Rachel Maddow in a December 21, 2011 interview posted at Slate.com.
“You know, I think that the people who see the Times as like a liberal rag are wrong and that they sometimes don’t understand the separation between our opinion side, which produces our editorials and our op-eds, and the news report....You know, the news reporters go into their stories with an open mind. And something I stress to our reporters at the Times is even when you think you know the story, go in ready to be surprised or illuminated by what somebody tells you.”
— New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, October 19, 2011.
Host Piers Morgan: “What I’ve always liked about your style is it’s — I wouldn’t say confrontational, but you’ve never shied away from being opinionated. And people have always got this quaint idea about CNN, that it doesn’t have opinions. What it doesn’t have is partisanship, which is a very different thing from having an opinion....”
ABC’s Christiane Amanpour: “I am not an American. I don’t vote. I don’t have an ideological bias. I actually have a lot of both — I believe in a lot of liberal policies and a lot of conservative policies.”
— Exchange on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, June 22, 2011.
“It is true that journalists tend to be more ‘liberal’ than the average American. But hyper-awareness of that fact has caused some of our most respected mainstream media outlets to bend over backwards to compensate — offering far more conservative voices than liberal ones....”
— NPR’s On the Media host Brooke Gladstone in an interview with CNN.com’s “In the Arena” blog posted May 31, 2011.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg: “There is a reason that we are the only news organization, other than Fox, with a growing audience. It is because of our product, which is straight-shooting, factual, and spends an enormous amount of money gathering news from all over the country and the world. Judge us by our product. The people in the newsroom were probably more mortified than Charles or anybody in the Tea Party, or any, any anybody else. I mean, we were just horrified, and not by the political incorrectness of what he [fired NPR executive Ron Schiller] said, but by the fact that he even thought this way.”
Moderator Gordon Peterson: “Well, this plays right into the belief that you’re a bunch of lefties.”
Totenberg: “I know it does, but it’s not true.”
— Talking about a hidden camera expose of NPR on Inside Washington, March 11, 2011.
“Hardball is absolutely non-partisan.”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in an interview with local Washington, D.C. host Carol Joynt, as quoted by Politico’s Patrick Gavin in a December 9, 2010 article.
“As Mrs. Roosevelt famously said during World War II, this is no ordinary time.... The division, the hatred, the venom over a policy of something close to universal health care for citizens — I would sooner jab my hand into a food processor than take a side (in my line of work I never engage in opinions anyway) — but this has proven one of those catch-all issues.”
— NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to presenter Matt Frei during the BBC’s Americana podcast, March 28, 2010.
“Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, [Roger] Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II. Yet, many members of my profession seem to stand by in silence as Ailes tears up the rulebook that served this country well as we covered the major stories of the past three generations, from the civil rights revolution to Watergate to the Wall Street scandals....For the first time since the yellow journalism of a century ago, the United States has a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party.”
— Former New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines in a March 14, 2010 op-ed for the Washington Post.
"I ask people just to look at my body of work. And nobody knows my biases. Do they think I'm against? Do they think I'm for? They don't know my biases. They don't know where I come from in this. I just try very hard to report the facts and to tell the stories as best as I can. I am not part of the current crop of opinion journalists or commentary journalists or feelings journalists. I strongly believe that I have to remain in the realm of fact."
— CNN's Christiane Amanpour to CBS's Lesley Stahl in a June 23, 2009 'Women on the Web' interview.
"Even though independent reports have shown the media was more critical of Barack Obama than John McCain during the presidential contest, there is still a fantasy that the press is gaga over now-President Obama."
— MSNBC's David Shuster on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, March 23, 2009.
CNN's John Roberts: "But if you disagreed with some of his [John McCain's] policies, why were you out there on the campaign trail supporting him?"
Joe 'the Plumber' Wurzelbacher: "Do you agree with every candidate and your candidate's policies?"
Roberts: "Hey, I'm not out there stumping for anybody, I'm a journalist."
— Exchange on CNN's American Morning, December 23, 2008.
"Media bias largely unseen in U.S. presidential race"
— Headline over November 6, 2008 Reuters dispatch claiming no liberal tilt in favor of Barack Obama.
"Yes, in the closing weeks of this election, John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting hosed in the press, and at Politico....We'd take an educated guess — nothing so scientific as a Pew study — that Obama will win the votes of probably 80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election....[But] of the factors driving coverage of this election...ideological favoritism ranks virtually nil."
— The Politico co-founders John Harris and Jim VandeHei in their October 28, 2008 column, "Why McCain is getting hosed in the press."
"Before Gov. Sarah Palin came flying in from the wilds of Alaska for the Republican convention in St. Paul, there was a lot of sniggering in media rooms and satellite trucks about her beauty queen looks and rustic hobbies....In the press galleries at the convention, journalists wrinkled their noses in disgust when Piper, Ms. Palin's youngest daughter, was filmed kitty-licking her baby brother's hair into place."
— New York Times media writer David Carr, September 7, 2008.
"Hell no! I'm dying to find another liberal [to] open their mouths. Where are they!"
— Former UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas, when asked if she thinks most White House reporters are liberal, as reported by The Washington Examiner's Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin, July 21, 2008.
"While I would not dispute the longstanding assertions that there are more political liberals in newsrooms than conservatives, our political staff, as best I can tell, represents all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs, and because we all work so closely and in such a fishbowl, we all tend to keep one another on the straight and narrow."
— New York Times political editor Richard Stevenson during an online chat with readers, June 23, 2008.
"It was no secret to the reporters around me that I have Democratic-leaning views. But they said I was always fair."
— Former ABC and CBS reporter Linda Douglass after she became a spokeswoman for Barack Obama, as quoted by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz in a June 16, 2008 profile.
"We are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with an agenda or a pre-conceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda. We strive to preserve our independence from political and economic interests, including our own advertisers. We do not work in the service of a party, or an industry, or even a country. When there are competing views of a situation, we aim to reflect them as clearly and fairly as we can."
— New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in his Hugo Young Memorial Lecture in London, printed in Britain's The Guardian newspaper on November 29, 2007.
"Over the years, I always tried to be the one person wherever I was working that would give a fair representation of what was happening, and then I hoped a reasonable and intelligent analysis or insight into why it was happening. And I've been comforted over the years that people on the far left and people on the far right have said to me, 'What party are you in, anyway? I have never been able to figure it out.' [laughter] And I'd say, 'That's exactly the reaction I want you to have.'"
— Retired NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw on PBS's Tavis Smiley, November 12, 2007.
"I know there are some people who actually believe that the [New York] Times has a partisan or ideological 'agenda' ....There are even a few people who think the news coverage and editorial page operate in lockstep as part of a liberal cabal. The Vice President is much too experienced and sophisticated, I suspect, to really believe that. I won't pretend that reporters' stories are never shaped by liberal bias (more accurately liberal assumptions about the world) but I think those instances are relatively rare, and I fight to filter them out and deplore them when they get into the paper."
— Excerpt from a 2004 e-mail from New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to Vice President Dick Cheney's spokesman Kevin Kellems, as reprinted in Stephen Hayes' 2007 biography, Cheney.
"For all the howling on the right, it's difficult to argue that mainstream news organizations operate with anything approaching Fox's partisan and ideological agenda."
— Longtime Los Angeles Times political reporter Ron Brownstein in a March 16, 2007 column.
Host Bill O'Reilly: "I just look at all your on-the-air talent, and the Today show, and I love those guys, all right, they're all liberal, every one of them, all right."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell: "I disagree....That's not the way we approach the news....I can't tell you one liberal thinker.'
O'Reilly: 'You can. It's Chris Matthews. Chris Matthews.... He's on the Today show and on the Nightly News. He's your main political commentator."
Mitchell: "As an analyst....I don't think he's a liberal thinker."
O'Reilly: "He's not? He worked for [Democratic Speaker] Tip O'Neill. How much more liberal can you get?"
Mitchell: "He worked for Tip O'Neill how many years ago?...I don't think that it is fair to describe journalists as liberals or conservatives....I have to tell you that I don't feel that there is bias in what we do at NBC News. And I don't think there's bias in CBS or ABC."
— Exchange on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor, January 5, 2007.