Media Reality Check

Liberal hopes for a quick health care bill are in collapse, as Senate Democrats push any floor action off until the fall, a move House Democrats may match this week. But if the Obama White House is upset that their plans for a huge expansion of government health care have been delayed, they surely cannot complain about the media coverage. Last week, a new study by the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (BMI) found broadcast coverage during the first six months of 2009 tilted heavily in favor of Barack Obama's big government plan. BMI's analysts looked at 224... continue reading
In the week since South Carolina's Republican Governor announced he had flown to Argentina to carry on an extra-marital affair, the broadcast morning and evening news shows have gone full bore on the scandal, cranking out 49 stories even in the midst of other major stories like Michael Jackson's death and the continuing repression in Iran. The morning after Sanford announced his affair, on the June 25 Good Morning America, longtime correspondent Sam Donaldson used the scandal to broadly charge Republicans with being "sanctimonious. They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they [act] human, they don't have... continue reading
Two early themes have emerged from network news coverage of Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court. First, network reporters have spared no adjective in exulting over the "incredible," "amazing," and "remarkable" story of Sotomayor's climb from public housing to a chance for the Supreme Court. Second, the notion that she is a liberal judge with an activist approach is cast as merely a partisan claim from her conservative opponents - even though network reporters eagerly declared both John Roberts and Samuel Alito "conservative," "very conservative," "quite conservative," and "ultra-conservative" when they were nominated four years ago. All three networks... continue reading
Liberals gleefully celebrated Democrats taking undivided control of the White House and Congress in January, ecstatic that Republicans would have less authority than at any time since the 1994 elections. But despite the GOP's relative irrelevancy, the Democratic enthusiasts at MSNBC seem reluctant to get off the campaign trail, spending far more time targeting Republicans and conservatives than scrutinizing the new bosses inside the Beltway. Exhibit A is "Hypocrisy Watch," a daily segment on MSNBC's 6pm ET 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue billed as going after "an organization or person who clearly seems to be doing something that makes the term appropriate."... continue reading
If you thought MSNBC could not possibly tilt any further to the left, you may - sadly - be wrong. According to the New York Observer , the cable network may be about to give liberal radio host Ed Schultz his own program. Schultz has already filled in three times this month as anchor of the 6pm ET 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the one-time venue of Meet the Press moderator David Gregory. "Schultz, with his rustic delivery, blue-collar bona fides and copious hunting references, would presumably add some heartland credibility to MSNBC's wonky cosmopolitan lineup without disrupting the lefty story line,"... continue reading
The news media are giddy with excitement as Barack Obama's Inauguration Day approaches (see box), but it would be a mistake to think reporters are always so worshipful of new presidents. While most presidents do start with a media honeymoon, a review of the past 20 years finds reporters are more celebratory when Democrats are taking over the White House, while coverage of GOP inaugurals has included a fair number of anti-conservative stinkbombs: ■ 1989 . TV reporters chose to salute the incoming President George Bush by slamming the more conservative Ronald Reagan. ABC's Richard Threlkeld went to Overtown, a... continue reading
As the baton passed to David Gregory at NBC's Meet the Press, NBC couldn't stop from shamelessly selling itself as a gift to America. On Monday's Today, Tom Brokaw exclaimed about filling the late Tim Russert's shoes: "It's a great legacy and he'll remain a presence of that, but Tim would be the first to say we were all temporary custodians of a national treasure." How did David Gregory earn this new position? Most viewers know him largely as an arrogant question-yeller at Bush White House press conferences. Take this exchange with Scott McClellan on the Plame leak probe on... continue reading
As the baton passed to David Gregory at NBC's Meet the Press, NBC couldn't stop from shamelessly selling itself as a gift to America. On Monday's Today, Tom Brokaw exclaimed about filling the late Tim Russert's shoes: "It's a great legacy and he'll remain a presence of that, but Tim would be the first to say we were all temporary custodians of a national treasure." How did David Gregory earn this new position? Most viewers know him largely as an arrogant question-yeller at Bush White House press conferences. Take this exchange with Scott McClellan on the Plame leak probe on... continue reading
Barack Obama's transition team has tapped former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera, a longtime proponent of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," to head the team looking for the man or woman who will soon give Democrats a 3-to-2 advantage on the Federal Communications Commission. [Correction Added] It's another troubling sign that Democrats are serious about trying to reinstate the long-defunct FCC regulation, which can more aptly be described as the "Censorship Doctrine" because of its chilling effect on free speech. In effect from 1949 to 1987, the Fairness Doctrine was an obstacle to open discussion of public policy issues on the radio;... continue reading
Barack Obama was so pleased with the findings of a CBS News/New York Times poll that he gave it a plug at the October 15 presidential debate: "Two-thirds of the American people think that Senator McCain is running a negative campaign, versus one-third of mine."That's what the poll showed, but do people believe this because McCain's ads really are more negative, or because the media have spent more time complaining about them? MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas went over all 213 broadcast morning and evening news stories that discussed the candidates' ads from the end of the primaries (June 4) through... continue reading