Media Reality Check

This year's final debate moderator, CBS's Bob Schieffer, clearly did not take pains to appear objective before the debate. He opened fire on the October 5 Face the Nation by denouncing "the Palin factor... a campaign that's turned down and dirty. Down in the polls, the McCain campaign has found a new attack dog." After the opening music, he returned to the hatchet-woman line: "She took after Barack Obama in a style reminiscent of Spiro Agnew when he was Richard Nixon's running mate." He asked if the Republicans were going to get "nastier and nastier." Schieffer also failed the fair-and-balanced... continue reading
Two of the three presidential debates have now passed without either candidate being asked about abortion, an issue that nearly four out of ten voters said was "very important" to them, according to an August Pew survey . What makes the abortion issue especially salient this campaign year is Barack Obama's extremely liberal record - which may also explain why the big broadcast networks have practically avoided the subject. TV reporters barely mentioned Obama's pro-abortion stance during the primaries - from the launch of his candidacy in January 2007 through the end of the primaries in June 2008, just six... continue reading
Friday's Washington Post carried an ad from PBS touting their two TV debate moderators: "Objective. Impartial. Independent. The NewsHour's Jim Lehrer and Washington Week's Gwen Ifill bring PBS's tradition of integrity to the most important conversations in America - so you can make up your own mind." Sadly, that ad is not accurate. Even before addressing whether "independence" is demonstrated by Ifill writing a new book celebrating Barack Obama's bold "Breakthrough," Ifill's questions in the vice presidential debate in 2004 displayed an undeniable bias against Vice President Cheney. For example, she pressed Cheney to attack Democratic nominee John Edwards personally:... continue reading
PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, the first host of the 2008 fall presidential debates, is dead serious about his utter lack of bias. Appearing November 27, 2006 on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, Lehrer insisted with a very straight face that "I am bias-free....Bias is what people who hear or read the news bring to the story, not what the journalist brings to the reporting." When Colbert insisted Lehrer must add some flavor, straight-faced Lehrer declared his contribution was "the flavor of neutrality." Lehrer can offer a different flavor. During live coverage of the Democratic convention on August 25, he gauzily... continue reading
Democratic candidate Barack Obama's trip to Iraq is putting the network spotlight back on a war that garnered wall-to-wall coverage when the news was much bleaker a year ago. But as the troop surge has dramatically succeeded, the Big Three broadcast networks have shown little interest in documenting how the U.S. military is saving Iraq and achieving a signal victory in the war against terrorism. A new study by the Media Research Center finds that network evening news coverage of Iraq has fallen 65 percent in the past twelve months - a mere 429 stories so far this year, compared... continue reading
Panicked by the success of Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" - urging conservatives to vote for Hillary Clinton in upcoming primaries to keep the Democrats in disarray - liberal reporters are becoming even more outspoken in praising the man they regard as the all-but-certain Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. CBS's Harry Smith sounded like a teenage groupie on the April 1 Early Show: "Obama's rock star status is reaching historic levels. His rallies attract more fans than a Hannah Montana concert and seats are impossible to get. Believe me I've tried." Over on ABC's Good Morning America , correspondent Claire Shipman didn't... continue reading
Five years ago this week, an international coalition of troops led by the U.S. invaded Iraq, overthrowing Saddam Hussein's tyrannical dictatorship in just three weeks. Since then, Iraqis have voted in free democratic elections to seat a representative parliament; Saddam and several of his henchmen have been tried and convicted in public war crimes trials; and a bloody insurgency fomented by al Qaeda in Iraq is in retreat after a surge of U.S. troops and a shift to more aggressive counter-insurgency tactics. Analysts at the Media Research Center have studied TV news coverage of the Iraq war from the beginning,... continue reading
Jury selection began today in Chicago in the trial of Syrian-born businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a major supporter of Barack Obama. Two days before the 2006 elections in which Democrats won by running against a "culture of corruption," Chicago newspapers revealed that Obama purchased a home that summer for $1.6 million, but only because Rezko's wife bought an adjoining parcel for $625,000 to complete the deal. Rezko was already under federal investigation for kickback schemes. To a political opponent, this might resemble a lobbyist's sweetheart deal like the one that started Rep. Duke Cunningham's political decline, where a lobbyist paid... continue reading
One year ago, liberal journalists depicted the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq as a certain failure. "A lot of people are going to go to bed tonight terrified," MSNBC's Chris Matthews opined just minutes after President Bush announced the policy on January 10, 2007. Other journalists were only slightly more subtle. "Many experts warn, it's too little, too late," NBC's Jim Miklaszewski argued on the January 8, 2007 Nightly News. The next morning on NBC's Today, the network's graphic describing Iraq was "Lost Cause?" At the same time, leading Democrats left themselves no wiggle room as they, too, denounced... continue reading
To Republicans, the Kennedy "Camelot" lingo is an outdated, cobwebbed piece of political history, a yellowed picture frame from the Marilyn Monroe era. To Democrats, it's still a shining legacy. It's not complicated to figure out which view the national TV news stars embraced on Monday night and Tuesday after Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for President. MSNBC . Hardball host Chris Matthews found a "historic" moment: "Today, we got a glimpse of the early 1960s, when politics was alive, so here and now in Washington, D.C., the era of serious commitment, of short hair, white shirts, narrow ties, and... continue reading