Media Reality Check

In his online "Media Notes" column this morning, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz predicted the media would respond to the retirement of Senator Jesse Helms with hypocrisy: "We will now go through one of those gooey Washington rituals where all the people who despised Jesse Helms will wipe away a tear and tell us what a statesman he was. The gag factor will be high." But the networks' top stars hate the conservative Helms too much to go all gooey now. Talking to Hotline's Craig Crawford on today's Early Show , CBS's Bryant Gumbel exhibited his disdain: "Helms is, let... continue reading
Last November, as citizens split their votes almost evenly between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, Slate magazine polled its staff to find out how they voted. The results: 85% chose either Gore or the even-more liberal Green candidate, Ralph Nader. Bush, the nation's narrow pick, got just four votes from this small slice of the media elite - and no votes from the 13 staffers with senior editorial positions. Slate's self-survey is interesting all by itself, but its findings also fit perfectly with a quarter-century of survey data which show that, when asked, most journalists say that... continue reading
Don't fall out of your chair, but CBS' Bryant Gumbel and ABC's Diane Sawyer both managed a little balance this morning in their coverage of President George W. Bush's decision to allow federal funding of limited embryonic stem cell research but not the further destruction of human embryos. But in her interviews with four different guests, Today's Katie Couric never once questioned the President's policy from a pro-life perspective. The NBC star's only concern was that research efforts might be slowed by Bush's restrictions, and she scoffed at pro-life Senator Sam Brownback's unease over using cells from destroyed human embryos... continue reading
On Thursday, Washington Post readers learned that " President Bush reaches the summer break in his first White House year buoyed by high personal approval but facing broad public doubts about his overall agenda and key policies, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. " The story by David Broder and Dan Balz also revealed that " Bush has a 63 percent personal favorability rating in the poll and a 59 percent job approval score, the second-highest numbers recorded since he took office. " That certainly sounds like news, but ABC, the Post's partner-in-polling, didn't tell viewers about the... continue reading
Diane Sawyer says lots of unbelievable things as co-host of Good Morning America, such as today's dumbfounding assertion - in the context of a report on another international custody dispute - that in the "Elian Gonzalez case, everyone was arguing that indeed he should go back to his biological family," evidently failing to recall even a single protesting remark from anti-communist, pro-freedom Americans. But on Tuesday, Sawyer's liberal lips were deployed in the cause of insisting that her designated co-host for the week, ABC's political analyst George Stephanopoulos, who campaigned for two years to unseat the previous President Bush and... continue reading
Dan Rather insists that his non-coverage of the scandal surrounding Democratic Congressman Gary Condit is a journalistic virtue, not head-in-the-sand foolishness. An article in Monday's New York Times quoted the CBS Evening News anchor's explanation of his own rules for good reporting: "I've tried to stand for what I believe in - decent, responsible journalism....When rumors, gossip, speculation and all this other stuff begin swirling, and other people begin reporting it - frequently, I'm sorry to say, reporting it as fact - my question always was, and continues to be, what do we know on the basis of our own... continue reading
Dan Rather apparently feels every CBS News program, with the exception of the Monday through Friday CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, has shown a lack of journalistic restraint by reporting on the official police investigation into the disappearance of Chandra Levy, who until recently was the girlfriend of married Democratic Congressman Gary Condit. Rather broke his own highly-publicized silence on the case on Wednesday, grandly proclaiming that after eleven weeks "there is news tonight of national note in the case of missing person 24-year-old Chandra Levy." CBS's Jim Stewart then reported that some FBI investigators told him that Washington,... continue reading
On July 9, ABC's George Stephanopoulos confidently predicted on Good Morning America that "I don't think the rest of the Democratic Party is going to get tarred by Gary Condit" as a result of the California Congressman's adulterous affair with a young woman, Chandra Levy, who has been the subject of intense police activity since she ominously disappeared on May 1. Probably not, and one reason may be that ABC and its broadcasting brethren have downplayed Condit's partisan affiliation through-out their coverage of the Levy story. Normally, a "Republican" or "Democrat" label is presented nearly every time a member of... continue reading
Fidel Castro got what he wanted in selecting Andrea Mitchell as the only U.S. television reporter allowed to check up on Elian Gonzalez one year after he was sent back to the Communist-controlled island by Janet Reno's Justice Department. NBC viewers saw a portrait of a happy Elian in Cuba who has forgotten all about his Miami relatives and now lives with his father, who is sure he made the correct choice to live in Cuba. The dictator was apparently so pleased that he rewarded Mitchell with a one-on-one interview that stretched until early Thursday morning. On Wednesday's NBC Nightly... continue reading
Have you noticed all of those Europeans grumbling about President George W. Bush's environmental policies on television and in the newspapers recently? Thanks to a fit of candor from Newsweek's Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, we now know that all of the special press access given to shaggy-haired enviro-wackos is just the media's not-so-subtle way of spanking Bush for pursuing policies they don't like. Thomas explained how reporters sneak bias into news stories: " We launder our views through, quote, 'objective critics.' And certainly the press is pretty green, the press is pretty pro-environment and I don't think there's any... continue reading