Media Reality Check

The battle over the confirmation hearings of Attorney General designate John Ashcroft is just the latest opportunity for CBS star Bryant Gumbel to attack conservative guests and lay the red carpet out for liberals. On Tuesday morning, Gumbel interviewed two black men o n opposite sides of the Ashcroft fight: Charles Polk, a supporter of Ashcroft's, and Wade Henderson, an opponent from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. He began simply with Polk: "How do you view the uproar over his nomination?" Polk stressed that charges of Ashcroft's mistreatment of black judicial nominees seemed odd since he voted for 26... continue reading
The leftist enemies of Attorney General designate John Ashcroft have decided to try to defeat him by characterizing him as an "extremist." Yesterday, far-left activists announced an "unprecedented" coalition to create an unprecedented result: defeating an incoming President's Cabinet pick over ideology alone. But how extreme are they? The networks didn't ask. The networks didn't tell. In the network idiom, there aren't two political extremes. There's the "extremist" right, and opposing them on the other extreme are...labor activists, civil rights groups, women's rights groups, gun-safety advocates, and environmentalists. - CBS. Evening News reporter Phil Jones declared: "At a jam-packed Washington... continue reading
- A February 1995 MediaWatch study found 27 network evening news stories on the Gingrich book deal from December 22, 1994 to February 2, 1995 - seven each for ABC, CBS, and NBC, and six on CNN's World News. The networks first reported the book deal on December 22. "We'll hear more about this one," CBS reporter Bob Schieffer promised. Schieffer was still hammering Gingrich about it in July (see box). - Now Simon and Schuster has announced an $8 million book deal with Senator-Elect Hillary Clinton. Simon and Schuster is now an arm of the CBS conglomerate. Will CBS... continue reading
- Al Gore may have called last night for the country to unify behind President-elect George W. Bush, but Jesse Jackson doesn't have to listen, and neither does ABC. On today's Good Morning America, Charles Gibson promoted left-wing protests against Bush: - "On January 21st, the day after George W. Bush's inauguration, a demonstration is planned by black Americans to protest the election outcome. The day is also Martin Luther King Day. We've been following and will continue to follow the story of the disenfranchised black voter." - Gibson introduced a Karla Davis report detailing "Several lawsuits filed in Florida... continue reading
- Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Friday's Florida court decision for more recounts, effectively killing Al Gore's presidential campaign, the network morning shows signaled their disagreement by trumpeting the dissenters' views and questioning whether last night's opinion would forever damage and divide the nation. - By a vote of 7 to 2, the justices agreed that the Florida Supreme Court's ad hoc counting scheme was in opposition to the U.S. Constitution, but the "disagreement as to how a recount would be carried out was split at a politically dangerous 5 to 4," CBS's Diana Olick warned. Dangerous to... continue reading
- On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court created an entirely new set of recount procedures and ordered another recount to begin. On Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay. Over the weekend, journalists found only one set of partisan judges and only one way of settling the election fairly: - NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg on Saturday's Inside Washington: "There is something unseemly about the desire not to have a statewide recount. That was true a month ago when Gore made, I thought, a reasonable offer to have everything recounted statewide and it's probably true now. And I think... continue reading
- Before the Florida Supreme Court baldly ordered more time for recounts in selected Democratic counties and stretched the legal deadline for certification by 12 days, ABC anchor Peter Jennings insisted the court was "moderate to conservative." Today on ABC's Good Morning America, legal analyst Jack Ford asked everyone to forget that, and the unanimous vacation of their ruling this week by the U.S. Supreme Court as baffling in its reasoning. He insisted these seven Democratic appointees are not acting like political appointees: - "I think people who have looked at this court have said this is a pretty steady,... continue reading
Last night on ABC's Politically Incorrect, host Bill Maher made an outrageous joke about hoping for the death of Florida's Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris. This morning, a report by correspondent George Lewis on NBC's Today replayed the "joke" for their viewers without any critical comment: "Now earlier today, a rental truck carried a half a million ballots from Palm Beach to the Florida Supreme Court there in Tallahassee. CNN had live helicopter coverage from the truck making its way up the Florida highway, and for a few brief moments, America held the hope that O.J. Simpson had murdered... continue reading
- Today on ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Charles Gibson took two divergent standards in conducting interviews on the Florida flap. In one interview, Gibson talked to Democrat Bob Beckel, who's planning to contact Bush electors begging them to abstain from casting their vote for Bush, and Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson. Gibson protested to Nicholson that everything said by Beckel and Al Gore should be taken at face value: - "This thing [e-mail] you sent out, 'Al Gore is attempting to reverse the outcome of the election by any means necessary. That includes tampering with the electoral college... continue reading
- Three weeks and a day into Al Gore's Don't Get Snippy Courthouse Tour, the media keeps floating every potential scheme toward overturning the certified Bush presidency. Is this amazing patience a sign of great objectivity before declaring a winner? For the answer, see network reaction to the Senate impeachment trial in 1999. There were no sermons about the need for every legal avenue to be explored. Instead, the network stars felt the need to move on to the nation's business: - "Part of it is that you have conservative Republicans who just want to torture the President for as... continue reading