Media Reality Check

One measure of the media's uncritical acceptance of the McCain campaign spin is its unattributed use of the name of his famous press-schmoozing bus, the "Straight Talk Express." A Nexis search of national news outlets found only one news story which preceded the "Straight Talk Express" with the word "so-called" - reporter Julie Kirtz on the Fox News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume (December 8, 1999). No reports used distancing words like "self-described," "self-titled," "purported," or "alleged." The Nexis search included ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FNC, PBS, NPR, Time , Newsweek , U.S. News & World Report , Associated... continue reading
While most media eyes have been misting over at John McCain's campaign against the Republican "Death Star," Al Gore has cemented his hold on the Democratic nomination with important solicitations of the party's hard left. Media outlets came out of Saturday's South Carolina primary warning that George W. Bush's dramatic win with help from the "far right" would cost him in the fall. But would reporters pay equal attention to Gore and the far left? No. Gore and the Human Rights Campaign. On February 11, Gore was endorsed by the nation's largest gay left lobby. The HRC press release stated... continue reading
John McCain told Associated Press on December 22 that "If I could think of a way constitutionally, I would ban negative ads." Independent ads now running against McCain in South Carolina aren't illegal (yet), but many media outlets are acting like they've already been banned. Ads by the National Smokers Alliance and the National Right to Life Committee (with South Carolina Citizens for Life) claim McCain is not suitably conservative on tobacco taxes or abortion. But the networks are avoiding ads which undermine McCain's claim to be a conservative. On ABC's World News Tonight February 3, Linda Douglass gave a... continue reading
Call it anchorman amnesia. When the top TV titans put on their pundit hats, they suddenly recall every inconvenient story they've left out of their newscasts for the benefit of their liberal friends. On Meet the Press January 30, NBC's Tom Brokaw talked about Al Gore: "You'll remember in Chicago when he invoked his dying sister of lung cancer [sic], 'I'm going to fight every day of my life. I made that pledge on her deathbed against tobacco.' He was taking tobacco money at the time. He was growing tobacco himself. He was defending tobacco several years later; the Internet... continue reading
Reporters favoring John McCain have been making fun of the New York Republican Party's very tough rules for getting on the New York primary ballot. On Inside Politics January 21, CNN's Jeff Greenfield joked the state Republicans "have ballot access rules slightly harder than the pre-Glasnost Soviet Union." Later on The World Today, Greenfield added: "The Republican Party in particular has made it, to use an old phrase, slightly more difficult to be an opposition candidate than existed in the former German Democratic Republic." But the media have little right to gulag humor when it comes to making the media... continue reading
Last August, national media outlets leaped on rumors of cocaine use by George W. Bush, even though reporters searching for people to accuse Bush of drug use could not find an accuser. Now longtime Gore friend John Warnecke claims Gore used marijuana regularly, right up to his 1976 run for Congress, four years later than Gore has claimed he stopped. Warnecke also claims Gore asked him to "stonewall" on the issue during the 1988 campaign. But the media aren't exactly riveted: ABC has aired nothing , even though This Week jumped on the Bush allegations and Ted Koppel devoted a... continue reading
Steve Roberts of U.S. News suggested a new method of dismissing the "conservative canard" of liberal bias on Sunday's Late Edition on CNN. "The two people in Washington who hate the political press the most are Bill and Hillary Clinton, which is a reflection of the fact that the coverage has been pretty tough on them." But other than doing the cruel work of reciting her nine-point deficit in the latest poll, the press have hardly earned the hatred. Last week, all the networks publicized her staged CBS appearance on David Letterman's Late Show . "The very serious candidate for... continue reading
ABC's ongoing tilt to the left seems to be outdoing the Gore and Bradley campaigns. After firing reporter Bob Zelnick for writing a book on Al Gore and scrapping conservative pundit Bill Kristol's contract, their legal expert Jeffrey Toobin has authored a new book coming out today titled A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of a Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. Toobin's liberal slant is no surprise. He is the child of two network news veterans, the late producer Jerry Toobin and anchorwoman Marlene Sanders. In his 1991 book Opening Arguments, about his service as a lawyer... continue reading
In a new two-year Media Research Center study of TV gun-policy stories, Senior Analyst Geoffrey Dickens has found a dramatic network news tilt in favor of gun control. [See box.] Dickens also found that not only do most stories lean to the left for more gun regulation, the themes gun-rights advocates would like to see included in TV news reports are seldom mentioned. For example: 1. Increase prosecutions against criminals using firearms. The National Rifle Association argues that federal prosecutions of gun law violations have dropped significantly since 1992. In recent ads, the NRA has cited a Syracuse University study... continue reading
A BC News President David Westin is once again showing TV news junkies that he has no interest in keeping up appearances of objectivity. This summer, he fiercely objected to ABC hiring "unreliable" Matt Drudge as a radio host (this, from a man who defended the accuracy of ABC's Food Lion faking fiasco). Now, just weeks after paying for a "working dinner" with Al Gore at White House reporter John Cochran's house that never produced a news story, Westin has dumped the contract of conservative This Week pundit William Kristol. No Boy George. Just as Westin's decision to fire long-time... continue reading