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Journalists Discuss Media Bias

Admissions of Liberal Bias | Denials of Liberal Bias

Admissions of Liberal Bias

Radio host Hugh Hewitt: "And so everyone that you work with, or 95 percent of people you work with, are old liberals."
ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin: "I don’t know if it’s 95 percent, and unfortunately, they’re not all old. There are a lot of young liberals here, too. But it certainly, there are enough in the old media, not just in ABC, but in old media generally, that it tilts the coverage quite frequently, in many issues, in a liberal direction, which is completely improper....It’s an endemic problem. And again, it’s the reason why for 40 years, conservatives have rightly felt that we did not give them a fair shake."
— Exchange on The Hugh Hewitt Show, October 30, 2006.

"If I were a conservative, I understand why I would feel suspicious that I was not going to get a fair break....The mindset at ABC, where you and I used to be colleagues at, at the other big news organizations, it’s just too focused on being more favorable to Nancy Pelosi, say, than Newt Gingrich; being more down on the Republicans’ chances than perhaps is warranted; singling out — you’re seeing here a 60 Minutes piece about Nancy Pelosi. I don’t remember Newt Gingrich getting a piece that favorable in 1994."
— ABC Political Director Mark Halperin, co-author of The Way to Win, on FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor, October 24, 2006.

Former MSNBC President Erik Sorenson: "The difference-maker was the attitude of the channel that was not just a marketing slogan, but actually got lived within the programs virtually every minute of the day. Cue the slogan."
Fox News Channel announcer: "Fair and balanced."
Sorenson: "There was a full-on commitment to that premise, and there were far more people in America who seemed to hold that opinion of the liberal media bias than anyone in New York City, the media capital of the world, had estimated."
— Excerpt from an October 8, 2006 Fox News Channel special, Fox News at 10: Thank You, America.

Former Washington Post reporter Thomas Edsall: "I agree that the — whatever you want to call it, mainstream media — presents itself as unbiased when, in fact, there are built into it many biases and they are overwhelmingly to the left."
Host Hugh Hewitt: "Well, that’s very candid....Given that number of reporters out there, is it ten to one Democrat to Republican? Twenty to one Democrat to Republican?"
Edsall: "It’s probably in the range of 15 to 25:1 Democrat....There is a real difficulty on the part of the mainstream media being sympathetic, or empathetic, whatever the word would be, to the kind of thinking that goes into conservative approaches to issues. I think the religious right has been treated as sort of an alien world."
— Exchange on Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated radio show September 21, 2006 audio later posted at

“The elephant in the newsroom is our narrowness. Too often, we wear liberalism on our sleeve and are intolerant of other lifestyles and opinions....We’re not very subtle about it at this paper: If you work here, you must be one of us. You must be liberal, progressive, a Democrat. I’ve been in communal gatherings in The Post, watching election returns, and have been flabbergasted to see my colleagues cheer unabashedly for the Democrats.”
Washington Post “Book World” editor Marie Arana in a contribution to the Post’s “daily in-house electronic critiques,” as quoted by Post media reporter Howard Kurtz in an October 3, 2005 article.

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas: “Is this attack [on public broadcasting’s budget] going to make NPR a little less liberal?”
NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg: “I don’t think we’re liberal to begin with and I think if you would listen, Evan, you would know that.”
Thomas: “I do listen to you and you’re not that liberal, but you’re a little bit liberal.”
Totenberg: “No, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s a fair criticism, I really don’t — any more than, any more than you would say that Newsweek is liberal.”
Thomas: “I think Newsweek is a little liberal.”
— Exchange on the June 26, 2005 Inside Washington.

“There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it’s very dangerous. That’s different from the media doing it’s job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor.”
— ABC News White House correspondent Terry Moran talking with Los Angeles-based national radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, May 17, 2005.

“I believe it is true that a significant chunk of the press believes that Democrats are incompetent but good-hearted, and Republicans are very efficient but evil.”
Wall Street Journal political editor John Harwood on the April 23, 2005 Inside Washington.

“I worked for the New York Times for 25 years. I could probably count on one hand, in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, people who would describe themselves as people of faith....I think one of the real built-in biases in the media is towards secularism....You want diversity in the newsroom, not because of some quota, but because you have to have diversity to cover the story well and cover all aspects of a society. And you don’t have religious people making the decisions about where coverage is focused. And I think that’s one of the faults.”
— Former New York Times reporter Steve Roberts, now a journalism professor at George Washington University, on CNN’s Reliable Sources, March 27, 2005.

“Personally, I have a great affection for CBS News....But I stopped watching it some time ago. The unremitting liberal orientation finally became too much for me. I still check in, but less and less frequently. I increasingly drift to NBC News and Fox and MSNBC.”
— Former CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter in an op-ed published January 13, 2005 in the Los Angeles Times.

Joe Scarborough: “Is there a liberal bias in the media or is the bias towards getting the story first and getting the highest ratings, therefore, making the most money?”
Former ABC 20/20 anchor Hugh Downs: “Well, I think the latter, by far. And, of course, when the word ‘liberal’ came to be a pejorative word, you began to wonder, you have to say that the press doesn’t want to be thought of as merely liberal. But people tend to be more liberated in their thought when they are closer to events and know a little more about what the background of what’s happening. So, I suppose, in that respect, there is a liberal, if you want to call it a bias. The press is a little more in touch with what’s happening.”
— MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, January 10, 2005.

“Does anybody really think there wouldn’t have been more scrutiny if this [CBS’s bogus 60 Minutes National Guard story] had been about John Kerry?”
— Former 60 Minutes Executive Producer Don Hewitt at a January 10, 2005 meeting at CBS News, as quoted later that day by Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball.

“The notion of a neutral, non-partisan mainstream press was, to me at least, worth holding onto. Now it’s pretty much dead, at least as the public sees things. The seeds of its demise were sown with the best of intentions in the late 1960s, when the AMMP [American Mainstream Media Party] was founded in good measure (and ironically enough) by CBS. Old folks may remember the moment: Walter Cronkite stepped from behind the podium of presumed objectivity to become an outright foe of the war in Vietnam. Later, he and CBS’s star White House reporter, Dan Rather, went to painstaking lengths to make Watergate understandable to viewers, which helped seal Richard Nixon’s fate as the first President to resign. The crusades of Vietnam and Watergate seemed like a good idea at the time, even a noble one, not only to the press but perhaps to a majority of Americans. The problem was that, once the AMMP declared its existence by taking sides, there was no going back. A party was born.”
Newsweek’s chief political reporter, Howard Fineman, “The ‘Media Party’ is over: CBS’ downfall is just the tip of the iceberg,” January 11 , 2005.

“Most members of the establishment media live in Washington and New York. Most of them don’t drive pickup trucks, most of them don’t have guns, most of them don’t go to NASCAR, and every day we’re not out in areas that care about those things and deal with those things as part of their daily lives, we are out of touch with a lot of America and with a lot of America that supports George W. Bush.”
— ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin during live television coverage immediately before John Kerry’s concession speech on November 3, 2004.

“I know a lot of you believe that most people in the news business are liberal. Let me tell you, I know a lot of them, and they were almost evenly divided this time. Half of them liked Senator Kerry; the other half hated President Bush.”
— CBS’s Andy Rooney on the November 7, 2004 60 Minutes.

“There’s one other base here: the media. Let’s talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards — I’m talking about the establishment media, not Fox, but — they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there’s going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that’s going to be worth maybe 15 points.”
Newsweek’s Evan Thomas on Inside Washington, July 10, 2004.

The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz: “You’ve said on the program Inside Washington that because of the portrayal of Kerry and Edwards as ‘young and dynamic and optimistic,’ that that’s worth maybe 15 points.”
Newsweek’s Evan Thomas: “Stupid thing to say. It was completely wrong. But I do think that, I do think that the mainstream press, I’m not talking about the blogs and Rush and all that, but the mainstream press favors Kerry. I don’t think it’s worth 15 points. That was just a stupid thing to say.”
Kurtz: “Is it worth five points?”
Thomas: “Maybe, maybe.”
— Exchange on CNN’s Reliable Sources, October 17, 2004.

Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham: “The work of the evening, obviously, is to connect George W. Bush to the great war leaders of the modern era. You’re going to hear about Churchill projecting power against public opinion....”
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “But Iraq was a popular cause when he first started it. It wasn’t like Churchill speaking against the Nazis.”
Meacham: “That’s not the way the Republican Party sees it. They think that all of us and the New York Times are against them.”
Matthews: “Well, they’re right about the New York Times, and they may be right about all of us.”
— Exchange shortly after 8:30pm EDT during MSNBC’s live convention coverage, August 30, 2004.

“Of course it is....These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed.”
New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent in a July 25, 2004 column which appeared under a headline asking, “Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?”

“Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections. They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are ‘conservative positions.’...”
“The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush’s justifications for the Iraq war....It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy....It remains fixated on the unemployment rate....The worldview of the dominant media can be seen in every frame of video and every print word choice that is currently being produced about the presidential race.”
— From the February 10, 2004 edition of’s “The Note,” a daily political memo assembled by ABC News political director Mark Halperin and his staff.

Jack Cafferty: “Can you say liberal? And the liberal talk radio station Air America debuts today....The question is, does America need additional ‘liberal’ media outlets?...”
Bill Hemmer: “I think it’s a good question....Why hasn’t a liberal radio station or TV network never taken off before?”
Cafferty: “We have them. Are you, did you just get off a vegetable truck from the South Bronx? They’re everywhere....What do they call this joint? The Clinton News Network?”
— Exchange on CNN’s American Morning, March 31, 2004.

“I think most claims of liberal media bias are overblown. At the same time, I do think that reporters often let their cultural predilections drive their coverage of social issues, and the coverage of the gay marriage amendment offers a perfect example....Why do reporters assume that the amendment is a fringe concern? Perhaps because nearly all live in big cities, among educated, relatively affluent peers, who hold liberal views on social matters. In Washington and New York, gay marriage is an utterly mainstream proposition. Unfortunately, in most of the country, it’s not.”
New Republic Senior Editor Jonathan Chait,, March 1, 2004.

“Where I work at ABC, people say ‘conservative’ the way people say ‘child molester.’”
— ABC 20/20 co-anchor John Stossel to reporter Robert Bluey, in a story posted January 28, 2004.

“I think they [most reporters] are on the humane side, and that would appear to many to be on the liberal side. A lot of newspaper people — and to a lesser degree today, the TV people — come up through the ranks, through the police-reporting side, and they see the problems of their fellow man, beginning with their low salaries — which newspaper people used to have anyway — and right on through their domestic quarrels, their living conditions. The meaner side of life is made visible to most young reporters. I think it affects their sentimental feeling toward their fellow man and that is interpreted by some less-sensitive people as being liberal.”
— Former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite to Time magazine’s Richard Zoglin in an interview published in the magazine’s November 3, 2003 edition.

“I thought he [former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg] made some very good points. There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I’m consistently liberal in my opinions. And I think some of the, I think Dan [Rather] is transparently liberal. Now, he may not like to hear me say that. I always agree with him, too, but I think he should be more careful.”
— CBS’s 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney on Goldberg’s book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, on CNN’s Larry King Live, June 5, 2002.

“Most of the time I really think responsible journalists, of which I hope I’m counted as one, leave our bias at the side of the table. Now it is true, historically in the media, it has been more of a liberal persuasion for many years. It has taken us a long time, too long in my view, to have vigorous conservative voices heard as widely in the media as they now are. And so I think yes, on occasion, there is a liberal instinct in the media which we need to keep our eye on, if you will.”
— ABC anchor Peter Jennings appearing on CNN’s Larry King Live, April 10, 2002

“[Journalists] have a certain worldview based on being in Manhattan...that isn’t per se liberal, but if you look at people there, they lean’ in that direction.”
Columbia Journalism Review publisher David Laventhol, as reported in “Leaning on the Media” by Mark Jurkowitz, The Boston Globe, January 17, 2002.

“There is a liberal bias. It’s demonstrable. You look at some statistics. About 85 percent of the reporters who cover the White House vote Democratic, they have for a long time. There is a, particularly at the networks, at the lower levels, among the editors and the so-called infrastructure, there is a liberal bias. There is a liberal bias at Newsweek, the magazine I work for — most of the people who work at Newsweek live on the upper West Side in New York and they have a liberal bias....[ABC White House reporter] Brit Hume’s bosses are liberal and they’re always quietly denouncing him as being a right-wing nut.”
Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Evan Thomas on Inside Washington, May 12, 1996.

“Everybody knows that there’s a liberal, that there’s a heavy liberal persuasion among correspondents.....Anybody who has to live with the people, who covers police stations, covers county courts, brought up that way, has to have a degree of humanity that people who do not have that exposure don’t have, and some people interpret that to be liberal. It’s not a liberal, it’s humanitarian and that’s a vastly different thing.”
— Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite at the March 21, 1996 Radio & TV Correspondents Dinner.

“There are lots of reasons fewer people are watching network news, and one of them, I’m more convinced than ever, is that our viewers simply don’t trust us. And for good reason. The old argument that the networks and other `media elites’ have a liberal bias is so blatantly true that it’s hardly worth discussing anymore. No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.....Mr. Engberg’s report set new standards for bias....Can you imagine, in your wildest dreams, a network news reporter calling Hillary Clinton’s health care plan ‘wacky?’...
“‘Reality Check’ suggests the viewers are going to get the facts. And then they can make up their mind. As Mr. Engberg might put it: ‘Time Out!’ You’d have a better chance of getting the facts someplace else — like Albania.”
— CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg on an anti-flat tax story by CBS reporter Eric Engberg, February 13, 1996 Wall Street Journal op-ed.

“I think this is another reflection of the overwhelming journalistic tilt towards liberalism and those programs. Now, the question is whether that’s bad or not, and that’s another debate. But the idea that many of us, and my colleagues deny that there is this kind of bias is nuts, because there is in our world — I forget what the surveys show, but most of us are Democratic and probably most of us line up in the fairly liberal world.”
Time Washington contributing editor Hugh Sidey responding to a caller who asked if journalists are in favor of affirmative action, July 21, 1995 C-SPAN Washington Journal.

“As much as we try to think otherwise, when you’re covering someone like yourself, and your position in life is insecure, she’s your mascot. Something in you roots for her. You’re rooting for your team. I try to get that bias out, but for many of us it’s there.”
Time Senior Writer Margaret Carlson quoted in The Washington Post, March 7, 1994.

“I think liberalism lives — the notion that we don’t have to stay where we are as a society, we have promises to keep, and it is liberalism, whether people like it or not, which has animated all the years of my life. What on Earth did conservatism ever accomplish for our country? It was people who wanted to change things for the better.”
— Charles Kuralt talking with Morley Safer on the CBS special, One for the Road with Charles Kuralt, May 5, 1994.

“I won’t make any pretense that the ‘American Agenda’ [segments on World News Tonight] is totally neutral. We do take a position. And I think the public wants us now to take a position. If you give both sides and ‘Well, on the one hand this and on the other that’ — I think people kind of really want you to help direct their thinking on some issues.”
— ABC News reporter Carole Simpson on CNBC’s Equal Time, August 9, 1994.

“I think we are aware, as everybody who works in the media is, that the old stereotype of the liberal bent happens to be true, and we’re making a concerted effort to really look for more from the other, without being ponderous or lecturing or trying to convert people to another way of thinking.”
— ABC World News Tonight Executive Producer Emily Rooney, September 27, 1993 Electronic Media.

“The group of people I’ll call The Press — by which I mean several dozen political journalists of my acquaintance, many of whom the Buchanan administration may someday round up on suspicion of having Democratic or even liberal sympathies — was of one mind as the season’s first primary campaign shuddered toward its finish. I asked each of them, one after another, this question: If you were a New Hampshire Democrat, whom would you vote for? The answer was always the same; and the answer was always Clinton. In this group, in my experience, such unanimity is unprecedented....
“Almost none is due to calculations about Clinton being ‘electable’...and none at all is due to belief in Clinton’s denials in the Flowers business, because no one believes these denials. No, the real reason members of The Press like Clinton is simple, and surprisingly uncynical: they think he would make a very good, perhaps a great, President. Several told me they were convinced that Clinton is the most talented presidential candidate they have ever encountered, JFK included.”
New Republic Senior Editor Hendrik Hertzberg, March 9, 1992 issue.

“We’re unpopular because the press tends to be liberal, and I don’t think we can run away from that. And I think we’re unpopular with a lot of conservatives and Republicans this time because the White House press corps by and large detested George Bush, probably for good and sufficient reason, they certainly can cite chapter and verse. But their real contempt for him showed through in their reporting in a way that I think got up the nose of the American people.”
Time writer William A. Henry III on the PBS November 4, 1992 election-night special The Finish Line.

“Coverage of the campaign vindicated exactly what conservatives have been saying for years about liberal bias in the media. In their defense, journalists say that though they may have their personal opinions, as professionals they are able to correct for them when they write. Sounds nice, but I’m not buying any.”
— Former Newsweek reporter Jacob Weisberg in The New Republic, November 23, 1992 issue.

“There is no such thing as objective reporting...I’ve become even more crafty about finding the voices to say the things I think are true. That’s my subversive mission.”
Boston Globe environmental reporter Dianne Dumanoski at an Utne Reader symposium May 17-20, 1990. Quoted by Micah Morrison in the July 1990 American Spectator.

“I do have an axe to grind...I want to be the little subversive person in television.”
— Barbara Pyle, CNN Environmental Editor and Turner Broadcasting Vice President for Environmental Policy, as quoted by David Brooks in the July 1990 American Spectator.

“I’m not sure it’s useful to include every single point of view simply in order to cover every base because you can come up with a program that’s virtually impossible for the audience to sort out.”
— PBS Senior Producer Linda Harrar commenting on PBS’s ten-part series, Race to Save The Planet, to MRC and reported in the December 1990 MediaWatch.

“As the science editor at Time I would freely admit that on this issue we have crossed the boundary from news reporting to advocacy.”
Time Science Editor Charles Alexander at a September 16, 1989 global warming conference at the Smithsonian Institution as quoted by David Brooks in an October 5, 1989 Wall Street Journal column.

“Clearly the networks have made that decision now, where you’d have to call it [global warming stories] advocacy.”
— NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Andrea Mitchell at a September 16, 1989 global warming conference at the Smithsonian Institution as quoted by David Brooks in an October 5, 1989 Wall Street Journal column.

Denials of Liberal Bias

"I know that I’ve tried my best through my career to ask challenging questions to whomever I’m speaking, and whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat, I try to raise important issues depending on their particular position.... Oftentimes people put their, they see you from their own individual prisms. And if you’re not reflecting their point of view, or you’re asking an antagonistic question of someone they might agree with in terms of policy, they see you as the enemy, and I think that’s just a mistake....You have Fox, which espouses a particular point of view."
— Incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric at the Aspen Ideas Festival on July 5, broadcast by C-SPAN on September 2, 2006.

"[I am] biased — I have a very strong bias toward independent journalism.... Some of what you describe as ‘baggage’ comes from people who have the following view: Their view is, ‘You report the news the way I want it reported or I’m going to make you pay a price and hang a sign around your neck saying you’re a bomb-toting Bolshevik.’"
— Ex-CBS anchorman Dan Rather, as quoted by the Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes in a July 12, 2006 column.

"Well, they call you names when you insist on being independent....It’s important for the American people to understand that a journalist or journalistic enterprise that’s willing to be truly independent, and fiercely independent when called upon, and dedicated to pulling no punches and playing no favorites have become in recent years a bit of an endangered species....Certainly, I didn’t do it perfectly. A lot of people think I did it lousily. Maybe I did. And I’ve got my scars and got my wounds. And yes, people always want to put a sign around you and call you something bad if you refuse to report the news the way they want it reported."
— Dan Rather on CNN’s Larry King Live, July 12, 2006.

FNC’s Bill O’Reilly:
“Now the right wing thinks you’re a raving liberal, you and Rather contrived to put Bush in the worst possible light....So are you a liberal?”
Fired CBS producer Mary Mapes: “Well, I’m not sure what a liberal is. I’m more liberal than some people. I can tell you my eight-year-old son thinks he’s being raised by the most conservative parents in the world....”
O’Reilly: “Are you registered Democrat?”
Mapes: “You know, I don’t know....I don’t know if I’m independent or Democrat. I know I’m not — in Texas, I’m not sure how I’m registered.”
O’Reilly: “So you would describe yourself politically as?”
Mapes: “Oh, my goodness. I’m liberal on some things, I’m conservative on some things.”
— FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor, November 10, 2005.

“It’s very difficult for any reporter or producer to completely and totally shut out his political opinions, but what I’ve seen at CBS News, people do a darned good job at doing that. I guess if I saw that creeping into our coverage I would have to address it, but I don’t see that in our coverage. I think we have been falsely accused of that at times.”
— New CBS News President Sean McManus at a meeting with CBS employees, as reported by Vaughn Ververs on the “Public Eye” blog on, November 8, 2005.

Chris Wallace: “I get e-mails from time to time saying to me, ‘You’re just like your father,’ and they don’t mean it as a compliment.”
CBS’s Mike Wallace: “What does that mean?”
Chris Wallace: “They say, ‘Go to CBS. Go to one of the big networks. Go to the mainstream media’ — as if that were a foreign land. Do you understand why some people feel such disaffection for the mainstream media?”
Mike Wallace: “Oh, yeah. They think we’re wild-eyed commies. Liberals. Yes?”
Chris Wallace: “That’s what they think. How do you plead?”
Mike Wallace: “I think it’s damn foolishness.”
— Exchange on Fox News Sunday, November 6, 2005.

“As was the practice in all he did, Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate. When did we stop believing that this is indeed how we all perform our jobs or try to? When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It’s shameful. But I digress.”
— MSNBC President and former ABC and CNN news executive Rick Kaplan praising ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather on September 19 as the latter received a lifetime achievement award from the National Television Academy, a ceremony televised on C-SPAN on October 1, 2005.

“A lot of my personal worldview is unmistakably sympathetic to things in a liberal playbook, but honest to God, I have been called a reactionary by some on the far left, a liberal by some on the far right and I’m insulted by both terms. My point of view is about delivering information and context. It has nothing to do with a political point of view.”
— MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, as quoted in a June 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle profile by Mike McDaniel.

“One way a reporter in this country should be judged is how well he or she stands up to the pressure to intimidate. I remember the first time someone accused me of being an ‘N-lover.’ There was a lot of that during the ‘60s when I covered the civil rights movement. Then you move forward from civil rights into the Vietnam War....’We’re going to hang a sign around you which calls you some bad name: anti-military, anti-American, anti-war.’ Then, when Watergate came into being....was the first time I began to hear this word ‘liberal’ as an epithet thrown my way....People who have very strong biases of their own, they come at you with a story: ‘If you won’t report it the way I want it reported, then you’re biased.’ Now, it is true about me, for better or for worse, if you want to see my neck swell, you just try to tell me where to line up or what to think and mostly what to report.”
— Dan Rather near the end of his one-hour CBS News special, Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers, which aired on his last night as CBS Evening News anchor, March 9, 2005.

“He [Dan Rather] should be remembered as the complete reporter, a person who should be remembered for the hundreds and thousands of broadcasts he did....If we wish to be fair-minded rather than mean-spirited, we should not be fixated on the one story that went bad.”
— Former CBS News reporter Marvin Kalb, now at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, as quoted in the March 8, 2005 Boston Globe.

Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes: “Look, at the end of the day, if we’re worried about too many conservatives in the White House press briefing room, this is a discussion that’s not, that’s not gonna resonate with the American public.”
Host Chris Matthews: “You think it’s mostly packed with liberals? Are you saying most of those people who are paid to be journalists in that room are lib-labs, they’re liberals?”
Hayes: “Yes, of course....Is there a debate about that?”
Matthews: “Well, there’s Helen Thomas, who I would call liberal. But who else is in there? Seriously. There are a lot of straight reporters in that room.”
Time’s Margaret Carlson: “I think they’re mostly straight reporters. And I don’t think you can keep your job otherwise....Elisabeth Bumiller reports for the New York Times, which has a liberal editorial page, but she plays it straight down the middle.”
— Exchange on MSNBC’s Hardball, February 25, 2005.

Ex-CBS reporter Phil Jones: “I’ve known Dan Rather for almost 40 years. The Dan Rather I know, believe me, had the President of the United States been a Democrat, he would still have pushed to go forward with that story. And for all these people out there who want to attack Dan as being this partisan Democrat...this is not an exhibit.”
PBS’s Terence Smith, who worked at CBS News from 1985 to 1998: “I second that.”
— CNN’s Reliable Sources, January 16, 2005.

“I don’t think I’m easily characterized. I grew up in red-state America, but I live in blue-state America and I like to think that I reflect the sensibilities of both those places.”
— NBC’s Tom Brokaw on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning on December 1, 2004 his last day as Nightly News anchor.

“I’m not political. I don’t vote....I have no more interest in the political outcome of an election than I did in the winner or loser of any ballgame I ever covered.”
— MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, formerly with ESPN, in an Online Journalism Review interview posted November 30, 2004.

“[Media Research Center President] Brent Bozell has, you know, an entire organization devoted to doing as much damage, and I choose that word carefully, as he can to the credibility of the news divisions. And now, on the Left, there are the young bloggers out there ....These three aging white men are stuck somewhere in the middle trying, on a nightly basis, to give a fair and balanced picture of what’s going on in the world.”
– NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, sitting alongside Dan Rather and Peter Jennings, at an October 2, 2004 New Yorker Festival forum shown on C-SPAN the next day.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I am not politically motivated, not politically active for Democrats or Republicans, and that I’m independent. People who are so passionately partisan politically or ideologically committed basically say, ‘Because he won’t report it our way, we’re going to hang something bad around his neck and choke him with it, check him out of existence if we can, if not make him feel great pain.’ They know that I’m fiercely independent and that’s what drives them up a wall.”
— CBS’s Dan Rather as quoted by USA Today’s Peter Johnson and Jim Drinkard in a September 16, 2004 article.

“Powerful and extremely well-financed forces are concentrating on questions about the documents because they can’t deny the fundamental truth of the [60 Minutes National Guard] story. If you can’t deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, it’s change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents. This is your basic fogging machine, which is set up to cloud the issue, to obscure the truth....Over the long haul, this will be consistent with our history and our traditions and reputation. We took heat during the McCarthy time, during Vietnam, during civil rights, during Watergate. We haven’t always been right, but our record is damn good.”
— CBS’s Dan Rather as quoted by the New York Observer’s Joe Hagan, September 15, 2004

“CNN, I think, is viewed as liberal because, I think, this is my own personal perspective, I think journalists are generally viewed as being liberal....[Since] we don’t give a slant, we don’t give a corporate slant to the journalism, that bias towards both discovery and revealing the truth that is inherent in journalism comes through in CNN, and they get characterized as being a liberal network.”
— Time Warner Chairman and CEO Richard Parsons, whose company owns CNN, speaking at the UNITY: Journalists of Color conference in Washington, DC on August 6, 2004 and shown live on C-SPAN.

“Another disturbing development, for which I was unprepared, was that a small enclave of neoconservative editors was making accusations of ‘political correctness’ in order to block stories or slant them against minorities and traditional social welfare programs.”
— Former Executive Editor Howell Raines in “My Times,” a 21,000-word article about the obstacles he faced while running the New York Times, published in the May 2004 edition of The Atlantic.

“Personal feelings about this war have run very high among readers, even before it started, and the view that things are better than the press makes them out to be has been expressed by the Bush administration and supporters of the war for more than a year. There are, undoubtedly, some positive developments that may not have been reported. But it seems to me that events on the ground have confirmed the thrust and credibility of the reporting on this conflict and that the press generally has been more reliable than official statements as a guide to what is happening. My view is that both this country and Iraq are at a critical juncture in a huge, costly and controversial undertaking and that readers who view the work of reporters covering this for major U.S. news organizations as “lefty spin” are fooling themselves.”
Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler in his Sunday column, May 23, 2004.

American University journalism professor Jane Hall: “The Media Research Center, the conservative media watchdog group, has been getting a lot of attention for its reports alleging liberal bias in the media....What is the impact, do you think, of a steady drumbeat of such criticism? Does it not have an impact on the network?”
Tom Brokaw: “It is a little wearying, but you’ve got to rise above it and take it case by case. Most of the cases are pretty flimsily made....What I get tired of is Brent Bozell [president of the MRC] trying to make these fine legal points everywhere every day. A lot of it just doesn’t hold up. So much of it is that bias — like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder.”
— From an interview with Brokaw in the January/February 2004 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review.

“What troubles me is a disturbing trend of using the popular appeal of those [conservative] beliefs in some quarters as cover for a kind of commercial nihilism....They suffocate vigorous discourse, the oxygen of a system such as ours, by identifying those who refuse to conform and encouraging a kind of e-mail or telephonic jihad which is happily carried out by well-funded organizations operating under the guise of promoting fair press coverage....What is so unsettling about the current climate is the ruthless efficiency of the attacks on those who refuse to conform.”
— NBC’s Tom Brokaw in a November 19, 2003 speech at a National Press Club dinner where he was given the 2003 Fourth Estate Award at an event shown live on C-SPAN.

“It’s admirable for reporters to be skeptical, provided they’re not cynical. But I’m not any more skeptical about Republican administrations than I am about Democratic administrations.”
— Peter Jennings, as quoted by St. Petersburg Times television critic Eric Deggans in a November 18, 2003 story.

“Discussion about liberal bias has gotten altogether skewed and altogether out of proportion. There were legitimate complaints by the right a few years ago, but now the pendulum has swung wildly to the other side in terms of radio and talk shows on television.”
— Ex-CNN reporter Frank Sesno, quoted by the American Journalism Review’s Rachel Smolkin in “Are the News Media Soft on Bush?” October/November 2003.

“I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I’m sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did....The entire body politic...did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels.”
— CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on CNBC’s Topic A with Tina Brown, September 10, 2003.

“I don’t think anybody who looks carefully at us thinks that we are a left-wing or a right-wing organization.”
— Peter Jennings, as quoted by USA Today’s Peter Johnson in a September 9, 2003 article on Jennings’ 20 years as sole anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight.

“I think that we’ve gotten it mostly right on the big and the complex issues of our time. And in fairness to my competitors — and Peter just celebrated his 20th anniversary — I think you could say the same thing about Peter Jennings and Dan Rather as well. These three aging white guys have been at this for a while now, and for the most part I think that we’ve served this country very well.”
— Tom Brokaw on CNBC’s Capital Report September 5, 2003, his 20th anniversary as anchor of NBC Nightly News.

“I’m not going to judge anybody else in the business, but our work — I can speak for NBC News and our newsroom — it goes through, talk about checks and balances. We have an inordinate number of editors. Every word I write, before it goes on air, goes through all kinds of traps and filters, and it’s read by all kinds of different people who point out bias.”
— CNBC anchor Brian Williams on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, July 29, 2003.

“Our greatest accomplishment as a profession is the development since World War II of a news reporting craft that is truly non-partisan, and non-ideological, and that strives to be independent of undue commercial or governmental influence....It is that legacy we must protect with our diligent stewardship. To do so means we must be aware of the energetic effort that is now underway to convince our readers that we are ideologues. It is an exercise of, in disinformation, of alarming proportions. This attempt to convince the audience of the world’s most ideology-free newspapers that they’re being subjected to agenda-driven news reflecting a liberal bias. I don’t believe our viewers and readers will be, in the long-run, misled by those who advocate biased journalism.”
New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines accepting the “George Beveridge Editor of the Year Award” at a National Press Foundation dinner shown live on C-SPAN2 February 20, 2003.

CBS’s Lesley Stahl: “Today you have broadcast journalists who are avowedly conservative....The voices that are being heard in broadcast media today, are far more — the ones who are being heard — are far more likely to be on the right and avowedly so, and therefore, more — almost stridently so, than what you’re talking about.”
Host Cal Thomas: “Can you name a conservative journalist at CBS News?”
Stahl: “I don’t know of anybody’s political bias at CBS News....We try very hard to get any opinion that we have out of our stories, and most of our stories are balanced.”
— Exchange on Fox News Channel’s After Hours with Cal Thomas, January 18, 2003.

“It took conservatives a lot of hard and steady work to push the media rightward. It dishonors that work to continue to presume that — except for a few liberal columnists — there is any such thing as the big liberal media. The media world now includes (1) talk radio, (2) cable television and (3) the traditional news sources (newspapers, newsmagazines and the old broadcast networks). Two of these three major institutions tilt well to the right, and the third is under constant pressure to avoid even the pale hint of liberalism....What it adds up to is a media heavily biased toward conservative politics and conservative politicians.”
— Former Washington Post and New York Times reporter E.J. Dionne in a December 6, 2002 Washington Post op-ed.

“I don’t think it’s a liberal agenda. It happens that journalism will always be spending more time on issues that seem to be liberal to some people: the problem of the downtrodden, the problem of civil rights and human rights, the problem of those people who don’t have a place at the table with the powerful.”
– NBC anchor Tom Brokaw on MSNBC’s Donahue when asked about the claim of liberal media bias, July 25, 2002.

“I have yet to see a body of evidence that suggests the reporting that gets on the air reflects any political bias.”
— Former CNN and CBS reporter, now Executive Director of NewsLab, Deborah Potter as reported in “Leaning on the Media” by Mark Jurkowitz, The Boston Globe, January 17, 2002.

“Searching for the unbiased human being is an impossible task...What makes journalists skilled is that they know how to be fair.”
— Former CNN President Rick Kaplan as reported in “Leaning on the Media” by Mark Jurkowitz, The Boston Globe, January 17, 2002.

“The idea that we would set out, consciously or unconsciously, to put some kind of an ideological framework over what we’re doing is nonsense.”
— NBC’s Tom Brokaw, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, May 24, 2001.

“I think the tag, you know, somehow or another, ‘he’s a bomb-throwing Bolshevik from the left side’ that’s attached to me, is put there by people who, they subscribe to the idea either you report the news the way we want you to report it, or we’re gonna tag some, what we think negative sign on you.”
— CBS’s Dan Rather, CNBC’s Rivera Live, May 21, 2001.

“I think there is a mainstream media. CNN is mainstream media, and the main, ABC, CBS, NBC are mainstream media. And I think it’s just essentially to make the point that we are largely in the center without particular axes to grind, without ideologies which are represented in our daily coverage, at least certainly not on purpose.”
— ABC’s Peter Jennings, CNN’s Larry King Live, May 15, 2001.

“I’m not liberal. First of all, I finally decided to get rid of those two words, ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative.’ I don’t know what they mean anymore. I mean, I’ve come down to ‘sense’ and ‘nonsense.’ It makes sense to me, it’s got nothing to do with conservative or liberal, it makes sense to me that hunters be allowed to have rifles. It makes no sense to me that there are 200 million handguns in American cities. I have always believed that if you get the NRA out of the way, decent reasonable Americans would figure out a way to respect the Second Amendment and get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”
— Don Hewitt, Executive Producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes, on CNN’s Larry King Live, April 11, 2001.

Bill Press: “Why is it that you are the epitome of the left-wing liberal media in the mind of every conservative I’ve ever talked to? What did you do to get that reputation?”
Dan Rather: “I remained an independent reporter who would not report the news the way they wanted it or – from the left or the right. I’m a lifetime reporter. All I ever dreamed of was being a journalist, and the definition of journalist to me was the guy who’s an honest broker of information....I do subscribe to the idea of: ‘Play no favorites and pull no punches.’”
— Exchange on CNN’s Crossfire, June 24, 1999.

“I think we can now safely conclude that this whole notion that the liberal media elite is coddling Bill Clinton and always plays to the Democrats is absurd. I mean the fact is who’s been the undoing of Bill Clinton: Newsweek and the Washington Post, those raging conservative publications.”
— Former New York Times and U.S. News reporter Steve Roberts on Lewinsky scandal coverage, CNN’s Late Edition, February 1, 1998.

“Scholar after scholar has disputed, in studying the actual content of the press, what you’ve just blithely handed out that it’s this left-wing media. That’s a charge from the ’50s. That’s not the current press....the bias is a bias against politicians of all kinds, not a bias for one side or other.”
— Ellen Hume, Director of the PBS Democracy Project, reacting to Bob Novak’s assertion the mainstream media are “tilted to the left.” July 27, 1997 CNN’s Reliable Sources.

“I don’t think voting for Clinton makes you a liberal. I mean, Bill Clinton isn’t even a liberal, and second, if you’re liberal, does that mean you can’t be fair? What hypocrisy that we sit around and talk about the press like it’s some sort of ‘they.’ It’s us. Are we too liberal? N-O.”
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group, July 5, 1997.

“There is no convincing evidence that journalists infect their stories — intentionally or otherwise — with their own political prejudices....While a few studies suggest such a link, most are the handiwork of right-leaning groups and critics whose research methods can’t withstand scrutiny....The credibility of the media is not suffering because of a liberal bias; it’s suffering, in large part, because of the continuing charge of bias that has gone unanswered for too long.”
— Everette Dennis, Senior VP of the Freedom Forum, in the January-February 1997 edition of ASNE’s magazine, The American Editor.

“I was about to say that if you want to talk about bias, go ask President Clinton where the bias lies. As you know, the White House just issued this big huge study, they called it, of how the mainline media is sucked in by the right-wing conspiratorialists. My point is that everybody who watches television brings their own biases to it, and if what you’re watching doesn’t please you, then you think we’re biased. Everybody dislikes the messenger. Everybody complains about us, right wing, left wing, Democrats, Republicans. They all pound on us. They all think we’re unfair to them if we’re telling them things they don’t want to hear. And we do the best we can. We try to be fair.”
— CBS 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, January 31, 1997.

“I think the fact that we’re still standing, this day, 35 years after we...entered this business, is some, immodestly, some small tribute the fact that we’ve worked very hard to drain the bias out of what we do.”
— NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw at the National Press Club, June 11, 1996.

“When you’re talking about pure journalists, I mean reporters, when you’re talking about reporters, not columnists, I don’t think there’s any liberal bias. I don’t think there really ever has been.”
Los Angeles Times Senior Washington correspondent Jack Nelson on CNBC’s Politics ‘96, March 9, 1996.

“I’m all news, all the time. Full power, tall tower. I want to break in when news breaks out. That’s my agenda. Now respectfully, when you start talking about a liberal agenda and all the, quote, liberal bias in the media, I quite frankly, and I say this respectfully but candidly to you, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now if you want to talk about an issue, what do I believe as a citizen of the United States of America, I can tell you what I believe in. I believe in a strong defense, clean water, and tight money. Now whatever that makes me politically, that’s what I am. What I don’t like, and if you want to see my neck swell or the hair begin to rise on the back of my neck, is to be tagged by someone else’s label. I try really hard not to do that with other people, particularly people who are in public service and politics.”
— Dan Rather to talk radio host Mike Rosen of KOA in Denver, November 28, 1995.

“I don’t think the coverage of Gingrich and the GOP Congress has been liberally biased...”
— ABC’s Cokie Roberts on CNBC’s Meet the Media, October 23, 1995.

Larry King: “Over all these fifteen years, how do you react to the constant, especially, far right-wing criticism that the news on CBS is mainstream biased?”
Dan Rather: “....Well, my answer to that is basically a good Texas phrase, which is bullfeathers....I think the fact that if someone survives for four or five years at or near the top in network television, you can just about bet they are pretty good at keeping independence in their reporting. What happens is a lot of people don’t want independence. They want the news reported the way they want it for their own special political agendas or ideological reasons.”
— CNN’s Larry King Live, March 11, 1995.

“It’s one of the great political myths, about press bias. Most reporters are interested in a story. Most reporters don’t know whether they’re Republican or Democrat, and vote every which way. Now, a lot of politicians would like you to believe otherwise, but that’s the truth of the matter. I’ve worked around journalism all of my life, Tom Snyder has as well, and I think he’ll agree with this, that most reporters, when you get to know them, would fall in the general category of kind of common-sense moderates. And also, let me say that I don’t think that ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ means very much any more, except to those kind of inside-the-Beltway people who want to use it for their own partisan political advantage. I don’t think it holds up.”
— Dan Rather answering a caller’s question about liberal bias on CBS’s Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, February 8, 1995.

Question: “I don’t think it’s your personal liberal bias that’s well-known, but the liberal bias of your network is obvious.”
ABC News anchor Carole Simpson: “I challenge you to give me examples of that. I disagree wholeheartedly. I think it’s again, an example of the mean-spiritedness that is these days also directed at the media.”
— January 5, 1995 AOL auditorium session.

“A liberal bias? I don’t know what a liberal bias is. Do you mean we care about the poor, the sick, and the maimed? Do we care whether people are being shot every day on the streets of America? If that’s liberal, so be it. I think it’s everything that’s good in life — that we do care. And also for the solutions — we seek solutions and we do think that we are all responsible for what happens in this country.”
— UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas on C-SPAN’s Journalists’ Roundtable, December 31, 1993.

“I think there are reporters around Clinton who are baby boomers who are drawn to him. I think there are a lot of reporters in Washington who just wish for a new story. But I watch probably as many talk shows, and as many interview shows, what George Bush calls the professional talking heads on Sundays, as anybody else. I actually think the bias, in the overall system, is from the center to the right.”
— PBS’s Bill Moyers on CNN’s Larry King Live, November 2, 1992.

“I don’t think there is [a bias] at all. I think anyone who accuses the press of bias is acting in desperation, I think. I think the press has been much more aggressive and fair, in being, in going after both sides, and looking, than ever before.”
New York Times reporter Richard Berke on CNN’s Larry King Live, October 16, 1992.

“My reaction to that button [‘Rather Biased’] and others, in part, is a button I bought yesterday that says `Yeah, I’m In The Media, Screw You!’....I do understand why a lot of people are upset with us, why we rank somewhere between terrorists and bank robbers on the approval scale. We do criticize. That’s part of our role. Our role is not just to parrot what people say, it’s to make people think. I think that sometimes I want to say to the electorate ‘Grow up!’”
Newsweek reporter Ginny Carroll on C-SPAN’s Journalists’ Roundtable, August 21, 1992.


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