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Admissions of Liberal Bias


“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 ABCNews.com’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, CBSNews.com, 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 CNSNews.com 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.

 

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