More About U.S. Abusing Walker; Castigating Only Bush as Partisan; No Bias at ABC? You're "Delusional"; Goldberg Book a Best-Seller
1) Helen Thomas on John Walker: "Are we so primitive
that we would ship this man in a box, deny him legal rights, deny him the
right to see a lawyer, deny him the right to see his parents? I mean, is
2) Referring to President Bush's announcement of a
bi-partisan compromise stimulus bill which Senate Majority Leader Tom
Daschle opposes, ABC's Terry Moran castigated Bush for his
"'in-your-face, Tom Daschle' move" and asked why shouldn't
people "see this as a return to...partisan wrangling?"
3) Former ABC News Political Director Hal Bruno insisted
Wednesday on CNN: "I know from the very top all the way on down at
ABC, not only was there not a bias, but we constantly were on the alert to
make sure that no bias creeped [sic] into our coverage." Ex-CBS
reporter Bernard Goldberg, author of a new book, Bias, dubbed Bruno as
"delusional, he's absolutely delusional."
4) Bernard Goldberg's book will debut at #13 this Sunday
on the New York Times best-seller list. Last week the Wall Street Journal
said the book is a "must-read" for "any aspiring
journalist. His case is airtight." Even the New York Times lauded his
second straight day at the White House press briefing session, Helen
Thomas of Hearst Newspapers and Terry Moran of ABC News grilled Press
Secretary Ari Fleischer on Wednesday about the rights of John Walker, the
American found with the Taliban. On Tuesday, Moran took the lead, as
detailed in the December 19 CyberAlert:
On Wednesday, Thomas took the lead role. She
bizarrely suggested that because the U.S. government had not given Walker
access to a lawyer he would be confined to a box: "Are we so
primitive that we would ship this man in a box, deny him legal rights,
deny him the right to see a lawyer, deny him the right to see his parents?
I mean, is that America?"
Which part of the Constitution guarantees a
right to see your parents when you are caught with enemy troops?
The discussion about Walker occurred near the
end of the December 19 briefing. MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth checked the
WhiteHouse.gov transcript against the MRC's tape of CNN coverage to
correct any errors.
After Fleischer told a reporter that Walker
"is considered, under the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment
of prisoners of war, a battlefield detainee," Thomas demanded:
"My question falls in line with that. Are we so primitive that we
would ship this man in a box, deny him legal rights, deny him the right to
see a lawyer, deny him the right to see his parents? I mean, is that
Fleischer tried to calm down the long-time UPI
reporter: "Helen, under the Geneva Convention regarding treatment of
prisoners of war, the military and intelligence agencies may question
prisoners for information that's of military value in the conduct of war
without the presence of a lawyer. That is what the Geneva Convention calls
Thomas piped up: "You ship him in a
Fleischer: "-and the Geneva Convention is
being followed in this case."
Moran demanded: "So it trumps his
constitutional right to-"
Fleischer: "No, this is done consistent with
Moran: "How so?"
Fleischer: "Because what you're referring
to, Terry, deals with custodial interrogation-"
Fleischer: "-and that only comes into play,
that only comes in as a matter of statute when he is in the custody of law
enforcement personnel. He is covered under the Geneva Convention by
military personnel, which triggers a different set of statutory
Thomas, obsessed with parental access: "He
can't see his parents? He's not allowed to see his parents?"
Fleischer: "Again, Helen, I think that they
are moving forward with a review of the facts in this matter. But he is
being treated under the Geneva Convention. He is being protected. He has
been given medical care which he was not receiving under the Taliban. And
he has received the protection of the United States Armed Forces in a very
dangerous battlefield condition."
Thomas charged: "He's being interrogated
without a lawyer. Is that fair?"
Fleischer pointed out: "He is being given
all his rights, which are far more than the rights the Taliban or the al-Qaeda
extended to anybody living there."
Thomas sighed: "Well, we're not comparing
ourselves, are we?"
If he really wanted to see his parents would
he have decided to live in Afghanistan with terrorists?
you see the roadblock to a stimulus bill as being caused by Senate
Majority Leader Tom Daschle refusing to sign onto a compromise bill
favored by President Bush, Republicans and a few Democrats, or being
caused by President Bush and the Republicans refusing to accommodate the
goals set forth by Daschle, an even-handed reporter would not denounce
just one party in the dispute for bringing back partisan politics.
But that's just what ABC News White House
reporter Terry Moran did on Wednesday as he blamed Bush. Referring to
Bush's announcement of a bi-partisan compromise, at the December 19
White House press briefing, Moran pounced: "After weeks of working,
essentially quietly behind the scenes, with meetings on the Hill at night
or the breakfasts here with the leaders, this is really an
'in-your-face, Tom Daschle' move, isn't it?"
Fleischer replied: "No, this is an
achievement, an agreement with the key people on the Hill who can deliver
the votes in the center. This is the center speaking out. And this is an
agreement that the American people, particularly those who worry about
whether they're going to keep their jobs, can be proud of. You know, the
fact of the matter is, time is running out on the Congress. They're only
here for another day or two. They need to get the job done. There's not
much time left to talk."
Moran followed up: "Well, why shouldn't the
American people see this as a return to the partisan wrangling over the
nation's business, a return to very sharp-edged, in-your-face
Goldberg hit a wall of denial of any liberal bias Wednesday afternoon
during an appearance on CNN's Talk Back Live with Hal Bruno, Political
Director at ABC News for nearly 20 years ending in 1997. Bruno insisted:
"I know from the very top all the way on down at ABC, not only was
there not a bias, but we constantly were on the alert to make sure that no
bias creeped [sic] into our coverage."
Goldberg, a former CBS News correspondent,
penned the new book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the
News. See the December 3, 5, 7 and 13 CyberAlerts for previous items about
When Goldberg recalled how at the start of the
January 1999 Senate impeachment trial Peter Jennings "identified
every conservative who went up to sign that oath book as a
conservative" while not labeling the liberal Senators, Bruno
dismissed the claim: "Well, I don't think it is an example of liberal
bias. And I do not recall such a thing happening." Goldberg retorted:
"Well, it happened." Indeed it did, as documented at the time in
Later, Bruno maintained that the fact that the
vast majority of ABC News staffers are pro-choice on abortion has no
impact on coverage. Goldberg fired back: "He's delusional. He's
absolutely delusional." That led Bruno to dismiss Goldberg as
"an ideologue," as if anyone who perceives liberal bias must by
a right-wing ideologue.
On the December 19 CNN show hosted by Tucker
Carlson, Goldberg outlined his thesis: "The evidence is the way they
see the world. They see conservatives very clearly; they don't see
liberals. They identify conservatives as right-wing Republicans, as
right-wing Christians, as right-wing radio talk show hosts, right-wing
Miami Cubans. But the only time you ever hear the term 'left-wing' out
of these peoples' mouths is if they're talking about a part of an
airplane. It's how they see the big issues of our time, whether it's
feminism, whether it's gay rights, whether it's race, whether it's even
homelessness. That's where the liberal bias comes in."
Carlson wondered: "Now, Hal Bruno, in Mr.
Goldberg's book he makes an interesting point. Study after study after
study shows that the majority of the news media -- particularly at the
networks -- vote Democratic. Mr. Goldberg says, look, if the majority of
the media were Midwestern Republicans, would it affect the coverage? Maybe
on the margins it would. Yes, it probably would. Is that, I mean-"
Bruno insisted: "It wouldn't affect it in
the slightest. First of all, we are professional journalists. Most of my
colleagues that I worked with in 50 years in journalism, including 20
years at ABC News, weren't anything. They were mostly middle of the road.
Whatever they were, they left it at home when they came to work. I worked
15 years with Peter Jennings every single day on all programs that had
anything to do with political coverage. Never once did I have any problems
at all with any kind of political bias. It just wasn't there."
Carlson: "Bernie Goldberg, what are the
orthodoxies? What are the things that are taken for granted?"
Goldberg recalled: "Let me just answer Hal
for a second. With all due respect, Hal, during the impeachment hearings
all the Senators went up in the Senate to sign an oath book to swear that
they'd be fair and impartial. Peter Jennings was doing a live
play-by-play. He identified every conservative who went up to sign that
oath book as a conservative. He said there is Senator Santorum, a
conservative from Pennsylvania. There is Senator Smith, a conservative
from New Hampshire. Every conservative who went up there, Peter Jennings
identified and rightly so. Because the audience needed to know that these
conservatives had an axe to grind. They were conservative, and during
impeachment that was going to matter. But then when every liberal went up,
Senator Boxer was simply Senator Boxer from California. When Senator
Schumer went up, Senator Schumer was simply Senator Schumer from New York.
When Senator Daschle went up, he was simply Senator Daschle from South
Dakota. Now, Hal, did you miss that or do you not think that's an example
of liberal bias?"
Bruno maintained: "Well, I don't think it is
an example of liberal bias. And I do not recall such a thing
Goldberg: "Well, it happened."
Bruno: "But if you say it happened, I won't
argue with you. But I know that over a period of all these years and, you
know, I can only speak for ABC News. I cannot talk about the internal
workings of other networks because I don't know. But I know from the very
top all the way on down at ABC, not only was there not a bias, but we
constantly were on the alert to make sure that no bias creeped into our
coverage. And I was directly in charge of the political coverage. We
always had a saying in my political unit when the campaign started: 'We
don't care who wins or loses. All we want to do is get it right.'"
Indeed, Goldberg's recollection is correct,
though the January 7, 1999 event happened after Bruno left ABC News. An
excerpt from the January 8, 1999 CyberAlert:
....Peter Jennings told viewers the names of some of the Senators they
were watching. After pointing out but not labeling liberal Democrats John
Kerry, Herbert Kohl, Ted Kennedy, and Carl Levin, Jennings found two worth
tagging and then a liberal he didn't find label-worthy:
"Senator John McCain here of Arizona, left-hander. More right than
left in his politics and intending to run for President of the United
States. Senator McConnell of Kentucky, very determined conservative member
of the Republican Party. Senator Mikulski of Maryland. It tells you
something about how often they're in the news whether they are easily or
not easily recognized..."
Seconds later: "Senator Rick Santorum, one of the younger members
of the Senate, Republican, very determined conservative member of the
Senate. That's Senator Daschle there in the left-hand side of your
picture. Behind him Senator Byrd. Senator Sarbanes of Maryland, a long
time Democratic Senator just walking across the picture...."
Just after not labeling Democrat Charles Schumer, Jennings warned
viewers: "Mr. Smith of New Hampshire, also another very, very
conservative Republican intending to run for the presidency..."
Finally, he ended by running through the names of the last five Senators,
three of whom are amongst the most far-left in the Senate: "Senator
Torricelli of New Jersey that was. Senator Voinovich, Senator John Warner
of Virginia, and the next one up Senator Wellstone from Minnesota and the
last W, having all 100 Senators, in the brown suit there, Senator Wyden of
END of Excerpt
For the entire item, with my always insightful
quips, go to:
Back to CNN's Talk Back Live on Wednesday,
after an ad break Carlson posited: "Hal Bruno, let ask me you this.
And honestly, what percentage of the news media, the network news media,
how about just ABC News, is pro-choice? It's got to be above 80, don't you
Bruno: "Well, we have a tremendous number of
women that have come into journalism in the last 20 years-"
Carlson: "But not all women are pro-choice,
Bruno: "-and most women tend to be
pro-choice. So I would have to say obviously, I'd say a majority of the
people who work in the news, not just at ABC, but who work in the news,
are pro-choice. But I think a majority of the country probably is
Carlson interjected: "Hold on. And you don't
think, first of all, that the percentage of pro-choice people at ABC is
greater than that in the country and B, that it, you don't think that
would affect coverage of abortion at all?"
Bruno argued: "No. And I'll tell you why.
Because when I was in charge of our coverage at the time the abortion
issue came back to life in the late 1980s -- and we were very, very
conscious of what the dangers might be in covering this story -- we had to
make sure that both sides got the same kind of treatment. And we went to
great lengths to make sure that that happened. And it did happen on all of
our programs. I always took great pride in the fact that the people who
worked for me and myself, as well, and most of the people at ABC, had the
respect of people on all sides. That the right-to-life people, the
pro-choice people knew that when they were in touch with us, they were
going to be treated fairly. The same thing is true in our dealings with
the people in politics, whether they were conservative or liberal,
Republican or Democrat. They knew that when they talked to us, and when
they came to ABC, they were going to be treated fairly."
Carlson: "Do you buy that, Bernie
Goldberg didn't: "Well, I say this with, I
want to make clear, I say this with all due respect. I'm sure Hal, I don't
know him personally, but I'm sure he's a wonderful guy. I know he's very
competent. I'm sure he loves his family and gives money to charity. But
he's delusional. He's absolutely delusional. Hal Bruno is part of the
problem, not part of the solution. When, and I, here is why I say
Bruno charged: "He's an ideologue and he
accuses everybody else has to be the same as him. The rest of us are not
ideologues. He's the ideologue."
Goldberg: "What ideology would I have,
Bruno: "Well, apparently you must be a
conservative. Are you?"
Goldberg: "Oh, you see, that's
Carlson: "Did you vote for Ronald
Goldberg: "That's interesting. Because Hal
didn't read the book, I'll just help him out. I'm pro-choice. I'm pro-gay
rights. I'm very liberal on many, many issues....But this is what happens
when you talk about liberal bias. You must be an ideologue. Why am I an
ideologue? Because I'm criticizing liberal bias. Well, Hal, maybe you're
the ideologue from the left. Did you ever think of that?"
Bruno: "Well, you know, you're the one that
said that we associate in a world only of our own people. And that's
nonsense. Away from work I was a volunteer firefighter for 40 years. My
best friends were the people I served with on the fire department. I'm
retired now from journalism. I'm chairman of the National Fallen
Firefighters Foundation. We are embroiled in things that affect
everybody's life every single day. So when you spin off a silly thing like
I'm delusional or that I don't know what the other rest of the world is
like because I only associate with liberal journalists, that's
Goldberg challenged him: "Do you think those
firefighters think there's a liberal bias?"
Bruno: "Beg your pardon?"
Goldberg: "Do you think some of those
firefighters, many of them, think there's a liberal bias?"
Bruno: "I think some do. Certainly. Why not?
A certain number of people do believe that."
Goldberg: "And do you think it's because
Bruno became confused: "Yes, I, well, no, I
don't think it's because of that reason. But I think everybody has their
Goldberg: "Well, why do you think it's
because I'm an ideologue, then?"
Bruno: "-and they tend to view the media in
the viewpoint that they're coming from. I always used to have a saying.
For many years, I had to cover the Middle East. And no matter what you the
wrote, you got angry letters from one side or the other. There was no way
that people wouldn't think you were biased. And on the same story, you
would get, you know, angry letters from both sides. And I came to believe
if everybody was mad at you, you're probably doing something right."
That's the ultimate cop-out, though to be
fair to Bruno, of all the prominent figures at a broadcast network over
the last few decades, he was amongst the fairest. Too bad he won't hold
his colleagues to his own standards.
++ See a bit of the Goldberg/Bruno showdown.
Late Thursday morning the MRC's Mez Djouadi will post a RealPlayer clip
of a portion of the above-quoted exchange. Go to the posted version of
this CyberAlert article: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalert/2001/cyb20011220.asp#3
Goldberg's book will debut at an impressive #13 this Sunday on the New
York Times best-seller list, the New York Daily News reported on Tuesday.
While Goldberg's television interviews have
been confined to FNC and now two daytime CNN shows, with a blackout so far
by the broadcast network morning shows and MSNBC (though MSNBC had him on
in June), last week his book earned positive reviews from not only the
Wall Street Journal but even the New York Times.
An excerpt from the December 18 New York Daily
News story by Paul Colford, headlined: "Book That Blasts Media,
Blasts the Charts." It was highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews
A new book that accuses CBS News of liberal bias has become an instant
Written by former CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg, "Bias: A CBS
Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News" will debut Sunday to
No. 13 on The New York Times best-seller list.
That's no small feat considering that four photo collections tied to
the Sept. 11 terror attacks have taken root on the list, making it harder
for new nonfiction to break through.
At the same time, the success of "Bias," like the strong
sales of opinionated books by commentators Bill O'Reilly and Rush
Limbaugh, reflects the appetite among many readers for criticism of how
the media operate.
"For a book to become a New York Times best-seller based on a
first week of sales, when it reached only about 15% to 20% distribution,
just shows there was a huge demand," said Regnery Publishing
president Alfred Regnery....
A prominent report on Goldberg's allegations ran in The Washington Post
on Dec. 3. The author later spent an hour Limbaugh's radio show and earned
a respectful review last Thursday in The Times (Goldberg "asks
questions that are worth asking").
"Bias" was unavailable at several Manhattan bookstores over
the weekend. It ranked No. 8 in sales yesterday at the online retailer
Regnery, a Washington publisher that specializes in conservative
titles, started with 80,000 copies, but now has about 200,000 in print....
END of Excerpt
For the entire story, go to:
An excerpt from the December 13 review in the
Wall Street Journal by Russ Smith, editor-in-chief of the New York Press:
....This insider's account of Mr. Goldberg's career at CBS is filled
with so many stories of repulsive elitism and prejudice on the part of his
peers that it elevates "Bias" to must-read status for any
aspiring journalist. His case is airtight.
On the network news, Robert Bork is the "conservative" judge;
Laurence Tribe, merely a Harvard professor. Mr. Goldberg notes that the
major networks, in a fit of political correctness, reported during the
1980s that AIDS was a menace to everyone -- even heterosexuals who engaged
in no-risk sex -- despite facts that proved otherwise. Of another favorite
social-activist cause, Mr. Goldberg comments dryly: "I could be
wrong, but I think homelessness ended the day Bill Clinton was sworn in as
president. Which is one of those incredible coincidences, since it pretty
much began the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president."...
Mr. Goldberg can be charitable, allowing that his well-paid colleagues
are probably so insulated in their cultural bubble -- socializing and
working with people who share their prejudices -- that they don't even
recognize the bias they display. Mr. Rather told Mr. Goldberg that he
considers the New York Times's editorial page to be "middle of the
But mostly Mr. Goldberg is disgusted by the men and women he once
considered friends. He notes: "They love affirmative action, as long
as their own kids get into Ivy League schools. They love handing out jobs
based on racial preferences, as long as they get to keep theirs. It's a
great deal: it's always somebody else who has to make the sacrifice --
sometimes Asian-American kids, sometimes other white students who don't
get into places like Harvard and Yale and Princeton -- while the white
liberal elites get to claim credit for being so decent, the saviors of
black people in America."...
END of Excerpt
For the review in full, go to:
The same day the New York Times featured a
review by Janet Maslin. A brief excerpt:
....Mr. Goldberg has written "Bias," a book larded with
specific examples to support his point of view. Although he refers to
"the two or three conservative friends I have," he may pick up a
lot more of them on the strength of this assault. He examines television's
coverage of such issues as race, AIDS and homelessness to eyebrow-raising
effect. All this, he says, supports the idea that most of those who shape
these stories tilt to the left.
Even among those who reject that premise, or some of the ad hominem
bitterness on display here, "Bias" should be taken seriously.
Unlike Bill O'Reilly, whose best-sellers (like "The No-Spin
Zone") trumpet a bullying brand of conservatism as they recycle
transcripts of television interviews, Mr. Goldberg has done real homework
and has written a real book. Whatever his conclusions, however shaky his
suppositions, he asks questions that are worth asking.
"Whenever you hear an anchorman or reporter use the word
'controversial,' it is usually a signal that the idea that follows is
one the media elites do not agree with," he maintains. And whenever
you hear the word "conservative" on one end of the political
spectrum, he adds, you won't often hear "liberal" on the other.
That, he says, is because network heavyweights regard their own opinions
as middle-of-the-road and simply assume that the wider world agrees with
END of Excerpt
To read the entire review, which also takes on
some of Goldberg's premises, those registered with the New York Times
can go to:
> This is probably the last CyberAlert
until after Christmas, so a Merry Christmas to all, at least to those who
are celebrating it.
And don't forget, Peter Jennings is
scheduled to appear Friday night on CBS's Late Show with David
Letterman. -- Brent Baker
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