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The 1,230th CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday February 18, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 29)

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Bias Book Spiked by ABC, CBS & NBC; Goldberg Recounted Angry Reaction from His Colleagues to Him and the Idea of Liberal Bias

1) Despite having a New York Times best-seller, Bernard Goldberg has been blacked out by ABC, CBS and NBC, he told Howard Kurtz on CNN's Reliable Sources. He reported that "many people" at the three broadcast networks "agree with what I've said," but "none of them either are stupid enough or courageous enough...to come forward and say anything."

2) An excerpt from the chapter of Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, in which Goldberg offers an inside account of his CBS colleagues went ballistic when hey learned of his 1996 op-ed on liberal media bias as exemplified by a CBS story. As for a seething Dan Rather, "I could have taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times saying Dan Rather wears black stiletto do-me heels and red miniskirts behind the anchor desk, and he wouldn't have gotten as mad as when I said we have a bias problem in the media."

3) As read by Marines, Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons I Joined the Marines."

     >>> NQ now online. The February 18 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now online thanks to the MRC's Mez Djouadi and Kristina Sewell. For the all the quotes, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2002/nq20020218.asp
     To view a likeness of the hard copy seen by snail mail recipients, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version:


ABC, CBS and NBC have blacked out Bernard Goldberg. On Sunday's CNN Reliable Sources, Bernard Goldberg informed host Howard Kurtz that though he's been interviewed on many overseas shows and on "about 25 programs on cable," he's been shut out by ABC, CBS and NBC. The author of Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, also reported that "many people" at the three broadcast networks "agree with what I've said," but "none of them either are stupid enough or courageous enough...to come forward and say anything."

     On the February 17 Reliable Sources, Kurtz asked Goldberg how his book has been received. Goldberg replied:
     "It's been overwhelmingly heartwarming. But really, the more important point is that it's been overwhelmingly civil. Many people, as you know, like the book, some don't. But both sides, even the people who don't like it, have been civil, except for a sliver of people who you work with at The Washington Post, Howie.  But beyond that, what I find fascinating is that this book has been written about, or I've actually be in -- been interviewed in places like England, Australia, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, China, Israel, Russia. That's just a short list. I didn't have time to do the Italian "Nightline," or Sweden or Mexico....I've been on over 350 radio stations in the United States, and about 25 programs on cable TV.
     "But the only three places, Howie -- and this is fine with me, because I could use what little free time I have -- but the only three places I haven't been at any time of the day or night -- and I'm including 2 in the morning or 4 in the morning, anytime -- are ABC, NBC, and CBS, which is either hilarious or pathetic."

     Kurtz wondered: "I would like to know why, since you are the number one book, the author of the number one book, why you believe, for example, ABC and NBC -- let's concede you're probably not the most popular guy at CBS -- isn't interested in having you on. Are they afraid of having you on? Are they afraid of the subject?

     Goldberg suggested: "I don't know if they're afraid of the subject, but they probably think, If we don't talk about this, the issue's going to go away. Well, they're dead wrong about that, just as they were dead wrong about thinking that nobody out there except some, you know, people with no teeth and who married their sisters or cousins would be interested in this book.

     So the issue isn't going to go away because ABC, NBC, and CBS aren't interested. It isn't going to go away because the Italian Nightline is interested, but the American Nightline isn't interested. There's a good chance that over the next five years, one of the three network evening newscasts will go away before this issue goes away.

     Goldberg soon added: "The problem is, the problem is this, many people at the networks -- and I know this for a fact -- at CBS, NBC, and ABC -- agree with what I've said. I know this for an absolute fact. I've been told this by people at all three networks. But none of them either are stupid enough or courageous enough, or however you want to look at it, to come forward and say anything. Okay, that's an intellectual copout on their part, as far as I'm concerned. But none of them are brave enough to come up and say, Wait a second, we don't have to like this book, but is he really a no talent hack? Nobody will criticize anybody else in the media."

     Goldberg was referring to an attack piece by Washington Post TV reviewer Tom Shales. As recounted in the January 8 CyberAlert, in a vicious screed against Goldberg, Shales described the former CBS News correspondent at a "full-time addlepated windbag." Shales complained about how Goldberg has hauled "out the old canard about the media being 'liberal' and the news being slanted leftward," calling it "the first refuge of a no-talent hack." For more:


On this holiday, an excerpt from a chapter of Bernard Goldberg's book Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, an excerpt I planned to include in a CyberAlert in early December, but never seemed to have enough room to fit. In chapter 2, "Mugged by 'The Dan,'" Goldberg recounted the very angry reaction inside of CBS, especially from Dan Rather, to his 1996 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal about liberal media bias as exemplified by an Eric Engberg story ridiculing the flat tax.

     The top CBS News personnel went ballistic when they learned of the op-ed in which he argued that "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." Goldberg lamented how "many of my colleagues, the news liberals who had always preached openness and tolerance, stopped talking to me."

     CBS News President Andrew Heyward maintained that tying him to the idea of liberal bias would "have been like raping my wife and kidnapping my kids!"

     Goldberg related Engberg's reaction to learning of the op-ed: "Engberg listened without saying a word. When I finished he said, 'Okay, Bernie, here's my response: You're full of shit.' Then he hung up and has never spoken to me again.

     As for a seething Dan Rather, "I could have taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times saying Dan Rather wears black stiletto do-me heels and red miniskirts behind the anchor desk, and he wouldn't have gotten as mad as when I said we have a bias problem in the media."

     For a transcript of the now infamous February 8, 1996 CBS Evening News story which prompted Goldberg's original critique, along with a RealPlayer excerpt of it:

     For a summary of Goldberg's 1996 Wall Street Journal op-ed on the Engberg piece:

     Now, the excerpt from Goldberg's Chapter 2, "Mugged by 'The Dan,'" as typed in by long-departed MRC intern Don Goodman:

It wasn't a phone call I was anxious to make, but I knew I had to. The Dan was Iowa on February 12, 1996, covering the presidential caucuses. I was at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York. I wanted to give him a heads-up, an early warning about the Wall Street Journal piece that would be coming out the next morning.

"I wrote apiece for the Wall Street Journal, Dan, and my guess is you won't be ecstatic about it."

I hadn't given him any particulars yet, so before I could go on, he assured me that it couldn't be that bad. "Bernie," he told me, "we were friends yesterday, we're friends today, and we'll be friends tomorrow."

"So tell me about it," he said, sounding mildly curious but not especially concerned. I told him it was about a story that had run on his evening newscast a few days earlier. That it was about how the story was cynical and biased and loaded with cheap shots aimed at one of the candidates running for president. I also told him about how the supposedly objective news story was part of an ongoing problem at the networks.

When I finished with my early warning, my friend the anchorman, who wasn't going to let some Wall Street Journal piece stand in the way of our friendship, told me, "I'm getting viscerally angry about this."

Angry, I was expecting. What came next, I wasn't.

Rather's voice started quavering, and he told me how in his younger days he had signed up with the marines -- not once, but twice!

What the hell did that have to do with anything?

He emphasized that this happened during "peacetime" -- to his credit, he was trying not to sound like some kind of war hero. Rather was famous for coming close to tears on the air when he had a patriotic story about Memorial Day or the Vietnam Wall or something like that. Now he was doing it with me, over the phone.

Where was he going with this? I was telling him the media elites have a liberal bias, and he was telling me he was a marine who loved his country!

And then it hit me: somehow, Dan Rather, red, white, and blue American, Texan, ex-marine-and-damn-proud-of-it, thought that if I believed the CBS Evening News (and the ABC and NBC news programs, too) tilted left then I must be suggesting that it's just a short hop from being a liberal to being...an unpatriotic American! Sure it's crazy, but why else would he tell me that he signed up with the marines, twice?

I also spoke to Heyward and Engberg, dropping an advance copy at Heyward's office. When Heyward called me it was obvious that steam was coming out of his ears. What I had done, he told me, was "an act of disloyalty" and "a betrayal of trust."

"I understand how you feel," I told him, trying to defuse a bad situation. "But I didn't say anything in the piece about how even you, Andrew, have agreed with me about the liberal bias."

Instead of calming things down, my comment made him go ballistic.

"That would have been like raping my wife and kidnapping my kids!" he screamed at me. If there was an instant when I knew just how dark things would get, this was it. This one, frantic statement -- that would have been like raping my wife and kidnapping my kids -- told me everything I needed to know about the magnitude of my sin.

Writing an op-ed piece was like raping his wife and kidnapping his kids. Criticizing, publicly, what I saw as bias in network new was like raping his wife and kidnapping his kids.

This is how self-centered the media elites can be. These are people who routinely stick their noses into everybody else's business. These are people who are always telling us about the media's constitutional right to investigate and scrutinize and a lot of times even embarrass anyone who winds up in our crosshairs. These are people who love to take on politicians and businessmen and lawyers and Christians and the military and athletes and all sorts of other Americans, yet when one of their own writes an opinion piece about American Journalism, then you've crossed the line...because taking on the media is like raping their wives and kidnapping their kids!

Engberg was just as angry -- but not nearly as enchanting. I called him at the CBS News Washington bureau and told him what the op-ed was about. I said it was an issue that needed to be discussed, and that since no one would listen in-house, I felt I had to go public. I told him "my intent is not to hurt you or anyone else."

Engberg listened without saying a word. When I finished he said, "Okay, Bernie, here's my response: You're full of shit." Then he hung up and has never spoken to me again.

Dan Rather, the man who assured me "we were friends yesterday, we're friends today, and we'll be friends tomorrow," hasn't spoken a word to me, either. I could have taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times saying Dan Rather wears black stiletto do-me heels and red miniskirts behind the anchor desk, and he wouldn't have gotten as mad as when I said we have a bias problem in the media. Dan Rather, the ex-marine, felt as if he had just been shot...by one of his own troops.

In a flash, I had become Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew and every other "right-wing, ideological nut" who at one time or another tried to take Dan Rather down.

Right after the WSJ piece came out, I was taken off the air, pending some decision on whether I would be fired. I sent Dan two letters, which I made sure were hand-delivered, explaining why I did what I did and telling him my intent wasn't to hurt him personally but to finally get conversation going about this bias problem.

He ignored both.

Many of my colleagues, the news liberals who had always preached openness and tolerance, stopped talking to me, fearing my radioactivity would rub off on them. But then, in the elegant phrase of the journalist Brian Brown, liberals these days have forgotten how to be liberal. After a quarter of a century at CBS News -- half my entire life! -- I had become a nonperson.

The day the op-ed piece came out I got a phone call from Asa Baber, a close friend who writes the "men" column in Playboy. "I just read your Wall Street Journal piece," he said, "and I would suggest you call the FBI and see if they'll put you in the Witness Protection Program."

If I had had the number handy, I would have.

CBS News has always like to think of itself as a family. Bur from where I was standing -- isolated, off the air, and under fire as part of the vast right-wing conspiracy -- it was looking more and more like the Manson Family.

When Michelle Greppi of the New York Post interviewed Rather and asked about my op-ed piece, he told her, "The test is not the names people call you or accusations by political activists inside or outside your own organization."

Political activist? Time to take a taxi back to Earth, Dan. Here's what I would have asked The Dan if I had had the opportunity, which I did not, since he wasn't talking to me:

1. When did I sell out and become this "political activist"?
2. What have I ever done to deserve that description?
3. How long had you known about my "political activism"?
4. How is it that you never called me a "political activist" before I wrote the op-ed piece?
5. Could it be that I became a "political activist" at precisely the moment I pointed out this liberal bias that only you and a few others still deny exists?

This was the strategy The Dan had settle on. Protect your own image by ripping your accuser. If Dan could discredit me and divert attention from what I wrote about the media elites, if he could focus attention instead on my newly discovered right-wing ideology, then -- who knows? -- maybe he could convince people that there really is no liberal bias in the news and that I really am a political activist, maybe even on the payroll of Jesse Helms. Anything is possible.

Isn't this exactly what politicians do all the time -- often with great success -- when they get caught doing something they shouldn't be doing? They attack their accusers. If politicians could get away with it, why not big-time television news stars?

In the same New York Post interview Greppi told Rather, "Peter Jennings has said, to the chagrin of some people at ABC News, that he thinks the conservative voice is sometimes not heard in network news. Bernard Goldberg said much the same recently in the Wall Street Journal."

Rather came back with one of those off-the-wall and over-the-top salvos that sound kind of funny until you realize he's not joking.

"I will put up billboard space on 42nd Street. I will wear a sandwich board. I will do whatever is necessary to say I am not going to be cowed by anybody's special political agenda, inside, outside, upside, downside."

So I wasn't simply a "political activist" as far as The Dan was concerned. I was a "political activist" with a "political agenda." How in the world had I survived twenty-five years CBS News, much of that time working for Dan Rather himself, if I was a political activist with a political agenda.

What made Dan's rant even more transparent was that just four months earlier, when I returned to the CBS Evening News after seven years away in prime time, on 48 Hours and Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, Rather looked into the camera and told millions of people in his audience, "Tonight on the CBS Evening News we're pleased to welcome back to our broadcast veteran correspondent, colleague, and friend Bernard Goldberg to share his unique perspectives on events of the day."

How was it that I was such a pro in October of 1995 when Dan welcomed me back to the evening news and such a bum in February 1996 when my WSJ piece came out? How did I go from being a featured reporter on the CBS Evening News with my own special segment -- "Bernard Goldberg's America" -- to such a right-wing scoundrel, virtually overnight?....

END of Excerpt

     To learn more about the book and how to buy it, not that it needs any sales help, go to the page set up by its publisher:

     The Regnery home page (http://www.regnery.com) features a photo of President Bush carrying Goldberg's book as he walks across the South Lawn to Marine One.

To watch Goldberg talk about reaction to his 1996 op-ed:

     For an excerpt from the chapter in which Goldberg recounts media bias quotes gathered by the MRC:

     For an excerpt in which Goldberg recalled how when Connie Chung beat Dan Rather to Oklahoma City following the bombing, Rather was so miffed that he "spent hours and hours on the phone with TV writers, blasting Connie Chung as a second-rate journalist." Go to:

     For quotes from and a video clip of Goldberg on CNN debating media bias with former ABC News political director Hal Bruno:


From the February 14 Late Show with David Letterman (http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/) as announced by members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, the "Top Ten Reasons I Joined the Marines." Copyright 2002 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. I always loved jumping off landing craft and hitting the beach under heavy fire
(Staff Sergeant Barbrina Chandler)

9. Couldn't stand one more day of waking up later than 5am
(Lance Corporal Mike Gregga)

8. My mama was a Marine
(First Lieutenant Phillip Walter)

7. I'd always heard great things about Afghanistan
(Lance Corporal Phillip Simmons)

6. It was either this or beauty school
(Captain Stan Holland)

5. I happen to look great in camouflage
(Corporal Alan Stowers)

4. Army movies star Pauly Shore, Marine movies star Jack Nicholson
(Lance Corporal Jeremiah Maddox)

3. To serve my country and fulfill patriotic duty, and shoot some big-ass weapons
(Sergeant Julie Matthews)

2. Every Spring we go to Daytona to establish a beachhead
(Lance Corporal Michael Renuard)

1. Give me that eagle, globe and anchor
(Corporal Sean Holcomb)

     > Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to appear Tuesday night on NBC's Olympic Tonight Show, which will air 35 minutes after the conclusion of Olympic coverage, at about 12:05am EST/11:05 CST and at about the regular time in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. -- Brent Baker


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