Liberal Bias Awards 2002
on December 19, 2002
A column by Patrick B. McGuigan on TulsaToday.com
It was another "good" year for those of us in the news business who regularly devote energy to watching for the most egregious, humorous, outrageous and often disturbing examples of the national news media's pervasive, repetitive and bold liberal bias. But I suppose it might depend on what your definition of the word "good" is.
Nearly half of the categories for this eventful year were dominated by quotes from stories or commentaries focused on our nation's war on terror. There are some years when the stunning anti-conservative bigotry of the dominant liberal power players is, in the end, merely amusing. Other years, I've found this annual exercise somewhat irritating, all the while appreciating the importance of the exercise.
On just a few occasions, it's been downright depressing, at times inclining one toward despair. This year's "nominees" -- compiled by the excellent staff of the
Media Research Center based in the national capital area -- incline me more toward that latter set of feelings.
Moyers Wins 'Quote of the Year'
As in the past, Bill Moyers was a frequent nominee in several categories. Although I often find myself disagreeing with the top choices of other judges, the "quote of the year" was certainly worthy. Here's what Moyers had to say on November 8 about Republican gains in the 2002 elections:
"The entire federal government -- the Congress, the executive, the courts -- is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate. That agenda includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to surrender control over their own lives. It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine.
"Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you like the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what's coming. And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture. ... So it's a heady time in Washington, a heady time for piety, profits and military power, all joined at the hip by ideology and money. Don't forget the money. ... Republicans out-raised Democrats by $184 million and they came up with the big prize: monopoly control of the American government and the power of the state to turn their radical ideology into the law of the land. Quite a bargain at any price."
Without a doubt, Moyers was a sound choice. My own choice for the year's best quote might have reflected a bit of provincial bias, in the form of my natural reaction in defense of a country music song by Toby Keith.
This vicious bit of bile came from Washington Post Style-section reporter David Segal, in his review of Keith's album: "The meanest (song), by far is 'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,' which unabashedly glorifies the bombing of Afghanistan. The song traffics in vivid, simple shades of black and white, good and evil."
Well, Mr. Segal probably just doesn't "get it" -- it's a heartland kind of thing to support our military and to desire that justice come to the doorstep of the masterminds behind the killers of September 11, 2001. As for Toby Keith, he comes by his "simple shades" naturally. He hales from our good state, where people of all colors and creeds demonstrated, after the 1995 bombing of the A.P. Murrah Building, simple, direct and practical action -- all in "vivid, simple shades" -- for months on end.
Phil Donahue's History of Cheap Shots Is 'Honored'
One of the most competitive categories was the "General Phil 'Cheap Shot' Donahue Award (for Swipes at the War on Terrorism)." The winner, where I agreed with a plurality of the other judges, was this introduction (of White House correspondent Terry Moran) by Charles Gibson of Good Morning America -- uttered on May 16:
"This is interesting news that we get now, and it may put the President under a lot of heat today as the public learns that he knew, through his daily CIA intelligence briefings, that bin Laden had potential terror attack plans under way. ... It also calls into question what happened when Andy Card, Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, that morning went and whispered in the President's ear, as the President was talking to a group of school students in Florida [on Sept. 11, 2001]. Was the President really surprised?"
An impressive bit of "objectification" of American patriots came in Phil Donohue's exchange with Tom Brokaw on the latter's short-lived MSNBC program. Here's what they said to each other on July 25, earning the "Ashamed of the Red, White & Blue Award."
Phil Donahue: "Let me tell you what is impressive. You're not wearing a flag. Well, I don't want to damn you with my praise, but I say hip-hip-hooray for that, and I think you gave the right answer when you spoke at Northwestern University. ..."
Tom Brokaw: "Right. I said, you know, I wear a flag in my heart, but I think if you wear a flag, it's a suggestion somehow that you're endorsing what the administration is doing at the time. And I don't think journalists ought to be wearing flags."
Donahue: "And I say hear, hear, hear."
My own choice as winner in the "Red, White and Blue" category finished as a runner-up in the minds of most other judges, namely Dan Rather's obscene (his word) response to critics of the news media's performance, spoken on the British Broadcasting Corporation's "Newsnight" program on May 16:
"It's an obscene comparison, and I'm not sure I like it, but there was a time, in South Africa, where people would put flaming tires around peoples' necks if they dissented. And in some ways, the fear is that you'll be necklaced here [in the U.S.], you'll have the flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it's that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to continue to bore in on the tough questions so often. And again, I'm humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism."
Back to Bill Clinton's "War Room"
Two of former President Bill Clinton's closest aides and personal confidantes find themselves immortalized in the "Begala & Carville War Room Award for Bush Bashing. There was no distance between myself and the other judges as we settled on this winner:
Rolling Stone's Will Dana: "Some people on the Left have said that the war on terrorism is actually about making sure the Middle East keeps pumping oil on our terms. In your book, you refer to 'Mr. Bush and his oil-industry paymasters.' What do you mean?"
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: "I think these guys are bought and paid by Big Oil in America, and they are going to do nothing that will in any way go against the demands and interests of the big oil companies. I mean, let's face it. ExxonMobil -- I think this is a real group of bad guys, considering that they have funded all the anti-global-warming propaganda out there in the world. And Bush is just not going to go against guys like that. They are bad, bad guys -- because of what they are doing in fighting the science of global warming."
Friedman's comments came in an interview for the October 17 edition of Rolling Stone.
Friedman is a serious human being and I've often been edified by his writings. While his words about our president are mean-spirited, I'm not here to defend all parts of "Big Oil." Still, surely Friedman is well aware of the powerful dissents that are registered regularly concerning the mainstream media's Global Warming Orthodoxy, a conventional wisdom which is actually supported by some of the most powerful parts of "Big Oil." But disagreement on a cental tenet of regnant liberalism is apparently not allowed in Tom Friedman's world, lest you secure marginalization as a "bad, bad" person.
Other entries in this competitive "war room" category included Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly's reference to President George W. Bush's "frightening" State of the Union Address last January, and two Time Magazine writers attempt to link our president to a shooting by playing on the name of a weapon used, i.e. "the Bushmaster."
The venerable old Walter Cronkite, former anchor of the CBS Evening News, continued his march into the dark night of modern liberalism with his words on CNN's "Larry King Live," uttered on September 9. He won the "Blame America First Award" for finding a way to fault the most generous nation on earth for the poverty and deprivation of the "Third World," which is often caused by the policies of the governments ruling those underdeveloped lands.
Most disturbing of all, however, was Cronkite's attempt to place on America responsibility for the unprovoked assault on our nation 15 months ago:
"I think very definitely that foreign policy could have caused what has happened [last September 11th]. ... It certainly should be apparent now -- it should be, for goodness sakes understood now, but it is not -- that the problem is this great division between the rich and the poor in the world. We represent the rich. ... Most of these other nations of Africa, Asia and South America and Central America are very, very poor. ... This is a revolution in effect around the world. A revolution is in place today. We are suffering from a revolution of the poor and have-nots against the rich and haves and that's us."
Conservative Journalists Judge Liberal News Bias
The "Notable Quotables" have become a staple of the pre-Christmas season over the past 15 years. For 2002, the Media Research Center coordinated the analysis of 52 conservatives, most of them working journalists themselves, who dissected and ranked the quotes. The results of this year's voting are contained in the Dec. 23 issue of MRC's twice-a-month newsletter.
The categories for judges were organized by the MRC staff, led by
L. Brent Bozell
III, a judge himself and president of the center. Bozell's group exists to bring political balance and responsibility to the "mainstream" national news media. For more information, contact Media Research Center, 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-3580, telephone 703-683-9733; website:
Two Oklahomans affiliated with Tulsa news organizations -- Wes Minter of KRMG Radio and myself -- were among the judges. Besides myself, other columnists who served as judges included Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and Bernadette Malone of the Manchester Union Leader, and syndicated writers Cal Thomas, Robert Novak, Michelle Malkin, Walter Williams and Mona
In a forthcoming column, I'll work my way through some of the other "best" examples of liberal bias in reporting and commentary. One thing to look forward to: This year's "Quote of the Year" winner, discussed above, had such a "good" year that he retained his hold on an entire category of his own -- "The Bill Moyers (Subsidized) Sanctimony Award."
About the Author:
An independent journalist, educator, consultant and public speaker based in Oklahoma City, McGuigan is capital editor for Tulsa Today. Every year, he is a judge for the Media Research Center's "Notable
the Article as posted on TulsaToday.com
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