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Righting the Liberal News Slant

From the January 21, 2002 Washington Times

by Christian Toto

     Rare is the honors ceremony in which none of the chosen are present to accept their awards. No one expected them to turn up at the Media Research Center's second annual Dishonor Awards, of course. Excoriating the no-shows was half the fun.

     Once again, the "ceremony" on Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center took aim at 2001's most outrageously biased liberal reporters.

     Dan Rather, Bryant Gumbel and Diane Sawyer headed the list of those taking their lumps during an evening as unabashedly partisan to the right as its guests contend the media is to the left.

     With names like the "Bring Back Bubba Award" and the "Gilligan Award for Flakiest Comment of the Year," organizers pulled no punches. Neither did those assembled, who threw haymaker after haymaker at the media elite while giggling over a skein of ludicrous news clips.

     All compiled by the Alexandria-based Media Research Center, which assiduously tracks left-leaning morsels doled out by traditional media outlets.

     Among the winners: Margaret Carlson, who on CNN's "The Capital Gang" opined about President Bush's environmental policies -- "soon, we won't be able to eat, drink or breathe," all with a straight face.

     Literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, the self-appointed Auntie Mame of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," slammed White House reporter Helen Thomas for a fawning tribute to former President Bill Clinton.

     "There's such a thing as a shelf life," Mrs. Goldberg said of the elderly reporter to merciless laughter.

     At a boisterous pre-gala reception, Media Research Center President and Founder L. Brent Bozell III said the public's perception of media bias has grown dramatically since his organization began its work in 1987.

     "You can look at all the surveys. The public believes the information it's getting is subjective opinion, not objective truth," said Mr. Bozell, sipping coffee beside friends opting for harder beverages. "They're seeing the bias. They're looking for alternative markets, hence the growth of Fox News."

     The conservative confab included master of ceremonies Cal Thomas, William F. Buckley Jr., former Rep. Robert K. Dornan, "Capital Gang" panelist Kate O'Beirne and the Wall Street Journal's John Fund.

     Mr. Fund underscored the evening's message while announcing the nominees for several Dishonor Awards.

     "There is no vast right-wing conspiracy," he said. "But there is a concentrated, focused and alert one, and it's in this room tonight."

     The sight of Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist chatting up flat tax champion Steve Forbes while The Turtles' "Happy Together" played in the background typified the night's rambunctious spirit as did a hilarious series of songs by the Capitol Steps comedy troupe tormenting Rep. Gary Condit and Mr. Clinton.

     Some in the audience had felt the sting of the media's left-leaning ways.

     Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris could only laugh about the times CBS anchor Dan Rather used modifiers like "as she sees it" or "as she deems it" to explain her handling of the Florida election imbroglio.

     When she came to Washington she reported, "Even some of the Democrat operatives came to me and said 'we're really glad you followed the law."

     Mr. Buckley, who sat at a table named for ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, said the media's liberal bias is nothing new. What's different today, he said, is that the imbalance is more visible to the average voter.

     Now, he said, "More people wince when they do their thing."

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