Media 'Revolving Door' Spins Faster for Liberals
The Wall Street Journal
Brent Bozell III and Brent Baker
Susan Molinari's jump from the House Republican leadership to CBS News as co-anchor of an upcoming Saturday morning show has triggered moral indignation from some quarters of the media elite. Much of the outrage has focused on the blurring of the line between politics and journalism, exemplified by such high-profile commentators as conservative Pat Buchanan of CNN and liberal George Stephanopoulos of ABC. In this view, tapping Rep. Molinari as a network news anchor is just unconscionable.
"If you're a commentator like Tony [Snow of Fox News Channel, a former speechwriter for President Bush], then that's one thing," New York Daily News columnist Steve Roberts said on CNN. "But if you're a news person--that should be a different order. We can't keep confusing people about what we really are and who we really are." National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg, appearing on another chat show, was as disgusting as she was disgusted: "Well, this really makes me want to puke. . . . It really, it just makes me want to throw up."
If Ms. Totenberg is consistent, she must spend a lot of time in NPR's restroom. Consider: In 1993 NPR hired as its president Delano Lewis, two-time chief campaign fund-raiser for Washington Mayor Marion Barry, a Democrat. Mr. Lewis replaced Douglas Bennet, who had just jumped to the Clinton administration as an assistant secretary of state. Mr. Bennet, who headed the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Carter years, had taken over at NPR from Frank Mankiewicz, a veteran of George McGovern's 1972 presidential effort.
The line between politics and journalism has long been blurred by political operatives entering the media. Presumably Ms. Totenberg was able to stomach it because most of those crossing over were partisan liberals. The Media Research Center has spent the past decade tracking this revolving door between politics and the media; the current count: 322 Democrats vs. 82 Republicans. On the very day CBS announced the Molinari appointment, ABC tapped Jim Williams, press secretary for Chicago's Democratic Mayor Richard M. Daley, as a correspondent--and not a peep was heard.
CBS News itself has a longtime partisan political operative influencing its political coverage. No, not Ms. Molinari, but senior political editor Dotty Lynch, who directed polling for George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, the Democratic National Committee and the 1984 Mondale campaign, all before joining CBS in 1985. And Ms. Lynch is hardly atypical. David Burke served as Sen. Kennedy's chief of staff from 1965 to 1971. By 1977 he was a vice president at ABC News. In 1988, he became president of CBS News, a post he held for two years. When Sen. Kennedy ran for re-election in 1994, who was at his side but Mr. Burke, "advising him on strategy," according to the Boston Globe. In 1995 this newspaper reported that President Clinton brought Mr. Burke along on a February trip to California, "to provide political and communications tips."
So where does the New York Times get the audacity to denounce Ms. Molinari's appointment in an editorial headlined "The GOP News From CBS"?
During the Reagan and Bush years the revolving door between the administration and journalism slowed, but the pace picked up with Mr. Clinton's victory. For
Sidney Blumenthal, a correspondent for The New Yorker and former reporter for the Washington Post, will join the administration as a senior political adviser, it was reported this week.
Donald Baer, assistant managing editor of U.S. News & World Report, came aboard as director of White House speechwriting and research.
Carolyn Curiel, a "Nightline" producer and former New York Times editor, took a White House speechwriting slot.
Rick Inderfurth, an ABC News reporter during the 1980s, joined United Nations Ambassador Madeleine Albright's shop in New York and has been nominated assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs.
Thomas Ross, senior vice president of NBC News, became special assistant to the president and senior director of public affairs at the National Security Council.
Tara Sonenshine has traversed from being a "Nightline" producer to the NSC to Newsweek's Washington bureau, then back to the NSC--all during the Clinton years.
Strobe Talbott, Time magazine's Washington bureau chief in the late 1980s, is now deputy secretary of state.
Having a revolving door between politics and journalism is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, men and women with extensive political experience, regardless of ideology, can be a great asset in the political news business. But only if they are capable of leaving personal biases behind in search of fair, balanced reporting. This can be said of NBC's Tim Russert, who worked for Mario Cuomo. It can be said of his colleague Pete Williams, who served under George Bush. Many others qualify as well.
Susan Molinari hasn't spent a minute in the anchor's chair, yet she's already been declared guilty of trying to package a partisan ideology as news. Passing judgment on her performance before the fact is bad enough, but this dedication to "objective journalism" is simply preposterous coming from the liberal media elite.
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