Journalists Denying Liberal Bias, Part Two

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace: “I get e-mails from time to time saying to me, ‘You’re just like your father,’ and they don’t mean it as a compliment.”
CBS’s Mike Wallace: “What does that mean?”
Chris Wallace: “They say, ‘Go to CBS. Go to one of the big networks. Go to the mainstream media’ — as if that were a foreign land. Do you understand why some people feel such disaffection for the mainstream media?”
Mike Wallace: “Oh, yeah. They think we’re wild-eyed commies. Liberals. Yes?”
Chris Wallace: “That’s what they think. How do you plead?”
Mike Wallace: “I think it’s damn foolishness.”
Fox News Sunday, November 6, 2005.

“As was the practice in all he did, Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate. When did we stop believing that this is indeed how we all perform our jobs or try to? When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It’s shameful. But I digress.”
— MSNBC President and former ABC and CNN news executive Rick Kaplan praising ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather on September 19 as the latter received a lifetime achievement award from the National Television Academy, a ceremony televised on C-SPAN on October 1, 2005.

“I have been called a reactionary by some on the far left, a liberal by some on the far right and I’m insulted by both terms. My point of view is about delivering information and context. It has nothing to do with a political point of view.”
— MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, as quoted in a June 9, 2005 Houston Chronicle profile.

“I remember the first time someone accused me of being an ‘N-lover.’ There was a lot of that during the ’60s when I covered the civil rights movement. Then you move forward from civil rights into the Vietnam War....’We’re going to hang a sign around you which calls you some bad name: anti-military, anti-American, anti-war.’ Then, when Watergate came into being....was the first time I began to hear this word ‘liberal’ as an epithet thrown my way....People who have very strong biases of their own, they come at you with a story: ‘If you won’t report it the way I want it reported, then you’re biased.’ Now, it is true about me, for better or for worse, if you want to see my neck swell, you just try to tell me where to line up or what to think and mostly what to report.”
— Dan Rather near the end of his one-hour CBS News special, Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers, which aired on his last night as CBS Evening News anchor, March 9, 2005.

Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes:
“Look, at the end of the day, if we’re worried about too many conservatives in the White House press briefing room, this is a discussion that’s not, that’s not gonna resonate with the American public.”
Host Chris Matthews: “You think it’s mostly packed with liberals? Are you saying most of those people who are paid to be journalists in that room are lib-labs, they’re liberals?”
Hayes: “Yes, of course....Is there a debate about that?”
Matthews: “Well, there’s Helen Thomas, who I would call liberal. But who else is in there? Seriously. There are a lot of straight reporters in that room.”
Time’s Margaret Carlson: “I think they’re mostly straight reporters. And I don’t think you can keep your job otherwise.”
— MSNBC’s Hardball, February 25, 2005.

Ex-CBS reporter Phil Jones: “I’ve known Dan Rather for almost 40 years. The Dan Rather I know, believe me, had the President of the United States been a Democrat, he would still have pushed to go forward with that story. And for all these people out there who want to attack Dan as being this partisan Democrat...this is not an exhibit.”
PBS’s Terence Smith, who worked at CBS News from 1985 to 1998: “I second that.”
— CNN’s Reliable Sources, January 16, 2005.

“I’m not political. I don’t vote....I have no more interest in the political outcome of an election than I did in the winner or loser of any ballgame I ever covered.”
— MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann in an Online Journalism Review interview, November 30, 2004.

“[MRC President] Brent Bozell has, you know, an entire organization devoted to doing as much damage, and I choose that word carefully, as he can to the credibility of the news divisions. And now, on the Left, there are the young bloggers out there....These three aging white men are stuck somewhere in the middle trying, on a nightly basis, to give a fair and balanced picture of what’s going on in the world.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, sitting alongside Dan Rather and Peter Jennings, at an October 2, 2004 New Yorker Festival forum shown on C-SPAN the next day.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I am not politically motivated, not politically active for Democrats or Republicans, and that I’m independent. People who are so passionately partisan politically or ideologically committed basically say, ‘Because he won’t report it our way, we’re going to hang something bad around his neck and choke him with it, check him out of existence if we can, if not make him feel great pain.’ They know that I’m fiercely independent and that’s what drives them up a wall.”
— CBS’s Dan Rather as quoted by USA Today, September 16, 2004.

“CNN, I think, is viewed as liberal because, I think, this is my own personal perspective, I think journalists are generally viewed as being liberal....[Since] we don’t give a slant, we don’t give a corporate slant to the journalism, that bias towards both discovery and revealing the truth that is inherent in journalism comes through in CNN, and they get characterized as being a liberal network.”
— Time Warner Chairman and CEO Richard Parsons, whose company owns CNN, speaking at the UNITY: Journalists of Color conference in Washington, DC on August 6, 2004 and shown live on C-SPAN.

“Another disturbing development, for which I was unprepared, was that a small enclave of neoconservative editors was making accusations of ‘political correctness’ in order to block stories or slant them against minorities and traditional social welfare programs.”
— Former Executive Editor Howell Raines in “My Times,” a 21,000-word article about the obstacles he faced while running the New York Times, published in the May 2004 edition of The Atlantic.

Journalism professor Jane Hall: “The Media Research Center, the conservative media watchdog group, has been getting a lot of attention for its reports alleging liberal bias in the media....What is the impact, do you think, of a steady drumbeat of such criticism?”
NBC anchor Tom Brokaw: “It is a little wearying, but you’ve got to rise above it and take it case by case. Most of the cases are pretty flimsily made.... What I get tired of is [MRC President] Brent Bozell trying to make these fine legal points everywhere every day. A lot of it just doesn’t hold up. So much of it is that bias — like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder.”
— Interview in the January/February 2004 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review.

“What troubles me is a disturbing trend of using the popular appeal of those [conservative] beliefs in some quarters as cover for a kind of commercial nihilism....They suffocate vigorous discourse, the oxygen of a system such as ours, by identifying those who refuse to conform and encouraging a kind of e-mail or telephonic jihad which is happily carried out by well-funded organizations operating under the guise of promoting fair press coverage....What is so unsettling about the current climate is the ruthless efficiency of the attacks on those who refuse to conform.”
— NBC’s Tom Brokaw in a November 19, 2003 speech at a National Press Club dinner where he was given the 2003 Fourth Estate Award.

“It’s admirable for reporters to be skeptical, provided they’re not cynical. But I’m not any more skeptical about Republican administrations than I am about Democratic administrations.”
— Peter Jennings, as quoted in the November 18, 2003 St. Petersburg Times.

“Discussion about liberal bias has gotten altogether skewed and altogether out of proportion. There were legitimate complaints by the right a few years ago, but now the pendulum has swung wildly to the other side in terms of radio and talk shows on television.”
— Ex-CNN reporter Frank Sesno, quoted in the October/November 2003 American Journalism Review.

“I don’t think anybody who looks carefully at us thinks that we are a left-wing or a right-wing organization.”
— ABC’s Peter Jennings, as quoted in a September 9, 2003 USA Today article on his 20 years as sole anchor of World News Tonight.

Previous: Journalists Denying Liberal Bias, Part One
Next: Journalists Denying Liberal Bias, Part Three

Media Bias 101 Home

Article Tools
  •             and more!
  • Print
  • Subscribe to Newsletter
  • RSS Center
  • Take Action!