CyberAlert -- 12/03/2001 -- Book Details Bias Inside CBS
Book Details Bias Inside CBS; NYT's Friedman Scolded Colleagues; Tax Cuts Blamed for Recession; Gumbel Tried to Tie Bush to Enron
1) CBS News insiders are reacting with anger to former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg's new book about their liberal bias. "Treason," Eric Engberg told Howard Kurtz. Goldberg reported that CBS News chief Andrew Heyward conceded liberal bias, but warned: "If you repeat any of this, I'll deny it." Indeed, Heyward did deny it during a C-SPAN call-in show last year.
2) On Friday's Late Show, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman mocked the European press for focusing on civilians being hurt by bombing when, in fact, "the Afghan civilians were praying for another ration of B-52s." He also pointedly noted how "people say to me often, 'war doesn't solve anything.' To which I say, 'guess what, neither does social work.'"
4) Newsweek's Eleanor Clift blamed tax cuts for the recession: "President Bush gambled on a tax cut that largely rewards better-off people in this country." ABC's Cokie Roberts lamented lost opportunity, arguing Democrats would have been more effective if they had repeated Clinton's strategy of running ads "under the radar screen."
5) Bryant Gumbel tried to link President Bush to the collapse of Enron, but the guest wouldn't buy it. "They were George Bush's biggest campaign contributor. Does any of this reflect on the President at all?" The guest replied: "No." Gumbel pleaded: "No way, none, none whatsoever?"
6) New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. revealed on C-SPAN: "I don't read any other newspaper on a regular basis." Asked about how the public overwhelmingly supports military tribunals, Sulzberger was befuddled -- even though just such a poll finding ran on page one of the Washington Post. Top editor Howell Raines boasted: "We'd editorially supported virtually every aspect" of Bill Clinton's policies.
As Matt Drudge previewed in postings on Friday and Sunday, in Monday's Washington Post Howard Kurtz offered insights from former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg's soon-to-be published book about his years with the network, Bias: A CBS News Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News.
"Of course there's a liberal bias in the news. All the networks tilt left," Goldberg quoted CBS News President Andrew Heyward as conceding. Kurtz cited Goldberg's reporting that Heyward warned: "If you repeat any of this, I'll deny it." (Indeed he did on a C-SPAN call-in show last year.)
Kurtz, however, didn't relay one of the most fascinating tidbits which Drudge reported: How CBS Evening News senior producer Susan Zirinsky conceded she'd never thought of getting a reaction soundbite from a conservative women's group. Goldberg observed: "She didn't conspire with anyone to freeze out conservative women. She just thought NOW was the logical place to go. NOW wasn't a liberal group, to Zirinksy. It was a sensible, reasonable, and rational group."
An excerpt from Kurtz's December 3 Washington Post story, "Goldberg on CBS: Nothing Good to Report," in which Kurtz related the angry reaction from inside CBS News, including how Eric Engberg accused Goldberg of "treason." The excerpt:
It's not every day that someone likens Dan Rather and CBS News to the Mafia.
Or declares that the don in this case is The Dan, "who wanted me whacked."
Or calls the CBS brass "a bunch of hypocrites" so consumed by liberal bias that they reflexively slant the news.
The source of this vitriolic attack is none other than Bernard Goldberg, a CBS correspondent for 28 years who left the network last year. In his forthcoming book, "Bias," published by the conservative house Regnery Publishing, Goldberg unloads on his ex-employer.
What's striking is the intensely personal nature of Goldberg's assault. He describes Rather as a generous man who is also "ruthless and unforgiving," with a touch of Richard Nixon's "paranoia." He accuses one correspondent of "junk journalism." And he says CBS News President Andrew Heyward once told him: "Look, Bernie, of course there's a liberal bias in the news. All the networks tilt left....If you repeat any of this, I'll deny it." [Ellipses in Kurtz's article]
Heyward declined to be drawn into a debate with Goldberg, saying: "Bernie asked to see me before the book was published and said he didn't want to be portrayed as a liar or a disgruntled employee. Therefore, I have no comment."
Goldberg became something of a pariah at CBS after accusing the network of liberal bias in a 1996 op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal.
Some CBS insiders describe Goldberg as a talented journalist who became increasingly bitter and isolated at the network. They are stunned that he would betray Heyward, a longtime friend who refused to fire him during the Journal controversy, pushed to get him a spot at 60 Minutes II and kept him on the payroll until Goldberg could qualify for a larger pension at 55.
"In the end, he seemed to think his job was to report on CBS News instead of reporting for CBS News," said Bob Schieffer, chief Washington correspondent. "Bernie just seemed to be upset about everything. He was upset with the world."
Correspondent Eric Engberg said Goldberg committed an "act of treason" and decided the best way to sell a book "is to trash your friends and former colleagues....He didn't have many friends in this organization because he was a selfish, self-involved guy who was not a team player."
Engberg accused Goldberg of a "sleazy, snake-in-the-grass style" for not complaining to him before blasting him in the Journal over his report ridiculing Steve Forbes's flat-tax plan.
Goldberg, who now works for HBO's Real Sports, said yesterday he wrote the book because he cares about journalism and that he "left out a bunch of things that might really embarrass people.... Whenever you raise an issue like this, they close ranks and close their minds. They're just going to call me these terrible vicious names instead of looking at the problem....They don't like the people they're broadcasting to. I can't tell you how many times I heard the term 'white trash' thrown around. I come from a lower-middle-class background and I resent that."...
Goldberg describes a CBS conference call in which a Washington staffer "nonchalantly referred to a presidential candidate as 'Gary Bauer, the little nut from the Christian group.' " No one, says Goldberg, raised an objection....
The book also derides coverage of family issues: "Feminists are the pressure group that the media elites (and their wives and friends) are most aligned with."...
END of Excerpt
For Kurtz's story in full, go to:
In a Sunday posting, the DrudgeReport.com
added an interesting anecdote, "In a chapter titled 'Identity
Politics', Goldberg writes: 'I once asked Susan Zirinksy, a first-rate
journalist who had been the CBS Evening News senior producer in Washington
(she's now executive producer of 48 Hours), how many times she went to
conservative women's groups for on-camera reactions either to Supreme
Court decisions or to votes in Congress regarding women's issues. She
thought about it for a few seconds, then told me she couldn't think of a
For the entirety of Drudge's report, go to: http://drudgereport.com/matt91k.htm
As for CBS News President Andrew Heyward promising to deny that he realizes the networks have a liberal tilt, he certainly did that during an appearance C-SPAN the day before the start of the Republican convention. A reprint from he July 31, 2000 CyberAlert:
"Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I do deny that we have a bias, and I'm familiar with the work that [Brent] Bozell and [Reed] Irvine do. They are activists and extremists of the Right," declared CBS News President Andrew Heyward Sunday afternoon on C-SPAN in dismissing a caller who asked about liberal media bias on CBS documented by the Media Research Center and Accuracy in Media.
After denigrating the work of the heads of the two groups, Heyward proceeded to claim "the people I work with, many of them are surprisingly conservative."
As for why people see a liberal bias, Heyward maintained it's only because "as journalists we're always holding the establishment up to scrutiny, whether it's a Republican or a Democratic administration, a Republican or a Democratic Congress." "It's our job to ask tough questions and to shine a light in corners that might otherwise remain dark. And if you tend to be conservative, by definition somebody who's constantly challenging the status quo, even though that's how we see our jobs, is seen potentially as unpatriotic or they're anti-government, anti-American." He ended his answer by insisting: "Our job is to communicate the truth to people."
For a view of the cover of Goldberg's book,
For a picture and bio of Goldberg, access this
old CBS News page which Drudge found and which was still up as of Sunday:
-- To read Goldberg's May 24, 2001 Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he sketched his thesis that many journalists don't realize their bias, go to: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=95000520
Some earlier CyberAlert articles on Goldberg, two of which feature RealPlayer clips:
-- Dan Rather considers the New York Times
editorial page to be "middle of the road," former CBS News
colleague Bernard Goldberg revealed in an op-ed in Thursday's Wall
Street Journal about how the three broadcast networks anchors
"don't even know what liberal bias is." With a picture/video
of Goldberg on MSNBC:
-- Tom Brokaw lashed out at Bernard Goldberg.
Brokaw insisted "the idea that we would set out, consciously or
unconsciously, to put some kind of an ideological framework over what
we're doing is nonsense." A bitter Brokaw related how he knows
Goldberg has "had an ongoing feud with Dan, I wish he would confine
it to that."
-- On C-SPAN, former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg disclosed that since taking CBS to task for liberal bias in 1996, Dan Rather has "never spoken to me." With video and picture of Goldberg on C-SPAN: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010612.asp#4
And for details about Goldberg's 1996 op-ed targeting liberal bias in a flat tax story by Eric Engberg on Steve Forbes, the one for which he was ostracized, read the February 1996 MediaWatch article about it: http://secure.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1996/mw19960201p1.html
The pre-September 11 liberal, Bush-bashing New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman has changed since the terrorist attacks, Fred Barnes noted in his Weekly Standard piece last week on press coverage of the war, a new attitude in full display on Friday's Late Show with David Letterman.
Friedman mocked the European press for focusing on civilians being hurt by bombing when, in fact, "the Afghan civilians were praying for another ration of B-52s to destroy this regime and once it was destroyed they felt enormously liberated." He also praised the military targeting of Osama bin Laden, pointedly noting how "people say to me often, 'war doesn't solve anything.' To which I say, 'guess what, neither does social work.'"
Making for an unusually serious Late Show, Letterman kept Friedman on for three segments, bumping a planned bit from a stand-up comic. The two most noteworthy quotes I heard from Friedman during his appearance on the November 30 show:
-- "If you read the Arab press or the European press, they're all so critical of America. 'Oh, Afghan civilians being hurt, Afghan civilians.' Meanwhile, you see what happened after the Taliban fell. We discovered the Afghan civilians were praying for another ration of B-52s to destroy this regime and once it was destroyed they felt enormously liberated."
Friedman didn't have to read the Arab or European press for that angle. He could have just watched ABC News.
-- The message from destroying al Qaeda: "You've also sent an important signal. The signal you've sent is that you kill 4,000 Americans on our shore and we will hunt you down if we have to look in every cave in Afghanistan. You know, people say 'war doesn't solve anything.' Well guess what-" [cut off by applause] People say to me often, 'war doesn't solve anything.' To which I say, 'guess what, neither does social work.' Okay, this is not about solving anything, alright. This about deterrence. It's about sending the message. And even if it will not deter another one. But anyone who thinks about this again has to know exactly what we will do."
At least Dan Rather realizes whose lives are really on the line. Rather arrived in Kabul late last week and opened the CBS Evening News on Friday and Sunday from there.
In a Saturday, December 1 Washington Post story, Howard Kurtz relayed Rather's response when asked about the danger facing journalists: "On some days in some ways, danger is my business. But let me underscore in italics, all caps: Whatever danger journalists are in is nothing to compare with the moment-by-moment danger faced by young people in uniform."
I think Rather is pretty safe. U.S. troops see him as a celebrity. Sunday's CBS Evening News ended with video of Rather posing for a picture with a group of U.S. Army soldiers.
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift mouthed the official Democratic/liberal line on the McLaughlin Group as she blamed tax cuts for the recession: "President Bush gambled on a tax cut that largely rewards better-off people in this country." She held him "responsible for a lot of the absence of money as we look ten years out. He is going to finance this war on terrorism the same way Ronald Reagan got to finance the Cold War."
At least that means Bush is following a winning model.
Suggesting the Democratic spin is "totally illogical," on Fox News Sunday Fred Barnes suggested "it's up to the media and public figures get things right" by explaining how Democrats "have a totally illogical argument." But instead doing that, ABC's Cokie Roberts advised Democrats how they could be more effective as she said "they should have taken a lesson from Bill Clinton's book."
On the McLaughlin Group aired over the
weekend, Clift opined:
On Fox News Sunday, during the roundtable
segment, Fred Barnes took on the Democratic spin:
Instead of challenging its connection to
reality, during the roundtable portion of ABC's This Week Cokie Roberts
suggested how Democrats could have been more effective as she lamented
their strategic error:
What is Roberts admitting here? Deliberate ignorance on the part of the Washington press corps? Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice....
Bryant Gumbel should get an A for effort. On Friday's Early Show he tried to link President Bush to the collapse of Enron, but his guest wouldn't buy it.
Gumbel set up the November 30 segment by explaining: "It is being called one the worst corporate collapse in U.S. history. Enron, widely viewed as America's leading energy company just a year ago, has seen its stock price fall from $85 a share just a year ago, to 36 cents a share at the close of yesterday's trading....Current and former employees have seen their retirement money just disappear."
After interviewing an attorney representing
some employees, Gumbel turned to Business Week economics editor Peter Coy.
Gumbel asserted: "They were George Bush's biggest campaign
contributor. Does any of this reflect on the President at all?"
Sometimes stereotypes are true, like the New York Times as run by a smug, insular man. New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. gave credence to that stereotype in an appearance Friday morning during C-SPAN's live broadcast from the New York Times building.
Sulzberger conceded: "I don't read any other newspaper on a regular basis." Asked about how the media care more about military tribunals than the public which overwhelmingly supports Bush's proposal, Sulzberger was befuddled -- even though just such a poll finding ran the day before on the front page of the Washington Post. A flummoxed Sulzberger averred: "I don't know, I don't know if that's true or not true. I suspect it's not, I don't know where those numbers came from."
Later, Executive Editor Howell Raines, defending himself against the charge that as editorial page editor he had savaged Bill Clinton for ethical lapses, pointed out how the Times stuck with him on liberal policies: "We'd editorially supported virtually every aspect of his program, and were particularly evangelical I would say about his medical care reform package."
On C-SPAN's November 30 Washington Journal, host Brian Lamb asked Sulzberger, as transcribed by MRC analyst Patrick Gregory: "What do you read in the morning besides the New York Times?" Sulzberger replied: "I'd love to tell you that reading the New York Times, it takes up a morning. What I also read is the Wall Street Journal, and I'll check in and out of a variety of other newspapers, but I don't read any other newspaper on a regular basis."
A caller, who echoed the theme of Friday's CyberAlert, raised military tribunals: "It used to be when things were controversial with the administration, and if there was any slight advantage against the Bush administration, hours a day would be spent on polls showing them on national TV. On this particular issue, 90 percent of the country is in favor of what the President is doing, 25 to 30 percent of the people don't think he's going far enough. And yet we hear all last night on national network we hear how all of a sudden there's this great controversy against the President's decision. You people just don't get it."
Lamb summarized the caller's view: "I
think he's suggesting that the newspapers and the media care more about
this tribunal issue than the public at large." Though the caller's
point was accurate, his numbers were a bit off, but Sulzberger didn't
know enough to counter the numbers as passed along a liberal caricature of
the tribunal idea:
For the Washington Post numbers that Sulzberger missed, which found 59 percent approval for military tribunals, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011130.asp#1
Later in the show, Lamb asked Howell Raines,
Executive Editor since September, about how "Democrats who supported
Bill Clinton and are mad about you because of the policy about Bill
Clinton" espoused in Times editorials during his previous position as
editorial page editor. Raines replied:
Recall how Raines once complained that "reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me." During a TV interview he whined: "The Reagan years oppressed me..." For full quotes and a RealPlayer clip, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010522.asp#3
From the November 30 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Questions on the Application for Doorman at Osama Bin Laden's Cave Complex." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Do you have references from maniacal terrorists you've worked for?