Journalists Admitting Liberal Bias, Part One
While most in the media business continue to deny the problem of liberal bias, a number of journalists have admitted that the majority of their brethren approach the news from a liberal angle. Examples:
“Are reporters biased? There is no doubt that — I’ve worked at the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and worked here at Politico. If I had to guess, if you put all of the reporters that I’ve ever worked with on truth serum, most of them vote Democratic.”
— Politico's Jim VandeHei during C-SPAN's coverage of the GOP primaries, March 13, 2012.
“No person with eyes in his head in 2008 could have failed to see the way that soft coverage helped to propel Obama first to the Democratic nomination and then into the White House.”
— New York Magazine political reporter John Heilemann, January 27, 2012.
“When Newsweek was owned by the Washington Post, it was predictably left-wing, but it was accurate. Under Tina Brown, it is an inaccurate and unfair left-wing propaganda machine.”
— USA Today founder Al Neuharth in his August 19, 2011 column.
“If the 2012 election were held in the newsrooms of America and pitted Sarah Palin against Barack Obama, I doubt Palin would get 10 percent of the vote. However tempting the newsworthy havoc of a Palin presidency, I’m pretty sure most journalists would recoil in horror from the idea.”
— New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in a column for the paper’s June 19, 2011 Sunday Magazine.
“You guys talk about her [Sarah Palin] a lot, we write about her a lot,
yet if you talk to any single reporter at any media organization that
we’re aware of, I don’t think that anyone thinks she can be President or
should be President.”
— Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei, a former Washington Post political reporter, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, June 14, 2011.
"The mainstream press is liberal....Since the civil rights and women's movements, the culture wars and Watergate, the press corps at such institutions as the Washington Post, ABC-NBC-CBS News, the NYT, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, etc. is composed in large part of 'new' or 'creative' class members of the liberal elite — well-educated men and women who tend to favor abortion rights, women's rights, civil rights, and gay rights. In the main, they find such figures as Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Pat Robertson, or Jerry Falwell beneath contempt....If reporters were the only ones allowed to vote, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry would have won the White House by landslide margins."
— Longtime Washington Post political reporter Thomas Edsall in an October 8, 2009 essay for the Columbia Journalism Review, 'Journalism Should Own Its Liberalism.'
"I'll bet that most Post journalists voted for [Barack] Obama. I did. There are centrists at the Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don't even want to be quoted by name in a memo."
— Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell in her November 16, 2008 column.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: "The media has been really, really biased this campaign, I think....Is the media just in love with history here, Mark, do you think?"...
Time's Mark Halperin: "I think mistakes have been made and people will regret it....If Obama wins and goes on to become a hugely successful President, I think, still, people will look back and say it just wasn't done the right way."
— MSNBC's Morning Joe, October 28, 2008.
"If you were going to events during the primaries, what you saw was that the executive editors and the top people at the networks were all rushing to Obama events, bringing their children, celebrating it, saying they were, there's this part of history....The American people are smart, they can see this. That's why Obama's on every magazine cover.... There's no question in my mind the media has been more supportive of Senator Obama."
— NPR's Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday, October 26, 2008.
"Many in the media have been one-sided, sometimes adding to Obama's distortions rather than acting as impartial reporters of fact and referees of the mud fights.... We hear a lot less about Democratic sins such as President Clinton's distortions of Bob Dole's position on Medicare in 1996 and the NAACP's stunningly scurrilous ad campaign in 2000 associating George W. Bush's opposition to a hate crimes bill with the racist murderers who dragged James Byrd behind a truck."
— National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor, September 20, 2008.
Host Howard Kurtz: "Are journalists rooting for the Obama story?"
The Politico's John Harris, referring to when he worked at the Washington Post: "It wouldn't surprise me that there's some of that....A couple years ago, you would send a reporter out with Obama, and it was like they needed to go through detox when they came back — 'Oh, he's so impressive, he's so charismatic,' and we're kind of like, 'Down, boy.'"
— Exchange on CNN's Reliable Sources, January 13, 2008.
"From a reporter's point of view, it's almost hard to remain objective because it's infectious, the energy, I think. It sort of goes against your core to say that as a reporter, but the crowds have gotten so much bigger, his energy has gotten stronger. He feeds off that."
— NBC reporter Lee Cowan in an MSNBC.com video about the Obama campaign posted January 7, 2008.
"If we wore our politics on our sleeves in here, I have no doubt that in this and in most other mainstream newsrooms in America, the majority of those sleeves would be of the same color: blue. Survey after survey over the years have demonstrated that most of the people who go into this business tend to vote Democratic, at least in national elections. That is not particularly surprising, given how people make career decisions and that social service and activism is a primary driver for many journalists."
— Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman in an August 15, 2007 e-mail to his staff, posted by Poynter.org.
"I don't know if it's 95 percent...[but] there are enough [liberals] in the old media, not just in ABC, but in old media generally, that it tilts the coverage quite frequently, in many issues, in a liberal direction....It's an endemic problem. And again, it's the reason why for 40 years, conservatives have rightly felt that we did not give them a fair shake."
— ABC News political director Mark Halperin appearing on The Hugh Hewitt Show, October 30, 2006.
"The elephant in the newsroom is our narrowness. Too often, we wear liberalism on our sleeve and are intolerant of other lifestyles and opinions....We're not very subtle about it at this paper: If you work here, you must be one of us. You must be liberal, progressive, a Democrat. I've been in communal gatherings in The Post, watching election returns, and have been flabbergasted to see my colleagues cheer unabashedly for the Democrats."
— Washington Post "Book World" editor Marie Arana in a contribution to the Post's "daily in-house electronic critiques," as quoted by Post media reporter Howard Kurtz in an October 3, 2005 article.
"There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous. That's different from the media doing it's job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor."
— ABC News White House correspondent Terry Moran talking with Los Angeles-based national radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, May 17, 2005.
"I believe it is true that a significant chunk of the press believes that Democrats are incompetent but good-hearted, and Republicans are very efficient but evil."
— Wall Street Journal political editor John Harwood on the April 23, 2005 Inside Washington.
"I worked for the New York Times for 25 years. I could probably count on one hand, in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, people who would describe themselves as people of faith....I think one of the real built-in biases in the media is towards secularism....You want diversity in the newsroom, not because of some quota, but because you have to have diversity to cover the story well and cover all aspects of a society. And you don't have religious people making the decisions about where coverage is focused. And I think that's one of the faults."
— Former New York Times reporter Steve Roberts, now a journalism professor at George Washington University, on CNN's Reliable Sources, March 27, 2005.
"Personally, I have a great affection for CBS News....But I stopped watching it some time ago. The unremitting liberal orientation finally became too much for me. I still check in, but less and less frequently. I increasingly drift to NBC News and Fox and MSNBC."
— Former CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter in an op-ed published January 13, 2005 in the Los Angeles Times.
"Does anybody really think there wouldn't have been more scrutiny if this [CBS's bogus 60 Minutes National Guard story] had been about John Kerry?"
— Former 60 Minutes Executive Producer Don Hewitt at a January 10, 2005 meeting at CBS, as quoted by Chris Matthews later that day on MSNBC's Hardball.
"I know a lot of you believe that most people in the news business are liberal. Let me tell you, I know a lot of them, and they were almost evenly divided this time. Half of them liked Senator Kerry; the other half hated President Bush."
— CBS's Andy Rooney on the November 7, 2004 60 Minutes.
"The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards ...as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there's going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points."
— Newsweek's Evan Thomas on Inside Washington, July 10, 2004.
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz: "You've said on the program Inside Washington that because of the portrayal of Kerry and Edwards as 'young and dynamic and optimistic,' that that's worth maybe 15 points."
Newsweek's Evan Thomas: "Stupid thing to say. It was completely wrong. But I do think that, I do think that the mainstream press, I'm not talking about the blogs and Rush and all that, but the mainstream press favors Kerry. I don't think it's worth 15 points. That was just a stupid thing to say."
Kurtz: "Is it worth five points?"
Thomas: "Maybe, maybe."
— Exchange on CNN's Reliable Sources, October 17, 2004.
Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham: "The work of the evening, obviously, is to connect George W. Bush to the great war leaders of the modern era. You're going to hear about Churchill projecting power against public opinion...."
MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "But Iraq was a popular cause when he first started it. It wasn't like Churchill speaking against the Nazis."
Meacham: "That's not the way the Republican Party sees it. They think that all of us and the New York Times are against them."
Matthews: "Well, they're right about the New York Times, and they may be right about all of us."
— Exchange shortly after 8:30pm EDT during MSNBC's live coverage of the Republican National Convention, August 30, 2004.