Journalists Denying Liberal Bias, Part Two
More examples of the media denying their liberal bias:
"Over the years, I always tried to be the one person wherever I was working that would give a fair representation of what was happening, and then I hoped a reasonable and intelligent analysis or insight into why it was happening. And I've been comforted over the years that people on the far left and people on the far right have said to me, 'What party are you in, anyway? I have never been able to figure it out.' [laughter] And I'd say, 'That's exactly the reaction I want you to have.'"
— Retired NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw on PBS's Tavis Smiley, November 12, 2007.
"I know there are some people who actually believe that the [New York] Times has a partisan or ideological 'agenda' ....There are even a few people who think the news coverage and editorial page operate in lockstep as part of a liberal cabal. The Vice President is much too experienced and sophisticated, I suspect, to really believe that. I won't pretend that reporters' stories are never shaped by liberal bias (more accurately liberal assumptions about the world) but I think those instances are relatively rare, and I fight to filter them out and deplore them when they get into the paper."
— Excerpt from a 2004 e-mail from New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to Vice President Dick Cheney's spokesman Kevin Kellems, as reprinted in Stephen Hayes' 2007 biography, Cheney.
"For all the howling on the right, it's difficult to argue that mainstream news organizations operate with anything approaching Fox's partisan and ideological agenda."
— Longtime Los Angeles Times political reporter Ron Brownstein in a March 16, 2007 column.
Host Bill O'Reilly: "I just look at all your on-the-air talent, and the Today show, and I love those guys, all right, they're all liberal, every one of them, all right."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell: "I disagree....That's not the way we approach the news....I can't tell you one liberal thinker.'
O'Reilly: 'You can. It's Chris Matthews. Chris Matthews.... He's on the Today show and on the Nightly News. He's your main political commentator."
Mitchell: "As an analyst....I don't think he's a liberal thinker."
O'Reilly: "He's not? He worked for [Democratic Speaker] Tip O'Neill. How much more liberal can you get?"
Mitchell: "He worked for Tip O'Neill how many years ago?...I don't think that it is fair to describe journalists as liberals or conservatives....I have to tell you that I don't feel that there is bias in what we do at NBC News. And I don't think there's bias in CBS or ABC."
— Exchange on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor, January 5, 2007.
"I do not have a liberal bias....I don't have a conservative bias, either. I don't have any bias. I am bias-free....Bias is what people who hear or read the news bring to the story, not what the journalist brings to the reporting....[My newscast] is a flavor of neutrality."
— PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer appearing on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, November 27, 2006.
"I know that I've tried my best through my career to ask challenging questions to whomever I'm speaking, and whether it's a Republican or a Democrat, I try to raise important issues depending on their particular position....Oftentimes people put their, they see you from their own individual prisms. And if you're not reflecting their point of view, or you're asking an antagonistic question of someone they might agree with in terms of policy, they see you as the enemy, and I think that's just a mistake."
— Incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric at the Aspen Ideas Festival on July 5, broadcast by C-SPAN on September 2, 2006.
"[I am] biased — I have a very strong bias toward independent journalism....Some of what you describe as 'baggage' comes from people who have the following view: Their view is, 'You report the news the way I want it reported or I'm going to make you pay a price and hang a sign around your neck saying you're a bomb-toting Bolshevik.'"
— Dan Rather, as quoted by the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes in a July 12, 2006 column.
FNC's Bill O'Reilly: "Now the right wing thinks you're a
raving liberal, you and Rather contrived to put Bush in the worst
possible light....So are you a liberal?"
Fired CBS producer Mary Mapes: "Well, I'm not sure what a liberal is. I'm more liberal than some people. I can tell you my eight-year-old son thinks he's being raised by the most conservative parents in the world....'
O'Reilly: 'Are you registered Democrat?"
Mapes: "You know, I don't know....I don't know if I'm independent or Democrat. I know I'm not — in Texas, I'm not sure how I'm registered."
O'Reilly: "So you would describe yourself politically as?"
Mapes: "Oh, my goodness. I'm liberal on some things, I'm conservative on some things."
— FNC's The O'Reilly Factor, November 10, 2005.
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.