Today's Required Reading: Bernard Goldberg's "Bias" : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

Just finished it last night. A good portion of the book is Bernard telling his side of the story about his troubles at CBS news in the 1990s, when he began complaining about persistent bias in its reporting. But there are some gems in there.

Bernard is careful to note that the liberal slant of ABC, NBC and CBS is countered by AM talk radio (which is overwhelmingly conservative), but this doesn't negate the fact that the Big Three networks *do* slant the news. The book is filled with examples.

As someone who works in the business, I was glad to see him make this key point: the people who run these networks don't sit around and hatch nefarious plots. The real problem is the liberal *consensus* -- the acceptance that the liberal world view is the only one that's really enlightened, and that anyone who disagrees with them is, well, a neanderthal, not worthy of taking seriously.

Simply put: they don't think they're "liberal," they honestly think they're MAINSTREAM. The NOW, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy -- you name it -- are CENTRISTS to them. That's their world view.

One of my favorite quotes: after Nixon won reelection, one well-placed media personality complained, "no one I know voted for him!" She honestly wondered HOW he could have won -- in spite of the fact that he carried 49 states in the election.

He also details something that I've mentioned before, one of the Dirty Secrets of news reporting: if you look long and hard enough, you can find an "Expert" who will agree with you, no matter what you believe. Thus, when you're opposed to, say, tax cuts, you don't say so openly; you simply decide WHO you will interview for the story. Instead of using Milt Friedman, you'll find some guy from Yale or a liberal think tank and interview HIM. "They're a horrible idea," your Expert will drone, "and they don't work."

You get to make your point while still maintaining the appearance of "fairness."

I've seen this with my own two eyes. When anti-abortion protesters marched in Fayetteville, NC, many years ago, the local media didn't even bother to interview them. ("We already know what THEY believe," one reporterette explained.) Instead, they interviewed the local NOW, who was holding a counter demonstration across the street.

Advocacy journalism documented, and more. Makes an interesting read; highly recommended.

-- Stephen M. Poole (, February 27, 2002


The book is entertaining, too, by the way. To him, Dan Rather is "The Dan," head of La Familia at CBS. :)

-- Stephen M. Poole (, February 27, 2002.

Stephen, I just bought the book and look forward to finding the time to read it. He has made the TV circuit (I don't think CBS interviewed him :) and discussed those point you mentioned above. They do have this mindset that they are not liberal, just mainstream.

One time on this forum someone said that Tim Russert WASN'T liberal. At that point, I knew, no matter how many words I typed on the screen, the discussion was over. Now, I'll agree that Tim is probably the most balanced on those three networks, yet he still slants left and it comes through in most of his interviews.

The other day I heard Senator Fienstien's remarks concerning Bush's court appointments. She said that they are all conservative, not mainstream. I've noticed that they (the liberals) have begun to replace the word liberal with mainstream. Talk about your spin!

Good post!

-- Maria (, February 27, 2002.

I have never understood the business rationale for this obvious situation. In the world of print-journalism, there are magazines and journals for all POV. Why hasn't some network gone after the conservative viewer? There is a market there that is ignored.

Doesn't much matter anymore anyhow. The advent of cable TV and the Internet has broken the monopoly of network TV news. Thirty years ago, there were three choices. Now, the networks have a much smaller percentage of total viewers.

Dan, Peter, Tom, you are dinosaurs. And boring ones at that.

-- (, February 27, 2002.


One of Goldberg's points -- which he tried very hard to make to his bosses at CBS -- was that there was a REASON why people were leaving the major networks and switching to cable.

Fox News is now the hottest cable news network, swamping CNN at night in the ratings. And remember ... Fox isn't in as many markets as CNN! They're doing it with a handicap.

What does that tell you?


The key is the *consensus* thing. That's why the Big Three get incensed when someone accuses them of bias: THEY miss this. They simply don't see it.

Just like the southern idjit who is convinced, and takes as a matter of faith, that all black people are shiftless and lazy, they honestly believe, down to their core, that Lawrence Tribe is more qualified to explain a Supreme Court decision that Robert Bork.

Goldberg does a heroic job of explaining this. We're not talking about the Sunday morning opinion shows; we're talking about the "hard" news -- the 30 to 60 second stories that appear during the prime time telecast. The key is who they use as "experts" for these stories.

(And hey, let's be fair here: Fox News is far more likely to call in Bork than Dershowitz! The "bias" runs both ways. :)

The Big Three honestly believe that Robert Bork is a neanderthal, and that he is not qualified to explain a Supreme Court decision. Oh, his opinion is fine on the Sunday Morning shows (Sam and Cokie will be there to keep him straight!), but not as an "expert explainer" for the hard news.

That is a critical distinction that Goldberg makes better than anyone else I've ever read. I've had trouble explaining this myself.

-- Stephen (, February 27, 2002.

Stephen, maybe I am missing your point in regard to Mr. Tribe and Mr. Bork. Is it possible you believe that Mr. Bork would introduce less bias into his explanation of a Supreme Court opinion than Mr. Tribe?

I would find that position very difficult to defend, as Mr. Bork is unabashedly biased in favor of positions that are conservative even in relation to the Rehnquist court. Mr. Bork is a member and leading light of the Federalist Society, a group that is extremely active in lobbying for those conservative positions in every way possible. In short, Mr. Bork is a well-known political activist and advocate. I can't believe his strong personal opinions wouldn't color his commentary.

If your position is that Mr. Tribe's opinions offend you more than Mr. Bork's opinions, then I am sorry. My only possible reply is, so what? It sounds like sour grapes to me. Why on earth should CBS or any other network cater to your biases more than they cater to their own? The OWNERS of the network are free to run as they see fit. It is a private business. Where are your libertarian ideals, sir?

As it happens, Rupert Murdock shares your biases. He has his own network, Fox Broadcasting. He runs it according to his tastes. By coincidence, his tastes coincide with yours in some significant ways. I don't notice you complaining that Fox and Mr. Murdock cater to your biases. Be satisfied with that. Or else buy your own network.

-- Little Nipper (, February 27, 2002.


Stephen, maybe I am missing your point in regard to Mr. Tribe and Mr. Bork. Is it possible you believe that Mr. Bork would introduce less bias into his explanation of a Supreme Court opinion than Mr. Tribe?

No, but what YOU miss is that Tribe injects HIS bias into that explanation as well. When a network like ABC or CBS consistently uses someone like Tribe, and that alone, to explain such decisions, that's clear evidence of THEIR bias.

That's why I used that example. Liberals can't see this. Right now, as you read this, David Horowitz is doing a tour of college campuses speaking out against reparations for slavery. The reaction from the "open-minded" liberal faculty members of these schools is very telling to me. They basically want to censor him. They think that his opinion should not even be permitted to be heard.

Do you agree with that?

Well, the fact is, that's what the Big Three networks have essentially been doing, maybe not in such severe degree, but certainly to some extent.

In short, Mr. Bork is a well-known political activist and advocate. I can't believe his strong personal opinions wouldn't color his commentary.

Mr Tribe is also a political activist and advocate, whose opinions color HIS commentary.

If you can't see that, are you sure you don't work for CBS? :)

And just for the record, opinions have never "offended" me ... as long as one is sure to make it clear that they ARE "opinions" and not fact. Please.

It is fact that the moon orbits the earth and that most humans have two (2) eyeballs. These are not opinions. These are facts. If I were to insist otherwise, you could justly say, "Stephen, you are crazy" and even make fun of me.

It is, however, NOT a fact that the Constitution is a "living, breathing" document that should be interpreted in a way that is vastly different from original intent of its writers. That, my friend, is an OPINION.

It may be learned opinion; one based on precedent; and one that a great number of scholars hold, but at the end of the day, it's still just that: an OPINION with which some men strongly disagree -- like Robert Bork.

It would seem to me that the fair thing for a network to do would be to interview BOTH, to allow EACH to present their opinions and then permit the viewer to decide.

But that's just me.

Read Goldberg's book.

-- Stephen (, February 27, 2002.

You seem shocked (shocked!) to discover that media companies have a bias and allow that bias to influence their news coverage. OTOH, I never denied it. I am not that silly. Media bias (of all stripes) has been plain to me since I was a young adult. It's a hoot to hear you (and Mr. Goldberg) act like you're just discovering it.

It would seem to me that the fair thing for a network to do would be to interview BOTH, to allow EACH to present their opinions and then permit the viewer to decide.

Stephen, this sounds uncannily like the old, discarded, FCC Fairness Doctrine. The funny part is, it was the Reagan administration that discarded the Fairness Doctrine and the liberals who yelled bloody murder when it did so. This really a knee slapper!

To tell you the truth, I would not mind seeing the Fairness Doctrine reinstated, and broadcast stations that disregard it lose their FCC license. I tend to see fairness as a Good Thing. But, of course, if that happened, you and I would find that the owners of those stations would scream bloody murder and "unfair government regulation of business". No doubt the Libertarians would join the chorus.

Mustn't grumble when your ideology cuts the other way.

-- Little Nipper (, February 27, 2002.

What a coincidence! I just finished reading it last night too!

A total piece of rubbish, good if you run out of paper to start a fire with.

-- (Cisco and Fleebert @ .com), February 27, 2002.


Are you such a liberal that you automatically assume that I think the same way -- ie, that "dissident" viewpoints should be squashed? :)

(I'm being a stinker here. Do NOT take that question seriously.[g] It's tongue-in-cheek.)

I do not. What I want is balance, and further, as far as I'm concerned, there IS balance. You hush and let me watch Fox to get the REAL news, and you can watch whatever you want. That suits me just fine. We're both honest enough to admit that ALL news is biased, at least to some degree, so why not watch something that doesn't give you a peptic ulcer? Works for me.

I don't care if CBS continues on its present course, and I would fight any attempt to silence them. If they refuse to air, say, film of looters because they're primarily black ("it might send the wrong message"), that's their choice. Cool. Go for it.

The court of public opinion will take its toll -- CBS is in a dismal 3rd place in the evening news race ... and for that matter, all three networks continue to lose viewers to cable. But that's their choice. Freedom of speech and all that.

Goldberg was trying to tell CBS *why* their newscast was in a dismal 3rd. They wouldn't listen. That's why the book is interesting to me, again, probably because I'm in Da Bidness. So much of that book rang true to me from personal experience, I naturally enjoyed it.

By the way, since you brought it up ... the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated BECAUSE it actually STIFLED free speech, rather than encouraging diversity. Hey, I *remember* when we gave the FD lip service back in the 70's, but it basically boiled down to permitting your opponent to record an editorial (which you then played at, oh, say, 3 AM or so). There. We've been fair, the FD is satisfied ...

Meanwhile, when the Supreme Court makes a decision on abortion, you DO NOT interview the local pro-life group, you go find a NOW drone and interview THEM. If the pro-life group demands equal time, you slot 'em at 3AM or early on Sunday morning. There you go.

Incidentally, a far more profound rule change during Reagan's tenure was the elimination of the FCC's rules against nationwide *radio* network programming. That rule was insane to begin with, because it gave a tremendously unfair advantage to TV in influencing public opinion. And yep, it directly led to the rise of AM talk radio.

So, now there IS balance; the internet has further ensured that. Suits me.

But if the folks at ABC want to know why their overall market share has been declining for two decades, Goldberg could tell them why. Not that they'd listen, but hey.

Here's a quote from the book:

The reason why we don't identify NOW as a liberal group or Laurence Tribe as a liberal professor or Tom Daschle as a liberal senator is that, by and large, the media elites don't see them that way ... liberals in the newsroom ... see NOW and Tribe and even left-wing Democrats as middle of the road. Not coincidentally, just as they see themselves ...

No need to identify Patricia Ireland as head of a liberal women's group, because to the media elites her views are not leftist. They simply make sense. They're simply reasonable. After all, she's for abortion rights without restrictions, isn't she? She's for affirmative action, isn't she?

To mainstream America, these are major elements of the liberal agenda. But to the liberals in the media, these aren't liberal views at all. They're just sensible, reasonable, rational views which just happen to coincide with their own. ... ...

If you hooked network news reporters and producers to polygraph machines and asked them, "Do you think you are guilty of liberal bias?" most would almost certainly answer, "no." And they would pass a polygraph test because they're not lying. They honestly believe what they're saying. And that's the biggest problem of all.

-- Stephen (, February 28, 2002.

Well, at least I didn't leave a tag open this time. But just for the record, the entire section at the end of that post is a quote from the book.

-- Stephen (, February 28, 2002.

Stephen, to me that quote from the book is highly revealing of the quality of Goldberg's thinking.

If I were in charge of a network news organization, I wouldn't "identify NOW as a liberal group or Laurence Tribe as a liberal professor or Tom Daschle as a liberal senator" for one very simple reason. Namely, such a characterization adds nothing in the way of content to any public policy debate, but is simply a form of ad hominem argument. (NB: Although the ad hominem fallacy is generally used in opposition, it is entirely applicable in support as well - and a fallacy however it is used.)

All that is accomplished by such a characterization as "liberal" or "conservative" is the introduction of another opportunity for bias, misinformation and crafty insinuation. If, indeed, the ideas of Patricia Ireland are "sensible, reasonable, rational views", or exactly the opposite, as Goldberg seems to think, then viewers will make that judgement all on their own, with or without being prompted by CBS News calling them "liberal" or "conservative".

What Goldberg seems to be arguing for would only lead to a further hardening of partisanship - with self-identified "liberal" or conservative" viewers being signaled by news editors about what views they should agree with or disagree with, by clearly labeling views as acceptable only to liberals or acceptable only to conservatives. What a lovely idea to espouse - first, complain about bias and then remedy it by adding more bias.

At least that is how ot looks to me.

-- Little Nipper (, February 28, 2002.


That's why you should read the book. I didn't quote the whole thing (you can thank me later[g]), but the example in this chapter was an event in Washington (State of the Union? Not looking at the book right now ...) at which Peter Jennings introduced each Congresscreature something like this:

"There's Barbara Boxer ... and Trent Lott, the conservative Republican senator ... there's Diane Fienstein ... and here's Dennis Hastert, a very, very conservative Republican ..."

Goldberg noted, of course, that Jennings felt the need to attach the *conservative* and/or Republican label, but not the liberal label.

-- Stephen (, February 28, 2002.

I dunno. I just have a hard time getting excited about Mr. Goldberg's 'revelation' of network bias - in a book that he'll sell me for $30, give or take a few bucks. Since I don't watch either network or cable news, I'm not sure why I need him to tell me what I already know.

Now, I might read his book if Goldberg managed to define what beliefs define a "liberal", in rather the same way that the Niceaen Creed defines a Christian. The usefulness of that would be obvious and immediate. If the definition of liberal is narrow and specific, I could prove that I am not a liberal. If the definition is broad, I could prove that almost everyone and their grandmother is a liberal.

-- Little Nipper (, February 28, 2002.

I'm not sure the two of you are engaged in quite the same conversation.

Yes, of course there is bias in presenting the news. And most of that bias arises from a recruitment function -- people who do not share the prevailing political attitudes will not fare well in network broadcasting, and if they are interested in furthering their career will try elsewhere.

But from my reading here, Goldberg isn't just kind of pretending to discover that, oh dear, why, good gracious, did you realize there is BIAS in the news coverage? Mercy! Instead, Goldberg was addressing a very real problem -- the loss of viewership, and the resulting loss of advertising income. This was an understandably serious matter to the networks.

Goldberg's thesis, which he does his best to document, is that the network's political leanings were diverging increasingly from those of their viewers, who in turn were tuning to more congenial presentations. But to build this case, Goldberg must demonstrate (1) what those leanings are and how they are manifested; and (2) how the great mass of potential viewers see the political world, perhaps as a function of their voting record, or social/religious activities.

Evidently, from what Stephen writes, Goldberg found himself unable to penetrate deeply enough to be heard. Nipper, like Stephen, may pride himself on his ability to divine bias and account for it to his taste, but the network people were not so gifted. In their eyes, the were presenting "the news", just the facts, what happened and why. They certainly were NOT looking for biased experts, they were looking for clear explanations their viewers could understand.

It all sounds rather interesting. Bias can be subtle, and tends to be visible only in the breach, because nothing is more reasonable than a shared prejudice.

-- Flint (, February 28, 2002.

Instead, Goldberg was addressing a very real problem -- the loss of viewership, and the resulting loss of advertising income.

And for this he got a book deal to take his concerns to the general public at $30 a whack? What was his publisher smoking?

-- Little Nipper (, February 28, 2002.


I guess that depends on book sales figures. I'd be curious to know what they are.

-- Flint (, February 28, 2002.


It's a national bestseller. It's in the top 10 again this week.

-- Stephen M. Poole (, March 01, 2002.

Stephen: You're moving BACKWARDS in time. It was at least a year or so ago that Paul Davis got these silly notions about a "librul" media out of your head, and it took only one book to get them back.

Liberals don't watch the TV for news. Check out Media Whores Online sometime. Kindof like Maureen Dowd, they hate EVERYBODY! [and THEY tell the truth]

-- Anita (, March 01, 2002.

Anita, that's funny. Thanks for my morning chuckle.

Stephen, I also remember the Big Three talking about Condit, a Congressman from a "conservative" district. Never once did they say he was Democratic.

-- Maria (, March 01, 2002.

Flint, in my considered opinion, if Goldberg's book is a best seller, it is emphatically not because he "was addressing a very real problem -- the loss of viewership, and the resulting loss of advertising income", but because his chosen audience delights in seeing someone thumb his nose at Dan Rather and they are willing to pay good money to see it well done.

-- Little Nipper (, March 01, 2002.


I think your memory is a bit selective. :)

What Paul challenged was the notion that The Major Media In General (all caps, there) is "liberal" -- Major Media meaning the big newspapers, the television and radio networks. He corrected me on this by pointing out that the bias (which DOES exist) in the Big Three Networks is balanced by the Web, talk radio, conservative newspapers (such as the Washington Times and New York Post) and Fox News Channel.

... which is about what I said to Nipper above, isn't it?

That CBS is biased to the left is not even subject to question. Of the Big Three, ABC is probably closest to center; they had Brit Hume (now with Fox) for many years, and John Stossel is still allowed to do some libertarian/conservative commentary.


For that matter, if we're talking definitions, define "conservative."

As a general rule, most people take a "liberal" to be a person who thinks that government solutions are preferred to those provided by private enterprise and/or free-market competition, but that's admittedly an oversimplification.

-- Stephen (, March 01, 2002.

Stephen, just for grins, what is the "free market solution" for collusion? What about a free market solution for securing minority rights?

One of the great difficulties of free markets is that they are made up of people who do not want free markets. Inevitably, anyone who has a choice in the matter will pursue monopolistic practises, cartels, or collusion. In fact, they will drive markets in that direction to full extent they are free to do so. Place a boundary against such practises and free enterprise will camp one millimeter from that boundary. Every time.

-- Little Nipper (, March 01, 2002.


I told you it was an oversimplification. But if you're asking me how *I* would handle, say, equal employment opportunities, I'd give a huge tax credit to any business that trained and hired minorities.

The fact that this solution never even *occurred* to the Equal Rights people back in the 60's and 70's is very telling to me. It never even showed up on their scopes because they just don't think that way. This is another key difference in philosophy.

In case you haven't read it, I have fun with the definition of liberals and conservatives here. :)

-- Stephen (, March 01, 2002.


And on this point ...

One of the great difficulties of free markets is that they are made up of people who do not want free markets. Inevitably, anyone who has a choice in the matter will pursue monopolistic practises, cartels, or collusion. In fact, they will drive markets in that direction to full extent they are free to do so. Place a boundary against such practises and free enterprise will camp one millimeter from that boundary. Every time.

I will diffidently remind you that it was a conservative Republican -- Teddy Roosevelt -- who was the original trust buster. He was also the first real conservationist.

You're erecting a convenient strawman who will not object to pummeling. Most conservatives are well aware that there must be limits to free enterprise. In fact, I personally don't recall EVER meeting or reading a conservative who wants completely unfettered markets in which businesses are permitted to achieve monopoly status. (I'll grant that some must exist somewhere, but I've never met/read them.)

Yes, the end result of that *IS* one guy owning everything, and that sortof defeats the whole idea of free markets, too, doesn't it?

(In fact, one reason why many conservatives went along with Roosevelt is because they finally figured out that, if the workforce was making a decent wage and could afford to buy things, they'd sell more stuff. Duh.)

Here's a recent example. Conservatives are generally split over Microsoft. Some say that there IS competition (particularly in the business/server market), so the government's claim that Microsoft is a monopoly is just liberal politics. Others say that Microsoft has clearly engaged in illegal practices, and should be punished.

But I've yet to read one who says, "yeah, man, we should allow Microsoft to completely and utterly rule the computer software market, cuz' it'd be good for bidness!"

Contrary to what you want to believe, conservatives aren't idiots -- especially not in matters economic. :)

-- Stephen (, March 01, 2002.

If Theodore Roosevelt was a "conservative" Republican, I would welcome a fair amount of the same brand of conservatism from the present administration. As I recall, he formed the Bull Moose Party precisely because the Republican Party was too conservative to follow him.

-- Little Nipper (, March 01, 2002.

You're a mean tease Nip. Hope Stephen has the nose.

-- Carlos (, March 02, 2002.


Erm ... no. Your chronology is off.

Roosevelt was elected as Vice President in the McKinley administration (1900) as a Republican. When McKinley was assassinated, he became President and easily won reelection in 1904, as a Republican. His first serious trust-busting occurred in 1902, when he took on the railroads -- as a Republican.

Roosevelt decided not to run for a third term and William H. Taft became president. But in time, Roosevelt started disagreeimg with Taft -- publicly -- and ran for office again in 1912. The Republican machine squeezed him out in Chicago, and it is *THEN* that he started the Progressive, or "Bull Moose" Party. He was never elected to any office as a Bull Moose, and he returned to the Republican party a few years later.

You know what your problem is? You think that "conservative" must automatically mean a wealthy, blue-blood, minority-hating, worker-exploiting neanderthal.

In fact, as a conservative, I view Teddy as one of my heroes and role models (which is why I know so much about him[g]).

-- Stephen (, March 02, 2002.

Good nose.

-- Carlos (, March 02, 2002.

Stephen: My memory is too poor to be "selective". Paul's is much better, and I posted pretty much his feelings on the past experience.

Here's more on Me dia Bias

-- Anita (, March 02, 2002.

Here's the article mentioned in my post above.

Popular Delusions and the Madness of Drudge

by Gene Lyons When it comes to popular delusions, the myth of consistent "left-wing bias" in the national press is right up there with alien visitations and creation-science. How anybody who witnessed the Clinton-Lewinsky debacle, followed by the Washington press's gang- bang assaults on Al Gore during the 2000 campaign could believe that the national press pimps for Democrats beggars my poor imagination. But assuming purely for the sake of argument that persons buying into this notion are actually capable of rational discussion, recent events offer plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Particularly gratifying was the ignominious collapse of the Ken Lay- in-the Lincoln-Bedroom canard. For readers who missed it, Democrat-Gazette editors were forced to issue a correction Feb. 23 after running a Washington Times article two days earlier making the specious claim that the discredited Enron CEO had spent the night at the Clinton White House in exchange for big bucks to Democrats. My column pointing out that Lay's name didn't appear on published guest lists and that Clinton's office categorically denied the allegation appeared on Feb. 13.

If it's too much to expect editors who think the Moonie paper a credible source to take my word for it, minimal skepticism would have exposed the hoax. It must have taken me all of ten minutes to debunk it. A bit more digging by The Daily Howler's Bob Somerby tracked the bogus tale to its source: the infamous Drudge Report. Most likely tipped by Republican operatives seeking to take the heat off President Bush, Drudge ran the unsourced item on Jan 11. Two days later, it appeared as an unattributed "fact" in the Chicago Tribune. Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes carried it to Fox News; USA Today and the Washington Times took it from there. GOP pundits parroted the falsehood on talk shows. Somerby found similarly-worded letters to the editor in newspapers all over the country, testifying, if nothing else, to the fable's propaganda value.

Drudge openly scorns traditional journalists' fussiness about fact- checking, making his website ideal for disseminating political disinformation. Rush Limbaugh can also be counted upon to broadcast GOP-inspired buncombe from sea to shining sea. There is simply no equivalent myth-manufacturing apparatus on the Democratic side. Drudge also claimed that former Clinton chief of staff (and ARKLA CEO) Mack McClarty was a paid member of Enron's board. That's false too, although the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today bought it, and have had to print retractions. Bill Clinton did play golf against Lay in 1993, as part of a Democrats vs. Republicans matchup pitting him and Jack Nicklaus against the Enron executive and former President Gerald Ford. Contemporaneous accounts don't say who won.

The point is that once upon a time, it would have been shocking that for more than a month, not a single editor or reporter exercised minimal due diligence to determine if this too-good-to-be-true little nugget had any basis in fact. Today it's business as usual. Indeed, had it not been for the pesky activists at, it's not clear the Lincoln Bedroom fable would ever have been corrected. The website posts newsroom e-mail links and phone numbers, encouraging citizens to make pests of themselves until journalists get it straight.

The week's second big Enron disinformation story was subtler piece of work sponsored by the New York Times. Based on a leaked Enron memo, the front page piece by Richard Berke claimed that the Houston-based corporation "quietly drew up a plan to cultivate close political ties to VP Al Gore during the 2000 presidential race and tried to build relationships with his inner circle."

The key phrase is "tried to," because the article provides no evidence the scheme succeeded, nor even, frankly, that it was seriously attempted. Corporations the size of Enron generate a lot of memos.

Berke described the strategy as a "double-sided" one for insuring Enron would have influence with whoever won the election. On cue, the Republican pundits hit the airwaves. That same evening, Newt Gingrich cited the Times article on FoxNews as evidence "that Enron and the Gore campaign were plotting together all of last year." If Newt said it, you can bet that Rush Limbaugh beat it like a gong.

But anybody who read past Berke's lead paragraph had to wonder exactly what Enron's brilliant plan consisted of. The article documented not a single meeting between Gore and Enron execs. "So how did they try to build those close ties?" the Daily Howler asks. "By giving $614,000 to Bush, and $14,000 to Gore! Of course! If THAT didn't bring the VP around, then nothing would EVER achieve it!" Buried paragraphs deep into the Times account, those are the actual numbers. If Enron hoped to curry favor with Gore by giving his opponent 45 TIMES more campaign money, no wonder the idiots went bankrupt. Yesterday, a videotape emerged of Ken Lay endorsing Bush at an Enron employees meeting in October, 2000.

-- Anita (, March 02, 2002.

Debunking some of Bernie's claims in his book, we have this for starters. The Daily Howler has discussed him before, Stephen. You may want to review their site to see what they have to say. They've been majorly into media debunking themes lately.

-- Anita (, March 02, 2002.

Newly determined by : Kenneth Lay is the dark presence behind Frito-Lay, the GM modified "food product" that is sapping America's vital fluids!

-- (, March 02, 2002.


Several thoughts come to mind.

First of all, I haven't said this before, but I am tremendously amused at those Gore supporters who have decided that the media is biased -- against THEM. I guess they hope that if they repeat this often enough, it'll magically become true.

Second, the argument used at your link, and to a certain extent in the longer post above it, goes something like this:

(1) Goldberg says so-and-so. (2) We have some examples where what Golberg said wasn't accurate. (3) Therefore, Goldberg is wrong.

Um, hm. Now THERE's some unassailable logic. It might even work if they didn't (deliberately) distort what Goldberg said to make it a more convenient target.

Goldberg doesn't claim that the big three networks are uniformly and constantly liberal in every single story presented across all of time and space. No one does, for that matter. Of COURSE you can find examples where they've tried to strike a middle ground.

What Goldberg (and most conservatives) complain about is the overall tone and direction and the editorial decisions behind which stories are aired and which "experts" are interviewed at the Big Three Networks.

And there, Goldberg is right on the money.

-- Stephen (, March 02, 2002.

"Goldberg (and most conservatives) complain about is the overall tone and direction and the editorial decisions..."

Making them, from a libertarian POV, complainers.

-- Little Nipper (, March 02, 2002.

I wonder if this will work?

-- helen (, March 02, 2002.

No, Nipper. I merely means that we're pointing out the obvious.

Look: I wouldn't complain a bit if CBS, just to name one, would *ADMIT* that most of its reporters are liberal Democrats and that it sometimes (often) (frequently) colors their reporting (particular, as I noted above and note again for the nth time, in their choice of "experts" for commentary on the evening news).

Hey, I freely admit MY bias. I'm a conservative. There you go. :)

Instead, CBS wants to stand there defiantly and screech, "no, we don't slant the news! No! We're not liberal!" in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary -- which makes THEM look silly.

... and as Goldberg has beautifully documented in his book. :)

-- Stephen M. Poole (, March 03, 2002.

Anita, I suspect that what Lyons claims in his article is accurate. On the other hand, I wish someone else was the source, because he's done real whoring for Clinton. Case in point: before the stained dress was produced, Clinton and his allies were spreading the word that Monica was so mentally disturbed that the sex acts she had described never really happened. I heard Gene Lyons on NPR pushing this argument. He said Monica reminded him of the pathetic woman they caught stalking David Lettermen.

The Democrats may not have a spin machine at this time to match the Republicans, but they sure had one during the Clinton Administration.

I'm glad Lyons brought up the subject of laziness and general worthlessness on the part of the media, however. Both Republican and Democratic Administrations have gotten away with huge and obvious lies. For example, during the Reagan years, the Republicans blamed the huge deficits on spending by the Democrats, when in fact the budgets submitted to Congress had huge deficits to begin with.

-- Peter Errington (, March 03, 2002.

Flint, in my considered opinion, if Goldberg's book is a best seller, it is emphatically not because he "was addressing a very real problem --

No, it was a "prop" given to GW (even had a book mark in it) to carry, so they could justify his "standoffishness" and lack of comments about ENRON. It was in his hand as he walked away from reporters, as if to say "No matter what I say, you will report it with a liberal bias".

I thought it was a pretty cute trick at the time, considering the book had been out forever (by book standards), and I am not in the least surprised that THAT particular trick worked as it did. Giving fuel to and providing a biased view of media bias....just about the time the Enron scandal was touching so many conservatives. Yeppers, it sure does a good job of convincing people Enron and the Bush administration being in collusion is nothing more than a "vast Left Wing Conspiracy".

The only god thing on FOX is THE X-FILES. Seems they get the scripts for their news from some of the same writers.

-- Cherri (, March 03, 2002.


Perhaps if the major media took my political preferences for granted as the Only Sensible Viewpoint, I'd be as complacent and dismissive of any discomfort on your part as you are of others. I don't know, but bias can be persuasive in subtle ways.

Still, your contortions are amusing. If Goldberg find some reason why people are leaving the major networks (and moving to Fox), you dismiss this because "everyone knows there's bias." But wait, how about the money being lost? Well, lets' kind of dodge that one. But how about the success he has with a book making a claim the networks wouldn't address? Well, people emphatically (in your opinion) aren't buying that book because they accept (and resent) the point Goldberg makes, oh no, they're buying it because they like to see the major networks being tweaked. THAT must be the answer!

So while it might look to most outside observers like Goldberg's claims are entirely valid, that those who dismissed them have lost market share to those who listened, and that the book's success underlines this very point, to you it just looks like, well, nothing to bother with, network coverage is just fine, thank you.

As for Cherri's claim that the book was created as some kind of prop to support Yet Another Bush Conspiracy, I think her motivation is much like yours, but her approach is more transparent.

(Meanwhile, Fox news often bothers me a lot more than the other networks. It strikes me as "news from a Christian perspective". I find a political bias MUCH easier to live with than a religious bias, at least a PRO-religious bias. And needless to say, when religion was never mentioned outside of narrowly-targeted stories, I never noticed its lack. For me, religion is something properly ignored whenever possible, and carefully labeled and isolated otherwise. After all, stories about (for example) crime aren't religious stories, period. When Fox interviews clerics as part of crime stories, I find this much more offensive than interviewing only liberal lawyers to interpret court decisions. At least these liberal lawyers are *relevant*, you know?)

-- Flint (, March 03, 2002.

Stephen: You obviously haven't ventured over to check out what ACTUALLY happened as researched through LEXUS by the Daily Howler. You're the one who quoted Peter Jennings [at least I THINK it was Peter] stating WHO was conservative and neglecting to say who was liberal. This was on entrance to Clinton's impeachment hearings, BTW. Peter [IF it was Peter (How I wish I had a memory that lasted more than 30 seconds)] mentioned exactly THREE conservatives entering the chambers that night. He didn't say anything about Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond, and countless other conservatives entering the chambers that evening.

The awful truth is that Bernie did NOT look at transcripts of newscasts for his book. He seemed to rely on his memory and even extrapolated on THAT.

I'm not surprised that you feel the way you do, even to the point of stating things like, "if you repeat it enough times". The GOP is famous for doing that, and if you'd engage in a little research of your own instead of taking an author's word as truth, you may come to the same conclusion that many of the more "liberal" persuasion have reached: There's not just BIAS in reporting [from both the right and the left], but the more outstanding revelation is that journalism has lost ANY semblance of truth-seeking.

Now, do your homework and go to The Daily Howler and review each and every article presented [with facts from LEXUS to back them] on Bernie's book. THEN come back and tell me that he told the truth. Deal?

-- Anita (, March 03, 2002.


I read the article and Somersby gets it wrong as well. I watched the newscast in question and remember it well -- and Goldberg is more right than the Howler.

There ARE hard statistics for things like this (if you're really interested); Accuracy in Media, for one, has been keeping very painstaking records for many years.

But the Howler's comments are typical: it's called obfuscate with the small details while ignoring the overall reality. For example, it is a *FACT* that several polls of the media have been done, and in every case, the vast majority identify themselves as Democrats, the vast majority vote for Democratic candidates, and a majority (55-60%, depending on which one you read) label THEMSELVES as "liberal."

Now: the only question that remains is if they allow this worldview to influence their reporting. I say it does, primarily in their choice of "experts" for HARD NEWS STORIES (*not* the Sunday morning opinion shows; the EVENING NEWS -- something that the Howler also misses -- it uses those shows as examples of "balance").

So instead, I'll offer YOU a deal: read Goldberg's book and criticize it from your OWN first-hand observation, rather than simply quoting from Websites that agree with what you've already decided to believe about it. Until you do that, don't you think it's a bit ludicrous for you to assign homework to ME?

Isn't there another thread here where the folks are making great hay out of the fact that one could claim to dismiss a book before EVEN HAVING READ IT?!?

The mind boggles.

-- Stephen (, March 03, 2002.

OK, just to keep it simple, I'll try one more time.

The main thing that Goldberg gets right, in spades, is whom these networks choose to use as "experts" in the hard evening news stories.

Let me say that again:

The main thing that Goldberg gets right, in spades, is whom these networks choose to use as "experts" in the hard evening news stories.

None of Goldberg's critics will touch that, because it HAS been documented. In spades. It's not open to question. Instead, they bent and warp the argument into more malleable territory, whence they begin pummeling.

Goldberg's critics remind me of the anti-evolutionary fundies, who will latch onto one or two "problems" (which aren't even really problems, such as the Cambrian Explosion) to "prove" that the entire theoriy is questionable and suspect.

That is EXACTLY what the Howler is doing.


-- Stephen (, March 03, 2002.

"Still, your contortions are amusing."

My "contortions" thus far have consisted mainly of the fiendish device of agreeing with your main point, that the network news is biased. This seems continually to slip your mind. It doesn't fit your world view. I am supposed to share the same 'liberal blind spot' as CBS news executives. Since I don't, it discombobulates you.

As for your point that CBS is wrong to deny it has a liberal bias, I agree with that, too, with one minor stipulation: while the bias is there and undeniable (see my first paragraph, above), I don't find it particularly illuminating to attach the label "liberal" to it.

FWIW, I think CBS is has more in common with the 1950's midwestern "cloth coat" Eisenhower Republicans or maybe with the defunct Rockafeller/Javitz Republicans than with any truly left wing politics. I think the fact that you call Teddy Roosevelt a conservative hero is funny, when you consider the differences between his embrace of progressivism compared to the currently dominant Reaganism of today's conservatives.

My other reservation, which you seem to be contorting around, is that, in the light of the libertarian politics, which you seem drawn to and dabble in, complaining about CBS's bias is idiotic and pointless. When I first said this, you denied you were "complaining", but were only "pointing out the obvious". The trouble is "complain" was your word and your description of what you and CBS's critics were doing. I was quoting you, guy.

Does this conjunction of denial in the face of evidence and complacency about that denial remind you of anyone else being discussed in this thread? If it doesn't, then you are irony-impaired.

Lastly, I am not complacent about your discomfort in regard to CBS because the major media reflect my own bias. I am discomfitted from the opposite side.

No, I am complacent about your discomfort because you seem to take it that you have some entitlement to a major media that reflects your bias. That is the real source of your complaint. I got over wishing corporate media would ever reflect my politics, since I know we are at odds. You feel betrayed by people who you think ought to share your bias.

-- Little Nipper (, March 03, 2002.

The only good thing on FOX is THE X-FILES. Seems they get the scripts for their news from some of the same writers.

Are you differentiating between the Fox Network channel and the Fox cable-news channel?

-- (, March 03, 2002.


Perhaps you are right. Maybe the question comes down to whether or not the news media should have as their purpose the delivery of what happens of importance as well as they can approximate this, or whether their goal should be to promulgate a political orientation, using the news as the vehicle. Both of these can be considered good, practical, worthwhile goals.

And you're quite correct that I'd like to see them keep aiming at the target of a balanced representation, even though we all recognize that defining what this might be is as difficult as defining what the "public interest" is. I take the normative position that there *IS* a public interest, and there is *in principle* a balanced and representative newscast, even though nobody would know one if they saw one. We need not throw our hands in the air, declare this goal impossible to achieve, and therefore not worthwhile making the attempt.

But if you really believe that my desire to see some effort at balance is some kind of resentment that the media do not bias their presentation in my favor, then you are really wrong. It is possible to make useful measurements of bias, and use these measurements to help overcome it.

What we have *really is* advocacy journalism. Slate, published daily by MSNBC, stated upfront that they had 55 writers and 53 of them had voted for Gore. And yet, said Michael Kinsey (!), they saw absolutely no reason why this fact should have any influence on either the stories they chose to run, or the slant they put on them. None at all!

For me, that kind of thing is a red flag. They didn't think so. And so long as that attitude prevails, so does pravda. If 53 of them had been Bush voters, I'd be equally suspicious, whether you believe me or not.

-- Flint (, March 03, 2002.

In my opinion, the worst problem with media bias is not so much the way they cover events and issues (though I think there are real problems here), but in the decisions not to cover certain important matters at all, as if they didn't exist. The remarkable spying career of John Hwang is a case in point. That should have been one of the biggest stories of that year.

-- Peter Errington (, March 03, 2002.


Did you get my post confused with Flint's? I haven't accused you of contortions. Or were you addressing me?

I am confused.

-- Stephen (, March 03, 2002.


Your last was well-said.

Let the record show that I don't consider WorldNetDaily a reliable source of information, for precisely the same reason: of the 55 (or so) there, I'm sure that 53 (or so) of them did indeed vote for Bush.

(Only because Buchanan wasn't a viable candidate, and Gary Bauer had dropped out of the race ...[g])

-- Stephen (, March 03, 2002.


On this matter, I think you and I speak with a similar enough voice so that Nipper conflated them either accidentally, or deliberately, or because he didn't see any important differences.

And yet, as I tried to make clear, when religion creeps into news reporting, I react like I'm struck with a hot poker. I don't much care what people do inside the doors of their churches, but I know for certain that whatever it is is not relevant to *anything* that might be considered newsworthy, except insofar as the Devout attempt to use the police powers of the state to enforce their doctrines on others.

For me, filtering the view of what's happening through the eye of a religious (or Marxist, or conspiratorialist) needle guarantees advocacy, for no gain to anyone but the advocate. But maybe that's a different topic. It must makes Fox hard for me to stomach sometimes.

-- Flint (, March 03, 2002.


How often have you seen Fox do this? I know that they use Jerry Falwell from time to time (I usually change the channel when they do), but other than that, where have you seen this on Fox?

I'm just wondering. I don't watch it as much as Sandy does; I mostly catch the O'Reilly Factor before retiring to The Cave for an evening on the computer.

-- Stephen (, March 04, 2002.

Fox News is a cover for religiosity. O'Reilly is a Papist, Geraldo (Gerald Rivers) is a Jewboy, Judith Regan is a Wiccan and Tony is pure as the driven Snow.

The ACLU is on DEFCON 1.

-- (, March 04, 2002.


As for Cherri's claim that the book was created as some kind of prop to support Yet Another Bush Conspiracy, I think her motivation is much like yours, but her approach is more transparent.

Maybe you should reread what I said without the initial bias of assuming why I am saying it. I did NOT say the book was created for Bush. I said it was placed in his hand (with a bookmark as if he were actually reading it) for the sole purpose of giving him a justifiable reason to suddenly stop casually chatting with the a time when the press was asking questions about Enron,(wag the dog) mainly because he does have a tendency to want to use his own thoughts at times and his people didn't want to chance him letting something slip that could cause him/them big trouble in that area. (in bed with Enroon etc).

Before I said that, I stated that the book had been out for a long time (as far as book release/consumination is concerned). In other words, it did not just hit the boookstores with the author hitting the circuit. As for the "vast left wing consperacy" had to do with glass houses and throwing stones.... Sorry you probably don't get it, You had to be there.

-- Cherri (, March 04, 2002.


I read what you said, and I think you're repeating what YOU have read on your favorite websites. The book had not been "out forever" when Bush was seen carrying a copy; it had been a few weeks since the official release. Further, the book was ALREADY a best-seller when Bush did this.

You're beginning to amaze your old friend here in Alabama with how you believe that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, can somehow be tied to Bush and Enron. :)

-- Stephen (, March 04, 2002.

Stephen: I could NOT [without the benefit of an archive such as LEXUS] prove or disprove anything in Bernie's book by a simple read. You may be interested in reading Eric's book, WHAT Liberal Media? when it comes out.


In an upcoming book, "What Liberal Media?," Eric Alterman, the premier media critic in America, will put the lie to the disgruntled ex-CBS employee Bernard Goldberg's "BiaS."

Unlike the ridiculous Goldberg's sad screed, Mr. Alterman's book, due out in winter 2003, will be intelligent, informed, well-researched, factual, honest, and interesting. And if it's anything like his past books, including "Sound and Fury" (a must-read for any serious WhoreWatcher), it will be hilarious.

No one does media criticism quite like Eric Alterman, and this is exciting news, indeed.

When "What Liberal Media?" is published, Goldberg's BiaS will be definitively proven to be the silly, baseless, dishonest and amateur attempt to settle old scores by an embittered old CBS has-been that it is.


Contact: Joanna Pinsker Publicity Manager Tel: 212-207-7690 Fax: 212-207-7703



NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 13, 2002 - Basic Books is set to publish WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA? by noted author and media commentator Eric Alterman, in the Winter of 2003.

As Bernard Goldberg's tome, Bias, tops the best-seller lists, and has even been spotted among the extremely exclusive category of presidential reading material, the idea that there is a hidden liberal bias in the media has become big news. Basic Books Vice President and Publisher John Donatich and Alterman found this argument to be absolutely untrue. Out of their conversations on the subject comes WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA?

The book will reveal the fallacy of Goldberg's argument, turning the focus from a who's who of purportedly liberal media figures to a serious examination of who decides what is news and who owns the outlets in which it is distributed.

Alterman will examine the role of the news in the formation of public consensus and, in the process, will look at why the misleadingly simple liberal/conservative dichotomy does not explain why conservative opinion - contrary to Goldberg's conclusion - remains the most popular form of political commentary in any medium today.

"Yes, the media can be biased," Alterman argues, "but the simple charge of tilting toward liberalism is not only phony but simplistic. It may help when preaching to the conservative faithful, but it ends up hiding much more than it reveals about the structure of the media, the opinion-shaping influence of the punditocracy, the relationship of the elite media to those in power, the rah-rah orientation of the business press, among many related issues."

Rather than a simple rejoinder to Goldberg's pastiche of warmed-over memories and false accusations, Alterman plans to answer Goldberg with a combination of scholarship, reportage and carefully reasoned analysis, saucily served up under the title, WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA?

"We strongly believe that anyone with an open mind will find Alterman's searching examination of the problems facing contemporary American media and its dissatisfied consumers ample evidence to make up their own minds - even ones named Bush," said Donatich.

Eric Alterman writes the "Stop the Presses" column in The Nation and an opinion column for In recent years, he has also been a contributing editor to Worth, Rolling Stone, Elle, Mother Jones and A senior fellow of the World Policy Institute at New School University, he has taught media history at Hofstra University and New York University and is currently an affiliated faculty member in the New York University magazine journalism program. He is the author of Sound & Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy (HarperCollins, 1992 and Cornell University Press, 2000), winner of the 1992 Orwell Award; Who Speaks for America? Why Democracy Matters in Foreign Policy, (Cornell University Press, 1998), and It Ain't No Sin to be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen (Little Brown, 1999, 2001), winner of the 1999 Stephen Crane Literary Award. Alterman has a B.A. in history and government from Cornell, an M.A. in international relations from Yale, and hopes to earn his Ph.D. in US history from Stanford University later this year. In 1999 he was named one of the fifty "best, most important and most influential" journalists on the Internet. He lives with his family in Manhattan.

-- Anita (, March 04, 2002.

The insidious connection between Fox News and organized religion is worse than I thought:

Not only is Alan Keyes a flagrant Xtian, he is a flagrant niggra.

Brit Hume was once heard beseeching Jesus Christ after hitting his thumb with a hammer.

Don't let Greta Van Susteren's face lift and faux-liberalism deceive you---look closely at her face; she has the thin-lipped harshness of the Calvinist indoctrination that she received as a child in the Dutch Reformed Church. Had she lived in Salem, she would have been throwing logs on witch's bonfires.

The company is owned by the Rev Sun Moon Asteroid.

It's insidious I tell ya.

-- (, March 04, 2002.

Eric Alterman has done post-doc research at Patrice Lumumba University in The School of Disinformation.

-- (Leon, March 04, 2002.

"Did you get my post confused with Flint's?"

Yes. The conflation was accidental.

"I haven't accused you of contortions."

No. It was Flint who made that accusation. I apologize for confusing you with Flint, Stephen.

Parenthetically, it is a widely observable and highly peculiar fact that people everywhere tend to accuse others of the exact kinds of bad behavior that they most frequently indulge in themselves. It is a corollary to the observation: it takes a thief to catch a thief. I can't count the times that I've read a notorious fibber accuse others of lying, or a sneak accuse others of bad faith. When it happens, at first your jaw tends to drop. Later on, you realize it is no abberration, but more like a rule.

I do not exclude myself from this generalization. You can learn a lot from the Internet, if you let yourself.

-- Little Nipper (, March 04, 2002.

Winter 2003! geez I won't hold my breath to finish this discussion.

-- Maria (, March 04, 2002.


Eric Alterman? Are you serious? Is this the the same Eric Alterman I've seen periodically on Slate, against whose politics even Berkeley looks sensible? The Eric Alterman who stands as the very poster child for what Goldberg has to say?

Nah, I don't believe it. But the blurbs you quote sound like Alterman wrote them himself. His "documentation" is sure to be equally objective.

-- Flint (, March 04, 2002.


I chose to prudently ignore that one. :)

-- Stephen (, March 04, 2002.

Roland, don't forget newsreader Laurie Dhue. This phoney all-American princess is from Chapel Hill, NC. "Chapel", get it?

What the hell kind of name is Dhue anyhow? Sounds fishy to me. Put her on special watch.

-- (Overdog@Religion.Watch), March 05, 2002.

If Eric can PROVE stuff, Flint, I don't care if he's Pat Robertson in disguise. It's yet to be seen if he produces the same sortof "fluff" piece that Bernie did. In the meantime, how many critics of Bias are being ignored when they go to the trouble of doing what journalists should have been doing all along...research the FACTS?

Stephen: There are at least eight articles at the Daily Howler on Bernie, his books, and his interviews. MY memory is not to be trusted, especially since I RARELY watch the evening news, but I trust the folks at the DH to do the research that I can't do. I thought you had the ability to use a search engine and toss in Daily Howler to get their main link. Not enough interest, eh? Flat earth looks better than round earth?

-- Anita (, March 05, 2002.

Stephen: Are you and Paul not talking anymore? I really don't want to be an intermediary, but I'll pass this on:

Well, they are falling on the defensive

As you've pointed out, they are seeing a LOT of EXTREME dissatisfaction with THEIR president. What does the RW do, every time THEIR president has trouble? Well, it CAN'T be the fault of that "good christian man", so, obviously, the media is LYING! Therefore, the media has a LIBRUL bias.

SIGH. You might try asking Stephen if he's aware that part of the Patriot Act ensures that eight year old "hackers" who find a back door into a website, are now considered to be terrorists by definition in that law? And are therefore federal felons?

And ask if he supports the use of cameras linked to surviellance computers to track the movement of citizens? Ashcroft likes that idea a lot.

Or maybe he supports the universal ID system proposed by the heads of ORACLE? I'm already hearing a lot of 666 talk about that one. There is already a company ready with a demonstrated implantable chip, ready to reduce all of us to a bunch of numbers.

The extreme provisions of the Patriot Act are largely responsible for the disgust with Bush, and the gimme/giveback on that tax payout is causing a lot more. As the rest of this percolates through the public awareness, I really, really, really doubt it will cause people to love Bush.

-- Anita (, March 05, 2002.


In this context, I doubt you could define a "fact" to anyone's satisfaction. As was already mentioned on this very thread, one could find tens of thousands of mentions of either politics itself, or politically charged issues, each month (maybe each week?) in the major news outlets. And you could filter through these, collecting a non-representative sample, to "prove" the bias of your choice, using nothing but actual documented instances. Pure facts, right? But somehow I think you know that...

So how is bias to be demonstrated, if indeed it's true at all? I'd have doubts about nearly ANY methodology, since there are so many different ways to measure bias, all of them plausible, yet all of them producing preordained results.

As one illustration, there was a case recently of some gunman who started shooting people, and some bystanders pulled our *their* guns and threatened to shoot him. That ended the confrontation immediately. Now, consider how that story was covered. According to what I read, the story was carred in over 200 outlets (TV news shows, newspaper stories). The "official position" was that the bystanders "overpowered" the gunman. Of the 200+ accounts of the story, every one mentioned the gunman had used a gun to commit crime, and a total of SEVEN stories mentioned that guns had been used to stop him. Seven.

Now, how is this to be counted, according to the "facts"? Do we count the number of places the story was carried, as opposed to non-gun deaths? Do we count the *difference* between the number of stories mentioning the bad guy's gun and NOT the good guy's gun? Do we consider this disparity relevant in terms of bias? In another case, a gunman was shot by a store clerk when he threatened the clerk with his gun. That story was simply not carried except in the small Illinois town where it happened, in the local newspaper. NOTE that it was put on the wire, but nobody picked it up.

Once again, how should this be "counted" so as to generate "facts"? Is it meaningful? Do you suppose Eric Alterman would count a story that never ran at all as a "fact" related to media bias? How DOES one go about counting all the stories not picked up because they run contrary to political orientation? And if what does not run is not counted, does this mean no bias is exhibited?

So I'm sure Goldberg could have "de-fluffed" his piece by putting in lots of numbers. Is lack of numbers what you consider fluff? How would you do it?

-- Flint (, March 05, 2002.

Anita, there is no point in this. I could ask, "how do you KNOW that Goldberg doesn't have 'facts' in his book (he actually has a-plenty)," but to what purpose? You continue to criticize a book without even having read it, and -- adding to the fun! -- feel that this somehow qualifies as honest assessment on your part. But to answer your question:

Stephen: Are you and Paul not talking anymore?

I haven't heard from Paul in months; I wondered what had happened to him. If he wants to talk to me, all he's gotta do is motor his narrow rump in here and start typing, or send me an email. The address hasn't changed.

I'm certainly not avoiding him, and just for the record -- heh -- I'm certainly not on "the defensive." (?!?) Paul has always struck me as rational before, so I am BAFFLED at how he can interpret Bush's poll numbers in the 70's and 80's as "EXTREME disatisfaction" on the part of John Q. Public.

This is something worse than a mind-boggler and in truth, I lack suitable words to describe my astonishment further.

As for the rest of this (including what you said above in other posts), go back and re-read what I said. There's no point in me repeating myself, save to enjoy this bold print one last time:

The main thing that Goldberg gets right, in spades, is whom these networks choose to use as "experts" in the hard evening news stories.

The evening news stories. The "hard" news. Not the Sunday talk shows, or the commentaries, or the round-table discussions. Not the media in general, the Evening News with Dan Jennings and Peter Rather and Hedd Brokaw. The Big Three, and CBS in particular (which Goldberg says quite clearly ... but that's right, you wouldn't know that, would you? You haven't read the book!)

Of slightly (very slightly) more interest to me is WHY it is so important to you that this book be proven wrong. But hey; to each his own.

-- Stephen (, March 07, 2002.

I remember a thread that Anita started that asked where's the bias. "I look and look and find none" (I think those were the words). Anita, I think for some unknown reason you don't want to see. If you want to open your eyes then read the book.

-- Maria (, March 07, 2002.

Having read the reviews from people of MY mindset, Maria, I feel that reading the book would be the equivalent of my daughter saying, "Mom, this watermelon tastes HORRIBLE. YOU try it!" I'm not at all opposed to reading it [if it falls into my hands without any effort.] To be honest, I'm not terribly interested in reading Eric's book, either. This "liberal bias" thing is something that WE [the folks who called Y2k correctly and share a more liberal philosophy] discuss constantly. We're quite aware of what's being said, and investigate each allegation to the extreme.

-- Anita (, March 07, 2002.

Anita, did any of these journalists that you trust ever blow the whistle on a Clinton lie? Certainly many opportunities to do that.

-- Peter Errington (, March 07, 2002.

Hmmm, I wonder if that's a reflection of your 'undisciplined' (I think that's what you called it) mind, Anita. Isn't a liberal mind an open one? I purchased and read George Stephanopolous's book even though he's not of MY mindset just to get his point of view. And I wanted to 'see' for myself, not rely on the reviews from people of MY mindset. Like I said I think for some unknown reason you don't want to see and that's certainly your prerogative.

I sure as hell would taste the watermelon; I don't like wasting food, especially after *I* paid for it.

-- Maria (, March 07, 2002.


But if your daughter says, "this watermelon tastes horrible," when a number of people around you are eating it with every sign of enjoyment, thus flatly disagreeing with your daughter's assessment, what does that tell you? :)

No less a "mainstream" (wink, wink) organ than the New York Times says, "Bias should be taken seriously" and that "Mr. Goldberg has done real homework ..."

Now, I'll allow the possibility that the Daily Howler (heh) exceeds the Times in prestige and readership, but I figured it was worth a stab ...

-- Stephen (, March 07, 2002.


On the failure to cover some stories: one thing that people in the Meejah don't like, regardless of personal philosophy, is being used. That's probably one of the few universals amongst us, whether we work for a local cable-access program or a major newspaper; whether we're personally red-flag leftists or Helmsian conservatives.

Most people don't realize how bad this has gotten in recent years, too. You would not BELIEVE how many faxes we got during the 2000 election, for example. We were buying toner and paper by the carload just to make sure that we received the few legitimate faxes amidst a FLOOD of pure political bullcrap.

Operatives like Carville, MacAuliffe and Reed "work" the media. They send smear sheets and press releases and they make phone calls. Millions of them.

So ... to answer your specific question, part of the problem was, a lot of the stuff being gleefully fed to the Media about Clinton was coming from the Republican National Committee. They shot themselves in the foot because they were a little TOO eager. In comes the next (out of 2,000,000) fax: "Did you see this?!? Clinton accepted money from a Bhuddist Temple!"

Yes, the media OVER-reacted; they refused to carry some of these stories (or to do them for more than a few days) solely because they didn't want to be seen as a tool of the RNC. That's wrong, of course; it doesn't matter WHO the facts are coming from, if they're facts, they should be published.

I tried to explain this in my old forum (with little success). Gore's people were whining, "how come the media won't pick up on the fact that Bush is a moron?" Bush's people were whining, "how come the media doesn't hammer Gore's ties to the 'Tennessee mafia' or the Communist Party back in the 50's?"

On the first one: I would think that the reporters who traveled with Bush during the campaign would have a good idea of what he's really like, and they'll tell you this: yes, he isn't the greatest public speaker ever born. But he is NOT a moron; he's a very intelligent man. So ... when the Poop Sheet from Carville would come in screaming, "he's an idiot! He's a moron! Look at what he said here!" (after all, it worked with Dan Quayle![g]), they'd throw it in the trash.

On the second: Gore's "ties" to the "Tennessee Mafia" are basically a bunch of supposition based on guilt-by-association. As a general rule, the media doesn't get too deeply into that (I wish that a few people here in this very forum could grasp that fact, by the way -- that rich and powerful people have a tendency to know each other and even work together from time to time, without having anything other than a surface relationship).

Yes, Gore's family had long-standing ties to Armand Hammer's crowd. But politics makes strange bedfellows, and there's just wasn't a hard story there (in spite of what World Net Daily and NewsMax were screaming at the time).

(I could continue forever: for example, Vince Foster's so-called "murder." The media *DID* investigate that one -- more thoroughly than most people might believe, by the way -- and found no hard evidence, mostly just a TON of smear coming from Clinton's enemies. So, they dropped the story.)

In sum: when you receive several dozen smear sheets a day, you DO tend to look at them with jaundiced eyes. I'm not saying this is right, mind you; like I said above, facts are facts, regardless of source, but the truth is that these smear sheets often have the OPPOSITE effect: they tend to make Media-types REFUSE to cover a story, especially at first.

-- Stephen M. Poole (, March 09, 2002.

The "Tennesse Mafia"? Yeeeha!

-- (, March 09, 2002.

Just a few comments left on this: First off, that watermelon was served in a restaurant in Mexico. Little did we know that they inject the local water into watermelon. Yeah, I tried a LITTLE piece and got diarrhea for a time, but my daughter was sick with the "revenge" for three days or more.

Humorous enough to note, however: The folks who did the Y2k "debunker" thing are TOTALLY split on politics. Stephen, Maria, and maybe a few others are saying things like, "I thought they had more sense than to fall for this." The rest of us [posting on a more liberal forum] are watching all of this and saying pretty much the same thing.

-- Anita (, March 09, 2002.

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