Mar
01
2006

SoundBites

Media vs. Workers

ABC's George Will, interviewing General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner (This Week, 1/8/06), complained that people who buy GM cars are “paying a lot of money for a welfare state that you're running. Someone recently said you buy a Hyundai, they give you a satellite radio. You buy a General Motors car, or Ford, you're buying pensions, medical care and all the rest, adds an enormous premium on the cost of a car.” (Will surely understands that such benefits aren’t charity, but contractual obligations--and that Hyundai workers also receive health and retirement benefits.) NBC Nightly News' Anne Thompson (1/9/06) was equally tough--on workers--when interviewing Bill Ford of Ford Motor Company about job cuts. Her single question: "Will your cuts go deep enough?"

Cordially Yours

When CNN’s Headline News announced that it had hired radio talkshow host Glenn Beck to host a one-hour primetime show, Headline News president Ken Jautz told the trade paper Daily Variety (1/17/06): "Glenn's style is self-deprecating, cordial; he says he'd like to be able to disagree with guests and part as friends. It's conversational, not confrontational." Best known for setting up Clear Channel's pro-war Rallies for America shortly before the Iraq War, Beck’s "cordial" remarks include declaring that "every night I get down on my knees and pray that Dennis Kucinich will burst into flames" (WABC-AM, 3/16/03), and "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it" (5/17/05; Media Matters, 5/18/05). Beck recently declared (9/9/05; Media Matters, 9/9/05), "When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up!' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining." In the same broadcast, he said of Hurricane Katrina victims, "The only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags."

Is There a Loofah in Bill Keller's Closet?

"There is no doubt, ladies and gentlemen, that the [New York] Times has been unfair in its coverage of the Bush White House. And the paper also routinely uses personal attacks to hurt people with whom it disagrees. If that does not stop, [executive editor] Bill Keller and [opinion columnist] Frank Rich, to name the two main culprits, will not have a happy new year. As they say in the auction world, fair warning.... If they continue, those people continue to attack people personally, as Frank Rich does almost every week, and Keller allows it, then we'll just have to get into their lives.... I don't want to do it.... But I can't allow this stuff to go unchecked. I'm the only person on television that's going to hold these people accountable, the only one, because everybody fears them. But both of those men have led lives. And if they want to attack people personally, Rich in print and Keller allowing it, then we're going to have to just show everybody about their lives."

--Bill O'Reilly (O'Reilly Factor, 1/2/06)

Banned From the Factor

Calling Georgetown professor David Cole "a virulently anti-Bush far-left radical guy," Bill O'Reilly (O'Reilly Factor, 1/25/06) vowed never to have him on his show again. "Look, this Cole was so dishonest in what he did here.... I won't put a lot of these far-left people on because they just simply aren't honest." What had Cole done that was so dishonest? As recounted by Cole in the Nation (7/19/04), he pointed out that O'Reilly, during the taping of the June 21, 2004 Factor, had edited out a soundbite that undercut his thesis: "I just sat here five minutes ago as you re-recorded the introduction to this show to take out a statement from the head of the 9/11 commission stating that there was no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11." Unsurprisingly, that comment as well got left on the O'Reilly Factor's cutting room floor. "All that was left," wrote Cole, "was Bill O'Reilly, fuming at the liberal media's lack of objectivity and balance, and ruing the divisive effect 'spin' has on our national unity."

Fair to Complain About Balance

"I think it's fair to complain about the way ideological balance is set up on television shows. The best examples, I think, are the panels on Fox News Sunday and Special Report. I am a huge fan of both shows and watch them regularly. But I do think it is unfair that Mara Liasson is regularly paired with Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes. Liasson is a professional reporter, Barnes and Krauthammer are pundits. They're both honorable and honest men, but their job is to mix their ideological perspective with their analysis. Liasson's not supposed to do that."

--Conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online's The Corner (2/9/05)

The Hardball Fandango

Chris Matthews (Hardball, 1/25/06) went after the group Americans United for supposedly accusing Rep. Tom DeLay (R.-Texas) of bribery. “It's a political little bit of a fandango," said Matthews. "Nobody's accused him yet of bribery. But that ad sure does.” Guest Dana Milbank of the Washington Post dismissed the ad as lacking credibility, prompting the other guest, the New York Times’ Anne Kornblut, to remark, “I mean, can anybody say ‘Swift Boat'?” That's a bit ironic, considering that when Kornblut was asked about an actual Swift Boat ad, she declared it "truly something that's subjective." In fact, unlike the Swift Boat ads, the Americans United ad was factually correct: It accurately said that DeLay had been charged with money laundering, and applied the bribery charge to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, as could be seen when Matthews aired the ad just prior to the discussion. Apparently neither he nor his guests were paying attention.