Dec 1 2009


The Tipping Point

In a USA Today interview (10/2/06) on the occasion of Fox News Channel‘s 10th anniversary, Fox chief Roger Ailes recalled being asked at a dinner party, “Isn’t Fox News too conservative?” Ailes related his response: “I said, ‘Are you comfortable with CNN?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ How about CBS, ABC, NBC? ‘Absolutely.’… National Public Radio and PBS? ‘Very good.’ So I said, ‘But this little cable channel is making you crazy? If all the media tipped to the right, I’d probably be the biggest liberal. But you’ve got to have debate.'” As it happens, FAIR has studied the guestlists of many of the outlets Ailes named. The partisan guests on CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer Reports were 57 percent Republican (Extra!, 7-8/01). On the CBS Evening News, they were 76 percent Republican; on ABC World News Tonight, 73 percent; on NBC Nightly News, 75 percent (Extra!, 5-6/02). On NPR‘s All Things Considered and Morning Edition, Republicans were 61 percent of partisan sources (Extra!, 5-6/04), and on PBS‘s NewsHour, 66 percent. It’s true that these outlets “tipped to the left” by the standards of Fox‘s Special Report, which in our latest study (Extra!, 7-8/04) had partisan guests who were 83 percent Republican.

A Democrat or Nothing

Three times during the O’Reilly Factor‘s October 3 broadcast, the Fox News show ran video footage of Mark Foley with a label–what they call a “lower third”–identifying him as “Former Congressman Mark Foley (D-FL)” (Bradblog, 10/3/06). It’s hard to believe there’s anyone in the news business who doesn’t know that Foley is a Republican–particularly given the widespread talk about how his sex scandal might cause Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign. But assuming it was an honest mistake, why is it that when the show was re-aired, the lower third was removed entirely–rather than replaced by one with the correct information? If it was important to identify Foley by party when he was thought to be a Democrat, why isn’t it just as important to correctly identify him as a Republican? We suppose that’s why Dick Cheney insists on always having his hotel room TV sets tuned to Fox News (Smoking Gun, 3/23/06).

Out-of-Step Bloggers

Time magazine’s Perry Bacon Jr. (9/24/06) is yet another mainstream journalist trying to pull the Democratic Party from the clutches of those insidious bloggers:

Last month in Connecticut, they fanned anti-incumbent and antiwar flames and were widely credited with the primary defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman…. After they relentlessly derided Sen. Hillary Clinton as calculating, overly cautious and lacking true liberal bona fides, she…even demanded that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resign. Coincidence? Moderate Democrats say it with remorse, conservatives with glee, but the conventional wisdom is bipartisan: Progressive bloggers are pushing the Democratic Party so far to the left that it will have no chance of capturing the presidency in 2008.

In a poll taken a month before this column was written (CNN, 8/18-20/06), 61 percent of respondents said they opposed the war, vs. 35 percent in favor; over the past five years, the percentage of people rating Rumsfeld’s job performance as only fair or poor has risen from 12 percent (Harris, 10/17-22/01) to 58 percent (Harris, 9/8-11/06). Still, centrist journalists continue to portray critics of Rumsfeld and the war as the ones who are out of step with majority opinion.

Shoot First, Ask Questions Never

In a New York Times op-ed (10/2/06), former Nightline host Ted Koppel offered his solution to the standoff with Iran. The U.S., Koppel wrote, should tell Iran to go ahead and develop an atomic bomb–but it should issue this warning:

If a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear ‘accident,’ Iran should understand that the United States government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran.

In other words, if there’s a major catastrophe, the U.S. should strike back at a predetermined country regardless of whether or not they had anything to do with it. That’s the approach the Bush administration took after September 11–how did that work out, Ted?

Not Fit to Print

The New York Times (9/12/06) noted that critics of ABC‘s The Path to 9/11 point to “some affiliations” of director David Loren Cunningham; the lone example given is of “his links to a nondenominational Christian group based in Hawaii called Youth With A Mission, which was founded by his father, Loren Cunningham, which promotes youth involvement in religious outreach around the world.” An online story in the Nation (9/11/06), by contrast, reported that Loren Cunningham is a proponent of Christian Reconstructionism, a far-right theocratic movement, and that the younger Cunningham is a founder of a spin-off to YWAM called The Film Institute, whose mission statement declares that it is “dedicated to a Godly transformation and revolution TO and THROUGH the Film and Television industry.” A YWAM newsletter declared: “TFI’s first project is a doozy…. Simply being referred to as The Untitled History Project, it is already being called the television event of the decade.” The Untitled History Project was the working title of The Path to 9/11–information seen as relevant by alternative media, but either irrelevant or unknown to the establishment press.