Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center (MRC), the publisher of NewsBusters. He’s been the central figure in the MRC’s News Analysis Division since the MRC’s 1987 founding and in 2005 spearheaded the launch of NewsBusters.

Baker oversees the selection of the award nominees and “winners” for the MRC’s “DisHonors Awards,” presented at an annual gala, and each week he helps the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard select a “Mainstream Media Scream.” Those picks are added, on a one week delay, to NewsBusters. (Archive for 2012-2014 on MRC.org)

In 2001, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes dubbed Baker “the scourge of liberal bias.”

For 13 years he compiled and edited the daily CyberAlert e-mail and online report. In late May of 2009 the CyberAlert became an e-mail-only product based on BiasAlert postings on the MRC's Web site. BiasAlerts since early 2012. (In February 2015, the MRC discontinued posting BiasAlerts on MRC.org and began feeding the newsletter via CyberAlert posts on NewsBusters).

An avid fan of the Washington Capitals NHL hockey team, in January of 2009 the Washington Post's "DC Sports Bog" took note of Baker's attendance at a Caps game with John Kerry: "The Caps, John Kerry and a Scourge."

Baker lived in Massachusetts through high school, whereupon he fled the liberal commonwealth for George Washington University in DC and, since graduation, a life in Northern Virginia. Full bio on MRC.org.

Latest from Brent Baker
November 16, 2008, 10:05 PM EST

60 Minutes viewers got better economic rationality Sunday night from President-elect Barack Obama than from the journalist who interviewed him. CBS's Steve Kroft proposed: “People are comparing this to 1932. Is that a valid comparison, do you think?” Obama didn't accept the comparison: “Well, keep in mind that 1932, 1933 the unemployment rate was 25 percent, inching up to 30 percent. You had a third of the country that was ill housed, ill clothed...” But Kroft wouldn't let go of trying to paint the America of 2008 as dire as 1932. Eight minutes later in the interview, when Obama related how he was reading briefing papers and had read about Abraham Lincoln putting political rivals in his cabinet, Kroft returned to the Depression: “Have you been reading anything about the Depression? Anything about FDR?”

In between in the generally light and friendly interview centered on getting Obama to outline his plans, Kroft cued up Obama to reiterate his campaign promises, such as: “How high a priority are you placing on re-regulation of the financial markets?” Kroft also pressed Obama to say whether he will “take early action” to issue executive orders “to shutdown Guantanamo Bay” and “change interrogation methods that are used by U.S. troops?”

November 16, 2008, 2:15 PM EST

A week after Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell agreed with readers who saw “a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama” in the paper's campaign coverage, Howell this Sunday admitted she voted for Obama and “bet” that so did “most” in the Post's newsroom:

I'll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don't even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

In her November 16 column, “Remedying the Bias Perception,” Howell, the Washington Bureau chief and editor of Newhouse News for 15 years before joining the Post as ombudsman in 2005, proposed a solution to the liberal dominance in newsrooms which biases coverage: “Are there ways to tackle this? More conservatives in newsrooms and rigorous editing would be two. The first is not easy: Editors hire not on the basis of beliefs but on talent in reporting, photography and editing, and hiring is at a standstill because of the economy. But newspapers have hired more minorities and women, so it can be done.”

November 15, 2008, 11:52 PM EST

“People who elect a new President are eager for the change to take place. The sooner the better,” USA Today founder Al Neuharth argued in his Friday column in which he asked, coincidentally just a week-and-a-half after Barack Obama's election: “Why wait until late January to turn the Oval Office over to a new President elected in early November?” He proposed: “We should move the President's inauguration up to the first Tuesday in December, one month after the election.” After all, “the time lag” is “too long in these modern times when crises need the earliest possible attention.”

An excerpt from Neuharth's November 18 column, “Why wait until Jan. for new president?

President Bush's gracious hosting of President-elect Barack Obama at the White House this week raises this simple but important question: Why wait until late January to turn the Oval Office over to a new president elected in early November?...
November 14, 2008, 12:56 PM EST

After spending much of the spring and summer hyping the dire consequences of rising gas prices, CBS on Thursday night decided the plummeting cost of gas at the pump is really bad news. Noting that “crude settled at about $58 a barrel today, that's about $90 less than it was in July,” fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith warned “that comes as a mixed blessing.”

Reporter Mark Strassmann found an ecstatic man paying less than $2.00 a gallon, but Strassmann spoiled the mood: “Low gas prices are also bad news and the lower prices go, the worse the news gets.” An “oil analyst” explained: “This is just a reflection of the poor state of the economy and the oil market is reflecting this global slow down.” Strassmann soon fretted over how “it's also a grim time for alternative energy champions” and “sinking oil prices could” hurt “plans to develop alternative sources of energy or fund green developments.”

November 13, 2008, 9:06 AM EST

There's economic trouble in the land with people unable to afford proper health care or heat for their homes ABC and NBC contended on Wednesday night. And where did the network journalists travel to find the heart-rending anecdotes of people in pain thanks to the awful Bush economy? Some Republican area with harsh conservative politicians who have slashed government funding to the poor? No, to Boston, a veritable liberal nirvana of big government for decades, the home of John Kerry, with a Democratic Mayor in a state with an Obama ally, Deval Patrick, as Governor.

ABC's Gigi Stone looked at how “many Americans” supposedly now “find themselves...forced to choose between short-term survival and long-term health.” She asserted: “Doctors here in Boston say they're seeing an increasing number of patients who cannot afford the most basic preventive health measures.” So much for the wonders of the Bay State's mandatory health insurance law.

NBC anchor Brian Williams acknowledged “record levels of government help available” for heating bills, yet “communities around this country are worried people will simply not have enough money to keep warm in the cold winter during this cold economy.” Michelle Kosinski showcased a Normandy veteran in Boston who “sometimes” can't afford to eat before she turned to John Drew of Action for Boston Community Development who fretted people “do not have enough income,” so there are “infants who are at risk” and “as a national government, as a national priority, we've got to do better.”

November 12, 2008, 1:38 AM EST

Catching up with some pre-election whining, as James Taranto highlighted Friday in his “Best of the Web Today” compilation, character actor/playwright Wallace Shawn “blames President Bush for wrecking his love life and causing writer's block.” Shawn, a short man with a distinctive voice you'd recognize from his many guest roles on TV shows (IMDb page), from Murphy Brown to Law & Order: CI (screen shot is from a 2006 episode of that NBC drama), complained to the Times of London:

Bush has openly mocked law and proclaimed a certain pleasure in sadism and exulted in holding prisoners and mistreating and torturing them, really. Of course this affects one emotionally: my emotional life has been very strongly affected by the fact that Bush was president and my writing life is affected by my emotional life.

Taranto quipped: “If Wallace Shawn's output increases substantially in the next four years, a lot of people may find they miss George W. Bush.”

November 11, 2008, 11:34 AM EST

No place is safe from expressions from foreigners pleased by Barack Obama's election. On Monday's Late Show, in the midst of demonstrating how to prepare a recipe for squid, British chef Jamie Oliver paused to tell David Letterman: 

Can I just say, on behalf of all the people of England, congratulations on your new President. We like him very much.

Letterman replied: “Oh, that's nice to hear. Thank you very much.”

November 11, 2008, 12:34 AM EST

Warning its readers to “be prepared to gag,” the “Scrapbook” page of this week's Weekly Standard magazine recited “some of the worst over-the-top reactions to The One's ascendance,” starting with Time's Nancy Gibbs who opened this week's cover story by comparing Obama with Jesus: “Some princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope...” In the November 17 issue, she heralded (citing his full name) the greater meaning of Obama's victory:

Barack Hussein Obama did not win because of the color of his skin. Nor did he win in spite of it. He won because at a very dangerous moment in the life of a still young country, more people than have ever spoken before came together to try to save it. And that was a victory all its own.

She gushed over how “an election in one of the world's oldest democracies looked like the kind they hold in brand-new ones, when citizens finally come out and dance, a purple-thumb day, a velvet revolution.”

November 9, 2008, 11:13 PM EST

File under: Don't believe your lying eyes and ears. Barely two weeks after a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey determined that “by a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4,” as even 62 percent of Democrats recognized how journalists hoped Obama would be victorious, Reuters set out to prove any and all favorable Obama coverage had nothing to do with liberal bias. In a November 6 dispatch, “Media bias largely unseen in U.S. presidential race,” Steve Gorman of the Los Angeles bureau focused his story on undermining the “perception that mainstream news organizations routinely gave Obama preferential treatment en route to his election as the first black U.S. president.” Gorman contended:

But media scholars, including a former top aide to McCain, disagree. They said campaign coverage often did lean in Obama's favor, though not -- as many conservatives have suggested -- because of a hidden liberal agenda on the part of the media. Instead, academic experts said, Obama benefited largely from the dynamics of the campaign itself and the media's tendency to focus on the “horse race,” emphasizing ups and downs in the polls and political tactics. As Obama's poll numbers rose in response to events, so did favorable press coverage for him, not the other way round.
November 8, 2008, 5:21 PM EST

Washington Post columnist Colby King charged Friday night that a look those who attended McCain-Palin rallies -- presumably meaning all-white -- versus those who went to Obama events, plus a “look at the census projections and what do you see? The Nationalist Party of South Africa.”

On Inside Washington, a weekly show produced and aired over the weekend by Washington, DC's ABC affiliate, but first broadcast Friday night on the local PBS station, the Post's deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007 framed the challenge ahead for Republicans:

I think we're looking at something different here, a larger problem. If you just look at the optics, look at the Republican and Democratic conventions, look at the McCain-Palin rallies and Obama rallies, look at the demographics and then look at the census projections and what do you see? The Nationalist Party of South Africa -- not with the ideology, but in the make up -- in the future.
November 7, 2008, 8:47 PM EST

Friday night stories on ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News ran a clip of President-elect Barack Obama's gaffe at his press conference in which he related he had talked to all of the “living” former Presidents, as “I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.” But both newscasts failed to note it was Hillary Clinton, not Nancy Reagan, who reportedly had seances in the White House. ABC's Jake Tapper called Obama's comment “a lighter moment” while NBC's Lee Cowan described it as “the only awkward moment of his first meeting with the press.”

FNC's Jim Angle, however, managed to point out in his 6 PM EST story: “It was actually Hillary Clinton who was reported to have engaged in seance-like sessions in which she communed with the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt.”

The AP also noted the error. “Obama slips in reference to seance by Nancy Reagan” announced the headline over a dispatch posted at 5:06 PM EST on Yahoo News. The AP's Kevin Freking recalled:

In his book, The Choice, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward described how Clinton consulted with a spiritual adviser who led her through imaginary conversations with her personal hero, Eleanor Roosevelt. Newsweek magazine, which was promoting the book, characterized the visits as “seances,” a term that White House officials quickly tried to squelch.

November 7, 2008, 5:07 PM EST

President-elect Obama's economic plans aren't left-wing and government-centered enough for CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, who about 20 minutes after Obama's Friday afternoon press conference shared his personal suggestion for another WPA (Works Progress Administration) and/or CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), two government make-work programs from the 1930s. To a guest who lived through the Depression as a child, Sanchez proposed: “I'm thinking WPA, I'm thinking it may be time for Americans to do something like that once again because there's so many people unemployed and there's so much that needs to be done in this country.”

With another guest in the same 3:30 PM EST segment, Sanchez cited energy requirements and wondered: “Isn't this the kind of need that could be met by American workers if the government created a WPA or CCC plan?”

November 6, 2008, 3:54 PM EST

Catching up with Newsweek's Howard Fineman on Wednesday's Countdown, he came across as a parody of an in-the-tank for Barack Obama journalist as he gauzily proclaimed: “Obama's changing everything as he moves. His victory speech last night in Grant Park...was so memorable on so many levels.” Asked by host Keith Olbermann to predict “an overarching theme” for Obama's appointments, such as “competency, bipartisanship, diversity, newness,” Fineman went beyond Olbermann and trumpeted:

Well, it's going to be all of those. But I think, if you had to pick one, it would be excellence. Barack Obama is a guy who appreciates excellence and focus. He's a guy who appreciates results.

Fineman, the magazine's senior Washington correspondent and columnist, as well as senior editor and deputy Washington Bureau Chief, soon hailed Obama's expected team: “It will be naturally diverse and naturally bipartisan.”

November 6, 2008, 4:24 AM EST

Examining “what went wrong” with John McCain's campaign, ABC's David Wright charged Wednesday night that by asserting Barack Obama would “be redistributionist in chief” McCain had “distorted Obama's policy positions” (how that was a distortion Wright did not say) and painted McCain as a hypocrite for having “mocked Obama as an empty-headed celebrity” before “he created a celebrity of his own,” Sarah Palin. While “many were impressed” with her, Wright snidely contended “plenty of others came to see Sarah Palin as an empty designer suit.” In castigating McCain from the left, Wright failed to offer any conservative critiques, such as McCain's lack of consistent conservative positions to contrast himself with Obama.

“If Barack Obama was driving the Cadillac of campaigns,” World News anchor Charles Gibson quipped, “John McCain was driving one that seemed in constant need of a tune-up and by the end it simply ran out of gas.” Wright fretted that after McCain won the GOP nomination “he started to change” and cut off media access, as if that led to his defeat: “The free-wheeling exchanges that put the Straight Talk Express on the map didn't last past the maiden voyage of Straight Talk Air.” Wright pointed out how “McCain had always promised to run a clean campaign on the issues,” but soon, Wright scolded, “McCain attacked Obama's associations....Obama's experience....and distorted Obama's policy positions.”

November 5, 2008, 10:11 PM EST

The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday night all marked Barack Obama's victory with stories on celebrations around the world, the joy expressed by African-Americans and how newspapers sold out as people cheered in the streets. NBC anchor Brian Williams hailed: “As one columnist put it, America  matured in 2008 by choosing Barack Obama.” CBS, however, aired the most triumphant story. Though Ronald Reagan earned nearly 59 percent of the vote in 1984 and George Bush captured more than 53 percent four years later, an awed Byron Pitts began by proposing about Obama's win with 52 percent: “When was the last time our nation cheered this much?”

Pitts proceeded to cite anecdotes about several people, black and white, who saw vindication in Obama's victory, including two women at “a suburban home in Iowa. Iowa, the state that first bought into Obama's audacious hopes and where a life-long Democrat like Deb Tekippe and a life long Republican like Brenda Myer made a toast with champagne.” He concluded:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union.” That's what the Constitution says. Last night, all across America for so many people, that's how it felt. A more perfect union.
November 5, 2008, 4:03 AM EST

At about 2:50 AM EST Wednesday morning, MSNBC went live to NBC News reporter Dawna Friesen in London for world reaction to Barack Obama's election and she triumphantly declared: “It's not an overstatement to say that this is what the world wanted. Poll after poll done in countries around the world over the past few months has showed that people wanted Barack Obama to win.”

After blurry video of Kenyans dancing and singing a song which “had only two words, 'Obama' and 'miracle,'” Friesen held up the front page of London's left of center The Independent and explained how the newspaper's headline “dubbed” Obama "The history man." She also decided to highlight:

The diplomatic editor of The Independent interestingly writing that now is the time to undo the damage done by George W. Bush. I think much of the world does see this as really turning a page, moving on from George Bush. And the diplomatic editor says there's a global yearning for a seismic shift in American foreign policy.
November 5, 2008, 12:36 AM EST

At 11:49 PM EST, live from Morehouse College in Atlanta, ABC News reporter Steve Osunsami choked up and came near tears as he recalled how “my father used to tell us that there's no way this country would elect a black President,” but “this evening, the country has proved my old man wrong -- and we're the better for it.”

As he stood with cheering students, Osunsami told anchor Charlie Gibson:

November 4, 2008, 11:31 PM EST

In an interview from Chicago's Grant Park taped shortly beforehand and aired on ABC just past 10:30 PM EST/9:30 PM local time, an excited Oprah Winfrey told Good Morning America's Robin Roberts:

I haven't seen this sense of unity since 9/11, really, really, and 9/11 was this tragic experience that brought us all together and now we're all brought together in the name of hope. Not since 9/11 have I experienced anything even kind of close to this.

Of course, the 47 percent who voted for McCain may not share Winfrey's unity.

She had prefaced that contention: “It's my town. My town's been vibrating all day. I mean, from the moment I left the building this morning -- the doorman, everybody vibrates, just great. It's one of the greatest experiences of, certainly my lifetime and it's been wonderful, I think, for everybody in the country who has called somebody or somebody has called them. Everybody was e-mailing everybody standing in line.”

November 3, 2008, 9:53 PM EST

Just as with all his previous interviews with the broadcast network anchors, Barack Obama had nothing to fear from his final pre-election sit-down, this time with CBS's Katie Couric, who laughed along with him about being a “nervous wreck” on election day, raised Jeremiah Wright not to press him about Wright's incendiary anti-American rants but to ask if the McCain campaign had given its “approval” to a state party to raise the topic, and concluded by fawning: “If things go your way on Tuesday and you become this nation's first African-American President, what will that mean to you personally?”

In the excerpts from the interview conducted Sunday in Columbus, Ohio and aired on Monday's CBS Evening News, Couric posed four questions, starting with “fears that perhaps an unbridled, unchecked, filibuster-proof Democratic majority will overreach and move the country too far to the left. How can you assuage people's concerns about that?”  Instead of hitting him on how much the decision by the McCain campaign and the news media to drop Wright helped him avoid a subject that would have hurt in swing states, she treated Republicans as the miscreants: 

The Pennsylvania Republican Party is starting to run an ad in that state which features your former minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, saying quote, “God damn America.” Do you think they would have run that ad without the approval of the McCain campaign?
November 1, 2008, 11:29 PM EDT

A beyond overwhelming 96 percent of the staff of Slate.com, the online news magazine site owned by the Washington Post, plan to vote for Barack Obama. A Tuesday posting, “Slate Votes: Obama wins this magazine in a rout,” reported 55 staff members plan to cast their ballot for Obama, a mere one person will vote for John McCain, the same number (one) who support libertarian Bob Barr. Another staffer replied: “Not McCain.” It's hard to imagine such left-wing uniformity isn't matched at many other media outlets. In a Wednesday posting, Slate Editor-at-Large Jack Shafer (the Barr backer) quipped: “I doubt that Obama will garner 96 percent even in his home precinct of Hyde Park.”

This year's annual staff survey matches the last two presidential contests when nearly every editor and reporter voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 (2004 MRC CyberAlert item). Slate.com headlined an October 26, 2004 article: “At this magazine, it's Kerry by a landslide!” In 2000, 12 of the 13 in the top editorial positions voted for Gore, with the 13th going not for Bush but the libertarian. In all three years, the Democrat earned the vote of Slate's chief editor, Jacob Weisberg, a former Newsweek reporter.