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
October 4, 2008, 10:18 PM EDT

align="right"Catching up with an item from a few days ago: Barry Sonnenfeld, a movie director (Men in Black) and now the Emmy-winning executive producer and director of ABC's dramady Pushing Daisies, predicted on Wednesday's Late Show that amongst the things he's “worried” President Bush will do before leaving office is “go out by pushing the button and destroying all life on Earth.” That was too much for David Letterman, hardly a Bush fan (in June he asked if Bush has “any humanity?”), who responded: “It's just a little bleaker than I would have hoped for -- the idea that he would actually detonate the planet in a moment of despair.”

Sonnenfeld, who speculated about Bush hiding bin Laden, also wondered why Americans wouldn't vote for the “really smart” Barack Obama over John McCain who “finished second to last in his graduating class in college” and Sarah Palin, who “went to five different colleges,” and so “I'm thinking maybe she's got other talents than intelligence.” 

With some mix of seriousness and humor you can judge yourself by watching the video clip (though how funny is it to joke about the President as some kind of religious zealot out to murder millions?), Sonnenfeld told Letterman he's “worried since it's October that George Bush will do one of three things: Either find bin Laden, who've they've had somewhere for eight months waiting to bring out” or “let's start a war with Iran. That's always a possibility.” Then:

And here's the third thing -- and I don't know much about the Bible and I'm not a big rapture guy -- but I believe George Bush is and what better way, if your polls are so bad, than to go out by pushing the button and destroying all life on Earth?

Audio: MP3 clip (2:05, 750 Kb)

October 4, 2008, 6:32 PM EDT

Osborn Elliott, the top editor of Newsweek  from 1961 to 1976 and Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism from 1979 to 1986, passed away last Sunday at age 83 (Monday, September 29 Washington Post obituary). He was retired when the Media Research Center was founded in 1987, but he didn't hesitate in 1992 and 1995 to express his hostility to conservatives and he serves as a reminder that the Angry Left populated the highest levels of the mainstream news media long before the blogosphere gave them new venues.

He helped to organize a “Save Our Cities” rally in 1992 where he accused Republicans of having “savaged our urban schools, our housing, our health care, our social services,” denounced “Democrats who have collaborated in this butchery” and charged: “We hold accountable those who waste our billions on a military with no enemy to fight.” (Screen shot is from that Saturday, May 16, 1992 event.)

Three years later he equated “Reaganism” with “social Darwinism” as he castigated journalists for being too nice to Reagan: “By failing to...adequately expose the inane contradictions of supply-side theories, aka Reaganomics, I believe journalism deserves some of the blame for ills that now afflict us.”

October 4, 2008, 2:40 AM EDT

align="right'Perfectly encapsulating the coastal left's blind derision of Sarah Palin as an inexperienced “beginner” and thus unqualified, when the very same smart aleck cheap shots about her could be directed at the man with whom they have fallen in love, Barack Obama, David Letterman on Friday night asked guest Brian Williams if the nation can risk “a beginner in the passenger seat” (what about in the driver's seat?) and, in a sexist cheap shot, imitated Palin adjusting her hair during a 9/11 crisis as he impersonated her voice: “How's my hair?” That led an uncomfortable Williams to lean back and sigh, prompting Letterman to acknowledge “that's unfair. I'm sorry.”

Letterman, however spent the first half of Friday's Late Show before Williams came out and most of his time with Williams ridiculing Palin, and McCain for choosing her. Though the NBC Nightly News anchor Williams tried to separate himself from the remarks, and made some gentle counter-points as he preferred to joke about how he's the only one of the three anchors yet to get an interview with Palin, Williams never made the obvious point that much of Letterman's upset over Palin's inexperience could be directed to the top of the competing ticket. Or certainly could have been when he emerged last year as a candidate, but was not.

Audio: MP3 clip (1:20, 500 Kb)

October 3, 2008, 10:17 PM EDT

Evan Thomas, Editor at Large with Newsweek, on Friday night likened Sarah Palin to Louisiana's infamous demagogic Democrat of the 1920s, Huey Long.

October 3, 2008, 7:51 AM EDT

Six days after declaring Barack Obama the winner of the first presidential debate, following Thursday's VP debate George Stephanopoulos again decided the liberal Democrat in the debate, this time Joe Biden, was the winner -- but in assigning his “Nightline Report Card” grades he gave both Biden and Sarah Palin the same overall assessments: each got one A, one A-minus and one B. Asked by anchor Terry Moran to name “the winner,” Stephanopoulos argued:

Joe Biden, but boy, was this close. I think that Governor Palin did an awful lot to help herself tonight. There is no question that she beat expectations, that she was fluent, that she showed she could stand up there on the stage. She laid a couple of attacks there against Barack Obama, but going back to my first point on overall strategy, right now, this is a race where if John McCain cannot convince the country that he's going to take it in a different direction from President Bush, he simply cannot win...

The grades from ex-Democratic operative Stephanopoulos. On “Strategy,” an A for Biden and an A-minus for Palin; on “Style,” an A-minus for Biden and an A for Palin; and on “Accuracy,” a B for both.

October 3, 2008, 3:58 AM EDT

align="right"Two themes in post-VP debate coverage Thursday night: First, “surprise” that Sarah Palin wasn't a “car wreck” and “did not embarrass herself.” Second, distress that she failed to answer moderator Gwen Ifill's questions.

On NBC, Chuck Todd observed “those that were tuning in looking for some sort of car wreck, probably came away disappointed.” CBS's Katie Couric proposed, without saying in which camp journalists fall, “the headline is Governor Sarah Palin did not embarrass herself or her running mate as some Republicans might have feared and some Democrats might have hoped.” Colleague Bob Schieffer asserted that “I think a lot of people were expecting” Palin “to make some sort of blunder or mistake and she did not do that.” Jeff Greenfield, also on CBS, decided “Palin passed the Tina Fey test. Anyone looking for a deer in the headlights experience didn't get one tonight.” Over on ABC, Diane Sawyer found that Palin, “after a bruising time in the media, showed up not just with confidence, but cheerful confidence that might surprise a lot of people.”

On Palin avoiding questions, CBS's Schieffer “found it a little disconcerting” that “time and again Governor Palin would just choose not to answer the question and launch in to some dissertation, sometimes talking points, and not really address what Gwen Ifill had asked her.” On CNN, reporter/analyst Gloria Borger charged: “I think at the beginning of the debate actually, Sarah Palin's problem was that she wasn't answering questions directly.” NBC anchor Brian Williams scolded: “Looking at some of the e-mail traffic and some of the commentary online tonight, people found it bracing when she said quote, 'I may not answer the questions the way the moderator and you,' Senator Biden, 'want to hear.' Of course, it's the only set of rules in town.”

Video/Audio: Click on frame above for video, compiled by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey, of Katie Couric, Bob Schieffer, Diane Sawyer and Chuck Todd. Matching MP3 audio (55 seconds)

October 2, 2008, 8:17 PM EDT

At the top of Thursday's World News, just hours before the vice presidential debate, ABC anchor teased that “a new poll shows most Americans don't think” Palin is “ready to be a heartbeat away,” and, in explaining the advice both candidates are getting from their advisers, George Stephanopoulos fretted about “the dilemma for Biden,” which given that “we expect Sarah Palin to have some attack lines on Biden, on Obama. He's got to choose, at some point, not to let those attacks go unanswered.”

So there's the early media line: Biden will be the victim of attacks from Palin and must figure out how to counter those unfair attacks.

In the lead story, reporter Kate Snow did not cite any poll number about how “most Americans don't think” Palin is ready to be President, but she did highlight how “our new ABC News poll finds the public souring on Palin. One-third of registered voters now say her selection makes them less likely to support John McCain for President.”

September 30, 2008, 10:58 PM EDT

In her day-on-the-campaign-trail stories about the VP candidates, Katie Couric didn't even try to deliver equal treatment. Last week, after her piece on her day with Joe Biden, I outlined what she must do to be consistent with Palin this week. She failed. Unlike with Biden on September 22, in the “Sarah Palin: Behind the Scenes” story on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Couric declared a McCain-Palin policy position “misleading,” deliberately highlighted a policy disagreement between the two (drilling in ANWR), condescendingly demanded that Palin list the names of newspapers she read in Alaska and then treated Palin's conservative views as alien and thus in need of explanation -- pressing her on whether she agrees global warming is “man-made,” hitting her repeatedly on whether it should be illegal for a 15-year-old rape or incest victim to get an abortion or the “morning-after” pill and requiring she offer her position on teaching evolution.

Couric asserted that “it will take about ten years for domestic drilling to have an impact on consumers,” before accusing Palin: “So isn't the notion of 'drill, baby, drill' a little misleading to people who think this will automatically lower their gas prices?” On how Palin is an ill-informed dolt: “What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?” Couric wouldn't let go: “Like what ones specifically?” and “Can you name a few?” [UPDATED below with how growing up Palin “consumed newspapers with a passion.”]

Jumping to social issues, as the two sat on the campaign bus, Couric insisted Palin reiterate how she adheres to views Couric framed as extreme:

September 29, 2008, 8:54 PM EDT

On Monday night's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric announced her day “on the campaign trail with Governor Palin” won't air until Tuesday, but CBS still made room for an excerpt of her time Monday in Ohio with Sarah Palin and John McCain in which Couric repeatedly pressed the two about an overheard comment Palin made Saturday about Pakistan, badgering them with five follow-ups before moving on to Palin's “reaction” to criticism of her answers during her previous Couric session. But a week-and-half-ago, when Couric's day on the campaign trail story with Joe Biden was delayed by news on the financial front, CBS ran video of Couric cuing up Biden on what he and Obama would do to resolve the crisis followed by one challenging question with no follow-up.

At a Philadelphia restaurant on Saturday a man demanded: “So we do cross-border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan, you think?” Palin answered: “If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should.” Couric decided: “That's almost the exact position Barack Obama has taken and that you, Senator McCain, have criticized as something you do not say out loud. So, Governor Palin, are you two on the same page on this?” Couric pounded away: “Is that something you shouldn't say out loud?” and “Are you sorry you said it Governor?” When McCain called it a “gotcha soundbite,” Couric retorted: “It wasn't a 'gotcha.'”

Couric turned to Palin: “What did you learn from that experience?” Palin: “That this is all about 'gotcha' journalism.”

September 27, 2008, 7:10 AM EDT

Awarding Barack Obama two grades of A-minus and one B-minus while presenting John McCain with two grades of B-plus and one B-minus, at the end of his “Nightline Report Card” segment on Friday night, ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared Obama the “winner” -- with a big illustrative check mark on screen:

Bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change. His number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage. He was a credible commander-in-chief, that he could hold his own on national security. He did that tonight. He gets the win.

The grades from the ex-Democratic operative: On “Strategy,” Obama an A-minus, John McCain a B-plus; for “Style,” Obama another A-minus, McCain another B-plus; and on “Accuracy,” Obama got his lowest grade, a B-minus, McCain a B.

September 27, 2008, 2:37 AM EDT

In the 20 minutes of post-debate analysis before the broadcast networks ended coverage and the cable channels moved on to other shows Friday night, on MSNBC Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell fretted that Barack Obama wasn't tough enough in attacking John McCain on the economy as Mitchell also hailed Obama -- “But, boy, he did show a command of foreign policy in terms of the nuts and bolts of it” -- and regretted Obama didn't do more to tie McCain to George Bush, a theme echoed on NBC by Tom Brokaw who “was surprised he didn't work harder at pinning John McCain to the eight years of the Bush administration.”

CBS featured only one citizen reaction, a man who touted Obama and compared McCain to Nixon, before ending with a quickie poll (neither ABC or NBC had one) that found twice as many “uncommitted voters” thought Obama won (40 percent) than McCain (22 percent).

Interviewing ABC News reporter turned Obama operative Linda Douglass, Matthews pleaded: “Why did your candidate agree so much -- openly and relentlessly -- with his opponent tonight?” He followed up with an impassioned lecture about Obama's missed opportunities to pound McCain:

Why didn't he talk more about the terrible state of the economy, the jobless rate, unemployment, the degree of deficit we're in right now, the degree of national debt, all of those issues out there that effect the average person, the number of foreclosures? He let his opponent talk about taxes and earmarking, his specialties. He seemed to lose control of the economic topic.

September 26, 2008, 3:42 PM EDT

The Late Show's “Top Ten” list on Thursday's show was read by ten citizens of Wasilla standing on the shore of Lake Lucille. Of the ten, only one really made fun of Palin (#2). To watch Flash video of the presentation, click on the video-camera icon at the top of the list on this page.

September 25, 2008, 7:56 PM EDT

On Thursday night, CBS anchor Katie Couric began a short news update on Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska by immediately highlighting his party affiliation: “The senior Republican in the U.S. Senate went on trial today for corruption...” Stevens was appointed to his seat in 1968.

But the night before, in an item on ethical questions surrounding Congressman Charles Rangel of New York, a House veteran elected in 1970 who is Chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Couric failed to inform viewers he's a Democrat. Though, as his bio recites, he's “Chairman of the Board of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,” sans any party ID Couric announced on Wednesday's CBS Evening News:

The House also plans to investigate one of its own: New York Congressman Charles Rangel. He's come under fire for, among other things, failure to pay taxes on a luxury villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. Rangel has rejected calls that he step down as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

September 25, 2008, 1:55 AM EDT

Keith Olbermann, who was hardly reticent during the conventions to express his far-left opinions, told David Letterman on Wednesday that he's pleased about being relieved by MSNBC of anchor duties for upcoming debates and on election night since it will enable him “to be on more than I was previously and I can say what I think.” On Wednesday's Late Show, where he filled in at last-minute for his nemesis John McCain, Letterman asked about his removal from the anchor slot along with Chris Matthews. Olbermann expounded:

We're not the anchors any more. We're just going to be commentators...I'm actually going to be on more than I was previously and I can say what I think rather than sit there going “now here's more from such and such over there.”...Basically, I can just sit there between appearances and eat ice cream for 20 minutes at a time and then come back and go “that's the crappiest answer I've ever heard in a debate.”
September 24, 2008, 8:25 PM EDT

Interviewing John McCain on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric informed him and viewers that, during an interview of Sarah Palin she conducted earlier in the day, Palin warned of a “Great Depression” if the bail out is not passed, leading Couric to scold Palin to McCain: “But isn't so much of this, Senator McCain, about consumer confidence and using rhetoric like the 'Great Depression,' is that the kind of language Americans need to hear right now?” Quite a bit of chutzpah for Couric, chutzpah CBS didn't even hide from viewers since in the subsequent excerpts from the Palin interview which viewers saw it was Couric herself who raised the ominous phrase.

Palin had not used the term when Couric asked Palin: “If this doesn't pass, do you think there's a risk of another Great Depression?” Palin's reaction, in full:

Unfortunately, that is the road that America may find itself on. Not necessarily this, as it's been proposed, has to pass or we're going to find ourselves in another Great Depression. But, there has got to be action taken, bipartisan effort, Congress not pointing fingers at this point at one another, but finding the solution to this, taking action, and being serious about the reforms on Wall Street that are needed.

And Couric was not the only network news star on Wednesday to raise the spectre of a “Great Depression” -- or worse. NBC's Tom Brokaw: “Do you worry about a cataclysmic event coming out of all of this, that we go into a Great Depression?”

Video/audio: Click above for Flash video of Couric's question to McCain followed by what she proposed to Palin. Matching MP3 audio (25 seconds, 150 Kb).

September 24, 2008, 4:04 PM EDT

In suspending his campaign to deal with the bail out bill before the House and Senate, John McCain canceled his appearance on tonight's Late Show with David Letterman, a program to be recorded today in New York City. The show is normally produced at 5:30 PM EDT, but MSNBC reported it was to be taped at 4 PM today.

September 23, 2008, 9:52 PM EDT

The night before CBS's Katie Couric will sit down with Sarah Palin to discuss foreign policy and just under two weeks after ABC's Charles Gibson got three interview sessions over two days with Palin in Alaska, the NBC Nightly News, the only broadcast network evening newscast snubbed so far by Palin, devoted a full story to how reporters were initially barred from her photo-ops with foreign leaders and her general lack of availability to the press.

“The McCain campaign has been launching something of a campaign against the news media these days, and when things heated up for a time today, we almost didn't see those pictures” of her in Manhattan with Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai, Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe as well as Henry Kissinger. Reporter Savannah Guthrie explained how “campaign officials invited the media to attend the beginning of the meeting but at the last minute banned reporters, a departure from the usual practice, saying only photographers would be allowed. When news organizations threatened to pull the cameras if reporters were banned, the campaign relented.” Guthrie rued:

In the month since Palin joined the ticket, she’s granted just two major interviews, appeared at one joint town hall and held no news conferences. Reporters on the trail rarely see her.
September 22, 2008, 9:03 PM EDT

If Katie Couric is to be consistent and treat Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whom Couric is scheduled to interview this week, as gently as she did Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden in her day with him Thursday in Ohio which became a story on the Monday night CBS Evening News, she will (Couric quotes from the Biden story in the parentheses):

September 21, 2008, 9:46 PM EDT

Three Sundays ago, in a 60 Minutes interview CBS's Steve Kroft cued up Barack Obama with Sarah Palin's presumed lack of qualifications compared to him: “Does the fact that he chose as his Vice President someone who has less experience than you take that weapon out of his arsenal?” But on Sunday night, in a 60 Minutes devoted to new interviews with both Obama and John McCain, Scott Pelley also hit McCain from the same angle on Palin's qualifications, telling him “the criticism of Governor Palin is that she was a brilliant marketing choice for the campaign, but she's not well versed on the economy or foreign affairs,” before he demanded: “In your judgment, can you see her as President of the United States?” When McCain replied “Absolutely,” Pelley's voice betrayed astonishment as he fired back: “As President of the United States?”

Steve Kroft again got the sit-down with Obama and when Obama contended that if he loses, his race will not be the cause, Kroft countered that he knows “for a fact...there are a lot of people out there...who won't vote for you because you're black.” Kroft declared as the two sat in Elko, Nevada:

I know, for a fact, that there are a lot of people out there, there are a lot of people right here in Elko, who won't vote for you because you're black. I mean, there's not much you can do. But how do you deal with it? I mean, are there ways that, from a political point of view, that you can deal with it? And how do you fight that?
September 21, 2008, 1:48 AM EDT

At a Tuesday night fundraiser for Barack Obama held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, donors heard Barbra Streisand sing, but as ABC's Jake Tapper noted in his “Political Punch” blog, “the press was not permitted (inflicted?) with permission to hear her.” So, there's no video of it, which reminded me of how back in 2002 the Fox News Channel played a brief clip from her appearance at a September 29, 2002 fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, video we played in “The I’m Not a Geopolitical Genius But I Play One on TV Award” category at the MRC's 2003 DisHonors Awards where we added Streisand's lyrics at the bottom of the screen along with a bouncing ball to help the audience follow along.

The customized stanzas from her 'Miseries' adaption of the 'Way We Were' as played on the October 2, 2002 Special Report with Brit Hume:

Scattered pictures
Of the House we left behind.
Lovely Democratic mem'ries
Of the way we were.

Unprecedented growth in the economy.
The Dow was up, the deficit was down.
As long as Democrats were the majority,
I could sleep nights,
Not weep nights.

To see this video in a larger size, watch it on the MRC's Eyeblast site.