Who is Michael O’Hanlon? Viewers of "The Early Show" on CBS may think he is the preeminent expert on the Middle East and Islam. For everyone else, he is a senior fellow at the left leaning Brookings Institution who has praised President Clinton’s "strong defense record." This morning marked his fifth appearance on the program since January 26 of this year, that’s 5 appearance in 31 possible weekdays, and all times he was interviewed by Harry Smith. O’Hanlon has been Smith’s go to guy on matters such as the Palestinian elections which brought Hamas to power, the controversy over the Danish cartoons, the ports deal with the United Arab Emirates, and most recently on the Iranian nuclear situation.
To put his five appearances on "The Early Show" in context, O’Hanlon has been a part of a total of 7 news stories since January 1 of this year on all other networks and cable news outlets. In each of these 7 additional stories, he is shown in a news summary offering an opinion of a sentence or two.
O’Hanlon has not been overtly liberal in his analysis, though he has made some bias statements. Most notably, he condemned the Bush Administration for not being forceful enough in condemning the Danish cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, claiming the cartoons are not a free speech issue.
Michael O’Hanlon: "On the other hand, we have to look, I think, in the western world at ourselves and say, is this really what we mean by free speech. Is there really some great political principle at risk here, and I don't think so. So, yeah, there is a problem. We have to, therefore, try to address the situation a little more directly and, I think, the Bush Administration may want to up the volume a little bit on its objections to this cartoon."
My recollection is both President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both condemned the cartoons.
Mr. O’Hanlon’s record of appearing on the "Early Show" would be understandable if he were a CBS contributor and been identified as such. However, he is not. So it bewilders me as to why his are practically the only outside views on foreign affairs that viewers receive. Are there no other experts in this area? Are there no other opinions? Wouldn’t viewers be better served if they were treated to a variety opinions? Apparently CBS doesn’t think so. Perhaps that’s why Bob Schieffer, anchor of the "CBS Evening News," said of the "Early Show’s" ratings while appearing on the "Colbert Report" on Comedy Central:
Bob Scheiffer: "A great deal of our ratings on the morning news are people who died during the night and the television was on."