On this weekend's Fox News Watch on FNC, liberal panelist Neal Gabler, rejecting the Media Research Center's contention of liberal bias in coverage of North Korea's nuclear test, damned the MRC with faint praise in ridiculing the MRC's mission: "MRC can find a needle in a hay stack. We ought to sic them to find Osama bin Laden because they always find what they're looking for, and liberal bias is what they're looking for." Host Eric Burns had set up the lead segment: “The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, charges that some American news organizations are, to an extent, defending the action [atomic test] because North Korea is worried about an attack from the United States and hopes the bomb tests will be a deterrent.” Conservative panelist Cal Thomas pointed out how “ABC's Mark Litke made this point on World News Tonight.” Indeed, an October 10 MRC CyberAlert article, posted the night before as a NewsBusters item, “ABC: North Korea Has Rational 'Historic Fear' of U.S. Worsened by Bush's 'Axis of Evil,'” detailed Litke's October 9 story.
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down the references to the MRC, and Gabler's retort, at the top of FNC's Fox News Watch first aired at 6:30pm EDT Saturday, October 14:
Eric Burns set up the segment:
"North Korea claims that it set off a nuclear bomb last weekend, and its President, Kim Jong Il, says that more are coming. The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, charges that some American news organizations are, to an extent, defending the action because North Korea is worried about an attack from the United States and hopes the bomb tests will be a deterrent. Let me be more blunt about it, Cal. Some conservatives in the press think some liberals in the press are justifying the Korean bomb because Bush is a warmonger and they have to do what they can to keep Bush out of their country."
Cal Thomas confirmed:
"Well, this is nothing new, and doesn't relate only to Bush. I mean, ABC's Mark Litke made this point on World News Tonight, Andrea Mitchell got close to it on NBC. This isn't something that is unique to Bush and the current situation. There is a presumption in much of the media that what America does affects what others do or that if we, people are denied certain things, and if we just give them what they want, they'll leave us alone. The Neville Chamberlain going to Munich ought to be a good enough example of that, but you get this in the media, that somehow the reason people hate us is that we're not giving them what they want. And I think that is a false diagnosis."
But Neal Gabler countered:
"I look at it very, very differently. First of all, MRC can find a needle in a hay stack. We ought to sic them to find Osama bin Laden because they always find what they're looking for, and liberal bias is what they're looking for."
The October 9 NewsBusters posting began:
“ABC's Mark Litke, checking in from Seoul on Monday's World News, seemed to rationalize North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's pursuit of a nuclear weapon as he treated as credible the contention the regime has had, for decades, a reasonable fear of U.S. invasion, a fear exacerbated by President George W. Bush. Litke proposed: 'It's difficult to imagine Kim Jong Il as a clever and calculating leader who knows exactly what he wants, but, in fact, he may be much smarter than most people realize.' Litke soon outlined, leading into a soundbite from Clinton administration UN Ambassador Bill Richardson, how 'Kim has justified his missile tests and nuclear program as a deterrent to what he sees as an eventual U.S. invasion. It's a longstanding fear dating back to the Korean War when Kim's father, Kim Il Sung, feared the U.S. would use nuclear weapons against his country. That historic fear was reinforced 50 years later when the U.S. labeled North Korea part of an Axis of Evil with Iran and Iraq. Kim Jong Il feared he would always be next after Iraq.'”