On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, FNC contributor and panel member Jim Pinkerton of the New America Foundation twice cited the Media Research Center – parent organization to NewsBusters – the first time as he pointed out that ABC News had given six times as much attention to attacking Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s efforts to delay the extension of unemployment benefits – as if doing so were a scandal – as opposed to covering the actual scandal of Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel’s unethical activities. Pinkerton recounted:
Striking, as Scott Whitlock at MRC pointed out, ABC News devoted six times more coverage to trashing Bunning where Jonathan Karl, the reporter, went all Jesse Watters on Bunning, following him around in the Senate and trying to barge into the elevator, than they did on Chairman Rangel's, of the Ways and Means Committee's, forced resignation in a scandal. So a two-day procedural thing was six times bigger news to ABC than a genuine corrupt scandal. [Audio available here.]
The FNC contributor cited the MRC a second time during a discussion of the media’s coverage of Iraq as he noted that the mainstream media have lost interest in the subject and have not asked a question at a White House press conference since June 26. Host Jon Scott brought in Pinkerton by bringing up a recent article in the Daily Beast about positive developments in Iraq which did not mention former President Bush:
JON SCOTT: DailyBeast.com, Jim, did an article on the situation in Iraq. They called it a political miracle, and the entire article did not mention anything about President Bush. Does that surprise you?
JIM PINKERTON: It actually does surprise me because you'd think that they would be sensitive to criticism, like on this show, and say, look, let's throw in a nice word about Bush just to cover ourselves. But the real story is lack of interest. As Rich Noyes at MRC pointed out, there hasn't been a question to the White House since June 26 on this whole topic.
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Saturday, March 6, Fox News Watch:
SENATOR JIM BUNNING (R-KY): I support extending unemployment benefits, COBRA benefits, flood insurance, highway bill fix, Doc fix, small business loans, distant network television for satellite viewers. If we can't find $10 billion to pay for something that we all support, we will never pay for anything on the floor of this U.S. Senate.
JON SCOTT: That was Senator Jim Bunning making his solo and ultimately unsuccessful stand against a deficit-increasing $10 billion spending bill, a stand which garnered the Kentucky Senator some intense backlash from the mainstream media.
JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: Talking about Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning's ongoing effort to single-handedly (CENSORED) off the extension of unemployment benefits for 1.1 million of Americans.
ALI VELSHI, CNN: I bet you Senator Jim Bunning has some place warm to sleep tonight, but the Republican from Kentucky is almost single-handedly responsible for cutting a vital financial lifeline to more than a million down-and-out Americans.
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: Is this the most heartless thing you've seen the Republicans do?
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: And here in the Senate, that lone Senator who had held up unemployment benefits was finally forced to relent.
STEWART: Do you hear that unemployed people in the middle of one of the worst recessions in history? No 30-day extension of benefits until we balance the entire federal government to Jim Benning's liking!
SCOTT: Well, despite ending his stand, some were calling it a filibuster, and allowing a vote to move forward, the media continued to berate the Senator. All right, Ellis, I'll give you first chance to defend the liberal media here because they were pretty vicious on this guy, as we just heard.
ELLIS HENICAN, NEWSDAY: Let me just say this to you, Jon: The backlash against Senator Bunning pretty much involves every single person in politics today. Remember, it wasn't the so-called liberal media that elbowed this guy aside and refused to support his fundraisers. That was his fellow Republicans in the Senate. He's an old coot. He's out of touch and he shouldn't take those kinds of positions if he can't handle a little criticism
CAL THOMAS, COLUMNIST: Ageism, ageism.
HENICAN: How about that, a little criticism?
SCOTT: Okay, Jim, go ahead.
JIM PINKERTON, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Striking, as Scott Whitlock at MRC pointed out, ABC News devoted six times more coverage to trashing Bunning where Jonathan Karl, the reporter, went all Jesse Watters on Bunning, following him around in the Senate and trying to barge into the elevator, than they did on Chairman Rangel's, of the Ways and Means Committee’s, forced resignation in a scandal. So a two-day procedural thing was six times bigger news to ABC than a genuine corrupt scandal.
SCOTT: His reasoning, Cal, I mean, he was trying to bring attention to the failures of pay-as-you-go, but did the media pay attention?
THOMAS: This is exactly, right, this is exactly the position of the President of the United States, articulated just a few days ago, we ought to have pay-go. You ought to pay for whatever you're going to spend. That's all he was saying. But the way the media treat this is very predictable. If you are against a Republican program or piece of legislation, you are trying to save the children and be helpful to the country. But if you're against a liberal Democrat program or proposal, you're evil and must be destroyed.
JUDY MILLER, FNC CONTRIBUTOR: No, no, no.
HENICAN: So thin-skinned.
MILLER: No, no, no, look, even the Philadelphia Inquirer I think had it absolutely right when they said, if you want to start balancing the budget, let's do it with a $435 million jet engine for a plane that the Air Force doesn't want.
THOMAS: I'm for that, too.
MILLER: Let's start by getting rid of a $1 million program to get rid of snakes in Guam. I mean, there's a lot of fat that could have been cut, not at the expense of 1.8 million Americans who literally are not responsible for the fact that they're not employed.
PINKERTON: But Bunning didn't say where the, Bunning didn't say where he thought the cuts shouldn't come from. He just said the cuts should come. I mean, Cal had it exactly right.
MILLER: He had a proposal.
PINKERTON: If pay-go is the philosophy that the Democrats talk about when it doesn't matter, but when it's, you know, because they say on the out years we'll have pay-go, but in the here and now, they never want to do it. That’s the hypocrisy Frankly, we should give credit to one member of the mainstream media who did support Bunning curiously enough, and that's Chris Matthews at MSNBC, who went out of his way in his little editorial at the end of his show to say that Bunning had a point.
HENICAN: Listen, the guy has every right to do it under the Senate rules. I mean, he did it, he did his best. But you know what, you can't take a position like that and expect everybody to love it. You know, if you're going to be as an aggressive and frankly as obnoxious as he was over the past few days, people are going to yell at you and you can't come wah, wah, wah, Cal Thomas, wah, wah, wah.
MILLER: Dana Milbank suggested he was kind of 78-year-old and crazy.
THOMAS: Oh, ageism again.
MILLER: And screwball. It was the last pitch he had left, is what he said.
THOMAS: Let's see, how old is Charlie Rangel?
MILLER: Because, look, he's talking about being-
THOMAS: How old is Robert Byrd?
MILLER: -being wrestled to the ground, he and his wife, at a political picnic, by little green men. I mean, you've got a problem here.
SCOTT: Dailybeast.com, Jim, did an article on the situation in Iraq. They called it a political miracle, and the entire article did not mention anything about President Bush. Does that surprise you?
PINKERTON: It actually does surprise me because you'd think that they would be sensitive to criticism, like on this show, and say, look, let's throw in a nice word about Bush just to cover ourselves. But the real story is lack of interest. As Rich Noyes at MRC pointed out, there hasn't been a question to the White House since June 26 on this whole topic.