Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center
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” (highlight video clips on NewsBusters), 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
Imagine a major news network anchor, in 1985, telling President Reagan that five years into his presidency rising income inequality wasn’t his fault. Ludicrous, given how the media used the term Reaganomics to denigrate his policies, policies far more successful than President Obama’s in turning around an inherited poor economy.
Yet in a sit-down with Barack Obama for ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos compliantly excused Obama’s failure: “Do you look at that four and a half years in and say, maybe a President can’t stop this accelerating inequality?”
Friday in Russia, President Obama let slip that putting Congress on the hook, or in a political bind, was part of his calculus in asking for their approval for an attack on Syria, but twice on Sunday morning ABC’s George Stephanopoulos misquoted Obama’s admission. Obama maintained: “I did not put this before Congress, you know, just as a political ploy or as symbolism.”
Yet on Sunday’s Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos quoted Obama: “Listen to what he said Friday night in Russia: ‘I did not put this’ – this resolution – ‘before Congress as a political ploy or symbolism.’” Later, on This Week, he again left off the very relevant “just” as he mis-characterized Obama back to White House Chief-of-Staff Denis McDonough: “He said his call to Congress was not a political ploy or symbolism.”
PBS’s Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill provided a tag team of Obama idolatry in their interview with President Barack Obama at the White House following Wednesday’s March on Washington anniversary event, gently pressing him from the left and treating him as a victim of racist opposition as Gwen Ifill forwarded the theory “you are a victim of partisan racial gridlock.”
When, in the session carried on the PBS NewsHour, Obama fretted “we have increasing inequality in this society,” Judy Woodruff buttered up Obama by first hailing how “you’ve been able to do -- help the country in many ways,” yet problems – remarkably – still remain, so “how much does it weigh on you that your policies haven’t made more of a difference in those areas?”
Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, who oversees the IRS, made the rounds of four Sunday morning TV talk shows (all but CBS’s Face the Nation) to promote President Obama’s latest “pivot” to the economy, but ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and CNN’s Candy Crowley failed to take advantage of the opportunity to press him on the IRS scandal.
NBC’s David Gregory squeezed a question in at the very end of their session, but then didn’t follow up on Lew’s insistence “there’s no evidence of any political involvement.” Gregory: “Mr. Secretary, I’ll leave it there. Thank you as always.”
Once again obscuring any line between MSNBC and NBC News, Brian Williams brought frequent MSNBC contributor Joy-Ann Reid aboard Friday’s NBC Nightly News to praise President Obama’s comments on the Zimmerman-Martin case while he failed to mention she spent 2008 working for the Obama presidential campaign.
Between hailing Obama’s remarks as “extraordinary” and “brave,” Reid painted Obama as the victim of racism: “Everything about the Obama presidency, race has been a subtext to all of it. From the Tea Party which saw differently the Obama bailout of the auto industry from George W. Bush’s and suddenly became a movement, to him being called a liar in the well of the Congress, to him having to show his birth certificate...”
HBO’s The Newsroom debuts its second season tonight (Sunday) at 10 PM EDT/PDT. The preachy and sanctimonious left-wing dialogue from creator/writer Aaron Sorkin often came across as unintentional near-parody of MSNBC’s old Countdown with Keith Olbermann, none more so than in the self-righteous commentary delivered by anchor “Will McAvoy,” played by Jeff Daniels, in the first season finale.
“McAvoy” went on a diatribe about the evils of the Tea Party, a particularly alien from reality plot line given what we’ve learned since that Tea Party groups were victims of government abuse by the IRS.
See no scandal, report no scandal. Jill Abramson, Executive Editor of the New York Times, came down to DC on Sunday to defend President Obama on the scandals and the economy, stressing the leaks cases is the only supposed scandal she cares about as she contended “I’m just not sure” the leaks cases, IRS and Benghazi “come together and create, you know -- quote, unquote -- ‘an atmosphere of scandal.’”
An atmosphere the New York Times is working to prevent.
Pivoting to the downside for President Obama of the swirling scandals, Meet the Press host David Gregory fretted over “a bigger issue that the President faces, which is where is his agenda left in all this?” Citing a poll showing the public thinks fixing unemployment should be a higher priority than investigations, Gregory despaired: “The President’s coming under fire for losing his scope, effectively, in a second term to rebuild America, to usher in economic restoration.”
“Well, that’s the tragedy for him. It’s a tragedy for all of us,” New York Times columnist Tom Friedman agreed.
Noting “local news stations often don’t have the resources that national stations do,” back on Monday, May 6, FNC’s Bret Baier ended his program with a clip from WJW-TV “Fox8” in Cleveland which made a creative, if not convincing, effort to recreate an event on camera.
The story was about a bear sighting in the Cleveland suburb of Moreland Hills, but, Baier explained, “unfortunately, out affiliate, WJW, did not get a shot of the bear, so instead they improvised.”
Though he had no idea what it was, the annual “Bush Center Warrior 100K” mountain bike ride, which took place over the Memorial Day weekend, upset Bill Maher. “I guess they walked or ran or something on their prosthetic limbs,” Maher sneered about George W. Bush’s ride around his Texas ranch with 20 servicemen, “and I found this to be nauseating. I mean, first he sends them off to war to get their limbs blown off and then he has them over for a barbecue.”
Maher then equated the former President with Ariel Castro, the kidnaper who held captive multiple women for a decade and murdered their un-born babies: “This is like the Cleveland guy having a pizza party for those girls he had in his basement.”
Once again demonstrating the NBC Nightly News is the broadcast arm of MSNBC, anchor Brian Williams – matching what has animated MSNBC hosts – devoted a segment to former Senator Bob Dole railing against the modern Republican Party; ie: conservatives.
With “Fighting Words” on screen, Williams on Tuesday night highlighted comments neither the ABC nor CBS evening newscasts found newsworthy, how the 89-year-old “made it clear in a rare interview this weekend the GOP of his day is unrecognizable. He thinks they should pause, rebuild and start over.”
Not a syllable Friday or Saturday night on ABC, CBS or NBC about any of the several Obama scandals, but on Saturday night ABC’s World News trumpeted President Obama’s role as “consoler-in-chief.”
With “Consoler-in-Chief” on screen, anchor David Muir announced: “President Obama will be in Moore, Oklahoma tomorrow. ABC’s Reena Ninan already there tonight as the President prepares to fill the role he so often has in the last few months.”
“Liberal media bias is an old complaint,” the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto noted in his “Best of the Web Today” column this past Monday on responses to the Obama scandals, before warning: “The Obama presidency has given it a new and dangerous form. Never has the prevailing bias of the media been so closely aligned with the ideological aims and political interests of the party in power.”
He recognized “the American media remain free and independent, or you would not be reading this column,” but zinged, “to a large extent they have functioned for the past few years as if they were under state control.”
Already moving on from the IRS scandal? On Thursday night, only the CBS Evening News of the broadcast network evening newscasts bothered to note how Lois Lerner, the IRS official in charge of the division which processes tax-exempt applications, was put on administrative leave after she took the Fifth and refused to answer questions at a House hearing the day before. Anchor Scott Pelley squeezed in 20 seconds on it.
Yet, ABC World News and the NBC Nightly News made room to highlight a photo of a 17-year-old Barack Obama and his prom date along with a friend and his date.
Contrasting headlines, over different polls taken by the two newspapers, on the front pages of Tuesday’s USA Today and Washington Post.
USA Today -- “Poll: Scandals threaten Obama’s agenda”
Washington Post – “Poll: President holds firm amid controversies”
Images after the jump.
Monday’s CBS Evening News took one break from Oklahoma tornado coverage – to run a piece on how an IRS manager who recently retired from the Cincinnati office, where 501 (c)(4) applications were processed, declared “politics and religion were things that people generally didn’t talk about at work.”
Reporter Dean Reynolds focused on the assurances by Bonnie Esrig, who was also featured in a Saturday Washington Post article on how politics had nothing to do with the targeting of conservative groups: “She never heard anyone say the words ‘the President wants this done.’”
The Hollywood Left just can’t resist shoving its anti-conservative invective into prime time TV shows, even an over-the-top, melodramatic soap-opera with ludicrous plots like ABC’s Washington, DC-set Scandal, which has its season finale at 10 PM EDT/PDT tonight.
On last week’s episode, a lead character ominously warned that if the current Vice President, a conservative woman Republican, made it to the Oval Office, she “and her conservative overlords” will impinge on “the rights” of African-Americans and raise the specter of the devil.
Asked on Sunday’s Reliable Sources if the wider media dismissed the Weekly Standard story, by Stephen Hayes about the Benghazi talking points getting altered to take out any references to terrorism, because of his affiliation with conservative media, The Hill newspaper Managing Editor Bob Cusack agreed.
Then he turned his criticism on his colleagues: “If you look at the time line of how this administration dealt with Benghazi, there’s been a lot of contradictions from the get go. So, the media hasn’t looked at it as extensively as they should have.”
My alternate headline for this item: “NBC’s Today Show on Benghazi: ‘There Are So Many Issues the Country Faces. This Is One of Them.’” That dismissive attitude came from ABC News veteran Mark Halperin, now MSNBC’s senior political analyst who also toils for Time magazine, putting the burden on Republican to make an issue of Obama administration dishonesty on Benghazi.
Failing to see any role for the news media after months of malfeasance, Halperin put the burden on a political party: “I think the events of this week mean Republicans now have a chance to make the case to the American people. There are so many issues the country faces. This is one of them.”
Fox News Channel analyst and former anchor Brit Hume asserted Monday night that for Benghazi “to become the scandal it surely deserves to be will require another ingredient: Relentless news coverage of the kind the media typically avoid when the subject is someone or some cause they favor.”
He explained: “That’s why the Gosnell abortion horrors were played down for so long and that’s why the now discredited Benghazi talking points were treated as just an honest mistake.”