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,” 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
ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News gave plenty of time to left-wing environmentalists and Democrats opposed to President Bush's call to open up oil drilling off the shores of the continental U.S., but unlike the CBS Evening News the two newscasts provided equal time to supporters and experts who predicted it would lower gas prices. CBS reporter Bill Whitaker began with pro and con soundbites, but his story quickly deteriorated into a brief against the proposal with opponents and those saying it would do nothing to lower prices getting twice as many soundbites (4) as supporters (2).
Whitaker used California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to illustrate “bipartisan” opposition as he reminded viewers of a spill nearly 40 years ago: “In California, which suffered a devastating oil spill from a rig off Santa Barbara in 1969, opposition to offshore drilling is bipartisan.” Following a soundbite from Schwarzenegger, Whitaker hailed how “from Republican Governor Schwarzenegger to local environmentalists, California is largely green.” Whitaker next tried to undermine the proposal: “Drilling opponents say reserves off California wouldn't last long. In fact, at current consumption rates, 21 million barrels a day, Americans would use up the estimated 18 billion barrels off the coasts all around the country in less than two and a half years.”
What made Tim Russert different, and better, I think was his willingness to listen to -- and take seriously -- criticism about his own profession. He was willing, for example, to keep an open mind about a hot-button issue like media bias -- an issue that so many of his colleagues dismiss as the delusions of right-wing media haters.
Goldberg recalled that when he wrote Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, “no one in network television wanted to discuss the issue, no matter how many Middle Americans thought it was important.” But “Russert was the lone exception. He had me on his CNBC interview show, and we talked about bias for a full hour.” (Screen captures here and below are from that interview on the February 23, 2002 edition of Russert's CNBC show.)
In his op-ed, Goldberg quoted from an interview he conducted with Russert for his 2003 book, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite.” (Below is a full reprint of that book chapter.)
It took a bombing which killed 51 Iraqis for NBC anchor Brian Williams to acknowledge “there's been a letup in the violence of late in Iraq.” Unlike his ABC and CBS colleagues, two weeks and a day earlier Williams failed to report the death toll for Americans in Iraq in May was the lowest for any month since the war began. On Tuesday night, however, he announced:
Last night here we reported there were more Americans killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq in the month of May. It's generally believed there's been a letup in the violence of late in Iraq. That is until today.
From Baghdad, Jim Maceda reported on the deadly bombing in a shopping area, but then he contrasted the incident with improving Iraqi expectations:
Not only did the blast break the relative calm here, but it shattered a growing sense of security as well. After three to four months of relative low violence, people were starting to come out into streets, returning to schools, stores and banks were opening.
Campbell Brown, filling in for Anderson Cooper, led CNN's 10 PM EDT hour Monday evening by letting viewers in on her excitement over Al Gore's endorsement of Barack Obama earlier in the evening: “Tonight, everybody, he blew the roof off the joint. Al Gore, one of the last big-name Democrats, getting behind Barack Obama in a big way, making a speech that could have won him the White House if he'd been making this kind of speech eight years ago.” In highlights of the speech CNN soon aired, Gore charged: “After eight years in which our Constitution has been dishonored and disrespected, we need change!”
Turning to a panel of CNN's Candy Crowley and Gloria Borger as well as David Gergen, Brown, who jumped to CNN from NBC last year, yearned: “Do you think there is any chance that we might see an Obama-Gore ticket?” Not dampened by doubts he would want the VP slot, Brown pressed Gergen on another role for Gore and then conceded she sounded like “I want it just too badly.” The exchange:
BROWN: Even if it was pitched to him perhaps as an opportunity to kind of be, I think it was James Carville who suggested it, energy czar, you know, to expand the role, the traditional role of Vice President, and to make the issues that he cares most passionately about center stage for him and let him take those issues and run with it?
GERGEN: Not going to happen, Campbell.
BROWN: Do I sound like I want it just too badly here, David? It's a good story.
NBC anchor Brian Williams on Monday evening rued that Afghanistan “is too often called the other war or perhaps even the forgotten war” when “in the month of May, for the first time ever, American and allied combat deaths were higher in Afghanistan than the monthly loss in Iraq.” But that's as much because of good news from Iraq, which Williams ignored, as bad news from Afghanistan. The number of U.S. service personnel killed in Iraq in May was the fewest in any month since the war began in 2003 -- a positive trend Williams, unlike his colleagues at ABC and CBS, failed to share with his viewers two weeks ago.
Back on Monday, June 2, the other networks noted how 19 died in May as a result of combat in Iraq. In the same month, total U.S. (15) and allied troop deaths in Afghanistan rose to 23, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
Just under a year after NBC turned over more than 75 hours of air time on several of their channels to Al Gore's “Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis,” Monday's NBC Nightly News championed Al Gore's “major endorsement” of Barack Obama -- as if a Democratic politician backing the Democratic nominee is newsworthy. (ABC's Jake Tapper gave the then-upcoming event a sentence while the CBS Evening News didn't mention any aspect of the presidential campaign. CNN and MSNBC covered the run-up during much of the 8 PM EDT hour and went live to Gore a little past 9:00 PM EDT. FNC showed video of Gore, but stayed with Hannity & Colmes guest Karl Rove.)
With Gore's words on screen, NBC's Lee Cowan trumpeted live from the venue in Detroit:
He says he'll do whatever he can to make sure that Barack Obama gets elected President. He announced his decision today on his blog, e-mailing a very deep list of supporters telling them to get behind this ticket both with a little elbow grease and with a little money as well. “I've never asked members of AlGore.com to contribute to a political campaign before,” he said, “but this moment and this election are too important to let pass without taking action.”
Getting in some last shots at President Bush as his trip to Europe came to an end in London, CBS and ABC on Sunday night focused stories on Bush's unpopularity on the continent where “they're glad he's on his way out” and it's “an understatement to say that Mr. Bush is unpopular.” CBS correspondent Bill Plante asserted “much of Europe thinks of Mr. Bush as a cowboy who has ridden roughshod over the wishes of his allies and they're glad he's on his way out,” before the CBS Evening News featured a woman on the street who declared: “Good-bye. It was not fun. And I am looking forward to the change.” Then viewers heard from protesters: “George Bush? Terrorist! George Bush? Terrorist!” Plante proceeded to highlight:
According to a Pew Research Center poll out last week, Europeans -- a majority of Britons, French and Germans -- believe a new President means a better U.S. foreign policy, and for most Britons, French and Germans, Barack Obama's personal story and opposition to the war make him a heavy favorite over John McCain when it comes to their confidence in his handling of foreign policy.
“When it comes to politics, [actor Jack] Nicholson may want to ponder his very own losing streak: He tends to back also-rans in Democratic presidential primary contests,” the Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers and Paul Kane recounted in their “In the Loop” compilation on Thursday, June
Appearing by phone on Friday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC, former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg recalled for fill-in host Laura Ingraham how Tim Russert recognized there should be more to newsroom diversity than just diversity by gender and skin tone, that “you need ideological diversity.” Goldberg, who departed CBS News a few years after he pointed out their liberal bias, lamented:
I wish his colleagues understood that part of Tim Russert, too. That he knew that we needed all kinds of people in journalism because if we didn't have it we were going to get one-sided journalism.
Goldberg read aloud to the FNC audience a quote from Russert contained in an interview featured in Goldberg's 2003 book, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite:
“I'm all for hiring women in the newsroom and minorities in the newsroom -- I'm all for it. It opens up our eyes and gives us a different perspective. But just as well, let's have people with military experience. Let's have people from all walks of life. People from the top echelon schools, but people from junior colleges and the so-called middling schools -- that's the rich pageantry of America. I'm a great believer in racial diversity and gender diversity, but you need cultural diversity, you need ideological diversity.” And then he emphasized, Laura: “You need it.”
NBC will air a special tonight on Tim Russert at 10 PM EDT/PDT (9PM CDT), taking the place of the second hour of the scheduled Dateline.
The hour, to be hosted Tom Brokaw, is titled: 'Remembering Tim Russert.'
MSNBC.com's page on Russert's untimely passing on Friday.
Six months after he chastised Congress for not following George McGovern's advice to impeach President Bush, CNN's Jack Cafferty on Thursday scolded House Democrats for disposing of the latest impeachment effort by the far-left Dennis Kucinich (earlier NB post on Cafferty's blog entry). Fretting that “the House of Representatives voted to send an impeachment resolution against President Bush to a committee where it will die,” Cafferty used his “Cafferty File” segment during the 4 PM EST hour of The Situation Room to lecture:
Congress continues to refuse to exercise its constitutional responsibility, which is oversight of the executive branch of our government. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi long ago said impeachment is off the table. This is a joke. We have a President who has abused the power of his office over and over and over again. It's what got the Democrats elected to the majority in Congress in 2006. The Democrats, no doubt, are worried what it will look like to many voters if they spend their time on impeachment. To hell with what's right or wrong.
The broadcast network evening newscasts gave as much emphasis Thursday night to the biting dissent as the majority opinion in the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on behalf of the Guantanamo detainees, but told the story through the prism of the Bush administration getting rebuked by the decision characterized as “historic” and “landmark” -- with ABC's Martha Raddatz ominously warning “it could be very embarrassing for the administration.” CBS avoided any label for the majority while tagging the dissenters as “conservative” and only NBC noted how some of those already released have committed atrocities.
“The Supreme Court, for the third time, has slammed the Bush administration for its handling of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay,” CBS anchor Katie Couric announced. Wyatt Andrews asserted “the ruling essentially tells the Bush administration no more halfway justice at Guantanamo” as he segued to a soundbite from a representative of a left-wing group by relaying how “lawyers for the detainees called it a victory for America's reputation around the world.” Andrews, who applied no liberal labels, said the “ruling was bitterly rebuked by the court's conservatives.”
From Kabul, NBC's Brian Williams teased “a big defeat for the Bush administration,” though he later uniquely portrayed the “landmark ruling” as “victory” for the detainees, before Pete Williams tagged both sides, citing “the court's five more liberal members” and “the four conservative dissenters.” ABC anchor Charles Gibson reported that the court “today handed the Bush administration a stinging defeat.” Jan Crawford Greenburg applied the most accurate labeling, referring to how “moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision with the four liberal justices” while “conservative Justice Antonin Scalia read a sharp, almost personal dissent.”
Channeling Keith Olbermann, David Letterman on Wednesday night proposed to guest Scott McClellan that President Bush and Vice President Cheney “just couldn't care less about Americans” since “all they really want to do is somehow kiss up to the oil people so they can get some great annuity when they're out of office,” and so he marveled: “Is there any humanity in either of these guys?” Letterman's conspiratorial rant:
My feeling about Cheney, and also Bush, but especially Cheney is that he just couldn't care less about Americans. And the same is true of George Bush. And all they really want to do is somehow kiss up to the oil people so they can get some great annuity when they're out of office. [audience applause] “There you go Dick [hand motion of distributing cash], nice job. There's a couple of billion for your troubles.” I mean, he pretty much put Halliburton in business and the outsourcing of the military resources to private mercenary groups and so forth. Is there any humanity in either of these guys?
McClellan only disagreed about Bush:
Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday, only ABC's World News judged Jim Johnson's resignation from the Obama campaign as worth a full story. CBS and NBC limited coverage to brief items that failed to inform viewers of how Obama was caught in hypocrisy. ABC's Jake Tapper, however, explained the reason for the “big headache for Barack Obama,” that “the head of his vice presidential search committee, Jim Johnson, resigned amidst criticisms that Johnson personified the very special interests and Washington insiders whom Obama campaigns against.”
Tapper played a clip of Obama's “lofty” rhetoric from February: “The stakes are too high and the challenges are too great to play the same old Washington games with the same old Washington players.” Tapper reported Obama picked Johnson while “not knowing of Johnson's ties to Countrywide Financial, a mortgage lender Obama had rallied against on the campaign trail.” Viewers then heard from Obama earlier in the campaign: “Countrywide Financial was one of the folks, one of the institutions that was pumping up the sub-prime lending market.”
The three broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday framed coverage, of a Democratic Senate plan to somehow lower gas prices by imposing a “windfall profits” tax on oil companies which they would just pass on to consumers, around how Republicans “blocked” the effort. No one cast any doubt on the presumption the oil companies are earning “windfall” and/or “excessive” profits.
Fill-in NBC anchor Ann Curry's very short update: “Now to the high price of oil and gas. Senate Republicans today blocked a Democratic plan to impose a windfall profit tax on oil companies.” CBS's Katie Couric, who unlike Curry at least noted how “Republicans said it would have done nothing to lower the price of gas,” asserted: “Senate Republicans today blocked Democrats from slapping a tax on the windfall profits of oil companies.”
ABC twice displayed on screen text favorable to the liberal position: “Senate Republicans block Democratic plan to tax oil companies' windfall profits.” And: “Special tax for excessive oil profits.”
Tom Brokaw came aboard Monday's Late Show to promote his book, Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today, but soon chided David Letterman with some historical context after Letterman forwarded standard liberal claims about how the America of 2008 is in a “horrible” state thanks to the awful President George W. Bush, and when Letterman fretted about government inaction on global warming, Brokaw embarrassed the late night host by pointing out how he's a big carbon-producer since he drives a big vehicle and flies executive jets.
On the terrible state of the nation, Letterman contended “everything...has gone so lousy in the last eight years” so “things are horrible in ways they shouldn't be horrible.” Brokaw pointed to his book about 1968, and delivered a friendly lecture:
Let me remind you that forty years ago this year, Doctor King was killed, Bobby Kennedy was killed, we had the Chicago riots, 16,000 people were killed in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election, the Kerner Commission said we are two societies -- one white, one black, separate and unequal -- we had urban riots and in the fall we had as cantankerous and as contentious and in many way as mentally violent an election as we've ever had...
Similarly assuming the present is the worst ever, Letterman complained: “People are all talking about, 'okay we're going to change the emissions by 2035, by 2020.' That's too late. I mean, it's a hundred degrees now!” Letterman pleaded: “It's got to come from the government. They have to lead us.” Brokaw agreed, but then made the host uncomfortable:
BROKAW: The government has to lead and those of us who drive -- uhh uhh -- big carbon-emitting vehicles or fly in airplanes that have only two passengers on them-
LETTERMAN: Alright, alright, that's fine Tom.
Delivering the commencement address Sunday at Ohio State University in Columbus, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Journalism degree, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams implied America is broken as he told the graduates: “We need you to fix the country.”
That clip, squeezed in between Al Gore at Carnegie Mellon and Martin Sheen at Notre Dame, aired as part of an annual compilation of commencement advice run at the end of Monday's NBC Nightly News. NBC also aired this from Williams: “We need you all now to step up. And every adult in this place has every faith that you're up to the job.”
Video of a commencement story on the Web site of NBC's Columbus affiliate, WCMH-TV, featured a longer version of the line from Williams: “We need you to fix the country -- and I'm sorry to ask this of you.” In another soundbite aired by the local station, Williams paraphrased Bill Clinton: “There is nothing wrong with America that someone from Ohio State can't fix. Go get them OH!”
[UPDATE, 10:30 PM EDT: I found full video on MSNBC.com (Breitbart TV has that same 13-minute Flash video here), and the entire address isn't as political as the “we need you to fix the country” comment suggested. Williams, however, apologized: “On behalf of my generation, I'm so sorry, the Internet is so cool we got sidetracked.” He urged the graduates to “pick one area” and do something about it, recommending they “start with climate” since “something tells me this may be a challenge in the years ahead” to “find a way to get around without fuel in our tanks that comes from an enemy of this country.”
Echoing a theme of those calling for “change,” Williams pleaded:
We won't see an election like this for decades again in this country. We are at a crossroads. They don't get more important and it's so important that you all get involved. Put your generational stamp on American politics.
On Sunday's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz played a clip of CBS reporter Byron Pitts on Wednesday's CBS Evening News hailing Barack Obama's Democratic nomination victory as proof “one of America's oldest and ugliest color lines has been broken, and there is a new bridge for a new generation,” then proposed: “You obviously are paid to be an objective journalist, but some part of you must be excited that Barack Obama won this nomination.” Pitts confirmed his excitement:
Well, certainly. I mean, as an African-American man, this is significant. I mean, look, for my entire life I've been able to, as a man, dream of doing great things. But a dream I could never have was being President of the United States. Now, for instance, my sons, my nephew, they can have that dream. And I think those kinds of images are important.
George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars movies and writer/producer of the Indiana Jones film franchise, has hailed Barack Obama as “a hero in the making,” declaring that Obama, “for all of us that have dreams and hope, is a hero.” A Wednesday Agence France-Presse (AFP) dispatch headlined, really, “The force is with Obama, 'Star Wars' creator says,” reported: