Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org website. Previously, he was a contributing editor and the MRC's senior news analyst. Scott's work has been published in The Washington Times, National Review and other outlets. He has been cited in publications such as The Washington Post, Red State, to name a few. Scott's articles have also repeatedly been linked to on the Drudge Report.
Scott is a graduate of George Mason University and is originally from Philadelphia, PA. He lives in Northern Virginia and can be contacted at SWhitlock@MRC.org. You can also follow Scott on Twitter.
Latest from Scott Whitlock
With less then a week before Election Day, members of the mainstream media are doing everything they can to elect Democrats. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has stepped up his fevered attacks, referring to President Bush as both "stupid" and a liar. Later on in the week, he included Media Research Center President Brent Bozell in the November 2 "Worst Person in the World" segment.
Speaking of cable networks, an analysis of the CNN "Broken Government" special shows that Lynne Cheney was right in denouncing it as nothing more then left-wing Daily Kos-style propaganda.
Over on CBS, "The Evening News" featured a laudatory segment on "trend setting" California. Not so coincidentally, all the trends were liberal. On the subject of morning bias, "Today’s" David Gregory turned over a segment to Michael J. Fox and his promotion of Democratic candidates.
Completing the network trilogy, ABC’s "Good Morning America" talked to a group of "real-life actual voters"in a Ohio diner. Oddly enough, none of these hungry citizens seemed to like Republicans very much. Perhaps this was a Democratic diner.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow appeared on Thursday’s "American Morning" in a feisty mood, ready to battle CNN’s liberal agenda. Co-anchor Miles O’Brien offered Snow a loaded question about Republican opposition to Donald Rumsfeld. The press secretary fired back by mentioning the cable network’s infamous "sniper video:"
Miles O’Brien: "The President with a show of support for Defense secretary saying he's doing a fantastic job. Let's go through this a little bit. Senators John McCain, Chuck Hagel, say they have no confidence in the Defense secretary. A couple of Republicans running right now, Tom Kean, Jr. in New Jersey, Chris Shays in Connecticut, saying Rummy should go. And the public, in general, has a fairly low opinion of him, about 35 percent right now. How does that all add up to a fantastic job?"
Tony Snow: "Well, I'll tell you, when was the last time, Miles, you guys reported on real support for Don Rumsfeld, or talking about the successes of the American forces in the battlefield? I know CNN has shown people getting shot. The question is --"
O’Brien: "Well, actually, no, no, no. We didn't actually show them. We did a report, which showed snipers, a propaganda film from insurgents showing sniper activity. We didn't show them being shot."
Snow "All right. I'm sorry, you blurred them out while the picture was showing them getting shot.
CNN has already made it crystal clear that the cable network is taking sides in the midterm election. Political reporter Bill Schneider reinforced that view with a report on Wednesday’s "American Morning" that sounded like something straight out of Democratic talking points. During the segment, he offered occasional asides that "spoke" for the voters. Here’s one example:
"American Morning" reporter Ali Velshi insinuated on Tuesday’s show that corporations favor the GOP partly because "Republicans have kept hourly wages" low:
Lynne Cheney was right. The Vice President’s wife recently attacked a CNN pre-election special as straight out of Democratic talking points. The program in question, "Broken Government: Power Play," aired on October 26 and discussed presidential power. Reporter John King introduced his special that night on location at Independence Hall, Philadelphia.
During an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Lynne Cheney turned the tables on the cable network and bluntly asked if Blitzer wanted the U.S. to win in Iraq:
Lynne Cheney: "Right, But what is CNN doing running terrorist tape of terrorist shooting Americans? I mean, I thought Duncan Hunter asked you a very good question and you didn’t answer it. Do you want us to win?"
Wolf Blitzer: "The answer, of course, is we want the United States to win. We are Americans. There’s no doubt about it. You think we want terrorists to win?"
The Vice President’s wife was referring to an October 23 segment with Congressman Duncan Hunter, in which he criticized the network for airing footage of insurgents killing Americans. Mrs. Cheney, who appeared on the October 27 edition of "The Situation Room," continued her harsh analysis of CNN. "Why," she wondered, "are you running terrorist propaganda?"
With less then two weeks to go before the midterm elections, two separate programs, on two different networks, speculated that the Republicans are colluding with big oil to lower gas prices. The "Today" show wondered if this indicated "a vast right-wing conspiracy."
Fox’s Geraldo Rivera speculated that America was seeing a case of "gas pump pimping."
Meanwhile, ABC’s "Nightline" weighed in on political commercials and lamented GOP "mudslinging." They also characterized Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Michael J. Fox as a "vicious attack." (They apparently didn’t find any mudslinging or vicious attacks done by the Democrats)
CNN had their own take on Limbaugh’s comments. They wondered: "Could it be a new low?"
Speaking of the cable network, CNN also previewed a new Bush special by noting that "many say" the President has "stretched" and "trampled" the Constitution.
CNN’s "American Morning" devoted four minutes of air time, and free advertising, to a faux documentary that includes a digitally created assassination of George W. Bush. The network, which has refused to air commercials for the controversial "Death of a President," instead featured the film’s director on the Friday edition of its morning show. Anchor Miles O’Brien opened the interview with some free promotion in the form of a 13 second clip of the movie. The film's director, Gabriel Range, certainly understood the benefit of what a CNN appearance offered him. He explained late in the interview:
Miles O’Brien: "Some of these theaters that have said no to your film, in the end, all the buzz surrounding this, I guess that might be good for business, huh?"
Gabriel Range: "I think the distributor, New Market, are keen to -- they've got the film out in a lot of theaters. And they're very confident that it will reach a wide audience. I hope the fact you and I are talking about it today will mean that a lot of people will want to see the film. I would say, it's not what you think. Judge it for yourself."
With a title like "Broken Government: Power Play," one could probably assume that the upcoming CNN special won’t be very fair to President Bush. But just in case there were any doubt, reporter John King appeared on Thursday’s "American Morning" to drive home the point:
Miles O’Brien: "Twelve days to the election. We're looking at the power of the presidency. A new CNN poll out this morning, we asked some people if they think the President does in fact have too much power. And like so many issues in this country, shows a lot of division among the electorate. CNN's John King is here with a preview of what's going on tonight in our 'Broken Government' series. Good morning, John."
John King: "Good morning to you, Miles. It's a fascinating subject. Many say, post-9/11, this President has crossed, stretched, some say trampled the Constitution in his pursuit of the war on terrorism. The president says whatever it takes. Some say he has busted the balance of powers, if you will, the constitutional lines. The President, of course, says no. It's one of the issues we're exploring as we look at the 'Broken Government.' He began on a very different course, a governor with a famous name who conveyed more West Texas than Washington. Compassionate conservative was his label of choice. Kinder, gentler, his promised world view. A crisp September morning suddenly changed from gorgeous to gruesome. A few whispered words in a Florida school room, transformed a presidency and a president."
How nice of CNN to offer the caveat that President Bush does, in fact, deny stretching and trampling the Constitution.
CNN’s "American Morning" has deemed Rush Limbaugh’s criticisms of Michael J. Fox "a new low." Co-Anchor Miles O’Brien introduced a segment and alleged that now the midterm campaign is really getting dirty:
Miles O’Brien: "With so much at stake in the upcoming election, it's no surprise the political debate has turned nasty. But the exchange between the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, and Rush Limbaugh seems to stand out. Could it be a new low? CNN's Tom Foreman with more."
The piece played a portion of Fox’s ad for Democrat Claire McCaskill, who the actor is supporting in the Missouri Senate race, but didn’t bother to challenge any of the dubious claims made in it.
CNN’s latest political special, "Broken Government: The Do Nothing Congress," featured Dan Rostenkowski as a quasi-ethics expert, agitation for divided government, and general trashing of the Republicans in Congress. Rostenkowski, for those too young to remember is the former Democratic Congressman who ended up being expelled from the House after being accused of, among other things, charging thousands of dollars worth of gifts to a congressional account. (CNN couldn’t find time to mention his transgressions until 34 minutes into the program.) But, mail fraud and prison apparently aren’t an impediment to being an expert on all things wrong with the GOP. Host Ed Henry used Rostenkowski as a springboard to call for divided government:
Rostenkowski: "The secret of my success, I think, is that, the 14 years that I was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, 12 of them were under Republicans."
Henry: "It seems logical that divided government, Democrats in charge of one branch, Republicans running the other, might cause gridlock. But, when you think about it, it actually seems to produce better results."
Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute) : "I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly -- and I don't have a partisan dog in the fight -- that divided government now may be a better way to go, simply because the incentive, if you're leading an institution that you -- in which you share the responsibility for governing, is to try and make your institution work, because the onus is going to be on you to do so."
What interesting timing? It’s unlikely that CNN had such an appreciation for divided government in October of 1994.
As part of its continuing effort to spin the midterm elections in favor of the Democrats, CNN recently aired a special that attacked the Republicans on the issues and portrayed the Democrats as too smart and too principled to fight the nasty GOP. Anchor Jack Cafferty hosted the "Broken Government" program that slammed the Republicans for Iraq, incompetence, lack of Social Security reform and many other issues. The ads for the show, which aired October 19, stated that the CNN host would be "taking on the left, right, and center." Well, maybe just that one in the middle. Prior to handing off the segment to CNN reporter Candy Crowley, Cafferty introduced the theme of the piece:
Cafferty: "Republicans bogged down by scandal, bloody war leading up to these midterm elections. We'll have more on that as we move through the hour. First, the Democrats. History suggests they're perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Republicans are doing everything they can to hand the Democrats the election. The question is, will they take it? Candy Crowley is in Asheville, North Carolina for us tonight. Candy, you could get rich selling tickets to people to watch the Democrats try to get their stuff organized."
Get it? When Cafferty focused on the Republicans, he mentioned all the terrible things they’ve done. But for the Democrats, the issue is why aren’t they winning and what can be done about it? And thus, you have CNN’s version of balance.
CNN reporter Dan Lothian resorted, not for the first time, to a classic example of liberal bias on Monday’s "American Morning." Beginning a piece on Republican Governor Mitt Romney’s potential White House run, he described the politician’s positioning this way:
The midterm elections are approaching and some members of the media are revving up their bias. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann recently suggested that President Bush might be as big a threat as the terrorists. This was only a day after referring to conservative talk show hosts who visited the White House as the "Legion of Doom." CNN’s Jack Cafferty wondered if Karl Rove is planning an "October surprise" to salvage the Republicans’ chances in the midterm elections.
The print media have also offered unrestrained attacks from the left. A "Washington Post" report described House Speaker Dennis Hastert appearance as "a cross between Wildford Brimley and Jabba the Hutt." Nothing quite like objectivity, huh? A former "New York Times" bureau chief recently characterized the Christian right as "fascist." Perhaps he’d been chatting with "Newsweek" columnist Jonathan Alter. Alter told Don Imus he hoped the country has seen the last of "values voters."
The "Today" show fawned over Barack Obama, describing him as "electrifying" and a "rock star." This was on the same day that they giddily predicted a "perfect storm" to wipe out the Republicans in the midterms. Another early AM program, CNN’s "American Morning"encouraged author David Kuo to call for Christians to boycott the upcoming election.
One day after getting the celebrity treatment on "Today," Senator Barack Obama stopped by CNN’s "American Morning" to receive fawning questions from Soledad O’Brien. The big difference in the coverage is that while NBC's Meredith Vieira referred to Obama as a "rock star," O’Brien only mentioned that "some people say he is the brightest star in the Democratic Party." Isn’t it great when one media outlet differentiates itself from another? The morning host, who only mentioned Iraq and North Korea in passing, found time for particularly tough questions, including this hardball: "What’s your biggest fear?" Most of the anchor’s queries were of the short variety:
O’Brien: "Politics seems particularly mean these days."
O’Brien: "I think, we see partisanship that you see. And sort of, as you mentioned, in D.C. that you don't necessarily see in the American people. So why don't politicians get that?"
Just who is David Kuo? For starters, he used to be the Deputy Director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Additionally, he has now written a book claiming the Bush White House is selling out evangelical Christians. But is he as conservative as the media would have Americans believe? The author appeared on the October 18 edition of "The Colbert Report" and seemed to fit right in with "pretend right-winger" Stephen Colbert:
Stephen Colbert: "Let's get Jesus in the Oval Office. You heard me at the top of the show. Why not do it? How does that hurt to equate God with the President? How does that- How does that hurt?"
Kuo: "Because it gives the impression that Jesus endorses a particular political agenda, you know, that Jesus is somehow, you know, pro-life, anti-homosexual, pro-Iraq war and pro-estate tax. You know, when Jesus actually wasn't about those things. You know, It's the good news. Jesus was raised from the dead. Jesus comes to give life, give it in full. That's Jesus. One is politics. A big difference."
On the October 18 edition of "The Situation Room," CNN host Jack Cafferty wondered about the possibility of an October surprise to save the Republicans in the midterm elections. He noted that "many people think Karl Rove would be the architect" behind such an event. Cafferty, who made the comments during the 5:15p.m.
After nearly three weeks of covering every aspect of the Mark Foley scandal, CNN’s "American Morning" still hasn’t tired of the story. Wednesday’s edition of the program featured over 18 minutes of coverage. This encompassed seven full reports on the disgraced Congressman and one anchor read. In contrast, there were no reports on the unfolding controversy of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and his questionable land deal. Additionally, the October 18 "American Morning" featured only two brief anchor reads on a racially charged remark made by Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
"American Morning" has actually increased their Foley coverage over a similar analysis last week. On October 12, the program devoted 18 minutes and 4 seconds to the story. Today, the scandal received 18 minutes and 19 seconds. There’s an important difference however: Starting October 16, "American Morning" shrank from four hours to three. In other words, the show allocated more time to the story, and they did it with a shorter program.
For the second time in less then 24 hours, CNN featured David Kuo, a vocal Bush critic and the former deputy director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Kuo, who appeared on Tuesday’s "American Morning," has written a book that accuses the White House of using Christian conservatives for political gain and ignoring the issues they care about. Co-Anchor Soledad O’Brien interviewed the author and seemed perturbed that Kuo wouldn’t call for conservatives to boycott the midterm elections:
Soledad O’Brien: "Here's what you write -- you say, 'Christians vote our money, our energy. Every politician needs evangelicals. 'You go on to say, 'It's like a teenaged boy out on a date with a beautiful girl; they'll say anything and everything to get what they want. Let's not give it to them. Let's tell them we are fasting from politics for a season.' Are you saying, stay away from the polls? Three weeks, when we go to the midterm elections, don't vote?"
David Kuo: "Absolutely not."
O’Brien: "What's fasting mean?"
Kuo: "When I'm talking about the fast, I'm talking after the election."
O’Brien: "What kind of a fast is it if you stuff yourself silly and then you go on a fast?"
This past week, the media made a very clear distinction between how they view a Republican scandal and one involving a powerful Democrat. MRC analysts found that, over a period of 12 days, the big three networks aired 150 stories on the Mark Foley scandal.