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 grew up in Northern Virginia. He can be contacted at SWhitlock@MRC.org. You can also follow Scott on Twitter.
Latest from Scott Whitlock
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.
The October 12 edition of "American Morning" demonstrated the stark difference between how the media focuses on a Republican scandal, versus one involving a powerful Democrat. The CNN program devoted 18 minutes to investigating the Mark Foley scandal and only 35 seconds to the details of a questionable land deal involving Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Despite the recent revelations that Reid earned $1.1 million on a Las Vegas property that he hadn’t owned for three years, and despite the fact that he recently hung up on an AP reporter who dared ask him about it, "American Morning," which airs from 6a.m to 10a.m., only broadcast two brief anchor reads on the subject. In contrast, the program produced five full reports and one anchor read on the scandal involving former Congressman Mark Foley and congressional pages.
This is how guest anchor Betty Nguyen reported the Reid story at 7:14a.m. EDT:
Nguyen: "Well, a Senate Democrat is now under scrutiny this morning for a land sale. Property deeds show Democratic leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a land sale and there are questions about how he reported it. It happened in his home state of Nevada. Reid says he did nothing wrong. The Senate Ethics Committee is reviewing the case."
A second report followed an hour later:
Nguyen: "Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is denying any wrongdoing. Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a land sale in his home state of Nevada. But there are questions about how he reported it. The Senate Ethics Committee is looking into this land deal."
Note the distinct lack of interest in those comments.
Jack Cafferty, the CNN host of "The Cafferty File" segment of "The Situation Room," Tuesday asserted that Virginia Senator George Allen doesn’t "have much" character and lamented the fact that Allen is leading his opponent in the polls. He derided a new advertisement by Allen that calls for voters to focus on his stand on the issues:
Cafferty: "Allen doesn’t want voters to focus on his character, because it’s becoming more and more apparent in recent weeks that he may not have much. There was the time he called an Indian American volunteer from his opponent’s campaign ‘macaca’ and welcomed him to America. Allen’s been accused of using the N-word to refer to blacks. He denies ever doing that.
He’s been in the Senate for six years, but voters just learned a few weeks ago that he’s Jewish. He claims his mother never bothered to tell him. Sure.
And the Associated Press reports that for the last five years, Allen has not bothered to tell Congress about stock options that he got for being a director of a high tech company in Virginia. Allen says he did not report the stock options because he saw them as worthless. When his lawyer was told that Senate ethics require that stock options be reported regardless of their value, his lawyer said he was unfamiliar with that provision. You want to know why things are so screwed up in Washington D.C.? In spite of all the things I just mentioned, Allen is leading in the polls, four weeks before the election.Maybe Allen is on to something, maybe character doesn’t matter to Virginia voters."
At the conclusion of CNN’s "Your World Today," which features an international take on the news of the day, anchors Stephen Frazier and Rosemary Church read a variety of e-mails on North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons. Only in the morally relativistic world of CNN, where all opinions are equal, could a letter like this repeated aloud:
Church: "And a completely different view. Soh, from Singapore writes: ‘The North Koreans have done the right thing. Since the end of the Korean War, they have been subjected to hostilities from the United States. and other western powers. This bomb is a source of tremendous pride for the Korean people, north and south. The world should congratulate the North Korean people for this achievement."
One can imagine a 1930s CNN reading German e-mails congratulating Hitler on his triumphant liberation of Poland.
This past week, the media hyperventilated over two developing scandals: Congressman Mark Foley, and Bob Woodward's "State of Denial." ABC, CBS and NBC produced 103 stories on the Foley scandal, quite a bit more time then was devoted to Democratic sex scandals. The "Today" show’s Matt Lauer joined with Tim Russert to slam Speaker Hastert and the GOP. Lauer also contributed to the fawning over Bob Woodward and his new book. The MRC’s Brent Baker noted that Woodward has mocked the President’s intellect in the past.
Speaking of journalists with huge egos, Chris Matthews, yet again, displayed his partisan leanings by defending Robert ‘KKK’ Byrd, claiming that Bush "won’t tell the truth" about Iraq, and praising Clinton for his anti-Fox News rant. Perhaps he should rename his show, "Hardball...For Republicans."
And to think, it was just a few days ago that the former president of MSNBC stated, prior to Fox News, "many in the media scoffed at the notion of a liberal bias." Would this not be the best time to mention that leftist MSNBC host Keith Olbermann recently called Roger Ailes a "fat ass?"
Mike Luckovich, the liberal cartoonist for "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," earned a chuckle from CNN anchor Miles O’Brien by claiming that "80 percent of the priesthood" is gay. Luckovich, who appeared on the October 6 edition of "American Morning," was promoting his new collection of comic strips, "Four More Wars." O’Brien began by asking the cartoonist about the Foley scandal and then attempted to link it with a plan by the pope to ban homosexuals from serving as priests:
O’Brien: "And why don't you explain this one?"
[Cartoon appears onscreen. One priest is looking at the other and says, "Does this make me look gay?"]
Luckovich: "Well, OK. The new pope wanted to -- wants to ban homosexual priests, so you are going to have to lose 80 percent of the priesthood if that happens. But -- so I've got a bishop here saying -- he's looking down at his vestments, and he's saying, ‘Does this make me look gay?"
O’Brien: [Laughs]: "It's -- well, you know, it is a fashion statement, isn't it? All right. And, of course-"
Luckovich: "Yes. You know, I was thinking -- Miles, I was thinking about maybe making Denny Hastert maybe like an archbishop and somehow, you know, making the comparison that way. I'll let you know if that -- if that works out."
O’Brien: "Oh, okay. That sounds like dangerous turf, but I would like to see that one for sure."
Well known liberal Rosie O’Donnell used the shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania as a springboard to promote gun control. O’Donnell, who famously sparred with Tom Selleck (video), stated on Tuesday's edition of ABC's "The View" that the event should spur tighter restrictions:
O’Donnell: "I think the horror of imagining six to thirteen-year-old girls handcuffed together and shot execution style, one by one, is perhaps enough to awaken the nation that maybe we need some stricter gun control laws."
This quickly led to an exchange with the program’s token conservative, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, in which O’Donnell asserted that there is no right to own a gun:
Hasselbeck: "So you can’t- You can't take way the right to, to bear arms."
O’Donnell: "Well, it’s not really a right. There’s debate as to what that-"
Hasselbeck: "It is a right. It’s in our Constitution. It’s the Second Amendment."
O’Donnell: "Well, let’s talk instead of yell."
Hasselbeck: "I’m not yelling."