Let the Spinning Begin: CBS's Blog Shows Its True Colors

September 13th, 2005 11:46 AM
As predicted, the new blog for CBS News, Public Eye, whose stated purpose was to "bring transparency to the editorial operations of CBS News," has instead turned into a spin machine, a way to counter what is going on in the blogosphere. After CBS's unpleasant ordeal with blogs last year (this month marks the one-year anniversary), CBS News president Andrew Heyward realized the news division had to get in on the act in order to in effect have it both ways, an MSM presence and a blog presence.

Public Eye and Media Matters should combine operations, as both are now taking it upon themselves to counter the latest material circulating in the conservative blogosphere.

The subject was an item picked up by Matt Drudge.

"A pair of sentences in Michael Kinsley's Los Angeles Times column yesterday have created a stir in the blogosphere. Here they are:"

The TV news networks, which only a few months ago were piously suppressing emotional fireworks by their pundits, are now piously encouraging their news anchors to break out of the emotional straitjackets and express outrage. A Los Angeles Times colleague of mine, appearing on CNN last week to talk about Katrina, was told by a producer to "get angry."

Public Eye's Brian Montopoli took it upon himself to prove the "get angry" phrase meant nothing. This is exactly what Heyward wanted, a format to nip blogosphere firestorms in the bud.

After doing some research, they found out that the LA Times columnist who was the recipient of the "get angry" statement was Jon Healy, the paper's editorial writer.

Although claiming a reluctance to "beat up on a competitor so early in Public Eye's young life," it turned out Montopoli was more than willing to be a flak for CNN.

There was a quote from a CNN spokesperson:

"CNN disputes Healy's characterization; in a statement e-mailed to PE, a CNN spokesperson said: 'When booking opinion writers, we frequently express that their commentary ought to reflect the sentiment in their columns. We have been doing this for 25 years. Regarding this report, we never told anyone to get angry.'"

Healy, says Montopoli, "didn't have much of a chance to get angry, or argue, thanks to the show's format." He wanted to, since "the guy who came on after me said a number of things that were patently not true."

After being a flack for CNN, Montopoli decided to be a spokesperson for a liberal editorial writer as well.

"He also said it would be a mistake for media watchers to read too much into his experience, since 'you can't extrapolate from one question from a producer to a guest a philosophy that extends not just to CNN but to the entire media.'"

There you have it, a CBS employee telling "media watchers" what would be a mistake to write about. If only they had this spin engine in place a year ago.