Lesley Stahl: Dems Assume Press Is ‘On Their Side,’ Feel ‘Betrayed’ By Tough Coverage

During the same interview in which she recalled a supposed off-camera conversation with Donald Trump about his efforts to “discredit” the media, at Monday’s Deadline Club Awards Dinner, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl also took Democrats to task for assuming “that reporters are on their side” and always expecting positive press coverage.

While talking to PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff at the annual media gathering, Stahl compared her experience covering Jimmy Carter’s White House versus her time covering the Reagan White House. She was baffled by the fact that the Carter administration supported liberal feminist agenda items like the Equal Rights Amendment but treated female reporters “as kind of second-class citizens,” while the Reagan administration opposed such policies but “showed no sexism.”  

 

 

Reflecting on the curious phenomenon, the veteran reporter announced: “I’ve figured it out, finally.” Stahl then made a surprisingly accurate observation:

Democrats think that reporters are on their side. They expect reporters to be kind to them and gentle. They expect it. Because they assume we’re liberals and we’re going to be on their side. And when we’re not, and when we’re tough, they feel betrayed. They feel that there’s been a family break of some kind.

In sharp contrast, she recounted her dealings with GOP politicians: “The Republicans expect us to be tough and they just accept that we’re tough, and we’re all treated the same, it’s very professional. They don’t call you up at night and yell at you.”

Turning to Woodruff, she asked: “Were you yelled at by the Jimmy Carter people?” After the PBS host admitted that she was, Stahl proclaimed: “We all were. And that didn’t happen [under Reagan] because the Republicans just accepted the – in those days – the First Amendment, they respected what we were doing, and it was all extremely professional.”

Woodruff agreed with her colleague’s assessment: “I do think there’s something to that, about the Democrats and the Republicans.” She noted how Reagan was “used to a tough, scrutinizing press corps” while Carter “didn’t expect the kind of coverage that he got.”

Of course, at no point did either journalist take any responsibility for giving Democrats the impression that the media were all liberal partisans who were “going to be on their side.” An examination of Stahl or Woodruff’s reporting over the years easily exposes their clear bias against Republicans and in favor of Democrats.

Here is a transcript of the May 21 exchange:

9:31 PM ET

(...)

LESLEY STAHL: When I got to cover the White House, you were already covering Jimmy Carter. And they were southerners and I thought that they treated you and me differently, the Carter White House. This was the age of the Equal Rights Amendment. The women in country, and a lot of men, including the President, were very much for getting this passed. And each state legislature had to pass it. And so, that was going on, the President supported it. And women reporters were being treated as kind of second-class citizens. This is so interesting to me because I can’t really explain it.

Then Reagan came in, he did not support the Equal Rights Amendment. In fact, he opposed it strenuously. And yet, that White House showed no sexism. I felt I was being treated like one of the guys.

And I never could figure out why – I have figured it out. I’ve figured it out, finally. Here’s why, this is my personal analysis. Democrats think that reporters are on their side. They expect reporters to be kind to them and gentle. They expect it. Because they assume we’re liberals and we’re going to be on their side. And when we’re not, and when we’re tough, they feel betrayed. They feel that there’s been a family break of some kind.

The Republicans expect us to be tough and they just accept that we’re tough, and we’re all treated the same, it’s very professional. They don’t call you up at night and yell at you. Were you yelled at by the Jimmy Carter people?

JUDY WOODRUFF: By – yes.

STAHL: Yes. We all were. And that didn’t happen because the Republicans just accepted the – in those days – the First Amendment, they respected what we were doing, and it was all extremely professional.

WOODRUFF: I do think there’s something to that, about the Democrats and the Republicans. I also think that when Reagan came to town, he came from of course having spent, what, a couple of decades in Hollywood? He was used to a tough, scrutinizing press corps. He was used to having both favorable and very unfavorable things written about him, and so, I think he brought that comfort level. Maybe he didn’t like it, but he was just used to it and it kind of rolled off his back, didn’t bother him.

Jimmy Carter, it wasn’t that he had had great coverage in Atlanta and Georgia, but you’re right, for whatever reason, he didn’t expect the kind of coverage that he got. That he got when he got to Washington.

(...)

NBDaily Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CBS 60 Minutes PBS News Hour Video Lesley Stahl Judy Woodruff Ronald Reagan Jimmy Carter

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