Former CNN-er Bernie Shaw: CNN Is Aping Fox News and 'I Don't Like That'

June 5th, 2007 10:04 AM
Update: Links to other blogger reactions at bottom of post.

Bernard Shaw, the former CNN reporter and Washington, D.C. anchor, told WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago that he's "very, very disappointed with the way news management" at CNN "has gone," reports He further complained that Fox News Channel is "the ratings leader ... and what Fox puts on the air is not news." Fox, in Shaw's view, is "commentary, personal analysis."

"I don't want to hear an anchor's personal opinion about anything. Just report the news," said Shaw. "But CNN continues to ape many of the on-air mannerisms of the Fox News Network, and I don't like that." This doesn't match his record. More on that in a moment.

Despite saying he detests opinions in the news, in the same interview, Shaw heaped praise on CNN host Lou Dobbs whom he called "one of the leaders there." That's the same Lou Dobbs who has turned his program into a one-man opinion show promoting protectionism, attacking the alleged evils of outsourcing, and advocating for stronger immigration laws.

A brief traipse through the MRC archives reveals that Shaw was anything but opposed to keeping his opinions out of the news:

Clinton’s Sexual Innocence: "A final thought on what you have seen and heard in this edition of Impact. A breaking news story is never the full picture. Remember speculation that Middle Eastern terrorists bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building? In fact, Americans did it. Remember first reports that Princess Diana was hounded to death by the paparazzi? In fact, we learned that the man driving her speeding limousine was drunk. And that investigation is not over. Remember Richard Jewell highly suspected in the Olympic Park bombing? In fact, the FBI apologized for targeting the wrong man. And now we are in the middle of another breaking story; the President and his accusers. All the facts are not in." -- CNN’s Bernard Shaw at the end of the January 25, 1998 Impact, a few days after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.

Inauguration Fawning: "A very, very special day for this President when you recall that four years ago he came to this city, he was expecting so much. His mother was at his side there at the Inaugural. She passed away a year later. And when you look at what was besetting the United States, a four trillion dollar deficit, budget problems, foreign policy problems. The budget deficit now has decreased. There seems to be relative peace in Bosnia. The Middle East, the breakthrough of the Hebron agreement, a lot has gone on in four short years." -- Bernard Shaw during CNN Inauguration coverage, January 20, 1997.

Violins for Clinton: "I want you to think about this question not as a partisan Republican, but just as an American, who as I, loves this country. Two years ago the American voters gave Bill Clinton a mandate for change. He went to Washington, sought to create change. He had internal problems with his staff, he had external problems. There were questions about his personality, his character, et cetera. But I don't think anyone can question that this man and his staff sought what was best for the United States. Tonight, it is clear voters coast to coast in this country have said `We want a change.' Now Republicans had voted this Democrat to be virtually, or described him as a monster. My question is essentially this: Where did he go wrong? What did he do so wrong that was against the American body politic, considering that he loves this country as much as you and I do?" -- CNN anchor Bernard Shaw to Pat Buchanan during CNN's election night coverage in 1994.

Rodney King, Family Man: "To his family, to his friends, he is not Rodney. They call him by his middle name, Glenn. He hurts inside. He's changed outside. Slimmed down, his 210 pounds resembling those of a pro football wide receiver. He leads his family with serious focus." -- Bernard Shaw anchoring a CNN special on Los Angeles police brutality subject and criminal Rodney King, February 23, 1994.

"The past for him has drawn an unwanted spotlight of troubles... There was the alley incident with Hollywood vice police, who claimed King tried to run them down after allegedly picking up a transvestite male prostitute...King was arrested after his wife called police to say she had been injured and feared for her life." -- Same show, seconds later.

Busting Quayle: "Very frankly, I am very puzzled by one paragraph, one sentence in the Vice President's speech on page six. In a very petulant voice, and listen to the words: he said, `To Governor Clinton I say this: America is the greatest nation in the world and that's one thing you're not going to change.' Implying that Clinton is some kind of guerrilla, saboteur, or what have you. That's my reaction to that line Ken Bode, I don't know about you. It implies something that, it seems that he's saying you're not as American as I am, your blood is not as red as mine." -- CNN's Bernard Shaw after Vice President Quayle's speech, August 20, 1992.

Chemical Bernie: "This is a story about human folly. Mankind's attempt to engineer a better place to live, to improve upon nature with inventions such as refrigeration, foam packing, and electronics. But the man-made chemicals used in pursuit of the good life, have all put life on earth in jeopardy. The chemicals have punched a hole in the sky....already there's a moral to the story, and that is: nature may not always be able to recover from the abuses of modern civilization." -- CNN anchor Bernard Shaw on global warming, May 26, 1992.

Poor Dukakis: "The Bush campaign falsely portrayed Dukakis as soft on crime." -- CNN anchor Bernard Shaw in introductory piece preceding interview with Michael Dukakis, April 16, 1992 Inside Politics.

But the idea that Shaw hated editorializing on CNN is completely belied by this line:

CNN political analyst William Schneider: "Who should get the credit for passing a balanced budget? Not this President or this Congress -- they didn't do anything heroic. The booming economy made it easy...The really difficult decisions got made years ago, by politicians who took deficit reduction seriously and paid for it with their own careers...This man certainly belongs on the honor roll. Back in 1984, Walter Mondale warned Americans that the deficit carried a price....when he was faced with a deficit crisis, President Bush delivered what Mondale had promised, and opened himself up to ridicule...
"In 1993, congressional Democrats stuck their necks out to support President Clinton's budget. A year later, they got their heads chopped off...Martyrs to the cause. Let us pay homage to those who gave the last full measure of devotion that the budget could be balanced. They made the tough choices, and we owe them so much, beginning with this week's political Play of the Week. President Bush, the Democratic Congress, failed candidates for President -- they are the unsung heroes of this week's budget deal. Martyrs to the deficit, we salute you."
Bernard Shaw: "Bravo. Thank you. That's why I love this program."
-- Exchange on CNN's Inside Politics, August 1, 1997.

Update/Other Blogs covering this (Ken Shepherd)

John Hawkins at

What we used to have on every channel was boring, left-wing-slanted news masquerading as objectivity. Fox did two things: they leaned to the right and they have actually tried to entertain and inform their viewers. As the news business splinters off into more and more niches, more channels would be advised to follow Fox's example to retain as much of their audiences as possible.

Ericka Andersen at Human Events sort of agrees with Shaw, but only in terms of what Hawkins might call CNN's "boring" take on the news. Andersen could do without the left-wing slant:

Shaw basically said that Fox wins because they have commentary and analysis more than news reporting. Any 24-hour news station must have both but it does seem like Fox implements a lot more of it -- making their network more entertaining and so the regular folks find themselves drawn to it. The bright blue signature colors are enticing. When I watch CNN, it seems more gray and less fun.


When I watch old movies or media broadcasts, I'm struck by the no frills, hard talkin' reporting relayed on the screen. I still find importance in holding a newspaper, folding the backside, coming away with ink on my fingers. I still like to listen to the reports instead of clicking or recapping with pop ups on the screen.

From a hardcore Fox News girl -- I'm giving it up (this once) for CNN.