Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Sunday, July 28, 2002
Capitol Shill

Noted Democratic National Committee shill Atrios says that Howard Kurtz is an RNC shill. Robert Musil assumes without argument, always a good way to make a case for 'liberal bias', that this is absurd.

What are the actual facts, as reflected in Kurtz's show? I looked at the transcripts from June 1 through July 27, to look at the pattern of what guests are invited and how they are treated.

06/01 - Conservative Laura Ingraham and mostly liberal Frank Rich, along with Paul Farhi (Washington Post). Discussion focussed on Brian Williams as potential replacement for Tom Brokaw. A real snorefest topic, but legit enough for a media commentary show. Fairly balanced discussion of such riveting subjects as Williams's wardrobe. On the plus side, Ingraham did manage to discuss Williams's ties without working in a reference to Al Gore and earth tones. How this happened is unknown, but she probably got a severe reprimand from Wingnut Central.

06/08 - Rich Lowry, Bill Press, Mike Isikoff. Balanced if you make the rather generous assumption that Isikoff is a neutral reporter. Throughout the transcript, Press is being ignored and has to interrupt Lowry to make his points. Kurtz addresses only two questions to Press and seven to Lowry, such as, "Didn't you expect the bleeding liberal media -- bleeding heart liberal media to be more loudly exercised about what some might call an erosion of civil liberties?", along with many to Isikoff.

06/15-Guests David Frost (on Watergate anniversary), Ed Kosner (N Y Daily News), Salt Lake local correspondent.

06/22-Republican strategist Mike Murphy with Vanity Fair writer Jim Wolcott, discussing George Stephanopoulos. A conservative balanced with a mainstream reporter, and again the majority of questions (seven to two) went to Murphy.

06/29-Two business reporters, Allan Chernoff (CNN) and David Faber (CNBC) discussing Wall Street scandals.

07/06-Interview with John McCain, followed by discussion with reporters Dana Milbank and Martha Brant.

07/13-Laura Ingraham faced off with an actual, honest-to-God liberal, Molly Ivins. Ivins did get her share of questions, but the questions were hostile. The tone was set by the first question to each speaker.
To Ivins:"Molly Ivins, why is the press resurrecting, like that seven- million-year-old human skull, this 13-year old incident, in which Bush sold some stock in his company Harken Energy."
To Ingraham:"Laura Ingraham, is this the liberal press, in your view, trying to prove that Bush is soft on corporate crime because he once cut corners himself?"

<07/20>Three guests, none with obvious political agendas, discussing business scandals: Michael Wolff ("New York" Magazine); Andy Serwer (Fortune Magazine); and Gerri Willis, (SmartMoney).

<07/27>Rich Lowry, Mark Whitaker (Newsweek), Karen Tumulty (Time). The first question asked to each largely assumes that Bush is the victim of media bias.
To Lowry: "If you look at all the negative media coverage, Rich Lowry, you'd think that Bush's stock has crashed along with the market. Is he hurting, or is this some kind of nefarious media creation?"
To Whitaker: "Mark Whitaker, `Newsweek's` cover, `Like Father, Like Son,` showing both the Bushes playing golf, seems to suggest with that image that W. may be another one-termer like Poppy. "
To Tumulty:"You have to admit, Karen Tumulty, there's an awful lot of pat journalism going on right now. I mean, Bush was way up there in terms of media coverage post-9/11, and now it seems, if you read and watch television, that he's not doing anything right."

Total obviously conservative or Republican guests: 6. Total liberal guests: 3. Total Democratic guests: 0. And that's when you count as neutral Isikoff, best known as Ken Starr's favorite media outlet, and famed Bush sycophant Dana Milbank. A consistent pattern that the conservatives were asked more, or more favorable, questions than the liberals, if any.

This, of course, was all on the so-called "Clinton News Network". If it had been Fox or the other cable networks, it wouldn't have been so heavily tilted to the liberal side.

Update: Upon further review, the characterization of Dana Milbank as a 'famed Bush sycophant' seems unfair and is withdrawn.