Hopefully by now you have read my review of Bernie Goldberg’s book, Bias. The mainstream (drive by) media cannot seem to differentiate between news and commentary. Maybe I can help. News is what happens and you are supposed to write about. To quote a famous TV show from my youth “The facts ma’am, just the facts.” (the show was Dragnet)
In a Commentary, however, is where you give your opinion. The media can be so cute when they confuse the two. By cute, I mean irritating. The latest example was an article from Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press about the Republican National Committee electing Michael Steele as their national chairman. Mr. Steele happens to be black and is the first black RNC chairman in history.
The following excerpt from her article is where she crosses from news to commentary;
“Steele takes the helm of a beleaguered Republican Party that is trying to recover after crushing defeats in November’s national elections…Steele, an attorney, is a conservative, but he was considered the most moderate of the five candidates running.”
I have listened to Michael Steele many times and while he may not be main-stream, but “he is articulate, and bright and clean and is a good looking guy,” (Joe Biden on his future boss) but he is NOT a moderate. Michael Steele is a true conservative and it will be interesting to see where he takes his “beleaguered” party that is “recovering” from “crushing” defeats. She did not show any bias there!
This may seem unrelated, but maybe you remember a few years ago the controversy regarding the Bush Administration. It seems that Karl Rove had daily telephone conference calls with Rush Limbaugh, Brit Hume, and Ann Coulter. The press had a hissy fit over what seemed like a conflict of interest.
Here was a top-ranking official in the Bush administration having daily strategy discussions with conservative pundits and a newsman from Fox News. You could imagine the furor, the uproar and the pejoratives used in that reporting. There were many calls for Karl Rove to be fired. The media probably hated Rove more than Vice-President Cheney or President Bush himself. Fox News was branded as right-wing and conservative.
Sorry to trick you, but that never happened, however, it seems like President Obama’s right-hand man, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos, CNN Commentator Paul Begala, and Democrat strategist James Carville have these daily conversations. For full disclosure, they have been having these conversations for years. It still seems a bit unseemly. Now that Mr. Emanuel is part of the President’s administration, are his calls subject to Right To Know laws?
You may read the CBS News article here. Contrast the language in this piece of “news” with the earlier piece about Michael Steele. Here are some highlights (I will pause while you start your copy of “Stand By Me” by Sam Cooke)
- “a street-corner bull session between four old friends”
- “And in any given news cycle, it is quite likely that Washington’s prevailing political and media interpretation – at least on the Democratic side – is being hatched on these calls.”
- “Stan Greenberg is another frequent member of the core group, a kind of “fifth Beatle”
- “Emanuel is the most likely to be talking policy, usually some program Democrats can use to score points in the daily partisan brawl with Republicans.”
- “It is a sensitive point for Stephanopoulos, who shot to fame as a Bill Clinton retainer and has worked hard to fashion a reputation as an independent journalist.”
- “between them, there is rarely more than one degree of separation from virtually any subject in the news”
The most amazing thing is that there was no discussion of potential conflicts here. Of course the article was written by CBS News Remember when their anchorman used forged documents to try to bring down a sitting president). Their objectivity, however, cannot be questioned.
Good luck in your new position Mr. Steele. I expect great things from you.
PS My apolgies to Mr. Hume for comparing Stephanopoulos to you.