March 16, 2014

Once again, the pundits on Fox are twisting themselves in knots to perpetuate the myth of the "liberal media" while discussing former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson's recent announcement that she was leaving the network. I don't know if she's headed to Fox or not, but given some of her "stellar" reporting on the Affordable Care Act and other notably bad journalism, I'm sure she'd feel right at home with Howie Kurtz and his buddy Lauren Ashburn.

It looks like Craig Crawford is right at home over there as well after watching him on this Sunday's Media Buzz with Kurtz, pretending that CBS has had a "liberal bias" going all the way back to Cronkite. Our media has a bias alright, but it's corporate, not liberal, and CBS is no exception.

CRAWFORD: Well, I don't think there's been any secret that there's liberal bias at CBS going back to when Walter Cronkite denounced the Vietnam War and by LBJ’s admission, drove him out of the White House. I mean...

KURTZ: That was liberal bias?

CRAWFORD: That was going on at the time...

KURTZ: That was based on a reporting trip to Vietnam I will remind you.

CRAWFORD: That was, but that was the liberal point of view against the war, wasn't it? I'm not saying it's wrong. I worked for CBS and The Early Show throughout the Bush years and I can guarantee you almost no one there I can think of voted for Bush, I'm sure. I didn't, either, so it didn't bother me. I think the point is, fess up to it, you know, and then you'll be as critical to the people you support as those you don't.

ASHBURN: I can tell you from firsthand as well that there is liberal bias in the media. I wrote a piece in Fox News Opinion this morning talking about my time as a reporter, where I didn't feel comfortable wearing a cross on the air. This exists, and whether or not it existed for Sharyl Attkisson and these sources are correct, it doesn't undermine the fact that it’s there.

KURTZ: Well I’m told that a factor in her departure was that she is working on a book, the title of which is Stonewalled: One reporter's fight for truth in Obama’s Washington. So she may have felt stymied not just by her network but also by the difficulty of getting information out of this administration. It's just rare to see somebody walk away at that level with a record of accomplishment.

ASHBURN: And good for her. Good for Sharyl for doing it.

KURTZ: Does it tarnish in any way CBS News?

ASHBURN: I don't know. They can say there is no liberal bias. There are tons of excuses or examples you could point to that would say no.

CRAWFORD: I think it's also true that the Washington media has been biased for Obama since he first surfaced. I mean, back in the 2008 campaign, I thought a lot of the media acted like schoolgirls cheering for Justin Bieber or something. It's waned a bit as the years have gone by. But in general the media, they will chase...


KURTZ: ... he says the media has been soft on this president.

CRAWFORD: No, actually, I didn't vote Obama. I just said I didn't vote for Bush.

ASHBURN: You didn't vote?

KURTZ: I have to add because somebody did a lot of investigative reporting when I was a younger person. It is not uncommon for reporters to clash with their bosses over difficult stories, about what is ready to publish but there does seem to have been a pattern here. And when Attkisson told me was it's been three years since she could get any of her investigative pitches on the air as opposed to stories CBS wanted her to do.

PINKERTON: And let’s see when did Obama become president? Oh yeah five years ago. So the hard times of her getting her stories on the air happened when she started digging deep and drawing blood from the Obama Administration. That’s no shock. I hope she finds a new career somewhere else where they’ll let her cover stories freely and fairly.

KURTZ: But I do think that it can be a way of tarnishing or neutralizing reporters when you say they lean one way or the other when Sharyl Attkisson's record shows that she has taken on both sides, as well as corporations, not just political stories.

ASHBURN: But do we really believe in this day and age that reporters can be objective? That journalists can be completely objective without bringing their bias to the table?

KURTZ: We believe they can be fair.

ASHBURN: Exactly, which is a lot different than being biased.

CRAWFORD: I mean we don't check our citizenship at the door when we become journalists, and I think the point is, fess up to it and show people you're as tough on the people you support as those you don't. I mean that’s an easy...

PINKERTON: Journalistic credo includes words like speak truth to power. Okay, power is the Obama Administration. It was the Bush administration then. Now it's Obama now, and reporters should be equally energetic towards both.

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