“Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias”: Roll Over, Ed Murrow!

CBS News, once symbolized by iconic journalists like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Fred Friendly, is now more appropriately defined by disgraced partisan hack Dan Rather. The past week has demonstrated how far the ethics rot has progressed, or, perhaps, how illusory CBS’s reputation for integrity really was.

In truth, CBS has had a bad month, marked by the Sharon Osbourne debacle on “The Talk.” In that mess, the network allowed the reality show figure turned pundit to be tarred as a racist for not agreeing that Piers Morgan was one when he dared to doubt the sincerity of Princess Meghan, a pretty obvious self-promoting celebrity sociopath. But she’s “of color,” so criticizing her is per se racism according to Woke Law.

Ethics Alarms also flagged the current level of CBS’s trustworthiness in news reporting yesterday, noting,

“…CBS News recently ran a report titled “Asian Americans Battling Bias: Continuing Crisis” in which it stated,  “Nearly 4000 crimes against Asian-Americans have been reported since the start of the pandemic, an increase of about 150 percent in major U.S. cities.” Then it showed  videos of former President Trump calling coronavirus the “Kung Flu.”….In order to inflate the numbers, ratchet up hysteria and attack Trump, [CBS] used numbers from Stop AAPI Hate, led by Arizona State University Professor Aggie Yellow Horse and San Francisco State University Professor Russell Jeung, an “incident” tracker launched in March 2020….The “tracker” counted anonymously reported  incidents, which of course could not be checked or verified. The latest report showed nearly 4,000 of them, most consisting of “verbal harassment” and “shunning.” Those are not “hate crimes.”

But CBS was just getting started. On last night’s “60 Minutes” deceptively edited an exchange that reporter Sharyn Alfonsi had with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) two weeks ago about how Florida was handling its vaccination program. Here is how the exchange was presented:

Sharyn Alfonsi: Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign, and then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach—

Ron DeSantis: So, first of all, that — what you’re saying is wrong. That’s—

Sharyn Alfonsi: How is that not pay-to-play?

Ron DeSantis: —that, that’s a fake narrative.  I went, I met with the county mayor. I met with the administrator. I met with all the folks in Palm Beach County, and I said, “Here’s some of the options: we can do more drive-through sites, we can give more to hospitals, we can do the Publix. And they said, “We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.”

Sharyn Alfonsi: The criticism is that it’s pay-to-play, governor.

Ron DeSantis: And it’s wrong. It’s wrong. It’s a fake narrative. I just disabused you of the narrative. And you don’t care about the facts. Because, obviously, I laid it out for you in a way that is irrefutable.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Well, I— I was just—

Ron DeSantis: And, so, it’s clearly not.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Isn’t there the nearest Publix —

Ron DeSantis: No, no, no. You’re wrong.

Sharyn Alfonsi: —30 miles away.

Ron DeSantis: You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Yes, sir?

Sharyn Alfonsi: That’s actually a fact.

Here is the real exchange:

Sharyn Alfonsi: Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign, and then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach—

Ron DeSantis: So, first of all, that — what you’re saying is wrong. That’s—

Sharyn Alfonsi: How is that not pay-to-play?

Ron DeSantis: —that, that’s a fake narrative. So, first of all, when we did, the first pharmacies that had it were CVS and Walgreens. And they had a long term care mission. So they were going to the long term care facilities. They got vaccine in the middle of December, they started going to the long term care facilities the third week of December to do LTCs. So that was their mission. That was very important. And we trusted them to do that. As we got into January, we wanted to expand the distribution points. So yes, you had the counties, you had some drive through sites, you had hospitals that were doing a lot, but we wanted to get it into communities more. So we reached out to other retail pharmacies — Publix, Walmart — obviously CVS and Walgreens had to finish that mission. And we said, we’re going to use you as soon as you’re done with that. For the Publix, they were the first one to raise their hand, say they were ready to go. And you know what, we did it on a trial basis. I had three counties. I actually showed up that weekend and talked to seniors across four different Publix. How was the experience? Is this good? Should you think this is a way to go? And it was 100% positive. So we expanded it, and then folks liked it. And I can tell you, if you look at a place like Palm Beach County, they were kind of struggling at first in terms of the senior numbers. I went, I met with the county mayor. I met with the administrator. I met with all the folks in Palm Beach County, and I said, “Here’s some of the options: we can do more drive-through sites, we can give more to hospitals, we can do the Publix, we can do this.” They calculated that 90% of their seniors live within a mile and a half of a Publix. And they said, “We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.” So, we did that, and what ended up happening was, you had 65 Publix in Palm Beach. Palm Beach is one of the biggest counties, one of the most elderly counties, we’ve done almost 75% of the seniors in Palm Beach, and the reason is because you have the strong retail footprint. So our way has been multifaceted. It has worked. And we’re also now very much expanding CVS and Walgreens, now that they’ve completed the long term care mission.

Sharyn Alfonsi: The criticism is that it’s pay-to-play, governor.

Ron DeSantis: And it’s wrong. It’s wrong. It’s a fake narrative. I just disabused you of the narrative. And you don’t care about the facts. Because, obviously, I laid it out for you in a way that is irrefutable.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Well, I— I was just—

Ron DeSantis: And, so, it’s clearly not.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Isn’t there the nearest Publix —

Ron DeSantis: No, no, no. You’re wrong.

Sharyn Alfonsi: —30 miles away.

Ron DeSantis: You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Yes, sir?

Sharyn Alfonsi: That’s actually a fact.

The late Fred Friendly, CBS’s house herald of journalism ethics, would have been killed by this if he had was not dead already. It’s as flagrant an example of unethical journalism as one could find. It’s no defense to argue that the governor’s response was too long and rambling to show in its entirety. The solution is not to show the exchange at all, not to dishonestly present it as something it was not.

But wait! There’s more!

CBS published an alleged “news article” titled “3 Ways Companies Can Help Fight Georgia’s Restrictive New Voting Law.” That’s pure political advocacy, not news reporting. Wrote the Washington Enquirer’s Byron York, “Incredible that CBS News would publish pure political advocacy. This article advocates donor boycotts of specific political figures, spreads political propaganda, and urges passage of a specific bill (HR1). From a news division. Incredible.”

It’s only incredible if one still believes that mainstream journalism organizations are still interested in practicing journalism. When the backlash on the naked partisanship of the piece became a little too hot, CBS changed the headline, as Glenn Greenwald quickly reported:

How does CBS—and the rest of the openly biased and manipulative mainstream media propaganda merchants get away with this? The answer is evident in the first three responses Greenwald’s tweet received:

“Very principled pro-voter suppression stand you’re taking here.”

“It’s pretty clear that if Glenn had been around in Germany in the 1940s, he would’ve hounded anyone in media who tried to ring the alarm on Hitler. There’s a time & place for both sides-ism but fighting to protect the rights of Americans is not one of those times.”

“I think its ok if the media in a democracy openly condemns voter suppression but I guess I’m just built different.”

Such news consumers don’t want straight facts and analysis that is clearly labeled as such. They want the news media to promote the partisan narratives dictated by their favored political parties.

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21 thoughts on ““Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias”: Roll Over, Ed Murrow!

  1. And this morning, my Locast guide for KCBS showed the CBS this morning guest to be “Author Hunter Biden”… I guess “kleptocrat douchebag son of senile race huckster” wouldnt fit..

    • They could have at least worked in “crackhead”.
      A few years back, we were amused to see Hillary Clinton’s book on a shelf next to a Fidel Castro biography in a bookshop in the Beijing airport. It would be interesting to check any bulk sales of Hunter’s book to see which arm of the CCP they link back to.

      • Might be, but then again… like so many books of this type, it’ll be a million seller. That is, there’ll be a million copies of it sitting in a cellar somewhere.

    • You have reminded me of a joke about the Glasgow Celtic and Rangers teams, which align by religious denomination. A visitor to a match between them heard many cries of “**** the Pope” from one side’s fans, but nothing in rebuttal, so he asked why this was. He was told, “have you ever tried shouting ‘**** the Moderator of the Uniting Church of Scotland’?”.

  2. “It’s pretty clear that if Glenn had been around in Germany in the 1940s, he would’ve hounded anyone in media who tried to ring the alarm on Hitler. There’s a time & place for both sides-ism but fighting to protect the rights of Americans is not one of those times.”

    I think it’s pretty clear that someone doesn’t understand how Nazi Germany worked. In the 1940’s, had Glenn Greenwald tried to ring the alarm on Hitler, he would have been fired, at best. At worst, he would have been arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Why? Because nearly every news organization was in the pocket of the Nazi Regime and those that weren’t were too cowed by it to protest too much.

    In this scenario, Glenn is actually ringing alarm bells and his critic is the German citizen who drank the Kool-Aid and believed everything the regime said through its propaganda mouthpieces and refused to listen to differing points of view.

    When it all goes to pot, that guy (or gal) will say, “But I was deceived and never really believed all that stuff anyway. I just went along for my own safety.”

    • Glenn Greenwald would already have been in a concentration camp, or dead, or self-deported, because he would have qualified for that in two different respects (guess which).

  3. Didn’t Walter Cronkite lie about the Tet Offensive because he wanted the US to lose the war? Didn’t he conspire with other MSM outlets to do the same? Seems things haven’t changed that much, we just got alternate sources for news instead of the PRAVDA we had.

    • Walter crossed the line with his late Vietnam reporting, and who knows how his biases affected his news reporting? But the kind of blatant partisanship we have seen lately was far, far beyond anything Walter would have done. He was not, for example, openly disrespectful of Nixon. That was Rather.

  4. One note on an otherwise splendid post: Edward R. Murrow was actually NOT a paragon of impartial reporting.

    There were two watershed events that led generations of Americans to believe that the news media plays it straight. The first occurred in the early 1900s, when Joseph Pulitzer and a handful of other publishers of the blatantly partisan and 19th-century version of clickbait starting hearing it from advertisers about how they were alienating customers. Pulitzer et. al. started cleaning up journalism’s act somewhat.

    The second watershed came in the 1950s at CBS. At the time, CBS broadcasting was playing second- and third fiddle in television (NBC was dominant; ABC was spun off from NBC’s “Blue” network). CBS made heavy investment in smaller markets – notably in the South. William S. Paley, Chairman of CBS, started hearing it from advertisers about his on-air talent – Murrow not the least.

    Paley set forth an edict: on-air talent could say NOTHING indicating a political alignment or view with regard to any given story. Cronkite walked that line pretty well. Murrow didn’t. His show, “See It Now,” was canceled after an argument with Paley. Murrow didn’t like the fact that CBS was inserting opposing views into his show.

    He resigned from CBS in 1961, had a stint as head of the US Information Agency, and died of lung cancer in 1965 at the age of 57.

    • I’d disagree to this extent: Murrow’s opinions were clearly opinions, and while a classic liberal, he did not advance partisan talking points. The networks were afraid to challenge McCarthy, but calling out what Tailgunner Joe was doing didn’t evince partisan bias—his was a clear abuse of power and an attack on free speech and association. That, and the fact that institutions were afraid to call his slander what it was had to be reported, and Murrow was performing a public service by grilling him. I felt similarly about Tim Russert, obviously a Democrat, but still within journalism ethics.

      • Murrow was actually late to the ball on McCarthy; yes, he had a loud megaphone, but other media outlets had already laid McCarthy bare by the time Murrow jumped in.

        Nor was it McCarthy that caused the friction between him and Paley.

        • The tension between Paley and the news division was a classic business vs professional conflict, no? Paley didn’t want to alienate any segment of the audience, even at the risk of soft-peddling facts. Murrow (and Friendly) were right to push back.

          • That argument could certainly be made, Jack. The argument can also be made – and I’ve made it before – that the whole idea of objective media in which much of the nation grew up believing was actually an artificial construct. “Not wishing to alienate any segment of the audience” is another way of saying “trying to be all things to all people.” Which is another way of saying “This way, we can advertise to EVERYONE, because after all – we’re really not selling news. We’re selling ears and eyeballs.”

            In the 1990s, that business model began to shift as cable and the Web exploded. A small industry with massive barriers to entry was suddenly disrupted by new technologies that enabled newcomers to start picking off specific segments of that larger market. Those newcomers were smart enough to realize that if you’re catering to certain segments, you’re not catering to others – but as you keep YOUR segments happy by giving them what they want, and as long as the profit margins were reasonable, you could still make a very handsome living.

            That’s where we are today.

  5. I have to believe those comments on Glen Greenwald’s post were made by paid DNC internet trolls. Those comments are too smug and arrogant to be made by normal readers and commenters. The comments read almost as if they are issued talking points.

    • It’s possible, but, frankly, the Democratic faithful already know the Talking Points well enough that trolls don’t have to be paid by the DNC.

    • I have a friend who has imbibed so much leftist Kool-Aid that she would be perfectly capable of and willing to make such comments with no paycheck attached. On any given topic, whatever the latest partisan spin is from WaPo or MSNBC, you can be sure that’s what her opinion is.

      She wasn’t always like this, but Trump Derangement Syndrome got her early on, and she hasn’t recovered.

  6. I actually saw this earlier on Twitter. CBS’s recording office is, from the Publix at Northlake:

    South on Broadway to W Blue Heron Boulevard, West on Blue Heron to President Barack Obama Highway, South on Obama to MLK Jr. Boulevard, West on MLK to Australian Ave and south on Australian. Your destination is on your left. It’s a little less than a mile away.

    Sharyn Alfonsi: Isn’t there the nearest Publix — 30 miles away?

    Ron DeSantis: You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Yes, sir?

    Sharyn Alfonsi: That’s actually a fact.

    “Facts”

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