Failure 101; Start Flunking Network "journalists" who Give Right
Wingers who lie and distort a pass.
By Rob Kall
How do they fail us, let me count the ways. The media have let down
America in so many ways. I'm going to talk about one of them. We see it
everyday when reporters, pundits, news and talk show hosts give their
guests-- usually whitehouse and administration heads-- a pass on evasive
or deceptive, or patently ridiculous statements, answers and remarks.
When a reasonable question is asked and a flip answer is given, the
reporter lets it slide. When the word is out that there is a different
angle that is being discussed by the other side, and the interviewer
accepts the spin that the right wingers are all putting it, without
further questions, that's a pathetic substitute for real journalism.
When George Bush or one of his surrogates makes an outrageous statement,
or distorts something, and the anchor airing the clip fails to say
anything, that's a failure, a sellout and an example of how the mainstream
media are serving the right wing, not the people.
For example, when George Bush cites John Kerry's remark that he would
have still made the decision to give war powers to the president, and Bush
suggests that this was a direct support of the Iraq War, that's worse than
a distortion. It's a lie. But not one network anchor or reporter that I
saw corrected Bush, or added a comment giving Kerry's side. Back when the
media when psychotic replaying Dean's three seconds of exuberance-- those
three seconds used to assassinate his chances for president-- it took
about a week before anchors and reporters told the truth, that the clip
was out of context, with the cheering of the crowd, that Dean was shouting
When the mass of anchors and reporters report on the swiftboat veterans
who are attacking Kerry, they fail to mention that these attackers were
not on the same boat as Kerry, that all the men on Kerry's boat have
backed him up, that these "veterans" have long history as right
wing shills, going back to the time of Tricky Dick Nixon.
When CNN's Judy Woodruff, Paula Zahn or Anderson Cooper do interviews
and allow the interviewees to deliver their message, without having to
answer any tough questions, they're not functioning as journalists, not
even as interviewers. They're just conduits. The same is true for just
about the entire lineup at FOX news.
If asking questions is about guts and spine, then Foxnews is made up of
invertebrates-- you know-- jellyfish, slime molds, insects.
When we watch late night TV, like Leno, Letterman or Conan, we expect
puff interviews, with no challenges, no tough questions, no pre-researched
surprises for the interviewee. But when we watch news shows, we expect, we
depend upon the journalists to dig, to get to the truths that are not
obvious, to insist that interviewees give up their best information. We
trust, or at least we should be able to trust the TV journalist to provide
background and the other side. Fat chance with the major networks, with
most of the anchors and on-camera personalities (note how I avoid calling
Why don't these faux journalists do it? Or why don't they do it
anymore? Or... why don't they do it with Bush administration and other
It's a fairly simple answer. It's a combination of two factors. For the
most part, I think they are cooperating with their interviewees,
collaborating with the regime. They want to be helpful, to make these
people look good. They want to help them sell their message convincingly.
The other explanation, which is growing less and less likely, is that
they've been beaten and cowed into cooperating, into doing a plain lousy
job of asking tough questions.
How can you tell when these fake journalists who are really right wing
collaborating propaganda conduits are dropping the ball? Just watch your
own reactions. Does a right winger make a statement that cries out for a
follow-up question that is never asked? Do you know there's another side
to the story being given? If you know, then the reporter, with his or her
staff of researchers should know it and a lot more. Does that reporter ask
for the response to the other side?
If they don't you can write to them. Let them know they're doing a
lousy job. Be specific with the person they interviewed and the question
they blew. Tell they are spineless, that they are frauds and no longer
functioning as journalists. Maybe they'll remember what it means to do the
right thing. The nation, the planet desperately needs tough questions for
these tough times. It will take a tough audience to make it happen.
Lou Dobbs and Aaron Brown occasionally come up with tough questions, or
at least the semblance of doing their job, and they've both raised
issues that are desperately in need of coverage-- exportation of jobs
overseas, corporate influence, electronic voting... .
Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak ask tough questions of democrats and Paul
Begala and James Carville ask them of right wingers on Crossfire. But
those are token examples and there's not enough depth there, since the
crossfire aspect of the show keeps everything in very short, single
sound-bites, without follow-up.
One has to wonder, are these journalistic failures due to lack of spine
on the part of the journalists or are they due to actual policies of the
news networks. There are times, when I watch Judy Woodruff, (and others)
that it seems she almost enjoys letting an outrageously partisan statement
pass, unquestioned, un-commented upon. That's not lack of spine, It could
be network policy or just plain unethical partisan journalism. It
would be ethical if she portrayed herself as a partisan columnist. But
that's not the case.
This is a problem that might really be helped by YOU writing letters.
If news anchors and their editors get enough complaints, then perhaps
they'll find some spine or their editors will take heart and fire
them. The next time you see a clip or sound bite, or a right winger
who gets away with making statements that the anchor fails to adequately
respond to, write to him or her, and copy the company. Let them know we
can see their unprofessional, incompetent or unethical partisan behavior.
Rob Kall email@example.com is
editor of www.OpEdNews.Com living in
Bucks County, PA You can find over 150
additional articles by Rob Kall at this Archive
comments from readers:
subject: I've already flunked these people
piece. This certainly needs to be said over and over again. I stopped
writing to the media about two years ago. All it did was keep me agitated.
I've turned off the TV news, for the most part. I used to keep one of the
sets at my house tuned to CNN 24/7. Now, I may watch 20 minutes of CNN a
day. CNN has become the most useless network on TV. I don't know anyone
who trusts them anymore. I think Time/Warner lets the network slide to
curry favor with the Bush Administration. Our network and cable news
programs have become dangerous things. More and more people turn to
"The Daily Show" and Bill Maher to get the news. It seems our
comedians are the only honest commentators left on TV.
Studio City, CA
: Media Failure 101 and More
Just surfed upon your site (and article) and
had to write- I am in complete agreement with all that you said.
What really gets me, on an ongoing basis,
are the jaw-dropping, monumental, headline stories barely mentioned
the plastic, corporate-owned talking media
dummies on network and cable news.
As for the latest: why isn't
"Bush Administration outs Al-Quaeda Mole" splashed
across every newspaper
and news broadcast in America?
Why isn't it being treated like the scandel
of the highest proportions that it is?
In Bush's so-called 'War on Terror', the acquisition of
an Al-Quaeda insider is such an INVALUABLE,
rare and precious tool... so, the Bush Administration undermines
its own 'War on Terror' by outing its
own spy, thereby inabling our enemies to escape detection, and
SILENCE from the media is DEAFENING.
Truly shocking and outrageous. It even tops the lack of media
attention to Bush's shocking statements
about still going to war 'knowing what we know now'. Isn't that a
kind of tacit admission that his main
justification for the hideous Iraq war, WMD, was meaningless blather?
(But when Teresa Heinz Kerry tells a
reporter to "Shove it" , it's played ad nauseum for days.)
I could go on and on. I cannot imagine
another 4 years of Bush, and fear that is what we will get.
God help us.
Thanks for fighting the good fight.
Thank you for your article. I have written
cnn, and others. They ignore me. I called cnn long distance and the
gentleman threatened to hang up on me. I was not using profanity or
being abusive. I was angry that they were only presenting one side to an
issue and not giving Kerry's views. They did a horrible thing to Dean.
Crossfire is now a joke of Novak spinning his tails and Begala stating
what a nice man Bush is . before he makes any opposing statement. The
show has been regulated to a 4:30 time slot that very few people
watch. The other stations are too painful to watch. So what do we do
now. I can't afford to travel to these outlets. The whole mainstream
media has developed an insane desire to force mr. bush on the people.
Where is the DNC? They send the most uninformed representatives to take
on the repugs challenges. This horrible swift boat liars would have had
less impact if the DNC had let Kerry speak to his record and sent out
some very skilled debators to counter attack these lies. I called the
DNC,because a Rev. Charles Stanley was 3-mailing his lies about the
swift boat trolls. The DNC did not respond to my calls. I e-mailed them
and all I got was a form letter asking for more money. I don't expect
them to respond directly to me, but I see nothing substantial that they
are doing nationally to help Kerry. They have marginalized Whoppi
Goldberg while;Dennis Miller is proudly displayed at the repugs events
shilling his filthy lies to all the crowds.Tell me,sir, am I to accept the
country will be run in the same incompetent manner for four
more years,because the people with real clout are afraid to take on this
administration. Are the press people so lazy and happy with their huge
saleries that they refuse to report the news. The only way democracy
will live again is if we have a fair and balanced media. I wish that the
fairness docterine would once again be the law of the land. The repugs
took that vital instument away from our beloved country and the
incompetent weak (even though they were in the majority at that
time),democrats let them get away with destroying the freedom of the
people to be informed. So tell me what can be done, because I am losing
hope for this country.
Rob's response: . Don 't give up. Keep writing to the
networks and the reporters. And also the advertisers who sponsor the shows
the reporters are in.
Subject: You're on to something
we need to - "rewrite their
parody and ridiculr their Nasty Photo
and post, spread, disseminate them onlinme
we should picket the major headquarters of
these "Groups" handing out flyers of their most egregious
angles etc. and Post Post
Distribute the ridicule of their Bias Buyin crap.
Many of us can write better copy and
headlines -- and we should show side by side presentations to
"shame" them with SIMPLE, PURE examples of Journalism vs.
their fascist bleed-creep.
And off course bombard their advertisers and
picket them, too.
And prepare to Launch new Publications --
tying in the likes of Opednews with Buzzflash, with Crisis papers etc
Subject: After Reading your article...
You all let the Republicans get away with almost every
lie they tell without even raising an objection. For Bush, the
worst of all presidents, you are all -- with the exception of Helen
Thomas -- pretty much what that Irish journalist said you were.
"Stenographic" rather than confrontational."
Clinton's Whitewater, in which he lost $60,000 was a
headline at least weekly if not daily, yet all the Bush family's
unethical business deals are not even mentioned. Even Neil Bush
and Silverado which cost taxpayers a billion dollars, have been allowed
to be forgotten!! And now he is AGAIN making money off the
taxpayers because of who his brother is!!
Bush uncle Bucky Bush is really raking in the dough as a
Not one person in the media last July when Bush said 'we
went to war because Hussein didn't let the weapons inspectors in,'
called him on it!! That is unforgivable!!
That outright lie should have been headlines and news stories for days,
but it wasn't.
No stories are being told about the Bush family's war
profiteering. I wrote an article about it and am handing it out to
people myself!! In fact, I have become so fed up with the infotainment
that passes for news these days, I have written my own book which I am
passing out to people sections at a time. I hope to eventually put
it on the web. I call it "A Thumb Through Book of Things You
Should Know But You Don't Want to Know, and the Media, Especially the
Main Stream Broadcast Media is Trying Very Hard Not to Tell You!"
by "Just a Housewife."
And now, you are letting the story of Iraq die as you let
the story of Afghanistan die. Noone wants to think about our poor
soldiers or the people of Afghanistan and Iraq who are probably in worse
shape now than they were before. Except, of course, they have more
weapons than they did before. Weapons before food or medicine, by
all means!! More profit in them. Help the people to kill
There are no stories about the president's paranoia.
His awol story has been dropped yet again, while many reporters don't
even mention that NONE of the Swift Boat veterans for truth were on the
boat with Kerry, that ALL of his evaluations were outstanding, and that
all of his crew supports him.
I think the news channels should have shown Bush talking
and laughing and bopping his head to the music during the presentation
of the colors at Arlington last Veteran's Day!! Show us the truth
about the man -- a man who wouldn't even go visit his daughter when she
had an emergency appendectomy, which says more about his character than
anything I can think of!! It is not normal human behavior!!
I know of no father who wouldn't have gone to his daughter's side,
although I am sure there are some. For sure Clinton would have
Bush is WEIRD, and now, according to the Capitol Times,
he is becoming unbalanced (of course, I believe he always was, and I
know the capitol times is kind of the "national inquirer" of
Washington, but where there is smoke there is often fire.) The
psychiatrist who wrote "Bush on the Couch" is not the only one
who thinks that Bush has mental problems. DON'T YOU THINK IT WOULD
BE A GOOD IDEA TO LET THE PEOPLE HEAR THAT ARGUMENT??!!
Don't you think the comment that he believes God is
speaking through him deserves a little analysis??!!
I quit watching network news long ago when there was
endless coverage of Princess Di's death, O.J.'s trial and Clinton's sex
life. I watched none of that. I now watch C-span and I watch the
university channels. Amy Goodman and Robert Fisk are two of the
few reporters left in this country. Amy had on members of
"veteran intelligence agents for sanity," she speaks
with Robert Fisk all the time. She speaks with Seymour Hersch.
She has had Karen Kwiatkowski on -- all people the "news"
channels should talk with but don't.
Kwiatkowski, a lifelong conservative, worked in the
Pentagon in the runup to war but took early retirement rather than be
part of the dishonesty of the "office of special plans."
Read David Hackworth's "First base first" from the "david
hackwoth archives." I believe he wrote that column in Oct. of
2002, and tell me why you didn't give him prime time?? He was
right about everything!!
1000 soldiers, some of them high ranking, signed a letter
to Bush telling him war would be a mistake, but still you people could
find no anti war people to interview!!
Did it occur to you to get some input from diplomats in
all the countries protesting against the war??!! WHY were they
protesting?? Seems to me that would have been a good question to
ask. A better one would have been "How much of a danger could
one small, poor country with a destroyed military be to the most
powerful nation on earth? And, since Hussein is evil but not
stupid, WHY would he attack us in any way that could be traced back to
him since he had to know if he did we would hit him with everything we
Another question to ask would have been what is asked
when ANY crime is committed. "Who stands to gain from
this?" But of course you didn't want to ask THAT question
because although the obvious answers were Halliburton, Bechtel, United
Defense, etc., CNN ALSO stood to gain from it. I wrote about that at the
beginning of the war in "Letter to an American Foot Soldier"
by Lonna Gooden VanHorn. Just to see if they would read it, I sent
it to the VAIW website last August. They put it up. They
also put up "Patriotism and War."
I am NOT a writer, but I started writing our of
frustration because the media was not doing its' job which is to
question the seats of power and to look out for the people -- meaning
the soldiers who would be sent to their death or to be maimed for no
good reason. AND for us taxpayers, of course.
General Omar Bradley said 'Wars can be prevented as
surely as they can be provoked, and we who fail to prevent them must
share the guilt for the dead.'
A whole section of my book is devoted to the words of
real war heroes. Eisenhower, for instance said that he did not
believe there was any such thing as a preventative war, and he would not
seriously listen to anyone who tried to talk to him about it. THAT
would have been a good thing to discuss before the war, don't you
think?? McArthur, of all people, said the powers that be keep us
in a perpetual state of fear so that we will vote them the exorbitant
amounts of money they demand. Marine General Smedley Butler said
'war is a racket, fought by the masses to benefit the very few... of
course it isn't put that crudely in wartime, but is dressed into
speeches about patriotism ... but the profits jump and leap and
skyrocket and are safely pocketed... I wouldn't go to war again to
protect some lousy investment of the bankers...' Einstein said how
he hated the word "patriotism and all the loathsome nonsense that
goes with it," wouldn't that have been a good talking
To me, that is the media in spades, but you news channels
knew a war would up your ratings!! You did not want to question
it. Ed Asner said if Americans thought Iraq was a serious threat
to us than we were really stupid people. AMEN!! Gore Vidal
says Europeans ask him if Americans are stupid. He says we are not
stupid, only ignorant because it is in the interest of the American
media and the people it is run for (corporations) to keep us that way.
You mainstream news people are succeeding marvelously in doing that!!
Why didn't you have General Zinni on? Chalmers
Johnson? Noam Chomsky?
No, you must continue being shills for the benefit of the
economic prosperity of the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned
Rob Kall wrote an article called "
Media Failure 101; Start Flunking Network "journalists" who
Give Right Wingers who lie and distort a pass."
You should all read it. Along with the comments
that follow it. The people are pretty much agreed that Judy
Woodruff, especially, belongs on Fox.
Lonna Gooden VanHorn firstname.lastname@example.org
subject: SPINELESS NEWS ANCHORS
Rob, I think the reason for these so called journalists
to be so spineless, is that the networks they work for have all
become huge corporate entities. A good example is DINSEY. They own two
televison networks that I know of, ESPN and ABC. They also own movie
studios and theme parks. One such park is located in Florida, where the
brother of our PREZ is governor. I imagine Disney is enjoying some tax
breaks and other perks from the state of Florida, as long as they play
nice with their media group.
no name from Florida
Subject: Good Job
Perhaps the worst one of all is Judy
Woodruff as you point out. I think that all of us need to label
these individuals as right wing hacks, biased, the "conservative
press," etc.. The same labels hold true for Candy Crowley, Bill
Schneider, Bill Hemmer, Anderson Cooper, Paula Zahn, Kelli Arena, Kelly
Wallace, Jeanine Meserve and a whole bunch of other
"reporters" at CNN.
The biggest problem progressives, liberals
and moderates face (we are 70-75% of America) is the media. If we
had a fair media, we wouldn't have conservative politicians, even in the
so called "red states."
Subject: Compliments on article "Media Failure
I am a liberal voter from
, and caught your article on "Media Failure 101".
Your editorial makes some timely and perfectly accurate
criticisms of major broadcast media coverage of Bush and the
You mentioned Judy Woodruff of CNN. I have often heard
her actually arguing for the administration...as if she has Karl Rove
talking into her earpiece. I have complained twice to CNN in emails
about Judy Woodruff (she's actually one of the worst) and also Wolf
Blitzer, who seems to be CNN's Bush/Sharon hawk, right-winger on
Anyway, compliments on your editorial. US media are
Rob's Reply: Thanks for the kind words. I 'm hearing repeatedly that Judy
Woodruff is the worst. I agree. She should go to Fox.
Subject: Media Failure 101
Thanks for the excellent article. You are so right about lack of
follow-up questions and easy for Repos, hard for Demos questions but there
are other problems as well. I am one of those people who write constantly
to bad journalists. I recently wrote Gloria Borger for her failure to
confront Cheney for lying to her face when she obviously had the Meet the
Press transcript in front of her. I give her one tiny particle of grace
for the fact that Dick Cheney is one scary MoFo and looks like he might
pull your heart right out of your chest. But then, if you can't take that,
pick another profession. I reamed Judy Woodruff for her odious intro to a
spot with Ben Stein last week. Her lead-in before a commercial was
"Do Liberals hate America? We'll find out after the break." My
husband and I started yelling at the television and we wrote a blistering
letter to her and also to CNN management.
My HUGE question about todays terrible journalists really seems like an
ethical question. Time and again on FOX (of course) but also Woodruff,
Blitzer and others, guests make false charges against Kerry or Sandy
Berger or Bll Clinton or any Democrat and their statements are discussed
as "The other side of the issue" Truth doesn't have two sides.
The Swift Boat Veterans aren't telling "their side of the
story". The lies about Kerry's infidelity weren't "the other
side of the story" they were just lies. British newspapers require
facts and sources and Rupert Murdoch has been fined repeatedly for untrue
articles in his paper and on his news programs. Pity we don't have the
same rules here. Limbaugh would be broke in a week.
Isn't this really an ethical question?
Perhaps we should be telling the sponsors for the Woodruff segments that
we will boycott their products.
Subject: Media 101
Thank you so much for your article re the current crop of
"journalists" on CNN etc. When watching these "talking
heads" I sometimes feel as if I am living in a parallel niverse where
reality becomes blurred with fantasy. I agree that Judy Woodruff and Wolf
Blitzer are among the worst shills for the current administration. I have
written on several occasions to CNN complaining about the bias without any
response other than a computer generated reply. Unfortunately the only
redress we appear to have are Websites like yours, Mediamatters.org etc.
Although there are myriad instances to choose from, the one which eats
away at me occurred during Wolf Blitzer's interview with Karen Hughes (she
was promoting her new book 10 Minutes from Normal) when he allowed her to
compare those of us who are pro-choice with Al Queda terrorists. Blitzer
never even blinked and let the abomination slide by. There was some press
overage the next week, including many womens's organizations demanding an
apology from Karen Hughes (which was never offered), but despite many
emails to CNN, the issue was never addressed again by Wolf Blitzer.
Thank you for the good work. I have only recently discovered your web
site through Buzz Flash - perhaps it will help keep my blood pressure
Marie J. Burns, Phoenix, Arizona