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Media Failure 101; Start Flunking Network "journalists" who Give Right Wingers who lie and distort a pass.

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Media 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 over, muted.

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.

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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 them journalists.).

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 republican interviewees?

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.

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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 rob@opednews.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

Great 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.

John Moody
Studio City, CA

Subject : Media Failure 101 and More

Hi Rob,
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 by
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 the
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.
Hoboken, NJ

Subject: Media

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.
                                                                                    Marie Pickert

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 headlines"
parody and ridiculr their Nasty Photo journalism shots,
and post, spread, disseminate them onlinme and off
we should picket the major headquarters of these "Groups" handing out flyers of their most egregious "stories",
 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 etc.

 Robert Alexander

Subject: After Reading your article...

Judy Woodruff:
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 war profiteer!!
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 each other!!
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 been there. 
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??!!
Good Grief!!
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 had??!!" 
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 point???
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 us about.
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   jvanhorn@peoplepc.com


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." 

David Weintraub

Subject: Compliments on article "Media Failure 101"

Dear Rob,

I am a liberal voter from New Jersey , 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 right-wingers.

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 staff.

Anyway, compliments on your editorial. US media are facilitating the Bush/Cheney/Rove/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Rice/Ashcroft/Delay/etc. rip-off!


Michael Schmitt

New Jersey , USA

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 

Mr. Kall,

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?

Many thanks,

Leslie Crabree

Perhaps we should be telling the sponsors for the Woodruff segments that we will boycott their products.

Subject: Media 101

Mr. Kall:

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 under control!!

Marie J. Burns, Phoenix, Arizona


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