Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 12, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

LIBERAL BIAS?....Was political bias against George Bush responsible for the badly botched 60 Minutes segment about Bush's National Guard record? Howard Kurtz offer up this assessment today:

"In any fair-minded assessment of how CBS performed and why they so badly butchered their own standards, this has to be part of the explanation," said former New York Times reporter Steve Roberts, now a professor at George Washington University. "It's not just that they wanted to be first, they wanted to be first with a story that was critical of the president."

This is a common opinion, but the problem is that it doesn't back up the charge of political bias. Just the opposite.

The fact is, Roberts has it exactly right: CBS wanted to be first with a story that was critical of the president. It didn't matter that George Bush happened to be president at the time. They just wanted a bombshell story about the president.

Anyone who thinks otherwise needs a reality check. Bill Clinton was trashed by the press like no president since Richard Nixon, frequently on the basis of spoon fed lies from rabid Clinton haters, and Al Gore was lampooned mercilessly during the 2000 campaign by a press corps that openly despised him. There are plenty of things to be said about this Bob Somerby is your go-to guy on this subject but partisan bias is not high on the list.

There's nothing an investigative reporter wants more than a big story about the president. Any president. Was that part of the reason CBS rushed the National Guard story? Of course. Was the fact that Bush was Republican also part of the reason? Not likely. History just doesn't back that up.

Conspiracy theorists please take note.

Kevin Drum 12:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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