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Bias. (Books in Brief).

Bias, by Bernard Goldberg (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2002), 232 pages, hardcover, $27.95.

Motivated by self-preservation, Procopius did the sensible thing. An eminent historian and bureaucrat during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian (reigned 527-565 AD) in Constantinople, Procopius had written a caustic denunciation of the emperor and his wife, the powerful empress Theodora (d. 548). Recognizing that it would put his career and life in jeopardy if the work ever surfaced, Procopius did not publish his Secret History while the emperor and empress yet lived. The scathing attack was finally published after the death of Justinian and possibly after the death of Procopius himself.

Something of a modem-day Procopius is former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg. But unlike Procopius, Goldberg has not hesitated to criticize his employer publicly. Beginning with an oped in the February 1996 Wall Street Journal and now with his book Bias, Goldberg has worked hard to expose the mainstream media's liberal predilections. Though there is little in Bias that will surprise longtime media critics, Goldberg's credentials give weight to the old conservative complaint that the mainstream media is incorrigibly leftist.

Bias begins, reasonably enough, with the author's own story of growing disillusionment and dissent. Joining CBS News in 1972, Goldberg writes that the network news' liberal bias had bothered him for some time, and that he had quietly discussed the matter frequently with officials at CBS to no avail. He was finally prompted to go public with his concerns after watching a CBS News report by Eric Engberg about then-presidential candidate Steve Forbes' proposal for a flat tax. That proposal, Engberg editorialized on the air, was "wacky," little more than some "scheme" or "elixir." Engberg concluded by saying, "The fact remains: the flat-tax is a giant, untested theory. One economist suggested, before we put it in, we should test it out someplace--like Albania." To an incredulous Goldberg, this was "junk journalism." He writes that "Engberg's piece--its strident mocking tone, its lack of objectivity, its purposeful omission of anyone who supported the flat tax--was like a TV campaign commercial paid for by Opponen ts of the Steve Forbes Flat Tax."

So Goldberg critiqued the Engberg report in a Wall Street Journal article. But as he makes clear in Bias, the mainstream media's leftward tilt is not something that appears only in isolated instances, but is instead entrenched in the corporate media's culture. Goldberg writes that the journalism elite are so far to the left that they "are hopelessly out of touch with everyday Americans. Their friends are liberals, just as they are. They share the same values. Almost all of them think the same way on the big social issues of our time.... After a while they start to believe that all civilized people think the same way they and their friends do. That's why they don't simply disagree with conservatives. They see them as morally deficient."

Goldberg notes that this left-wing worldview results in news hopelessly slanted to the left. Interspersed with the narrative of his own last days at CBS, Goldberg provides plenty of evidence of this leftward tilt. He writes, for instance, that "in the world of the Jenningses and Brokaws and Rathers, conservatives are out of the mainstream and need to be identified. Liberals, on the other hand, are the mainstream and don't need to be identified." To prove his point, Goldberg takes readers back to Clinton's 1999 impeachment trial as covered by Peter Jennings. While senators signed the oath book indicating that they would fairly and impartially judge the case, "Jennings identified several Democrats, including Barbara Boxer and Ted Kennedy, two of the most liberal members of the Senate, without ever mentioning that they are indeed liberal." As Goldberg observes, however, Jennings was careful to identify "conservative" senators. "When Senator John McCain signed the book," Goldberg notes, "Jennings said, 'Senator J ohn McCain here of Arizona, left-hander. More right than left in his politics...." Senator John McConnell was identified as a "very determined conservative." Then came liberal Democrat Barbara Mikulski whom Jennings identified simply as "Senator Mikulski of Maryland."

Throughout the whole process Jennings never identified anyone as liberal. "The word liberal never passed through Peter's lips," says Goldberg, who concludes: "There's a better chance that Peter Jennings ... would identify Mother Teresa as 'the old broad who used to work in India' than there is that he would call a liberal Democrat ... a liberal Democrat!"

While the media elite single out conservatives, apparently to make them seem morally deficient, they literally embrace liberals, even if the "liberal" in question is a brutal Communist dictator. For instance, it's difficult to imagine Dan Rather enthusiastically embracing Justice Clarence Thomas. But Rather had no problem greeting Fidel Castro in such a manner, as Goldberg notes. "Rather practically kissed Fidel Castro in front of the whole evening news staff when the dictator showed up at CBS News studios on West 57th Street in the fall of 1995," the author writes. "Dan even gave Fidel a nice little gift--a baseball bat, because Fidel, as everyone knows, loves baseball."

Bias is full of vignettes like this that will have conservatives saying "see, I told you so." But while Goldberg is good at exposing liberal bias in the nation's major newsrooms, he's not as good at explaining it. To the former CBS correspondent, liberal bias results, almost organically, from the leftist, elitist culture inhabited by the media stars. "No conspiracies," Goldberg writes. "No deliberate attempts to slant the news. It just happens. Because the way reporters and editors see the world, the way their friends and colleagues see the world, matters." In a sense, this is correct. But there is more of a subversive design than Goldberg admits. For instance, as THE NEW AMERICAN has reported in the past, CBS News anchorman Dan Rather and over a dozen of his top-level confreres at CBS are members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Many other top network officials are similarly affiliated with the CFR. And the CFR, as the Washington Post's Richard Harwood has written, is "the nearest thing we have to a ruli ng establishment in the United States." But Goldberg makes no mention of the CFR. This omission mars an otherwise powerful expose of the nation's politically correct, elitist, and leftist television news organizations.
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Author:Behreandt, Dennis
Publication:The New American
Date:Dec 2, 2002
Words:1051
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