We’ve all heard the tiresome refrain innumerable times.
Namely, the liberal mantra that Fox News is somehow biased, unfair or a mere arm of the alleged “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.” Never mind, of course, the equally innumerable independent studies and viewer demographic surveys demonstrating that Fox actually possesses a more evenly-balanced audience and greater objectivity than its competitors.
Despite that objective data, the Kool Aid-guzzling liberal crowd repeats this Earth-is-flat assertion.
Now, along comes the disturbing news that ABC News’s Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos has been engaging in daily conference calls with new White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is known as one of the most shrill and unrepentant partisans in Washington.
This news comes on the heels of Stephanopoulos’s wife’s admission last month that he dialed her on his cell phone during Barack Obama’s inaugural festivities to weep in celebration.
Media bias, anyone?
As reported by Politico reporter John F. Harris, four-party telephone calls occur every morning beginning at 6:00 a.m. between Stephanopoulos, Emanuel, former Clinton Administration hack James Carville, pollster Stan Greenberg and Paul Begala, who is perhaps the most shrill left-wing apologist in Beltway circles. The conferences, however, don’t end there. They continue during the day, discussing “what’s happening, what the implications are of what’s happening and what’s going on,” according to Emanuel.
These calls, according to the report, center not just on objective news-gathering by Stephanopoulos, but rather “policy, usually some program Democrats can use to score points in the daily partisan brawl with Republicans.”
Perhaps this news will jolt even the hysterical Fox-haters into sobriety. But for now, the real question is why Stephanopoulos remains gainfully employed as a supposedly “objective journalist” at ABC and host of its Sunday program “This Week.”
Far from expressing embarrassment at the revelation, Emanuel calls this his “17-year conference call,” which he can “tap into anytime you want.”
And lest one dismiss these conversations as mere banter between old friends, Harris notes their critical value to Emanuel by adding that, “according to Begala, the expectation of a daily call is so great that Emanuel will sometimes call him and shout impatiently, ‘I can’t talk right now!’ and then hang up.” And Carville, who presumably has sufficient other sources of political analysis and news available to him, says that “he has come to rely on the calls as his daily fixture,” according to the report.
The report proceeds to describe Stephanopoulos’s role as that of “analyst and skeptic” for the others. According to Begala, “George is really a big-systems thinker. As a journalist, he is half of a political scientist, and because he’s not in the partisan battles anymore, he sees things differently.”
Begala adds that Stephanopoulos is often the source of ideas for Emanuel, as he sometimes wonders, “was this George’s observation that Rahm tweaked?”
Noting the irony, Harris reports that this revelation “is a sensitive point for Stephanopoulos, who shot to fame as a Bill Clinton retainer, and has worked hard to fashion a reputation as an independent journalist.”
Poor, poor George. It must be such a heavy burden to concoct an image of himself as an “independent journalist” when he so obviously is not an… independent journalist.
Obviously, nobody would object to Stephanopoulos serving as a political commentator, panelist or source of insight for ABC News. After all, his wealth of experience as a liberal political operative can provide an interesting and informative perspective to voters. But ABC should be ashamed to allow him to continue as host of its news magazine, or bestow upon him the title of independent correspondent or newsman.
And, after all, imagine the liberal uproar if a major network hired former Bush political strategist Karl Rove as anchor of its news program and chief Washington correspondent, as opposed to his current role as subjective commentator. Obviously, the rules only apply in one direction.
Unfortunately, this revelation doesn’t merely undermine ABC News, but rather the entire field of journalism. Opinion polls regularly show that public trust in media objectivity has sunk to all-time lows, and the nation isn’t well-served when voters so distrust those reporting on the news.
Given Stephanopoulos’s de facto role in the Obama White House, it’s no wonder that the mainstream media’s ratings and reputation continue to plummet.February 5, 2009