Writes Megan Garber at CJR. We tend to agree.
Wow. Just wow.
Want to know just how completely spooked CBS was by the right-wing assault on its news division following the Memogate scandal during the 2004 election? CBS suits were so scared that while forming an "independent" panel to investigate the controversy surrounding Dan Rather's reporting on President Bush's military service, the Tiffany Network considered appointing Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter and/or Rush Limbaugh to the panel.
We kid you not. That, according to a New York Observer report, which found that amazing piece of information while digging through discovery documents in connection to the ongoing $70 million lawsuit Rather has filed against CBS, after he got bounced in the wake of Memogate.
Go read the whole thing. Here's a a key passage from a memo written by CBS brass, defending the hiring of an openly Republican lawyer, Dick Thornburgh, who eventually headed the Memogate investigation:
Because of the perception that CBS News and Dan Rather had a liberal bias, CBS purposefully chose a Republican lawyer, not for any nefarious purpose, but to open itself up to its harshest conservative critics and to ensure that the Panel's findings would be found credible.
Rather's attorneys then turned up a list which CBS executives apparently compiled in the fall of 2004, prior to settling on Thornburgh. Under the category of "others," these possible Memogate panel names were mentioned:
- William Buckley
- Robert Novak
- Kate O'Beirne
- Nicholas Von Hoffman
- Tucker Carlson
- Pat Buchanan
- George Will
- Lou Dobbs
- Matt Drudge
- Robert Barkley
- Robert Kagan
- Fred Barnes
- William Kristol
- John Podhoretz
- David Brooks
- William Safire
- Bernard Goldberg
- Ann Coulter
- Andrew Sullivan
- Christopher Hitchens
- PJ O'Rourke
- Christopher Caldwell
- Elliot Abrams
- Charles Krauthammer
- William Bennett
- Rush Limbaugh
Underscoring the point we made earlier this week when we ridiculed the emerging conservative meme that Obama was showered with good press because news orgs have been on a PC/diversity hiring spree, and those minority journalists swooned for Obama, Michael Calderone has a piece at Politico looking at just how few Africa-American journalists there are within the Beltway press corps covering big time American politics:
When then-President Bill Clinton attended an intimate dinner with a group of African-American White House correspondents in July 1999, about nine reporters joined him at the table. "I don't think we could have that dinner today," said attendee Wendell Goler, veteran White House man for Fox News. April Ryan, who covers the White House for American Urban Radio Networks and who also attended, agreed that there's been a decline in the number of black White House reporters during the Bush years, with just four or five regularly in the briefing room.
Honestly, in post-election Nov. 2004, did anybody from CNN go on the TV and warn Bush that he better not govern as a conservative, otherwise he might alienate voters?
See Crooks and Liars for more.
If you don't remember the media coverage surrounding the 1994 campaign when Newt Gingrich led Republicans and the Contract with America to victory, take our word for it: the press was obsessed with touting the influence of right-wing talk radio. The GOP talkers were heralded as the new populist, media superstars who shepherded the Republicans to victory and the talk radio faces (especially Limbaugh's) appeared on the cover of news magazines nationwide.
Now, in the wake of the Democrats second cycle of decisive electoral victories, we keep waiting for the MSM to acknowledge the extraordinary role liberal bloggers and the larger progressive netroots community has played in reshaping American politics. But so far, it's mostly radio silence.
We can't help wondering why the press literally tripped over itself to toast mighty, mighty talk radio in the 1990's, yet today shows amazing stubbornness in acknowledging what's so obvious; that bloggers and the netroots are at the forefront of a political and media revolution.
The best the WSJ can do today is a generic look at how traffic at political sites might go down post-election.
Gawker surveys the right-wing media rubble in the wake of the GOP's big loss. And specifically, the mini-civil war that's broken out in the wake of Carl Cameron's report on Fox News where Cameron aired every conceivable attack/smear that anonymous McCain aides could conjure up against Sarah Palin.
Not only that she allegedly didn't know that Africa was a continent, but she threw "tantrums," was a "shop-aholic," and that she once answered her hotel room door in a "bathrobe," which GOP aides dubbed "rather uncommon." (Hmm, sexist much?)
Anyway, right-wing bloggers thought the Fox News report was "bullshit" (part of a liberal media conspiracy?) and now there's pretty much a circular firing squad forming within the right-wing media.
We think this media tradition of daily journalists making deals with campaigns in which they agree, in exchange for access, not to report all kinds of stories until after the election has outlived its usefulness. And frankly, during this cycle it doesn't appear that journalists were able to rustle up that many great scoops that justify their willingness to sit on stories until campaigns give them the okay to write them up.
Newsweek is now hyping its latest, this-is-what-we-didn't-tell-during-the-election edition, Newsweek 2008 Special Election. Here's how a former Newsweek writer described the deal the mag struck for the election cycle:
The agreement Newsweek had made with each of the campaigns was that in addition to the reporters covering them day to day, there would be another bunch whose material would be kept confidential and published in a special issue of the magazine, as well as in a book, that would come out after the election.
Why would news orgs agree to keep confidential newsworthy information about presidential campaigns? It strikes us as odd. As for what Newsweek was able to come up with behind the scenes, judging from its press release, it hardly seemed worth bending the rules of journalism. i.e. Zzzzzz:
-- McCain also was reluctant to use Obama's incendiary pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue. He had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military.
-- Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband. Still, as Hillary's name came up in veep discussions, and Obama's advisers gave all the reasons why she should be kept off the ticket, Obama would stop and ask, "Are we sure?" He needed to be convinced one more time that the Clintons would do more harm than good.
-- McCain was dumbfounded when Congressman John Lewis, a civil-rights hero, issued a press release comparing McCain with former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a segregationist infamous for stirring racial fears.
Learn how it was done. We're still not sure what it added to the election coverage in terms of information, context or analysis. But honestly, we doubt that was the point in the first place.