On his June 25 program, Mike Rosen of Newsradio 850 KOA parroted the talking point that media outlets such as National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting Service, The New York Times, and The Washington Post "overwhelmingly" are "liberal." Contrary to his dubious characterization, Colorado Media Matters has noted that the news sources Rosen cited often reveal a conservative slant, and Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances of coverage from each of the outlets that spread conservative misinformation.
On the June 25 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, Mike Rosen dubiously asserted that "overwhelmingly the people" on National Public Radio (NPR) and "overwhelmingly the presentations" on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) are "liberal." Rosen further asserted that "the prestige print media" -- in which he included The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times -- are "overwhelmingly ... liberal," and that Time and Newsweek magazines likewise are "liberal."
Contrary to Rosen's representation, Colorado Media Matters has noted that so-called "experts" from conservative think tanks have a disproportionate presence in the media generally and on NPR in particular. Moreover, Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances when the outlets Rosen cited have spread conservative misinformation or displayed a conservative slant.
Rosen made his claims about the purportedly "liberal" media while discussing Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) declaration, made during a June 24 appearance on Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace, that she would consider reviving the Fairness Doctrine. The policy, which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) discontinued in August 1987, required commercial broadcasters to provide "balanced and fair" coverage of "controversial issues."
From the June 25 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:
ROSEN: Have you listened to National Public Radio? Yeah, there are some conservative voices heard on National Public Radio, but overwhelmingly the people you hear on NPR are liberal. On PBS there are some conservative voices, but overwhelmingly the presentations are liberal. Programs like Frontline have a clear liberal agenda. Bill Moyers is left liberal, and he's featured on PBS. Talk radio, to some extent, is an answer to that. And the influence of talk radio is only one influence in this cacophony of voices from various media sources. Wallace said, "So you would revive the Fairness Doctrine?" Feinstein said, "Well, I'm looking at it, as a matter of fact, Chris, because I think there ought to be an opportunity to present the other side, and unfortunately, talk radio is overwhelmingly one way." Well the, the prestige print media -- The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Trib, the L.A. Times -- is overwhelmingly one way: liberal. Time magazine, Newsweek magazine: liberal. Mike Wallace says, "But the argument would be that it's the marketplace, and if liberals want to put on their own talk radio, they can put it on. At this point they don't seem to be able to find much of a market." Feinstein: "Well, apparently there have been problems. It's growing, I do believe in fairness. I remember when there was a Fairness Doctrine, and I think there was much more serious correct reporting to people." Let me repeat that: more serious reporting to people.
As Colorado Media Matters noted, NPR ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin responded to listener comments about NPR's use of think tanks on its programs with a December 14, 2005, column that presented a list of the think tanks from which NPR draws experts for comments. Accompanying each entry was a tally of the number of times experts from that think tank had been interviewed in NPR stories during 2005. Media Matters noted that the totals showed appearances by representatives of right-leaning think tanks outnumbered their left-leaning counterparts 239-141.
Further, the progressive media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has documented a similar preference for conservative think tanks in the American media more broadly over several years. FAIR's latest in a series of annual studies shows "that 40 percent of [think tank] citations in 2005 were to conservative or center-right groups, 47 percent were to centrist groups and only 13 percent were to center-left or progressive groups." FAIR also has analyzed PBS programming, noting in a 2006 analysis of the network's flagship news program The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer that "sources from right-leaning think tanks outnumber[ed] those from left-leaning ones by 2-to-1" over a six-month period. A 2005 FAIR report similarly noted PBS' conservative tradition:
For decades, William F. Buckley's Firing Line was practically synonymous with public broadcasting, ending a record-setting 33-year run when the conservative National Review founder retired it in 1999. A rival to Fox News Channel could be launched with the list of conservatives who have hosted or produced shows on public television over the years: John McLaughlin (The McLaughlin Group, McLaughlin's One on One), Peggy Noonan (On Values), Ben Wattenberg (Think Tank and Values Matter Most), Laura Ingraham and Larry Elder (National Desk), Tony Brown (Tony Brown's Journal), William Bennett (Adventures From the Book of Virtues), Milton Friedman (Free to Choose, Tyranny of the Status Quo), Fred Barnes (National Desk, Reverse Angle), Morton Kondracke (Reverse Angle, American Interests) and Tony Snow (The New Militant Center). [emphasis in original]
PBS also had originally planned to have Republican pollster Frank Luntz provide "public feedback" following the station's coverage of the June 28 Democratic presidential forum. As Media Matters noted, Luntz, who has worked for Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has shown open disdain for Democratic priorities and candidates and reportedly has been reprimanded and censured by his peers for withholding and misrepresenting polling data and methodology. PBS announced on June 26 that Luntz would not be appearing after the forum, but would be a guest on Tavis Smiley the following evening.
Additionally, Media Matters has documented numerous instances in which each of the media outlets that Rosen cited has advanced conservative misinformation through its reporting and commentary. Below are recent examples:
- Despite public support, NPR's Diane Rehm and Time's Karen Tumulty claimed "backlash" against Edwardses
- Luntz -- PBS' pick to survey public response after Democratic forum -- was longtime Giuliani pollster
- Chicago Tribune linked Obama stock purchase and legislation, leaving out his denial that he knew of purchase