Cable coverage of Whoopi Goldberg's v. Dennis Miller's remarks: 19-2

››› ››› CAROL REICHERT & AVI ZOLLMAN

On July 15, a full week after comedian Whoopi Goldberg made what The New York Times called an "extended sexual pun on the president's surname," for which she was fired from her job as spokeswoman for Slim-Fast on July 14, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN continued to devote significant primetime attention to her remarks. As The New York Times' Jodi Wilgoren reported, Goldberg's comments came at a July 8 fundraiser for the Kerry-Edwards '04 ticket and the Democratic National Committee. Despite the flurry of media attention Goldberg's comments have continued to receive, comments made by Dennis Miller -- producer and host of CNBC's Dennis Miller -- at a Wisconsin rally for President George W. Bush July 14 drew none of the same media fire, despite the fact that, as Washington Post "Reliable Source" columnist Richard Leiby reported July 15, Miller "impl[ied] a homosexual attraction between Kerry and Edwards."

In the July 15 edition of The Washington Post, Leiby quoted Miller: "Those two cannot keep their hands off each other, can they? ... I think I have a new idea for a new campaign slogan -- use the bumper sticker 'Hey, Get A Room.' "

Media Matters for America reviewed FOX News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN primetime coverage of the hours between 5 pm and 11 pm on July 15, and found that the three cables addressed Whoopi Goldberg's remark a total of 19 times: three times on CNN (once on Lou Dobbs Tonight and twice on Anderson Cooper 360), three times on MSNBC (once on Deborah Norville Tonight and twice on Scarborough Country), and 13 times on the FOX News Channel (five times on The Big Story With John Gibson, three times on Special Report with Brit Hume, once on FOX Report with Shepard Smith, twice on The O'Reilly Factor, and twice on Hannity & Colmes).

In contrast, Dennis Miller's comments were addressed only twice: once on MSNBC and once on CNN. FOX News Channel never reported the story. On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL) mentioned Miller as a counterexample to Goldberg, but did not address Miller's implication of a homosexual attraction between Senators Kerry and Edwards, instead focusing on Miller's jabs at other prominent Democrats. Only CNN Crossfire co-host Paul Begala, speaking on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, brought the issue into the spotlight, saying:

BEGALA: I think it's an interesting example of the double standard in the media. Whoopi Goldberg apparently told some jokes people didn't like. I didn't hear them, don't even know what they are and everybody got their panties in a wad and here's this big corporation fires her. Meanwhile yesterday, Dennis Miller at a Bush rally basically implies that John Edwards and John Kerry are gay, then attacks my pal James Carville for the way that he looks and nobody says anything. I doubt CNN has even covered that story today at all. So why is it that a liberal comedian can make fun of President Bush, but she gets fired from her job? A conservative comedian makes really nasty sexual innuendoes about Kerry and Edwards and nobody says anything. So it's a double standard.

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