Bias

In July 2000 I quit CBS News where I had worked for 28 years.  A year and a half later – 10 years ago this very month — my first book came out.  Bias was about liberal bias in the mainstream news media and it caused quite a stir.  Despite the fact that it got more than a few crummy reviews – mainly from journalists (big surprise, there) and other liberals, Bias became a New York Times #1 bestseller, demonstrating how out of touch journalists were with so many Middle Americans who embraced the book.   The Times, to my surprise, gave my book a good review and the Wall Street Journal did too. There were others, including the one that follows, written by someone who’s been in the news quite a bit lately:  Newt Gingrich.  On the 10th anniversary of the book’s release, I thought I’d share what he wrote with you.

 

Newt Gingrich Reviews Bernard Goldberg’s ‘Bias’

Bias
By Bernard Goldberg
Regnery. 232 pp. $27.95

Allowing me to review a book about bias in the news media almost seems unfair. After all, I was portrayed as Scrooge on the cover of Time magazine just before Christmas 1994. They portrayed me holding Tiny Tim’s broken crutch. The headline read: “How Mean Will Gingrich’s America Be to the Poor?” (You could tell it was unbiased because there was a question mark.)

Not to be outdone, Newsweek decided that I more resembled a Dr. Seuss figure, the cover exclaiming, “The Gingrich that stole Christmas.” All this before I had served a single day as speaker of the House.

Bernard Goldberg’s memoir-exposé-essay is a very revealing portrait of the television side of the news. It’s a good read, and Goldberg is a good storyteller. It’s clear he is angry with CBS News in general and Dan Rather in particular (“The Dan even speaks his own secret language, which around CBS is known as Dan-ish. . . . In Dan-ish, ‘it’s all my fault’ means ‘it’s all your fault . . .”). The book is worth its price if only to enjoy the sheer viciousness of the payback. They got Goldberg, and now he is getting them. Anyone who has ever gotten mad over what they perceive as liberal bias in the media will find some satisfaction in this part of the book.

Goldberg, a 28-year CBS correspondent who left the network last year, has done a service by telling insider stories out of school. He describes the bias inherent in ensuring, on the one hand, that minorities do not look bad and, on the other, not showing too many minorities, because doing so might hurt ratings. But he is at his strongest in outlining the sensitivity of the media toward criticism directed at it. An industry that treasures whistleblowers from any other trade, isolates and seeks to expel any such in its own business (which is what happened to Goldberg).

The book makes a strong case that liberal media bias led to a remarkable increase in reporting on homelessness under Presidents Reagan and Bush, followed by its magical disappearance under President Clinton and its sudden (within weeks) reappearance under President George W. Bush.

Goldberg also cites Ben Wattenberg’s observation that 59 percent of reporters thought the “Contract with America” was an “election year gimmick,” while only 3 percent thought it was “serious.” That might have been fair during the election. But even after 70 percent of the Contract was enacted into law, the media continued to report that it had been abandoned. So, despite the first comprehensive welfare reform in 68 years, the first tax cuts in 17 years, the first increase in defense spending in more than a decade, the first four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s, we still had not, according to media observations, accomplished anything.

Goldberg quotes Peter Jennings on the 1994 election results: “Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums. . . . Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week.” Now there’s an impartial analysis of an election in which nine million more Americans voted Republican than in 1990 (the largest one-party off-year increase in American history). Jennings was at least open in his contempt for what we were doing. The hard thing to deal with in so many of his colleagues is their pretense of professionalism.

One of the news channels or networks ought to give Goldberg a half hour every week to explore bias in the media. It would be a lively program. If he were as aggressive and risk-taking on air as he is in this book, it would be a very provocative show.

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  • Duke Brooks, OPC ’73

    Mr. Goldberg has done a great service to America by publishing his shelf of excellent books. Of course, his exposé of the institutionalized liberal bias of modern American “news” has enraged leftists in newsrooms all over the place. It’s almost as if someone burst into the room and yelled, “Flee! All is discovered!” Whatever you do, Bernie, keep up the great work!

  • Tom

    Bernie, thanks so much for everything you have done to bring liberal media bias to light. I don’t watch Never Been Conservative (NBC), Crappy Biased Slop (CBS) or More Slop from Never Been Conservative (MSNBC), anymore. Even some of their entertainment programs have a strong liberal bias

  • Ralph M. Hahn

    I had been given “Bias” as a Christmas present almost immediately following its release. Much of the book was read on a Newark to Phoenix flight on December 26th. As someone who started in local radio news back in 1972, working here and there over the years, “Bias” opened my eyes to what was going on in the big leagues of my chosen profession. Later, even if it was just for filler, I felt it necessary most times to rewrite any A.P. story, and stopped “rip and reading” wire copy. I look forward to reading “Slobbering…”

    Happy Hanukkah, Bernie. And a happy, healthy 2012 to you.

  • Charlie

    It’s been ten years since I read it, too. I wish I hadn’t loaned it to a friend about nine years ago, now. I’d re-read it, if he’d ever give it back. What I’d like to know is whether there is a subtle message we should receive, from Bernie having reprinted Gingrich’s review, now?

  • Terry Walbert

    The only things that have changed are that the main stream media audience has gotten smaller and Fox News Channel’s audience has gotten bigger.

    Bernie, I’d like to see you with your own show once a week, like John Stossel. You could pick out the stories with bias, invite the reporter to be on your show, and haveo ther guests that would discuss the article or segment in question.

  • Bruce A.

    Over 10 years & nothing has changed with the MSM.
    Maybe BIAS should be required reading for Journalism 101.

  • Soul

    That is hard to believe it has been 10 years! I can recall when I purchased Bias, reading it and passing my copy around to several family members to look at. We knew about bias reporting in the media, but not to the degree mentioned in the book.

  • Ron Kean

    I can’t remember why I skipped BIAS and was first introduced to your work when I read ARROGANCE which was partly instrumental in my conversion to the Right.

  • Dusty Rhodes

    “Bias” is one of the finest books ever. I remember how great it was to have a longtime broadcast news professional with the courage to publicly expose how much network news was slanted. I stopped watching Rather and CBS News in the ’80s because their bias was so obvious.

  • Kathie Ampela

    “One of the news channels or networks ought to give Goldberg a half hour every week to explore bias in the media. It would be a lively program. If he were as aggressive and risk-taking on air as he is in this book, it would be a very provocative show.”

    You don’t get a half hour on Bill’s show, but it’s always lively and thought provoking. Not only did you write an expose on media bias, you survived 28 years at CBS News without losing your soul (or your mind!) Keep up the good work :-)

  • John Daly

    That was an interesting review by Gingrich. It’s been a while since I read Bias, but I don’t remember it coming across as an angry book. Sure, you rightfully took your jabs, but I saw it as coming more from a public awareness standpoint about the importance of fairness and impartiality in the media, and how you were trying to bring integrity back to the profession. Anyway, it was a great, groundbreaking book that needed to be written.

    • Will Swoboda

      John Daly said it better than I could but just what I thought.
      Thanks John.
      Will

  • Paul Courtney

    Bernie: Thanks for the look back on Newt that DOESN’T show him in a bad light. I’ve seen him speak and been so impressed, I felt Chris Matthews running up my leg…wait, that’s not it…I felt a thrill in Chris Matthews’ leg…wait, that’s not it either…. Anyway, my question is, a year later did he do another review, this time panning “Bias”? ‘Cause he seems to have that capacity.

    • Michael

      “I felt Chris Matthews running up my leg…”

      Priceless. :)

  • SUZANNE

    Thanks for writing *Bias*. It really opened my eyes and was instrumental in my conversion to the Right.

  • Beth

    Wow…the temper tantrum strategy must now be S.O.P. since they used it again in 2010. I’ll bet they have lists of different words: dismissive, bad-tempered, silly and ineffective words for Conservatives and serious, rational, logical and action-oriented for Liberals.
    Now, how do we make sure everyone is aware?