NBC News, the KKK and the State of Journalism

By now you probably have heard about the MSNBC drive-by aimed at Mitt Romney; the one that said he used the same slogan on the campaign trail as the Ku Klux Klan used to use.

Well, not really.

MSNBC got the “story” from a liberal blog which claimed that Romney had used the term “keep America American” during a campaign speech.  The blog said he did it twice, once last year and then against this month.  The blog then said, correctly, that “Keep America American” was a phrase used by the Ku Klux Klan back in the 1920s.

Get it?  Mitt Romney, a frontrunner for the GOP nomination for president, spouts the same hatred as the racists in the KKK.

What Romney actual said was “Keep America America” on both occasions, but frankly it doesn’t matter all that much.  Let’s say he did use the same term as the Klan used:  Are we supposed to really think he did it on purpose?  Why would he do that – because he wants to be associated with the Ku Klux Klan?

You would have to be nuts to believe that.  So then, how can something this irresponsible happen at a cable news network run by the once iconic NBC News.

Corruption of this type almost always starts at the top.  Management at MSNBC has set the tone, which pretty much comes down to this:  Progressive and liberal Democrats = good; conservative and Republican = bad.

In that atmosphere, some chucklehead anchor and his equally brainless producer thought it was okay to smear a front-running candidate for president; he’s a Republican, after all.  Of course, they’d never do this to a prominent liberal Democrat.  Not simply because it would be morally and journalistically wrong, but also because it doesn’t fit the MSNBC business model.

MSNBC management has apologized, calling the smear “irresponsible and incendiary” and said that it “showed an appalling lack of judgment.”

True enough, but make no mistake:  MSNBC management created the atmosphere in which this “irresponsible and incendiary” smear was allowed to happen – because they’re the ones who over the years have “showed an appalling lack of judgment.”

*****

NBC News has announced that it has formed a series of partnerships between its local stations and several non-profit news organizations.

“The partnerships will in some cases allow the stations to cover more news and conduct more investigations without adding more staff directly,” according to the New York Times.

One of the non-profits NBC has aligned itself with is an outfit called Pro Publica, which the Times simply described as, “the acclaimed investigative journalism nonprofit organization.”

Well, yes – and no.  Despite the fact that Pro Publica has won two Pulitzer Prizes, it isn’t simply a journalist organization; it has a political agenda – a distinctly liberal one which is funded by liberal money bags.  On its Web site, Pro Publica explains its mission this way:

“ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with ‘moral force.’ We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.”

This is a variation on an old journalism theme — that our role is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

No.  That may be the work of priests and ministers and rabbis, but not of journalists.

Pro Publica may do outstanding reporting but only when it fits its liberal agenda.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for Pro Publica to go after progressives and liberal Democrats – unless. perhaps, if they’re not progressive enough.

In a way semi-news organizations like Pro Publica are like semi-media watchdog groups like the Media Research Center.  I say “semi-“ because while the MRC does great work in exposing liberal bias in the media, it goes deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to conservative bias.  Fox News may legitimately have MRC guests on the air commenting on liberal bias, but it should never go into business with the Media Research Center.  MRC is not made up of journalists.  It’s made up of conservative activists.

And NBC News shouldn’t have gone into business with left-wing activists, no matter how many Pulitzers they may win for stories about the “exploitation of the weak by the strong”

I know that in this hyper-partisan media age in which we live, it sounds corny to say journalists should go after the truth, whether it helps or hurts Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives; that journalists should never have an agenda.  It may sound corny, but it’s true.

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  • Exasperated

    When I was in college (’64-’68) one of our required texts was Lippmann’s Public Opinion. I seem to recall that he was a leading spokesman for jounalistic ethics and objectivity at a time when Hearst was the example of the horrors of Yellow Press. At the time, most newspapers were associated with a political party. Objectivity and ethics were supposed to raise journalism from the scruffy and disreputable trade it was to a profession with some respectability.

    Seems to me the era of jounalistic ethics and objectivity went out the window in the 60s when so many of the newspapers wanted to come out four square opposed to Jim Crow and black’s privations under the post civil war Democratic administrations in the south. Boom. Gone. We got relentless advocacy journalism, crying out for the readers to DO SOMETHING TO REDRESS THE EVIL oppressing some appealling down-trodden representative of a minority whose sob story was related in excruciating detail. I recall my shock when the late David Blum’s 20-something producer explained his job as “to criticize the [Bush] administration.”

    Perhaps the urge to champion some tax-user and lambaste successful people is simply irresistable. The 24 hr news cycle doesn’t help. It make the lazy sloppy.  No serious thought seems to go into reporting today. None.

  • ahle

    the left started the kkk..go f your self nbs….your prejudice keeping the black man down..stop lying to keep them out of your restaraunts….

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  • Stephen Smoot

    So Romney almost uses a phrase used by the KKK almost a century ago and he is from the party of hatred. The Democrats stand by an actual former member of the KKK and assert that he is a changed man. I have no doubt Senator Byrd did change his stripes at some point, but it’s interesting to see people who supported Byrd as their liberal champion attack Romney in this vein.

  • Scott

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  • D steiner

    Anyone see brian williams on Letterman? He shows these photos of the president on the beach in maui, claims he doesn’t know how these photos could have been obtained(like he doesn’t know it was contrived and orchestrated to help Obama) because Obama’s whereabouts are supposed to be hush hush. Then he starts gushing of how he wasn’t being for Obama but that the photos show what they show: a great president. If this doesn’t make sense, I suggest watching if you can. Of course, Letterman the liberal doesn’t critique about how the photos were not contrived. Also, a quip was thrown out about imagining Newt Gingrich on the beach-the message being lets keep our young good lookin’ president in office.

  • Maureen

    Well Bernie,call me old fashioned and corny because I will only trust a “news” organization that truthfully informs without bias. Very few fit that bill.

  • Matt Goldsmith

    Hey Bernie. The major problem with media nowadays is that these 24 hour news stations (especially NBC and Fox) fill their prime time tv slots not with news shows, but with commentators. The way both stations use commentators to present “news,” makes me feel that both stations ought to be called entertainment channels. It’s a great business strategy for both. Fox gets all the conservatives to watch, while MSNBC gets all of the liberals. They both scare their viewers into believing the other side will do whatever it takes to get people on their side. Who does this kind of media benefit the most? The owners of the stations who are getting rich off of huge audiences, which, sadly, probably wouldn’t be as large, without the type of slanted coverage each channel provides. Until we get the majority of these commentators off of these stations and replace them with real live journalists, the divide in the nation between liberals and conservative will continue to grow and the audiences will continue to turn more and more vicious towards each other.

    • Drew Page

      Matt — I agree with you. Too many “news journalists” have morphed into entertainers and their ‘reporting’ is inevitably slanted according to their own personal biases.

      I am disgusted with the way the country is being run. I watch Fox News because I am sick of listening to the MSM make excuses for the current administration and refusing to report on anything that would appear to be critical of it. But I understand that Fox News is as conservative as the MSM outlets and networks are liberal.

      I am as disgusted with politicians who use their position to enrich themselves, families and friends as I am with welfare parasites who are gaming the system. All those who fall into these catagories are robbing honest hard working taxpayers and they deserve a swift kick in the ass.

  • EddieD_Boston

    Hey Bernie Nation, check out the article in National Review On-Line by Victor Davis Hanson titled “A Vandalized Valley”.

    The worst part is these are the animals Obama wants to give your hard earned money to.

    Yup, I’ll say it. They’re Mexican and they’re turning our country into there’s.

    Had enough?

  • Drew Page

    Bernie — I think the MSM has a mission statement something to the effect of “Our mission is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

    Americans in general always seem to champion the underdog, but that coin has two sides. It’s ironic that we cheer for the little guy to make good, but once he does, he becomes the enemy because no longer the little guy.

    I don’t know when exactly it happened, but somehow the Horatio Alger story got turned around. At one time bill Gates was a kid starting out with a big idea. He worked in a garage or a basement struggling to turn his vision into reality. Once it caught on, he became the richest man in America. The promise and exceptionalism of America is that anybody here has the opportunity to do the same thing. How did this success story get perverted into something ugly, to be protested and despised? Gates certainly falls into the 1%. In fact, he has more money than anyonre else. While making his fortune he has been responsible for providing hundreds of thousands of people jobs and the means to support their families. His work has made communication in the workplace and home faster and easier in thousands of different ways and enabled others to become entrepreneurs themselves, starting businesses of their own and repeating his success story on smaller scales.

    How did this guy become ‘the enemy’?

  • Paul Courtney

    Bernie: Question- can a journalist appear on FOX and still maintain his/her integrity? My answer is yes, but I’m in the “right wing bubble” (note to Wil-we call it “earth”).

    • RecknHavic

      Paul,

      If your waiting for Bernie to answer a rational question, you’ve got a long wait ahead of you. He only responds to wacko Right-wingers as he’s, apparently, afraid to debate a conservative.

      Bernie’s a nice guy, but he’s a Republican suit.

  • Nancye

    Changing the subject:

    Bernie:

    Happy Hanukkah

    also

    Merry Christmas

    and

    Happy New Year

  • Wallace Flint

    Hi Bernie,
    Right again, as usual! Those so-called “main stream” media are a big joke. They seem to think that they are the only ones who have a right to think. What a bunch of clowns!
    Some day this country will wake up to all this b.s. and “cut them off”, altogether God help this country if that “clown prince” Obama gets in again!

    In God We Trust!
    Wally Flint- Boonville, NY

  • Terry_Jim

    “Keep America American”- KKK
    “Keep America America”-Romney
    “Keep America Ignorant”- MSNBC

  • Jenna

    Personally, I feel MSNBC should be blocked altogether. It’s propaganda and lies.

    Why can’t the actual thinking public have a group lawsuit or class action against media outlets like NBC for lying and misleading the public?

    • rider237

      that is a dangerous road. better that the public be educated than a “news” outlet be blocked.

    • Wil Burns

      Jenna, What lies?… waiting.

  • Ken Hansen

    I just read an MSNBC piece on how the House GOP has boxed themselves in, and at one point the writer explains that Boehmer’s opposition to the two month ‘tax holiday’ had only three possible motivations – I won’t list them here, but he forgot to include a fourth possible motivation for rejecting the Senate plan… that Boehner wanted a 12 month tax holiday, not two, as evidenced by the bill for a 12 month tax holiday the house sent the Senate already.

    Oddly, the media doesn’t seem to remember bills the Senate ignores… It’s so weird!?

    • Bob Hadley

      Initially, leading House Repblicans did not want ANY extension of the tax cut. Now they say that two months is not long enough.

      Initially, Boenhner went along with the Senate’s bi-partisan compromise, but was undercut by his leutenants in the House. Only then does he sign-on to the line that two months is not enough.

      Both sides are playing politics.

      • Roadmaster

        It was reported today that the gubmint would take TWO MONTHS to get all their ducks in a row for a 2 month extension. Just another example of the dhimmicrat led Senate kicking the can down the road, only a little ways for this one. I would just as soon forgo the stupid withholding “holiday.” Who the heck is going to pay my mom’s SSI? I’m 62 but still working because who in the heck can afford to retire with 2 houses upside down and Obummer daily coming up with new ways to break the economy?

  • rider237

    Once Upon A Time…there was unbiased journalism. and like all Once Upon A Time stories, this is a fairy tale…

    stories are written by people and people can’t help but inject their bias. the trick is recognizing it. easy to do with an MSNBC. less easy with NYT.

    we don’t teach critical thinking anymore. i remember taking a class and having the professor dump a pile of newspapers in front of the class. we were instructed to pick a story and identify all the bias words in it. it was an amazing exercise and i have never read a story the same way since.

    it’s not the bias that’s the problem. it’s our inability to recognize it. words have a lot of power over our thinking. it doesn’t matter if it’s a teacher in a classroom or an article in a paper. if we are not aware of the manipulation, we are manipulated.

  • Jeannette

    Bernie: With all due respect to those folks at MSNBC and Time (none), they effectively do not exist.

    Decades ago Time (the magazine) ceased to exist; it became irrevocably irrelevant.

    The same has happened with MSNBC; it has simply ceased to be and, inasmuch as it does not exist, it’s irrelevant.

    The problem is that there are still folks who have an opinion that differs from mine with respect to Time and MSNBC. My hope is that wisdom will prevail in the end and that Time and MSNBC and all others of like persuasion will go the way of the Dodo. The only purpose for which they could possibly exist is to show the difference between complete dunderheads and people like you and a few others.

    Thanks.

  • Brendan Horn

    MSNBC is an entirely polemical “news” channel. They are hateful towards all Republicans and in particular to the people at the Fox News Channel. It is no surprise to me that they would do something as cheap as compare Romney to the KKK – it is especially not surprising that they would do so in an entirely specious way. I expect much worse from them as the presidential race heats up. The people at MSNBC are basically people who consider themselves to be followers in the ways of Machiavelli. In their minds, they know they are right (especially when they are wrong), and so they believe that normal rules of decency and journalism do not apply to them. They think that they are justified in any cheap attack they can make against Republicans, their perceived enemies. The people at MSNBC are cheerleaders and I will not be surprised if they credit Obama for the regime change in North Korea. They will say something like Kim Jong Il could not withstand the greatness of Obama and died as a result of his sadness at the feelings of inferiority caused by the true greatness of Obama.

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  • Ken Besig, Israel

    There has always been media bias, usually liberal and sometimes vulgar. But the Internet has made the situation much worse in that anyone, no matter how mentally ill or soured with hate, can write a “talkback” or an opinion and have it read and re read globally in an instant. Much of the truly coarse and vile commentary I hear from places like MSNBC are taken directly from some of the more disgusting web sites like Huffington Post and Media Matters. The Internet has made both hate and stupidity acceptable and commonplace. This is all the worse because this Internet filth has also poisoned political discourse and corrupted some parts of the media to the extent that no lie, no half truth, no smear, and no slander is too low or despicable to be broadcast against one’s political opponents.
    If you think things are terrible now, and they are, just imagine how ugly and hateful they will become in a few more months.

  • Vin Bickler

    Bernie:
    Do you ever get any feedback from liberal “journalists” when you continue to call them out for their biased reporting? You are so spot on correct time and again outlining the low level of the 4th Estate. It is informative and refreshing to watch you on the Factor.
    Best wishes for continued success; enjoy the holiday season.
    Vin Bickler

    • http://www.bernardgoldberg.com/ Bernard Goldberg

      Vin,

      Nope, never hear from liberal journalists regarding by comments. They live in a bubble and are blissfully unaware that they have lost the only commodity worth hanging on to: their credibility. They don’t take serious criticism seriously. They soon will be so irrelevant that we won’t waste our time with them. But for now, they still have a lot of viewers (the networks) … and need to be called out on their biases. But make no mistake, Vin: they do not care!

      Bernie

      • Wil Burns

        Bernie, Most liberal journalists consider you a sideshow and a FoxNews lackey, that’s always ready to verify almost everything they say. You are the one in a ‘bubble’ a right-wing bubble. As for credibility and biases…look in a mirror!

        • rider237

          you know the difference between commentary and reporting, right?

          • Wil Burns

            There is no difference, when you comment on something that you are reporting about, right?

          • Viet Vet

            Wil has his head up his ass, thus he doesn’t know anything.

  • Robert A. Hall

    The KKK also sometimes used a version of my favorite quote from Scottish history, “We fight not for glory, nor for riches, nor for honour, but only and alone for Freedom, which no good man lays down but with his life.” –Declaration of Arbroath, Scotland, 1320. Are Scots and everyone else now expected to stop using the quote? Do they prefer, “Keep America French”? I have it on good authority that members of the KKK also breathed in oxygen. To avoid being racists, I suggest that all leftist commentators and bloggers immediately stop doing so. I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog.

    Robert A. Hall
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    (All royalties go to a charity to help wounded veterans)
    For a free PDF of my book, write tartanmarine(at)gmail.com

    • Homer

      The KKK also breath. Are we all KKKs because we all breath?

  • rick geiger

    To say journalists go after truth is the same as saying district attorneys go after truth. They don’t Bernie, please tell me when going after truth has ever been the primary mission of journalists? Journalists are prosecutors going after convictions to make headlines to make money. It has always been like that.

  • Richard Allen

    Your segment on “The Factor” last evening was spot on. Romney may not be my choice but there is no call for the MSNBC to capitalize on a phrase he used that happened to be used 90 years ago. But such as a judge would instruct a jury not to regards a counselors last question, the damage has already been accomplished.

    • Ami

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  • Rick Johnson

    I love the apology. They know full well that you can’t ‘unring’ a bell !

  • DOOM161

    “You would have to be nuts to believe that. So then, how can something this irresponsible happen at a cable news network run by the once iconic NBC News.”

    And MSNBC is full of nuts. They employ a female anchor that blamed Fox News when MSNBC suspended Olbermann.

  • Kathie Ampela

    Always good to read your columns, Bernie.
    You are protecting the driveby consumers of news and information whether they know it or now. I think more and more are catching on to the way this media game is played. Happy Holidays to you!

  • Shane

    It still amazes me that so many liberals deny that there is a profound liberal media bias in our nation. MSNBC and NBC news are two of the worst offenders, but newspapers WAPO and NYT are also guilty of liberal bias.
    Of course, FNC and the Wall St. Journal do have a conservative bias, but the number of news organizations with a liberal bias are just so much greater in number and influence than those with a conservative bias.

  • ph16

    Thank you Bernie! Continue to write these great and interesting articles. They certainly make one think and you hit the nail on the head when you said, “I know that in this hyper-partisan media age in which we live, it sounds corny to say journalists should go after the truth, whether it helps or hurts Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives; that journalists should never have an agenda. It may sound corny, but it’s true.” as well as “This is a variation on an old journalism theme — that our role is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. No. That may be the work of priests and ministers and rabbis, but not of journalists.” Absolutely right especially the second quote, we certainly have too many journalists who think their job is to be a social worker rather than a newsman.

  • EddieD_Boston

    Trying to smear Romney as a racist is so foolish it’s beyond comprehension. Love or hate his politics, the guy is as squeaky clean as it gets.

    Only the truly deranged, like the 12 people watching MSNBC, would take an accusation like that seriously.

    And as far as African-Americans, they’re mostly voting for Obama already (does that make them racists Wil?) so what they think about Romney’s alleged racism is a moot point.

    • cmacrider

      EddieD: Very well said. Whether or not a person supports Romney .. he deserves credit for having a clean record. I wish those journalists who jump all over some public figures indiscretions would exert the same enthusiasm when an honest broker like Romney elects to enter the public arena.

      • EddieD_Boston

        Romney puts the liberal media in a real bind. He isn’t stupid, he went to Harvard like they did. He’s not an Evangelical Christian, so he’s not thanking God for everything. He signed Romneycare into law, so he’s not an evil republican who wants to kill grandmothers and starve children.

        What’s a looney liberal to do? Oh that’s right, claim Romney is now utilizing KKK slogans.

    • Bruce A

      I didn’t know the viewership at MSNBC was up to 12 people. Looks like the new management works well.

  • Steve Angers

    I appreciate your continuing crusade for integrity in journalism, Bernie. I hope that your efforts help lead to a day when we, or our children, can once again rely on this institution to help keep us well-informed about about what’s going on in our world.

    We can’t make good decisions without accurate information. And getting any information today involves referencing many sources, trying to understand the bias of each source, and then making our best guess about where the truth actually lies.

    Freedom of the press was a right that our founding fathers considered critical to the health of our nation. It’s a shame that so few people who are part of that institution are willing to accept the responsibility that goes with that right. Thanks for being one of the good guys.

    • http://www.bernardgoldberg.com/ Bernard Goldberg

      Thank you, Steve. I appreciate the kind words. But mostly I appreciate that you GET IT. So many, don’t.

      Bernie