Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

CBS explodes liberal media bias myth

From the San Francisco Chronicle …

To add to it, the Washington Post was one of the more aggressive papers in uncovering CBS's journalistic misconduct. Yet it didn't even do an official mea culpa on the Iraq-WMD issue the way the NYT did, even though it made the same errors.

W-P media writer Howard Kurtz reviewed his paper's coverage. If I remember correctly, the editors interviewed grudgingly admitted making mistakes, but didn't say they would fundamentally do anything different.

Bill Doskoch
Not in Toronto, ON


CBS explodes liberal media bias myth

N.Y. Times case was more serious but favored Bush, got less play in media

Ethan Rarick

Sunday, September 26, 2004

If ever a story should destroy the myth of liberal media bias, it is the flap over Dan Rather's flub. For CBS, the admission that it cannot verify the authenticity of documents used in a story about President Bush's National Guard service is a serious matter to be sure. People should probably be fired.

But the real and long-lasting lesson of this story lies in the amount of attention being paid to the apology, particularly in relation to another recent case of grievous media error.

Just four months ago, lest we forget, the New York Times issued its own mea culpa, acknowledging the repeated use of dubious information in its coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War and the Bush administration's repeated assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. In the case of one story, the Times flat-out said it was duped, although it used the more decorous phrase “taken in.”

The two media apologies have a lot in common. In both cases, the issues involved have major implications for the presidential campaign. In both cases, a well-known national news organization admitted sloppy reporting and acknowledged that critical information could not be verified. In both cases, reporters were overly credulous in dealing with sources who had a political interest at stake — in the CBS case the former Guardsman who is a vehement Bush opponent, in the New York Times case the Bush administration officials defending the president's decision to attack Iraq.

The critical difference between the two stories is that the Times' mistake was actually the far more serious of the two. The suspect stories touched on a more substantive topic — the reasons for sending American soldiers to fight and die rather than the service record of a single lieutenant three decades ago — and the journalistic failures were more prolonged and repeated, involving multiple stories over a period of months rather than a single story on a single day.

Yet against all logic, the CBS mea culpa is getting much more ink and air time than the New York Times case. …



Tue, September 28 2004 » CAJ-L postings