Media top headlines July 21
In media news today, politicians mislead on Texas education bill, Jeff Bezos gets roasted for thanking employees and customers for paying for his spaceflight, and critics slam the press for soft treatment of Democratic ‘Texas super spreaders’
Reporters at mainstream media outlets are often miffed when accused of liberal bias, but some don’t try to hide it once they’re no longer employed there.
There have been several prominent journalists who have left positions at major news institutions in recent years who have thrown away any mask of neutrality. In many instances, they’ve openly declared their support for the Democratic Party or the progressive movement.
The most recent example of a reporter going from journalism to open activism is former CBS News correspondent Kate Smith, who had covered “abortion access” there since October 2018. She announced her departure last week and then immediately preceded to advocate a pro-choice position, although she had long been criticized by conservatives already avenes an enthusiastic proponent in her reporting.
“Now that I’m not a reporter I can be candid about my own opinions on reproductive rights,” Smith wrote. “I’ll say this: With or without Roe v Wade access to abortion is disappearing across the South and Midwest for low income women. And it’s happening more or less under the radar.”
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Smith isn’t the first CBS reporter to leave the network and shed the veener of impartiality. Disgraced “CBS Nightly News” anchor Dan Rather left the network in 2005 after he aired unverified documents in a report about President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard prior to the 2004 election. Rather continues to stand by his false report.
Despite this, Rather has become a vocal critic of what he deems is fake news coming from Republicans, thrilling liberals with folksy yet banal analysis on Twitter and elsewhere. Networks and shows like MSNBC, PBS, and CNN’s “Reliable Sources” have invited Rather on their programs as a credible voice on proper journalism, in spite of his left-wing politics and humiliating exit from CBS.
In 2018, Rather joined the progressive network The Young Turks with his own show “The News With Dan Rather.” More recently, Rather criticized former Daily Show host Jon Stewart for mocking the media for not taking seriously the possibility that COVID-19 leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. The former CBS anchor called Stewart’s comments “dangerous and shortsighted.”
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Former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien followed in Rather’s footsteps after leaving the network in 2013. Since leaving CNN as host of the short-lived morning show “Starting Point,” O’Brien has shared her left-leaning views and thoughts on a variety of issues, blasting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, arguing the media is too friendly to Republicans, advocating for abortion rights, and praising Democrats.
Former NBC News anchor Brian Williams, now a left-wing MSNBC personality, is another example of an ex-mainstream journalist who’s no longer shy about his progressive views.
He was dropped from “NBC Nightly News” in 2015 for fabricating stories, including his tall tale about being in a helicopter that was shot down during the Iraq War. After he was suspended for six months, he was demoted to a position as a breaking news anchor for MSNBC, NBC’s left-wing cable arm. He’s since been given his own nightly program and frequently repeats progressive talking points and offers harsh and sometimes crude criticisms of Republicans.
It is not only news anchors that voice their personal views when they leave their position. Reporters, who spent years and decades at publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post, often reveal their liberal bias when they retire or move to a columnist role.
Linda Greenhouse spent 40 years at the New York Times reporting on the Supreme Court and the U.S. legal system. In 2008, she retired from reporting but continued to write for the Times in columns in which she expressed her liberal views. In her columns, she voices support for abortion rights, displeasure in conservative justices, praise for liberal justices, and dismay at gun rights.
Fellow New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse followed the same pattern. After 31 years of reporting, he retired from writing but occasionally writes op-eds for the Gray Lady, where he frequently criticizes conservatives and offers praise for progressive policies.
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Former TIME Magazine Washington bureau chief Jay Carney showed his hand in 2008 when he left the magazine to work for then-Vice President-elect Joe Biden. He worked for Biden until 2011, when he was appointed President Barack Obama’s press secretary, serving in the position until 2014.
That’s not to mention MSNBC and NBC News Capitol Hill reporter Luke Russert, whose social media feed has been heavily liberal and anti-Republican since he left his nonpartisan role in 2016.
Washington Post columnist Perry Bacon Jr., a former reporter for the Post, TIME, and FiveThirtyEight, has been unabashed in his new role in his support for Democrats and progressive priorities under the guise of protecting democracy.
“I would argue the core mission is to present facts, present evidence, present an evidence-based view of the world, and to also, in my view, defend the ideas of a democracy in a multiracial democracy,” he wrote in a recent column. Invited on CNN to discuss the piece, he declared the media “biased in terms of facts.”
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In a 2013 study, only seven percent of U.S. journalists identified as Republican and that figure decreased when former President Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Throughout the Trump administration, reporters became more openly partisan in what they viewed as combating misinformation from an autocratic president.
Earlier this year, a poll showed American trust in traditional media had declined to an all-time low.
Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn, Brandon Gillespie, David Rutz, and Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report.