Illiberal Conservative Media (ICM) TM

[alternately, Insidious Corporatist Media, U.S.A.]

One Page Summary
 
Defining Media Bias
 
Introduction
 
How the Liberal Media Myth is Created
 
Why the Liberal Media Myth Persists
 
1. Conservatives Let Out The truth
 
2. Conservative Books and Studies Alleging "Liberal Bias" 
3. Conservative Media Watch Orgs Alleging "Liberal Bias" 
4. Issues and Bias 
5. Pravda, U.S.A. 
Liars, Inc.
 
Alternative Media
 
Updates/Corrections
 

4. Issues and Bias

4.7 Punishment

Journalistic malpractice against prominent Democrats is routinely considered acceptable and is rarely associated with any real punishment (see Sec. 4.6). Indeed, people are sometimes even promoted after their journalistic malpractice against Democratic leaders (e.g., Carl Cameron of Faux News). In contrast, distortions or even opinions or facts that put prominent Republicans/conservatives or the media outlets that propagandized for them in poor light are often considered unacceptable and meet with publicized punishment. Sometimes this punishment occurs for mere behaviors that are similar in nature to those that are more than tolerated when they are exhibited (or topped) by media personalities or reporters on the Right, such as:

Now, there are a few cases where conservatives have been punished. 

  1. Ann-Coulter-wannabe Michelle Malkin (fired for being "too stridently anti-liberal")

  2. Michele Zipp (Playgirl Magazine, fired for "being Republican")

  3. Ann Coulter (USA Today dropped her after specifically hiring her to comment on the 2004 Democratic National Convention because of "difference of opinion over editing -- words, voice, that sort of thing" - as in, "difference of opinion" with the nature of an article about the "Spawn of Satan convention.")

  4. Brian Maloney (KIRO-AM, who claimed he was fired for his criticism of Dan Rather, although the radio station claimed he was "primarily" fired for something else) [link via Instapundit]

  5. Paul Greenberg (KUAR radio, claimed he was hired for providing a conservative voice and then fired for his stances)

[NOTE: For good reasons, I am not including a few other cases of conservatives being fired - see APPENDIX 1]

But, the number of columnists/talk radio hosts or reporters who have either been disciplined or fired because of their reports or columns that placed prominent conservatives/Republicans in poor light or the media in poor light for propagandizing for the Right, is far more numerous. This, despite the fact that many of these incidents have nothing to do with media malpractice, but have, at worst, to do with poor judgment. This alone shows how the media is not "liberal biased" on the topic of accountability and punishment, but is in fact conservatively biased. 

A list of 21 cases is provided below (it is not extensive by any means since this was only based on Google searches). Let me make it clear that, I am not condoning poor journalism by featuring cases where someone got fired for poor journalism. After all, the whole point of my website is to highlight egregious and poor journalism. I am providing the examples below to point out the hypocrisy and double standards inherent in today's conservatively biased media.

Another point that needs to be made here is that the fact that people like Rush Limbaugh, the entire set of Faux News talking heads, and hordes of reporters and columnists (especially conservative) far and wide (at the New York Times, Washington Post, Cable TV outlets, talk radio, etc.), have made a career out of years and years of fabrications and deception about the Democratic party leadership (and liberals in general) without losing their jobs, demonstrates that conservatives do not take seriously their own criticisms of media integrity or media bias. Inaccuracies are far worse than biases; yet, as the Daily Howler, Media Matters, FAIR, ConWebWatch and numerous other websites (e.g., News Hounds), as well as the myriad books like those of Brock, Alterman, Conason and many more, have documented over the years, reporters and columnists who invent stories about liberals/Progressives and Democrats overwhelmingly go scot-freeThe worst of them even get more publicity, recognition or promotions in conservative circles (names likes Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Carl Cameron, John Tierney, etc. come to mind). 

EXAMPLES 

4.7.1 Peter Arnett (NBC/National Geographic)

4.7.2 Steve McLinden (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

4.7.3 Dan Guthrie (Daily Courier)

4.7.4 Tom Gutting (Texas City Sun)

4.7.5 Farnaz Fassihi (Wall Street Journal)

4.7.6 Charles Goyette (Clear Channel/KFYI)

4.7.7 David "Davey D" Cook (Clear Channel/KMEL)

4.7.8 Phil Donahue (MSNBC)

4.7.9 Bill Maher (ABC)

4.7.10 Tim McCarthy (The Courier)

4.7.11 Jon Lieberman (Sinclair Broadcasting)

4.7.12 Peter Werbe (KOMY-AM, Santa Cruz, CA)

4.7.13 Brent Flynn (Lewisville Leader, TX)

4.7.14 Ed Gernon (CBS - indirectly)

4.7.15 Roxanne Walker (Clear Channel/WMYI)

4.7.16 Betsy West, Josh Howard, Mary Murphy, Mary Mapes (CBS)

4.7.17 Henry Norr (San Francisco Chronicle)

4.7.18 William Pates (San Francisco Chronicle)

4.7.19 Jane Akre and Steve Wilson (Fox News)

4.7.20 Molly Ivins (Virginian-Pilot)

4.7.21 Stephanie Salter (San Francisco Chronicle)

BONUS: J. R. Hatfield (St. Martin's Press and other media)

APPENDIX 2: Cases where someone was fired and attributed it to their stance against Bush or the Right, but where there are some questions about that.


4.7.1 Peter Arnett (NBC/National Geographic)

Media Matters:

Following Media Matters for America's March 1 item exposing Boston Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray's use of weblogs to attack Senator John Kerry and support President Bush during the 2004 presidential campaign, the Globe issued a statement saying that Bray had been told that his postings were "inappropriate and in violation of our standards" and had been "instructed to discontinue any such postings." By contrast, other publications have fired reporters in recent years for expressing personal political opinions, and in at least two cases, columnists, for pointed criticisms of President Bush.

In numerous instances since 2001, journalists and other media figures have reportedly been fired or punished for expressing ideological or partisan views in public:

  • NBC and National Geographic fired journalist Peter Arnett for giving an interview to an Iraqi television station in which he criticized America's planning for the Iraq war, stating: "Clearly, the American war plans misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces." [Associated Press, 3/31/03]

4.7.2 Steve McLinden (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Media Matters:

In numerous instances since 2001, journalists and other media figures have reportedly been fired or punished for expressing ideological or partisan views in public:

...

  • The Fort Worth Star-Telegram fired real estate columnist Steve McLinden after he sent a private e-mail response to a statewide e-mail from the Young Conservatives of Texas, which advertised a protest of an upcoming speech by former president Bill Clinton. In his e-mail, which the Young Conservatives of Texas included as part of their anti-Clinton promotions, McLinden attacked the group as "heartless, greedy, anti-intellectual little fascists." [Fort Worth Weekly, 3/27/03]

4.7.3 Dan Guthrie (Daily Courier)

Media Matters:

In numerous instances since 2001, journalists and other media figures have reportedly been fired or punished for expressing ideological or partisan views in public:
...
Columnists Dan Guthrie and Tom Gutting were fired by newspapers in Oregon and Texas, respectively, "after writing pointed opinion pieces critical of President Bush's handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States," Editor & Publisher reported on September 27, 2001. E&P noted: "Publishers at both dailies would not say if the columns led directly to the firings, but they appear to have played central roles."

  • The Grants Pass, Oregon, Daily Courier fired columnist Dan Guthrie was fired for a September 15, 2001, column in which he criticized President Bush for "hiding in a Nebraska hole" on September 11, 2001. Guthrie also wrote of Bush: "His first time under real pressure, he bolted. Many do. Maybe he'll have a chance to redeem himself now that the holy wars have reached our land." [AP, 9/26/01]

In contrast, we have this (via Oliver Willis):

Sean Hannity, the talking-point spouting mouthpiece on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes was recently caught by Harry Shearer slamming a Democratic congressman as an "asshole" when Hannity didn't realize he was being recorded.

Click here and listen.

Strangely, Hannity is constantly decrying the lack of civility from Democrats, but in the recording goes on to say "I hate these people".

More from Roger Ailes:

You've probably already heard the audio clip of Fox News' Sean Hannity demonstrating his deeply-held Christian principles, captured for posterity by Harry Shearer. Here's the transcript:

"Congressman's next. This is the one negative guy. I'm going to pound him too, like this other guy. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Congressman. Jerk. Jim Moran. I forget where he's from. Where's he from, Finley? He, he wanted to talk about Medicare. Good God. What a jerk. Did you hear that, Frank? Asshole. God I hate these people, you have no idea. It's unbelievable to me. How pissed was Moran? Not that I give a shit. The ... I've ... I always couldn't stand this guy."
(Click "March 27, 2005 (entire program)" here, begins at 29:07.)

4.7.4 Tom Gutting (Texas City Sun)

Media Matters:

In numerous instances since 2001, journalists and other media figures have reportedly been fired or punished for expressing ideological or partisan views in public:
...
Columnists Dan Guthrie and Tom Gutting were fired by newspapers in Oregon and Texas, respectively, "after writing pointed opinion pieces critical of President Bush's handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States," Editor & Publisher reported on September 27, 2001. E&P noted: "Publishers at both dailies would not say if the columns led directly to the firings, but they appear to have played central roles."

...

  • The Texas City Sun fired columnist and city editor Tom Gutting after a September 22, 2001, column in which he wrote that on September 11, 2001, Bush "was flying around the country like a scared child seeking refuge in his mother's bed after having a nightmare." [Editor & Publisher, 9/27/01]

These examples were compiled by someone writing under the name Jackson Thoreau in a May 24, 2003, column titled "Some Courageous mainstream journalists still stand up to censorship," featured on OpEdNews.com.

In contrast, we have this (via Oliver Willis):

Sean Hannity, the talking-point spouting mouthpiece on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes was recently caught by Harry Shearer slamming a Democratic congressman as an "asshole" [and "jerk" - eRiposte] when Hannity didn't realize he was being recorded.

Click here and listen.

Strangely, Hannity is constantly decrying the lack of civility from Democrats, but in the recording goes on to say "I hate these people".

4.7.5 Farnaz Fassihi (Wall Street Journal)

Media Matters:

Finally, Wall Street Journal Middle East correspondent Farnaz Fassihi "would not be allowed to write about Iraq for the paper until after the [2004 presidential] election," the Los Angeles Times reported on October 2, 2004, "presumably because unauthorized publication of her private correspondence somehow called into question the fairness of her journalism." A personal e-mail, in which Fassihi wrote, "Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster," had been widely distributed on the Internet. When asked if Fassihi's e-mail had been the impetus behind the reassignment, the Journal responded: "Ms. Fassihi is coming out of Iraq shortly on a long planned vacation. That vacation was planned to, and will, extend past the election." Fassihi later confirmed this.

4.7.6 Charles Goyette (Clear Channel/KFYI)

Salon.com:

Phoenix talk show host Charles Goyette says he was kicked off his afternoon drive-time program at Clear Channel's KFYI because of his sharp criticism of the war on Iraq. A self-described Goldwater Republican who was selected "man of the year" by the Republican Party in his local county in 1988, Goyette -- more recently named best talk show host of 2003 by the Phoenix New Times -- says his years with Clear Channel had been among his best in broadcasting. "The trouble started during the long march to war," he says.

While the rest of the station's talk lineup was in a pro-war "frenzy," Goyette was inviting administration critics like former weapons inspector Scott Ritter on his show, and discussing complaints from the intelligence community that the analysis on Iraq was being cooked to support the White House's pro-war agenda. This didn't go over well with his bosses, Goyette says: "I was the Baby Ruth bar in the punch bowl."

Soon, according to Goyette, he was having "toe-to-toe confrontations" with his local Clear Channel managers off the air about his opposition to the war. "One of my bosses said in a tone of exasperation, 'I feel like I'm managing the Dixie Chicks,'" Goyette recalls. "I didn't fit in with the Clear Channel corporate culture."

Writing in the February issue of American Conservative magazine, Goyette put it this way: "Why only a couple of months after my company picked up the option on my contract for another year in the fifth-largest city in the United States, did it suddenly decide to relegate me to radio Outer Darkness? The answer lies hidden in the oil-and-water incompatibility of these two seemingly disconnected phrases: 'Criticizing Bush' and 'Clear Channel.'"

Goyette, who was relegated to the dead 7-10 p.m. slot, wrote, "I was replaced on my primetime talk show by the Frick and Frack of Bushophiles, two giggling guys who think everything our tongue-tied president does is 'Most excellent, dude!'"

4.7.7 David "Davey D" Cook (Clear Channel/KMEL)

Jennifer Bauduy notes this at TomPaine.com:

So when radio personality David "Davey D" Cook was fired after leading a heated anti-war debate on his program, San Francisco listeners were outraged. Was Cook the latest casualty of growing intolerance to independent views?

In early October, media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications fired Cook from its California affiliate KMEL, ostensibly due to budget cuts. The company -- which caused a furor for distributing a list to stations of songs it suggested not be played after September 11 -- dismissed Cook soon after he aired an interview with Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Lee was the only member of Congress to oppose authorizing Bush with sweeping war powers against terrorists.

Cook, 36, also invited a range of studio guests from the Muslim community on the show with Lee.

"That show was probably ... the first time people had heard individuals with other perspectives," said Cook, a community activist and hip-hop expert who had been working at KMEL for 11 years.
...
This may not have pleased Clear Channel Chairman and CEO Lowry Mays, a major contributor to the Republican party.

A week later, Cook was fired. KMEL General Manager Joe Cunningham said Clear Channel, which owns 1,200 radio stations, simply needed to cut costs.

"David Cook's termination had absolutely nothing to do with anything said or done on the air nor is it some corporate attempt to hide behind a false excuse," said Cunningham. "Decisions were made strictly about business and finances and not politics. "

Even if it did have to do with politics, the station was not obligated to keep someone whose opinions it disagreed with, said Tom Rosenstiel of the Washington, D.C.-based Project for Excellence in Journalism.

"I don't think you necessarily have to build your programming day around somebody who believes in something that you fundamentally don't believe in," he said.

In addition to Cook, nine other employees were fired, according to Cunningham. None were as high profile as Cook, and none of the other dismissals raised the hullabaloo that Cook's did.

Hip-hop listeners in the San Francisco Bay Area were angered. Some began a letter writing campaign to the station and to local newspapers, others gathered in community meetings, some called for protests against the station. Cook's dismissal was covered in a host of newspapers including the Oakland Tribune, The San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Davey D is a local institution," said Chauncey Bailey, who covered Cook's dismissal for the Tribune, and who also is news director for Oakland's KFBT-TV. "There have not been a lot of forums for people to speak out against the war effort. Davey D provided that with his program."

Bailey noted that Cook's programs clashed with the station's fervent patriotism and that a group of "very patriotic" disc jockeys remain at KMEL fueled listeners' suspicions about Cook's termination.

"The problem is perception drives reality, and if people perceive that this is a response to his activism then that's how people are going to perceive it, whether it's the truth or not," Bailey said.

Neva Chonin, a pop music critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, said that, in tough economic times, programs like Cook's are the first to go.
...

Popular talk show host fired for profitability reasons. Got it?

4.7.8 Phil Donahue (MSNBC)

Some people probably remember Phil Donahue being fired from MSNBC for running a talk show that was critical of the Iraq war:

On the October 28 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, veteran talk show host Phil Donahue remarked on being fired from MSNBC in February 2003. As The New York Times reported at the time, when Donahue's MSNBC show, Donahue, was cancelled, "he was actually attracting more viewers than any other show on MSNBC."

SEAN HANNITY (co-host): What happened at MSNBC?

DONAHUE: Well, we were the only antiwar voice that had a show, and that, I think, made them very nervous. I mean, from the top down, they were just terrified. We had to have two conservatives on for every liberal. I was counted as two liberals.

HANNITY: You have the force of two liberals.

DONAHUE: I mean, you know, it's a shame, you know? Now, we were replaced by Michael Savage, and now they have Chuck [sic: Joe] Scarborough. And by the way, I wish them all well. A lot of the people who worked for me, incidentally, a wonderful crowd of very young, bright people who worked for me, some of whom have now matriculated to other programs on MSNBC. So I want them to do well, but I certainly wasn't -- it was a very, very unhappy time for me.

HANNITY: You felt mistreated? You felt mistreated?

DONAHUE: Well, we were very -- I was isolated, and we were very alone at the end. And then we had nobody supporting us, and our numbers were very decent. We weren't Elvis, but we were often the best number --

HANNITY: You were the highest-rated show on the network.

DONAHUE: Yes. And we were told to leave.

Talk show host with highest ratings on a beleaguered cable channel fired. Got it? So much for the media and free market capitalism.

4.7.9 Bill Maher (ABC)

Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler mentioned the ridiculous censorship (and show-cancellation) that accompanied Bill Maher's unfortunate and, in my view, misguided remarks soon after 9/11 - and how conservative commentators who had long been making similar misguided remarks during Clinton's term and visibly insulting the military in the process got away scot-free. [I call his comments misguided because Bill Maher's claim did NOT really have merit. The fact is that we need to be smart about winning wars and needlessly sacrificing the lives of our soldiers out of an anachronistic notion of bravery or "cowardice" makes no sense].

The Daily update (9/22/01)

War fever: Of all the mini-frenzies of the past ten days, the assault on Bill Maher has been the biggest and silliest. Maher used the word "cowardly" to describe certain American war conduct of the past decade. "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly," Maher said on his ABC show, Politically Incorrect. "Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly," Maher said of last week’s suicide bombers.

Maher has been widely reviled for calling U.S. bombing practices "cowardly." But a wide range of commentators said exactly the same thing during the U.S.-led NATO campaign in Kosovo. We’ll supply three or four, then call it quits. Here’s Robert Manning in the Washington Times, 6/28/99:

MANNING: On the plus side, it must be said the U.S. military technology itself was certainly something to behold. The improvements on precision-guided weapons since the Gulf war, and the efficacy of the B-2 bomber evidenced in the bombardment was so impressive that one may argue it changes the nature of air war. Yet there was something cowardly about a war that was important enough to kill for but not for us to die for. The death and destruction, not just to Kosovars, but to Serbian civilians whose crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time, must be weighed against the savagery of Slobodan Milosevic and his regime.

A few weeks before, Howard Kurtz had quoted Rich Lowry:

KURTZ: Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, which has urged the use of ground troops, said: "Even if Clinton wins a decent deal from Milosevic, he’s not going to go down as our Churchill or Eisenhower. It’s been a creepy and cowardly war... The original goal, saving the Kosovars, was lost in the first several weeks. When 90 percent of the people were chased out of their homes, that was what the war was designed to stop."

But then, the National Review was high on this critique. Mark Steyn, on May 31, 1999:

STEYN: After six weeks, the dead are everywhere–in Kosovo villages, Serb TV stations–except on the NATO side: Our top guns sit around playing poker on mildly cloudy nights; the Apache helicopters are rusting in the mud of Tirana; and there’s no one to give medals to except the only three Americans who’ve come within 15,000 feet of the enemy. In a cowardly little one-sided war, the glorification of these men was especially unseemly.

In the same issue, Roger Scruton voiced the same judgment:

SCRUTON: In effect, the war in Serbia is an exercise in sanitized aggression–force without the risk of force, violence without tears, destruction from a place of safety. Not only is this cowardly: It is profoundly counter-productive, as we are beginning to see.

Indeed, this was such a common critique of the Kosovo bombing, Rita Braver asked William Cohen about it on the June 27 CBS Sunday Morning:

BRAVER: (Voiceover) But as we talked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Cohen insisted that it was also his view that an air war was the only option in Kosovo, given what both the American public and the NATO allies would accept.

What’s your response to people who say that this kind of an air campaign was a cowardly way to fight a war?

COHEN: I would ask them to come and talk to these pilots. I would ask them to say, "Do you think that you were lacking in bravery in flying these missions in the middle of the night over territory that was heavily armed with surface-to-air missiles, with anti-aircraft fire?" I’d ask them to come to these pilots and ask them whether they thought they were cowards.

Cohen didn’t think it was cowardly. But this judgment was routinely voiced during Kosozo, and major commentators said the same thing about the missile attack on Sudan. We’re not surprised when major pundits like Bryant Gumbel and Jane Clayson show no sign of knowing this; they sounded off in classic know-nothing fashion on the September 20 CBS Early Show. (Maybe they could speak with Braver and have her brief them on recent events.) But for the record, many people have said what Maher said. While Maher is publicly brought to heel like a defendant in a Chinese show trial, maybe Rich Lowry should go on TV and repent for his non-Mao-thought too.

4.7.10 Tim McCarthy (The Courier)

Before reviewing the details of this case, let us recall that the Right's spokespersons don't get fired for wishing that the New York Times building had been actually bombed, among many other things. As Alterman points out: "Coulter may routinely call for the murder of liberals, of Arabs, of journalists, of the [Democratic - ed.] President, among many others. She may compare adorable Katie Couric to Eva Braun and Joseph Goebbels and joke about blowing up the Times building. But instead of ignoring, laughing at or, perhaps most usefully, sedating her, we find Coulter's blond locks and bony ass celebrated by talk-show bookers and gossip columnists--even a genuine book reviewer--from coast to proverbial coast." Now, Coulter has been fired once for a couple of extraordinarily inflammatory columns including comments like "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity", but this is an exception - not the rule. She has always had even more willing sponsors (before those inflammatory comments and after).

This case report is from the The Caledonian-Record. Note that the person fired, Tim McCarthy, is not the one who drew the offensive cartoon - which is one of the issues involved in this case:

Tim McCarthy, editor of Littleton's weekly newspaper, The Courier, was fired Wednesday for what he believes were political reasons.

In a telephone interview this morning, McCarthy said he thinks he was fired because of anti-Bush editorials and because he supports a long-time Courier political cartoonist, Mike Marland, who got into hot water recently over a cartoon critical of President Bush.

Marland, who got his start with The Courier two decades ago, draws cartoons for other papers too, including The Concord Monitor. Last month, one of Marland's cartoons run in the Monitor drew fire from The White House. The cartoon depicted a plane labeled "Bush Budget" slamming into two towers labeled "Social Security."

McCarthy claims he was fired because he opposed a subsequent decision by Salmon Press, the chain that owns The Courier, to cancel Marland cartoons.

"Mike Marland got his start with The Courier 20 years ago," said McCarthy. "I was going to continue running his cartoons and pay for it out of my own pocket."

McCarthy said that officially, Salmon Press publisher Rich Piatt gave him (McCarthy) no reason for why he was being fired after eight years as editor of the paper.

But when McCarthy pressed for a reason, he claims Piatt, "said if he had to give me a cause, it would be insubordination."

Besides the controversial cartoonist, McCarthy claims he'd been asked to change his own "editorial direction" on the war in Afghanistan.

"And I did lay off that until George Bush's State of the Union (address)," said McCarthy, who ran an editorial Feb. 6 blasting Bush's "Axis of Evil" remarks.

Reached this morning, Piatt said, "I really have no comment other than it is an internal affair."

Salmon Press, based in Meredith, N.H., has owned The Courier for about two years. Among other papers, it also owns The Coos County Democrat in Lancaster.

Olivia "B.B." Garfield, widow of The Courier's late publisher, Doug Garfield, still works at the paper as the associate editor. She criticized the McCarthy firing.

"All of us feel betrayed by Salmon Press," she said this morning. "(McCarthy) is a man who's led this paper into a strong position. He gets a lot of work out of his staff because we have so much respect for him.

"In New Hampshire, you can fire someone without reason. None of us were given a reason -- including Tim," she added.

"It certainly takes the morale out of you," Garfield concluded. "If we'd been given some kind of reason, maybe it is something we could live with."

4.7.11 Jon Lieberman (Sinclair Broadcasting) 

Before we read this example, some perspective is in order.

Goldberg first attacked CBS for liberal bias on the op-ed page of the February, 13, 1996, Wall Street Journal -- comments made he insists, just to get the conversation started.
...

NOTE:
[...] He retired from the network in the summer of 2000.

Link:

The Washington bureau chief for a chain of television stations that plans to run a documentary critical of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Monday he was fired for publicly criticizing the company's decision to air the program.

In an interview published Monday, Jon Leiberman told The Baltimore Sun that Sinclair Broadcast Group's decision to air the 45-minute film as a news program was "biased political propaganda."

Leiberman later told CNN he was fired after the story hit newsstands.

"The reason for my firing was that I relayed what they called proprietary information from an in-house meeting and I divulged it to the media, which is against company policy," he said.

Corporate spokesman Mark Hyman confirmed Leiberman's dismissal and said the company did not comment on personnel matters.

Leiberman told CNN he had raised objections within the company to airing the film as a news program, and "just basically said, 'I don't want to be a part of it.'" He said he was warned not to go public with his objections and was canned when he did.

"I knew this was a possible consequence," Leiberman said. "I really wanted them to just change the ways that they do things. I've been telling them for months that they need to change the way they do things."
...
Leiberman said he had worked for Sinclair for four and a half years and founded the company's Washington bureau 15 months ago.

"There was a lot of pressure from above and from the commentary department to put a certain slant on the news, and I fought that. I fought that for months," he said.

There was no immediate reaction from Hyman to that allegation.

4.7.12 Peter Werbe (KOMY-AM, Santa Cruz, CA)

According to this site:

Syndicated radio host Peter Werbe's talk-radio show was dropped by radio station KOMY-AM in Santa Cruz, California in early October 2001 after questioning U.S. military actions in Afghanistan.

Source - "Uncivil Liberty" - Metro Santa Cruz Newspaper - 10/26/01

4.7.13 Brent Flynn (Lewisville Leader, TX)

FAIR:

Brent Flynn, a reporter for the Lewisville (Texas) Leader, was told he could no longer write a column for the paper in which he had expressed anti-war views. "I was told that because I had attended an anti-war rally, I had violated the newspaper's ethics policy that prohibits members of the editorial staff from participating in any political activity other than voting," Flynn wrote in a note on his personal website. "I am convinced that if my column was supportive of the war and it was a pro-war rally that I attended, they would not have dared to cancel my column.... The fact that the column was cancelled just days before the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq raises serious questions about the motives for the cancellation." Although Flynn was ostensibly sanctioned for compromising the paper's "objectivity," he continues to serve as a news reporter for the paper, while losing the part of his job where he was expected to express opinions.

4.7.14 Ed Gernon (CBS - indirectly) 

Some advance perspective before we review the facts of this case:

On June 30, radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) recent campaign trail use of award-winning Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes's slogan "Let America be America again," making the top headline of his website, "Communism lives in the Democratic Party?" Limbaugh's comments echoed recent statements by FOX News Channel chief political correspondent Carl Cameron, The Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto, and National Review founder and editor-at-large William F. Buckley Jr.

Limbaugh also linked to a transcript of his remarks from the June 30 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, during which he stated, "You've got a Democratic presidential nominee quoting from a poem written in the 1930s that is anti-America and pro-communist, Marxist-Leninist, what have you." On his June 29 show, Limbaugh said, "John Kerry either doesn't find anything wrong with the fact that Langston Hughes is a communist, or is banking on the fact that nobody will know it."

Some additional perspective, before we get to the specific case of Ed Gernon:

[Rush Limbaugh]: I prefer to call the most obnoxious feminists what they really are: feminazis. The term describes any female who is intolerant of any point of view that challenges militant feminism. I often use it to describe women who are obsessed with perpetuating a modern-day holocaust: abortion.

Now to the case at hand (Link):

The producer of an American television series about Hitler has been fired for comparing the climate of fear that led to the rise of Nazism to the current situation in the United States.

According to Monday's Los Angeles Times, Ed Gernon, the executive producer of Hitler: The Rise of Evil, was fired by a Canadian production company at the behest of the CBS network after his controversial comments appeared in TV Guide magazine last week.

Scheduled to air next month, the drama stars Robert Carlyle as Hitler and examines the conditions that led to the rise of the notorious dictator.

Gernon stated his belief that fear fuelled both the Bush administration's adoption of a pre-emptive-strike policy and the public's acceptance of it.

"It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunged the whole nation into war," Gernon told TV Guide.

"I can't think of a better time to examine this history than now. When an entire country becomes afraid for their sovereignty, for their safety, they will embrace ideas and strategies and positions that they might not embrace otherwise."

Fearing controversy over the project, which is the first American docu-drama to try to explain the rise of Hitler, CBS issued a strong condemnation of Gernon's comments.

His "personal opinions are not shared by CBS and misrepresent the network's motivation for broadcasting this film", the network said.

"It is very important that viewers understand that these views are not reflected in the tone or the content of the miniseries, which recounts the rise of Hitler to power and portrays him as the ruthless, maniacal force he was."

4.7.15 Roxanne Walker (Clear Channel/WMYI)

 

Link:

 

A former Upstate radio personality says she was fired for opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Roxanne Cordonier, who went by the name Roxanne Walker on the air at WMYI-FM/MY 102.5 in Greenville, alleges she was belittled, reprimanded and ultimately fired on April 17 for disagreeing with her co-hosts on the "Love and Hudson" show.

WMYI, its parent company Clear Channel Communications, Bill McMartin, the company's regional vice president and general manager and Greg McKinney, station program director, are all named as defendants in the suit.

A spokeswoman for San Antonio-based Clear Channel said the company does not comment on pending lawsuits. McMartin and McKinney could not be reached for comment.

The suit alleges that co-hosts Herriott Clarkson Mungo III, also known as Bill Love, and Hayden Hudson, also known as Howard Hudson, encouraged Cordonier to join their pro-war discussions regarding the invasion of Iraq.

The conversations became contentious on several occasions and management's tolerance for opinions decreased as war drew closer, the suit alleges. The suit also alleges that Love and Hudson belittled her both on and off the air because of her political beliefs.

"I went through hell," Cordonier told The Greenville News Monday. "I was forced out because I would not comply with their orders to be silent."

Cordonier alleges in the suit that some of the Clear Channel officers and directors have financial ties and are loyal to President Bush and his policies. It alleges that Cordonier was forced to participate in a pro-war rally.

The suit cites a state law that declares a person cannot be fired because of political opinions.

Cordonier, who was named the 2002 Radio Personality of the Year by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, said she believes it's an employer's right to broadcast what it wants, but that it shouldn't stifle opposing views. "Either don't talk about it at all or make it fair," she said.

4.7.16 Betsy West, Josh Howard, Mary Murphy, Mary Mapes (CBS)

CBS:

Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been ousted for their role in preparing and reporting a disputed story about President Bush’s National Guard service.
...
Asked to resign were Senior Vice President Betsy West, who supervised CBS News primetime programs; 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard; and Howard’s deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy. The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was terminated.

Of course, Talk Left notes that the three who were asked to resign have "hired lawyers and are contemplating legal action against CBS".

See Sec. 4.5.1 for more on the infamous memogate incident.

4.7.17 Henry Norr (San Francisco Chronicle)

Link:

In March 2003, [San Francisco Chronicle] technology reporter Henry Norr was suspended and then fired after he participated in civil disobedience at an anti-war rally. In a statement printed in the paper, managers claimed that Norr had violated the ethics policy, since "any journalist who assumes a prominent public role in any political issue inevitably creates the appearance of that conflict [of interest]." Norr argued that his activism created no conflict of interest, since he wrote about computers, not politics and war. He claimed that the true motive for his firing was retaliation for his opposition to the Iraq war and the occupation of Palestine. Again, an outpouring of public support failed to move the Chronicle. Norr filed a union grievance and a criminal complaint, but the parties eventually settled out of court, and Norr never returned to his job.

In contrast, note the example below, when the shoe is on the other foot.

As Dan Kennedy noted:

The latest example: Boston Globe technology columnist Hiawatha Bray, who is the subject of a hyperventilating piece on David Brock's watchdog site MediaMatters.org.

The article reports that Bray wrote posts to several weblogs during the past presidential campaign criticizing John Kerry, praising George W. Bush, and passing along the claims of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which cast a number of aspersions on Kerry's record as a war hero. Virtually all of those aspersions were proven false, a fact that Bray seems not to have grasped.

The story has already been picked up by Raw Story and AlterNet, so Bray is definitely in for a few days of razzing. Good thing he wasn't cheerleading for Kerry, or Rush, Fox News, and the entire right blogosphere would be going berserk.

It looks like Bray won't be posting political comments in the future. When I asked him to respond to the Media Matters article, he referred me to Globe spokesman Al Larkin, who e-mailed to me the following statement:

Mr. Bray is a technology reporter and did not cover the presidential campaign, other than a minor technology-related story on very rare occasions. That said, his blog postings were inappropriate and in violation of our standards, and he was informed of that when we learned of them last Fall. Mr. Bray was instructed to discontinue any such postings, and to our knowledge he complied.

Mr. Bray was not a Globe reporter on the Swift Boat Veterans matter, the presidential primaries, or the general election campaign. Our coverage of those subjects should be judged on its own merits, and we are confident the coverage meets the standards of fairness, accuracy, and honesty.

The Globe's statement raises a larger issue: what constraints, if any, should there be on a journalist who wishes to share his political views in forums other than those provided by his employer? Clearly the Globe is taking the conservative approach, which it has a right to do. But is it the smartest course?

4.7.18 William Pates (San Francisco Chronicle)

Before we review the details of this case, it is important to note the following:

This:

"Rush Limbaugh Becomes Official Unpaid Advisor to Bush-Cheney '04"

This:

Take, for example, Joe Scarborough, host of Scarborough Country. Scarborough is on five nights a week, an hour a night, providing right-leaning news and analysis to MSNBC's audience. Topic A on Scarborough Country is, of course, the presidential election. So what does Scarborough do? He takes a week off from his broadcasting duties to travel to crucial swing-state Florida, where he campaigns for President Bush. He does this, apparently, without a lot of thought. Here's how Scarborough describes his wrenching ethical decision:

After initially refusing because I decided at the beginning of the campaign season to refrain from all political activities, I reconsidered for a number of reasons. I'm glad I did.

This:

"Kurtz's article confirmed that both [William] Kristol and [Charles] Krauthammer privately consulted with high White House officials about presidential policies and communications. Subsequently, both Kristol and Krauthammer have written and commented publicly on the administration without disclosure."

This:

"..."On a personal note, for all of you who voted for President George W. Bush, thank you for saving America," Hannity said, before the tape began rolling."

and 

This:

"Some of the biggest rallies this month have endorsed President Bush's strategy against Saddam Hussein, and the common thread linking most of them is Clear Channel Worldwide Inc., the nation's largest owner of radio stations.

In a move that has raised eyebrows in some legal and journalistic circles, Clear Channel radio stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, San Antonio, Cincinnati and other cities have sponsored rallies attended by up to 20,000 people. The events have served as a loud rebuttal to the more numerous but generally smaller anti-war rallies.

The sponsorship of large rallies by Clear Channel stations is unique among major media companies, which have confined their activities in the war debate to reporting and occasionally commenting on the news. The San Antonio-based broadcaster owns more than 1,200 stations in 50 states and the District of Columbia...

Clear Channel is by far the largest owner of radio stations in the nation. The company owned only 43 in 1995, but when Congress removed many of the ownership limits in 1996, Clear Channel was quickly on the highway to radio dominance. The company owns and operates 1,233 radio stations (including six in Chicago) and claims 100 million listeners. Clear Channel generated about 20 percent of the radio industry's $16 billion in 2001 revenues." [About Clear Channel]

Got that? Now, let's continue:

Several weeks ago, Grade the News, a media watchdog group, began a study of local media workers’ political contributions. The group found that Chronicle letters page editor William Pates had contributed $400 to John Kerry, and contacted him for comment. When Pates forwarded the voice-mail to his boss, he was immediately taken off his job and sent home on paid leave until a new assignment could be found for him.

The problem – according to Pates’ boss, editorial page editor John Diaz – was that Pates had violated the Chronicle’s ethics policy. The policy prohibits employees from doing anything that would "create the appearance of a conflict of interest." In Diaz’s interpretation, this means that virtually any political act or statement, except voting, is out of bounds. "A bumper sticker would definitely be a concern," said Diaz. "Voting is a private act, but putting a bumper sticker on your car is a public statement."

Diaz emphasizes that the reassignment was "not a disciplinary measure – we’re not suggesting that [Pates] has been anything but professional." Instead, the move was intended to protect the paper from public suspicion of bias. "As letters page editor, Pates was in a gatekeeper role," said Diaz. "It’s the nature of the job that your fairness is always questioned."

...

Finally, the Chronicle’s stated commitment to neutrality conflicts rather glaringly with the behavior of its top executives. While Pates’ $400 donation was labeled an ethical violation, George Hearst – chairman of the board of the Chronicle’s parent company – has donated $30,000 to Republican candidates and committees over the past three election years. (Information on Hearst’s donations is available at the campaign finance web site www.opensecrets.org).

"This is one of the great hypocrisies of American journalism," said Glasser. "These policies apply to rank-and-file reporters, not to managers. If you want to talk about conflicts of interest, let’s talk about it where it really matters."

I guess it always helps to remember the usual rule : IOKIYAR - It's O. K. If You're A Republican.

4.7.19 Jane Akre and Steve Wilson (Fox News)

Before we read this example, some perspective is in order.

Goldberg first attacked CBS for liberal bias on the op-ed page of the February, 13, 1996, Wall Street Journal -- comments made he insists, just to get the conversation started.
...

NOTE:
[...] He retired from the network in the summer of 2000.

Link:

In late 1996, journalists Jane Akre and Steve Wilson began investigating rBGH, the genetically modified growth hormone American dairies have been injecting into their cows. As investigative reporters for the Fox Television affiliate in Tampa, Florida, they discovered that while the hormone had been banned in Canada, Europe and most other countries, millions of Americans were unknowingly drinking milk from rBGH-treated cows. The duo documented how the hormone, which can harm cows, was approved by the government as a veterinary drug without adequately testing its effects on children and adults who drink rBGH milk. They also uncovered studies linking its effects to cancer in humans. Just before broadcast, the station cancelled the widely promoted reports after Monsanto, the hormone manufacturer, threatened Fox News with "dire consequences" if the stories aired. Under pressure from Fox lawyers, the husband-and-wife team rewrote the story more than 80 times. After threats of dismissal and offers of six-figure sums to drop their ethical objections and keep quiet, they were fired in December 1997. In 1998, Akre won a suit against Fox for violating Floridas Whistleblower Law, which makes it illegal to retaliate against a worker who threatens to reveal employer misconduct. They must now defend the $425,000 award to Akre through the appeals process [eRiposte update: Unfortunately an appeals court judge overturned the verdict saying basically that that there is no law that requires Fox to tell the truth to its viewers (see the website below). How true and how illiberal!]. Meanwhile, with their assets drained, neither has been able to work full-time in television news. They recently formed a production company to expose environmental and health news that is increasingly ignored by mainstream media.

Jane Akre and Steve Wilson maintain a website at: www.foxbghsuit.com.

4.7.20 Molly Ivins (The Virginian-Pilot)

Marvin Lake (The Virginian-Pilot) via Media Matters:

Sometime back, Molly Ivins was dropped as a regular on The Pilot’s op-ed page for being “too stridently anti-Bush,” to quote Hartig’s e-mail letter to Lilley.

4.7.21 Stephanie Salter (San Francisco Chronicle)

Dave Astor (E&P):

The San Francisco Chronicle won't reinstate longtime columnist Stephanie Salter despite a reported 1,200 e-mails from upset readers, a protest rally, and canceled subscriptions.

"Newspapers say they want to connect with readers," Salter told E&P Online. "I would stack my connection with readers against any Op-Ed columnist."

Salter, with the help of union protection, was transferred to a new Chronicle job as a reporter for the Sunday "Insight" section. But she feels bad for readers that no longer have a left-of-center, twice-weekly Op-Ed column like hers representing them in the paper. "They're being dissed," said Salter, who has been nationally distributed by the Hearst News Service and Scripps Howard News Service.

There have been reports that Chronicle Publisher John Oppedahl wanted Salter, 52, to stop writing her 16-year-old column because it was too liberal and feminist for his tastes. "I was told it didn't resonate with him," said Salter. [eRiposte emphasis]

Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz said ideology was not a factor, noting that there are still liberal views in the paper's opinion mix.

So why was Salter's column ended? Diaz said the Chronicle is committed to making changes in various departments, including the one he heads. "Editorial pages have a tendency to become predictable," he said. "We want to find new ways to become less predictable."

Diaz, who said Salter has not been replaced with a specific columnist, did emphasize: "I like Stephanie very much personally and I respect her professionally. There is no question she had a readership. It was a difficult decision."

National Society of Newspaper Columnists President Mike Leonard is not pleased with what the paper did. "There are any number of disturbing elements to the Chronicle's decision to ax Stephanie Salter's column, from the wisdom of the decision itself, to the callousness with which the Hearst Corp. dealt with a dedicated employee, to the company's inability to be forthright in telling the public of its decision to terminate Stephanie's column," said The Herald-Times of Bloomington, Ind., writer. "If the Chronicle had decided to yank a cartoon strip and it received the kind of reader reaction it did when other news sources reported on the plan to eliminate Salter, I feel pretty confident that the newspaper would capitulate. It's too bad that Stephanie didn't get the kind of respect the Chronicle likely would have given 'Nancy.'"

But Chronicle Director of Public Relations Joe Brown (to whom E&P Online was referred after it called Oppedahl's office) said: "Newspapers can't make decisions based on campaigns, threats, or boycotts. If they did, another group could come along the next week and use the same tactics."

The exact number of canceled subscriptions could not be ascertained. The Aug. 28 rally drew about 130 people, according to a story in The Examiner of San Francisco.

Salter is not the first person to lose or stop a Chronicle column this year. During the winter, the paper ended Adair Lara's 12-year feature column and reassigned her as a reporter covering generational issues. Is there a connection between the decisions? "All I know is that two high-profile women over 50 got columns killed," said Salter.

BONUS: J. R. Hatfield (St. Martin's Press and other media)

 

In the age of the Swift Boat Veterans, it is useful to see what happens if you happen to write an unpleasant book (with even potentially true allegations, unlike the case of the Swift Vets) against a famous Republican.

 

Robert Parry at Consortium News has a summary here:

A painful irony for the CBS producers was that the central points of the memos – that Bush had blown off a required flight physical and was getting favored treatment in the National Guard – were already known, and indeed, were confirmed by the commander’s secretary in a follow-up interview with CBS. But even honest mistakes are firing offenses when the Bushes are involved.

By contrast, journalists understand that they get a free shot at many other politicians who don’t have the protective infrastructure that surrounds the Bush family. Take for example the case of reporters for the New York Times and the Washington Post who misquoted Al Gore about his role in the Love Canal toxic waste clean-up.

'Delusional' 

The misquote in late 1999 prompted knee-slapping commentaries across the country calling Gore “delusional” because he supposedly had falsely claimed credit for the Love Canal clean-up by saying “I was the one that started it all.” But Gore actually had said, “that was the one that started it all,” referring to a similar toxic waste case in Toone, Tennessee.

Even after the error was pointed out by New Hampshire high school students who heard Gore’s remark first hand, the two prestige newspapers dragged their heels on running corrections. While the newspapers dawdled, the story of Lyin’ Al and Love Canal reverberated through the echo chamber of TV pundit shows, conservative talk radio and newspaper columns. Al Gore was a laughingstock whose sanity was in doubt.

The Post finally ran a “correction” a week after the misquote, although the newspaper continued to misrepresent the context of Gore’s remark. The Post falsely claimed that Gore’s use of the word “that” referred to his congressional hearing on toxic waste dumps, allowing the newspaper to pretend that Gore was still exaggerating his role.

Three days later, the Times ran its brief correction, which also failed to fully explain either the context of the original quote or how the error had completely distorted what Gore had actually said.

For their part, the two reporters – the Times’ Katharine Seeyle and the Post’s Ceci Connolly – insisted that their accounts were essentially accurate even though they clearly weren’t. At least publicly, neither reporter was punished. Both continued to write prominent stories for their newspapers. Connolly even got a job moonlighting as a political commentator for Fox News.

Meanwhile, the real losers – besides Gore – were the American voters who got a distorted impression of a major presidential candidate.

The Love Canal misquote – and the refusal of the two newspapers to publish meaningful corrections – gave momentum to what became a dominant narrative of the campaign, that Gore was a dishonest braggart. The media commentators also bandied about another bogus quote attributed to Gore, that he had “invented the Internet.” [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Al Gore v. the Media.”]

Exit polls in 2000 found that doubts about Gore’s honesty were a major factor why many voters cast their ballots for George W. Bush.

Gore’s media-created reputation as dishonest and slightly crazy continued to dog him, even after he left office. In 2002, when Gore spoke out against Bush’s rush to war with Iraq, the television pundits and newspaper columnists again hooted him down, while reprising his reputation as untrustworthy and daffy. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Politics of Preemption.”]
...
Even Republican investigators outside of journalism can expect this treatment. Look, for instance, at the harsh attacks on Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh – a lifelong Republican – when his probe threatened the long-running cover-up that had protected George H.W. Bush’s false claims that he was “not in the loop” on the arms-for-hostage scandal. [For details, see Walsh’s Firewall or Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

Part of the reason for this protective phenomenon surrounding the Bushes is that the family straddles two powerful political groupings: the East Coast Establishment and the Texas oil money. George H.W. Bush engineered this remarkable alliance of interests in the years after World War II by putting down roots in Texas, after being raised by a family with a pedigree in the world of Wall Street investment banking.

Plus, the Bushes – particularly George W. Bush – can count on help from the attack dogs in the conservative news media, ranging from Fox News and the Washington Times, to Rush Limbaugh and right-wing bloggers.

Burned Books

When this powerful defense mechanism strikes, it can leave some writers who have crossed the Bushes so devastated that they eventually turn to suicide.

In 1999, biographer J.R. Hatfield wrote Fortunate Son, an account of George W. Bush’s early life. Though most of the biography was fairly routine, Hatfield ran into trouble when he cited three sources alleging that the elder George Bush intervened to pull his son out of legal hot water over a drug arrest in 1972.

According to Hatfield’s account, George Bush senior arranged to have his son’s legal trouble fixed by a friendly judge in exchange for getting George Bush junior to perform some community service. This claim brought heated denials from both father and son, although George W. Bush always ducked direct questions about whether he had used cocaine or other illegal drugs.

But the media sleuths didn’t demand a straight answer from Bush about illegal drugs or other possible arrests involving substance abuse – we learned later that Bush was concealing a drunk-driving charge in Maine. Instead, journalists turned their investigative attention to Hatfield. The Dallas Morning News soon discovered that the writer had served time in prison for trying to kill two of his bosses at a Dallas real estate firm.

Following that disclosure, Hatfield’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press, recalled copies of Fortunate Son from the bookstores and threw them into the furnace. “They’re heat, furnace fodder,” declared Sally Richardson, president of St. Martin’s trade division. [NYT, Oct. 23, 1999]

The national press corps hailed the decision to recall the book, while castigating Hatfield and St. Martin’s for publishing it in the first place. Conservatives in the news media were gleeful, hoping the controversy would end the pesky questions about Bush’s cocaine use.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s right-wing Washington Times joked that Hatfield “surely thought he would set the world on fire. He just didn’t figure that it was his book that would be the kindling. … One hopes the finality of the furnace puts an end to the story.” [Washington Times, Oct. 28, 1999]

What was lacking in the intensive press coverage, however, was any concern about the disturbing image of a book being denounced by a well-connected political family and then being burned. Through more than two centuries of rough-and-tumble American politics, it is hard to recall any precedent for this sort of book burning.

In the years that followed, the discredited Hatfield had trouble finding work and his life spiraled downward. In July 2001, Hatfield, then 43, was found dead in a hotel room in Springdale, Ark., having taken an overdose of prescription pills.

Hatfield left behind a suicide note listing alcohol, financial problems and the controversy over Fortunate Son as his reasons for killing himself.

Guard Questions 

“The finality of the furnace” – as the Washington Times called it – also kept the U.S. news media from reexamining Hatfield’s allegations even as new evidence emerged revealing that something had occurred in the early 1970s that had deeply alarmed George H.W. Bush.

According to Bush family friends, the elder George Bush did intervene in 1972 to protect the younger George Bush from the consequences of some unidentified reckless behavior.

In early September 2004, some fresh details came out in an interview that Salon.com had with the widow of Jimmy Allison, a newspaper owner and campaign consultant from Midland, Texas, who had served as “the Bush’s family’s political guru.” Allison’s widow, Linda, said the senior George Bush was desperate to get his son out of Texas and onto an Alabama Senate campaign that Jimmy Allison was managing.

“The impression I had was that Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family, and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston and under Jimmy’s wing,” Linda Allison said. “I think they wanted someone they trusted to keep an eye on him.” [Salon.com’s “George W. Bush’s Missing Year,” Sept. 2, 2004]

Though Linda Allison’s disclosure dovetailed with the general account that Hatfield had reported in 1999 – that the senior George Bush was pulling strings to get his wayward son out of trouble – the searing treatment of Hatfield and then the bitter controversy over the CBS memos in mid-September 2004 kept the major news media from seriously reexamining Bush’s dubious explanations of his youthful indiscretions.

Contra Cocaine

Another reporter who fell victim to the Bush rules of journalism was the San Jose Mercury News’ Gary Webb.

In 1996, Webb wrote a three-part series that revived a decade-old controversy about the Reagan-Bush administration’s protection of Nicaraguan contra groups that had turned to the cocaine trade to finance their war against Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. Though Webb’s series didn’t specifically target one of the Bushes, it did reopen a controversy from the mid-1980s that threatened the image of George H.W. Bush.

Not only did some contra supporters claim that Bush’s vice presidential office presided over contra-support operations that had veered into drug trafficking, but Bush then served as the top government official responsible for drug interdiction. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ – or Parry’s latest book, Secrecy & Privilege.]

Rev. Moon’s Washington Times again stepped to the fore, opening the assault on Webb’s series. The right-wing newspaper was soon followed by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

In scathing front-page articles, the newspapers largely accepted the then-dominant conventional wisdom that the contra-cocaine allegations were a bogus “conspiracy theory.” The big papers pounded Webb and his series so hard that Mercury News editors backed away from the stories and forced Webb to resign.

But Webb’s series did lead to internal investigations by inspectors general at the CIA and the Justice Department. In 1998, facts published by those investigations showed that more than 50 contras and contra entities were implicated in the drug trade and that the Reagan-Bush administration had obstructed criminal investigations of these contra-drug smuggling operations.

If pieced together with other parts of the historical record, the IG probes could have devastated George H.W. Bush’s reputation, which was then underpinning the presidential aspirations of George W. Bush. Instead, the major newspapers avoided any detailed examination of the CIA’s drug admissions and let the contra-cocaine story die.

For Webb, however, his career remained in ruins. According to family and friends, he grew despondent; his marriage broke up; eventually, he lost a job he had with the California state government; and in December 2004, at the age of 49, he killed himself with his father’s handgun. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Debt to Journalist Gary Webb.”]

Lessons Learned

So, by now, the Bush-journalism rules are well understood by U.S. journalists, even if the rules are never formally enunciated.

The consequences of crossing the Bushes – even if you turn out to be right – can be devastating. Understandably, journalists pull their punches when the Bush family is involved.

Another example of how this dynamic has worked to George W. Bush’s political advantage can be found in the aftermath of the botched CBS memo story in September 2004. While the news media was ripping into Dan Rather and CBS, Bush slipped away almost unscathed despite additional evidence that indeed he had shirked his National Guard duty.

While doubting the authenticity of the CBS memos, Marian Carr Knox, a former Texas Air National Guard secretary, told interviewers that the information in the purported memos was “correct.” Knox said her late boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, indeed was “upset” that Bush had refused to obey his order to take a flight physical and that Bush’s refusal to follow the rules had caused dissension among other National Guard pilots.

But instead of focusing on the actions of a President of the United States, the glare of attention remained on CBS and its failure to follow proper journalistic procedures. George W. Bush came out the victim, again.

‘Inadequate Time’

The dust-up left many American voters with the impression that Bush was innocent of the charges that he had skipped out on his National Guard duty.

That impression held even when an important new piece of the puzzle was released by the U.S. government about a week after the CBS memo flap – Bush’s hand-written resignation letter from the Texas Air National Guard.

After moving to Boston to attend Harvard Business School, Bush was supposed to finish up his National Guard service in Massachusetts. Instead, however, in November 1974, Bush scribbled a note saying he wanted out of the Guard.

Bush explained that he had “inadequate time to fullfill (sic) possible future commitments.” His request was granted. He was given an honorable discharge. [See Reuters, Sept. 29, 2004]


APPENDIX 1

I am not including the following two cases of Republicans being fired, for good reasons.

(a) Michael Savage, because not only was this guy hired by MSNBC especially because of his history in talk radio, namely, serial lying, hating and almost unmatched bigotry, he was fired because he told a gay called to "get AIDS and die", which has nothing to do with being hostile to "liberals" considering that are numerous conservative gays in the U.S.

(b) Ann Coulter who was fired by the conservative National Review magazine, not for anti-liberal rants but abject hatred and bigotry against Muslims. As Jonah Goldberg explained, more tactfully:

In the wake of her invade-and-Christianize-them column, Coulter wrote a long, rambling rant of a response to her critics that was barely coherent. She's a smart and funny person, but this was Ann at her worst — emoting rather than thinking, and badly needing editing and some self-censorship, or what is commonly referred to as "judgment."

Running this "piece" would have been an embarrassment to Ann, and to NRO. Rich Lowry pointed this out to her in an e-mail (I was returning from my honeymoon). She wrote back an angry response, defending herself from the charge that she hates Muslims and wants to convert them at gunpoint.

But this was not the point. It was NEVER the point. The problem with Ann's first column was its sloppiness of expression and thought. Ann didn't fail as a person — as all her critics on the Left say — she failed as WRITER, which for us is almost as bad.

Rich wrote her another e-mail, engaging her on this point, and asking her — in more diplomatic terms — to approach the whole controversy not as a PR-hungry, free-swinging pundit on Geraldo, but as a careful writer.

No response.

Instead, she apparently proceeded to run around town bad-mouthing NR and its employees. Then she showed up on TV and, in an attempt to ingratiate herself with fellow martyr Bill Maher, said we were "censoring" her.

By this point, it was clear she wasn't interested in continuing the relationship.

What publication on earth would continue a relationship with a writer who would refuse to discuss her work with her editors? What publication would continue to publish a writer who attacked it on TV? What publication would continue to publish a writer who lied about it — on TV and to a Washington Post reporter?

And, finally, what CONSERVATIVE publication would continue to publish a writer who doesn't even know the meaning of the word "censorship"?

So let me be clear: We did not "fire" Ann for what she wrote, even though it was poorly written and sloppy. We ended the relationship because she behaved with a total lack of professionalism, friendship, and loyalty.

What's Ann's take on all this? Well, she told the Washington Post yesterday that she loves it, because she's gotten lots of great publicity. That pretty much sums Ann up.

(c) Reader Bigdog at The Left Coaster noted that conservative talk show host Glenn Beck was replaced in some stations with liberal talk show host Jerry Springer's show. A review of this case however, indicates that there were business reasons for this, that Beck was not replaced because of anything he said against the Left, and that he was not fired - just moved to a different station. 

As Beck said on his website:

While the Glenn Beck Program has had a very successful run in the Cleveland market (the show has been ranked either 2nd or 3rd in every ratings period in our demographic), WTAM has decided to move towards liberal talk radio in that time slot.

We asked you to get involved and help get us back on the air somewhere in Cleveland, and you responded.
 

Beginning Monday, March 21, 2005 Glenn Beck can be heard on
Akron's News Talk 640 WHLO

Also, here's a snippet from a cached article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

... Two things happened last year to make Springer viable for Clear Channel. 

In March 2004, Air America Radio debuted. The New York-based liberal talk-humor network featuring Al Franken and Randi Rhodes billed itself as the "other side of the debate" to counteract the glut of conservative talkers. It started on 11 stations. It's now on 51.

A few weeks later, as an experiment, Clear Channel added Air America to KPOG, one of its smaller AM stations in Portland, Ore. KPOG shot from a bottom-dwelling 26th in the ratings to third. With a mix of liberal local hosts and Air America programs, Clear Channel has expanded the experiment to more than 20 markets.

Then last month, Clear Channel reported losses of $4.67 billion for 2004. It was actually a "write-down of asset values" from its radio stations. Fellow media behemoth Viacom also devalued its radio group, Infinity, by $10.9 billion. Ouch.

Fewer people are listening to the radio, so why not try something new? You would expect that to fly in Portland, or, say, Madison, Wis., but what about Cleveland? Certainly someone inside Clear Channel noticed that John Kerry scored well in Northeast Ohio in November (even Tim Hagan's anemic gubernatorial campaign in 2002 managed to carry Cuyahoga County).
...
Springer replaced conservative Glenn Beck, who moved to one of Clear Channel's smaller AM stations in Akron. Beckaholics were outraged. No less outraged than Dr. Laura disciples when she was bumped by Beck in 2001...

(d) Rush Limbaugh - was not actually fired, but resigned from ESPN, for his racist comments. Dan Drezner's summary shows that Limbaugh declined an invitation to "appear on ESPN SportsCenter" to ostensibly debate his comments. So, clearly, his decision to resign was not forced by management.

(e) The Greaseman (via Instapundit) was fired for extraordinarily offensive and racist comments against Blacks and this has nothing to do with his taking an anti-Left stance (there are Black conservatives too). As this SJ Mercury News article by Brad Kava (featured at Savage Stupidity) points out:

A so-called "shock jock," Tracht, whose shtick is a mix of improvised rants and juvenile humor, was fired Thursday from Washington's WARW-FM after playing a song by Grammy award-winning singer Lauryn Hill and saying: "No wonder they drag them behind trucks."

The comment linked Hill, a black woman, with James Byrd Jr., a black man who was murdered by white supremacists, an act that made international headlines.

Local radio program directors, personalities and analysts agreed with the firing.


APPENDIX 2

This Appendix was created to list cases where someone was fired and attributed it to their stance against Bush or the Right, but where there are some questions about that.

(a) Howard Stern claimed he was fired by Clear Channel for his anti-Bush tirades (this was mentioned by commenter Bigdog); Clear Channel claims it was because of the FCC crackdown on content. Here's Eric Boehlert on Salon.com:

From the moment last week when Clear Channel Communications suspended Howard Stern's syndicated morning show from the company's radio stations, denouncing it as "vulgar, offensive and insulting," speculation erupted that the move had more to do with Stern's politics than his raunchy shock-jock shtick.

Stern's loyal listeners, Clear Channel foes and many Bush administration critics immediately reached the same conclusion: The notorious jock was yanked off the air because he had recently begun trashing Bush, and Bush-friendly Clear Channel used the guise of "indecency" to shut him up. That the content of Stern's crude show hadn't suddenly changed, but his stance on Bush had, gave the theory more heft. That, plus his being pulled off the air in key electoral swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

...

Stern's been relentless all week, detailing the close ties between Clear Channel executives and the Bush administration, and insisting that political speech, not indecency, got him in trouble with the San Antonio broadcasting giant. If he hadn't turned against Bush, Stern told his listeners, he'd still be heard on Clear Channel stations.

In a statement released to Salon, the media company insists that "Clear Channel Radio is not operated according to any political agenda or ideology." Clear Channel Radio chief Joe Hogan said, "The decision to suspend Howard Stern from our radio stations is based on our regulatory obligation and commitment to airing material that conforms to the standards and sensibilities of the local communities we serve."

...

Whether Stern was suspended because of his Bush-bashing -- or only because of his Bush-bashing -- is open to question. As reported in Salon, the media behemoth had another powerful reason to clean up its image: In the wake of Janet Jackson's nipplegate, broadcasters faced hostile congressional hearings about indecency on the airwaves and a new bill that would drastically increase the penalties for it. Indeed, the day before it dropped Stern, Clear Channel fired its top-rated Tampa, Fla., shock jock, "Bubba the Love Sponge," who had been recently fined $755,000 by the Federal Communications Commission for indecency.

Several radio insiders interviewed by Salon are skeptical of Stern's inference about his suspension. "I don't think this had anything to do with helping Bush," says Robert Unmacht, former publisher of the radio trade publication, the M Street Journal. "It had to do with the one thing Clear Channel cares about, their bottom line. They're just bankers."