Journalists Accused of Unethical Reporting and Bias

The media are frequently accused of being 'liberal' and biased when reporting on morality issues. They put labels right-wing organisations because they believe them to be outside the mainstream, but they believe liberals to be the mainstream.
  • TV journalism has become a showplace for reporters with attitudes who treat certain people and ideas with disdain.
  • Media elites tend to mix with people who have similar views and they seldom really mix with anyone who believes differently.
  • Reporters covering hot social issues already have their own 'take' on the issues, and that is how they will report them.
Author Steven Brill once said that "When it comes to arrogance, power and lack of accountability, journalists are the only people on the planet who make lawyers look good."

Much of the bias in 'mainstream' media comes from stories that are not covered, and the terminology used.

Disability rights groups and organisations have been watching with growing anger and alarm as the murders of disabled people of all ages have occurred with what seems like ever-increasing frequency. The news coverage of these tragedies is also a cause for deep concern. Accused murderers of disabled people are often portrayed by reporters as loving, caring individuals acting out of compassion.

This is seen as denying the humanity of the victim and, by association, of all disabled people. This is similar to the propaganda used in Germany before the T4 programme was accepted by the German people.

Bernard Goldberg and "Bias"
In 2002, Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist Bernard Goldberg published "Bias: a CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distorts the News".

The book became number one on the New York Times best-seller list. In 2004, Goldberg published a sequel, "Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite."

Goldberg stated that it wasn't easy naming names, but that he kept thinking of "how my colleagues treat cigarette, tire, oil, and other company executives in the media glare." He went on to say, "The news business deserves the same hard look, because it is even more important."

How it Began
In 1996, a friend of Goldberg phoned him and complained about a particular story on the CBS Evening News, and how there were "...too many snippy wise guys doing the news..." Goldberg watched a copy of the story the next day, which was about  presidential candidate, Steve Forbes, and a flat tax plan that was the centrepiece of his campaign.
"As I watched the videotape, it became obvious that this was a hatchet job, an editorial masquerading as real news, a cheap shot designed to make fun of Forbes - a rich, conservative white guy - and ridicule his tax plan.

The more I watched, the more I saw that this story wasn't simply about a presidential candidate and a tax plan. It was about something bigger, something too much of what big-time TV journalism had become: a showcase for smart-ass reporters with attitudes, reporters who don't even pretend to hide their disdain for certain people and certain ideas that they and their sophisticated friends don't particularly like."


Goldberg noticed that the language used to describe the tax plan, scheme, elixir, wacky, were expressly designed to conjure up "images of con artists, like Doctor Feelgood, selling worthless junk out of the back of his wagon." The reporter also interviewed three different tax experts who opposed the flat tax. Goldberg questioned the fairness and balance in the story, when not even one tax expert was interviewed who thought the tax idea might work.

The reporter ended the story with the a scathing, sarcastic comment. Goldberg considered the story to be junk journalism. He also remarked that: "The problem is that so many TV journalists simply don't know what to think about certain issues until the New York Times and the Washington Post tell them what to think. Those big, important newspapers set the agenda that network news people follow..."

After talking to the executive producer of the CBS Evening News, Goldberg told him that after complaining privately about bias at CBS News for years, he was going to write about it. He thought that might be what it would take to make the people who decide what gets on the air listen.

The flak Goldberg received from his media colleagues came swiftly after the publication of his exposé. He was accused of being a political activist with a political agenda.
"Maybe I should have seen the humor in the whole thing. I was pointing fingers at the media elites, which only proved to them that I was the one who had a bias problem. Wasn't this what used to happen - on a much scarier and devastating scale, for sure - in the old Soviet Union? A dissident says the elite are corrupt, so the elites throw him in the Gulag because his accusation proves beyond any doubt...that the dissident is insane."

Goldberg's Credentials
The credibility of Goldberg’s expose rested on his 28 years experience at CBS News and that he was a self-described "liberal". In a radio interview he described the social context that affects the way abortion and other social issues are covered:

"These guys, media elites, live in an elite, comfortable, liberal bubble, in places like Manhattan, in New York. They can go for a week, a day, a month, a year, they can practically go for a whole lifetime and never run into anybody who has a different point of view, than they have, on all the big social issues whether it is gay marriage, or affirmative action, or abortion, or other race issues or feminist issues."

"After a while, a kind of 'group-think' takes over. They think everything to the right is conservative, which it is, and everything to the left is middle of the road. They don’t even notice. These people are in so deep, they don’t even know that their views on these controversial subjects are liberal. They think they are just reasonable and civilized, because all their pals inside the bubble have these same views."

"The second point I make is that liberal bias in the news is mainly not about politics. It’s mostly about how they see the world. How they see the issues I have just mentioned. How they see gay marriage. How they see abortion. And, if you see these issues a certain way, because as I say, all your pals in the bubble see these issues the same way, you’re going to report on these issues the same way – and that kind of reporting turns out to be liberally biased reporting. Not intentional. Not a conspiracy. It’s just the way these people are."

Covering the Story
"When reporters go out and cover stories on these big, hot, social issues, they don’t go out to learn what this side thinks and what that side thinks. They already have their take on these issues, and their take is overwhelmingly a liberal take."

"And then they go out and they interview somebody – and the conservative point of view is very often the other side of the argument. There is a main side and an other side. The main side in affirmative action, for instance, is that affirmative action is a wonderful thing. The main side in gay marriage is who would be against gay marriage except some bigot. And then they go out and they find that other side. Because otherwise it would be so blatantly biased that they couldn’t get away with it."

Goldberg explains that the media puts a warning label, 'conservative' on right-wing organisations because they consider those organisations to be outside the mainstream. They rarely label left-wingers as 'liberal,' on the other hand, because they believe that liberals are the mainstream.

Traditionally, a conservative person was one who wanted to maintain the status quo, while a liberal person was someone who was open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others, and broad-minded. Given this definition, it would be more accurate to refer to mainstream media as biased rather than liberal.

Source:Bias: a CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distorts the Newsby Bernard Goldberg. publ.2002