Former television journalist and media critic Bernard Goldberg delivered the following lecture on November 14, 2008, as part of the most recent Restoration Weekend. -- The Editors.
I want to begin by reading you a newspaper clipping. I thought it might apply to the subject at hand, so let me read it to you. This was in this morning's paper, just by coincidence.
It said, "Dear Ann, I have a problem. I have two brothers. One brother is in television news, and the other was put to death in the electric chair for murder. My mother died from insanity when I was three years old. My sisters are prostitutes, and my father sells narcotics to high school students. Recently, I met a girl who was just released from a reformatory, where she served time for smothering her seventh-grade teacher, and I want to marry her. My problem is if I marry this girl, should I tell her about my brother who's in television news?" You get the point.
Now, that letter at least has something to do with the subject at hand. This next one doesn't, but I've always wanted to tell it to a group, so here goes. I don't know if you've ever noticed that all the advice columns are written by women. There's a reason they don't let men write advice columns because there is one guy who does. His name is Robert. And here's the reason. This was a letter -- I read this in yesterday's paper. It's incredible, all this stuff.
It said, "Dear Robert, I hope you can help me here. The other day I set out for work, leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuttered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help, and when I got home, I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in the bedroom with a neighbor lady making mad, passionate love to her. I'm 32, and my husband is 34, and we've been married for 12 years. When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that he'd been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago, and he says he's been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum, he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel I can get through to him anymore. Can you please help? Sincerely, Sheila."
And Robert writes back, "Dear Sheila, a car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there's no debris in the fuel line. If it's clear, check the Jubilee Clips, holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low-delivery pressure to the carburetor flow chamber. I hope this helps."
That's why men don't write advice columns.
Now, David Horowitz asked me to speak today about bias in the news and how this bias manifested itself during the past campaign. So here's the short version. The media are hopelessly biased. Thank you. I hope you enjoy the rest of Restoration Weekend.
Okay, all right. Here's the slightly longer version.
The mainstream media, or the so-called mainstream media, is always going to have its thumb on the scale because it's always rooting for the Democrat over the Republican. But this year, it was different. This year, the media jumped the shark because this year, without any embarrassment, they embraced one of the candidates running for president. They took a politician – a politician from Chicago, no less – and deified him. They turned him into St. Barack.
This time around, they weren't content merely, merely, being a witness to history; this time, they felt that they had to make history because this time they had a noble cause – not just to elect a Democrat, not just to elect a liberal, but to elect the first black man in our nation's history.
I don't know that they feel just the same way. I don't know that they would've had all of that emotion if the first black man elected president of the United States were Michael Steele, for instance. When Michael Steele in 2006 lost the Senate race in Maryland, I don't remember one reporter talking about how history was thwarted. It's because Michael Steele, unlike Barack Obama, is a conservative. And as far as liberals in and out of the media are concerned, a black man who is a conservative isn't a black man; he's merely a conservative.
So, how did the media embrace "the one," as Oprah called him?
Well, there was the NBC news correspondent who, without any hint of embarrassment, said that it was tough to be objective while covering Barack Obama because he spoke so well.
There was the New York Times that ran a page one story during the campaign, suggesting that John McCain was having an affair with a Washington lobbyist, and they based this story on two unnamed former staffers who thought that "maybe, possibly, I'm not sure but I think he may have been involved with the woman" – and this made page one.
The New York Times published Barack Obama's op-ed on Iraq and told John McCain, a man who was running for president of the United States, that he had to rework his.
And then during the acceptance speech in Denver, the commentary was incredible. I mean people sounded as if they were thrilled just to be in the same city as Barack Obama.
David Gergen, whom some of my conservative friends call David Rodham Gergen, said that Obama didn't even deliver a speech that night. What he did was perform a symphony. He said – those were his exact words – "It was a symphony." He said, "It was slow at times. It was fast at times. It was intimate. It was a masterpiece." If you were sitting at home watching this kind of syrupy sweet commentary on television, you could get diabetes in your living room.
But all of this is small potatoes compared to the classic of all classics during the campaign, and that came from Chris Matthews, who – forgive me for telling you what you already know – that when he heard Barack Obama speak, he felt a thrill going up his leg. This is not political analysis. This is a man-crush.
A month earlier, after Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus, Chris Matthews went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and said --and these are his exact words – "If you're actually in the room when Obama gives one of his speeches and you don't cry, you're not an American." I hope all of you right-wing bastards heard that, fascist pigs.
And before he was done with the Leno Show, Chris Matthews morphed from Mr. Hardball into Miss Winfrey, and he told Jay, "If you're in a room with Obama, you feel the Spirit moving." I don't know about you, but if I'm in a room with Chris Matthews, even if he's only on the TV set babbling in the room, I feel something else moving: my lunch, moving from my stomach up my esophagus and out of my mouth.
The worst thing that MSNBC did was during its hard news coverage. During the day when Sarah Palin was being announced as John McCain's choice for vice president, they put up a graphic on the screen in capital letters that said, "How many houses does Palin add to the Republican ticket?" This wasn't on the Jon Stewart comedy news show. This wasn't on one of their lunatic primetime shows. This was during the day during their hard news coverage on what is supposed to be a real news network.
Jay Leno had the last laugh, though. He said that after the election, the Obama people were throwing a victory party at their headquarters, MSNBC.
There was so much other stuff, we'd be here for three years. But let me just tell you about one other thing.
There's a young man at CBS News who I'm sure you haven't heard of. His name is Jeff Glor, He's one of their rising stars. To the extent that anybody cares about anything that CBS does, he's one of the people in the future. He did a piece called "Five Things You Should Know About Barack Obama." You're going to think I'm making this up. When I read this, I thought the person who sent it to me was making it up, so I tracked it down. This is exactly what he said.
"In addition to enjoying basketball and cycling during downtime, Obama loves to play Scrabble. Obama's job as a teenager was at Baskin-Robbins, and to this day, he does not like ice cream. This is a man who plays to win. No matter what it is, whether it's the woman he wants to date or elected office or board games, there is an ambition there. There is a determination."
Folks, you can't make this crap up. Now, it isn't just what they said about Obama; it's also how hard the mainstream media worked to either ignore or, at best, downplay stories that might've hurt Obama.
Let's take a few examples….
Do you think the media would've paid more attention if it were the National Rifle Association instead of ACORN that signed Mickey Mouse up to vote? That's a good question, I think.
Do you think the mainstream media would've shown more interest if it was John McCain and not Barack Obama who had a relationship, no matter how flimsy, with an unrepentant terrorist?
What if this unrepentant terrorist had bombed not the Capitol or the Pentagon but a black church or an abortion clinic no matter how many years ago it was?
What would the media say if on September 11, 2001, of all days, the New York Times ran a story in which this bomber said that his only regret was that he didn't do more? What do you think the media would say about all of that?
How would the media play the story if it had been John McCain and not Barack Obama who spent 20 years in a church with a right-wing bigot?
What if it was Sarah Palin and not John McCain, who before a cheering crowd of supporters, said that the answer to our economic problems is a simple three-letter word, jobs, and then went on to actually spell J-O-B-S?
Well, what do you think, as a very funny guy who looked like Joe Pesci said, what do you think the media would do if it was Sarah Palin and not Joe Biden who said that in 1929, Franklin Roosevelt got on television to reassure the American people when the stock market crashed even though FDR wasn't in office until 1933 and television wasn't introduced to the general public till 1939? How would the mainstream media have played that story? Do you think the might've portrayed Sarah Palin as a moron or worse, as a ticking time bomb? I think we all know the answer to that.
Part way through the campaign, speaking of Sarah Palin, right after she was announced, something very, very strange happened. A mental disorder spread through liberal America, including many American newsrooms. This disorder became known simply as PDS, Palin Derangement Syndrome. PDS was a lot like BDS, which was Bush Derangement Syndrome, in which liberals foam at the mouth at the mere mention of the name George Bush. Palin Derangement Syndrome was a lot like that.
A few examples of Palin Derangement Syndrome:
Mary Mitchell wrote in the Chicago Sun Times that Sarah Palin "makes me sick."
Maureen Dowd wrote in The New York Times that Palin was our "new Napoleon in bunny boots."
Wendy Doniger, a professor at the University of Chicago, wrote on the Washington Post's website, "Sarah Palin's greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she's a woman."
Juan Cole, a professor at the University of Michigan, wrote a piece for Salon, the online magazine, "What's the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick."
Also on Salon, somebody named Cintra Wilson managed to type these words as Palin Derangement Syndrome was eating away at her brain: "Sarah Palin has me and my friends wretching in our handbags. She's such a power-mad backwater beauty pageant casualty, it's easy to write her off and make fun of her, but in reality, I feel as horrified as a ghetto Jew watching the rise of National Socialism."
Now, you can Google it, as they say. The rise of Sarah Palin to PDS sufferers is akin to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany?
Somebody, somebody, please, call Jerry Lewis. We need a telethon. We need to raise money to fight this terrible disease.
I have a theory as to why liberals in and out of the media hated this woman so much. What drives them nuts, especially liberal feminists, is that this white trash pro-gun, pro-life church-going woman who didn't go to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton was and remains the most prominent talked-about woman in the United States of America. They hate that. They hate that. It wasn't supposed to be that way. The most prominent woman was supposed to be one of them, a liberal feminist.
There are more reasons that they hate her. Liberals, again, in and out of the media, they look at this woman and they say, what kind of woman has five kids? What kind of woman actually has a baby with Down Syndrome? What kind of woman lets her daughter go through with the pregnancy? What kind of woman is this?
And there's one more reason that they hate her, and Dennis Miller mentioned this the other day. Women hated her more than men hated her. Women hated her because she seems to be happily married and she's not neurotic, unlike so many liberal feminist women.
You know, what I've learned over the years, and this, again, has to do with liberal reporters but liberals, in general, they not only don't understand middle Americans; they don't want to understand middle Americans. They think that anybody who eats at a Red Lobster is committing a crime against humanity; anybody who flies the flag on the Fourth of July is a hopeless hayseed; anybody who bowls is a square. This wasn't about Sarah Palin at all. This was about them. This was their real pathology that they have no use for regular Americans.
Now, a few points as I wrap up because I know you guys have other things to do.
A few years ago, I spoke about bias in the news to a class at the American University, and after I talked, every question that I got was from deep left field from the students in the class. And then the professor said something at the time I didn't find especially interesting, but I did much later.
He said, "But isn't it the role of the media to effect change in society?" "Isn't it the role of the media to effect change in society"? I said to him, "Your change or mine?"
And he went silent because this supposedly intelligent guy, it never occurred to him that change comes in more than one package. The only change he thought was worthy of affecting by the media was liberal change.
Now, I put that out of my mind the way you try to put a lot of bad things out of your mind, but it came rushing back to me during this campaign because it occurred to me that's exactly what the media is doing. They are trying to effect change in society, their change, not your change, I guarantee you that.
As corrupt as the media was this time around the media did not defeat John McCain; Republicans defeated John McCain. George Bush, who strikes me as an eminently decent man, was an albatross around John McCain's neck. He got this country into an immensely unpopular war, and whether the surge works or not in the long run, and we all hope it does, the American people will not tolerate a war that goes on this long. John McCain was with Bush on that. John McCain paid the price.
The Republicans in Congress cost John McCain the election. In 2000, when they controlled not only both houses of Congress but when Republicans also controlled the White House, that's when Republicans sold out their conservative principles. They spent money like Imelda Marcos in a shoe store. They were out of control. And what did our compassionate conservative president do? He didn't veto a single spending bill. He paid for that, and John McCain paid for that.
I don't want to perpetuate the civil war that is now going on in our ranks. Some people think Sarah Palin was a good choice; 91 percent of Republicans do. I'm not at all sure that if she, 100 percent of Republicans, she can get 51 percent of the vote. That is going to be up to all of you to decide as time goes on. Reasonable people on that score may disagree.
One final point, and I don't know why this bothers me as much as it does, but three days after the election, I heard two political journalistic heavy hitters, a fellow named Charlie Cook and another one named Stuart Rothenberg, on C-SPAN. They were at a seminar in Washington, and they both acknowledged that there was bias in the media during the campaign. They said, "Of course, there was bias in the media." And then Stuart Rothenberg said, "But it is what it is." And Charlie Cook jumped in and said, "Stu is right. It is what it is."
And this really troubled me in a way I couldn't put my finger on it, and then it hit me. What other kind of bias do intelligent, decent, reasonable people write off with, "It is what it is." Have decent people ever said, "You know, black people, they can't drink from that same water fountain as white people, but, hey, it is what it is." That's not how decent people talk, and that's why this problem is a problem because there are no people in mainstream journalism with the guts to stand up and say, "Maybe it is what it is today, but this can't go on any longer."
Well, I'd like to end on a more upbeat note. It has to do with something I read in the newspaper. It was one of those advice columns. This one was Dear Abby. I'm not making this up. I read this in the paper the day before yesterday. And then if there's time, I'd love to take questions.
It says, "Dear Abby, my husband is a liar and a cheat. He's cheated on me from the beginning, and when I confront him, he denies everything. What's worse, everyone knows that he cheats on me. It's so humiliating. Also, since he lost his job, all he does is cruise around and chew the fat with his buddies. He doesn't even pretend to like me and hints that I may be a lesbian. What should I do?" signed Clueless. And Abby responds, "Dear Clueless, grow up and dump him. Good grief, woman, you don't need him anymore. You're a United States Senator from New York. Act like one."
Question and Answer SessionUnidentified Audience Participant: It seems that in the past, a lot of the bias that happened was unknowing, or at least blissful ignorance, on their part. You know, they care about certain issues, and it just so happens they care about the same issues as Democrats do. They have this feeling they like someone, so they try to be fair. Someone else, "Well, he's mean, and if he says stupid things, we know he's stupid, so it's okay for us to print it." But they try, in some sense, to be objective. They'd like to think of themselves as objective. What happened? Because it seems that they went in the tank, and they have no qualms about it. There's no shame.
Bernie Goldberg: I have long argued, and I continue to argue, despite what some of my conservative friends think, there is no conspiracy. Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson, and in my day, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw never came in the morning, went into a room, summoned their top lieutenants, pulled the shades, dimmed the lights, gave the secret handshake and the secret salute, and said, "How are we going to screw those conservatives today?" It never, ever happened that way. And you know what? I wish it did because that is so outrageous. That is so unacceptable that nobody would tolerate it for two seconds.
What happens in reality is worse. What happens is there are so many likeminded people in the newsroom, they not only think alike; it becomes a group-think kind of thing so that they see conservative views as being to the right of center, which they are, and they see liberal views as middle of the road. They don't even know what liberal views are because of this bubble that they live in.
What made it different this time – despite the fact that they wanted Michael Dukakis or Walter Mondale to win, it wasn't the same thing as this year because Walter Mondale was just another white guy and so was Michael Dukakis. This was different. They were on a mission. This was very important. Their cause, as I say, was noble, and they were going to do whatever they had to do to make this happen. And unlike in past years where they all denied their bias, you're right. The questioner was right. They acknowledge it. And you know why they acknowledge it in the end? Because they don't give a damn what any of you think. That's why.
Unidentified Audience Participant: What I would like to know is there's such a contradiction here in the fact that the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times are almost spinning out of existence. Why is it that they had such a powerful effect on the election?
Bernie Goldberg: I don't know that they do have a powerful effect on – I don't think the media defeated John McCain. I think the media was as corrupt as the day is long, but I don't think they defeated John McCain.
One of my friends in the room suggested maybe two or three points, but it wasn't enough to throw the election. I think people listen to this stuff.
A poll came out. It was a reputable poll. I think it was by Pew, the Pew Research Center, that said 90 percent of Republicans – the question was simply this – "Who do you think most reporters want to win the election?" and 90 percent of Republicans said they want Obama to win. But this is a statistic that should send chills running up the spine of any journalist with half a brain; 62 percent of Democrats and independents said the same thing. Now, if they don't have Republicans – we've already decided we don't trust them, but if 62 percent of Democrats don't trust them, that's a real problem because all they have, at least in theory, is their credibility. So I think they didn't put a thumb on the scale, but they put their big fat asses on the scale this time, and they wanted him to win, and they made no bones about it. But they didn't beat John McCain.
Unidentified Audience Participant: Two quick points. First of all, would you agree that the most important thing that the news bias shows up in is not how things are covered but which stories are covered?
That's number one. Number two, we all have our beef with the media. The Left has a different beef. They call the media the "corporate media," and they seem to think that the media reflects corporate interests and, therefore, they're never going to do anything except to make sure that GE is okay and everyone else.
Bernie Goldberg: Let me address that one. I've heard this a million times, and having worked at CBS News, which is part of a big corporation, for 28 years, this argument makes no sense at all for a couple of reasons. One, there's an assumption that the executives who run the companies that run the news divisions are conservatives. I don't think that's true. Leslie Moonves at CBS plays golf with Bill Clinton. He's not a Republican. I don't know what Robert Eiger is at ABC. I do know that Jeff Zucker at NBC is no conservative – so the argument falls down there. But it also falls down because the corporate part of the company, whether it's Disney or Viacom or General Electric, they don't get involved in the news decisions. They just don't. You know, now, granted, the people at Disney don't have to send a memo to 20/20 to say don't do any stories about pedophiles at Disneyland. They know not to do stories about that. But on a daily basis, they just don't tell news people what to do. Jack Welch didn't even tell news people what to do, and he agrees with all of us.
Unidentified Audience Participant: History wouldn't indicate that journalists are going to self-correct, but I wonder if there's anything journalists like yourself on the right side could do to accelerate what's probably the historical response and the way human beings respond to not the president but the one, the messiah. Most messiahs don't come to a happy ending.
Bernie Goldberg: That's right.
Unidentified Audience Participant: And their mesmerized followers also don't come to a happy ending.
Bernie Goldberg: That's right.
Unidentified Audience Participant: And so I'm wondering what – how people like yourself could prepare the groundwork for the natural development of history.
Bernie Goldberg: It's a very perceptive point that most messiahs – it doesn't turn out the way they think it's going to turn out.
Frankly, I go on and comment on things that have already happened when I go on Fox, for instance. But I think there are going to be two reactions, two distinct and different reactions, if the Obama presidency goes south.
One group, the group that faithfully reads the New York Times and believes every word and lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and in Beverly Hills won't blame Barack Obama; they're going to blame George W. Bush; they're going to blame Halliburton; they're going to blame Bill O'Reilly; they're going to blame David Horowitz; they're going to blame everybody but the Obama administration.
The other group, the Middle American group, is going to look around and say, "What the hell is going on? Why didn't you tell us about any of this?" And, you know, I think it's very important that we have a mainstream media in this country, but when that happens, they will lose even more support, and at some point, David won't even want me up here taking about the media because it will be a waste of everybody's time, like who gives a damn what they think anymore.
Unidentified Audience Participant: Bernie, you said we were going to have to change the media's bias. Now, the TV channels depend on New York Times for the news.
How are you going to change the New York Times?
Bernie Goldberg: Let me be realistic here. I don't think anything's going to change. This is the only business I could think of that doesn't care what its customers think. I mean if they were selling shoes instead of news, they'd be out of business by now.
In Cronkite's last year, 1980, 75 percent of all the people with TV sets on during the dinner hour were watching one of the three network newscasts, 75 percent, three out of four Americans.
When Bias came out in December of 2001, it was down to 40 percent. Today, it's in the 30s. The New York Times is going to do whatever it wants to do, and the networks will continue to take their cues from the New York Times. If the New York Times went on strike tomorrow morning, Katie Couric wouldn't know what to put on the news tomorrow night. I mean that's how much influence the New York Times has. So, it isn't going to change. We just have to say, "Okay, I'm not going to say it is what it is because I'm not accepting it. I don't watch the CBS Evening News anymore." At some point, at some point, there will be so few people watching it that the business guys are going to have to make a decision as to whether they want to leave it on the air or not. And check the stock of the New York Times. That's not doing so well, either.
Unidentified Audience Participant: Also, the Associated Press has a monopoly on the news.
Bernie Goldberg: Oh, yes. That's an interesting question. My first job, four days out of college was with the Associated Press. In those days, it was, "Just the facts, ma'am," kind of news organization. Now, they actually have a policy. It's not by accident. It's a policy that they want their reporters to inject what they call accountability journalism into pieces. Accountability journalism, in plain English, is opinion journalism. And I've read stories on the AP wire that are as biased as can be. Nobody would argue, but that's what they want.
So when the AP, which is 162-year-old organization, decides that objectivity is old hat, it's yesterday, it's not exciting enough, I'm telling you, there's not going to be much left of the mainstream media to throw over the side of the ship. They're doing it themselves.
But that's another point, if I could make it briefly. When they finally are so irrelevant that none of us really give a damn about them, you know who they're going to blame. They're going to blame all of us, that we somehow poisoned the well, that conservatives turned the public on them, but the final wound will be self-inflicted. They're doing it to themselves.
Unidentified Audience Participant: Could you comment on the media fairness doctrine, which has, to my knowledge, only been discussed on Fox? How can we, as private citizens, either combat this?
Bernie Goldberg: Well, as private citizens, what you have to do is get in touch with your representatives in Washington. But an interesting thing about the fairness doctrine, on Election Day -- everybody knows what the fairness doctrine is, right? It requires, under penalty of stiff fines and even loss of license, broadcasters to pretty much give equal time to liberal and conservative points of view, pretty much, not exactly but pretty much.
On Election Day, Charles Schumer, a very bright guy – got a perfect 1,600 on his SATs, you know, went to Harvard – was asked on Fox News on Election Day, "Do you think the government should be involved in dictating what content goes on a private enterprise like radio?"
And he said, "You know," – and he's talking about all of you, by the way – he said, "You know, the very people who want the government to step in and control pornography on the airwaves, these are the very same people that don't want the government to step in and demand fairness on the broadcast waves." And then he said, "And that's inconsistent."
I am never surprised when stupid people say stupid things, never. But this is a smart guy who said the most outrageous thing of the whole campaign, comparing conservative political speech to pornography. I mean he would say, "No, I didn't compare the speech to pornography; I just said that if the government has the right to control one, why doesn't it have the right to control the other?" And the answer is simple. Because a movie showing 19 people having sex on a dining room table is fundamentally different than people speaking about the most important social issues of the day. Chuck Schumer, Mr. Harvard, ought to know that, and his passion for consistency, where would that lead if we said, "Okay, fine, you guys win. Let's have a fairness doctrine," because a fairness doctrine applies to broadcasters, not just radio people.
You know when the three network anchors, ABC, NBC, and CBS, went over to Europe with Obama but they didn't go over with McCain, and he took three foreign trips, I don't think that's fair, do you? What are we going to do about that?
You know those polls that show there was overwhelmingly more negative coverage about McCain than Obama? Senator Schumer, do you think that's fair? Because I don't. You want a fairness doctrine to control the CBS Evening News or just Fox News because that, ultimately, is what this is about. It's not about consistency. It isn't even about fairness and balance. What it is about is crushing voices that we want to hear. That's what it's about.
Unidentified Audience Participant: Bernie, I'm wondering, you made the point that they don't give a damn what we think, and I live in Atlanta, and the AJC, for example, the local paper there, their circulation numbers are just plummeting like a rock.
What are the executives, even if they're conservative, what are they thinking?
Bernie Goldberg: I thought about this for a while, and then it's like a Sherlock Holmes thing. If it's nothing else, it must be whatever's left. There's only one thing that trumps money for these people, and it's ideology. I know it sounds simple, but that's the answer. They will go down with the ship, and I hope they do, by the way, before they change.
Unidentified Audience Participant: Thank you so much. I'm spooked by the news write-up a few weeks ago that the most skewed program, which I think on television is Olbermann, was the most lucrative. So I'm worried that the financial incentives are going toward pornography in journalism rather than toward more truth telling.Could you comment on that?
Bernie Goldberg: I spent my adult life in television, but I didn't run into Madame Curie there or Albert Einstein, you know? So what I'm saying is that if they could make money with a guy who tells the president of the United States to "shut the hell up" -- his exact words -- or questions whether the president of the United States is either "a pathological liar" -- his exact words -- or the idiot in chief -- they're going to do it, and they're not going to tell him to back off. If they tell him anything, it's going to be, "We checked the overnight ratings after you said the president was a pathological liar, idiot in chief." They went up a little because it's a niche market. It's everybody who hates Bush turned into MSNBC. They're going to continue to do it. That's a fact. They don't care.
Unidentified Audience Participant: But I really think we're doing a disservice to ourselves anytime we use the term "fairness doctrine" and don't couple it with "censorship doctrine." I think that because it's a matter of positioning and communication, I think it should be always, always, always, always labeled censorship doctrine, never fairness doctrine.
Bernie Goldberg: Listen, I have one favor to ask of all of you, and it's not what you think it's going to be. I am finishing up a book on how the media handled this particular campaign. I'm not asking you to go out and buy it when it comes out in January, although that would be very nice. My concern is that lots and lots of people know the arguments that I make in the book, so I ask you only one thing. Tell all your friends that a book is coming out very soon in January. It's about how this time it was different, and ask them to tell their friends. That's all I ask of you.
Thank you very much.
Bernard Goldberg, a CBS News correspondent for 28 years, is the author of Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, and its sequel, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite.