On March 31, Lou Dobbs was a rare voice in the media, calling attention to media bias against Hillary Clinton and in favor of Obama on his Lou Dobbs Tonight show. Here is a link to more video of the show:
Dobbs mentions a Non-Partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs study that found that since last December, 83 percent of reporting on Obama by the media has been positive, only 53 percent positive for Hillary Clinton, and he called attention, along with Howard Kurtz from the Washington Post, to how the national media is unfairly making the main story how Hillary Clinton is ruining the party by staying in the race (trumpeting the words of Sen. Leahy and Sen. Dodd and Governor Richardson, in other words, Obama supporters), even though it's a close race, and how this preventing her from speaking out on the issues.
As Kurtz said, news coverage is making the main story whether Hillary Clinton is ruining the party by staying in the race. It's amazing how the media outlets copy one another, all echoing the same story, in the same way that all the media outlets parrotted each other in covering the "sniper" story. The New York Times op-ed this week by two women who staff members of Hillary Clinton's and on that March 1996 tour to Bosnia with her, which supported Hillary Clinton's claim that there was sniper fire in the area, was not picked up by any national TV or Internet media, unlike all the negative coverage of Clinton in columns such as Maureen Dowd or David Brooks from the same paper. (From the op-ed, "These facts explain why many of us, including the first lady, believed that the conditions on the ground were precarious. We were worried about sniper fire and were prepared to rush off the tarmac when we landed.")
Kudos to Dobbs and Kurtz for calling attention to media bias and how the media twists and shapes public perception.
What's unanswered is what is behind this wholesale media bias? Why only a few lone voices in the media that call attention to this bias? There must be something deep in the Jungian psychology of the media to explain the slanted negative coverage of Hillary Clinton, and gender must be at the heart of it.
Below is the entire transcript of the show:
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
White House Proposes Wall Street Overhaul; Interview With Joseph Stiglitz
Aired March 31, 2008 - 19:00 ET
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: "Good evening, everybody.
The media bias against Senator Clinton appears to be worsening tonight. Newspapers and other media across the country are giving an increasing voice to those calling for Senator Clinton to drop out of this race. Many of those pleas are originating with Obama supporters, but some of the calls are coming from columnists whose remarks are picked up by not only other newspapers, but television and the Internet as well.
Those voices in favor of Senator Obama say Senator Clinton should end her campaign for quote "the good of the party." And that a long campaign would quote "tear the party apart and ensure a Republican victory in November", but when it comes to the largest audiences the three nightly broadcast newscasts, the bias is seemingly most pronounced.
The nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs has found that since last December, 83 percent of the reporting on Senator Obama was positive. Only 53 percent of the reporting on Senator Clinton was positive. Joining me now are Lanny Davis, former special counsel to former President Bill Clinton and adviser to the Hillary Clinton campaign, and Howard Kurtz, media critic for "The Washington Post" and host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and Jim Zogby, a super delegate for none other than Senator Barack Obama. Good to have you with us. Howard, let me turn to you, first. I mean this is straight forward objective quantifiable research saying point blank the national media has blown it on this campaign.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN'S RELIABLE SOURCES: Well those figures are a little dated though, because I think the coverage was starting to be a little more even until the last 10 days when you had this drum beat, as you just described, of columnists, commentators and about 700 cable news segments saying why is Hillary Clinton still in this race. She can't possibly win. I think that should be up to the voters to decide and I think that by making this topic (A) in the race, it means that her message can't get through on the economy or...
DOBBS: But, how many of these reports originating in national mainstream media have referred in headlines and subtitles and cut lines to the call for Senator Clinton's withdrawal without noting that those calls for withdrawal are originating exclusively and without exception with supporters of Senator Obama.
KURTZ: Well, some of the stories have made that clear apparently, for example, calling on her to bow out. But look at my newspaper, "The Washington Post", on Saturday front page headline, Clinton resist calls to drop out; Sunday front page headline, Clinton vows to stay in the race until convention, although that was an interview initiated by the senator saying that she is not getting out, but we won't let her talk about anything else.
DOBBS: Well and Howard Kurtz that is one of the reasons you are here is because you are a honest journalist and tough enough to say it straight up about your own news organization and I commend you for that. I know others do as well.
Let's turn to you, if I may, Lanny Davis, what is the Clinton campaign's response to this? You have watched this go on literally for months now, and there was a "Saturday Night Live", and the senator's reference during the debate to may we get you another pillow, Senator Obama, but this has got to be incredibly frustrating and you have got to do incredibly better.
LANNY DAVIS, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO BILL CLINTON: Well, let me just make two points, first of all the night before the New Hampshire primary most of the same pundits for saying she was gone because she was going to lose New Hampshire, after the South Carolina caucuses she was going to lose Super Tuesday and then a "Newsweek" columnist actually said she should drop out before Ohio and Texas. She continues to surprise everybody, because she is tough and she fights and she's not going to let them bully her out of this race.
The second point, very quickly, Lou, is the double standard. We had this tremendous media frenzy, because I believe she made an honest mistake where news reporters at the time described and this is from the "Charleston Gazette" at the time in Bosnia that there were snipers protecting the first lady in a combat zone. She made an honest mistake when she said she was fired upon and we had two days or three days of media frenzy.
Now in the last three days we had Barack Obama on the front page of "The Post" yesterday where he misrepresented his father coming over to America through the use of Kennedy money. We have him taking credit for an immigration bill which he actually according to Senator Dodd had very little to do with. We have him saying that he didn't know that Rezko was involved in wrongdoing...
DOBBS: Not to participate...
DAVIS: ... where is the media on...
DOBBS: Not to participate on the bias, Lanny. I think we get the point.
DAVIS: Double standard is my point.
DOBBS: Let me turn to Jim Zogby. At what point -- you certainly are the beneficiary of this imbalanced coverage if I can put it that way, how are you -- how is the campaign going to react to what is almost certainly going to be a I think probably an adjustment?
JAMES ZOGBY, SUPER DELEGATE SUPPORTING OBAMA: I'm not the beneficiary and I'm not going to go through talking points like Lanny did here. Let me make a point though. This game of politics always involves the ability to deal with media and to get your message through and control media and the Clinton people are not doing a good job.
They've tried. Lord knows they have tried. They tried with the Bosnia story. They blew it. They tried with the dream team story to demean and diminish the Obama campaign and they blew it there, too. They have tried to control the message and it has not worked frankly because it has not worked.
The calls for Senator Clinton to leave the race are based on that fact that numerically she simply cannot win and therefore all she can do is do what she is doing, which is try to beat up and draw some blood from...
DOBBS: Whoa, whoa, whoa...
ZOGBY: ... the front-runner...
DOBBS: Whoa, whoa, whoa...
ZOGBY: ... and make his candidacy in November...
DOBBS: Numerically you say she can't win.
DOBBS: That is in point of fact with certain assumptions made true. ZOGBY: Right.
DOBBS: If you don't make those assumptions, it is not true.
ZOGBY: Well I know, but the assumptions...
ZOGBY: The assumptions they tried to make is she tried to go to Michigan and do a little bit of I think incitement of Michigan voters. It was really not a fair thing to do.
ZOGBY: The fact is that the party rules have been very clear she keeps trying to change...
DOBBS: ... away from those talking points, Jim. Now if I may.
DOBBS: The point is that neither will Senator Obama have the number of delegates necessary to clinch the nomination.
ZOGBY: But the simple fact here...
ZOGBY: ... is that being about 170 up in pledged delegates and the polling with the super delegates, I think it's pretty clear the direction this is going in and that is all the columnists are saying is that if you cannot win this...
ZOGBY: ... and the only way you can win it is to have a 1968 moment at the convention, then is it in the good of the Democratic Party that you go forward with this? That is the issue that's out there right now.
ZOGBY: But I don't think you can make the case...
ZOGBY: ... that it is not...
DOBBS: Jim, may I say this before I turn...
DOBBS: ... to Lanny Davis that I want to first of all applaud your campaign as Senator Obama for having the best, the best, the best interest of the party at heart in that altruistic motivation is I think persuasive to many. Lanny Davis?
DAVIS: Well, first of all, I went through a series of facts that can't be disputed about misstatements by Senator Obama which I assume were honest mistakes. The media jumped to the word lie when Senator Clinton made an honest mistake. I say there is a double standard and secondly, Jim, with all due respect, you changed what you said. You said she can't win from you are relying on assumptions.
The fact is if she wins the way she surprised in Ohio and Texas, she won Ohio big. We have to win Ohio to win the White House. If she wins Pennsylvania, most of the rest of the primaries and comes in that convention...
DAVIS: ... ahead of John McCain in the polls, then that convention is going to nominate her over Barack Obama, because we are not a suicide party.
DOBBS: OK, I'd like to turn now to Howard Kurtz. As we were watching these -- both Lanny and Jim duel a bit around the talking points and the positions of their campaign and understandably so, what is most troubling is, as you point out and acknowledge, the number of national news organizations, electronic as well as print, we should be absolutely clear, that have really taken on this idea that 10 more states should not vote, that it is perfectly rational that neither Michigan nor Florida should be enfranchised with the vote.
I mean, millions of Democratic voters have been disenfranchised as if there is no party preference whatsoever on the parties of the members of the DNC making these judgments. I mean, the national media is really messing this up a bit, don't you think?
KURTZ: Well, I don't have any problem, Lou, with journalists saying that it's an uphill struggle for Senator Clinton...
KURTZ: ... the delegate math works against her, but when you get into these scenarios, I'm reminding of the fact that many of these same geniuses in the press said last summer that John McCain was dead, he was toast, he was finished and it seems to me he came back and he is the Republican nominee, so there obviously is some chance that Senator Clinton could win this nomination and we ought not in this business say that she ought to get out or suggest that it's hopeless until the voters have spoken.
DOBBS: As an Independent, with no vested interest whatsoever in the Democratic or the Republican side here, I don't recall a race in which we have seen quite the transparent favoritism that we have seen in this campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Lou, I don't think you can't say that. Look, I remember... DOBBS: Well, I was actually asking Howard Kurtz...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Sure.
DOBBS: ... who is something of an expert on this sort of thing...
DOBBS: ... he can dismiss me if he wishes.
KURTZ: Well, it is certainly true that most of the liberal columnists are for Senator Obama and against Senator Clinton, but you know they are in the commentary business, that's OK.
KURTZ: But when that -- when you marry that to news coverage that seems to make the only operative question right now, not who is going to win Pennsylvania or Indiana, but whether or not Hillary Clinton is hurting the party and being selfish by staying in the race, the effect is one that looks like we are not being entirely fair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could I just -- maybe Jim and I will agree on this. What the news coverage should do is report issues and what Lou you try to do on your program is the candidates debating issues. The personal character attacks by the Obama campaign against Hillary Clinton, the whole stampede to call her a liar rather than an honest mistake is diverting the American people's attention from the issues and that is why she won Ohio, it's why she's going to win Pennsylvania and all of the battleground states that you have to win as a Democrat, because she is right on the issues.
DOBBS: Jim Zogby, you get the last word.
ZOGBY: Well, again, Lanny, I think that that's fine from your point of view. The fact is that you guys have tried to do it all along and it simply hasn't succeeded. The nastiness of this campaign has been one I think that is difficult for all Democrats to deal with, which is why I think there are increasing calls that it just be over.
It is not disenfranchising people. What it is saying to Democrats is do we really need to continue to draw blood and beat up our candidates before November...
DOBBS: So it's a position of the Obama campaign...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... should we not have a different campaign.
DOBBS: It's the position of the Obama campaign that you should simply foreclose...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
DOBBS: Ten primaries...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
DOBBS: ... and the voters in those states...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all. Not at all.
DOBBS: ... and disenfranchise the voters...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm saying...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what some Democrats are saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
DOBBS: And disenfranchise the voters in Michigan and Florida.
DOBBS: Is that the position?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not the position of the campaign and Senator Obama himself said she ought to stay in if she wants to stay in. I'm saying this is what others have said, Senator Leahy has said and others have said...
DOBBS: And Senator Dodd and Senator Durbin...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
DOBBS: ... and former Governor Bill Richardson...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I would say...
DOBBS: ... or Governor Bill Richardson...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... that the cases of Michigan and Florida need to be dealt with quite separately. They broke party rules. Frankly look I have a huge...
DOBBS: Jim, I've got to break...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... constituency in Michigan. I don't want them disenfranchised, but this was not done right and Michigan unfortunately has to come up with a better way to do it than what they have done so far.
DOBBS: Jim Zogby, thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
DOBBS: Howard Kurtz, thank you very much, sir. Lanny Davis, thank you, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: And we want to hear from you on this question. Do you believe there is a media bias against Hillary Clinton and in favor of Barack Obama? We'd love to hear from you. Yes or no. We'll be bringing that -- those results at the end of the broadcast..."