Guest: Bernard Goldberg
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: Bias bites back. The “Real Deal,” in news as in life, pride cometh before the fall.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport‘s required and only common sense is allowed.
Three years ago, Bernie Goldberg shocked the media world with his blistering expose on media elites called “Bias.” Three years later, has the Dan Rather scandal proven him right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the heart of it, the major thrust of our report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight, the Nostradamus of network news comes to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with his take on Rather-gate, the future of network news, and whether his former boss Dan Rather should be dumped.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome to our show. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, three years ago, the media world was rocked by Bernie Goldberg‘s best-selling book “Bias.” In it, the former CBS News man delivered a scathing indictment against his own network and suggested that Dan Rather and company were isolated liberal elites who sympathized with most causes that Democrats embrace.
Now, for stating that obvious fact, Goldberg was vilified, abandoned and left twisting in the wind by peers who were angry because he dared to tell the truth, while Dan Rather and company considered Goldberg to be a traitor. Now, after Bernie‘s book hit the bookshelves, readers‘ reaction was great, sending “Bias” to the top of the best-sellers list.
But, sadly, the same media outlets who aggressively went after big oil, big tobacco and big Republican donors conducted a whitewash on “Bias.” You know, CBS, NBC and ABC News refused to even grant an interview to Goldberg or run a single story on a media expose that obviously struck a chord with the American people. So much for the media policing itself.
Now, almost three years later, it is Bernie Goldberg who is looking like the prophet and his former boss Dan Rather who may be looking for a graceful exit from CBS. The very arrogance that led Rather and his friends to deny media bias with a straight face probably had a role in CBS News‘ ugly downfall.
It only took me a day working in a competing network‘s newsroom to discover just how correct Bernie was, because while these operations were filled with well-intentioned employees who had a diversity of appearance, I found out almost nobody had diversity of thought. Now, there was almost no representation from the military, from community colleges, or, heaven forbid, from Republican political staffers.
But former Democratic staffers, however, carried no such stigma, either then, nor now. And I know, because I‘ve seen it firsthand. But I believe things are changing for the better, that information revolution, talk radio, the Internet, and instant access to new shows and transcripts are working together to hold media giants accountable. That may be why the bias that Bernie Goldberg wrote about in 2001 may still exist, but its worse defenders are now being held accountable for their arrogance.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Like I said, we‘re very pleased to have former CBS News correspondent Bernie Goldberg with us. He spent nearly 30 years as a reporter, a producer. He was inside the walls of CBS and first blew the whistle on the Tiffany network in 1996. Now, the books “Bias” and “Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite,” took readers behind the scenes of America‘s most powerful news networks. And in his distinguished career, he earned six Emmy awards at CBS News, won a Peabody Award. And “TV Guide” once rated him one of the 10 most interesting people on television. We still think he is.
And Bernie is going to be here for the whole hour for an inside take on Rather-gate, CBS and bias in the elite media.
Bernie, thanks so much. Great to have you here. We always love having you on the show.
But I‘ll tell you what. The second this Rather scandal exploded, almost everybody turned their eyes to you and said, you know what? Goldberg had it right. Talk about it.
BERNARD GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, “ARROGANCE”: Yes. I mean, I was only catching up with the American people.
When I wrote “Bias,” I only said what millions and millions of Americans had been saying long before I wrote it. So the fact that people are looking to me now and saying, boy, he got it right, all those people out there knew I had it right before. And I don‘t need any vindication on this. I knew that what I said in “Bias” and later in “Arrogance” was the truth. And their biases and their arrogance is showing now.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, let‘s talk about Dan Rather specifically. You worked with Dan Rather. What kind of guy was he? And are you surprised that he let his guard down this much?
GOLDBERG: That‘s a real important question, because it‘s totally unfair to paint Dan Rather as some crazy, wild-eyed left-winger. That is absolutely not the case.
First of all, he‘s a nice guy. He‘s a fun guy. He‘s the kind of guy that guys like you and me would like to hang around with. He‘s a very generous guy. This is something he doesn‘t talk about, but he gives a lot of money to worthy causes. That‘s one Dan Rather. But there‘s another Dan Rather.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what I was about to say.
SCARBOROUGH: If you kept going down that list, I was about to say it‘s sounding an awful lot like a eulogy. But, OK, go ahead. Tell us about the other Dan Rather.
GOLDBERG: It may be. It may be. The jury‘s still out on that one.
He‘s got a flaw. I mean, we all do. But in his case, the flaw is that whenever somebody criticizes him, instead of looking at the criticism, if it has to do with right and left and liberals and conservatives, he goes on the attack. He‘s—I looked at some of the things he said this time. And it‘s the same thing he said 100 other times before, that, the people who are coming after me are partisans. Well, Dan, who was your source in this particular story? Was he a partisan? He says that, I‘m not going to back down.
This circling the wagons is disgraceful. I mean, Dan is a big, tough, important guy in the world of journalism. All he has to do is listen to the criticism and consider it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, why didn‘t he?
GOLDBERG: This is not a journalistic issue.
SCARBOROUGH: And not only did he not consider it. He was really the only guy left standing about 24 hours into this scandal when it became patently obvious to everybody that this document was forged.
SCARBOROUGH: What was Dan Rather‘s character flaw that left him standing alone?
GOLDBERG: I don‘t think it‘s so much a journalistic thing as a psychological thing. I don‘t know if it were the guys in the Nixon White House who went after him viciously that changed him.
I don‘t know if it‘s the fact that his father was a ditch-digger and Dan grew up on, I‘m not going to say the wrong side of the tracks, but on a certain side of the tracks. I don‘t know what it was.
SCARBOROUGH: Had something to prove.
GOLDBERG: Look, I‘m not a psychologist. I don‘t know what it is.
But I know it when I see it. And what happens is, he inevitably, he inevitably goes on the attack, and he‘s not introspective. It‘s interesting that journalists, for a living, we look down everybody else‘s throat. We look down the throat of politics. We look down the throat of business people, sports people, church people, educators, military people.
But if you look down their throat, instead of being introspective, which they are not good at, they lash out, because they don‘t have any practice at being introspective. You know what I mean?
SCARBOROUGH: You know what‘s interesting, though, about Rather. You‘re talking about maybe the Nixon White House and the attacks against Rather by the Nixon White House made him respond this way. I couldn‘t help thinking when I heard Dan Rather‘s denials that we were actually listening to a press conference in the Pentagon from Lyndon Johnson‘s White House or Richard Nixon‘s.
I mean, it was deny, deny, deny, when everybody out there knew he was lying.
Well, I don‘t know that he was lying. I think he just puts this wall up or circles the wagons, or whatever cliche you want to use, and he‘s incapable of looking at the allegation against him. That‘s the real problem.
SCARBOROUGH: So he believed what he was saying was the truth.
GOLDBERG: You know what? Even after he apologized, he told “The Chicago Tribune,” he said, I don‘t believe these are forgeries.
SCARBOROUGH: And we‘ve got that quote, which I‘m going to get you to respond to and explain it to us.
GOLDBERG: It‘s incredible.
SCARBOROUGH: But I want to go back to the early in the Rather scandal. The anchorman actually had this to say on “Cbs Evening News” right after the scandal broke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RATHER: On the Internet and elsewhere, some people, including many who are partisan political operatives, concentrated not on the key questions of the overall story, but on the documents that were part of the support of the story. They allege that the documents are fake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Bernie, talk about that.
GOLDBERG: This is very important. These guys—first of all, Dan didn‘t know the documents were fake. Let‘s get that out on the table. I don‘t care what anybody on the right says. He did not know they were fake.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you on the terrorist, by the way? Have you ever voted for a Republican president?
SCARBOROUGH: When I wrote the op-ed in “The Wall Street Journal” in 1996, being the first journalist to publicly talk about liberal bias in the news while he was still a correspondent at a major network, I had never voted for a Republican in my life.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Go ahead.
GOLDBERG: What these guys have done with this “Evening News” business, where they ran story after story that was literally the most one-sided stories in the history of television, every story on the “Evening News” backed up their original phony story, OK?
When you do this, you‘re not just corrupting “60 Minutes” with your fake documents story. You‘re corrupting “The CBS Evening News.” This is the flagship broadcast of the network. By using “The CBS Evening News” as a public relations tool, and a public relations tool, by the way, for a crooked client, you‘re corrupting—you‘re corrupting the entire organization.
SCARBOROUGH: And what does that do to Bob Schieffer? What does that do to other newsmen who are attached to Dan Rather, whether they want to be or not?
GOLDBERG: Well, Bob does want to be. I mean, if Dan ever stopped short, Bob‘s going to break his nose on Dan‘s rear end. That‘s how close they are. It hurts all of them.
But Bob Schieffer has publicly said that he‘s angry because we were taken. Well, yes, you have every right to be angry that somebody duped you. And, by the way, we‘ve all been duped about something at some point. But when you make a mistake like this, after your producer‘s been on the story for five years—and, by the way, after five years, that‘s not journalism. That‘s an obsession.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re talking about Mary Mapes.
GOLDBERG: Yes. Yes. She‘s on the search. That‘s an obsession after five years. Bob can be angry at the people for duping CBS News, but you can‘t be duped on something like this unless you want the story to be true.
And that is precisely, that is precisely where they made their mistake. They wanted this story to be true, and that‘s why they let their guard down. I guarantee you this, Joe. I guarantee you that if a source on the right with equal questionable credentials as this guy was—you know, from Texas, if he were on the right and if he gave CBS News documents that made John Kerry look bad, we wouldn‘t be sitting here talking about it. It would have never gotten anywhere. It would have been nipped in the bud.
But because they live in this special culture, they live in this elite liberal bubble, and inside the bubble it‘s very comfortable, because nobody really disagrees with anybody about all the big issues—so if the issue is affirmative action, well, we all know what the right take on that is. If the issue is gay marriage, well, we all know what the right take on that is. If the issue is abortion, we all know what the right take on that is.
And inside that bubble, there aren‘t a lot of supporters of George W. Bush. So, yes, it was an honest mistake in the beginning, but not a totally honest mistake, because they wanted the story so badly to be true that they were willing to believe things that no serious, reputable journalist would have believed.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, Bernie, it‘s something. In my situation, when I have a story that I‘m going to go with that‘s actually maybe negative towards the Democrats, I‘ll actually talk to Phil Griffin, a guy you know. He runs prime time at MSNBC. And we‘ll talk about it.
And, in fact, I did it today. I went over a list of headlines. I said, Phil, “The New York Times” called George Bush un-American. That bothers me. I know you have a different political viewpoint. What do you think of that? And we go through things every day. Am I overreacting? Is my bias coming in here? Phil, who, again, I‘m not going to say he‘s a liberal, but he‘s certainly not voting Republican, he says, I think you‘ve got a point there, Joe. And there‘s this counterbalance.
GOLDBERG: Yes, but you‘re the one...
SCARBOROUGH: But I‘m the one bringing it up.
GOLDBERG: That‘s right. That‘s an important point.
SCARBOROUGH: But I don‘t think that‘s happening, though, with a lot of these network news operations at CBS.
GOLDBERG: Listen, let me tell you about the bubble, OK? In 1972, Nixon didn‘t beat McGovern. Nixon trounced McGovern, right?
Pauline Kael who I describe in “Bias” as the otherwise brilliant film critic for “The New Yorker...”
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? They‘re telling me, we‘ve got to go to break. This is an important story. I don‘t want to rush it.
Stay there, Bernie Goldberg.
We‘re going to have Bernie here. Going to have a lot more to tell you about when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. And we want to take your calls. Give us a call at 888-MSNBC-USA.
We‘ll be right back in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ve got Bernie Goldberg with us. He‘s the one that told us several years ago about media‘s bias and arrogance. He predicted what happened at CBS two weeks ago. We‘re going to keep talking to him tonight and taking your phones calls on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Give us a call.
We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re back with Bernie Goldberg.
Bernie, you were talking about this bubble that the media lives in.
What do you mean?
GOLDBERG: Well, in 1972, McGovern gets beat by Richard Nixon.
And Pauline Kael, who worked at “The New Yorker” said—and she‘s not joking when she says this, Joe. She says, I don‘t understand how Richard Nixon could have won. I don‘t know anybody who voted for him.
Richard Nixon carried 49 states, for crying out loud. More recently, Mary McGrory, who just passed away, a very important columnist for “The Washington Post,” just before this country went to war in Iraq, in March of 2003, the country was split down the middle, reasonable people on both sides of the issues whether we should go to war in Iraq. And Mary McGrory wrote in “The Washington Post,” of all the people I know, nobody is for the war in Iraq.
That‘s living in a bubble. Now, living in a bubble is fine.
SCARBOROUGH: It doesn‘t make you a bad person.
GOLDBERG: No, and it‘s really comfy. It‘s really comfortable in the bubble. You can go a day, a week, a month, a year, you can go a whole lifetime and not run into anybody who disagrees with you about any of the big important social issues of our time.
The only problem that it really matters when you‘re living in a bubble is when somebody gives you a phony document and nobody else inside the bubble is thinking to say, wait, wait, hold on.
SCARBOROUGH: The antenna doesn‘t go up.
SCARBOROUGH: So you‘re saying that Dan Rather and CBS News lives in the bubble.
GOLDBERG: Well, I think CBS News does. I think NBC News does, with all due respect. I think ABC News does. I think “The New York Times” does. I think “The Boston Globe” does. And I think “The L.A. Times” does. And I can go on.
SCARBOROUGH: Are things getting better since you wrote “Bias” or worse?
GOLDBERG: There have been slivers of sunshine, is how I like to put it.
There was a page-one story in “The L.A. Times” in May of last year, and it was about abortion. And it was incredibly lopsided against abortion rights. That‘s not me saying it. That‘s the executive editor of the newspaper saying it, a fellow named John Carroll. He wrote a scathing memo to his own staff that said this is why people think we have a liberal bias.
Well, it‘s exactly why people think they have a—I don‘t think that memo would have been written if “Bias” didn‘t start to change the landscape a little bit.
SCARBOROUGH: I think you‘re exactly right. And I was very pleased when I saw Mr. Carroll‘s letter, memo. I was a little disappointed, though. Three days before the California recall, they dropped this story.
GOLDBERG: Just when you want to congratulate them, they always let you down.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, kind of like “The New York Times.” I make no secret of it to my conservative friends that that‘s the paper I read every day.
GOLDBERG: Me, too.
SCARBOROUGH: And it frustrates me every single day. But when I see a fair article, I feel like writing a note to—or see an editorial that I agree with, to thank them, because it‘s renewed my faith that there is some balance.
SCARBOROUGH: Today, “The New York Times,” though, calls George Bush -
· or this weekend called George Bush and Dick Cheney un-American, after, of course, liberals have been attacking George Bush for calling others un-American, which they never made.
GOLDBERG: Let me make a real brief point about that. That jumped out at you, right?
SCARBOROUGH: Sure it did.
GOLDBERG: OK. Inside the bubble, that doesn‘t make a ripple. I‘m mixing my metaphors here.
GOLDBERG: Inside the bubble, they read that, and they say, oh, yes, that sounds right to me.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let me ask you this, though. Do they see the hypocrisy inside the bubble, ever?
Like, for instance, “The New York Times”—and we have Democratic consultants come on, people that I like, people I‘m personal friends with. But for a year and a half, they‘ve been saying George W. Bush is calling Democrats—George Bush is calling Democrats un-American just because they have a different viewpoint. Well, you can run a LexisNexis.
GOLDBERG: I have. He‘s never said that.
SCARBOROUGH: He‘s never said it. Dick Cheney has never said it. The campaign has never said it. But you know who has said it? “The New York Times” this weekend, except they were calling George W. Bush un-American. Do they see the hypocrisy?
GOLDBERG: No, no.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you—I want to ask you another question, then. And this is an important point.
GOLDBERG: The answer to that one is no.
SCARBOROUGH: Absolutely not.
Here‘s another point. Gail Collins, editorial page editor, seems like a good person. But over the past year and a half, they have become nothing more than John Kerry‘s talking points. I know when Howell Raines was there -- whether you like Howell Raines or not, he ran a great editorial page. He would beat the hell out of Republicans mainly, but he also turned his attention to Democrats, too.
Do these editors of like “The New York Times” editorial page—and I understand it‘s their opinion. But do they see their job—does Gail Collins see her job as electing John Kerry or just beating the hell out of George Bush and getting in the way of the Pentagon winning this war in Iraq?
GOLDBERG: Well, in a way, I don‘t care what they do on the editorial page.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, everybody says that.
GOLDBERG: It‘s the editorial page. No, you‘re making a more subtle point. And it‘s a good point. And that is, even on an editorial page, shouldn‘t you be a little open-minded?
I think “The New York Times”—and not just the editorial page, unfortunately—I think “The New York Times” has become more and more political with each passing week, you know?
GOLDBERG: So does it surprise me that “The New York Times” editorial
page looks like it‘s part of the John Kerry campaign? No. But what
bothers me is when I see a story on “The CBS Evening News” and it looks
like the reporter is also on the campaign
SCARBOROUGH: Or page one of “The New York Times.”
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘ve got to say, though, people like Nick Kristof, who I disagree with a lot of times, he surprises me from time to time. It seems like he‘s intellectually honest.
GOLDBERG: But Paul Krugman doesn‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: No, Paul Krugman doesn‘t.
But, anyway, I want to read you this. Well, actually, there was a “Chicago Tribune” quote. We don‘t have it up there right now. But there‘s a “Chicago Tribune” quote that—actually, they‘re going to put it up right now.
This is what Dan Rather said the night he apologized. You talked about it earlier. I think it‘s remarkable. “Do I think they‘re forged?” speaking of the documents. “No. But it‘s not good enough to use the documents on the air if we can‘t vouch for them, and we can‘t vouch for them.”
OK, Bernie, at this point...
GOLDBERG: He‘s already apologized.
SCARBOROUGH: He‘s apologized, not to George W. Bush, the guy that he attacked unfairly 50 days until election.
GOLDBERG: Yes. Right. Right.
SCARBOROUGH: But here, even my dog knew these documents were forged. Dan Rather is still telling “The Chicago Tribune” they‘re not forged. I would think somebody in the bubble would turn to Dan and say, Dan, shut up. You‘re embarrassing us.
GOLDBERG: We should tell the audience that we haven‘t had this discussion. And that is word for word what I said should happen, talking to friends.
Somebody needs to go in. And they need to do this for Dan‘s sake. As I said, he‘s a much better guy than most people—certainly most people on the right think. Somebody needs to go in there—and, frankly, it should be the president of CBS News—and say, Dan, just shut up. This is ridiculous. When you say things like this in the newspaper, you look deranged.
SCARBOROUGH: But can you do that? Are these guys such rock stars, such divas, that even the head of the news division can‘t walk in there and say, shut up, you‘re embarrassing us?
GOLDBERG: But I want to make clear that I‘m saying he should say that for Dan‘s sake, let alone CBS News‘ sake.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. I know. But can he? You know what? A lot of people should tell the president from time to time, you‘re screwing up.
GOLDBERG: Yes. We can talk for as long as you want about the mechanics of how the mistake was made and all that.
But there‘s an intangible. And that‘s the aura of fear that emanates from the anchorman. In “Bias,” I talked about—I compared him to a mafia boss. And I got all sorts of criticisms. And I said wait a second, do you think I‘m saying Dan Rather is a member of the Columbo crime family? That‘s not what I‘m saying. I‘m saying that there‘s an aura of fear that emanates from certain people.
And the reason that‘s important, when it emanates from somebody like Dan Rather—and it does. I‘ve seen it. I don‘t care how many people deny it. I‘ve been there.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? And I have seen it, too. Even when I was in Congress, I would see it. These people—these anchors—and it‘s not their fault. But people treat these anchors like they are divas.
When I see politicians treated this way, when I was in Congress, I‘d always scratch my head and go, you know, Newt Gingrich, when he first came, people just treated him like a God. I said, this is not going to have a happy ending. It‘s human nature. That is bad. And it happens to these network anchors every day, doesn‘t it?
GOLDBERG: In the 1980s, I said to a—I‘m going to just say a fellow gentlemen at CBS News that it‘s not Dan‘s fault. Everybody is always kissing up to him.
GOLDBERG: And I didn‘t put it that way.
And after a while, it‘s only human nature. And the person said to me, it is his fault. Now, that person has gone on to bigger things since we spoke, and I‘m not even going to give you a clue as to who it is. Even though that person will have nothing to do with me, I‘m not going to sink him, because he‘s still there and Dan Rather is still there.
But they like it after a while. They like the rock star treatment after a while.
SCARBOROUGH: And it‘s just like Congress. It‘s just like the Senate. I want to read this quote from your book. It‘s a tough quote, one of the most explosive claims.
This is what you said about Dan Rather—quote—“If CBS News were a prison...”
GOLDBERG: Oh, not that one.
SCARBOROUGH: “... instead of a journalistic enterprise, three-quarters of the producers and 100 percent of the vice presidents would be Dan‘s bitches.” .
That, my friend, is tough. But I assume you got grief for that, too.
GOLDBERG: You know, I wrote a serious book. And after it came out, everybody wanted to talk about that one line.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. But, again, it‘s a lighthearted way to follow up...
GOLDBERG: Of saying something serious.
SCARBOROUGH: Of what we were saying, which, I‘ll tell you, what I did in my office—and I do it now by talking to Phil. But when I was in Congress, I had three people I trusted, trusted them with my life. Didn‘t matter how much I believed in something. If I got a veto from two of these people, I just didn‘t do it.
I‘d scream at them. I‘d yell at them. They would say no. No, that‘s not the right thing to do. You can‘t do it, blah, blah, blah. And it always—there was always that check. Is there no check for these people who are treated like rock stars?
GOLDBERG: Look, Dan‘s a big boy, 72 years old. He‘s made friends in various parts of the country and in the journalism world and outside the journalism world.
And I‘m sure he has somebody like your three people. I‘m sure he has three people someplace. But I didn‘t see them at CBS News. There was a vice president at CBS News whose title might as well have been the vice president in charge of keeping Dan happy.
SCARBOROUGH: I think we have those at all networks.
Hey, we‘ll be right back with more of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with Bernie.
And we‘re going to be taking your calls. That‘s when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: Is the media biased, and should Dan Rather be fired? We want to know what you think. Give us a call at 888-MSNBC-USA.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC news desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back to the show.
We‘re here with Bernie Goldberg, author of “Bias” and also “Arrogance,” a guy who predicted what happened at CBS News.
Bernie, I want to continue here. You brought up something interesting in the break. Let‘s share it with our viewers. I was fascinated by a lot of the coverage. I thought “The Washington Post” did an excellent job breaking this story. They were one of the first to really jump on it and I thought just did a remarkable job of coverage. ABC News also did some great stuff. NBC went after it. There were some news outlets that actually went after Dan Rather.
But what about Barbara Walters saying, Dan, we‘re all with you, and Dan misting up. It was almost like it was a club.
GOLDBERG: Well, there was a big party for Barbara Walters in New York the other night, just a few nights ago, because she‘s leaving “20/20.” And all the A-list people were there, and Dan was there, one of the people.
And she said, we‘re behind you, Dan, we‘re sticking with you, as if Dan Rather were the victim in all of this. No, the victim are all the journalists at the big mainstream news organizations. Their credibility took a hit, along with CBS‘. The victims are the American people, who depend on mainstream journalism for the information they need to be good citizens. Those are the victims.
GOLDBERG: Let me just say this, Joe.
GOLDBERG: The reason Barbara Walters did what I consider—I understand that she‘s saying to a friend, we‘re behind you. OK, I‘ll give her that.
But it used to be an old boys club. Now it‘s a boys and girls club. But inside this club, the one thing you don‘t do is, you don‘t publicly, you don‘t publicly go after somebody else in the club, even when they deserve it. The fact that the ABC News and “The Washington Post” did, I give them a lot of credit for this. But let‘s make no mistake about this. They were very aware that, A, this was a big story during a presidential campaign in an attempt to take down the president of the United States.
I‘m not saying that was CBS‘ intent, but that was somebody‘s intent. And, secondly, they also understood what I mentioned earlier, that this was bad not just for “60 Minutes” and not just for CBS News, but it was bad for all of them.
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, you also had “The New York Times.” I was just bashing “The New York Times.” Jim Rutenberg wrote some articles going after him. I know—I‘ve met Jim.
GOLDBERG: I give them less credit, because, except for one story that they put in the front of the paper, you needed a seeing-eye dog to find some of the stories about CBS.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I thought it was interesting that the editors, when they were going after the swift vet ads, they put this front-page...
GOLDBERG: With a chart.
SCARBOROUGH: Conspiracy chart. It was like an “X-Files” chart. You needed a decoder and a Ouija board to figure out what was going on there. You certainly never got that for Texans For Truth or this other thing.
One other thing very important, though. Mary Mapes, Dan Rather‘s favorite producer, the person that was behind this story, the five-year obsession, she‘s a self-confessed liberal. Mary Mapes, for CBS News, gets this information, calls Joe Lockhart, a top aide for John Kerry, and says, you need to call this guy. Here‘s his number. He‘s got information that‘s going to help you out.
Now, I can tell you, if that happened at my network or just about any other news organization that I know of and it came to light, that person would be fired immediately. I think this speaks particularly ill of CBS News.
GOLDBERG: Well, first, Joe, you say she‘s a self—what word did you use?
GOLDBERG: Self-described liberal. They‘re all liberals. She‘s no different from everybody else in that sense.
SCARBOROUGH: You say they‘re all—let‘s name conservatives—I can name John Stossel at ABC News. Any other conservatives that come to mind immediately, ABC, NBC, CBS?
GOLDBERG: I might be able to say that I know one or two. But if I say it here, then they have a bullseye on their back also.
And, by the way, by the way, I‘ve described myself as an old-fashioned liberal. I‘m a liberal the way liberals used to be. I‘m a liberal the way liberals were when John F. Kennedy was around and when Hubert Humphrey was around. I‘m not a liberal the way Michael Moore is or Al Franken.
GOLDBERG: So it‘s not as if I‘m some right-winger who‘s come out with this.
But if you‘re in a newsroom, a mainstream big newsroom like CBS News and you have—you‘re talking at the water cooler, as we often do, about just stuff, and you take an issue that‘s that much to the right of center, you stick out like a sore thumb. But if you have an opinion that‘s that much to the left of center, they don‘t even notice you.
There was a guy named George Clinton. He was the king of funkadelic back in the ‘70s.
GOLDBERG: He had a song. I think the name of it was “Psychedelic Aquarium.” I don‘t even know why I know that. But there was a line in the song, and this I do remember very well, and the line was, fish don‘t know he‘s wet.
Well, you know why the fish don‘t know he‘s wet? He doesn‘t have any frame of reference. It‘s like, what do you think, fish go around saying, is it wet in here? Well, it‘s like liberals in the newsroom. They don‘t know they‘re liberals. They think everything to the right of center is conservative, and everything to the left of center is middle of the road. And that‘s the problem.
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, Dan Rather made the famous comment about “The New York Times” being center of the road.
Now, let‘s talk about how wet the fish are. According to a Pew Research poll of 547 journalists released in May, the poll found that only 7 percent of the nationally based journalists call themselves conservative;
34 percent said they were liberal, and 54 percent call themselves moderate.
And, of course, the moderate is called into question.
GOLDBERG: The moderates aren‘t moderates.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ve heard some self-described moderates. But even with that, 7 percent say they‘re conservative. That‘s a lot like the study that came out in 1992 saying that something like 89 percent voted for Clinton; 4 percent voted for Bush.
GOLDBERG: But that‘s 5-1, right? Was it 7 percent and 35 percent about?
GOLDBERG: That‘s 5-1. So what‘s 5-1? I can‘t do the math that quickly. But that‘s more than 80-20. That‘s like 15-85. I think it is 15-85.
SCARBOROUGH: Why is that, though? Why?
GOLDBERG: But could you imagine if a candidate in a contested election—could you name a candidate in a contested election who got 85 percent of the vote? I mean, Saddam Hussein barely got 85 percent. Fidel Castro gets 85. The crazy guy in North Korea gets 85 percent.
SCARBOROUGH: I actually, in my district one time, got 80 percent.
I want to read you another quote. This caught a lot of people‘s attention. I was the crazy guy in Northwest Florida.
GOLDBERG: Kim Il Scarborough.
SCARBOROUGH: Kim Il Scarborough, exactly.
Assistant managing editor of “Newsweek,” Evan Thomas, raised some eyebrows recently when he suggested that the Kerry-Edwards campaign would get a boost from the press. And he said this—quote—“The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. They‘re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all. There‘s going to be this glow about them. That is going to be maybe 15 points.”
Evan was wrong on that. But, you know, one thing I‘ve noticed, Bernie, since you‘ve written your book, since we‘ve had these bloggers come on board, since people have been studying transcripts more closely, I‘m starting to hear more and more respected journalists say, you know what?
GOLDBERG: Yes. Absolutely.
SCARBOROUGH: Most of us are liberal, but we‘re going to do our best to check it at the door, just like they teach us to do in journalism school.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘ve got to tell you, I‘ve met a lot of people who are liberals that, when they go on the air, you can‘t tell, very good journalists.
GOLDBERG: Oh, absolutely.
I have never suggested that journalists who are liberal can‘t be fair. I‘ve never suggested that. But what I said is, if you have newsrooms that are overwhelmingly stacked with liberals, a kind of group think takes over after a while and you see things. When you do a story on abortion and you see it from a liberal point of view, you don‘t even know it‘s a liberal point of view. You think it‘s a reasonable point of view, a civilized point of view, a mainstream point of view.
Look, networks are very concerned about diversity. They want newsrooms that look like America. In “Arrogance,” I say we need a newsroom that thinks a little more like America. And what you said in your introduction is absolutely true. We need people who went to some junior colleges. We need people who served in the military. We need some people in the newsrooms who go to church on a regular basis. That‘s real diversity.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what was interesting? I was talking to a guy earlier that used to work at a major network. He said, when he worked there, the top producers, all the top producers there that ran one of the most important news shows in America, none of them had kids. And we‘ll get...
GOLDBERG: None of them have kids. None of them go to a church or synagogue.
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t that‘s not as much the case. Now, I‘m just saying, though, it‘s been a very insular world.
We‘re going to talk more about that. We‘re also going to talk about how the media can correct this. I know there are a lot of news directors that want to correct this problem. We‘re going to talk about that more. Plus, we‘re going to be taking your calls at 888-MSNBC-USA.
We‘ll be right back in a second.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: Who coined the term anchor? Was it, A, Roone Arledge, B, Don Hewitt, or, C, Edward R. Murrow? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, who coined the term anchor? The answer is B. The term was first used by Don Hewitt to describe Walter Cronkite‘s role at the 1952 political conventions.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Don Hewitt, a guy that loves Bernie Goldberg.
Bernie, should Dan Rather be fired?
GOLDBERG: Let me state the obvious. That‘s way over my pay grade. That‘s not up to me. And it would be a shame, in a way, for a guy who has covered every big story of the last 40 years to go out like this.
But something went very, very wrong here. And Mary Mapes, I don‘t see how in the world the producer is going to survive this.
SCARBOROUGH: She‘s got to be fired, OK.
Well, you had a distinguished 30-year career. You‘re still doing great work out there. You understand what makes a journalist great, what makes a journalist a failure. If you were the president of CBS News, if it was your pay grade, would you fire Dan Rather?
GOLDBERG: If I were the president of CBS News, I would have to seriously consider resigning myself and then leaving that for somebody else. I‘m not suggesting that Andrew Heyward resign. I‘m not suggesting that at all.
But something, as I say, went terribly wrong and you can‘t simply blame the producer of the story. Other people knew at some point, I‘m guessing within 24 hours, that there were serious questions about this. And instead of dealing with those serious questions, instead of treating the American people with respect, again, they circle the wagons and they deny, deny, deny. They acted the way a crooked politician acts. And that may go all the way up to the top.
The decision, by the way, Joe, ultimately is going to be made based on this report and the guys at Viacom, not the guys at CBS, who is going to read it. And if it‘s in their best interests to clean house, they‘ll clean house. And if it‘s not, they won‘t.
Let‘s talk again briefly before we go to the phones about the changing culture. My friend was saying several years ago there were no children. I mean, people didn‘t go to church regularly.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, maybe it was a more liberal time, the ‘80s, early ‘90s, whatever, didn‘t have kids. But that‘s changing, isn‘t it?
GOLDBERG: I agreed with you too flippantly and said, yes, they don‘t have kids. They do have kids, of course.
GOLDBERG: The point is that study after study—and there have been some very good ones—show that, on all the big, important issues, these people are almost fundamentally different from the audience they serve. They don‘t go to church. They don‘t go to synagogue. They don‘t go to the Kiwanis Club-type breakfasts. They think if you live in someplace like...
SCARBOROUGH: Pensacola, Florida.
GOLDBERG: Yes. That you‘re some kind of hick. No offense.
SCARBOROUGH: No offense taken. I‘m used to this.
GOLDBERG: They do have a snobbery about them that‘s not healthy in anybody, but it‘s really unhealthy in a journalist.
Let‘s go to the phones right now. We‘ve got Jeanne in Virginia.
Go ahead, Jeanne.
CALLER: Yes. I wonder if you guys felt like the liberals may have felt the same way during the Clinton administration. When Clinton was in office, the media wasn‘t holding back then.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s a good question.
You know, Bernie, I‘ve heard a lot of Democrats say that proves there‘s no liberal media bias.
SCARBOROUGH: The media beat up Bill Clinton.
GOLDBERG: I say in “Bias”—and I elaborate in “Arrogance”—that bias in the news is not about raw party politics.
The journalists I know would run over their liberal grandmother if they thought it would help their career. So they did go after Clinton, because the headline on the other end of going after him was big enough for them to go after him. They did back off, I think, when it got nasty.
SCARBOROUGH: Every pivotal time.
GOLDBERG: Yes. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: Any time—you can check. Any time Bill Clinton‘s numbers started to go down below 50, they backed off. Run a LexisNexis, very obvious.
SCARBOROUGH: Randy from Alabama, you‘re next. You‘re on with Bernie Goldberg.
CALLER: Hi, Joe.
Just a quick aside. Some American families are sending their kids to Iraq. I want you to know, we sent our son to hurricane-ravaged Pensacola. He‘s down there doing his best to help rebuild your city.
But, Joe, don‘t tell anybody he‘s a Tennessee fan.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, no. That‘s awful.
CALLER: I do have a question for Bernie, though.
CALLER: Bernie, despite the obsession, the bias, the arrogance, hasn‘t CBS basically simply inoculated this whole National Guard story?
GOLDBERG: Inoculated it in what sense?
SCARBOROUGH: They‘ve helped George Bush, in effect.
CALLER: Nobody will touch it anymore.
GOLDBERG: Oh, yes, that‘s a good point. That‘s a very good point.
As a matter of fact, not only will nobody touch that anymore. The story that they were supposed to run on “60 Minutes” about the forged documents that President Bush talked about in the State of the Union about uranium coming from Africa, how could they run—they can‘t run that story, because they‘re going to look ridiculous. Could you imagine CBS News doing a story about somebody else‘s forged documents?
So this is having a ripple effect in ways that they certainly couldn‘t have possibly imagined.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s move on to Ron from Texas.
Go ahead. You‘re on with Bernie Goldberg.
CALLER: Yes, Bernie, I think Dan Rather ought to be fired, Mary Mapes also.
GOLDBERG: You‘re not alone, Ron.
CALLER: It didn‘t take the regular populace any time at all to figure out those were faked.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, I think we‘ve lost him.
We‘ll be right back with more of your phone calls when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: We are back with Bernie Goldberg.
Bernie, the debates are this week. Should Americans be concerned that the reports coming out of those debates are going to be liberal and biased?
GOLDBERG: You know, there‘s a new media out there now. And, by the way, if it wasn‘t for the new media, with the Internet, cable, to some extent talk radio—that‘s been around a while—this story would have never happened.
SCARBOROUGH: You are exactly right.
We‘ll see you later.
Thanks, Bernie Goldberg.
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