I’m a big fan of not biting the hand that feeds me, but come on, seriously? This weekend the DNC hack story broke and was hugely embarrassing for Hillary Clinton. Turns out it was also hugely embarrassing for much of the national media in how they did (or didn’t) do their jobs. Now unless you are from Mars you already know that Fox hates Hillary, NBC carries water for her and CNN leans left but hasn’t completely tipped over yet. CBS and ABC are pretty hit and miss on the fairness meter. So how would they cover the WikiLeaks story?
I had plans Sunday morning so I dvr’d “Meet the Press”, ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” and CNN to see how they’d cover the scandal. I knew Fox News would be foaming at the mouth so there was no point even watching them. The result? Chuck Todd, the host of “Meet the Press,” started his show with 25 minutes of cheerleading on the Democratic Convention in Philly. After exhausting every possible angle on that subject he finally mentioned the leak and possible trouble for Debbie Wasserman Schultz; again a full 25 minutes into his program. Keep in mind this was the biggest political story of the weekend and “Meet the Press” is solely a political show. It’s a bit like doing a documentary on the history of ship disasters and waiting a half hour in to mention the Titanic. If that’s not running “pass blocking” for Hillary Clinton and Wasserman Schultz, I’m not sure what is.
How did ABC do? Much better in terms of when they addressed the DNC leak story; getting to it about four minutes into the program. That said every single question that George Stephanopoulos asked Trump’s campaign manager was a negative one. Despite the positive bump in the polls that the GOP just got from their rocky convention in Cleveland, all of the questions tried to paint Trump in a bad light. But hey, at least the leak story was on their radar. I give George credit for that.
CBS ran an interview with Hillary Clinton on “60 Minutes” and asked her about the WikiLeaks mess but chose NOT to include her very awkward answer in the television broadcast Sunday night. They did put the whole interview on the web which is where the rest of us got to see it but only after hunting for it. Was this an accident? I’ll let you decide.
As for CNN, I watched them on and off throughout the day and night, and every panel of “experts” seemed to have four democrats and one token republican who had to feel like Kanye West at a Taylor Swift concert. They seemed to care a lot more about the possible Russian connection to the leak than what was actually in the emails. Russia is important but so is using Bernie’s faith against him. That’s a thread none of them seemed eager to pull on.
What’s funny in all of this is that when the candidates all came to town over the winter and spring months they got fair coverage from all the local TV stations- ABC, FOX, CBS and NBC. Logic would tell you the higher you climb in this business the more professional you’d be, but the reality is some of the fairest reporting is happening at the local level around the country, not at the top. So which network is the fairest and most balanced in this presidential race? Sadly, I’d have to tell you none of them. I have a good nose for sniffing out bias, and I see it at all of them one way or the other. And they’re often sneaky about it. The way they stack their shows, the stories they choose not to cover; it’s a lie by omission. Fox and NBC are the guiltiest of the bunch.
Look, when it comes to Trump or Clinton, like who you want, vote for who you want. But if you want to form an educated opinion on these candidates, I’d urge you to watch and read as much as you can from all of the sources, not just one, and then make up your mind. If you watch just one, trust me, you are drinking somebody’s Kool-Aid.
Once in a while I’ll see a poll that shows people don’t respect journalists the way they used to. Watching the national media’s coverage of this presidential campaign, especially the DNC leak this weekend, I can see why.
To quote Game of Thrones, “Shame.”