Unbalanced Media

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, October 9, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Is your nightly newscast tilted too far to the left? According to a new Gallup poll (search), most Americans think that the news media is too liberal, rather than too conservative. Are you surprised?

Joining us is president of the Media Research Center (search), Brent Bozell, also CNN founder and author of Me and Ted Against the World, Reese Schonfeld.

Good to see you both once again. Reese, good to see you.

Let me begin with you, Brent. More says the media is too liberal…than too conservative. But those who say it's either just right or too conservative are actually the majority of the people on this poll, if you want to look at it that way.

BRENT BOZELL, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: Well, I can't see if you're throwing the numbers on the screen, Alan. But if you're going to throw the numbers, which I don't have right in front of me, you'll notice that by 3-1 the public is saying that the media are liberal over conservative.

And the interesting thing, Alan, is that this is nothing new. The public has been saying this for three years now, which might explain, which does explain why you can hear the footsteps as the American people leave the big three networks, have left CNN, and are coming to Fox and others.

COLMES: My point was that…we just showed the numbers that you were just talking about. Forty-five percent say too liberal. But my point was if you add those who say it's either just right or too conservative, add those two numbers together, then you have a majority. The majority are not saying it's too liberal, 45 percent of them.

BOZELL: You know, Alan…Alan, you're reduced to doing that kind of math.

COLMES: I'm not reduced at all. I'm giving you a fact.

BOZELL: Sure you are.

COLMES: I'm giving you a fact, Brent, and you can…Look, I acknowledge that many people said it's too liberal, but I'm also telling you the majority did not say that. And that is a fact. You can look and say anything you want about it.

BOZELL: I'll give you another poll. I mean, play with the numbers how you want. I'll give you another poll.

Both the Pugh Center and the McLaughlin Group have come up with the same numbers in their surveys. A vast majority of Republicans say the media are more liberal than they are. Big deal.

The interesting thing is that 45 percent…44 percent of self-identified Democrats also believe the media are more liberal than they are. So, it goes to show you that the press really is out against the American people.

COLMES: Let me go to Reese Schonfeld. To a much greater extent, conservatives identified it as liberal than did liberals identify the media as being conservative. What do you make of this?

REESE SCHONFELD, CNN FOUNDER: Every…There is no such thing as objectivity in any kind of a media. There are two sides to that.

It's…Each viewer has his opinion, each bit of media does theirs. The viewers take the piece of the media they agree with and they say that's objective.

The others are either too liberal or too conservative. And about 39 percent saying it's just right. The skies...

COLMES: By the way the numbers, Brent, haven't changed that much over the last few years. The numbers have stayed very similar, survey after survey after survey. This is not a brand-new revelation that people have suddenly decided this.

SCHONFELD: I don't think they're either too liberal or too conservative. I think for the most part, with the exception of Fox, which makes it win, which is not wishy-washy, the rest of the media are wishy- washy, in the middle, all over the place.

They don't want to take an opinion on anything. They're afraid of the readers, just as the politicians are afraid of the voters. They're afraid they'll say something that will offend somebody. And they stick in the middle, and they're dull. And you guys are not.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The last thing we want to be in the whole wide world, Reese, is dull. Thank you very much.

Let me go to my good friend Brent for just a second. If we could throw that…I want to throw this back up on the screen, because obviously I have a different interpretation than Alan Colmes.

Forty-five percent of respondents say it is too liberal. Only 14 percent say it is too conservative. It is 3-1. And as you pointed out, Brent, three years in a row. I mean, this is fairly obvious here.

BOZELL: Look, since 1994, reportedly ABC, NBC, and CBS have lost 50 percent of their audience. CNN has collapsed. MSNBC is a distant last place. The only network that is growing in real terms is the Fox News Network.

But you get cause and effect with something like this, and still you get people in the press, as we've just heard, say the media are either conservative, i.e., Fox, or moderate.

HANNITY: Right. You know, Reese, is it partly the success…I believe this show is the embodiment of fairness and balance, the whole mission of the Fox News Channel here. I mean, is this representative why we're successful? Does this fit into the polls?

BOZELL: I don't believe…I mean, I'm sorry. I thought the question was to me.

HANNITY: Go ahead.

BOZELL: I'm sorry. I interrupted again. I'll shut up.

SCHONFELD: I think absolutely you guys demonstrate why it works, because you're two reasonably entertaining guys with clear points of view, and you don't dodge the questions on anything.

I never said the media was too moderate. I suggested here. I said wishy-washy, which is very different than being moderate. Wishy-washy means spineless.

HANNITY: I like that. Let me go to you, Brent.

I want…Brent, there's one other thing I want to throw at you here. Because this poll also shows that the American people, four in 10 Americans identify themselves as conservative; less than 20 percent identify themselves as liberal.

Conservatives ought to take heart in the fact, and both houses of Congress, the presidency, the governorships now in the four biggest states in this country when you add Arnold into this. We are a conservative country.

BOZELL: We are and we don't have a conservative news media. It's just as simple as that.

The Fox News Network is not a conservative network. What makes it seem conservative is that there are conservative voices along with the liberal voices, as it should be.

COLMES: Brent, we...

BOZELL: But you don't have that kind of mixture with the other networks.

COLMES: We're right out of time. We thank you for the dissection. Thank you very much, Reese, for being with us.

SCHONFELD: I just want to tell Brent you're talking with the guy who put "Buchanan and Braden" on the air. And if you don't think Buchanan was conservative back in 1992, I give up.

COLMES: Thank you. Thank you very much.

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