Media Unfair and Not Balanced?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, November 13, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Now, anyone who watched the show last night, you are not going to be surprised to learn that Alan Colmes is out sick tonight. He is feeling better. He'll be back tomorrow night.

Pat Halpin is joining us tonight. Pat, good to see you.

Author Bernard Goldberg proved in his first book that many media organizations are neither fair nor balanced. In his latest book, he examines just how entrenched the vices are at some media outlets.

So what should Americans know about the media elite? He joins us now, Bernard Goldberg, author of now another New York Times best-selling book, his second, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite.

How are you? Congratulations.


HANNITY: First week, you're on the list already.

HALPIN: Congratulations.

HANNITY: This is not a book, as you point out, to prove the liberal has a bias. You did that. You're showing how entrenched the biases have become. And you also want to challenge your colleagues in the media.

Explain the difference between the two books.

GOLDBERG: Right. The first book identified the problem.


GOLDBERG: I don't want to go over that again. Either you believe there's a liberal bias or you don't. I mean, there is a Flat Earth Society, so if some people think the earth is flat, some people think there's no liberal bias. That's fine with me.

This book shows, this book exposes how entrenched these biases are, how difficult they are to fix. Because newsrooms are overwhelmingly stacked with liberals who live in an elite bubble in this very city that can go through a day, a week, a month, a year and almost never run into somebody with a different point of view. They have to get out of the bubble or they need to bring some middle Americans with different points of view into the bubble.

HANNITY: Yes. And very arrogant views about those of us in talk radio, for instance. The Internet, they have almost contempt for it.

GOLDBERG: That's right.

HANNITY: And they just have a knee jerk reaction. They don't understand the success of FOX, talk radio, the Internet. They just look at it -- You point out in this book that if they don't change, they don't listen to this battle cry of yours, that they will cease to be serious players in the national conversations and become the journalistic equivalent of the leisure suit.

GOLDBERG: Yes. Harmless but hopelessly out of date.

HANNITY: I like that. It's true. But isn't it happening?

GOLDBERG: It is happening.

HANNITY: Look at the ratings.

GOLDBERG: It is happening. The ratings are on a continual downward slide.

Here's the part that's so fascinating. While the ratings are heading south and your ratings going up every month...

HANNITY: Pretty much.

GOLDBERG: ... they still don't get it.

These are the same guys who made the Reagan movie, if you want to get down to it.

HANNITY: That's a good way to put it.

GOLDBERG: They live in a Hollywood elite bubble. The news guys live in a New York and Washington elite bubble.

The Hollywood guys, the movie could never have gotten that far if they had any clue as to what middle Americans really...

HANNITY: Absolutely.

GOLDBERG: ... what their values are.

HALPIN: Bernie, let's talk about who needs to be rehabilitated and who doesn't.


HALPIN: Tim Russert worked for Mario Cuomo, Pat Moynihan, two liberal progressives. Where does he stand?

GOLDBERG: He's one of the heroes. He is one of the heroes. There's an entire chapter devoted to him. And even though he works..


GOLDBERG: Because if you watched his Meet the Press program even though you know that he worked for Mario Cuomo, one of the most liberal politicians in America...

HALPIN: One of my heroes.

HANNITY: Oh, boy.

GOLDBERG: I don't think you know what side Tim Russert comes down on.

HALPIN: He's equally tough on everybody.

GOLDBERG: Yes, and he's equally tough and he's fair. He asks good questions and then get this. This is a real, you know -- this is a unique concept. He then shuts up and let's the person answer the question.

I think Tim Russert is a real hero.

HALPIN: OK. What's your definition of spin?

GOLDBERG: Spin. Spin is you take a piece of information that's out there that everybody agrees is an issue and then you take your side and he takes his side. And you emphasize the best points for your side, and he emphasizes the best points for his side.

HALPIN: So what about guys like Hannity, O'Reilly. Where do they fall in your...?

HANNITY: Right at the top of the list.

GOLDBERG: They are very powerful in the world, at least Hannity is, O'Reilly would say he's not conservative, he's more independent, and I would say Hannity is more conservative. They are very powerful media figures in the world of opinion.

HALPIN: But there's nothing wrong with them having an opinion?

GOLDBERG: Absolutely not.

HANNITY: We're honest about it.

GOLDBERG: Absolutely. And there's nothing wrong with The New York Times having a liberal opinion. But when The New York Times, and you did this in the tease, when The New York Times calls a group like what is it...

HALPIN: I want to go to a clip. This is a group, Al Gore just spoke to them recently...


HALPIN: ... where he gave a scathing critique of the president's policies in Iraq. Let's see this clip. I want to get your reaction to how the media described it.


ANNOUNCER: George Bush told us Iraq was a nuclear threat. He said they were trying to purchase uranium. That they were rebuilding their nuclear facilities. So we went to war.

Now there is evidence we were misled, and almost every day Americans are dying in Iraq. We need the truth, not a cover-up.

Log on to today.


HALPIN: OK. Bernie, The New York Times described that sponsored that as progressive. The Washington Post called them liberal. Do you think they fairly characterized it?

GOLDBERG: Let's do the progressive one, because they're a far left group. Did you see Bush -- he looked like a lunatic. You know?

HALPIN: You should see the ads the conservatives run about these liberals.

GOLDBERG: But see, I think Republicans and conservatives are missing the boat. Newspapers and the big news organizations identify people the way they want to be identified.

Black people go there and they say, "We want to be called African- Americans" and they're called African-Americans. Indians say," We want to be called Native Americans, so they're called Native Americans, not Indians."

Well, Republicans ought to go to these big news organizations and say, you know, "We like the sound of that word? What was that, progressive?"

HANNITY: That's what we are.

GOLDBERG: Yes, we're -- We want to be called progressive. By the way, if you're not going to call us progressive every time, you know what we like? We like the word visionary. Call us the visionaries.

HANNITY: I like that.

GOLDBERG: So then you say, the NRA (search), the progressive NRA said this today, or the people who are against abortion, the visionary group, I mean, it's ridiculous.

HALPIN: Because you want to be called progressives.

HANNITY: But they always say ultra conservative, but you never read ultra liberal. You never read it.

GOLDBERG: When I see your stuff.

HANNITY: When I talk about you -- All right. Let me ask you this quickly. Who are the best and worst people, of the high-ranking media people out there, who do you like the best and who do you like the worst? Give me a top five on each.

GOLDBERG: Well, I don't know if I can do top five.

HANNITY: Top three.

GOLDBERG: Russert. But I like Russert. I like Russert.

HANNITY: Russert's good.

GOLDBERG: I like Bob Costas. I think Costas is a very thoughtful guy. Why are you making a face?

HANNITY: I didn't make a face.

GOLDBERG: I think Costas is a very thoughtful guy. I think the people on the left, I mean, the problem with the people on the left isn't that...

HANNITY: Who's the worst?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think unfortunately, I don't like saying this.

HANNITY: Say it.

GOLDBERG: But I think during the fighting part of the Iraq war, Peter Jennings and ABC was oppressively pessimistic.

If you just take the fighting part, it was one of the great successes in the history of military operations. But every day it was, after day two, it was "is this a quagmire?"

HANNITY: Congratulations on your best seller. Bernie Goldberg.

HALPIN: All right. Bernie Goldberg, thanks for being with us.

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