Media Playing Favorites Among Presidential Candidates?

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," April 2, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BILL HEMMER, CO-HOST: Who is the favorite candidate among reporters?

Now, McCain has been dubbed the "darling of the news media," but some say "Obama-mania" has infected everybody's coverage. And now, Bill Clinton, standing up for his wife, is saying that she is getting the most unfair treatment of anyone.

Video: Watch the interview

We take you to the truth squad tonight. Who's really getting the short end of the stick?

Bernie Goldberg, author of the book, "Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right," out with a brand new paperback version. Nice to see you, Bernie.


HEMMER: Welcome back to New York City.

GOLDBERG: My pleasure.

HEMMER: What's the truth on this? What do you think?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think that the media certainly, as far as liberal reporters are concerned, excuse the redundancy there, race really trumps gender. They love Obama. I mean, when you have political analysts on other networks saying I get a thrill running up my leg when I hear him speak, I mean, that's embarrassing.

HEMMER: So, you agree with what George McGovern said last week. He came out and he said, it's easier to elect a black man than it is a woman.

GOLDBERG: Yes, but it's not because this sexism where journalists don't like women. That isn't it. If they have a choice between picking the first black man as president or the first woman as president, they're going to pick the first black man. It's fresher, it's newer, it's more exciting.

HEMMER: On this McCain point. Is there any truth to the fact that reporters like him? That they'd embrace him?

GOLDBERG: Yes. And this is like the new thing. There are op-eds in The New York Times about and all. Yes, they like McCain. They really liked him in 2000 when he was running against George Bush who's more conservative. They like him to some extent this time around when he's running against people more conservative.

But they mostly like him because he is not reliably conservative. They like him because he'll stick a thumb in the Republican eye. But as soon as he runs against one of these two liberal Democrats, the fascination with John McCain on the part of the reporters is going to go away.

HEMMER: You're saying when McCain redirects his message, the media will redirect itself on him?

GOLDBERG: No, I don't even think that he's going to have to redirect his message. I think, it's one thing when he's up against another Republican. They like when he fights with Republicans. When he's up against a liberal Democrat, the media is picking the liberal Democrat, whichever one it is.

HEMMER: I'm thinking about this topic a month and a half ago, whenever it was, when "Saturday Night Live" came out with their skit and they got endless coverage with Hillary Clinton portrait as (INAUDIBLE) saying, you know, you guys aren't giving me a fair shake.

GOLDBERG: Can you imagine, it took a comedy show. I mean, it doesn't matter what media analysts say, it doesn't matter what Hillary Clinton says. It took a comedy show to embarrass the so-called mainstream media to look inward a little bit and say, are we a little too -

HEMMER: So, do you think that was a national introspective moment then?

GOLDBERG: Yes, and I think it's pathetic that a comedy show has more impact on them than serious political people who say, come on, you have a slobbering love affair with Barack Obama and it's embarrassing.

HEMMER: Could it be that the Democrat horserace is still a race?

GOLDBERG: Oh, yes.

HEMMER: And McCain is off to the side and he's doing this get to know me tour across the country and he's is "page two" news and he has been for a while. So, maybe you could take the reverse of this argument and say the reason why Obama and Clinton are getting all this attention is because there's a race out there, because what do we love, Bernie? We love who's in first and who's in second?

GOLDBERG: Right. We love a horserace. But yes, it's not a matter of who's getting more attention. That's not my complaint. My complaint is that when you have the NBC News correspondent, not a commentator but the correspondent covering Obama, saying it's hard to maintain my objectivity — you don't admit that, even if it's true, that's a problem.

And all I'm saying is that this fascination with McCain, trust me, it's going away as soon as, if not before the general election begins.

HEMMER: Thank you, Bernie, good to have you here.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

HEMMER: "Crazies to the Left, Wimps to my Right," that's Bernie to my left and Megyn to my right or —

MEGYN KELLY, CO-HOST: I take crazy. I'd just like — given between being crazy and being a wimp, I like to be a little crazy, what do you think?

HEMMER: Thank you, Bernie. Good to see you tonight.

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