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Roundtable on Media Bias in the Campaign

Roundtable on Media Bias in the Campaign

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - October 28, 2008

HUME: Our topic tonight will be the media and what it has done to the campaign, and more specifically what it has done to itself.

And there will be observations from Fred Barnes, executive editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call," and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Before we get to that, though, one thing. We were a little rough last night on the McCain campaign and its handling of Sarah Palin, the vice presidential nominee. And we have been thinking about what was said. And I want to recognize Fred-Fred?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I was especially rough on Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, who I identified as the one who was responsible for getting all of those expensive clothes for Sarah Palin and then being cowardly and not admitting that she was the one.

Well, it turns out, I have discovered I was wrong. I apologize for my mistake, and I apologize particularly to Nicole Wallace.

HUME: Thanks, Fred.

Now, I want to listen to this comment from Michael Malone, who writes and has written for some years a column for the ABC News Web site called "Silicon Insider." He is a veteran newspaperman that has spent a lot of his career covering technology.

But this is what he says about this campaign--"The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering but appalling.

And over the last few months I have found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting to shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer," that from Michael Malone.

This raises an intriguing question. There seems to be a widespread agreement even among some in the mainstream media that the coverage this year most of the year has been biased, first in favor of Barack Obama against Hillary Clinton, and now in favor of Barack Obama versus John McCain.

The question I have is what will be, if any, the long-term effect on the news media itself? Fred?

BARNES: Probably none.

HUME: Really?

BARNES: We have had liberal bias for a long time. And I wrote a piece about 20 years ago saying that we were having media realignment and liberal bias was beginning to fade away. Boy, was I wrong. It has gotten worse than ever this year.

And you can see it particularly when there is a fundamental questions that you ask about presidential candidates that the media is supposed to ask and then try to answer, and that is, is this person running for president who he says he is?

They have done it with John McCain. They say John McCain in 2008 is not the guy we got to know in 2000. He is a different guy running this year. We have heard that over and over again.

Now Barack Obama comes along, though, and here is a guy who is presenting himself as someone who is bipartisan, bring us together, unify the country, change, hope. And yet his political record is one of great partisanship, of liberal ideology, being a part of a Chicago machine.

And yet the press has made no effort to square those things, to ask questions about why we should believe Obama now and what he says, because what he has done in the past is so different.

HUME: Mort, do you think there is a price -- this is almost so universally recognized that it is almost not controversial. There are some who will argue otherwise. I noticed our friends at the Politico are arguing that the reason why McCain is getting bad press is because he is doing badly.

MORT KONDRAKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": Some of that is true.

HUME: Some of that may be true, but is there any price to be paid for this? A lot of these organs of the main stream media, perhaps for other reasons, are in real trouble.

KONDRAKE: Well, the mainstream media has been fragmenting. The viewership and the readership has been going elsewhere for a very long time. But I don't think it's entirely because of media bias.

But some of it is. People go to talk radio, and they go to FOX News, and they go to conservative blogs because they're unhappy with the news that they get elsewhere. And there's no question that that's happening.

You know, I think -- I don't think that Obama -- that the fact that Obama bought a house with Tony Rezko is unknown, that he had Jeremiah Wright as a pastor is unknown. Those things have not been suppressed. What I think--

HUME: Has the question ever been asked, or answered, or even asked to your satisfaction, for example, of how Barack Obama could have sat there all those years and been unaware of this man's views?

LEVENTHAL: I think it certainly has been asked around here. We've asked it innumerable times.

HUME: It has been asked of Obama in any debate or anywhere else?

KONDRAKE: I cannot specifically recall --

HUME: It is one thing for something to be reported. For example--

KONDRAKE: He was forced to make a speech about it.

HUME: I understand that he made a big speech about it, but that's not the same as answering searching questions, or even searching questions being asked.

KONDRAKE: I haven't been on his plane. I can't remember what happened at the time.

I would just say one other thing. What I regard as the worst of it is the storyline that the Obama -- that the McCain campaign has brought violence to this campaign, where people have been comparing, John Lewis compared it to George Wallace. That is so overdone. Or anti- intellectualism in the McCain campaign.

I think it is a totally overdone story, as though, you know, Obama was -- there were no excesses on the Obama part.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I think that's the point. The mainstream media, it has gone beyond the point of a lack of curiosity, a lack of questions, a lack of probing into Obama's associations in the past.

It's that it has dropped a curtain over these associations, and implied or claimed openly as it said in the editorial page of "The New York Times" that to probe into them, to question them, and to bring them up is to engage in a form of racism.

That's what's so amazing. It's that when Obama is forced because of events to make a speech about race after it's discovered that he had been in the church for 20 years with a raving racist, he says "I can no more disassociate myself from him than my poor grandmother."

The press says brilliant, Lincoln-esche speech. Case closed--if you bring it up again, you're a racist.

Six weeks later he renounces his first position and he breaks, in fact, with Wright and says he is beyond the pale.

The press again says case closed, he's done it again. If you bring it up again, it's racist.

An ad appears in North Carolina which associates Obama with Wright. It is denounced in "The Times" and elsewhere as racist, and that becomes accepted.

We are looking at the most left wing candidate with the most radical associations since Henry Wallace in 1948, and the press has ruled out as illegitimate any inquiries into this.

HUME: Any price to pay.

KRAUTHAMMER: Unfortunately not.

HUME: I thought you'd say that.

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