Once this presidential campaign has ended, Tom Brokaw will take his two-plus decades in the anchorman chair and his "Greatest Generation" millions and retire -- leaving Peter and Dan to soldier on desperately as if competing to see which one will become the Strom Thurmond Iron Man of the anchor desk.
We must honor Brokaw for this, for having the humility to leave before the game of firing up the liberal-bias projector passes him by. But he's apparently going out like Walter Cronkite, declaring how his heart pounds for the less fortunate, spitting on his General Electric overlords and beating his breast over how Big Money dashes the dreams of idealistic heroes -- like the ones who cash their padded GE paychecks at the Citibank down the street.
In an interview with Jane Hall in the most recent Columbia Journalism Review, Brokaw suggests there is no such thing as liberal media bias ... and then asserts that liberal bias is an "obligation" of journalism. Journalists should "represent the views of those who are underrepresented in the social context, or the political context, and to make sure that they're not overlooked, and that their wrongs get the bright light of journalistic sunshine."
He's not talking about pro-lifers. He's not talking about tax cutters. He's talking about the "little guy" and the journalist's noble quest to better his world. Try to put that puzzle together. There is no liberal agenda. There is only a journalistic agenda to extol the virtues of the liberal impulse.
Just before that lecture, Brokaw was asked about the voluminous content analysis of the Media Research Center (which I head), and whether that daily drumbeat of exposed liberal editorializing sullies the image of network news objectivity. "It's a little wearying," he said. "Most of the cases are pretty flimsily made ... What I get tired of is Brent Bozell trying to make these fine legal points everywhere every day. A lot of it just doesn't hold up."
Ouch. Them's fightin' words, or something. So I walked out to the street and called him on it. I challenged Mr. Brokaw to agree with me to assemble a neutral panel to review our evidence of liberal media bias and let them determine whether this mountain is a molehill. I pledged that if the panel agreed with him, the MRC would contribute $1 million to the charity of his choice. But if it agreed with us, he'd have to give the MRC a $1 million gift.
Brokaw is liberal, but he's also wise: He didn't accept the challenge. But it begs the question: Why even bother to deny the bias?
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