Bill Dedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for MSNBC, recently filed a report on the MSNBC website that won't win him any Pulitzers. He investigated political donations made by journalists, and found a resounding liberal tilt: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes, and only 16 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.
Does this prove cause and effect, a subsequent tilt in the liberal media's coverage of the news? No, but to believe there is no causation at play here is ludicrous: if a survey of journalists found that 86 percent were donors to the National Right to Life Committee, would anyone dispute labeling the media "pro-life"?
The talk radio lines were ablaze with commentary. Predictably, the news media reacted with near silence. Fox News, of course, was on it. MSNBC television lightly covered the result on TV -- but refused to discuss the media bias angle. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post filed a good story, as did a few other "mainstream" newspapers, but that was it.
And small wonder. The journalists who tried to respond often looked even worse. The funniest was Randy Cohen of the New York Times Magazine. The Grey Lady expressly forbids its employees from making political contributions. Cohen writes a column called "The Ethicist." This ethicist has made multiple contributions to the radical MoveOn.org group, but when challenged told MSNBC he thought his donations to MoveOn.org were "nonpartisan."
Apparently that wasn't ludicrous enough. Cohen added the argument that no community service work or donation should be characterized as non-ideological, and suggested that if a journalist decided to join the Catholic Church (anti-abortion) or donate to the Boy Scouts (anti-gay Scoutmasters), that is the same as donating to MoveOn.org. Did I mention that this fellow writes a column called "The Ethicist" for The New York Times?
But here's the ultimate irony: You could add together all the contributions to liberals uncovered in this MSNBC report and they still pale in size compared to the donation about to be made to the political left by MSNBC's parent, NBC Universal.
On July 7, Dedman's employers at NBC Universal are launching a massive extravaganza, 75 hours devoted to coverage of Al Gore's Live Earth "climate crisis" concerts on all seven continents (including some British scientists jamming in Antarctica, presumably going for that ever-elusive Penguin Vote).
In addition to devoting the entirety of NBC's Saturday prime-time hours to this Gorestock, hosted by Ann Curry of NBC News, there will be seven hours on CNBC, 18 hours on Bravo, 22 hours on both the Sundance Channel and the Universal HD channel, and three hours combined on Telemundo and Telemundo 2. On top of that, NBC's press release added that "MSNBC will broadcast special coverage of this global concert event throughout the day with live reports from the concerts in New York and London."
It's an enormous in-kind campaign contribution. Can you imagine how many millions of dollars this 75 hours of air time would cost a billionaire politico like Ross Perot if he tried to buy it? But NBC is just giving it away to Al Gore, even as liberals press him to run for president in 2008. "NBC Universal is proud to be the exclusive U.S. broadcaster of this historic television event," said Jeff Gaspin, the president of NBC Universal's cable and digital content. This concert's "historic" status is certainly multiplied up by all the hours and hours of free publicity.
Have NBC executives convinced themselves, a la Randy Cohen, that Al Gore's concerts are really "nonpartisan"? If so, they're not reading the press accounts. In Rolling Stone, Live Earth organizer Kevin Wall is saying the concert will press their demands: "no more f---ing excuses ... No more coal-fired energy plants can be built. Three percent a year reduction in carbon emissions in all industrialized nations ... We have to mobilize an army, and that's what we're about to start doing."
These nostalgic corporate "global citizens" at NBC are not in the news-gathering business. Rather, they are looking to make the news by creating the next Woodstock, and the leftist utopia always looming around the corner in their minds. It is impossible to defend as non-ideological an agenda that mobilizes "an army" for Al Gore to put a big government-enforced dent in our energy use. Impossible, that is, unless you're "The Ethicist" for The New York Times.