Media Blog

The Conservative Pundit, Used Neutrally

Here’s one reason you should always be a little skeptical of a media-bias study that only counts talking heads without reading what they actually said. Monday’s Good Morning America carried a story on how Hillary Clinton will handle her ex-President husband as a global ambassador of good will. Kate Snow did briefly raise the question of Bill’s buckraking and possible conflicts of interest. But note how the supposedly liberal network is leaning heavily on Wall Street Journal editorial-page pundit John Fund for analysis. Is that a conservative bias? If you read the story, Fund might almost make you think he’s doing an impression of a slavish Clinton fan:

Kate Snow: “It makes a lot of sense. When he was president, Bill Clinton loved to travel. And with his foundation, his globe trotting has only intensified.”
John Fund (Wall Street Journal): “What makes Bill Clinton special, of course, is that he would not be viewed primarily as a spouse of a president, he would be viewed as a former world leader in his own right.” 
Snow: “Hillary Clinton is not talking about any formal post for the ex-President. After Bobby and John Kennedy, a law was passed to forbidding family members in the cabinet, but even an informal role could be tricky.”
Fund: “Bill Clinton has such prominence, he has such charisma, that everywhere he goes he’s in danger of overshadowing almost everyone around him.”

I’m betting that John said plenty of things about the pitfalls of the First Husband, perhaps pointing Snow to those buckraking questions. But the quotes they selected for him make him look neutral-to-fawning. Analyzing the content of news stories is always a better, more throrough measure of media bias than playing duck-duck-goose with the guest list.

Tim GrahamTim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, where he began in 1989, and has served there with the exception of 2001 and 2002, when served ...

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