Bill Steigerwald, associate editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, interviews author Bernard Goldberg about his new book, A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media.
Award-winning network TV reporter Bernard Goldberg first hit pay dirt in the book world with Bias,
his 2001 best-seller exposing how the news we saw was distorted by the
liberal bias of the journalists he worked with during his long career
with CBS News. Several media books later, Goldberg is back with A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media.
The Regnery Publishing book, which goes on sale Monday, indicts
mainstream print and electronic journalists not for having liberal
biases, which are a given, but for becoming open and unapologetic
activists for Obama.
Q: What’s your 60-second synopsis of your book?
This is not a book about the same old media bias. This time journalists
cross a very bright line. This time they stopped being witnesses to
history and they were intent on helping to shape history. They moved
from media bias to media activism. In my whole life I have never seen
the media get on board for one candidate the way they did this time
around and -- this is very important -- they did it without even a hint
It isn’t just conservatives that feel this
way. Lots of people feel the media was in the tank for Barack Obama.
They were because he was young, because he was cool, because he was
black and because he was liberal. There’s no way in the world we would
have seen this kind of slobbering if we would had just inaugurated the
first black president who was conservative and Republican.
Q: You’re not talking about opinion writers and pundits, you’re talking about news coverage?
talking about two things. In terms of news coverage, forget about what
I say. There are polls conducted by nonpartisan groups that said the
media was way, way more positive in its Obama coverage than its McCain
coverage. In other words, everybody has seen what I’ve seen. I’m not
the only one. The media who were on Obama’s team, they didn’t just put
a thumb on the scale; this time they sat on the scale.
talking about lots of supposedly hard-news reporters, but even in
opinion -- and this is an important point that I’m glad you brought up
-- I think opinion has to be relatively intelligent. I mean, Chris
Matthews saying he had “a thrill running up his leg” when he heard
Barack Obama speak. And Matthews said, "You’re not an American if you
don’t cry when you hear Obama speak."
This isn’t political
commentary. This is a man crush. This is embarrassing. He is by far the
most embarrassing commentator on television. I want to make it clear --
commentators are allowed to comment. I get that. But the commentary has
to have a semblance of intelligence to it, and Chris Matthews has
become the single biggest embarrassment in all of the media in terms of
this campaign coverage.
Q: So, is he the most egregious example –
Let me give you two. Chris Matthews is the most egregious example of
media slobbering I have ever seen...Chris Matthews is an embarrassment
of the first order. But I’ll tell you something else -- and this is the
single most embarrassing sentence I have ever seen in The Washington Post. This is a story on Christmas morning, Page 1, Washington Post,
about Barack Obama’s exercise regimen. I’m going to read you the line
and I don’t blame you if you think I am making it up. I swear to God
I’m not: “The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four
weight-lifting sessions each week and a body toned by regular treadmill
runs and basketball games.”
Let me tell you something. If there has been a more embarrassing sentence ever published in The Washington Post,
please, somebody tell me what it is. You’d read something like this in
a romance novel with Fabio on the cover. This is the kind of slobbering
I’m talking about. This is not the same old, same old. They jumped the
shark this time. They really took sides and they didn’t care who knew
it. That’s different from anything that happened in the past.
Q: You already knew the way the media tilts, so were you just waiting for this to happen or did it shock even you?
That’s a very interesting question. It’s the latter. I figured it was
going to be the same old thing. Of course they were going to root for
the Democrat. They always root for the Democrat, the more liberal the
better. That I expected. And believe me, I wasn’t going to sit down and
write a book about that. But the more I looked at it, the more I
watched, I said, “I can’t actually be seeing what I am seeing. I can’t
believe I’m reading what I’m reading.” What pushed me over the edge in
terms of wanting to write a book about it was the incredible lack of
concern for what anybody thought. Even Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post recently said it’s not just conservatives who think the media rolled over for Barack Obama -- and they better change.
Q: Hillary Clinton has to be pretty annoyed at the media.
the biggest single loser in all of this. If the media had done its job
early on, Hillary Clinton would have been the nominee for president of
the United States and probably elected president of the United States.
Q: What are you trying to prove and who are you trying to persuade with this book?
Because I am a journalist, I want to document things that I think are
important. And since the only group mentioned in the Constitution with
constitutional protections that is a real business is the press, the
media. I think they are worth taking a look at. It’s not what I am
trying to prove; it’s that as a reporter, as a journalist, I like to
write about things that I think are important. And I think how the
media behaves in a free society is very important. It’s not enough to
simply have a free press; you have to have a fair press. That’s what I
am trying to document.
The second part of the question is, “Who
am I trying to persuade?” I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. I
reach out to liberals in my books. They criticize not liberals but they
criticize liberal biases or liberal insanity or liberals going too far,
or whatever. I would love for liberals to also read this book, in
addition to conservatives, and say, “Hey, he’s making a good point.”
But the fact is, too many liberals, while they acknowledge the bias of
the media -- and they do -- they don’t care. I can’t deal with that. If
they are willing to accept corruption because the corruption helped
their guy get elected, that’s on them, not me.
Q: What you said is absolutely true -- I’ve seen it: even if journalists recognize it, they don’t care.
They don’t care because the press is also liberal like they are. But
what they don’t understand -- because they haven’t even thought about
this for a second -- is that the only institution in America that has
constitutional protections is the media; but that is for only one
reason -- to keep an eye on a very powerful government. Well, if nobody
trusts the media anymore -- and one poll indicated that 90 percent of
Republicans thought that the press wanted Obama to win and 62 percent
of Democrats and independents thought the very same thing – what’s
going to happen when they sound a real alarm for a real
crisis?...That’s the danger that these idiots put us into this time
around, with what went way beyond bias and was actually media
activism...We’re not going to listen to them when they bark the next
time. They’re the watchdogs? When the watchdogs bark, nobody’s going to
be paying attention.
Q: Which media institution -- print or electronic -- should be most ashamed of its coverage?
A: Oh that’s easy. Thank you. That’s a softball: MSNBC. Not even close.
Q: And we all know where Chris Matthews works, right?
That’s right. By the way, I was asked by Bill O’Reilly a week ago, “Do
you think it’s a mental disease or do you think it’s business?” He was
actually talking about the general Bush-hating. I immediately said,
“It’s a mental disorder, because don’t underestimate the power of
insanity. ‘Bush-derangement syndrome’ is for real.” But in the case of
MSNBC, it’s also business. They have made a conscious business decision
to corrupt an entire news organization in order to jump on a liberal
bandwagon. That’s a journalistic sin. That’s not just the old bias.
That’s a kind of corruption that runs very deep and is hurting the NBC
Q: A defender of MSNBC might say, “Well, they are just trying to be the liberal version of Fox News.”
have heard that, but it’s not true and I’ll tell you why. If you turn
on Fox -- and I recommend this to my liberal friends -- pick a day in
the future and listen as long as you can. You will hear liberal opinion
throughout the day. They have liberals and conservatives on all day
long. Even the most conservative show on Fox, Sean Hannity’s show, has
liberals on all the time. Listen to Keith Olbermann, and you will never
hear a conservative voice -- ever. So, MSNBC is trying to be a magnet
for the Bush-hating left, and in a very, very, very small way it is
doing that. But it doesn’t even pretend to present a balanced view. Its
opinion shows don’t have to, I grant you that. But Fox’s opinion shows
do; MSNBC’s don’t.
Q: Not counting Fox, were there any
honorable exceptions among what we call the liberal mainstream media
that did not swoon over Obama?
A: I’ll give you a couple from
MSNBC, interestingly, to show that I am trying to be fair. Chuck Todd
-- the political director for NBC who was on MSNBC every day during the
campaign? I thought he was fair. I thought he was reasonable. The
morning show on MSNBC -- “Morning Joe”? There are more liberals on it
than conservatives, that’s for sure. Most of the people who were on
there during the campaign wanted Barack Obama to win, but Joe
Scarborough injects a little diversity of opinion.
Q: Pat Buchanan was always there, too.
is one of those conservatives who hate Republicans, in my view. He’s a
safe Republican. He’s been rejected by the voters three times. He’s no
fan of Republicans. He’s safe. I can name a whole bunch of
conservatives that would make MSNBC much more interesting, but I’m not
in the habit of wasting my breath.
Q: Have you seen any improvement in the coverage of Obama since you finished your book?
not. If anything, the slobbering has continued. The question when I
finished writing my book was, “Will the slobbering continue?” I thought
it would. It has. And the best example of the worst kind of slobbering
is that line in The Washington Post that said “The sun glinted
off chiseled pectorals....” And this was after he got elected. So the
slobbering continues. And by the way, I don’t see an end in sight.
Q: Who can we trust to provide us with fair and balanced reporting on the Obama era before us?
know everyone has jobs, everyone is busy. But I think the best thing
you could do is read as many sources as you can. If you are going to
read a liberal newspaper like the New York Times, check out the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal.
If you are going to watch MSNBC, please, do yourself a favor: watch
Fox. And not because Fox is conservative while MSNBC is liberal. But
while Fox has a conservative tilt, it presents both points of view all
day long. So, I would suggest that you watch or read as much as you can
and don’t get stuck in a niche where you are only reading one thing
with one point of view because then you’ll never know what’s going on
in the world.
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