Bias Or No Bias?

By Media Watch July 28, 1994

From Media Watch, July 1994:

Recent comments from some ABC News staffers to The Boston Globe revealed that Emily Rooney's declaration that the media reflect a liberal bias was, in fact, a factor in getting her deposed in January from her position as World News Tonight Executive Producer. This month Rooney moved to Fox as Senior Producer of Front Page, a news magazine show returning in new form this fall.

In an address at Harvard in February, Rooney recalled how she had told Electronic Media last September that in assembling the American Agenda segments "there is an editing process that goes on intellectually in the newsroom that has to do with contrary point of view and largely—people in the media, because of their activist point of view, are largely liberal. And my simple statement was that I wanted to be more inclusive without being ponderous and lecturing or trying to convert people to another point of view."

"It seemed honest and forthright and fairly tame to me, but it created a lot of waves," Rooney explained in an April 17 appearance on Lifetime's Clapprood Live. Indeed, "It was possibly the most brainless thing I ever saw in print," one unidentified ABC reporter told Boston Globe TV critic Ed Siegel in a June 12 article. The ABC reporter explained: "The 'liberalism' of the press is something I get a lot in letters or lectures. For me and everybody in this business worth a damn, letting your point of view into a story is something you don't allow to happen. . . For her to suggest that's what we're doing—I was incredulous, I thought she must have been misquoted. That was an insult to everybody on the broadcast."

Siegel explained the indignation: "It is one thing to be called a biased journalist by a right-wing talk show host . . . it is another to be called that by your new boss."