by Bailey White
When Bernard Goldberg’s book “Bias,” was No. 1 on The New York Times best seller list, he was the guest of 400 radio shows and 40 cable talk shows. There was even a photograph taken of President George W. Bush leaving the White House with a copy of the book tucked under one arm.
Yet NBC, ABC and CBS ignored the book, which exposes what Goldberg claims is bias in the national media that he witnessed during his three decades at CBS. The president of CBS made a statement that he had not read the book and would not.
“When an article was written about the fact that no major station had discussed the book, I was finally on ‘The Today Show’ for five minutes,” said Goldberg.
At Monday’s combined Rotary and Meninak club meeting, Goldberg, who began his career as a writer for the Associated Press and went on to work as a producer and correspondent for CBS, spoke about his book, what inspired him to write it and the repercussions he’s endured since its publication.
Goldberg sees most members of the media as “like-minded people who see their views as mainstream. I’m talking about provincialism. The media doesn’t see its own bias.”
He recounts coverage of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and the commentary by Peter Jennings during one ceremony. As he watched senators sign the Oath Book, Jennings named them, labeling many as conservative or right wing.
“They label conservatives, but never liberals. Left wing just isn’t part of the vocabulary,” he said.
Goldberg said he thinks certain jobs attract certain types of people and believes liberal-minded people are attracted to jobs in the arts, of which journalism is a part. But he would like to see more of the fairness and balance in journalism that has disappeared.
“I just wish they had a few more intelligent conservative voices for a more fair newscast,” he said.
Because Goldberg is a member of the media, the insider criticism could have seemed more like self-evaluation than a full blown attack, but it still managed to outrage colleagues. Goldberg has found himself shunned by most members of the media, including one-time friend Dan Rather.
“I thought that a business that looks down everyone else’s throat would be more open to having someone look down their throat,” he said.
Goldberg told the story of a friend who had an encounter with a “media superstar” on a plane, shortly after “Bias” was published.
“My friend asked the media person [whom he declined to name while saying that everyone in the room would recognize him/her] what he thought of the book, and he replied that he was unhappy with the notion of the book and hadn’t read it. The direct quote was, ‘The reason that book is so successful is because of all those right wing nuts out there,’ ” said Goldberg.
“I don’t see the millions of people who have embraced the book as right wing nuts,” said Goldberg, who now reports for HBO’s Real Sports. “I want to ask Dan or Peter or Tom [Brokaw] what they think of the millions of Americans who think I got it right.”
At least one person at CBS has read the book and addressed it publicly. When Larry King, who never had Goldberg on his show, asked Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes” fame for his opinion, Rooney admitted that he thought Rather was “too transparently liberal.”
“He said, ‘Dan should be more careful,’” said Goldberg, who has won seven Emmys for broadcast journalism.
Rooney said Goldberg brought up many good points in his book, but Goldberg laughs, “He also said, ‘Bernie has a great knack for being a jerk.’ ”