Archive for the ‘pundits’ Category


Media Pundits under the Microscope




Roy V. Lewis



   In the last week the biased media has, once again, been up to its old ploy—casting aspersions and character assassination of political figures. Their current target is Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, the first women to be put on the Republican national ticket. While I have issues with her attitudes about religion and global warming, I like many of her other qualities such as reforming Alaska’s state government and her populist viewpoint. I am mad as hell at how the print and television media have treated her. There has been nothing fair and balanced at all.

  What the media will say— is that they are just doing their job, and exercising their first amendment rights. They hide behind the veil of the 1st Amendment, claiming to be doing what they do for the public’s interest. The phoniness and hypocrisy behind those claims is very apparent. They don’t exercise the 1st Amendment for our benefit; they do it for their benefit. This includes ratings, control of the sound bite messages they want to convey, their freedom to engage in wild speculation without the benefit of facts, and network editorial control over what is said on television.

   Magazines and newspapers are also part of the problem. They exercise great editorial control, and decision-making, over what its writers and contributors have to say. What part of free speech is that? What really needs to happen is for a spotlight to be shined on the media itself. How many stories have you seen or heard over the years where the media scrutinizes itself? Damn few, I’d say. They prefer to engage in journalistic platitudes like “don’t shoot the messenger, they are only conveying information.” Problem is—they are not only conduits of information—they are the message itself. And they control that message. As a result the public is very suspicious of the media.    


But what really makes me irate—is the media pundit’s double standards, biased reporting, character assassination, and mindless attention to the irrelevancies of this election. I think it’s important for the reader to get an eyeful on just who some of these media pundits are. It’s time to turn the tables on them and look at their behavior and background under the microscope.

   Consequently I decided to evaluate the credibility of various pundits on television or talk radio. This included Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, the late Tim Russert, Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Dan Abrams, Joe Scarborough, Bill Hemmer, Keith Olbermann, and Chris Matthews.









In doing a check on these pundits I discovered some very interesting facts, facts which bring into question theirt credibility and value. For example, when these pundits talk about military issues, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, military defense and budgets, the Surge, or a candidate’s credentials in this area, one might be more confident of the pundit’s comments if we knew something about their military experience or serving our country in uniform. I found however, that without exception, not one of these pundits named above ever served his or her country in the military. Not a single one.

   Because of  time and space I’ve limited my comments ahead to a few of the popular pundits on the major TV networks. A fair question is—what do we really know about them? At first inspection, all one can be really sure of is their relative entertainment value (or lack thereof). For example, maybe you consider Keith Olbermann’s ongoing feud with Bill O’Reilly, and Keith’s “Worst Person in the World” profiles, as entertaining.

   Or perhaps, one finds entertainment value in the belligerent ranting and raving of a Sean Hannity, or a Dan Abrams, as they articulate their own personal biased value judgments, while abusing their invited guests. Or perhaps you were enthralled with the blustery saliva-dripping, pompous ass histrionics of Chris Matthews when he interviewed Texas State Senator Kirk Watson a few months ago. All that interview accomplished was to show Matthews to be a second rate professional in a third rate profession.

  There are a few other pundits on TV or radio talk shows that need to be looked at.  These include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity(again), Bill O’Reilly(again), Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann (again), and Joe Scarborough. 

   What do we know about Rush Limbaugh? He is a 57 year old radio talk host, author, and popular conservative political commentator. Rush has been married and divorced three times. He dropped out of Southeast Missouri State University after two semesters. According to his mother, “he flunked everything,” including a modern ballroom dancing class. He was also unfit for military duty.

   Several groups have questioned Limbaugh’s integrity and accuracy with data and information. These include: a group called FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. They alleged at least 50 different inaccuracies and distortions in Limbaugh’s commentary. Al Franklin, a liberal commentator with his own biases, questioned Limbaugh’s accuracy in handling facts by writing a satirical book (Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations) in which he questioned Limbaugh’s accuracy.

   On October 3, 2003 the National Enquirer reported that Limbaugh was being investigated for illegally obtaining the prescription drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone. Other news outlets quickly confirmed the investigation. By a 2-1 margin the Rasmussen polling organization reported Americans have an unfavorable rating of Rush Limbaugh, the highest of any public figure polled by Rasmussen.

 Other pundits don’t fair too well in terms of background. Sean Hannity, a political pundit and television and talk radio host, is real light on education, possessing only a High School Diploma from St. Pius Prepartory Seminary in Uniondale in Long Island. He was a construction worker and bartender. Hannity’s first talk show gig was in Santa Barbara, California. He was cancelled after less than a year when KCSB management charged him with discriminating against gays and lesbians after two shows. 

   Bill O’Reilly is far better educated than Limbaugh or Hannity, but he paid millions of dollars as part of a lawsuit when Andrea Mackris filed a complaint of sexual harassment against O’Reilly. Her lawsuit claimed that Mr. O’Reilly subjected her to repeated instances of sexual harassment and spoke often, and explicitly, to her about phone sex, vibrators, threesomes, masturbation, the loss of virginity, and sexual fantasies.

   Glenn Beck, a talk-radio and television host, like Hannity and O’Reilly, was raised Catholic. He too is light on formal education, and he is a self-described alcoholic and drug addict. These are all conservative pundits. 

   On the other side of the political scale is Keith Olbermann. He frequently criticizes the George W. Bush administration, John McCain and Bill O’Reilly, whom he routinely dubs the: “Worst Person in the World.” While Countdown With Keith Olbermann used to be done in a news format, it has shifted to an opinion-oriented format.

  The conservative watchdog group Media Research Center (MRC) has accused Olbermann of liberal bias. They pointed out that 29 percent of the 600 recipients of the “World’s Worst” recipients were people who fit their definition of conservative, versus 4 percent they described as liberal.

   Another pundit is Joe Scarborough. He once was accused of being involved in the death of his assistant, Lori Klausutis who died of a head injury in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach Office. Accusations flied afterward that Scarborough had been involved in her death, especially by filmmaker Michael Moore. In fairness to Scarborough, he was in his Washington D.C. office at the time of Klausutis’ death.

   In a democratic society we are asked to vote for just one candidate for president. It can work no other way. But voting is more than mere process—it is critical evaluation of the strengths and weakness of each candidate. For this independent voter, I honestly find John McCain and Barack Obama both very appealing as presidential candidates—but for different reasons. No one knows how this presidential election will turn out.

   All too often the American public fails to think beyond the labels republican or democrat, liberal or conservative by vilifying a presidential or vice-presidential candidate. Don’t muddy your thought processes by unwittingly engaging in character assassination like the pundits do. Asking good questions of the candidates in order to elicit facts that will help the public make a more informed choice this election is the right way for reporters to behave.

  But, a self-serving media with pundits of questionable integrity helps no one. The public isn’t interested in TV or print media’s self-aggrandizement, overtly promoting their own biases, incessant character assassination, or dwelling on irrelevancies related to candidates or this election. Ignore the pundits during this upcoming national election; their value as communicators of good information is extremely limited. For ways to obtain good and relevant information for election decision-making see my earlier blog last month, :Beware Pundits During Presidential Campaigns.”  




The facts developed in this article were obtained from biographies in online Wikipedia. 

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