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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 09:47 AM ET, 08/03/2011

Bias Watch: ‘No one cares’ about Biden’s ‘terrorist’ moment?

Date of Bias Allegation: Aug. 2, 2011

Originator of Bias Allegation (Complainant): Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online

Context of Bias Allegation: In an opinion piece titled “To Hell with You People,” Goldberg professes exhaustion with the constant chatter about liberal media bias. “But some things just have to be pointed out,” he continues. His frustration with the media stems in part from this Politico story, about Vice President Joe Biden allegedly likening Tea Party Republicans to “terrorists.” Here’s Goldberg:

Then last night, on the very day Gabby Giffords heroically returns to cast her first vote since that tragic attack seven months ago, the vice president of the United States calls the Republican party a bunch of terrorists.
No one cares. I hate the “if this were Bush” game so we’re in luck. Instead imagine if this was Dick Cheney calling the Progressive Caucus (or whatever they’re called) a “bunch of terrorists” on the day Giffords returned to the Congress. Would the mainstream media notice or care? Would Meet the Press debate whether this raises “troubling questions” about the White House’s sensitivity? Would Andrea Mitchell find some way to blame Sarah Palin for Dick Cheney’s viciousness? Would Keith Olbermann explode like a mouse subjected to the Ramone’s music in Rock and Roll High School? Something inside me hidden away shouts, “Hell yes they would!”
The Today Show even had Debbie Wasserman Schultz on this morning for five minutes talking about Giffords. No one thought to ask her what she thought of Biden’s comments? It’s not like she’s the Democratic party’s national spokesperson or anything. Oh, wait. She is!

Vetting of Bias Allegation:

Part One: “No one cares.” A Google News search on “Biden terrorists” brings up hundreds of results. The story is everywhere.

Part Two: Goldberg asks his readers to “imagine” what would happen if Dick Cheney called the Progressive Caucus a “bunch of terrorists.” Since that hasn’t happened, it’s tough to say what would have happened. Bias Watch hates to indulge in speculation but would guess that the news industry would cover the story extensively, as it has here.

Part Three: “Today” show. In criticizing the program, Goldberg is referring to a dual segment: First, Andrea Mitchell reports a package on Gabby Giffords’s return to the House floor. That segment includes remarks by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Immediately thereafter, “Today’s” Ann Curry interviews Wasserman Schultz about Giffords’s remarkable recovery. The conversation covers Giffords’s emotions, worries and medical considerations.

Though “Today” was clearly pursuing a human-interest story connected to the debt negotiations, Goldberg makes a valid point: A co-anchor as gifted as Ann Curry can find a way to pivot from one topic to another — and given the gravity of the alleged “terrorists” remark, should have done so.

Conclusion: BIAS WATCH finds little evidence that “no one cares” about Biden’s alleged remarks. If Goldberg is disappointed in the amount of media attention, perhaps he should consider that the remark was allegedly uttered behind closed doors and that not all news outlets may have had the sourcing to report it. Further, Biden’s office issued a denial of sorts to CBS. (More on this in a subsequent post). Yet in singling out the “Today” show, Goldberg is on firmer ground.

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By  |  09:47 AM ET, 08/03/2011

 
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