On May 10, Scott Pelley of CBS News received the 20th annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, presented by the Quinnipiac University School of Communications at a New York city luncheon. In his acceptance speech, Pelley proceeded to prove his unfitness for such an award beyond any reasonable doubt. Then again, a review of past award winners – Christiane Amanpour, Gwen Ifill, all-time lapdog interview king Steve Kroft, Bill Moyers, attempted election-fixer and fabricated document user Dan Rather — indicates that the CBS Evening News anchor is now more directly and appropriately associated with plenty of unfit company.
Pelley’s pervasively biased career alone should have been enough to disqualify him from consideration for any award related to the First Amendment he has so liberally abused. In November 2011, he acquiesced to a deliberate decision to intentionally ask fewer questions of certain Republican presidential debate participants, and became a debate participant when he attempted to educate Newt Gingrich on the rule of law (he got schooled in return).
Following a dishonorable “Tiffany network” tradition (see: Dan Rather and Saddam Hussein; Mike Wallace and Ayatollah Khomeini), Pelley returned from an admittedly aggressive interview with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad … and pronounced him “friendly,” “incorruptible,” and “modest.” (PJ Media’s Roger Simon only needed to be in the same hotel lobby with Ahmadinejad briefly to know otherwise.)
In 1993, Pelley spent more than ten hours interviewing Arkansas state troopers who credibly alleged that Bill Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, used them to procure women for adulterous encounters. He then decided the story wasn’t newsworthy, claiming in a later interview: “We just felt, not to sound pompous in any way, but it didn’t rise to the level of something that we wanted to put on the Evening News.” Pelley: you sounded pompous in every way.
In 2003, Pelley claimed that America was experiencing “Depression-era food lines.” It’s a very safe bet that one would search in vain for such a contention under the far worse conditions of the Obama era.
In 2006, Pelley equated global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers.
One can only conclude that those involved in determining Quinnipiac’s annual First Amendment Award winner consider such outrages — and others which would fill up the permitted length of this column — features, and not bugs.
In his acceptance speech, Pelley misdirected from the very start:
[O]ur house is on fire. These have been a bad few months for journalism. We’re getting the big stories wrong, over and over again.
Apparently, we’re supposed to believe that before mid-December 2012, “journalism” was doing just fine.