Ed Driscoll

Leslie Stahl's Eyes Wide Shut Moment

Leslie Stahl, appearing on CBS’s Sixty Minutes–yes, that 60 Minutes–yes, on that CBS network, is shocked–shocked!–that a television journalist like CNN’s Lou Dobbs can hate the president because of his stance on key issues (immigration of course, in Dobbs’ case), and tell his viewers what his biases are, and still go on the air and be a functioning talking head.

As Laura Ingraham notes during her radio show, this is one of these great windows on the MSM mindset moments. Stahl’s attitude, a sort of voluntary self-lobotomizing of whatever reportorial skills she might otherwise be able to bring to the issues of politics and the media, dates back to the mid-century era when there were three television networks, and one or two big city newspapers. Because information resources were so expensive, and therefore, so scarce, journalists had to adopt a group public statement expressed time and again to their audiences that they were “unbiased and objective”—even as they brought to bear, en masse, a sort of bland New Deal mindset worldview (which has tilted further left as Democrat politics titled further left beginning in the late 1960s) that lingers to this day.

Like most resources, information’s nowhere near as scarce these days, which is why, fortunately, that mindset has rapidly diminished since 9/11 and the rise of the Blogosphere. Increasingly, more and more journalists, like Dobbs, are willing to go on the record to let you know what their biases are, and thus allow you to choose whether or not you’d like to watch or read them.

But of course, not everyone has gotten that memo yet. Stahl’s astonishment at Dobbs’ willingness to disclose his attitudes on issues—and she may even believe her own wide-eyed naivety–also serves as an interesting update to an interview that she gave to Cal Thomas in early 2003, a year and a half before RatherGate broke:

“Well I don’t know of anybody’s political bias at CBS News. I really think we try very hard to get any opinion that we have out of our stories. And most of our stories are balanced, and there are standards that say they need to be balanced. So if you have one side, you try to get the other side. And I’m not saying we don’t have opinions, but I’m saying we try to cleanse our stories of them.”

And you go right on believing that, Leslie.