Ed Driscoll

CNN's Wright-Free Zone Anchorman Joins Fox News

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John Roberts, formerly of CNN, joins Fox News, David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun reports:

Prior to joining CNN in 2006, Roberts worked for 14 years at CBS News, and was considered the heir apparent to replace Dan Rather as lead anchor when Rather retired.

But all such plans blew up in the wake of a report by Rather about George W. Bush’s military record that was based on documents neither Rather nor CBS News were able to authenticate when they were challenged. Rather himself was forced into an early retirement from the network.

During his time at CBS News, Roberts also served at chief White House correspondent, generally considered the top beat at what was then a very good broadcast news division.

Getting someone who is a strong enough reporter to cover the White House, as well as a skilled enough anchor to do a nightly network newscast, seems like a wise move for Fox News. The channel doesn’t need more ratings magnets — it has all of them any cable channel needs right now. What Fox needs to do is continue to add journalistic strength and depth as it did in October with Juan Williams.

It is going to be hard for Fox critics to label someone with a track record like the one Roberts has compiled in TV news as an ideologue.

Oh I don’t know–perhaps now that Roberts is with Fox, he’ll come clean with his involvement in the above clips from a week apart during the spring of 2008. Let’s let Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online describe the first half of the video above, from April 28th, 2008:

CNN’s “news” coverage on Sunday night went out of its way to be as unfair and unbalanced as possible. They aired Wright live. During the fiery speech, Wright plugged CNN “anchor and special correspondent” Soledad O’Brien and “long-term friend” CNN analyst Roland Martin. Both O’Brien and Martin appeared on-air after the event, discussing how funny and effective Wright was. As they explained to viewers how to understand Wright’s infamous “God damn America” comment, evening anchor Rick Sanchez insisted viewers keep watching replay after replay and apology after apology for Wright. “I would imagine the people watching [on TV] would say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize the guy had two masters degree and a Ph.D. I didn’t realize he spoke five languages.’” And that changes “God damn America” for you, doesn’t it? That appears to be CNN’s hope. O’Brien continued raving about the speech, “It was very funny. It was hilarious at times.” And in the morning, O’Brien was back [in the video above], calling Sunday night a “homerun” for Wright.

A week later on May 5th 2008, Roberts, before the softest of softball interviews with then-candidate Obama, assured him that CNN was now safely a “Wright Free Zone,” even going out of his way to coo to the then-Senator, “Is that OK with you?”

Was Roberts simply following the orders of his producers (which dovetailed remarkably well with the edicts of the JournoList around that time) and reading what was on the teleprompter? Or was he himself happy to see Rev. Wright, who was originally brought to America’s attention via Fox’s Sean Hannity, go away as an issue for then-candidate Obama?

Related: At Newsbusters, “CNN’s John Roberts: A Legacy of Liberal Bias on American Morning.”