Where does friendship end and objectivity begin? Politico reported on January 27th about group phone calls between Clinton administration pals, and the comraderie the reporter spent a long time celebrating was quite heartwarming. Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff to the president, was brainstorming with friends like George Stephanopolous; ABC political anchor, about all things political. When Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center called out George Stephanopoulos as a tool of the Obama political machine, the charge was hardly surprising, and weakly rebuffed. Stephanopoulos, who served in the Clinton administration as a political advisor, is a professional Democrat just like Chris Matthews and others who worked in Democratic campaigns and moved easily into mouthpiece roles on major media outlets. The difference here is that Bozell claims that the specter of obvious collusion (as opposed to the collusion that is obvious by shared platitudes and perspectives among like-minded liberals) that makes ABC an arm of the White House propaganda machine. Bozell writes:
“What’s worse than the liberal media’s sycophantic coverage of President Barack Obama? ABC’s George Stephanopoulos actively helping design and deliver the Administration’s strategy and message - which he is then charged with reporting.
“Will Stephanopoulos be critical of the White House’s plans when he spends every morning helping to craft them? Not likely. He must from this point forward recuse himself from any reporting involving the Obama Administration.
“For Stephanopoulos, the line between journalist and liberal strategist would be completely obliterated were it not for the fact that it apparently never existed at all. He didn’t fail in his attempt at transformation from liberal operative to journalist – he never made the effort.”
ABC has sent out their spokeswoman to deflect the insinuations that something nefarious is underfoot. But listen to the words she uses:
“George Stephanopoulos has never advised Rahm Emanuel nor anyone else in the administration,” Lenzner said in a statement to CNSNews.com on Jan. 30. “He speaks to Rahm as a friend and as a source. He speaks to several sources from both sides of the political aisle every day. And no, there is no conflict.”
Lenzner disputed parts of the Jan. 29 MRC release, specifically the following: “Tuesday’s Politico broke the news that ABC News' Chief Washington Correspondent and the host of ABC's Sunday morning news show This Week, George Stephanopoulos has daily phone discussions with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel during which he helps formulate and shape the thoughts of and messaging for Emanuel and the Barack Obama Administration. And that he has had these conversations with Emanuel throughout his tenure at ABC.”
Lenzer told CNSNews.com, “To say he helps formulate policy, that is absolutely not true.”
Lenzer expects us to believe that hyper-partisan liberals should be trusted to refuse using great advantages to ensure political success. She insists that like all journalists, Stephanopoulos is objective when the camera light goes red or the pen hits paper. But political animals, of either stripe, cannot simply turn off the partisan switch when it comes to framing the debate. We're not talking journalists here - though they try to have the influence they were never willing to work in a campaign to earn - we're talking ex-officials and administration hacks that find their way on to the media stage to promote their party's policies. George Stephanopoulos is using his vaunted position as host of This Week to protect and promote the current administration; he doesn't have to "formulate" policy, that's not his mission.
Brent Bozell argues that Stephanopoulos has to recuse himself on reporting news regarding this administration, and while that is impossible, it's about the only way to save the last shreds of credibility ABC holds when it comes to objectivity.
In a Feb. 4 letter to ABC's David Westin, Bozell said, “In a public statement on Thursday, we called on Mr. Stephanopoulos to give an explanation and to recuse himself from coverage of the Obama Administration if the Politico story is true. And we were clearly not alone in our indignation; we subsequently learned that your phone banks were shut down that same Thursday by who knows how many people who called to register their outrage over the report and this obvious breach of integrity.”
“With each passing day, ABC’s failure to speak to and about this issue tarnishes further your network’s reputation as a legitimate news entity,” Bozell’s letter reads. “We are calling on you now, as President of ABC News, to publicly address and resolve this issue. If the charges are false, provide the evidence. We will gladly accept it and consider the matter closed. If the charges are correct, then ABC News must address this publicly and comprehensively.”
The senior vice-president of ABC Kerry Smith says they've answered the charges sufficiently. Judging from the evident bias that runs rampant in the main stream media, I think the issue will never be resolved. The lesson here is that there's just one more reason to dismiss anything that is reported by ABC.