Frank Borzellieri, American Renaissance, October 2005
Bernard Goldberg, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite, Warner Books, 2003, 310 pp.
Virtually any American with common sense is aware of blatant anti-white double standard, specifically media double standards. Over the years, organizations like Accuracy in Media have emerged to monitor and expose liberal bias, and conservative broadcasters and pundits bellow about it. Even former liberals like David Horowitz denounce racial double standards.
What makes Bernard Goldberg’s contribution to this field significant is not so much his revelations — though they are extremely interesting and important — as his perspective. Mr. Goldberg worked as an on-air correspondent and producer for CBS News for nearly 30 years. He has won seven Emmy awards. To this day he calls himself a liberal. He supports “gay rights,” sympathizes with feminism, has never voted for a Republican for president, takes joy in the “civil rights” movement of the 1960s, and says he was moved by the speeches of Martin Luther King. Mr. Goldberg raises some hope that there actually are liberals in influential positions who still have some sense of fair play, and are willing to risk the wrath of the establishment by pointing out the obvious.
Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite began as an op-ed piece about liberal media bias Mr. Goldberg wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 1996. Before the column appeared, he phoned CBS colleague — and the most powerful man at the network — Dan Rather to tell him what was coming. He was worried Mr. Rather would not react well to criticism of CBS, but Mr. Rather assured him, “Bernie, you were my friend yesterday, you’re my friend today, and you’ll be my friend tomorrow.” Mr. Rather has not spoken to him since the article appeared.
The article caused a small earthquake within the offices of big media, and Mr. Goldberg followed it up with his 2002 bestseller, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, which went into much more detail. Although Bias touched on race, this sequel, Arrogance, deals with the subject in a much more profound and detailed manner.
“There are few forces on earth more powerful than white liberal guilt,” Mr. Goldberg writes. “It has no known limits. In the hearts and minds of plain old regular liberals, it’s bad enough. But in the hands of journalists, white liberal guilt becomes a very dangerous force indeed.”
Mr. Goldberg asserts that deep down, many of his colleagues suspect they’ve got it wrong about race, but cannot bring themselves to come clean. He explains why: “By hanging on to the old party line for dear life — and conveniently seeing anyone with contrary views as ‘racially insensitive’ Neanderthals if not out-and-out racists — they get to continue to do what too many liberals enjoy doing best: bask in their own moral superiority.”
This is why on certain extremely divisive questions the press has only one opinion. As Mr. Goldberg explains, “The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), an organization that represents every major paper in the country, is downright obsessed with diversity and affirmative action, concepts the editors apparently don’t regard as even mildly controversial.”
Since all journalists engage in group think, it never occurs to them that there can be any other view on the issue. Racial preferences are not just good, they are normal, and anyone who disagrees is on the fringe. Of course, as Mr. Goldberg points out, love of diversity does not extend to ideas or viewpoints.
“How in the world,” he asks, “can a journalist report fairly on affirmative action and racial preferences after the organization for which that journalist works has already taken sides? And not merely taken sides, but declared only one position good and fair and moral? How can he or she even pretend to represent honestly the views of those millions and millions of decent Americans who do not think affirmative action is an open-and-shut moral case; who believe, to the contrary and with equal passion, that affirmative action is nothing more than a nicer way of saying ‘reverse discrimination’?”
Mr. Goldberg put together a television program about the controversy over Texas law school professor Lino Graglia’s 1997 remark that blacks and Hispanics do not do as well as whites in school because their families do not care very much about education. “After it aired,” he writes, “a top producer on the program — white and very liberal — came up to me, shaking his head in disbelief over what he considered the incredibly backward things the professor had to say. ‘Can you believe this guy?’ he asked. The question was meant to be rhetorical — there was not a scintilla of doubt in his mind that I, like everyone else in the wide world of big-time journalism, shared his contempt for the professor.”
But Mr. Goldberg replied, “I could,” leaving the producer in shock. “I had covered too many stories for CBS News in what we used to call ‘the ghetto,’” writes Mr. Goldberg, “where that encouragement just didn’t exist, where kids were left to fend for themselves after school, where there wasn’t a book in the house.”
In another illuminating anecdote, Mr. Goldberg describes preparations for a CBS story on a group of juvenile house thieves who were terrorizing a nice neighborhood in Orlando, Florida. Before heading off to Orlando, his producer, a liberal white woman, asked him, “Are the juvenile delinquents black or white?”
“I don’t know,” Mr. Goldberg replied. “I didn’t bother to ask. Is that important?”
She replied, “They need to be white.”
It was clear that the piece would never air if the hoodlums weren’t white, so Mr. Goldberg called his contacts in Orlando to see if it was even worth the trouble to report the story. They were white, so he did the story.
Mr. Goldberg seems to think the rest of us have not noticed how often the media fail to report the race of a criminal suspect, even the race of “a rapist — who is still at large — for fear of offending blacks (in and out of the newsroom)” because they are afraid of “feeding into racial stereotypes.” “Never mind,” he adds, “that telling their readers everything they can about the suspect, including his race, might actually help find the monster preying on women. That’s not important enough, apparently — not in the hands of ‘deferential’ liberal newspeople.”
Should the touchy matter of a black-on-white hate crime arise, Mr. Goldberg explains that the media practice “good racial manners” and “bend over backwards to make the assault look like nothing more than a misunderstanding between the races.”
Mr. Goldberg tells the story of the Philadelphia Daily News’s August 2002 cover story about the 15 murder suspects then on the loose in the city. It put the mug shots of all 15 on the cover — not one was black. “Before you could say, ‘Racist,’” he writes, “the phones at the paper were ringing off the hook. The callers were angry, not because they claimed the story was false, but because of the impression it might leave.” Rather than defend the story, the paper’s managing editor wrote a craven apology: “The front-page photos from last Thursday sent the message to some readers that only black men commit murder . . . In addition, the stories didn’t address a key question: Why are there no white suspects on the loose? That was also a mistake.”
In response, a Philadelphia police official pointed out that white murderers were locked up and black ones weren’t because blacks don’t trust the police and don’t help them catch criminals. Mr. Goldberg writes: “If distrust of cops in the black community is really so pervasive that it outweighs even concerns about safety and security, that in itself would make a terrific story. What is the police response to that kind of distrust? To what extent is it legitimately the result of law-abiding black citizens’ deeply felt sense that cops hassle anyone who’s black, and how much of it is a product of decades of divisive antiwhite and anticop rhetoric put forth by black activists?” (He should have added, “and white liberal media execs.”)
“Think it’ll ever be written?” Goldberg asks. “Don’t hold your breath.”
White journalists are just as supine in their dealings with black journalists. One black reporter for the Los Angeles Times wrote in his memoir that when a white woman colleague made a story suggestion he didn’t like, he wanted to “grab her by the throat and shake her like a rag doll.” A black at the Washington Post bragged in print about how, when he was younger, he found that “f***ing up white boys made us feel real good inside . . .” and that sometimes he wanted to “take one of those white boys where I work and bang his head against a wall or stomp part of him in the ground . . .”
Mr. Goldberg asks the obvious question: “Can anyone even begin to imagine a white reporter writing such words about a black colleague and living, professionally speaking, to tell about it?”
When there is a racial angle of any kind to a story, the media can be counted on to give it a liberal spin. During the summer of 2002, there was a series of child abductions across the country that was regularly making the news. In Philadelphia, a black child named Erica Pratt was kidnapped, thrown in the basement of an empty house, and tied up with duct tape. Courageously, she chewed through the tape, kicked open the basement door, escaped through a window, and screamed until someone rescued her. This was a great story, and since black groups had been blasting the media for focusing only on abductions of white children, the Pratt case was the perfect opportunity for the media to display its virtue.
It soon emerged, however, that this was not a typical kidnapping. Erica Pratt’s family was deeply involved in the drug trade, and some of her family had been murdered. There was clearly a drug angle to the story, and the abductors knew her family. It appeared that someone owed someone money, and that the criminals had kidnapped Erica in retaliation. Her family were clearly losers.
The police knew this and local papers reported it, but the major networks refused to mention the family angle. Mr. Goldberg explains that this was typical: “I had a whole catalog of examples where politically correct senior producers put concerns about race above their concerns about telling the truth. They were always worried about showing too many black criminals in jail even when the prison was loaded with black criminals. They were worried about showing a few black men looting stores after a hurricane, even though the looting was happening on a Caribbean island where just about everybody, including the cops who arrested them, was black. And now, with Erica Pratt, it was looking like they were going PC again.”
Mr. Goldberg found out the truth about the Pratt case only when he watched “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox Television. He wanted to write an article about the way the national media covered the case, so he called Jim Axelrod, the CBS reporter who had done the Pratt story, and asked why he omitted the drug angle. Mr. Axelrod would not comment. Mr. Goldberg e-mailed John Yang, the reporter for ABC News, asking the same question. Mr. Yang replied, “Before committing to do this, I’d like to know what angle you’re pursuing.” When Mr. Goldberg explained, Mr. Yang never replied.
Part of the value of Arrogance lies in the attention it has received. Although Mr. Goldberg writes about many of the media’s ideological failings — feminism, the homeless, the military — it is on race that he shows the most insight. The shots he has taken at major news executives have made him persona non grata in powerful circles, but he says there is also a quiet circle of gratitude and support for him among his colleagues. Needless to say, this book does not even venture into the media hysteria — or silence — about such things as race and IQ, the displacement of whites through immigration, the heritability of intelligence, or the folly of promoting “diversity.” Still, within the limits of what can be published today, Mr. Goldberg has rendered a valuable service.