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In her own words: CNN's Campbell Brown on Fox News and Obama

Every once in a while we come upon a letter, speech, video or commentary that's simply worth sharing in its entirety without comment. Well, OK, with somewhat less comment.

CNN's Campbell Brown

Wednesday Campbell Brown of CNN did her own commentary on the Obama-Fox News fight.

There are several reasons for the White House, any White House, to have public fights. One of the most useful is to keep your own folks in line on your side against those mean, evil guys over there.

An Obama senior advisor, David Axelrod, used to be in the print media himself. He knows Fox News isn't going to change because he and others complain. Why should it? Fox News was doing fine before the fight and even better audience-wise since it started.

Brown says she thought the fight was silly. She used to work at NBC. But her new network hasn't done so well in the recent ratings war. So why not get in on the scrap?

She has some pretty clear thoughts, however, including a revealing and awkward moment during her pointed interview of Valerie Jarrett, another senior Obama aide.

Watch especially when Brown asks Jarrett, well, OK, Fox News is biased, what about MSNBC over there on the left? Why are you only singling out Fox News?

Jarrett squirms slightly and pivots to a different tack, as public figures are coached to do for the quickly-moving spoken word on TV. That way they can avoid a direct answer and resume talking their own message line. She does it twice.

But it's harder to hide the verbal dodge when words are laid out in print, as below, to be read and re-read if necessary. To be candid, CNN has been the target of bias claims too, for instance, during the Democratic primaries when some party opponents -- gee, now which Illinois candidate would that be? -- suggested that CNN should stand for Clinton News Network. And others such as Andrew Klavan are making fun of the network's ratings slide with suggested new mottoes.

We also have a complete video of the Brown commentary below, so you can compare how the words change from print to video and vice versa.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Campbell Brown's Cutting Through the Bull commentary on CNN, Oct. 28, 2009:

The White House war with Fox News has gotten a lot of attention lately. According to the PEW Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, it was among the top 5 most reported stories last week.

Now, I’ve largely ignored it on this show mostly because I thought it was silly. I mean really. The

...White House is only just now figuring out Fox in primetime has a conservative bias? Really?

I think our friends at Fox News have been pretty upfront about it and frankly pretty unapologetic for that matter. What confuses me, is that if the White House is really so concerned about bias in the media, then why are they only targeting Fox?

This week I interviewed Valerie Jarrett, she is one of the President’s closest advisors. I asked her about the White House charges of bias at Fox News, but I also asked her about bias at MSNBC. Listen to what she said:

 Videotape: BROWN: OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN VERY PUBLIC ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS ABOUT FOX NEWS AND WHAT THEY BELIEVE FOX NEWS IS AND REPRESENTS AND THEY MADE A POINT OF COMING OUT AND SAYING IT.

 JARRETT: THAT’S A DIFFERENT ISSUE. WHAT WE'RE SAYING IS THAT WE WANT THE PUBLIC TO UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON. WHEN WE SAW THE KIND OF DISTORTIONS THIS SUMMER, PARTICULARLY DIRECTED AT SENIORS, OVER HEALTH CARE REFORM, IT WAS REALLY OUTRAGEOUS.

AND I THINK WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAID IN HIS MESSAGE BEFORE CONGRESS IS WE'RE GOING TO SPEAK DIRECTLY TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND MAKE SURE THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH.

AND SO, CERTAINLY, IF WE SEE SOMEBODY DISTORTING THE TRUTH, WE'RE GOING TO CALL THEM ON THE CARPET FOR THAT. BUT WE DON'T WANT TO TAKE OUR FOCUS AWAY FROM THE CORE ISSUES THAT ARE SO IMPORTANT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. NOW, WHEN THERE'S ALL THAT CHATTER AND DISTORTION AND FALSE INFORMATION, WE HAVE TO DISSEMINATE -- WE HAVE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN TRUTH AND FICTION.

 BROWN: SO DO YOU THINK FOX NEWS IS BIASED?
 
JARRETT: WELL, OF COURSE THEY'RE BIASED. OF COURSE THEY ARE.
 
BROWN: DO YOU ALSO THINK THAT MSNBC IS BIASED?
 
JARRETT: WELL, YOU KNOW WHAT, THIS IS THE THING. I DON'T WANT TO -- ACTUALLY, I DON'T WANT TO JUST GENERALIZE ALL FOX IS BIASED OR ANOTHER STATION IS BIASED. I THINK WHAT WE WANT TO DO IS LOOK AT IT ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS. AND WHEN WE SEE A PATTERN OF DISTORTION, WE'RE GOING TO BE HONEST ABOUT THAT PATTERN OF DISTORTION.
 
BROWN: BUT YOU ONLY SEE THAT AT FOX NEWS. THAT'S ALL -- THAT YOU'VE SPOKEN OUT ABOUT, FOX.

 JARRETT: WHAT THE ADMINISTRATION HAS SAID VERY CLEARLY IS THAT WE'RE GOING TO SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER.

WHEN WE SAW ALL THE DISTORTIONS DURING THE COURSE OF THE SUMMER. WHEN PEOPLE WERE COMING DOWN TO TOWN HALL MEETINGS AND PUTTING UP SIGNS THAT WERE SCARING SENIORS TO DEATH. WHEN WE'VE SEEN COMMERCIALS GO UP ON TELEVISION THAT WERE DISTORTING THE TRUTH, WE'RE ACTUALLY CALLING EVERYBODY OUT.

THIS ISN'T SOMETHING THAT'S DIRECTED AT FOX. WE WANT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO HAVE A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING, THERE'S SO MUCH AT STAKE RIGHT NOW. WE REALLY DON'T HAVE A LOT OF TIME FOR NONSENSE AND DISTORTIONS.

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE ALSO SMARTER THAN THAT. LET THEM REACH THEIR OWN JUDGMENTS BASED ON THE FACTS. LET'S JUST TAKE HEALTH CARE, FOR EXAMPLE. REASONABLE PEOPLE COULD DIFFER ABOUT THE RIGHT APPROACH. SO LET'S HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THAT. LET'S NOT SCARE PEOPLE BY TELLING THEM THAT THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN THAT ARE ACTUALLY NOT EVEN ON THE TABLE. LET'S JUST TALK ABOUT THE FACTS. (End Clip)

BROWN: So, I am stating what I think is the obvious here. Jarrett seems loathe to admit that MSNBC has a bias. And that is where I think the White House loses all credibility on this issue.

Just as Fox News leans to the right with their opinionated hosts in primetime, MSNBC leans left. I don’t think anyone at Fox or MSNBC would disagree with that. In fact, both Fox News and MSNBC are....

... doing quite well in the primetime ratings by doing partisan opinion.

Look, if the White House wants to lead us in a conversation about bias in the media, and how we define journalism today, I would love that. Times have changed. It would be great to talk honestly about how we draw important distinctions between the various media outlets.

Some of us like my colleagues here at CNN are still trying to do journalism. I believe that journalists do have a crucial role to play in challenging our leaders no matter what their political persuasion, and in holding them accountable.

Opinionated cable news hosts have a valid but very different role. They either cheerlead or criticize and in doing so they connect with those who agree with them. They validate the opinions of those on the left and on the right. They provoke one another, fight with one another, and yes, they entertain us.

And in a polarized country, that gets big ratings. I’m not critical of what my friends at Fox News and MSNBC do. But it is apples and oranges when compared to what we at CNN do. And we should all just acknowledge that.

And if the White House wants to leap into this debate, as they have, and talk about bias in the media, then great. But White House officials should elevate the conversation, and talk about bias on the right and on the left. Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias. That you are only critical of those who are critical of you.

   ###

Photo: CNN

 
Comments () | Archives (41)

The comments to this entry are closed.

If Jarrett had been smart, she would have pointed out that Fox News was singled out for outrageously distorting the truth about health care and promoting misinformation and smear campaigns against the White House. MSNBC is a left leaning media outlet to be sure, but they have not outright lied to the American people regarding this issue as Fox has... what more is there to understand? There is no credibility lost as long as you focus on the act of routinely lying and distorting the truth surrounding health care reform. If you want to frame the problem as being left or right leaning, then of course you are biased by calling Fox to the carpet.

Campbell Brown forget to mention her husband is a republican adviser. Mrs. Brown is quite bias.

The difference between say Fox and MSNBC is that Fox is not just biased, but they lie. If it were a matter of being biased, then I would agree that this whole thing is silly because some news organizations are biased left or right. With Fox, and no one seems to mention this, they outright lie. They say and report on things that are not only lies, but they start them! Their reporters will exaggerate the number of people at rallies, rile the crowd and even go so far as reporting the President as a socialist or nazi! That's news? No way, thats a blog. Glen Beck, "Papa Bear" and the rest of them have overstepped news reporting to personal feelings which is not news. They have started false rumors and kept up on them as if fact with nothing to back it up.

The difference between the left & right media is not their bias, but whether each offers solutions to the nation's problems. The right says, tax cuts will solve everything.

One has to wonder if Campbell Brown recalls her own biased coverage of Obama. Remember the so-call debate between Obama and Hillary Clinton? Brown's syrupy voice as she lobbed those soft-ball questions at Obama? CNN was practically Obama's own personal PR network during and after the election, with Campbell Brown being every bit as biased as Chris Matthews of MSNBC who openly admitted that the sight of Obama made his leg tingle. Please...Campbell seemed to be tingling all over each time she even talked about Obama.

I am totally convinced that you the media a

You guys really have a lot of nerve to question why did the White House go after Foxs news. Why did you? I am a loyal CNN fan,but I am starting to have my doubts about CNN as a news media.Recently Fox news attacked you CNN, as well as other news channels stating on tv and newspaperb ads that you were not present and did not report on the "tea party"story. I am amazed that they actually went out of their way to spend money and time to discredit you.In return you also put out ads and on Cambell Browns show she addressed herself by airing segments of your reporters that were indeed there reporting the story. You felt the need to defend yourselves against lies that were said about you from your so called "freinds" at Fox News. Just like you. the Obama administration is also calling out Fox News for the lies and constant toxic opinions that are said about them.And its about time. Anyone who publically goes out to discredit someone who ever it might be , has the right to defend themselves just like you guys did.

As if Cambell Brown doesn't 99.9% of the time lean way left haha. CNN really is the Clinton News Network and all that is left.

Let's be realistic here. There was no right answer to that question. If She had said, no MSNBC ins't biased then we'd know she was full of it and that would have been the story, or if she would have said MSNBC is biased then the white house would be taking on two fronts in this war of words. I am an independent and yes I voted for Obama, but I watch a lot of different news channels (CNN is great btw) but I have to say that the FOX is the worst of the worst when it comes to bias and just plain old propoganda. I think the white house is doing the right thing by calling them out. Fox harms the freedom and credibility of the media. It's the administration's right to say so.

Alas, Ms. Brown's comment about how "some of us... are still trying to do journalism" came only minutes after she had (very unprofessionally, very tabloid-like) chided Levi Johnston's interview as "pathetic".

Ms. Brown is a prime example of what passes for "reporting" these days. Actually, I blame Ed MacMahon. His show, Starsearch, popularized something called a "spokesmodel", and Ms. Brown and her ilk are the evolutionary (or devolutionary)result of that trend.

Sigh.

D.

Great Job Campbell, I agree , if we are going to accuse bias then it would be best not to be bias. Thanks for your honest opinon.

Look, the difference is not right wing or left wing bias. That is obvious and no one disputes that. The difference is that Fox resorts to untruths, distortions, and hypocritical stances. They purposely use scare tactics to sell a slant to vulnerable viewers that don't take the time to fact check for themselves.

I just don't see that happening on MSNBC.

YAy for Campbell! Jarrett = hypocrite.

Campbell is lying through her teeth. Her questions were about bias and the interview was about FIX news LYING about health care reform. I said LYING. Not bias. Bias is obvious as is her neo-con man status. There is bias on all news networks via the personality of the newsperson. But Only FixNews LIES about things and tries to pass off as "bias". It's LYING call what it is. Now Campbell is LYING as well. ht does she expose Truth against Power? She can't she has joined the liars.

Great interview showing how the news is meant to view both sides and come to a middle. If we had a House and Senate that was balanced maybe we could have a middle instead of bills coming out that lean to far either way. It is called a democracy.

That's cool to point out bias on both sides, but it goes further than bias when Ailes actually fires liberals from his station just because they are liberal, creates fabricated protests, uses his own producers to fuel their intensity for the sake of theater, and neglects to report important stories such as when 30 republicans voted against anti-rape legislation. Olbermann may be biased left, and Chris Mathews is an idiot, but MSNBC in the daytime is only slightly left leaning, while Fox plays to the extreme right twenty-four hours a day.

Hey Valarie JARRETT as an American of sound judgment
I say, " Long, live Fox News!"

Fox is not just biased
Fox is a hate channel.
The vicious hate mongering “talk show hosts”
are the only thing Fox is about
Fox is the 21st Völkischer Beobachter
(Völkischer Beobachter was the main Nazi propaganda paper WWII)
It is bad for America when you have a station that is only dedicated to hate.
I have it blocked from my cable reception.

Thank you. I missed this. I am glad you thought discussion on freedom of speech is something to keep a watch on. Things are going to go down hill for the USA as the stimulus effect wears off and the only thing that can keep people thinking clearly and keep hope in their hearts is the freedom of speech. Losing any freedom of speech at this time, even just a little, could really send large groups of people over the edge.

The President of the United States of America is speaking truth to power?

Um...

I am so glad to hear FoxNews is not a yellow rag media, a source of lies and distortions, a malicious creator of America-damaging myths and urban rumors, a purveyor of the trite, the petty and the picayune...I am so glad you have set us straight.

Fox does not lean to the right they fall over that way, yes Msnbc has a few shows to the left BUT I don’t see Msnbc organizing tea parties. In fact Msnbc really just corrects the false reporting on Fox news so to say Msnbc leans left is not as left as it seems. If Fox news would report the truth instead of making it up Msnbc would not need the 2 shows it has on to correct Fox.

Also Fox news has about 11 hours of biased news not to speak of the freaks like Glen Beck and Bill-O and the very wired Hannity. Msnbc spend about 2 hours on 2 shows to try and fix Foxes crap they spew out all day long.

About CNN , used to love them now,,, well let’s see. Wolf, well all he does it try and make every news story sound as though it’s a catastrophic and even tries to put doom and glum words into the people mouths he is interviewing. Lou Dobbs, used to watch him but he has some minor surgery about a year ago but I think they took his heart out as he likes no one, he is not left or right he hates them all.

And now for Campbell Brown, don’t like her at all she is boring and the only reason she decided to do this story was for ratings, she wanted to grab on to the coattails of Fox and Msnbc and it won’t help her show at all, in fact one has to wonder why they keep Campbell at all. At least on Fox you get entertained with the Clowns and of Msnbc you get real news.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like a lot of shows on CNN and the one BIG mistake I think CNN did was to get rid of Aaron Brown a real reporter. First they changed his format that looked more like a news magazine, that was bad then they dumped him and he was the best. I was so surprised when no news channel picked him up.

I'm sorry sir, but I watch CNN. Some of your co-workers may be trying to 'do journalism', but overall, I find your cable news network to have a distinctive leftward tilt.

I still watch, but I view it as 'getting the other (left) side'.

So, lets have the debate about bias in the media, but don't come with the notion that CNN is unbiased. Its just not supportable.

Jarrett missed an opportunity.

But Brown missed the point.

The issue is not "bias" but "facts". A "news" talk show can express a bias but it should not distort or ignore facts.

Jarrett and the Obama administration should cite third-party sources that have published fact-checking studies concerning information used by any medium to support its alleged biases.

There's a difference between bias and dishonesty. That's the essential difference between Fox and MSNBC.

Ms Brown is absolutely correct what she states "But White House officials should elevate the conversation, and talk about bias on the right and on the left. Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias. That you are only critical of those who are critical of you. "

It is total BS for the white house call out Fox and not MSNBC. Yes, Fox is far Right and biased, but MSNBC is Far left and biased. So either call out all, or none.

By the way, I thought this White House was supposed to be above this non sense. What happen to the breath of fresh air? Looks like Ms Jarrett is the
SOS.

Rather hilarious that Brown says CNN is unbiased, right, and the sun rises in the west.

Hello Ms. Brown,
I think the argument is wrongly framed. Question is not if Fox or MSNBC is biased! Every news outlet whether broadcast or print media is biased in some ways or the other. They always have been and will be! Bias is natural as ultimately the owners, editors and analysts are real people with their own life experiences, world views and hence how they shape a news organization. And there is nothing inherently wrong with bias as long as the sanctity of facts is respected.

Central question in my view is which news outlet is propagating "falsehoods" with respect to any given topic in the garb of analysis / opinions offered as news. Whoever does it needs to be called out - not by the president but by you and your colleagues.

To further elaborate, I am no journalist but I think journalism combines two key elements-
a) Reporting facts
b) Offering analysis / opinions of the facts

Offlate, almost all of the news outlets peddle analysis / opinions ad-nauseum. Facts are often lost out in all the chatter. Every news outlet has the same format - an anchor and two guests (one on the right and one on the left) and the anchor usually mentions a topic and invites the guests to state their talking points and they are rarely called out by the anchor if the underlying facts are different. Infact, often the anchor frames the discussion in a biased tone to start with inviting a selective enunciation of facts and analysis. Further, once we get into the world of opinion / analysis, it gets further biased.

So, in the end, your beef with WH seems to be that they are selective in their bias argument. Well, WH - I am no great fan of theirs but to be fair - did consistently point out the truth / fact argument and not just about bias! Maybe you should factor that in your comments as well!

THanks
Raghav

the reason why i think CNN should back off, is becouse they censored McCain/Palin supporters on there comment sections, leaving pro-oboma and left threats and sneers towards McCain/Palin. now cnn wants to say Fox is wrong,bad etc. well i guess i found out myself, why Fox is better than CNN. they are telling us the dangers and what is destroying our nation. we get the truth. not what liberals want us to hear.

Campbell Brown claims that CNN lacks the bias of Fox News and MSNBC, that it's like comparing apples and oranges. Yet, just a few weeks ago I watched a segment on CNN where they held up the nationalized health care system of Communist Cuba as a model health care system. Was that unbiased to deliver communist propaganda with a straight face to its audience? Who do you think you're fooling, Campbell Brown, besides yourself?

So MSNBC doesn't lie - they just distort the truth to show why their opinion is valid. And really if all Maddow and Olbermann have as guests are either sycophants that kiss their butt or guests they attack - how is that good journalism.

I watch Fox and the nightly MSNBC (Morning Joe doesn't count) - every so often to know why I am not a consistent watcher of either of those channels as they do more harm then good.

And when GHWBush called Maddow and Olbermann "sick puppies" - and he should have added Beck and Hannity - he was right on the mark. All they do is find stuff to slam the other side instead of talking about real issues and be bipartisan in the debate.

Good job Campbell Brown for just calling her to the carpet. Valerie Jarrett - you showed your true colors. And I call you Hypocrite - backpeddaled fasted then a Michael Jackson moonwalk.

Obviously Brown means to set up another fake controversy as struggling networks are wont to do. MSNBC may have a decidedly liberal bent, but unlike FOX have not been called, and showed to be, blatant liars by every credible journalism fact-check organization. CNN lost most of its credibility during the election in its bid to be everything to everyone and giving full voice to the fanatics and unreasonable among us.

Regardless of the relative perceived "merits" , "bias" or "slant" of any of the news media, the primary point, which I believe is being overlooked in everyone's rush to slam his/her favorite target is:

Does the government determine who is and who is not a "news organization"?

That is a very slippery slope indeed; that way lies state-controlled media. If the only "real" news organizations are the ones the government approves of, how does that square with "freedom of the press"?

Thank you

cambell i know in my heart our soldiers are going to get killed in afghanistan as a mom of a only child in us army i would really love to see this horrible war in middlleeast be over my son is 20 he is my world he is autistic too but yet he wil fight for our freedom these young kids are devastated when go and return from combat they are scared everyday they are in war but cant show defeat because its military code but i dont want these kids dieying in afghanistan they need to bring home all troops from afghanistan iraq now no more loosing our soldiers to death suicide lost limbs and yrs of trying to get over why there friend died and was blown up by suicide bomber or a roadsidebomb and they have to recover from brin injuries and other bad dreams from the war bring our troops home now

bring all troops home from afghanistan now before they all get killed and wounded like vietnam pres obama needs to stop this war and bring home all soldiers

Cambell Brown is tanking in the raitings. Watch out she will be crossing over to" Fox "soon.I bet on that !!She blows with the wind and the $$$$.

All the White House can say and posters on here can say is Fox lies?? Prove it? For christ sake Glenn Beck has a phone line installed so the WH can call and dispute "lies". Video and audio doesn't lie. Again... jsut 2 wks ago CNN reports on quotes Rush Limbaugh supposedly make.. Turns out... they we're completely made up and CNN was forced to apologize.

Obviously, the White House has no reason to target a network that favors their position with their bias. This Jarrett woman is awful. She should have just admitted that MSNBC was obviously sympathetic to the White House positions on numerous issues but maintained that they still present the information in a factual way.

If I watched TV for news, I would watch CNN. But I think it's no mistake that they are losing the ratings game. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/26/cnn-drops-to-last-place-among-cable-news-networks/?hp

TV just isn't the ideal medium for presenting news. The premise of everything has to be an image. Whereas the premise for every blip should be a FACT, not an image. This is why I prefer radio and print media for news....

But this also points out what TV is more adapted to as a medium--personalities..Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, Jon Stewart, Colbert....these people give a reason to watch the news. FOX has many popular programs that are popular because of the personalities, the 'personal brands'--that's what really makes them. FOX at least seems to have a pretty good marketing strategy, seen from this perspective. http://blog.marketingdoctor.tv/2009/10/26/john-tantillos-brand-winner-and-loser-fox-news-and-the-global-warming-movement.aspx John Tantillo did a piece on his marketing blog (note: he also blogs on Fox Forum and is obviously quite conservative) about how the battle between FOX and the White House was revealing the FOX brand to be a "winner."


CAMPBELL BROWN IS ON OF THE DUMMYS ON TV RIGHT NEXT TO GLENN B

Even though Fox news twists the truth to lies ( ie Glenn Beck) why shuld the White House stoop so low and give FOX acknowledgement. Look at who the real listeners of Fox is.

OF COURSE the White House won't criticize MSNBC. They announced months ago, through Robert Gibbs, that MSNBC is their favorite network.

And when Wolf Blitzer assigns a team to fact-check a Saturday Night Live skit that ridicules 0bama, it is a little difficult to state that CNN does not engage in "opinion" politics.

Biased, you bet! Get all views, always-everywhere from one extreme to everywhere in between, to the other extreme. If you don't, you'll miss important data/information, and fall prey to biased views. The best decisions are those made only after acquiring, and digesting all of the information. This is what has made the US so great. The unfettered minds of many via Freedom of Speech. When our government starts messing with our media (programs, papers, books, internet, etc.), it's time to clearly say "No Trespassing". The American people simply aren't that dumb that we can't sort the rubbish from the treasure. But, we need the information in order to do so. It's our choice, and it's our right.


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A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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