Conservatives Debate Liberal Media Bias

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

Arlington, Va. ( - Bernard Goldberg's new book "Bias" was the topic of lively debate Saturday at conservative conference in suburban Washington.

ABC correspondent Sam Donaldson and syndicated columnist Robert Novak discussed the media's liberal tilt, with Donaldson insisting that not everyone in the news media is liberal - a comment that drew groans from many conservatives in the audience.

Donaldson opened the debate with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek statement, saying, "While our president magnificently conducts the war on terrorism, we have a new leader to conduct the war on liberalism -- Bernard Goldberg. We conservatives have a duty to drive the liberals from the media," he said to a round of applause.

Donaldson said he believes that after September 11th , President George W. Bush rose "rather magnificently to lead the nation," making it difficult for the media to be uncomplimentary of him.

Novak offered his opinion on why President Bush didn't mention Osama bin Laden and Enron in his recent State of the Union address.

Novak called it a "damned embarrassment" that the United States hasn't yet found bin Laden. As for Enron - "He (Bush) didn't mention Enron because they're afraid that plays into Democratic hands. This (Enron) is a stupid controversy and it should have been settled a long time ago," said Novak.

Novak also said if he could afford him,he would hire Bernard Goldberg to work on his staff.

Midway through the debate, moderator L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center (parent company of, asked both men if the media were being as fair to President Bush as they were to President Clinton.

Donaldson again prompted groans from the crowd when he said, "No, because President Clinton, I think, got the worst press of anybody since Richard Nixon...So I think from the standpoint of fairness, President Bush has gotten a better shake."

"However," Donaldson said, "He (Bush) probably deserves it and I have no quarrel with that."

Donaldson said he is among the "huge majorities" who believe that Bush has done a fine job as president and as commander-in-chief.

Donaldson also offered some advice for conservatives and Republicans, urging them to stop demonizing Clinton.

"Bill Clinton's gone. He tries to come back and it doesn't work. So you have seized on (Senate Democratic Leader) Tom Daschle who is a mild mannered, gentle-speaking former Air Force intelligence officer from South Dakota. He just won't fill the bill because no one has ever heard of him outside of South Dakota and Washington. He just doesn't look the part, so you have got to find somebody else to demonize," said Donaldson.

Novak opined that the press was very hard on Bill Clinton's sexual misadventures, but not hard enough on "the lousy administration he ran for eight years."

Novak called Clinton's foreign policy "miserable," and he criticized the way his administration increased regulation while decreasing the rights of the individual.

"I would say that until September 11, the media were harder on President Bush," Novak said. "They made fun of him, both in private and in public. They said he was the accidental president. They were very hard on him."

"But after September 11," Novak said, "one of the worst catastrophes in the history of the country, they properly and admirably got behind the president. So since September 11, they have given him a fair shake but before September 11 they did not."

The Novak and Donaldson debate has become an annual event at CPAC conferences for the past several years.

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