Award-winning network TV reporter Bernard Goldberg first hit pay dirt in the book world with "Bias," his 2001 best-seller exposing how the news we saw was distorted by the liberal bias of the journalists he worked with during his long career with CBS News. Several media books later, Goldberg is back with "A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media." The book, which went on sale Jan. 26, indicts mainstream print and electronic journalists not for having liberal biases, but for becoming open and unapologetic activists for Obama.
Q: What's your 60-second synopsis of your book?
A: This is not a book about the same old media bias. This time journalists cross a very bright line. This time they stopped being witnesses to history and they were intent on helping to shape history. They moved from media bias to media activism. In my whole life, I have never seen the media get on board for one candidate the way they did this time around and -- this is very important -- they did it without even a hint of embarrassment.
It isn't just conservatives that feel this way. Lots of people feel the media was in the tank for Barack Obama. They were because he was young, because he was cool, because he was black and because he was liberal.
Q: You're not talking about opinion writers and pundits, you're talking about news coverage?
A: I'm talking about two things. In terms of news coverage, forget about what I say. There are polls conducted by nonpartisan groups that said the media was way, way more positive in its Obama coverage than its McCain coverage. In other words, everybody has seen what I've seen. I'm not the only one. The media who were on Obama's team, they didn't just put a thumb on the scale; this time they sat on the scale.
But we're talking about lots of supposedly hard-news reporters, but even in opinion -- and this is an important point that I'm glad you brought up -- I think opinion has to be relatively intelligent. I mean, Chris Matthews saying he had "a thrill running up his leg" when he heard Barack Obama speak. And Matthews said, "You're not an American if you don't cry when you hear Obama speak."
This isn't political commentary. This is a man crush. This is embarrassing. He is by far the most embarrassing commentator on television.
Q: So is he the most egregious example -
A: Let me give you two. Chris Matthews is the most egregious example of media slobbering I have ever seen ... Chris Matthews is an embarrassment of the first order. But I'll tell you something else -- and this is the single most embarrassing sentence I have ever seen in the Washington Post. This is a story on Christmas morning, Page 1, Washington Post, about Barack Obama's exercise regimen. I'm going to read you the line and I don't blame you if you think I am making it up. I swear to God I'm not: "The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weight-lifting sessions each week and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games."
Let me tell you something. If there has been a more embarrassing sentence ever published in the Washington Post, please, somebody tell me what it is. You'd read something like this in a romance novel with Fabio on the cover.
Q: Hillary Clinton has to be pretty annoyed at the media.
A: She's the biggest single loser in all of this. If the media had done its job early on, Hillary Clinton would have been the nominee for president of the United States and probably elected president of the United States.
Q: What are you trying to prove and who are you trying to persuade with this book?
A: Because I am a journalist, I want to document things that I think are important. And since the only group mentioned in the Constitution with constitutional protections that is a real business is the press, the media. I think they are worth taking a look at. It's not what I am trying to prove; it's that as a reporter, as a journalist, I like to write about things that I think are important. And I think how the media behaves in a free society is very important. It's not enough to simply have a free press; you have to have a fair press. That's what I am trying to document.
The second part of the question is, "Who am I trying to persuade?" I'm going to be perfectly honest with you. I reach out to liberals in my books. They criticize not liberals but they criticize liberal biases or liberal insanity or liberals going too far, or whatever. I would love for liberals to also read this book, in addition to conservatives, and say, "Hey, he's making a good point." But the fact is, too many liberals, while they acknowledge the bias of the media -- and they do -- they don't care.
Q: Which media institution -- print or electronic -- should be most ashamed of its coverage?
A: Oh that's easy. Thank you. That's a softball. MSNBC. Not even close.
Q: Have you seen any improvement in the coverage of Obama since you finished your book?
A: Absolutely not. If anything, the slobbering has continued. The question when I finished writing my book was, "Will the slobbering continue?" ... And by the way, I don't see an end in sight.
Bill Steigerwald is a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. E-mail Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.