“We found no evidence of bias in our news outlet,” declares biased news outlet

While this looks like a headline befitting publication at the satirical website The Babylon Bee in its collection that already contains gems like “Quick Google Search Confirms Google Not Rigged,” it is the actual real-world conclusion coming from promoters of the PBS NewsHour, a news outlet that has never once over the last 20+ years permitted a PhD-level climatologist / atmospheric physicist to appear on its news program to debate the global warming issue with comparable scientists endorsing the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

This declaration about the NewsHour arose in the latest PBS Public Editor post (formerly named “PBS Ombudsman” because that’s all the job description involved, in contrast to recent posts that are mostly pure publicity material) after a supposedly ‘concerned viewer’ contacted the Public Editor to complain how the NewsHour had become biased against President Trump. Briefly, the situation involves host Judy Woodruff’s October 8, 2020 broadcast interview of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci about the virus pandemic. She asked if it was wise for the White House to have a gathering where there was “very few people wearing masks, no social distancing.” Dr Fauci avoided making a direct judgement by simply advising general precautionary steps to avoid getting infected, to which Woodruff responded, “a number of those things were what was not done at the White House.”

Woodruff’s flip remark supposedly led the viewer to say:

We have supported your station and watched the PBS NewsHour for as many years as I can remember because it was unbiased reporting of the news. It is no longer that. It is clearly anti-Trump and even though I agree with that, I do not appreciate your change. We looked to you to report the news fairly and we can no longer trust that.

I’ve used the word “supposedly” twice. The reason is, the Public Editor claims to have “engaged the viewer in an email conversation” where the viewer ultimately decided the complaint was probablymuch to do about nothing. I have always enjoyed and appreciated the NewsHour and will continue to watch.”

So … a decades-long viewer spotted a change in reporting for just the first time barely a month ago – while actually agreeing with the new anti-Trump content – and lost all trust in the fairness of the NewsHour, but after emailing with the Public Editor staff, subsequently decided the complaint overblown …. and now loves the NewsHour like nothing happened??

That tale strains credulity.

Judy Woodruff asked Dr Fauci about a situation seen at the White House gathering, which is what true journalists do. Nothing more. He gave a nonjudgmental answer directed at no particular person or group, whereupon she took that and aimed it at President Trump’s White House as an accusation of wrongdoing, which is what biased accusers do. It’s that simple. When it comes to Democrat politicians lecturing the public about the necessity of masks and social distancing during this pandemic, the hypocrisy of authorities who subsequently engage in the very behavior that Woodruff scolds is rising at an embarrassing level. Has that hypocrisy been reported at the NewsHour in recent days? Good luck finding it. If the NewsHour’s reporting was fair and balanced on this, it would be easy to find Woodruff or other NewsHour reporters speaking without passion or prejudice about other alleged mask-wearing/social distancing ‘violations’ on the Democrat side of the political aisle as well.

Further, while potentially exposing their own bias on the matter, the Public Editor made no mention of concern that mask-wearing may not actually be an effective means of significantly slowing the flow of virus-laden aerosols in everyone’s breath. To paraphrase the currently trendy labeling of President Trump’s Tweets about the election results, the claim about masks’ effectiveness is disputed. In just one example, an anesthesiologist apparently demonstrates how vape aerosols, arguably larger than submicroscopic virus cells, easily pass through essentially all masks with little difficulty. Are his assessments faulty? He could engage in debate with other aerosol / disease transfer experts on the NewsHour to defend his position. Has the NewsHour ever even objectively brought up the topic at length that studies question the effectiveness of mask-wearing?

Good luck finding those discussions or even one example of it.

If it was revealed that the NewsHour actively quashed such debate, that would be an outright violation of their own MacNeil/Lehrer Guidelines for Journalism regarding two sides to any given story.

Was the above viewer complaint situation the first and only time for the appearance of bias at the NewsHour against President Trump? Not by a long shot. Consider what’s been stated in their on-air broadcasts versus how unbiased journalists would state the situations:

  • so glad to hear from all of these election officials, as you say, across party lines and around the country.
    “Well, statements from election officials, as you say, across party lines and around the country, apparently contradict President Trump’s assertions about rampant voter fraud.”
  • Again, no evidence of that.
    Critics of President Trump’s assertions about rampant voter fraud forcefully claim there’s no evidence of that.”
  • Defiant and divorced from reality, President Trump spent the weekend on the golf course and on Twitter. He repeated familiar unsubstantiated claims of fraud. And he continued to refuse to admit defeat, instead spreading disinformation.
    “Over the weekend, in a Tweet indicating President Trump has no plans to concede the election, he offered a statement that critics say is ‘divorced from reality because it spreads disinformation’.”
  • The turnover of people in the Trump administration continues, and again raises some troubling questions. The latest, President Trump firing the top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security, Christopher Krebs. It comes after Krebs, whose job it was to secure U.S. election systems, pushed back on false claims of fraud. … Many believe Krebs was fired because of his agency’s continuing effort to push back on false claims and rumors surrounding the election, some of which were created or repeated by President Trump.
    “President Trump fired the top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security, Christopher Krebs, raising concerns about the reasoning behind the President’s decision. Critics of the President believe Krebs was fired because of his agency’s continuing effort to push back on allegations stated or repeated by the President about widespread voter fraud.”
  • He repeated unfounded claims of widespread fraud, saying …
    “He repeated claims of widespread fraud which critics say are lacking evidence to support them.”

Those are just a small sampling of statements which could have been reworded to reduce the appearance of political bias at the NewsHour, on just the election issue alone within only the last month. There’s more, in other topics. Substitute “President Trump” for “climate change’ in this one, and it looks like an increasing struggle for the PBS Public Editor to defend sheer opinion offered in NewsHour broadcasts as acceptable statements of objective reporting.

Bias can also be displayed in what a news outlet does not report about. Consider their extent of coverage of Hunter Biden’s laptop up to the present time (a.k.a. the “thing”), along with how often they invite skeptic climate scientists onto the program at the present time, for their viewers to hear science-based details of the global warming issue  contradicting IPCC reports.

As part of my ongoing count of the NewsHour’s reporting on that issue, I used to make a special effort to specifically watch the beginnings of each broadcast to see what their daily new roundup was, and to see if subsequent discussion segments included any relating to global warming, and I checked if other segments were worth watching. Around two years ago, the amount of ‘fingernails-scraping-across-a-chalkboard’ bias on their various controversial discussions caused me to simply resort to checking their online video broadcast transcripts to see there were discussions mentioning global warming, where I could also click on the NewsWraps segment links in order to easily skim through the transcripts to see what the daily news was, and to see if they contained even just thinly veiled, biased mentions of global warming causing extreme weather events. I also do a daily internet NewsHour-specific search to see if their broadcast segments mention climate change.

But — back to what was seen at the November 2 Public Editor post. They moved on from the viewer’s “much ado about nothing” complaint and asked /answered:

Is PBS politically biased today?
We spent considerable time reviewing NewsHour broadcasts and documentaries in the Frontline series. We were poised to find bias, simply because viewers had drummed the thought into our consciousness.

The result: There is no evidence of an increase in unmarked commentary and opinion, at the expense of news reporting. ….

… on PBS’ leading public affairs shows there’s a sense that audiences “get both sides of a controversial matter.”

“People look to the NewsHour for that,” he said. “And with Frontline, you have (top editors) insisting on radical transparency … Nowhere else will you find balance like that.”

On the global warming issue …. what balance? That was a question I was asking back in 2009. Don’t get me started on the egregious bias at PBS Frontline on that issue.

Meanwhile, the Public Editor wrapped up the post with the following:

… more viewers have outdated views of what objective journalism is supposed to deliver .. today, it’s important for a program like the NewsHour to explain for viewers the why and the how of news. …

When Woodruff asks NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor to tell us what a White House policy, decision or position means, the question is not designed to give Alcindor leeway to tell us her opinion, but to get viewers beyond journalism’s five Ws — to benefit from her numerous sources and her keen eye for misdirection, contradiction and hypocrisy.

PBS NewsHour National Affairs Editor Murrey Jacobson gave me that lecture about “the why and the how of news” of the settled science and how the NewsHour intended to report on ways to mitigate man-caused global warming way back in late 2009.

… the vast majority of scientists do believe climate change is real, worsening, and that human activity contributes to that problem. We try to make sure our coverage reflects that reality …

Simply swap out the words “climate change” for “ghost proliferation” and the public would go berserk demanding for the NewsHour to first prove ghosts exist. Skeptic climate scientists say the IPCC hasn’t proven its case in claiming global warming results primarily from human activities. Not that the NewsHour ever intends to lets its viewers know about that.

Regarding the Public Editor’s plug for correspondent Yamiche Alcindor’s impeccable journalism, that seems to backfire in the face of her misdirection about the lack of evidence for voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and her journalistic integrity became even more questionable during a November 24, 2020 MSNBC interview where she essentially gave a happy endorsement to an unnamed Democrat’s equating Joe Biden’s cabinet picks to action-adventure movie superheroes. Among Biden’s picks is former Senator John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

If the opportunity arises, can we trust the PBS NewsHour and Yamiche Alcindor to objectively probe Senator Kerry on why his declaration about a thickening layer of CO2 in the far upper atmosphere trapping increasing amounts of heat was apparently contradicted outright by an IPCC scientist who famously said it was a travesty that he and his scientist associates couldn’t account for the missing heat? Can we trust Alcindor to ask Kerry what the evidence was for his 2009 accusation that “A highly organized, well-funded movement to deny the reality of global climate change has been up and running for a long time”? If Kerry cites Ross Gelbspan (who seems to be actively trying to gain Kerry’s attention right now) and says Gelbspan exposed the existence of ‘industry-paid skeptic scientist liars-for-hire,’ can we trust Alcindor to objectively probe Gelbspan on what he offered as ‘evidence’ back in 1997, where he and his associates obtained that ‘evidence,’ and why it is that another famous former Senator said Gelbspan won a Pulitzer, when in fact Gelbspan never won a Pulitzer?

Don’t count on it.

Finally, consider the following: apparently, the community of “professional journalists, both outside and within the PBS system,” and people more accurately labeled as ‘PBS Promoters,’ along with PBS NewsHour administrators, seem to dismiss their critics this way:

… partisan viewers always think we’re biased.

In the eyes of that PBS community, viewers who either don’t criticize the NewsHour or who email the Public Editor on the wisdom of excluding ‘climate deniers’ and Trump supporters from the program would be, by default, well-reasoned nonpartisan people.

However, do we not have an entirely different situation here — biased left-leaning journalists always think they are nonpartisan when they misdirect viewers with opinion, disinformation and selective facts and data disguised as legitimate reportage? Is the public divisiveness resulting from that disinformation across the board on the environment, race relations, political corruption, and elections not an existential threat to the well-being of the country?