The Journalist Strikes Back Against the Talking Head


In attempt to report on media bias, Fox News host Sean Hannity lets his own bias show.

Anderson Cooper, host of 360

(The Wookie Post) – There’s been plenty of sparring between high profile news anchors over the ages, whether it’s been allegations of bias or just attacking one another over ratings.

Most recently, CNN journalist and anchor Anderson Cooper (host of 360) saw his hard work and reporting being taken out of context by conservative Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, who edited footage of the acclaimed journalist in a misleading way. Meanwhile, Cooper wasted no time in striking back against the popular Fox News host.

Taking things out of Context

The incident began when Hannity hosted a special titled, ‘Behind the Bias’: How Media’s Hostility Towards GOP Began. The episode sought to expose liberal media bias. During a portion of the episode, compiled footage of different media outlets reporting on the Valerie Plame Affair aired.

In 2006, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson made claims that the Bush Administration had outed his wife (Valerie Plame) as a CIA agent in retaliation for writing an op-ed in the New York Times titled “What I Didn’t Find In Africa” (there had previously been claims the Iraqi sought WMD’s from Africa). At the time of the incident, Wilson’s side of the story was simply just that, a claim.

However, in ‘Behind the Bias’: How Media’s Hostility Towards GOP Began Hannity attempted to display how media that Hannity deemed as left-wing had relentlessly and unfairly sought to portray Wilson as a victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by the Bush administration (although it was just a claim at the time).

Hannity’s show sought to display Anderson in the same light. In fact, it sought to do so unfairly. A quick clip during the montage featured Cooper reporting on the Plame affair, declaring, “He is the victim of a Bush Administration smear campaign”. However, that’s not within the context that Anderson reported.

If Hannity had aired the entire clip, the viewer would have instead heard Anderson state, “A former U.S. diplomat who investigated Africa’s link to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program now says he is the victim of a Bush administration smear campaign”.

Airing his edited footage of Cooper was Hannity’s failed attempt to make it appear like Cooper was stating former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson was the victim, all while Anderson was really reporting that Wilson was claiming he was the victim.

Cooper Responds

Cooper responded to Hannity’s foot-in-mouth incident on Monday night’s episode of 360 by placing the conservative commentator on his show’s ‘RidicuList’.

In the segment, Cooper stated, “I try to chose my words very carefully and I don’t like it when someone cuts around them to make it seem like i’m saying something that i’m not.”

To be nice Cooper stated, “I’m going to assume that Mr. Hannity had no idea what his editors were up to. I’d would hate to think he would knowingly, falsely edit something to make a point.  After, all that would be biased”.

The Splicing Tactic

It’s not the first time that Hannity and his producers have been caught in controversy. Last year, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show caught Hannity and his producers using the same splicing tactic to portray U.S. President Barack Obama in a more negative light when it came to the issue of tax increases.

Starting the episode last year, Hannity stated, “Now the president did have a rare moment of honest during his speech and I hope voters around the country are watching this”. The conservative commentator then aired a clip of President Obama stating, “Taxes are scheduled to go up substantially next year, for everybody”.

Had Hannity aired the entire part of the comment (taken within the proper context) viewers would have heard President Obama say, “Under that tax plan passed by the last administration, taxes are scheduled to go up substantially next year”.

Hannity had bended and spliced the footage to make it sound like the president was planning to raise taxes himself. One would hate to assume that the Fox News host would even be willing to deceive the same viewers that keep his money rolling in.

The splicing tactic is nothing nothing and has been used on the left as well. At its root, it’s an intellectually lazy and deceitful tactic. Taking things out of context has been a weapon of both sides of the extreme (of which the right side Hannity is on).

You can view the footage from that incident here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y43LTuGlVaI

You view Anderson Cooper responding to Hannity here:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2011/04/26/ac.ridiculist.sean.hannity.cnn

Hannity’s Overall Analysis of Biased Media

Despite there being both well-documented cases of media bias on both the left and the right, Sean Hannity failed to keep things fair and balanced by neither admitting bias occurred on both sides and/or giving examples.

In fact, the episode was made out to seem like the conservative host didn’t even believe that bias existed on the right as well. And why should he? After all, he is a very conservative commentator. While Hannity may have provided some fair insight on left-wing media bias (such as Dan Rather’s reporting on the Bush-draft controversy), it was few and far between.

During the course of his broadcast, Hannity aired other portions of broadcasts he deemed biased.

One clip showed an old ABC News broadcast of correspondent Jerry King stating, “Under communism, women in the workplace were glorified”. Despite displaying this portion of a much longer broadcast, there’s no way for a viewer to tell how that’s biased as it could really be one factor of communist societies.

Hannity then went on to say, “the media have been apologizing for America’s enemies from the cold war through the war on terror”.

Hannity tried to back his claim by showing another clip featuring a broadcast of former CBS anchor Mike Wallace stating, “Many Soviets viewing the chaos and nationalist unrest under Gorbachav look back almost longingly to the era of brutal order under Stalin”. Once again, there’s no bias in Wallace’s statement, just the fact that some former soviets (even sympathizers) might have taken this view.

Interestingly enough, Mike Wallace happens to be the father of current Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

Invasion of the Talking Heads

What is a talking head?The term has been coined by media analysts to describe both far left and right political commentators who appear on such media outlets as MSNBC and Fox News. Commentators rely purely on opinion, thus not seeking to provide fair reporting from a journalistic approach.

Others who could be described as such (besides Hannity) include Chris Matthews, Anne Coulter, Keith Olbermann, and prominent political strategists from both the left and rights sides of the political spectrum.

To be clear, their mentions in this article do not automatically deem them as intellectually dishonest and lazy as Sean Hannity may have been on his show. In fact, there are plenty of good people from all sides of perspective who make their opinions known using honesty.

Can Talking Heads Fairly Analyze Media For Bias?

In conclusion, while there are many true cases of bias out there, both left and right, some might find it already ridiculous enough for an outrightly biased commentator such as Hannity to try to fairly analyze the media for them.

In effect, small and edited snippets fail to give the viewer proper analysis of larger issues.

The end result is that a biased commentator can’t do the job of a professional journalist, which Mr. Hannity is not. Perhaps that job is best left up to the real professionals in the field, such as Anderson Cooper.

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