Former CBS News chief says national media now 'unrelentingly liberal'

The former news executive argues the full-throttled liberalism came about because of some journalists' 'fear and loathing' of Trump

Published: May 26, 2020 10:04am

Updated: May 26, 2020 11:00pm

A former CBS News president thinks that news-gathering organizations — particularly the major newspapers and TV networks covering national politics — have moved from what he once considered a “liberal tilt” to now having an “unrelentingly liberal” agenda.

Van Gordon Sauter, who ran the network’s news division from 1982 to 1983 and in 1986, made his argument Monday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Sauter writes that he made the “liberal tilt” comment 35 years ago when discussing the issue with Jeane Kirkpatrick, a onetime Democrat who became the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Reagan.

“Kirkpatrick was prophetic,” Sauter argues. “The highly influential daily newspapers in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Boston are now decidedly liberal. On the home screen, the three broadcast network divisions still have their liberal tilt. Two of the three leading cable news sources are unrelentingly liberal in their fear and loathing of President Trump.” 

He continues that “to many journalists, objectivity, balance and fairness — once the gold standard of reporting — are not mandatory in a divided political era and in a country they believe to be severely flawed.”

Sauter argues the national media’s long, slow drift toward liberalism was accelerated by the arrival of Republican Donald Trump as president, following Democratic stalwart Barack Obama into the White House by defeating longtime party icon Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Sauter, who was president of Fox News in the early 1990s, also warns that such concerns could get worse in the 2020 White House race and beyond. 

“If Mr. Trump prevails in November, what’s the next act, if any, for journalists and the resistance? They will likely find Mr. Trump more dangerous and offensive in a second term than in the first,” he writes.

He recommends perhaps taking a suggestion from Dan Abrams, ABC’s chief legal affairs anchor and founder of the website Mediaite, who recently said, “I think the first thing that would help … is to admit  ... that the people in the media are left of center.”


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