Lynne Cheney Profiled by CBS Reporter Whose Husband is Her Literary Rep
CBS News correspondent Rita Braver's brown-nose interview with Lynne Cheney on Sunday was reason number 1,342 why I am cynical toward and very distrustful of the mainstream corporate media.
Braver's ten-minute profile of the Vice President's wife, with softball questions tossed out with ease by the veteran newswoman, was linked to the publication of a new book by Cheney.
During the women's downright sisterly chat, Braver giddily discloses a troubling conflict of interest, one that shouldn't be readily simply because the reporter has revealed it. Braver's husband, Robert Barnett, packaged Cheney's book and has represented her in other literary endeavors.
From CBS News' story about the interview:
Her new book is largely a celebration of the joys of growing up in the West in the '40s and '50, which Braver's husband helped publish along with several others of Lynne Cheney's books.
In "Blue Skies, No Fences," Cheney acknowledges that her world of prom dates and being homecoming queen was not open to everyone - African Americans, for example. And she writes that the times "were hard on kids who were gay."
It's an issue that Cheney is sensitive to as the mother of a gay daughter.
What reasoning went into the decision of CBS executives that allowed them to give Braver the go-ahead to do a puff piece on a subject doing business with her husband?
If CBS thinks it's ethical journalism to allow this sort of lapse in judgment and that their credibility isn't damaged, then they deserve to suffer further loss of their ever-dwindling TV news audience.
For this news consumer, I'll continue to find other less biased, less connected sources of information than CBS News and the reporting of Braver, whose husband is laughing all the way to the bank from the all the book sold through his wife's flattering infomercial of Lynne Cheney.
You can read the CBS story on Cheney's new memoir, and if you have the stomach for it, watch the actual nauseatingly sweet "news story" from today. Click here for both.
[UPDATE, October 8]
[UPDATE, October 8]
I give the Public Eye blog at the CBS News site credit for this reaction piece late this afternoon by Matthew Felling, but the response from the executive producer the show that ran the Lynne Cheney interview did nothing to change my mind about keeping my eyeballs away from CBS News broadcasts.
Those who make the decisions at CBS over what gets on the air and which reporter covers a story find my criticism "harsh"? Isn't that too bad. I'm finding plenty of other news outlets and sources, less biased and with fewer conflicts of interest, for my news diet and see this whole episode as one more good reason to avoid CBS News and its political coverage these days.
From CBS's Public Eye:
Upon arriving at the office today, this writer came upon a blog post about “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent Rita Braver’s conversation with Lynne Cheney. The post began:CBS News correspondent Rita Braver's brown-nose interview with Lynne Cheney on Sunday was reason number 1,342 why I am cynical toward and very distrustful of the mainstream corporate media.
I began a conversation with Braver about this issue early today, before finding out the conversation had widened to a couple of letters on Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews – the go-to site for a daily climate check of MediaLand. [...]
There I found a letter from David Fluhrer, a self-described "public relations consultant with a healthy respect for journalism," raising the same points as Petrelis. And another from Lee Rood at the Des Moines Register.
In order to get a sense of the decision-making process, I got in touch with Rand Morrison, the Executive Producer of “CBS Sunday Morning” and shared with him the concerns out there in the blogosphere.
Here is his response:Rita Braver is our Sunday Morning Washington-based correspondent. In that role, she regularly talks with political figures of all persuasions -- from Laura Bush to former Attorney General John Ashcroft to presidential hopeful John Edwards to, yes, Lynne Cheney. Similarly, her husband, Bob Barnett, represents a number of prominent Washington personalities -- Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals.
Ms. Braver – who over the years has served CBS News as Chief White House correspondent and Law correspondent – disclosed her husband’s role with the Cheney book on the air during her story for all of our viewers to know. And despite the fact that Ms. Cheney’s book is an autobiography devoted to a recounting of her young years growing up in Wyoming, Braver asked a variety of questions pertaining to the current political climate. Among them – quoting directly:
“There are people out making speeches all the time saying this will go down as the worst Administration in American history…”
And on the matter of the conduct of the Iraq war…
“Do you think 20 years from now we’ll say ‘Look, we made a big difference in Iraq’? Or will we look back and say ‘It was a mistake’?”
Given the above queries, it seems harsh, to put it mildly, to characterize the Sunday Morning interview as “fawning.”