TelevisionWeek is teaming up with TV industry veteran Marianne Paskowski. The blog will give Marianne a forum to convey her deep knowledge of the industry and pass along some of the juicy morsels she's hearing on the grapevine. Marianne has covered the TV industry from the inside out and top to bottom, and TVWeek's readers are bound to benefit from her sharp eyes, ears and wit. TVWeek.com invites readers to jump online, chime in and pick Marianne's brain on the latest industry news.


Marianne Paskowski

Liberal Media Bias and the Election

July 29, 2008 9:59 AM

I used to yawn when I heard people carp about how the media fawned over Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and ignored his Republican opponent, John McCain.

That was until today, when I read a New York Times editorial that took President George W. Bush to the woodshed for remaining silent about China’s human rights policies with the Olympics just two weeks away.

That’s fair—Bush has said absolutely nothing about the subject and he is attending the Opening Ceremonies.

But where is the dialogue in the media about Obama spending $5 million on advertising during the Olympics on NBC? The conversation has focused on his shift from regional swing-state spending to his national buy.

Big deal. I’d like to hear what people have to say about Obama’s tacit approval of China’s policies by spending ad dollars in the controversial Games hosted by China and airing on NBC.

Anyone else have a problem with this?


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Comments (43)


Hi Marianne,
Your point about being fair for the NY Times columnist ripping President Bush & not saying anything about Obama's Olympic media buy is a very valid point.
However, I am so sick and tired of people thinking that just because they are advertising in the Olympics, that they approve of China's policies. How can somebody think that? When you sponsor the Olympics, you sponsor the Olympics & the athletes - not the country where they are held. What about all the athletes that have been working their butt of since they were 3 years old? Without the support of sponsors, they wouldn't have an Olympics to compete in. The athletes are what the Olympics are about.

PS - how was the Golden Girls marathon this weekend?

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Joe,
Well if you are a regular reader you know how I feel about the Olympics organization's decision to hold the events in China.

What were they thinking? The air pollution has kept several Olympic medal viers sitting on the sidelines.Then there are the human rights issues, which is my beef.

And BTW the Golden Girls Marathon was last Friday, and I didn't watch a minute of it!

Anyhow Joe, I don't think its appropriate for Obama to ad runs during the Olympics. And the NYT's should have covered Obama's ad buy in the editorial today. That would have been truly fit to print.

Thanks for your post and keep coming back!


Hey Marianne,
The New York Times has been unfair to the right for years. Its old news. What is news, however, is how these networks are fawning over Obama in Europe when McCain is now leading in some polls. Can't wait to see Chris Matthews squirm. ;)
I'm about as excited for these Olympics as I am about going to work on Sundays.
Take care,

Marianne Paskowski:

You're wicked funny at moments. I must point something out, however. I was shocked to hear Chris Mathews actually say McCain was "my man."

I thought otherwise, given the usual MSNBC coverage. Let's not also forget that the NYT's recently rejected a McCain op/ed piece, but did allow Obama a platform, earlier.

Anyhow, Anyone remember the reason why? I don't, but I think the NYT's made a mistake in offering a fair platform.

And Jason, no more Sundays at work:}


Andy S.:

Your argument against Obama advertising during the Olympics, if you really believe it, should extend to all advertisers, because they're all supporting the same thing. And by extension, you therefore also believe that NBC should go out of business, because that's what would probably happen if the Olympics air without ads.


A new Rasmussen poll shows that "Thirty-one percent (31%) of Americans say Fox News has a bias that favors conservatives while 15% say it has a liberal bias." A liberal bias! Come on.
The right wing views, like the opinions of those who write comments to this latest blog, are a curious group indeed. This group thinks media favor Dems. Recent surveys show opposite results in terms of counting pro and anti-Repubs and Dems rather than tallying opinions about "believing" there is a bias. Clearly, we live in parallel universes.

Marianne Paskowski:

You're reading me right, I don't think any sponsor should advertise on NBC during the Olympics.

Furthermore, I think GE should sell NBC, and it might after the Olympics, and let people who know something about television run the broadcast and cable holdings.

Anyhow, we will see what happens in two weeks.

Thanks for your post, always good to wrestle with you,

Marianne Paskowski:


Research is BS and anyone can make findings to support their positions.

Thanks for the post, and latest research results,

Yawn is right. Read the results of a report released today out of The Center for Media and Public Affairs:


The screeching from the right is amusing.

Marianne Paskowski:


Thanks for the link.



What that article fails to mention is that Obama is getting more coverage overall than McCain, as well he should.

McCain is more of the same, and Obama is actually trying to take us in the right direction, or at least another direction. We already know what McCain will do, since we have survives 8 years of Bush, so why not cover Obama more?

Getting back on the original topic, I could care less where the Olympics are. The fact that the Olympic Committee decided to allow the games in China is unimportant to many of the people competing. I think NBC should cover the games, and people should advertise. They are not doing so in support of Chinese policies, but in support of American athletes who work their butts off year after year just to win a medal and hear their anthem played in front of millions of people watching on TV. That is what these Olympics are all about. The fact that China is an occupying force in Tibet, or has committed many human rights violations does not change the fact that these are the Olympics. It's about the athletes. Nothing else, and to pull advertising from the games is just foolish. The same athletes would be competing if the games were in Paris or New York, so why treat the games any different?

Millions of people around the country will watch the games, and Obama is very smart to spend the money to advertise during the games.

Marianne Paskowski:


Of course we support the athletes who, as you say, don't care where the Olympics are held.

But I do, and there could be significant risks to businesses, NBC and now Obama, who have chosen to advertise in that venue.

Trust me, you will see a very sanitized version of what is really happening in China. The NYT did a straight news story today, and there were many more, in other media oulets, about how China is trying to put a pretty face on this by moving people out of slums, against their will, or putting up walls, to hide its problems from the world.

That on top of what the Chinese government has done to its citizens.

Julia, to sum it up, we just have to agree to disagree, thanks for your post,


How will there be significant risks to anyone who chooses to advertise during the Olympics?

I know lots of stuff is happening there that we will never see, but how will advertising during the olympics hurt ANYONE??!! I certainly hope Obama does the right thing and use the ads to speak out against the injustices, instead of just using them to bash McCain or Bush policies. None of the ads will say, "Proud sponsors of the 2008 China Olympic Games." They all say, "Proud sponsors of the 2008 US Olympic Team." So, why even make a big deal over it? It's just big business making money off the Olympics.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not too happy that china got the Olympics in the first place. Pollution, Tibet, human rights violations, etc, have caused me to have a completely different view of the country than I used to. But...it's not going to make me stop watching and supporting the Olympics and what they stand for, even though china is against most of what they stand for.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Julia,

Let's talk a moment about the Olympic sponsors, like McDonald's. Business Week has done a great job covering U.S. based multinational companies with holdings in China, including GE, NBC's owner, that are trying to pump their stocks, via their ties to China.

That could backfire for all the reasons you mentioned above, let alone the imports from China that killed our dogs (food) and got our kids sick (toys).

So, is this advertising model going to work? I don't know, but I am disappointed that Obama would buy time during the games.

Trust me, I am not a flaming dissident who will boycott McDonald's or other advertisers, but the drums are beating. We need to listen to what they are saying. A lot of the dissidents think this is about corporate greed. And now Obama.

So Julia, don't turn a deaf ear on these people.
As Fox would say, and I am not a fan, you decide.

Thanks for pushing the conversation forward, much appreciated.


The media isn't biased toward Barack because he is liberal, they love him because he is young, new and exciting. It was the same during the Clinton campaign, the media weren't as excited about a known politician with 20 years on Obama.

As for advertising, that's more Obama's tacit approval of NBC if anything and that is an outrage since NBCU's corporate accounting department has already determined that today's earthquake was a -3.4 and so there are no profits to be distributed.

Marianne Paskowski:

Glad to hear someone, other than me is PO'd over Obama advertising on NBC and how NBC's parent company GE is milking its broadcast of the Olympics.

Can't even stand to watch CNBC today, and how all of its reporters were schills for the Olympics, that its parent company bought the rights to boost its stock.

Well, corporate greed is nothing new, but let's educate the viewers about what is really happening in China.

Pat, thanks for the post, and come back to see what people are talking about.


Jeff Mulligan:

Marianne --

Your main problem is that you do not recognize how tough it is for a mainstream medium to maintain down-the-middle objectivity on a daily basis. Give the Times a break, at least from the viewpoint of one editorial choice and concurrent news hole non-choice.

Furthermore, Obama is buying el primo GRPs. He wants to win the election. He's supporting the athletes. Would you want a president who's too stupid, or ideologically hidebound, to miss such an opportunity?

Would you want a president to make the tough calls in the real world of governing based on political correctness rather than what's most effective?


Marianne Paskowski:

First of all the NYT is not mainstream media.And you know that. Yes, Obama wants to win the election. Let's see what his ads say. Not much I bet.

I want change, but I don't want a lot of disappointed people projecting their image on an unknown entity who just says he's about change and they think he can do it.

I think Obama is a wonderful, well spoken man, however, he needs to go on the offense here. These ads could, on NBC Olympics coverage give him that opportunity.

However, 10 to 1 odds, he won't do it. He's waving the American flag now, finally, something he never did before. I like him, but...



Yo, Blondie --

I share your frustration. The Times is presumed objective because it's one of the few real newspapers in this country that doesn't treat local retail advertiser openings and sports as leading news. So you expect more from it than it delivered by running the anti-Bush tut-tut.

But few, if any media, honestly acknowledge political bias, whether they consciously practice it or not. I wish more media came clean on that score, like The Nation with its television commercial promise to provide "that famous liberal media bias you can't get anywhere else."

Plenty of puffery there about that claim to liberal exclusivity, but I never hear complaints from liberals--the intended audience. National Review's marketing department should take note.

And then those of us who think we're informed would be hard pressed to not read both The Nation and National Review to get "that famous balanced, intelligence-oriented media bias you can't get anywhere else."

Cruisin not bruisin

Dear Marianne.

If you're so "pissed off" at NBCU and GE why don't you stop supporting them and turn off CNBC once and for all? Because every time you tune in to CNBC you're underwriting..in principle...those very advertisers you're now lambasting, the ones who keep NBCU profitable and Jeff Zucker employed.

I say that with love, of course.


Marianne Paskowski:

Like you bringing up the slogan for The Nation. However, I don't read it, should, but at least the outlet is open about its stand.

Actually most print outlets are,in favor or against a candidate. I believe the NYT has endorsed Obama. But that's no reason the paper should deny McCain a voice, like it did.

Not that I want to hear it, but I would like to see more balance.

Say what you will, and you didn't about Obama, but I think he screwed up big time by buying ads on NBC's coverage of the Olmypics. Gee, wonder if he owns GE stock?



Blondie --

So McCain wants to keep us in Iraq until their oil runs out, and bomb Iran as a pre-negotiation tactic, and is too clueless or disorganized to buy ads on the hottest summer avail of the campaign season.


Still Cruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Clearly you are rattled from the earthquake in your area. Cant say I blame you.

My blog is about the NYT, and not GE. GE does what it has to do via its networks. I hate the way the NYT handled its editorial today. And I AM a liberal and I don't own any GE or the New York Times, for disclosure purposes. In fact, I own no media stocks.



No, not really.

Marianne Paskowski:


Sorry, if we're getting our signals crossed here, I hope you're OK after the earthquake today, horrible quirk of nature, remember Northridge? We were both there.

I respect your opinion, hope you know where I stand on the NYT's piece.Don't know how to make it more clear.

Be well,

Dave Sanders:

This response is more for Julia......Julia Julia Julia? Obama may be the Joker in your Gotham we just don't know.....What I do know is that IF I sat in a church for an extended period of time ( which I have done I think?) I would hear what the Rev Wrong said....Being from the SSide of Chicago and a SOX fan I find it offensive that this guy is selling us on abill of goods called hope when that is all that was left in Pandora's box..How can you like a someone without a history....As for McCain he is much smarter than Bush..of course a growth of weeds is too...but we know McCain is the lesser of two evils now don't we...
You want to be safe? or sorry? your choice darlin'
West Coast Dave...stirred not shaken by earthquakes.

Marianne Paskowski:

Well Dave,
Glad you survived yesterday's earthquake, but you are so off message here. All I was asking is how the media are covering the candidates.

So what happened today? Well the Israeli prime minister is stepping down and the likely replacement is some dude who wants to nuke Iran.

That drove crude oil up, and what are either of the candidates saying. Can't wait to see the headlines on what these two guys have to say about it and how the media will report. Gearing up to watch Kudlow & Co. on CNBC, the guy is a flaming conservative, but I like hearing both sides.
Thanks for your post,

Thurston Last:


I think the whole issue of Obama spending money on Olympic ads all ado about nothing. Obama isn't spending money to support the Chinese Olympics. The Olympics shot themselves in the foot for placing the summer games in such an oppressive regime that makes sweet, cheap, televisions. It's not an overwhelming endorsement of but to get the collective eyeballs of the nation, and what's a better showcase than the Olympics?

The Super Bowl? Yeah, but that's in February, and Senator Obama did that earlier in the year. Nobody batted an eye.

But think about this. If you're selling a product, wouldn't you want to reach as many people as you can, especially on the programs they'll likely watch. That's why you see companies like Coca-Cola put ads on the Super Bowl, American Idol, and, of course, the Olympics.

In this case, Obama is "selling" himself to an audience that would otherwise not give him much thought or to people who still believe he's the bastard son of an Islamic terrorist whose wife is a militant Black revolutionary. Plus, he actually has enough funds to pay for advertising time on a national scale and is willing to pay for the time.

If McCain had enough funds and thought about it first, don't you think he would have as well? Then again, he has been photographed with the Dali Lama a couple of weeks ago, and that was in no way political. Considering nearly all of the Dali Lama's supporters are lefties, I'm surprised McCain wanted to be seen with him.

I do find umbrage with the term "liberal media bias," and the irony that those using the term . . . are on the media. Or are the New York Post, Fox News, NewsMax, and all those blustered, arrogant, subtlely racist talking heads that circulate their conservative viewpoints on television, the internet, newspapers, magazines, and radio on a totally different medium that isn't acknowledged publicly?

Marianne Paskowski:


Obama advertising on the Super Bowl is an apples to oranges comparison. His move, grabbing eyeballs could be rife with unintended consequences.Coca Cola and McDonald's are already feeling it and dealing with it.

Meanwhile, McCain, posing with the Dali Lama was a stunt to distance himself from Bush. It didn't get much ink.And that's the problem.

I am a liberal, however, I want to hear both sides, or more if there are. This country faces some major geopolitical issues that deserve more in-depth coverage. I don't see it, and I am a news junkie.

I appreciate your thoughtful response,


Dave...Do you see McCain selling us anything but lies? Do you see Bush selling us anything but higher gas prices, a failing economy, higher prices in the supermarkets, and inflation that we haven't seen since the 80's. What a surprise that a Republican is in charge of an economy in the dumps...Surprising to learn that a Democrat is responsible for the big economic upturn of the 90's. While Obama is not Clinton, he is sure better than either Bush or McCain.

And a guy without history is better than one with a huge history of pandering to the side he wants and the flipping around and voting the way he wants to. In 2000, I actually would have voted for McCain in the general election. He was a moderate Republican, and held most of the values that I held. Then, he lost the primaries, and Bush was the nominee who got elected by the Supreme Court as president. So, McCain decided that since Bush was a conservative, and was the leader of his party, that he had to swing over to follow Bush, and forget about his own views, or the views he was spouting during the primary season at least. Now, he's just as conservative as Bush, but his meeting with the Dali Lama was a blatant attempt to swing the left into voting for him. One appearance with the exiled leader of Tibet will not change my opinion of him as someone who will say what he needs to say to get elected.

Obama seems genuine. He really seems like he knows what he's doing, and to have made it as far as he has with not much experience says something to me about his character. Who says he won't be just as charismatic and effective as JFK was? Who says he won't turn the economy around like Clinton did? Who says that he won't fix what's wrong with Washington politics, and actually try to pass laws that not only help our pockets but help the environment at the same time?

Then again, who's the only one of the two who is attacking the other? McCain, who has blamed Obama for gas prices in one ad. Sad, really.

You wanna be safe or sorry? Well, I'd rather be safe with someone who I know will do what he says instead of someone who is a two-faced liar who says what we want to hear, and does what he wants.

Now, let's get back on topic, shall we?


The problem with your screed is that you don't seem to realize the editorial pages and columnists of the Times - or any paper - can and should be able to say whatever the hell they want. There is no fairness doctrine in print; hell, as we know, there isn't even one in broadcasting anymore - hence the rise of 24/7 hate radio and Fox News. The editorialists and op-ed columnists of the NYT can run pieces blasting McCain or Bush 7 days a week and praising Obama to the skies. That's their right. If their news coverage was biased that's a different thing, and I'm sure you and your right-wing friends believe the Times is biased in its news hole too, but the point is the columns are SUPPOSED to have a view and a political leaning. The Times editorials tends to be liberal. Deal with it - you've got the NY Post. (By the way, you said you couldn't remember why the Times rejected McCain's op-ed. It was supposed to be about his thoughts on Iraq, countering Obama's piece on the subject. It ran 12 paragraphs - 11 of which were attacks on Obama. The NYT asked him to rework the column to deal with the subject, as they do any op-ed contributor. They also noted after all the right-wing outrage was ginned up, that they had published pieces by McCain seven times over the years, and had endorsed him in the GOP primaries. Oh, yeah, they really are out to get him.) Pathetic.

Marianne Paskowski:


Of course I know the difference between an editorial and news reporting. And thanks for the reason why the NYT's rejected McCain's piece.

BTW, I have no idea who most of these people are up here.

Thanks for your post,


Hi Marianne,

Thanks for the response. I have to admit, your original article about Obama running ads during the Olympics, while a dubious point, is reasonable (although does anyone really think that John McCain will not run ads during the Olympics if he has the money to do so?) but your comment about the NYT op-ed bru-haha seriously made it seem like you didn't understand the difference between the editorial and news side of a newspaper, so I'm glad to hear your comment.
Back to the original point: The Times comes under a LOT of criticism from the right, and the paper certainly has some issues, but fairness really isn't one of them.
I think it is still the premiere news gathering organization in this country and we are in BIG trouble if we let the right-wing chip away at it - so criticizing it for its op-ed columns, especially when giving a pass to the much more blatant biases of the right, is just wrong.
Thanks for giving us this outlet. I like your columns! :)

Marianne Paskowski:


The NYT's is my must read, and I have been writing editorials/and or/now blogs for 18 years, and I always get a lot of feedback, negative and positive about my "opinion."

Personally, I love to hear what other people think, and I'm sure the NYT's does, too. The feedback keeps us all on our toes, I hope, and in touch with what's really going on, and opens up a healthy discussion.

I happen to love feedback, most bloggers, don't bother to write back, but I am very curious about how the world works, and most of my readers, here, seem to be of the same ilk.

Yeah, I get some nut jobs, but you are not one of them. Thank you for your thoughtful posts and keep coming back.

And here's another opinion, McCain is a loser, hope he doesn't win.


Dear Marianne,

Who are you calling a nut job?


Marianne Paskowski:

Not you Cory:}

Dave Sanders:

Julkia Julia Julia...yes you are correct YOU got me way off topic and such but not message....OBAMA is Bad.....period...Democrats
worse....now Lets just turn off the lights in Congress/ stop the cameras and turn down the microphones when everyone else speaks....except Obama...hows that for a message....OK ?
Freakin liberals have caused ALL wars...yes ALL
we decent people ( independant thinkers) are left with the mess to try and clean up....
You shall get your just rewards....
nice hole left from the Clintons and New York the last time!!! Go Obama or is that Go oh bomb a??
sorry off message again...
west coast Dave

Marianne Paskowski:


George Bush was in office during 9/11, and he is the president that sent our troops to Iraq.


Well said, Marianne. Which presidents sent our kids to Iraq? Could it be Bush Jr. and Sr?? Who ruined the foreign relations with most nations in Europe and Asia? Bush Jr.

Frankly, most liberals speak out AGAINST war, not for it. I'm totally opposed to war of any kind, especially when it was not warranted. The evidence, or lack of evidence, of WMD's in Iraq was in Bush's face, and he didn't care. All he wanted to do was finish his Daddy's business. You know what it accomplished? Destabilized the whole Middle East, exacerbated the situation in Israel to the point that they might elect someone who wants to nuke Iran, and created a problem that our troops will have to continually fight until we finally give up. It was not our problem to begin with, but ever since we went in and "liberated" the Iraqis from Saddam, we created many more problems than we solved. The only reason we're in Iraq today is because we went there in the first place. If we hadn't gone there, Iraq would not have been the drain on our economy it is today. Who knows...maybe our economy might not be in as bad a shape if the billions, maybe even trillions, of dollars spent on a pointless war would have gone to fix the countless problems we have in this country.

The moral of this story is that we should be spending the money to fix the problems we have at home before we try to "fix" everyone else's problems. We can't even educate our children correctly in this country, and we're expected to educate Iraqis? There are many more poor people in our country than in Iraq, and the money spent in Iraq could have given countless people here a new lease on life.

On your other point, Dave, I understand that Clinton had intelligence reports about what Bin Laden was planning for 9/11, and did nothing about them. I agree that he might have dropped the ball. Clinton AND Bush are to blame to 9/11. But, Bush is to blame for everything that happened afterwards. You can't pin The fruitless search for Bin Laden on Clinton. Frankly, Bush used 9/11 to give him momentum for the Iraqi war. How did the Liberals cause that? Is Bush a Liberal?


You know, I really don't care for Bush but I do feel that McCain can make logical decisions when it comes to being a commander in chief (its the other things I worry about with him). Obama's flip flopping now on Iraq and other issues. Just yesterday he said something to the effect that he'll drill in the gulf for oil (he was against beforehand). Seeing as that we can do things like that more safely these days (and everyone seems to forget about the oil in the Rockies), I think that was probably a good move for him. The thing is though, Obama was in bed with the far left to get through the primary and now he has to turn against them to rally the independents. The far left is ticked. They cry, the media picks it up, and McCain calls him a flip flopper. The person who can put out a comprehensive energy package (drilling, wind, solar, hydro, coal, nuclear) and make sense of this, will get elected. Should Obama flip on a few more of these (he's against coal and nuclear if I recall correctly) and manage to avoid the flip flop problem that Kerry had, he will win. McCain will have no problem supporting these issues. Republicans are for it all. Obama again will have to worry about the far left folks who don't like some of that. The key for all of it is that the one issue that Kerry flipped on and got burned for (the war) is now one that Obama will be hurt by not flipping on. Things in Iraq are pretty much cleaned up. He has pretty much failed to acknowledge that. Violence is way down due to the surge which has worked and the government is in better shape than it has been in a long time. (NOTE: I wasn't for the surge but it has worked thanks to our brilliant troops and Gen. Petraeus who is our present day Grant). Afghanistan is the next front (sadly we didn't finish this the first time around). I agree like most Americans that Iraq was wrong but we have to finish what we started or we're just going to end up back there in 10 years.


Marianne Paskowski:


If you looked at what happened in the market today, there's a reason candidates flip flop, and those are the wrong words, the world economy is changing and so are the candidates.

Thought CNBC did an excellent job today covering Obama's "flip-flop" on tapping into the national energy supply.He really did that, I follow this stuff.

He's in over his head on this issue and needs better advisers. If that were to happen, what he is suggesting, it would be foolhardy.That really shocked me today.

There's not much supply there, and the benefit would be felt for several days, at the gas pump, if that.

Will be interesting to see how the media cover all of this. Sure there is more to come.



Now McCain is buying the Olympics and is spending $1 million than Obama.

Marianne Paskowski:

Yo Joe,
More about that $6 mill last minute buy possibly tomorrow, unless some other numb skull head line grabs my attention.

There are plenty to choose.


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