Bernard Goldberg

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Bernard Goldberg
Parroting squawkbox
Icon pundit.svg
And a dirty dozen more

Bernard "Bernie" Richard Goldberg (1945–) is a right-wing political commentator who has previously worked for both CBS and Fox News. He specifically describes himself as a conservative with libertarian leanings, saying in 2020, "I see myself as a conservative with live and let live principles … a conservative libertarian I guess."[1] He has also called himself "an old-fashioned liberal. . . like John F. Kennedy and . . . like Hubert Humphrey."[1]

The former CBS employee who hates CBS[edit]

Goldberg worked for CBS for twenty eight years, from 1972 until 2000.[2]:12 While there, Goldberg slowly began to become one of the leading critics of the "left-wing bias" at the network he worked at, with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) specifically citing a 1996 article from The Wall Street Journal as the first time he dipped his toes into this pool, although they also add he had been pushing this general idea around previously, specifically noting "For years he has accused the media of expressing too much sympathy for the homeless and other underdogs. 'So what if many of the homeless are truly drug addicts or alcoholics or simply lazy?' he asked in a 1990 New York Times Op-Ed, which also chided the media for excessive compassion toward AIDS patients."[3] The article specifically discussed a segment CBS ran on Steve Forbes's flat tax, and Goldberg basically argues the network failed to properly disclose the expert they were using to argue against it as "liberal" and failed to give the other side a fair shake.[4] However, the person he argued that CBS had failed to disclose as a liberal was William Gale, an economic advisor to George H.W. Bush[5] and an employee for the rather centrist Brookings Institute.[6] Furthermore, Goldberg left out who else was on that segment criticizing the flat tax, among them then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.[3]

Goldberg's first book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News[2] (a book which won the indirect endorsement of George W. Bush[7]), is largely made up of such accusations, even repeating the flat tax story. Here, Goldberg is outraged at the use of phrases like "scheme" and "elixir" to describe the plan. "What the hell kind of language is that, I wondered?"[2]:30 If Goldberg thinks that's harsh, he should read a New York Times article from January 1996 which said of the flat tax, "it appears to have been drafted on the back of a menu, after a bibulous evening with the boys down at the yacht basin." would mean "the Federal budget would be thrown scores of billions of dollars deeper into deficit, and lounge lizards in Palm Beach pay a lower tax rate than steelworkers in Youngstown," and "would be laughed out of Congress." Said article, was written not by a liberal but by then-Republican Presidential Candidate Pat Buchanan.[8]

Yeah, that's another issue with Bernard's original example, although the flat tax is typically associated with right-wing politics, that is by no means an absolute. (It certainly isn't just a "conservative idea" as Goldberg puts it.[2]:34) Democrat Jerry Brown ran on a flat tax rate of thirteen percent during his 1992 Presidential Campaign.[9] Brown even scored the endorsement of Christopher Hitchens,[10] Gore Vidal,[11] and Michael Moore during that run.[12] You know, the guy who Goldberg later called the number one person screwing up America.[13]:301

This also means Goldberg did have a basis for comparison when he wrote "There is absolutely no way — not one chance in a million — that Engberg or Rather would have aired a flat-tax story with that same contemptuous tone if Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton had come up with the idea."[2]:31 However, actually looking through the archives of FAIR from the time, the media was equally as biased against Brown's plan as it was Forbes's, with them talking to groups that they never talked to during the Reagan years to campaign against it[14] and refusing to call Bill Clinton's tax plan regressive in spite of it being about the same as Brown's plan in that regard.[15] ("Not even David Duke provoked this kind of reaction," FAIR wrote regarding the negative coverage Brown was getting.[15])

In his book, Goldberg complains that "Engberg interviewed three different tax experts. Every single one of them opposed the flat tax. . . Where was the fairness and balance . . . Wasn't there any expert--even one--in the entire United States who thought the flat tax might work?"[2]:30 There is no doubt many economists support the flat tax, however, to therefore say their views should be represented just on the basis that they're experts is absurd. Remember, "expert" is a rather wide field and it has long been noted that somebody being an expert does not stop you from holding ridiculous beliefs. In fact, many have commented that experts are more likely to believe insane things than the average person. ("This is one of those views which are so absurd that only very learned men could possibly adopt them," wrote Bertrand Russell.[16]:110) To put this another way: Richard Wolff has a PhD in Economics from Yale University,[17] however, regardless of your opinion on Wolff and his ideology, most would agree his status as an expert doesn't mean CBS should host a debate on the topic of Marxism.

And the cherry on top: Although Bernard will get onto the CBS piece for using the word "wacky" to describe Forbes's idea, he has no issue with slipping in some bias of his own by, one paragraph later, hyperbolically calling America's tax code "ten-trillion-pages."[2]:33

The Boy Who Cried Media Bias[edit]

Listen, Bill, this isn't that much different from how the Ku Klux Klan operates.
—Bernie on the media.[18]

Looking through his books on the topic of "media bias," many of his examples can be broken down in a manner similar to the one above. For example, one of Goldberg's biggest points is about the labeling of people with certain political views, specifically that this happens more often to conservatives than liberals. "I noticed that we pointedly identified conservatives as conservatives, for example, but for some crazy reason didn't bother to identify liberals as liberals," Goldberg writes.[2]:91 Goldberg notes that nobody ever labels Catharine MacKinnon as "a radical feminist or a far-left law professor or even a plain old liberal" in spite of the fact that she's "the feminist ideologue who had famously implied that all sexual intercourse is rape."[2]:92 Of course, the fact MacKinnon never said that doesn't actually deter Goldberg from making this claim.[19]

For that matter, this idea that conservatives are labeled but liberals aren't also isn't true. When FAIR looked into this, they found out that the media was actually more likely to label liberals as liberals as over labelling conservatives as conservative.[7]

Did Those Women and Black People Make Media Bias?[edit]

During a 2007 episode of The O'Reilly Factor, Bernie said what he felt was the reason the media became so damn bias: Black people and women!

Bill, when women and minorities came into journalism, they pushed the newsroom further and further to the left. Everybody agrees that minorities are overwhelmingly liberal in this country, and so are young women. Ann Coulter just said if women weren't allowed to vote, the Democrats would never win another election. That's the atmosphere in which this stuff with Media Matters is allowed to thrive.[20]

Bernie gets bitch-slapped[edit]

In January 2003, Al Franken appeared on the MSNBC show The Phil Donahue Show alongside, among other people, Goldberg. Franken specifically wanted to ask Goldberg about one quote he used to prove liberal bias in media, that being this one from John Chancellor:

[The Soviet Union] is short of soap, so there are lice in the hospital. It's short on pantyhose, women's legs go bare. It's short on snowsuits, so babies stay home in the winter. Sometimes it's short on cigarettes so millions of people stop smoking, involuntarily. It drives everyone crazy. The problem isn't communism; no one even talked about communism this week. The problem is shortages.[2]:289

Here is Franken describing the encounter:

The quote was from August 1991. So, on Donahue, I read the quote, then asked, "Do you know what happened that day in the Soviet Union, Bernie?"

He froze. Then came back with a good one: "Why don't you tell me?"

I had learned how to handle that trick in the schoolyard back in Minnesota. "No," I said, "why don't you tell me?"

Clearly, the man had no idea. I persisted, "What happened in the Soviet Union that day?"

Bernie went white. Finally, "Well, I don't know what happened that day."

So, I told him. Let's go to the videotape.

FRANKEN: That was the collapse of the coup, the hard-liner coup at the parliament.


FRANKEN: And that was huge. Do you know that perestroika had been in effect for six years at that point? The point here is, Bernie, you regurgitated a quote you got from some right-wing media-watch group. And you did not care to look at the context of it. Listen to how Tom Brokaw opened that evening's news.

"Good evening. Wednesday, August 21, 1991. This is a day for bold print in history to be remembered and savored as the day when the power of the people in the Soviet Union proved to be greater than the power of the gray and cold-blooded men who thought they could return that country to the darkness of state oppression."

Boy, it sounds like real pro-communism bias on NBC, doesn't it? But you know, Bernie? You didn't even bother to find out what the context of John Chancellor — who, by the way, is dead, and couldn't defend himself. You had no interest in finding out the context of what he was saying.[21]:33-34

Franken explained the full context of the quote that Goldberg used below, by saying:

Brokaw had asked Chancellor about Gorbachev's next move. And what Chancellor was saying was that Gorbachev couldn't use communism as an excuse because, by that point, he had completely dismantled communism in the Soviet Union.[21]:34

"Man, you really bitch-slapped Bernard Goldberg," said one TV producer to Franken after the encounter.[21]:32

For the record, the notion that the Soviet Union had moved away from anything that could be called communism was not a controversial opinion among the west at the time. The quote Goldberg used was from 1991, the year before Ronald Reagan's autobiography An American Life[22] was published, where Reagan said the following:

Whatever his reasons, Gorbachev had the intelligence to admit Communism was not working, the courage to battle for change, and, ultimately, the wisdom to introduce the beginnings of democracy, individual freedom, and free enterprise. As I said at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, the Soviet Union faced a choice: Either it made fundamental changes or it became obsolete. Gorbachev saw the handwriting on the Wall and opted for change.[22]:708

Nobody would claim this meant Reagan was a communist.

Bernard responds[edit]

How did Bernard respond to this? Well, in his 2005 book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37)[13] Goldberg has a fictional conversation with Franken where Franken calls him a liar and an idiot.[13]:193-196

That time one of his books inspired a terrorist[edit]

In 2008, a man named Jim Adkisson killed two members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and injured several others.[23] In his manifesto, he wrote, "This was a symbolic killing. Who[sic] I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate, and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book, I'd like to kill everyone in the Mainstream Media."[24]

Proving that he has no issue fanning the flames of political violence in this country, less than a year went by before Bernard said that he were attacked by The New York Times like they allegedly attack Bill O'Reilly “I probably would have gotten a baseball bat and gone down to the New York Times with it and found the person that wrote the editorial, but that's me.”[25]

Stopped Clock[edit]

Even though he is not a fan of Barack Obama, even he had to admit some on his side were being overly critical of the President. In 2009, he told Sean Hannity that "we have to stop going out of our way to find fault with every single thing he [Obama] does.”[26] Later that year, he called out the various conservatives on Fox News who had needlessly and incorrectly compared Obama to Adolf Hitler[27] and who had used false information to promote the Tea Party.[28]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bio
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News by Bernard Goldberg (2001) Regnery Publishing, ISBN: 0-89526-190-1
  3. 3.0 3.1 ‘Bias’ Isn’t Supported–Because It’s Not True
  4. Networks Need a Reality Check
  5. William G. Gale
  6. A Measure of Media Bias
  7. 7.0 7.1 ‘The Liberal Media’—a Poltergeist That Will Not Die
  8. A Flawed Flat Tax and the Way Out
  9. THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Fairness and a Flat Tax; Citing Justice, Brown Pushes Radical Idea, But Critics Call Proposal Inherently Unjust
  11. Five Faces of Jerry Brown
  12. Brown Is Building Up Muscle: Campaign: The former California governor gains heavy-hitting union support in Michigan. He may overpower Tsongas in Tuesday’s primary.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37) by Bernard Goldberg (2005) HarperCollins. ISBN 0060761288.
  14. Counterspin No. 4: March 27, 1992
  15. 15.0 15.1 Counterspin No. 5: April 10, 1992
  16. My Philosophical Development by Bernard Russell
  18. On O'Reilly Factor, Goldberg compared “liberal media” to Ku Klux Klan
  19. Catherine MacKinnon 'All Sex is Rape' Quote
  20. Bernard Goldberg: "[W]omen and minorities" have “pushed the newsroom further and further to the left”
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Lies (and the Lying Liars That Tell Them): A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right-Wing by Al Franken (2003) Dutton. ISBN 0525947647.
  22. 22.0 22.1 An American Life by Ronald Reagan, published by Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 0-7434-0025-9
  23. Tennessee church shooter angry at "liberals"
  25. Bernard Goldberg: If NY Times attacked me like it attacks O'Reilly, “I probably would have gotten a baseball bat and gone down to the New York Times with it and found the person that wrote the editorial, but that's me.”
  26. Goldberg tells Hannity, “I'm sorry, Sean ... but we have to stop going out of our way to find fault with every single thing he [Obama] does.”
  27. Bernie Goldberg calls out “several people on this network” who compare Obama to Hitler and his health care policies to fascism
  28. Bernie Goldberg slams Fox News figures who “cheerlead for rallies and tea-parties” with “false information”