Eric Burns

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  • Pssst... Sunday rivals of ABC's This Week, the ball is in your court

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    For a while now Media Matters Action Network, our partner organization, has been offering up fact-checks of the vaunted Sunday morning network political talk shows. Media Matters president Eric Burns announced the endeavor in January:

    Every Sunday morning, some of the country's most powerful and influential legislators, government officials, journalists, and newsmakers appear as guests on network talk shows. The programs -- ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday -- occupy a unique place in our media landscape. As the agenda-setters for the next week's worth of political news, they shape conventional wisdom and determine the terms of debate on crucial issues.

    These shows also present a critical opportunity to educate the public and correct damaging misinformation -- a responsibility that too often fails to be met. As New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen has explained, the Sunday show format is broken. Shows like Meet the Press and Face the Nation routinely serve largely as hyper-partisan forums that provide little in the way of fact-checking.

    To begin addressing these problems, Rosen offered a simple and valuable suggestion: in order to hold politicians and media figures accountable, the networks should produce mid-week fact-checks of the statements made on their Sunday shows. It was an idea that quickly received the support of CNN's Howard Kurtz.

    We're not holding our breath while the network heads decide whether or not to act. Instead, we're announcing the creation of a new Media Matters product. Every Monday morning, the Media Matters Action Network will publish a memo correcting the conservative misinformation that was left unchallenged the day before. Over time, we hope that our work will help contribute to a culture of accountability that is currently lacking on Sunday morning.

    Good thing we didn't hold our breath because it took nearly four months for one of the shows to move on the idea.

    ABC's This Week, which announced last month that CNN's Christiane Amanpour will be taking over as host, is set to make another major change. Writing about Rosen's suggested fact-checking of the Sunday shows,'s Bill Adair makes the announcement:

    Jake Tapper, the interim host of This Week, liked the suggestion and asked us to fact-check the show on a trial basis. So starting this Sunday, we'll be fact-checking the newsmakers who appear on the program. We'll post the items on our home page and on the show's Web site. The items will also be archived on PolitiFact's This Week page, so you'll be able to check back periodically and see how the newsmakers are doing.

    It's great to see Tapper -- who regularly seeks input for the show on Twitter as well -- take this great advice, even if it is only on a "trial basis" thus far. Perhaps Amanpour will follow Tapper's lead and make the partnership permanent when she takes over hosting duties.

    So, to the other Sunday shows -- NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday (and the cable/syndicated ones too, you know who you are) -- the ball is officially in your court.

  • The Other Eric Burns

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    More often than you'd think, Media Matters president Eric Burns is confused for former Fox News host Eric Burns. Well, the other Eric Burns (the former Fox News one, not the Media Matters one) has a pretty great piece up over on the Huffington Post about his former employer, here are some choice excerpts but be sure to read the entire thing:

    I am not the Eric Burns who heads Media Matters, the liberal watchdog group. I am the Eric Burns who used to host Fox News Watch on the right-wing partial-news-but-mostly-opinion network. In the past year and a half, since departing from Ailes and friends, I have been much more silent about media matters than my namesake.

    I speak out now because it is the time of year when one is supposed to count blessings. I have several. Among them is that I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.

    Actually, Beck is a problem of taste as well as ethics. He laughs and cries; he pouts and giggles; he makes funny faces and grins like a cartoon character; he makes earnest faces yet insists he is a clown; he cavorts like a victim of St. Vitus's Dance. His means of communicating are, in other words, so wide-ranging as to suggest derangement as much as versatility.


    I ask myself what I would have done if I worked at Fox now. Would I have quit, as the estimable Jane Hall did? Once a panelist on my program, Hall departed for other reasons as well, but Beck was a particular source of embarrassment to her, even though they never shared a studio, perhaps never even met.

    I think . . . I think the answer to my question does not do me proud. I think, more concerned about income than principle, I would have continued to work at Fox, but spent my spare time searching avidly for other employment. I think I would not have been as admirable as Jane Hall. I think I would not have reacted to Beck with the probity I like to think I possess.

    But, in my defense, I would never have gone out in public without wearing those funny black eyeglasses with no glass, bushy eyebrows and a fake nose.

  • Fox News Watch announcer teased NIE discussion by referring to "Iran's nukes"

    ››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

    On Fox News Watch, an announcer teased a discussion about coverage of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran by stating: "Iran's nukes. The president claims a new intelligence report proves Iran still dangerous." In fact, the NIE said: "We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon."

  • Fox News' Eric Burns ignored report that Fox also had Foley emails

    ››› ››› KURT DONALDSON

    Fox News Watch host Eric Burns stated that "the St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald in Florida," as well as ABC News, all had "known about" leaked copies of email messages allegedly sent by former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) to a 16-year-old male former congressional page, but he ignored a report that Fox News was also a recipient of the leaked emails.