Tom Brokaw's Strange Political Spectrum
by L. Brent Bozell III
October 23, 1997
The "Notable Quotables" newsletter (published by
the Media Research Center, which I head) reprints statements made by the sages
of journalism which demonstrate their proclivity to slant their news reports.
In the mail the other day came a note from Tom Brokaw taking exception to NQ's
citation of a recent "NBC Nightly News," specifically his report
that "some women's groups feel that Promise Keepers, their warm and fuzzy
ideology, is a mask for something more sinister." Brokaw protested.
"The same broadcast also featured a Promise Keeper's wife, in her own
words, no correspondent defending the concept [that the Promise Keepers were
sinister]," he wrote. "I guess that was lost in your editing."
Overlook the rich irony of anyone in the network news
business lecturing conservatives about selective editing. The suggestion that
this story was balanced by this tit-for-tat formula provided the opportunity
to visit the elements of bias overlooked by Mr. Brokaw:
1. What was the story about? It wasn't really a feature on
the Promise Keepers, or their planned event in Washington. It dealt with
controversy, specifically: Does Promise Keepers have a hidden political
agenda? That puts PK squarely on the defensive, where at most it will be found
not guilty of the charges.
2. Is the accusation credible? Head-scratch time: How can an
organization that calls for it to hold large public rallies with participants
making deliberately public commitments hide anything? Is it a secret tightly
held by the millions who've attended these events? Is it help by PK's leaders
and being thrust on several million unsuspecting souls - the "poor,
uneducated, and easy to command" types?
3. The sinister agenda charge makes no sense. But the charge
is being leveled nonetheless, and by "some women's groups" to boot.
Who are these groups who, that phrase implies, represent the mainstream
beliefs of women? You already know the answer: The National Organization for
If there was ever a moment when the radical feminists of NOW
looked stranger or more out of the mainstream than attacking Christian men
committing themselves to their wives and children, I can't think of it. (Their
rabid support for partial-birth abortion comes pretty close.) When Brokaw
begins by just noting "some women's groups" think Promise Keepers
are sinister, there's no liberal label, not the slightest hint that they might
have a political agenda, and a far-left one at that. So who is hiding
But here's how NBC's Jim Avila introduced a soundbite from
NOW's Patricia Ireland: "There will be protesters, too, and as their
fundamentalist doctrines become better known, [Promise Keeper] donations are
dropping and rally attendance falling. Many women think the Promise Keepers
are frightening. It's not just about returning to family and church - it's
about controlling women." Given that the rally later generated one of the
largest turnouts in the history of the Republic, it can safely be said that
Jim Avila had no idea what he was talking about. And who are these "many
women" who find PK "frightening"?
Avila wasn't finished: "And critics say there is more
dangerous doctrine in the Promise Keepers agenda, that to some looks more
right-wing than religious. [Founder] Bill McCartney spoke at anti-abortion
rallies, calls homosexuality a sin, and his group has received money and
support from Jerry Falwell, the Christian Coalition, and Pat Robertson."
Who are these unlabeled "critics"? Avila aired Alfred Ross of the
"Center for Democracy" - but had no reason to attach any kind of
ideological label to him. Ross said: "Men supremacy is simply no more
acceptable in our society than racial supremacy." So who is he? Actually,
Ross works for the Center for Democracy Studies, which its web site explains,
"was founded in June 1996 as a project of the Nation Institute" (as
in the far-left Nation magazine) that works to "defend the democratic
system from assaults by right-wing political and religious extremists."
All of which tells us what? An organization that enjoins men
to honor their wives and children constitutes an "extremist" group
with a "sinister" agenda in the eyes of mainstream, non-political
Tom Brokaw and Co. thus take a popular movement for simple
traditional values and put it on the extreme right. By contrast, their
opponents at "women's groups" and "centers for democracy"
are solidly in the mainstream. Such a massive left-wing shift of the political
spectrum is apparent to all but those who share those liberal beliefs, which
is why Mr. Brokaw's statement entered the annals of "Notable Quotables."
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