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The 2,227th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
11:15am EDT, Tuesday July 11, 2006 (Vol. Eleven; No. 113)

 
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1. Olbermann Plugs Dean's Attack on 'Authoritarian' Conservatives
On Monday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann hosted former Nixon White House counsel and frequent Bush administration critic John Dean to promote his latest book attacking conservatives, titled Conservatives Without Conscience, which the Countdown host labeled "an extraordinary document." Olbermann, who has a long history of bashing President Bush's tactics in the war on terrorism, provided Dean with a sympathetic, non-challenging forum to argue that modern conservatives are moving the Republican party toward "authoritarianism" as Dean tagged some conservatives, specifically George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as having an "authoritarian personality," and labeled 23 percent of the population as "right-wing authoritarian followers" who are willing to "march over the cliff." Olbermann not only made his latest reference to George Orwell's 1984, but he also found relevance in bringing up Nazi Germany as he wondered if there had been similarity in the "psychological principles" in "Germany and Italy in the 30s," and, quoting a passage from Dean's book, brought up the possibility that conservatives might intentionally "provoke potential terrorists" in an effort to "maintain influence and control of the presidency."

2. Newsweek's Man in Baghdad: Iraq 'Doomed,' Bush 'Manages the News'
Rod Nordland, the chief foreign correspondent for Newsweek magazine and their Baghdad bureau chief from 2003 to 2005, gave an interview to Foreign Policy magazine in which he declared: "It's a lot worse over here [in Iraq] than is reported. The administration does a great job of managing the news." He claimed individual reporters have been "blacklisted" because the military wasn't happy with their stories while they were embedded. He also suggested many in the military don't want to see how awful it is in Iraq because they're wishful thinkers, they don't want to see a "doomed enterprise," and are "victims of their own propaganda."

3. Philadelphia Inquirer: MRC 'Lies,' Makes 'Blatantly False' Charge
The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday devoted an editorial to denouncing a MRC press release from last Thursday in which MRC President Brent Bozell, in criticizing the New York Times for disclosing a U.S. program to monitor financial transactions by terrorists, contended that "the track record proves the New York Times and [Executive Editor] Bill Keller are not 'neutral' but grossly biased against the U.S.-led war against terrorism." The Inquirer thundered: "Sometimes lies should be called what they are." The paper fretted that "his statement was part of an anti-Times frenzy whipped up by Republican strategists, then echoed ad nauseam by Pavlovian talk shows and blogs" and marveled: "What's amazing about Bozell's statement is that he sent it to hundreds of journalists' in-boxes, even though it is so blatantly false." The editorial, which attributed the criticism of the NY Times to election-year politics and mocked the idea that there's a liberal media, ridiculed the MRC, claiming that for the MRC "bashing the Times (and journalists generally) is a hobby." No, it's a full-time job.


 

Olbermann Plugs Dean's Attack on 'Authoritarian'
Conservatives

     On Monday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann hosted former Nixon White House counsel and frequent Bush administration critic John Dean to promote his latest book attacking conservatives, titled Conservatives Without Conscience, which the Countdown host labeled "an extraordinary document." Olbermann, who has a long history of bashing President Bush's tactics in the war on terrorism, provided Dean with a sympathetic, non-challenging forum to argue that modern conservatives are moving the Republican party toward "authoritarianism" as Dean tagged some conservatives, specifically George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as having an "authoritarian personality," and labeled 23 percent of the population as "right-wing authoritarian followers" who are willing to "march over the cliff."

     Olbermann not only made his latest reference to George Orwell's 1984, but he also found relevance in bringing up Nazi Germany as he wondered if there had been similarity in the "psychological principles" in "Germany and Italy in the 30s," and, quoting a passage from Dean's book, brought up the possibility that conservatives might intentionally "provoke potential terrorists" in an effort to "maintain influence and control of the presidency."

     [This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     The Amazon.com page for Dean's book provides this summary, from Booklist, of Dean's premise which Olbermann found so compelling:
     "Dean takes a sincere, well-considered look at how conservative politics in the U.S. is veering dangerously close to authoritarianism, offering a penetrating and highly disturbing portrait of many of the major players in Republican politics and power. Looking back on the development of conservative politics in the U.S., Dean notes that conservatism is regressing to its authoritarian roots. Dean draws on five decades of social science research that details the personality traits of what are called 'double high authoritarians': self-righteous, mean-spirited, amoral, manipulative, bullying. He concludes that Chuck Colson, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, and Tom DeLay are all textbook examples. Dean calls Vice-President Cheney 'the architect of Bush's authoritarian policies,' and deems Bush 'a mental lightweight with a strong right-wing authoritarian personality.'"

     Amazon's page: www.amazon.com

     Olbermann began his interview with Dean discussing a recent story about the criticism of the Bush administration by Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra over the NSA spying controversy. After queuing up Dean to claim former Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, and author of Conscience of a Conservative, would decry the modern Republican party's course, Dean moved on to describe a study by various (unidentified) researchers who claimed many conservatives "fit with the authoritarian personality." Dean contended that a number conservatives "march in lockstep when they get the word from the authority they are expected to follow."

     The Countdown host then proceeded to bring up Nazi Germany and Italy's fascism of the 30s: "A lot of [the academic work] is very unsettling. It deals with psychological principles that are frightening and that may have faced other nations at other times in Germany and Italy in the 30s coming to mind in particular. How does it apply now? And to what degree should it scare us? And to what degree is it something that might still be forestalled?"

     Olbermann admitted to his overuse of "Orwellian analogies" as he compared al-Qaeda to the Two Minutes Hate from 1984 which served as "an enemy to coalesce around or the whole thing falls apart." Olbermann showed fascination with a passage from Dean's book which suggested that "neoconservatives and many Republicans" might be willing to deliberately "provoke potential terrorists" in order "to maintain influence and control of the presidency." Olbermann continued: "That's ominous not just in the sense that authoritarians involved in conservatism and now Republicanism would politicize counterterror here, which we've already argued that point on many occasions. But are you actually saying here they would set up, encourage terrorism from other countries to set them up as a bogeyman to have again that group to hate here, that group to more importantly afraid of here?"

     Olbermann went on to argue that "this all seems to require not merely venality or immorality, but a kind of amorality where morals don't enter into it at all. We're right, so anything we do to preserve our process, our power, even if it by itself is wrong, it's right in the greater sense." After Olbermann asked Dean whom he meant to label as "authoritarian figures," the Countdown host even voiced agreement with Dean's claim that Cheney and Bush are both authoritarian as Olbermann agreed, "Yeah."

     Olbermann then implied there was a need for hope that either Bush's followers would "wise up" and stop their "lockstep salute," or that they, apparently referring to Bush and other conservatives in the government, would turn out to be "fanatics" which will cause them to "screw up." Olbermann considered it to be a "lockstep salute" for Bush supporters to claim "of course there's WMD, of course there are terrorists, of course there's al-Qaeda, of course everything is the way the President says it."

     After inviting Dean to compare the Watergate activities of the Nixon administration to the Bush administration, Olbermann, bolstering Dean's credibility by referring to him as a "historian" and "a big part of history," wondered if America is "facing a legitimate threat to the concept of democracy." In conclusion, Olbermann gave his approval to Dean's book: "It's an extraordinary document."

     Below is a transcript of the portions of Olbermann's in-studio interview with Dean during which they discussed Dean's book, from the July 10 Countdown show:

     Olbermann: "It's interesting there was so much personal in that letter from Mr. Hoekstra to Mr. Bush, that it seemed that there was as much offense taken that he personally, Mr. Hoekstra did not know what Mr. Bush's people were doing as any violation of law there. Does this sort of segue us into the topic of the book, that there's way too much personal going on here rather than politically professional?"
     John Dean: "Well, I think, you know, the question is really what had happened at the presidential or the vice-presidential level. A lot of these efforts to withhold information from the Congress are really coming out Cheney's office. It may well be his office giving instructions, and the President might have given Hoekstra an assurance, 'Hey, I'm going to give you everything I've got when I got it,' and he might have been offended by that. So it's hard to tell. We don't have enough facts yet, but to say again to the end of the book there certainly are a number of conservatives up there who will march in lockstep when they get the word from the authority they are expected to follow."
     Olbermann: "That would be the thesis of the book, and we'll go into that at length, but I wanted to start at the very beginning. You dedicated this book to Barry Goldwater. What would he, in your opinion, having known him and having dealt with him on these political issues, have thought of the current conservative movement as it has become? And what would the conservative movement have thought of him at this point? What do they think of him now?"
     Dean: "Well, that's a, I think right now we can say -- in fact, I discuss this in the book -- that Goldwater Republicanism is really RIP. It's been put to rest by most of the people who are now active in moving the movement further to the right than it's ever been. I think the Senator before he departed was very distressed with conservatism. In fact, it was our conversations back in 1994 that started this book. It's really where I began. We wanted to find answers to the questions as to why Republicans were acting as they were, why conservatives had taken over the party and were being followed, you know, as easily as they were in taking the party where he didn't think it should go."
     Olbermann: "What did you find? In less than 200 pages that the book goes to?"
     Dean: "I ran into a massive study that had really been going on for 50 years now, by academics, they've never really shared this with the general public. It's remarkable analysis of the authoritarian personality, both those who are inclined to follow leaders and those who jump in front and want to be the leaders. It was not the opinion of social scientists. It was information they drew by questioning large numbers of people, hundreds of thousands of people, in anonymous testing where they conceded, you know, their innermost feelings and reactions to things. And it turned out that these people were, most of these that came out in the testing were people who had been prequalified to be conservatives, and then they found that this indeed fit with the authoritarian personality."
     Olbermann: "Does it really, do the studies indicate that it really has anything to do with the political point-of-view? Is it, would it be easier to essentially superimpose authoritarianism over the right than it would the left? Is it theoretically possible that they could have gone in either direction and it's just a question of people who like to follow other people?"
     Dean: "They have found really maybe a small, one percent of the left who follow authoritarianism, probably the far left. But as far as widespread testing, it is just overwhelmingly conservative orientation."
     Olbermann: "There is an extraordinary amount of academic work that you quote in the book. A lot of it is very unsettling. It deals with psychological principles that are frightening and that may have faced other nations at other times in Germany and Italy in the 30s coming to mind in particular. How does it apply now? And to what degree should it scare us? And to what degree is it something that might still be forestalled?"
     Dean: "Well, to me it was something of an epiphany to run into this information. First, I'd never read about it before, I'd sort of worked my way into it until I found it. It's not generally known out there what's going on. And I think from best we can tell, these people, the followers, a few of them will change their ways when they realize what they're doing. They're not even aware of their behavior. The leaders, those who were inclined to dominate, are not going to change a second. They're going to be what they are. So, by and large, the reason I write about this is I think we need to understand it and realize when you take a certain step and vote a certain way and head in a certain direction where this can end up. So it's sort of a cautionary note. It's a warning as to where this can go because other countries have gone there."
     Olbermann: "And the idea of leaders and followers going down this path and perhaps taking a country with them requires, this whole edifice requires an enemy -- communism, al-Qaeda, Democrats, me, whoever -- for the two minutes hate. I mean, there is, we overuse, I overuse the Orwellian analogies to nauseating proportions, but it really was, in reading what you wrote about, and especially what the academics talked about there was that two minutes hate thing. There has to be an opponent, an enemy to coalesce around or the whole thing falls apart. So is that the gist of it?"
     Dean: "It is one of the things that, believe it or not, still holds conservatism together because there are many factions in conservatism, and their dislike or hatred of those they portray as liberal, who will be anybody who basically disagrees with them, is one of the cohesive factors. There are a few others, but that's certainly one of the basics. There's no question that the, particularly the followers, they're terribly very aggressive in their effort to pursue and help their authority figure out, or there authority beliefs out. They will do whatever needs to be done in many regards. They will blindly follow. They stay loyal too long. And this is the frightening part of it."
     Olbermann: "Let me read something from the book. Let me read this one quote, then I have a question about it. 'Many people believe that neoconservatives and many Republicans appreciate that they are more likely to maintain influence and control of the presidency if the nation remains under ever-increasing threats of terrorism, so they have no hesitation in pursuing policies that can provoke potential terrorists throughout the world.' That's ominous not just in the sense that authoritarians involved in conservatism and now Republicanism would politicize counterterror here, which we've already argued that point on many occasions. But are you actually saying here they would set up, encourage terrorism from other countries to set them up as a bogeyman to have again that group to hate here, that group to more importantly afraid of here?"
     Dean: "What I'm saying is that there has been fear mongering the likes of which we have not seen in a long time in this country. It happened early in the Cold War. We got accustomed to it, we learned to live with it, we learned to understand what it was about and get it in proportion. We haven't done that yet with terrorism. And this administration is really capitalizing on it and using it for its political advantage. No question, the academic testing shows, the empirical evidence shows that when people are frightened, they tend to go to these authority figures, they tend to become more conservative. So it's paid off for them politically to do this."
     Olbermann: "This all seems to require not merely venality or immorality, but a kind of amorality where morals don't enter into it at all. We're right, so anything we do to preserve our process, our power, even if it by itself is wrong, it's right in the greater sense. It's that wonderful rationalization that everybody uses in small doses throughout their lives. But is this idea, this sort of psychological review of the whole thing, does it apply to Dick Cheney? Does it apply to George Bush? Does it apply to Bill Frist? Who are the names on these authoritarian figures?"
     Dean: "You just named three that I discuss in some length in the book. I focused in the book not on the Bush administration and Cheney and the President, but I, because they really, I've been there, done that. But I wanted to understand is what they have done is they've made it legitimate to have authoritarianism. It was already operating on Capitol Hill. After the '94 control by the Republicans of the Congress, it recreated the mood, it restructured the Congress itself in a very authoritarian style, in the House in particular. The Senate hasn't gone there yet, but it's going there because more House members are moving over. This atmosphere is what Bush and Cheney walked into. They are authoritarian personalities, Cheney much more so than Bush."
     Olbermann: "Yeah."
     Dean: "And they have made it legitimate and they have taken it way past where anybody's ever taken it in the United States."
     Olbermann: "Our society's best defense against that is what? Do we have to hope that, as you suggested, the people who follow wise up and break away from this sort of lockstep salute that, well of course they're right, of course there's WMD, of course there are terrorists, of course there's al-Qaeda, of course everything is the way the President says it, or do we rely on the hope that these are fanatics and fanatics always screw up because they would rather believe in their own cause than double-check their own math?"
     Dean: "The lead researcher in this field told me, he said I look at the numbers in the United States and I see about 23 percent of the population who are pure right-wing authoritarian followers. They're not going to change. They're going to march over the cliff. The best thing to deal with them, and they're growing, and they have a tremendous influence on Republican politics. The best thing, the best defense is understanding them, to realize what they're doing, how they're doing it, and how they operate. Then it can be kept in perspective. Then they can be seen for what they are."
     Olbermann: "Did any of this ring familiar to you from the Nixon administration? Or is this a different world?"
     Dean: "No, I must say that about everything that went wrong with Watergate, you could really count to authoritarianism, as well."
     Olbermann: "Give me an example. In other words, not getting away with it was a result of it, too?"
     Dean: "Take Gordon Liddy and his following whatever Nixon wants, even a hint of anything he wants. Salute, yes sir, let's do it."
     Olbermann: "And the story that he has told about you and you've told about him about him saying I have all of this knowledge in my brain that could bring the President of the United States down, tell me to go and stand in a corner and what was the rest of it?"
     Dean: "Tell me where you want me shot. He said I don't want you shooting me in my house because I've got children. But shoot me on the street corner. That's a loyal right-wing authoritarian follower in action at the extreme."
     Olbermann: "You've been an historian, you've been a part of history. You've been at one of the central moments of history in the 20th century. What kind of danger, are we facing a legitimate threat to the concept of democracy in this country?"
     Dean: "I don't think we're in a fascist road right now. We are so close to it though, Keith. That's why I wrote the book. Because I want people to understand exactly what is going on and why it's going on."
     Olbermann: "It is an extraordinary document. All the best with it. John Dean, former counsel, White House counsel to Richard Nixon, author of the new book, Conservatives without Conscience. As always, sir, great thanks for coming in."

 

Newsweek's Man in Baghdad: Iraq 'Doomed,'
Bush 'Manages the News'

     Rod Nordland, the chief foreign correspondent for Newsweek magazine and their Baghdad bureau chief from 2003 to 2005, gave an interview to Foreign Policy magazine in which he declared: "It's a lot worse over here [in Iraq] than is reported. The administration does a great job of managing the news." He claimed individual reporters have been "blacklisted" because the military wasn't happy with their stories while they were embedded. He also suggested many in the military don't want to see how awful it is in Iraq because they're wishful thinkers, they don't want to see a "doomed enterprise," and are "victims of their own propaganda."

     [This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     (If you guessed that the Left was thrilled by Nordland's remarks, you'd be right. I found it as the top headline at Buzzflash.com, a seriously Bush-hating left-wing site.)

     For the July 5-posted interview: web1.foreignpolicy.com

     When asked if Americans were getting an accurate picture of Iraq, Nordland began:
     "It's a lot worse over here [in Iraq] than is reported. The administration does a great job of managing the news. Just an example: There was a press conference here about [Abu Musab al] Zarqawi's death, and somebody asked what role [U.S.] Special Forces played in finding Zarqawi. [The official] either denied any role or didn't answer the question. Somebody pointed out that the president, half an hour earlier, had already acknowledged and thanked the Special Forces for their involvement. They are just not giving very much information here."
     Foreign Policy: "The Bush administration often complains that the reporting out of Iraq is too negative, yet you say they are managing the news. What's the real story?"
     Nordland: "You can only manage the news to a certain degree. It is certainly hard to hide the fact that in the third year of this war, Iraqis are only getting electricity for about 5 to 10 percent of the day. Living conditions have gotten so much worse, violence is at an even higher tempo, and the country is on the verge of civil war. The administration has been successful to the extent that most Americans are not aware of just how dire it is and how little progress has been made. They keep talking about how the Iraqi army is doing much better and taking over responsibilities, but for the most part that's not true."

     When asked how often reporters get out of the "Green Zone," Nordland said restrictions are "very severe," and the military doesn't tolerate criticism well:
     "But the military has started censoring many [embedded reporting] arrangements. Before a journalist is allowed to go on an embed now, [the military] check[s] the work you have done previously. They want to know your slant on a story‚€"they use the word slant‚€"what you intend to write, and what you have written from embed trips before. If they don't like what you have done before, they refuse to take you. There are cases where individual reporters have been blacklisted because the military wasn't happy with the work they had done on embed. But we get out among the Iraqi public a whole lot more than almost any American official, certainly more than military officials do."

     The brief interview concluded with an inquiry into whether "journalists and the military seeing two different pictures in Iraq." Nordland said yes, the military people are deluding themselves:
     "Sometimes it's hard to say. Many in the military are here on their second or third tour and they don't want to feel that this is all a doomed enterprise. I'm not saying it is, but to some extent they are victims of their own propaganda. Two reasonable people can look at the same set of information and come to different conclusions. A good example: I traveled recently to Taji for the handover of a large swath of territory north of Baghdad to the Iraqi Army's 9th Armored Division. This was meant to be a big milestone: an important chunk of territory that has lots of insurgent activity, given over completely to the control of the Iraqi Army. But when we spoke to the Iraqi Army officers, they said they didn't have enough equipment. They are still completely dependent on the U.S. Army for their logistics, their meals, and a lot of their communications. The United States turned territory over to them, but they are not a functioning, independent army unit yet."

     This is really nothing new for Nordland. He was strenuously comparing Iraq to Vietnam as a Keith Olbermann guest in 2004. See the September 24, 2004 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

     In the summer of 2003, he insisted on NBC that "thoughtful, better educated" Iraqis would not kill Saddam, but put him on trial. See this CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

     As if the media would cover that fairly: www.mrc.org

 

Philadelphia Inquirer: MRC 'Lies,' Makes
'Blatantly False' Charge

     The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday devoted an editorial to denouncing a MRC press release from last Thursday in which MRC President Brent Bozell, in criticizing the New York Times for disclosing a U.S. program to monitor financial transactions by terrorists, contended that "the track record proves the New York Times and [Executive Editor] Bill Keller are not 'neutral' but grossly biased against the U.S.-led war against terrorism." The Inquirer thundered: "Sometimes lies should be called what they are." The paper fretted that "his statement was part of an anti-Times frenzy whipped up by Republican strategists, then echoed ad nauseam by Pavlovian talk shows and blogs" and marveled: "What's amazing about Bozell's statement is that he sent it to hundreds of journalists' in-boxes, even though it is so blatantly false." The editorial, which attributed the criticism of the NY Times to election-year politics and mocked the idea that there's a liberal media, ridiculed the MRC, claiming that for the MRC "bashing the Times (and journalists generally) is a hobby." No, it's a full-time job.

     The text of the MRC's July 6 press release, "NYT's KELLER ADMITS MEDIA NOT 'NEUTRAL' ON WAR: NYT Leak Sparks Lawsuit and Investigation of U.S. Anti-Terrorist Program":

Since publishing a highly controversial story about a secret U.S. program that monitors financial transactions as a tool to fight terrorism, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller has defended the newspaper's actions, claiming that "one man's breach of security is another man's public relations." Mr. Keller has also now admitted that the liberal press is not "neutral in this war on terror."

Indeed, the track record proves that the New York Times and Bill Keller are not "neutral" but grossly biased against the U.S.-led war against terrorism. And now, thanks to their liberal biases, the NYT's story on the anti-terrorist financial monitoring program has generated the following damage to the United States:

- a federal class-action lawsuit against the program, alleging violations of financial privacy laws;

- complaints filed in 32 countries alleging that the program violated European and Asian privacy laws;

- and, the Belgian prime minister is calling for a Justice Ministry investigation into whether the program, based in Belgium, violated Belgian law.

"If the New York Times wanted to undermine the U.S. war against terrorism and entangle our government and national security resources in protracted legal battles, instead of in battling America's enemies, the New York Times has succeeded," said Media Research Center President Brent Bozell. "Mr. Keller said it himself: The press is not neutral in the war against terrorism. The liberal media are opposed to this war and will do anything, including disclosing U.S. national security secrets, to stop the war and hand America's enemies a victory.

"The Times's actions are despicable. It's time for a complete investigation of the New York Times and, if warranted, prosecution of the newspaper, its editors and its publisher."

     END of Reprint

     The press release is posted at: www.mrc.org

     Below is an excerpt from the July 9 editorial, "Times' bashers are reckless and wrong," followed by a retort, from the MRC's Tim Graham, posted by Romenesko.

Sometimes lies should be called what they are.

"Since publishing a highly controversial story about a secret U.S. program that monitors financial transactions as a tool to fight terrorism, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller... has admitted that the liberal press is not 'neutral' in this war on terror.

"Indeed, the track record proves the New York Times and Bill Keller are not 'neutral' but grossly biased against the U.S.-led war against terrorism."

So fulminated conservative propagandist Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center last week. His statement was part of an anti-Times frenzy whipped up by Republican strategists, then echoed ad nauseam by Pavlovian talk shows and blogs.

For these folks, bashing the Times (and journalists generally) is a hobby.

This time, though, the rhetoric has ratcheted up beyond reason: accusing Keller of a heinous crime, treason. One talk-show host talked of sending the editor to the gas chamber.

What's amazing about Bozell's statement is that he sent it to hundreds of journalists' in-boxes, even though it is so blatantly false.

Here's what Keller and Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet actually wrote jointly in their papers July 1:

"Make no mistake, journalists have a large and personal stake in the country's security. We live and work in cities that have been tragically marked as terrorist targets. Reporters and photographers from both our papers braved the collapsing towers to convey the horror to the world.

"We have correspondents today alongside troops on the front lines in Iraq....We, and the people who work for us, are not neutral in the struggle against terrorism."

The meaning is clear: Journalists -- who thrive and matter in free societies, but are prosecuted and vanish in authoritarian ones -- do not want Islamofascism to triumph.

The controversy is not really about that, but this: how best to ensure that America endures as a nation upholding liberty and free speech.

Should we have a government of secrets, surveillance and fear-mongering, one that Vladimir Putin could love? Or a government that tells its citizens most of what it is up to and stands ready to be held accountable for its deeds, one James Madison would applaud?

OK. That's strong....

But how can citizens of a democracy debate such principles and nuances if they have no clue what their government is doing in their name? If it were up to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, you would know nothing about flaws in WMD intelligence, torture in American-run prisons or NSA snooping. Journalists exposed all that....

Here's another key point: Despite the screeching in the partisan blogosphere, these stories endangered no lives. They did not tell al-Qaeda anything it didn't already know. Richard A. Clarke, who led counterterrorism efforts for several presidents, confirms that point.

Indeed, when it suited its mood, this administration has trumpeted its efforts to pierce terrorists' financial networks. The Times story actually reinforced a message the United States wants to send al-Qaeda: The swift, global ease of electronic banking is closed to you now. To move money, you must use slow, awkward means.

Given all that, why this sudden, fierce assault on journalists?

For an answer, look not to Baghdad but to Gallup.

The polls portend a rough Election Day for Republicans in November. Being held accountable by voters for incompetence, arrogance, abuse of power, and greed is a scary prospect.

The Karl Rove playbook for political jams advises: "Hype a villain to distract voters with fear."

Can't use Osama anymore, because that would remind voters he's still a free man, as the Taliban rebound.

Can't use Saddam.

Can't use that hardy standby, "tax and spend" liberals; the GOP for years now has run the deficit-ridden, spendaholic show in Washington.

Can't just blame "liberal media" bias, not when Fox News is No. 1 and Ann Coulter tops best-seller lists. So, up the ante: "Bill Keller is a traitor."

This is false. This is mean. This is reckless and over the line.

It should be denounced by any American who prizes the First Amendment and the ideals of civil, democratic discourse.

     END of Excerpt

     For the editorial in full: www.philly.com

     Romenesko on Monday posted a retort from the MRC's Tim Graham:

The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial is a classic example of how the media elite arrogantly perceive themselves to be the First Amendment Personified, and any attack on them is an attack on the First Amendment, when attacking the press is part of the First Amendment. Does the liberal media elite of this country really mean to imply that the First Amendment should be abridged when someone says the New York Times is a public menace instead of a public service?

The liberal media elite assumes the word of Bill Keller descends from Mount Olympus, and that no one can question his newspaper's quite obvious political agenda. No, they are not "neutral" in the War on Terrorism. No one would say they're for terrorist victory. But they have found large chunks of this war to be illegal, unconstitutional, unacceptable, reckless, repulsive, discriminatory, and most importantly, emanating from an administration they paint as a rogue regime that has no check or balance against its excesses ‚€" except for the "thoughtful, reasonable," utterly nonpartisan New York Times. That's a nice myth if you can sell it.

The Inquirer is cynical to assume that this "sudden, fierce assault" is entirely focused on election politics. The MRC exposes liberal bias on every work day, even in lame-duck periods and off-year summer doldrums. And the line that Fox News is "No. 1" is a lame attempt to say the liberal bias issue is moot. Surely, the Inquirer isn't so addled they think that Fox News has higher Nielsen ratings than ABC, CBS, or NBC.

Finally, the MRC does not attack media bias as a "hobby." Outraged conservatives have long supported us to the point where it's a full-time job.

     END of Reprint

     Graham's take is posted at: poynter.org

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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