Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 28, 2003
WAR: And They Complain of Media Bias in Favor of the U.S.??!

I've read this article a few times now, and I'm still struggling with its implications. (1) Why isn't this a much bigger story??; (2) Why does Howard Kurtz lamely limit his conclusion to "we in the media are brave"??; (3) If these reporters reported the truth (admittedly at great risk to themselves), would we have gone to war sooner and would the war effort have even more support (I can be optimistic, can't I?)?; (4) What is the NYTimes' obligations regarding an apology for past articles now that this has come to light?; and (5) Isn't it time for Tim Robbins et. al to shut up now that we can point them towards actual, meaningful restrictions on free speech? An excerpt:

Burns says plenty of correspondents didn't report everything they knew. In a lengthy Times piece eight days ago, he says many visiting journalists had "a tacit understanding . . . that there were aspects of Mr. Hussein's Iraq that could be mentioned only obliquely." These included the fact that Hussein "was widely despised and feared by Iraqis. . . . The terror that was the most pervasive aspect of society under Mr. Hussein was another topic that was largely taboo."
And: "Some reporters bought expensive gifts for senior ministry officials" and "submitted copies of their stories to show they were friendly to Iraq."

Its worth a full read. Kurtz' column also interestingly points out that the recent Rick Santorum story was first broken by a reporter who happens to be the wife of Sen. John Kerry's campaign manager.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:56 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

To be fair, the transcript of Santorum's interview shows that he was more than willing to discuss the topic, and in fact that he wound up going on after the reporter had grown flustered and stopped asking anything. But it's still an interesting fact about the connections between the media and the Democrats.

Posted by: Baseball Crank at April 28, 2003 9:24 PM

100% agree. I don't view this as a reporter's partisan attack on Santorum. As you point out, he freely discussed the topic, as he should -- it relates to his beliefs and views. To me, its of value for two reasons: (1) its simply interesting; and (2) I wonder how people (and Dems) would react if a reporter that was married to Karl Rove was involved in a story that created such negative press for, say, Howard Dean. If nothing else, that fact would have been brought to the public's attention earlier in the process.

Posted by: Kiner's Korner at April 28, 2003 11:05 PM

As a Democrat, I can say I wouldn't care if someone interviewed Dean and published what he said. You seem to be casting aspersions based on a hypothetical.

The reason that it is interesting is that it is another example of how tangled the web in washington is. It's not just the press and public officials who are related to each other, its public officials and lobbyists (with the married Daschles and the father-son Lotts being the best examples). I haven't seen much about this in the press, the only place I see it regularly is in Ariana Huffingtons columns.

Posted by: Ivan at April 29, 2003 12:05 PM

Agreed about the frequent relationships between elected officials and lobbyists. I don't find that as troubling, however, primarily because lobbyists have to register and, with a little bit of homework, one can uncover the relationship, point it out to the applicable constituents and allow them to vote accordingly. Common Cause and reporters like Huffington do focus attention on this, and deserve credit for doing so.

The media, to me, is of bigger concern. The contacts between the mainstream Beltway media and the Democratic Party is fairly frequent. Russert worked for Moynihan; Matthews worked for, among others, Tip O'Neal; Stephanopolus worked for, among others, Gephardt and Clinton; etc., and of course, the voting patterns of Beltway reporters has been documented to be overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic candidates. Unlike lobbyists, these contacts are not required to be disclosed.

I'm not ready to say that these contacts taint their reporting -- its seems to me that Russert is a very honorable person. And it certainly doesn't inevitably follow that this taints their reporting in favor of the Democrats -- Clinton accused Stephanopolous of being too critical in order to try to establish objectivity. But these are important connections and experiences, and they shouldn't be readily dismissed. Elected officials are criticized for having family members potentially profit from their professional activities; to me, it doesn't seem inappropriate to point out that a reporter's spouse (and thereby the reporter) could possibly benefit, reputationally and pecuniarily, from the way a campaign ultimately plays out.

Posted by: Kiner's Korner at April 29, 2003 7:36 PM
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