Tags: Media | Bias | and | the | Rumor | Mill

Media Bias and the Rumor Mill

Tuesday, 17 February 2004 12:00 AM

The networks and the major papers point out that there’s no proof of this – and besides, it just comes from Drudge, who is nothing more than an internet “muckraker.” Oh, so?

Is this the same Drudge who reported on the Lewinsky scandal when the mainstreamers refused to admit the story existed? And is this the same mainstream media that has led every newscast and front page with the latest blather about George W. Bush’s being “AWOL” from the Guard some 30 years ago?

The mainstream media is a piece of work these days. It wouldn’t touch the Lewinsky story until forced, kicking and screaming, to do so. Now, it’s doing some minor reporting on the Kerry story but mostly in terms of all the hand-wringing going on in newsrooms about covering these rumors that are not backed by any proof.

Even Don Imus was leery of asking Kerry about it on his radioshow. So the ever-sensitive Imus tossed Kerry a softball and his non-denial reply was tepid at best.

But hey, it’s perfectly all right to pounce on President Bush with the AWOL allegations that popped up from card-carrying Bush-hater Michael Moore, and then spread to Democratic Party Chair Terry McAuliffe, who has never been known to stretch the truth. Except whenever he opens his mouth.

In the Kerry story, the young lady has been named and even her photo is all over newspapers in the UK. The story is either true or it isn’t, and the networks will eventually report that truth as soon as Matt Drudge tracks it down and it’s blessed by the New York Times.

Meanwhile, President Bush is trying to prove a negative – that he never went AWOL – because the media pressure is relentless and won’t let up. Bush should have never dignified the story at all, and should have laid down the law to his staff to ignore it as well. Instead, he’s released hundreds of documents in an attempt to dispute what some disgruntled crank said he saw tossed in a wastebasket years ago.

But answer this: If the military was removing records to protect Bush’s emerging political career, wouldn’t they have shredded them? According to the “source” he saw them in a wastebasket. And that’s totally believable to the people who assemble the network evening newscasts. Se we get night after night of lead stories, followed by reverent reporting on the latest version of whether John Kerry supported the War in Iraq.

In all fairness, there are still a few network people who are not on FOX and who still ask tough questions to Democrats and Republicans alike. Tim Russert comes to mind, and then there’s…

But while Russert works for NBC, so does David Gregory who stands on the White House lawn and opines to Chris Matthews about the AWOL story and why it’s so significant – and also goes on “NBC Nightly News” to masquerade as an unbiased reporter. Yes, folks, times have changed.

There really was a time when reporters thought it was important to be disassociated with the politics of a story and to report only facts. There was a time when the word “commentary” was keyed in under people such as John Chancellor and Eric Severeid when they were doing straight analysis. But today, with all the live shots and the 24 hour news cycle, almost all reporting has been reduced to opinion.

In the Bush story, it’s not even clear that the reporting has a point. Bush was a member of a wealthy prominent family and it’s well-known that the National Guard was a favorite method of avoiding combat in Vietnam. There were also ways to serve without getting shot at as Al Gore, Jr. was able to do. Kerry, to his credit, went and fought. But his conduct later on will assuredly be a factor in the current campaign. That is, if the media chooses to cover it.

What we are left with in this situation is a mainstream media – the networks, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and so on – that are almost entirely run by liberal ideologues and who have approached two relatively insignificant stories from opposite angles. Rumors that Kerry had a recent fling with an intern get no play. Rumors that Bush was AWOL from the Guard 30 years ago are treated as top news.

The American people may not care too much about either story. After all, we are at war with enemy that wants to destroy us. Perhaps Mr. Kerry’s private affairs should not “rise to the level” of denying him the nomination – nor should Mr. Bush’s military record affect the fact that our nation has been made safer by his policies. To many voters, the big issue in this election will not be rumors, but rather which man’s policies will lead to victory over al Qaeda and global terrorism.

However, if we’re going to lead the news with rumors night after night, let’s cover not only those started by Moore and McAuliffe, but by Drudge as well. After all, Matt Drudge’s track record for telling the truth is a lot stronger.


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The networks and the major papers point out that there's no proof of this - and besides, it just comes from Drudge, who is nothing more than an internet "muckraker."Oh, so? Is this the same Drudge who reported on the Lewinsky scandal when the mainstreamers refused to...
Tuesday, 17 February 2004 12:00 AM
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