By playing favorites and writing slanted stories, the press has been having an unprecedented field day with the presidential race.
The New York Times ran a page one story insinuating that there was something wrong with John McCain’s relationship with a pretty female lobbyist, even though no favors were exchanged and no one had sex.
Correspondents who accompanied Hillary Clinton on her 1996 trip to Bosnia knew that her claim of having come under sniper fire was false, yet none of them did a piece saying her story was untrue. Instead, among themselves, they tittered about the story, which she had told before less dramatically.
But Rich Noyes of the conservative Media Research Center’s NewsBusters blog reported that media accounts at the time described the peaceful ceremony when Clinton landed. Noyes said the video accompanying a report by Sharyl Attkisson of CBS showed Clinton “arriving at the main air base at Tuzla not running with her head down, but smiling and walking alongside Chelsea.”
Six days after the NewsBusters report, Atttkison finally came forward, and the CBS Evening News ran the video.
“The problem is [Hillary’s account is] not what happened,” Attkisson belatedly said. “And we should know. CBS News accompanied the first lady and daughter Chelsea on that Bosnia trip.”
But that was nothing compared with the fact that, even as they hammered Mitt Romney over his Mormon religion, the media for more than a year ignored Barack Obama’s close association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
I began doing Newsmax stories about Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ and its so-called Black Value System on Jan. 7 with “Barack Obama’s Racist Church.” I later broke the story on the church’s lifetime achievement award last December to Louis Farrakhan with “Obama Minister Honored Farrakhan.” Another story quoted the full text of a sermon Wright gave at Howard University.
Beginning with the first story on Jan. 7, I sent the Newsmax stories and later a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed based on those stories to key reporters, editors, and television producers at major news organizations. Not until mid-March did the mainstream media pick up on the stories.
As a former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reporter, I have many contacts in the media. When I first began doing the stories, a reporter for one of the networks told me she could never propose such a story.
“The media love Obama,” she said. “If you want to do a critical story about him, you are considered by the network to be biased.”
In an online parody of the coverage of Obama, the Media Research Center made up a story describing an appearance by NBC’s Lee Cowan on CNN’s Larry King Live. Cowan confessed how nervous he was to be assigned to cover the senator.
“I wondered would I be able to do him justice?” the parody quoted Cowan as saying. “Would I ever be able to express the way the edges of his mouth curl up ever so slightly when he laughs?”
Other media contacts pointed out how the racial aspect of the Rev. Wright story scared journalists away. In fact, I received many e-mails accusing me of being a racist. Despite the sensitivity, Chris Ruddy, CEO and editor in chief of Newsmax, never flinched.
According to pollsters, largely as a result of the stories about Wright, Obama’s double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton in national polls vanished for a time. At the same time, John McCain shot up in the polls. If the media had picked up the stories on Wright earlier, Obama very likely would have come out behind Hillary in the primaries.
Having come from the mainstream media, I am often asked why the media is so corrupt. In part because they don’t want to cut off cooperation, the media have always been afraid to run stories that are deeply damaging to a candidate who is a favorite of liberal reporters and editors. But when I was at the Washington Post during the Watergate period and later, we would have been fired for writing some of the unfair stories that routinely run today against Republicans.
Competition from cable networks and the internet has contributed to the frenzy to write irresponsible stories. But I cannot explain why a herd mentality seems to have convinced journalists that they can get away with covering the campaign in a slanted, partisan way.
In fact, they can’t: The marketplace is holding the mainstream media accountable. While competition from the internet has been the biggest factor, the decline of what Laura Ingraham calls the “dinosaur media” is in part because readers simply don’t trust it.
Ed Klein in Favor Again
Edward Klein, author of “The Truth About Hillary,” has experienced a resurrection. When his New York Times best-selling book exposing Hillary Clinton as a conniving fabricator came out in 2006, the mainstream media bashed him and suggested he was part of a conservative cabal. Perhaps equally disturbing to my friend Ed, who has always enjoyed a high profile in New York society, he became a non-person on the cocktail circuit. One hostess even withdrew an invitation, explaining that it was because of his book.
But now that Barack Obama has become a media darling, many New York liberals and the mainstream media have decided that Klein was right about Hillary after all. As a result, Klein is fielding invitations to appear on cable news shows. Once again, his mailbox is full of invitations to New York’s most elite parties.
“I’m the same person as before,” Klein tells me with wonder. “But suddenly, I’ve become acceptable again.”
New Watergate Revelations
Thirty-six years after the Watergate break-in, no one is certain who ordered it and exactly what the purpose of bugging Democratic National Committee headquarters was. But in his book “The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate,” Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen does a remarkable job of revealing previously undisclosed information about the break-in and subsequent cover-up by members of the Nixon administration.
Over a 17-year period, Rosen interviewed 250 people, including members of the former attorney general’s family, two presidents, and two former CIA directors. Rosen seems to have pored over every hearing transcript, FBI report, newspaper clipping, archival letter, and book relating to the subject.
Regardless of what you may think about his conclusions, Rosen’s monumental work—coming out May 20—is a great, eye-opening read.
Tim Russert’s Secret
When legendary Washington Post cartoonist Herb Block (Herblock) died in 2001, he designated almost all his $50 million estate–$49 million of it in Washington Post stock—to create a foundation that bears his name. Besides giving awards and grants, the foundation holds an annual lecture and reception.
This year, NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert gave the talk at the Library of Congress. Russert revealed how he got reluctant presidential candidates to go on the show. Russert told them he would hold a “virtual” show where he would address his questions to an empty chair for each missing candidate. Soon, all the candidates appeared on “Meet the Press.”
Timing at the New York Times
Back in December 2005, the New York Times ran a bombshell story disclosing that after 9/11, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept communications with an overseas nexus to uncover information about possible al Qaeda attacks. At the time, the paper’s executive editor Bill Keller strongly denied that the paper’s decision to publish after holding the story for a year had anything to do with the fact that reporter James Risen was about to come out with a book disclosing the information.
“We published the story when we did because after much hard work it was fully reported, checked and ready...” Keller said then.
But in his book, “Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice,” Eric Lichtblau, who co-wrote the Times story revealing the NSA intercept program, says that Risen’s book was the “trigger” that spurred Times editors to run the piece.
“Risen spoke with our editors about what he was contemplating, and so began weeks of discussions between him and the editors that ultimately helped to set the story back on track,” Lichtblau writes.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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