Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My Take on Mr. Bill Keller (NYT)

There is something that so bothers me in what Mr. Keller said in his response to Opinion Journal that I just have to say it now. There is this myth that is going around that the press was somehow hard on Bill Clinton. While it may be fine to go around saying that, saying it doesn't make it true.

The press softballed Clinton. They reproduced items brought out by other investigations but you never saw any hard "bird dog" reporting against Clinton from the likes of The Washington Post or The New York Times. They were more likely to print information against Ken Starr or when someone came forward to present information that made Clinton appear to look bad, the major media seemed to aim their investigative guns at the person bringing the information forward. Some of the people that exposed Clinton's actions in Arkansas were publicly humiliated in the press. The media wasn't at all hard on Clinton. That is one myth that needs to go. The press did everything they could to make what Clinton did seem like "no big deal" and making the Republicans look like they were getting all upset about nothing. This is the same press that gets all bent out of shape about a perjury indictment of Scooter Libby, but told everyone that a perjury indictment against Bill Clinton was "just politics".

What about the White House requesting the personal information files from the FBI of possibly up to 900 people, many who had served in the Reagan and Bush administrations? The media played it like there was nothing to it, just a big Republican conspiracy to make a mountain out of a molehill. Yeah? What if Bush requested the FBI background investigation files of Democrats serving under Clinton? There would be no end to the wailing. How soon people forget.

There, that little bit has been bothering me for years. I'm glad I got it off my chest.

Mr. Keller, you are not being honest. Not to the people and maybe not even to yourself.

How many articles have been published in your paper on the scubject of "Scooter" Libby over the past month? What's the count of articles whose main subject is Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV)? What's the count of articles whose main subject is Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)?

The plain fact of the matter is that your publication and your industry don't treat both parties equally. I have no trouble with a paper having a political slant but I do have a problem with the entire industry having a specific political slant. To pen a reply such as this as your response is patronizing to the extreme.

I might even be able to let you off the hook with the thought that maybe you don't even realize you are doing it. You are probably so sensative to any negative information at all about Democrats that even the slightest criticism "feels" as strong to you as the way Republicans are treated in the paper. To me the issue isn't so much about patriotism as it is about a trade I once respected as being an important strength of this nation now being corrupt and not caring if they damage our country in their haste to influnce Americans in the next election cycle. Our media would cause other countries to stop sharing intelligence information with us for years to come so the Democrats might have a better chance in the next election.

It would help if you had some balance. Maybe the major media could actually hire some articulate conservatives rather than hiring a token conservative who makes all on the right look like raving dumbasses. How about this novel idea ... how about half of your staff writing from the conservative viewpoint? It might actually help increase your readership. Democrats can find dozens of papers that validate their view. Other than the Washington Times, the other 50% of the population have no place to go but the Internet. Why do you think Fox News has high ratings? They are the only TV outlet that doesn't go out of its way to make Republicans look bad, that's why. And last time I looked, there were about as many Republicans in this country as Democrats. So Democrats have dozens of stations to choose from, Republicans have one that doesn't have to include the obligatory jab in every news story.

You don't have to lean toward anyone, just don't lean against anyone either. Speak truth to the power that buys your product (or isn't these days, as the case may be). The damage these leaks have done goes far beyond domestic politics. Countries may now be reluctant to share intelligence with us about a terrorist group moving into our country because they worry about it leaking and causing their source of information on the group to go away ... leaving them blind to the threat. When it comes to us or them, a foreign government is always going to consider their own interests before ours. The ironic part is, that if such a thing should ever happen, rather than blaming themselves for it, the press would try to blame "the Bush administration".

How many have to die, Mr. Keller, before you guys shut your mouths when it comes to intelligence information in time of war? Evidently 3,000 in New York wasn't enough. There are channels that can be used if the intelligence community is doing something wrong. Did you consider taking the information before a few members of the Congressional oversight committees first? You could have done that and published that you had done that to put pressure on the committee to respond without publishing the actual information if it is really change that you want. But it isn't really change that you want, is it Mr. Keller? What you really want to do is damage the Republicans and you can only do that by putting information out to the public that makes the Republicans look bad. Giving the information to Congress and pushing for action might get the situation corrected, but that wouldn't really satisfy you, would it? Now what you have done is damaged our nation's ability to obtain information from other countries for many administrations to come, no matter who is president. Last time I looked, our nation was composed of Democrats too. If a Democrat is elected in 2008 are rogue officers expected to leak information damaging to that administration to the Washington Times and Fox News? We don't want to start down the road of playing politics with our intelligence community because the end result is that it makes them useless. But looking at the agenda of some of John Kerry's friends, for example, making our intelligence community useless seems to be what their long term goal is anyway so I suppose to them it isn't much harm.

But most of all, I would think you would resent your publication and your profession being used by a third party for their own purposes. Dana Priest of the Washington Post isn't the first to be used in such a manner. Martha Honey is now associtaed with the Institute for Policy Studies. She was part of a very similar "operation" during the Reagan administration. PR Agencies such as Fenton Communications are setting the media agenda. These are the people that are feeding the sources to your journalists and deciding what your reporter is going to hear and how they are going to hear it. These are the people that are actually deciding your agenda. All you are doing is spell checking their work. You are being used and either don't know or you don't care. People are wise to it these days and are abandoning your information stream in droves. Not long ago we didn't really have a choice of where our information came from. Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, all cut from the same cloth. But we do have a choice now, Mr. Keller. Welcome to the 21st Century.

I'll spell check it later ... myself. :)


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