Accuracy in Media

“DRIVE-BY” MEDIA WINS BIG

While the election pitted Republicans against Democrats, another important contest was underway. Could conservative radio talk-show hosts and their allies overcome the power of the liberal media and keep Republicans in control of Congress? Or would the “old media,” including the news operations of the three broadcast networks, reassert their diminishing power?

The old media, dubbed the “drive-by media” by Rush Limbaugh, demonstrated their power in the election results. Demoralized by negative coverage of the war in Iraq, voters brought to power a Democratic Party that will pressure the Bush Administration to leave Iraq before victory is achieved. Those who remember how a Democratic Congress paved the way for a disastrous American withdrawal from Vietnam understand that it is not too early to talk about the consequences of an American defeat in Iraq and what it will mean for U.S. national security.

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Brit Hume of Fox News that it is inappropriate to speak of a victory in Iraq and that it is a problem to be solved. 

The so-called “dinosaur media” that played such a prominent role in the Vietnam debacle, when they were at the height of their power, demonstrated that they are not extinct but very much alive. They have been resurrected to do their dirty work in another war. This time, however, the implications of a U.S. military defeat will not be confined to a far-away part of the world. They will be worldwide in scope. 

The forced resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, one day after the election, missed the point. Rumsfeld had been carrying out the orders of the President. It’s the President whose administration has failed to articulate the case for the war. Bush’s State Department has degenerated to the point of standing by a U.S. official who went on Al-Jazeera and called U.S. Iraq policy stupid and arrogant. Now, with the November 15 launch of its English-language spin-off, Al-Jazeera International, the media opposition to the Iraq war and the poisoning of the public discourse on Iraq can only grow here and abroad. Whatever progress is being made on the military battlefield, the war is clearly being lost in the media. And this area, as al Qaeda knows and has said, is the key to the outcome.

Here, the election results demonstrate the shortcomings of the “New Media” that Republicans were counting on to save their hides. Stroked during a “Radio Day” event at the White House, Republican radio talk-show hosts tried hard to motivate conservatives to turn out and vote Republican, but the campaign fell far short.

Conservative Radio Falls Flat

If the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 was a testament to the power of conservative talk radio, the election results in 2006 have to be seen as strong evidence of the reverse. Simply put, conservative talk radio was unable to motivate the conservative base to vote Republican in sufficient numbers to win.

The national exit poll for the 2006 elections found that 32% of the voters were conservative, but only 78% of them voted Republican. 

By contrast, 34% of the voters in the 2004 presidential election were conservative, of which 84% went for Bush.

This means that a significant number of conservatives in 2006 either stayed away from the polls or voted for Democrats more in line with their beliefs.

The power of social conservatism was still demonstrated in the fact that seven states approved same-sex marriage bans, a so-called medical-marijuana measure went down in South Dakota, and a state amendment to legalize marijuana was defeated in Colorado.   

One factor in the Democratic victory, as the exit polls indicate, was congressional corruption. But corruption can be defined in different ways. Some conservatives believe the Congress abandoned conservative principles through reckless spending and the failure to address issues like border control. That, too, can be considered a form of corruption. Ironically, during a year when David Limbaugh released a book alleging that the Democratic Party was intellectually and morally corrupt, it looks like voters, including conservatives, held the Republican Party more accountable in this area.  

A different kind of corruption was in evidence in decisions made by the national Republican Party. Putting the retention of power over principle, the White House backed liberal Republican Lincoln Chafee for a Senate seat in Rhode Island, in a primary against an excellent conservative challenger, after Chafee had sabotaged the nomination of John Bolton as Ambassador to the U.N. in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Chafee lost, and the White House ploy has backfired in a big way.  Bush re-nominated Bolton to the post but his fate is in doubt because Democrats don’t want to confirm him. 

Election-Eve Dirty Trick

Another important bastion of liberal media power, the Gannett Co., the parent of USA Today, weighed in on the eve of the election with an editorial calling for the firing of Rumsfeld. Because the editorial appeared in Army Times and other military periodicals, some were suggesting that it represented the opinion of the ordinary soldier. In fact, however, all of these publications are part of the Military Times Media Group, a subsidiary of the liberal Gannett Co.  Gannett’s flagship paper, USA Today, published a story based on the same bogus Bush National Guard documents before the 2004 presidential election that embarrassed Dan Rather and resulted in firings and forced resignations at CBS News. USA today editor Ken Paulson never apologized for the fraudulent story.

Coming close to calling the Army Times editorial a dirty media trick designed to fool voters, White House spokesman Tony Snow noted that “A lot of people are thinking, aha, what you have are a lot of military people in open revolt against the President, when, in fact, you’ve got a lot of Gannett editorial writers, which would be thoroughly consistent with USA Today and the rest of the Gannett chain, which I think, if memory serves, does not have a single strong conservative editorial page in the entire chain.”

One part of the new media, Fox News, turned in a dubious performance, as its anchors, even the conservative ones, relentlessly promoted the candidacy of liberal Democrat Harold Ford in Tennessee, offering him up to viewers as a “conservative” who was even “pro-life.” National pro-life representatives told me that they tried in vain to provide Fox News with the facts about Ford’s pro-abortion voting record. It is as if a corporate decision had been made to support Ford for the Senate and misrepresent his record. Indeed, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox News parent company News Corporation, was backing Ford as well as Senator Hillary Clinton. Ford lost, but Clinton is now poised, with the possible support of Murdoch, to seek the presidency in 2008.

Murdoch’s New York Post endorsed Hillary Clinton over a solid conservative, John Spencer. 

The endorsement by the New York Post came shortly after Senator Clinton indicated she would approve of state action to legalize homosexual marriage.

On all the major issues, Spencer and Clinton disagreed. These included border security, gun control, abortion, affirmative action, special rights for homosexuals, and flag burning. A principled conservative, Spencer is pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-economic growth, pro-2nd amendment, and anti-illegal immigration. He was a true conservative. But the New York Post dismissed him as not “credible.”

The paper said Clinton had been a “pretty good Senator” but offered no reasons to believe that’s the case, except to imply that she had delivered some pork to the state. That’s hardly a conservative position. The paper said some of her positions on national security issues were not as bad as they could be. But it acknowledged that she is moving to the left on Iraq, into the “Bush lied” camp. 

This poor excuse for an endorsement can only be explained by direct orders from Murdoch to his editor that he wanted Hillary endorsed no matter how bad a record she had on the issues. At the recent News Corporation annual meeting, Murdoch made it clear that his personal views on various subjects can be ascertained by reading the editorials of the papers he owns. So there is no question that he wanted to see Hillary re-elected. It’s significant that his editor couldn’t come up with any coherent defense of her work as a Senator. But when the boss wants you to do something, you do it.

Another reason for endorsing Hillary, according to the editorial, was that she had “an insurmountable lead in the polls.” In other words, the paper wanted to go for the likely winner. How’s that for doing what’s right?   

Reader Anger

In the letters-to-the-editor the next day, one reader wrote, “The Post was the only New York paper I could turn to without a liberal left-wing slant; then I woke up and discovered your endorsement. Clinton is a leftist tax-‘em-to-death liar who is against monitoring terrorist communication, the Patriot Act, tax cuts and school choice.”

The editorial must have been a surprise to those Post readers unfamiliar with how Rupert Murdoch has been moving left. He not only hosted a fundraiser for Hillary earlier this year, he sent a contribution to the Senate campaign of Democrat Harold Ford in Tennessee after meeting with the congressman. The company official who reportedly arranged both events was Gary Ginsberg, a former Assistant Counsel to President Clinton who serves as Executive Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs at News Corporation.

Ginsberg reports to Peter Chernin, the News Corporation president and chief operating officer who is a big Democratic Party fundraiser. Chernin was known in the fundraising business as a “bundler” for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. These are people who collected individual contributions in “bundles” of $50,000 or $100,000.

O’Reilly Goes Soft On Kerry

Speaking of Kerry, who was in hot water late in the campaign over his comments about U.S. troops being “stuck in Iraq,” Fox News host Bill O’Reilly went out of his way on his show to say that he didn’t think Kerry meant what he said, and that it was not the Democrat’s intention to disparage our troops who are fighting. O’Reilly had on two Democratic Party consultants who tried to explain away Kerry’s comments and attack the Republicans for highlighting them. An AIM supporter disgusted with O’Reilly’s handling of this matter on his show countered: “I guess it wasn’t intentional when Kerry called his fellow troops rapists, murderers, you name it, everything under the sun when he testified about Vietnam.” Columnist Mary Mostert pointed out that Kerry had a 35-year record of saying things that “undermine and discredit the men in our armed forces.”

O’Reilly made it repeatedly clear during the 2004 campaign, when he was pleading for an interview with Kerry on his show, that he believed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attack on Kerry’s record was malicious and unfair. Despite his begging, O’Reilly never got his Kerry interview during the campaign. (O’Reilly eventually got an interview with Kerry on June 29 of this year).

Murdoch Boosts Harold Ford

At the recent annual meeting of News Corporation, AIM editor Cliff Kincaid informed chairman Murdoch that Federal Election Commission (FEC) records showed that he made a financial contribution to Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford and asked why he was supporting the liberal Democrat over the Republican in that race. The reputed “right-wing media mogul” replied, “I’m not. I think I’ve equally given to both sides there. I really wouldn’t have given to either except that one of our senior executives at Fox is a friend of would-be Senator Ford and brought him in and tried to convince me how conservative he was.” Murdoch chuckled, as if he didn’t believe it. But he gave Ford the money anyway.

Asked if this meant that he had given a contribution to Ford’s opponent, Republican Bob Corker, “Murdoch replied, “If I haven’t, I will, certainly.”  But no such contribution showed up in Federal Election Commission records.  The Newsweek cover story, “Not Your Daddy’s Democrats,” a fawning piece about Ford, had a fascinating piece of information near the very end about the moves the Tennessee Congressman had made to establish himself as a national figure. “He became a fixture on cable talk shows and became a regular on the Fox News Channel and on Don Imus’s radio program,” the article said. 

The New York Post’s endorsement of Hillary and Fox News’ boosting of Ford should serve as a wake-up call to those who have concluded that Murdoch’s News Corp. is part of the new media revolution. The right-wing mogul who calls the shots isn’t so right-wing after all.

Message From Australia

AIM’s focus on the leftward drift of Fox News generated interesting reactions. One came from Australia, where Murdoch began his media empire:

“Mr. Murdoch’s helping of leftist candidates is no surprise to long-time readers of ‘The Australian’ [a Murdoch newspaper]. Although their editorials are mostly pro-freedom and free-market, when it comes to elections they back whoever they think will win anyhow. This shows that Mr. Murdoch is more interested in power and influence. I would suggest he may have some vague conservative instincts, but these come a poor second to the accumulation of power. I therefore believe Fox was launched to fill a niche and make money for Mr. Murdoch rather than as a principled alternative to the MSM [mainstream media], and if Mr. Murdoch thinks using Fox to pander  to leftists will increase his influence then he’ll do it. To put it another way, he has permanent interests rather than permanent politics.”

Scrutiny of Fox News can, therefore, not be avoided on grounds that it is “conservative.”  

 

SECRET GAY NETWORK BEHIND FOLEY SCANDAL

The Mark Foley sex scandal was a legitimate and real example of Republican corruption on Capitol Hill. A more conservative House GOP coming into office next January will not be able to avoid coming to grips with the infiltration of the party by gay Republicans actually committed to the social agenda of the Democratic Party. Not only Foley but retiring Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), an open homosexual who is accused of having inappropriate contacts with former male congressional pages, has been leading a double-life on Capitol Hill but getting rewarded for it by Congressional leaders.  

In a major new development confirming our theory that radical gay activists were behind the scandal, the mysterious source responsible for exposing Foley’s behavior has been identified as an employee of the Human Rights Campaign. This is the radical homosexual organization that functions as an adjunct of the national Democratic Party.

Conservative bloggers discovered that the source, who operated a website called stopsexualpredators.com, had used the Internet facilities of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to post the Foley emails that found their way into the hands of Brian Ross of ABC news and led to the congressman’s resignation. HRC issued a statement saying that when this information came to their attention, “We investigated the matter, determined that HRC resources had been inappropriately used, and let him go. No one at the Human Rights Campaign, other than this individual, had any knowledge of his activities.”

One of the board members of the HRC is Jeff Trandahl, the former House clerk who has inside information about the scandal and has testified before the House Ethics Committee. During his “Republican” career on Capitol Hill, Trandahl had contributed financially to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group supporting mostly Democrats for public office.

Mystery Man Trandahl

Citing a source in the case, ABC’s The Blotter reported that Trandahl had identified Foley and Kolbe as being among a small number of “problem members” of Congress who “spent too much time socializing with pages, taking them to dinner or sporting events outside of official duties.”

All of this means that there was inside information, available to radical gay activists allied with the Democratic Party, which could be used to create scandals for Republican gay members of Congress. Of course, the problem wouldn’t have surfaced in the first place if Congressional Republican leaders had not been protecting homosexuals in their ranks. House leaders knew that Foley was a homosexual but permitted him to serve as a co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. In the case of Kolbe, who announced that he was a homosexual after being threatened with “outing” by a radical homosexual publication, House leaders still defended him.

Kolbe is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney in Phoenix because of a 1996 camping trip he took with two male former pages, both of them 17-years-old.  MSNBC reported that “One participant, who requested anonymity, said he was uncomfortable with the attention Kolbe paid to one of the former pages. He was ‘creeped out by it,’ he said, adding that there was a lot of ‘fawning, petting and touching’ on the teenager’s arms, shoulders and back by Kolbe.”

Kolbe’s alleged corrupt activities go far beyond inappropriate relationships or contacts of a possible sexual nature with former pages. Associated Press reported that Kolbe was up for the job leading the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, even though he had helped determine its funding as chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee. AP said, “The committee’s bill, approved May 25, included $3.4 billion in global assistance to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, including $445 million for the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund.” This figure, advocated by Kolbe, was over twice the amount requested by the Bush Administration.

So Kolbe padded the bank account of an organization that considered hiring him as its executive director. The corruption seems to be following him as he leaves office. 

What You Can Do

Please send the enclosed card or a card or letter of your own choosing to Joshua Bolten at the White House. Also, please use the other postcards in considering helping us distribute the AIM “Confronting Iraq” film and supporting our campaign to keep the heat on Al-Jazeera International.




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