Accuracy in Media

It is a tribute to the rise of the “new media,” including Fox News Channel, conservative talk radio, bloggers and Internet sites, that President Bush was able to barely win re-election. The old media, which we have labeled as the Big Media, are not so big anymore. They have clearly lost some of their ability to manipulate the minds of the American people.

From the CBS News “60 Minutes” attack on President Bush, a broadcast that used forged documents, to the last minute New York Times story of “missing explosives” in Iraq, a story designed to undermine the President’s conduct of the war in Iraq, the liberal media tried many different tricks. But Bush still came out victorious.

Newsweek senior writer Charles Gasparino, appearing on a CNBC show, admitted the obvious.  “We sow the seeds of our own demise,” he said. “Journalists have been advocates of the liberal attitude for way too long, and now we’re paying the price?Fox News.”

It’s true?Fox News is a response to the overwhelming liberal media bias.

That bias, said Evan Thomas of Newsweek, was worth between five and 20 million votes for the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

Such mind manipulation is possible because CBS Evening News anchorman Dan Rather, despite his anti-Bush partisan agenda, continues to get about seven million viewers a night, NBC Nightly News 9.8 million, and ABC World Tonight nine million.

Despite having been exposed as a tool of the Kerry campaign, the CBS “60 Minutes” show still draws huge numbers. It attracted 17.6 million viewers on November 7.

Compare these numbers to Bill O’Reilly, host of the highest rated program on the Fox News Channel, who averages only 3.5 million a night. And he doesn’t pretend to host a pure news program. (Fox News Channel attracted about 8 million viewers a night for its election coverage).

The good news is that, despite the ongoing media bias, the number of conservatives in the electorate has risen in four years from 29 to 34 percent. The bad news is a Pew study issued this year which found that just seven percent of national news people and 12 percent of local journalists describe themselves as conservatives. That means the bias will continue?and perhaps accelerate.

The old media thought they could defeat Bush. They failed. But they won’t leave their perch of national dominance without a fight.

On the November 5 edition of his public television program, “NOW,” liberal media icon and former Democratic Party official Bill Moyers gave us a hint of what’s to come. He warned that the Bush administration could be hit hard by the press with corruption stories. Moyers declared that, “I think the next four years are going to be a bonanza for investigative journalism. I just think every time you wed the state and business together like this, you get corruption flowing like the Mississippi River.” His point was that the Bush administration is an insidious combination of Big Business and Big Government.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, said Moyers, “the relationship between business and government created more corruption that actually renewed the Progressive Party and brought the Democrats to power.”

So this is the game plan?to depict the Republicans as being in bed with corrupt business practices, in order to discredit them and bring the Democrats back into power. That means more Halliburton-type coverage designed to convince the public that the Bush administration has sold out to the big corporations.

In the show, Moyers continued with his invective, asking, “Is it possible that we’re governed now by ideologues and theologians, ideologues who embrace a world view that can’t be changed because they admit no evidence to the contrary and theologues who assert propositions that cannot be proven?”

The question was put to his guest, conservative Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, who countered with the observation that “the folks who brought President Bush and the Republican House and Senate back into power again are the broad majority of Americans. One of the things that we are disappointed in is how many people here in the New York financial markets funded Kerry, how Hollywood’s big money, the billionaires in Hollywood funded Kerry. So, the corporate bigwigs spent an awful lot of time and money on Kerry.”

One of those billionaires, not based in Hollywood, was George Soros, who spent more than $20 million to put Kerry in the White House. Left-wing writer Eric Alterman did report that Soros came to Hollywood at one point “to raise money in a series of private billionaire-to-billionaire meetings for America Coming Together and The Media Fund, the coordinated anti-Bush organizations created to fit within the strictures of campaign-finance laws, to which he has promised $10 million.” Alterman described these groups as part of the “shadow Democratic Party.”

A Jane Mayer article in The New Yorker reported that Soros is a friend of Bill Moyers and Harold Ickes, the former Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff who ran The Media Fund. Ickes, a close friend of Hillary Clinton, is now reported to be under consideration for the post of chairman of the Democratic Party. 

Mayer also disclosed that a secret meeting of anti-Bush billionaires was held in August, after the Democratic Party convention, and that Soros was a key participant.

But we didn’t see any stories in the media about the “billionaire conspiracy” against the President.

What we need is some real investigative reporting into Soros and his empire.

This was a subject that Moyers carefully avoided. On his PBS NOW program on January 9, Moyers had interviewed Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity about the big money supporting the presidential candidates. But little time and attention was paid to how Soros was trying to buy the White House and pouring millions of dollars into groups such as MoveOn.org to bring this about. Moyers, former press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson, also failed to tell his viewers that he served on the board of Soros’ Open Society Institute and that it has funneled $1.7 million into Lewis and his Center for Public Integrity.

Moyers had conducted and aired his own flattering interview with Soros on September 12, 2003, where Soros declared, “The Republican Party has been captured by a bunch of extremists?” Soros, though, was presented as an opponent of unchecked capitalism and a supporter of democracy and nation-building abroad.

The Moyers threat on his November 5 show to bring down the Bush administration through scandal stories should serve as a reminder of the power of the old media, and how some of it is still financed by U.S. taxpayers.

There are very few conservatives in public broadcasting and radio. For this reason?and the need to save taxpayer dollars?conservatives in Congress should move quickly to quit funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps underwrite the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR). Funding for the CPB has risen from $300 million in 2000 to $377 million in 2004.  

Last year NPR announced it was receiving a bequest of more than $200 million from the estate of Joan B. Kroc, the widow of the founder of McDonald’s.

Why doesn’t George Soros step forward to spend some of his $7.2 billion fortune on NPR and PBS and save the taxpayers several hundred million dollars?

In a belated attempt to please conservatives, PBS has now added, “Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered,” a show featuring the conservative commentator, and a new public affairs program, “Journal Editorial Report,” hosted by Paul Gigot, editor of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. But conservatives should not accept bribes when the facts so clearly show that the time when public broadcasting may have offered an alternative that people couldn’t find elsewhere has come and gone.

Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., agrees, and has announced that he intends to move to de-fund public broadcasting.

AIM’s New Radio Show

Most people now have access to hundreds of cable channels and radio stations and networks. Plus, satellite television and radio are available It’s significant that Bob Edwards, a long-time popular personality on National Public Radio, was booted from the network and now hosts a show on XM Satellite radio, with over 2 million subscribers.

AIM recently launched a new radio show on the rightalk Internet radio network (www.rightalk.com). But we are doing so without government funding. Our supporters will determine whether we stay on the air or not.

Why shouldn’t it be the same for those on the liberal-left?

Liberals, a dwindling minority of the population, are reluctant to wean themselves from the public trough because they fear they can’t make it on their own. They know that the new privately funded liberal radio network, Air America, became a laughingstock and financial fiasco.

Liberalism, however, is still ingrained in the media establishment.

It used to be said that while Democrats got the support of newsrooms, Republicans got the editorial endorsements, reflecting the influence of the publishers.

But that’s almost never been the case with the nation’s major papers, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, which endorsed Kerry for president and have endorsed Democratic Party presidential candidates consistently over the years.

Overall, Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher reports that Kerry received editorial endorsement from 208 newspapers, with a total daily circulation of 20,791,614. Bush received endorsements from 189 newspapers, with a total daily circulation of 14,417,003.

That’s a difference of 19 newspapers and over six million potential readers.

The liberal bias was also apparent in media opposition to the anti-homosexual marriage amendments that passed in 11states by margins of 57 to 86 percent. A survey shows that editorials in 74 newspapers in those 11 states opposed the measures while only seven papers endorsed them.

In Michigan, it passed with 59 percent, despite strong opposition from major newspapers in the state, including the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News.

In Ohio, where the anti-homosexual measure passed with 62 percent of the vote, 16 newspapers opposed it, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Toledo Blade, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Columbus Dispatch. 

The New York Times and Washington Post are among the 504 newspapers that now publish same-sex union or homosexual “wedding” announcements. Even the public editor of the New York Times admits the paper has been crusading for homosexual rights.

So when the people were voting against same-sex marriage, they were expressing their opposition to the liberal social agenda of most of the media.

The role of morality in the Bush victory has been the subject of many stories and columns, some of them extremely misleading. Voters surveyed in exit polls selected the following issues as most important: moral values (22 percent), terrorism (19 percent), economy and jobs (20 percent), Iraq war (15 percent), and healthcare (8 percent). Of those who chose moral values as the top priority, 80 percent voted for Bush over Kerry.

Moral Values Confusion

David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times who appears on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, has repeatedly claimed there’s no evidence that Christian conservatives turned out in larger numbers for Bush this time than four years ago.  

This is contradicted by John Green of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics in Ohio, who estimates that the evangelical vote for Bush went from 71 percent in 2000 to 76 percent this year. Green, an expert in the field, is the author of “The American Religious Landscape and Political Attitudes: A Baseline for 2004.” He told the Times, however, that the Bush coalition included “a much larger group of more traditional religious people, many of them outside of the evangelical tradition.” These people, he said, “tend to hold traditional views on sexual behavior.”

On Beliefnet.com, Green and his co-author, Steve Waldman, explained that Bush made significant gains not only among evangelicals but among Catholics, going from 46 percent of the Catholic vote in 2000 to 52 percent in 2004. In Ohio, Bush got 55 percent of the Catholic vote compared to just under 50 percent in 2000. That was a shift of 172,000 votes to Bush?more than his actual margin of victory. In Florida, Catholics went from 26 percent to 28 percent of the electorate, and Bush went from 54 percent to 57 percent of them. That was a Bush gain of 400,000 voters?more than the margin of victory. Waldman and Green point out that, “?President Bush’s views on abortion and gay marriage are more in line with official church teachings?”

A November 6 article by Times reporter Jim Rutenberg, questioning the meaning of the term “moral values” and their influence, also quoted Republican pollster Bill McInturff as saying, “The people who picked moral values as an issue know what that means. It’s a code word in surveys for a cluster of issues like gay marriage and abortion.”

Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, acknowledged the power of “moral values,” telling the paper that opposition to gay marriage was one of the most powerful forces in American politics today and that politicians ignored it at their peril.” “This is an issue on which there is a broad consensus,” Rove said. “In all 11 states, it won by considerable margins.” Rove added, “People do not like the idea or the concept of marriage as being a union between a man and a woman being uprooted and overturned by a few activist judges or a couple of activist local officials.”

Another conservative columnist who took issue with the evidence that traditional moral values helped elect Bush was Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post. He wrote that moral values can “encompass abortion, gay marriage, Hollywood’s influence, the general coarsening of the culture and, for some, the morality of preemptive war.”

But the Iraq war was a different option in the poll and that issue hurt Bush. Seventy-three percent of those who chose the Iraq war as an issue voted against the President.

Exit polls also showed that 52 percent thought the war with Iraq had NOT improved the long-term security of the U.S.

The Moral Trend

Kellyanne Conway of The Polling Company determined that 16 percent ?a lightly lower number than the 22 percent in the exit polls?chose “morality and family values” as critical to the vote. But Conway also says that the “strong presence” of the values voters, “including those who were energized by ballot initiatives banning same sex marriages in their states, was also apparent in other questions posed in the survey.” For example, she found that 52 percent of those voting for Bush reported that his religious faith was “very important” in their vote.

Krauthammer, a conservative columnist and a panelist on several Fox News Channel programs, dismissed the idea that the gay marriage referendums “pushed Bush over the top, particularly in Ohio,” as “nonsense.” He claimed that, “The great anti-gay surge was pure fiction.”

But the “anti-gay surge,” rather than being fiction, was evident in those states that passed the anti-homosexual measures. Some who voted for the measures undoubtedly voted against Bush for president because of Iraq or the economy or health care. That may be why the measures passed with at least 57 percent of the vote and Bush only got 51 percent on the national level.

It is reasonable to suggest that Bush could have benefited from their passage if he had explicitly campaigned for them. He did not. Instead, he talked generally about family values, noted his support for a federal marriage amendment during one of the debates, and even endorsed homosexual unions a week before the election.

Pollster Conway confirmed to AIM that Bush’s endorsement of homosexual unions, during an interview with Charles Gibson of ABC News, undermined his campaign and actually hurt him with some “values voters.”

Homosexual unions are just another version of same-sex marriage under a different name.

Rove, the “architect” of the victory, failed to fully comprehend at the time how powerful cultural conservatism had become. He now says, however, that “people would be well advised to pay attention to what the American people are saying.” That advice applies to the media?and some conservatives. 

In the same vein as Krauthammer, who seems to believe that Iraq was a winning issue for Bush, Clifford May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies told Wolf Blitzer of CNN: “?moral issues also may have to do with supporting democracy and freedom in Iraq, as well.”

May also told Blitzer that for most of the electorate, “if you put Iraq and terrorism together, that was overwhelmingly the issue they told pollsters they cared about most, not gay marriage, not even the economy.” Former Bush White House official Mary Matalin tried to make the same point on the November 14 edition of Meet the Press, saying that one-third of the voters chose national security as the top priority.

But mixing Iraq and terrorism obscures the hard differences between the two.

Fortunately for Bush, of those who chose terrorism as the top issue, 86 percent went for the President. This more than made up for the votes he lost on the Iraq war.  

Rather than spin the results, the correct course is to acknowledge the lagging public support for the war in Iraq. The answer is to educate the public, especially through the media. Clifford May, a former New York Times reporter, should know this better than anyone else. He appears in the new Accuracy in Media film, Confronting Iraq.

The war in Iraq is a moral and noble cause, but it’s not yet understood that way by many of the people who picked it as a top issue in the campaign. The Iraq war was a major liability for Bush but the “values voters” pulled him through to victory against the press. 

What You Can Do

Send cards and letters to George Soros and National Press Club President Sheila R. Cherry. Also, don’t forget to order the AIM film, Confronting Iraq.

Mr. George Soros
c/o Open Society Institute
400 West 59th Street  
New York, NY 10019

Ms. Sheila Cherry
President
National Press Club
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20045




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