Accuracy in Media

John Edward is the name of a popular TV “psychic” who makes millions of dollars by “reuniting people in the physical world with their loved ones who have crossed over” to the next. Edward claims to communicate with the dead.

John Edwards is the name of the Democratic candidate for vice president who has made millions of dollars by filing lawsuits against doctors and hospitals, raising the cost of health care and malpractice insurance and driving doctors out of business. He won a case by pretending to be a psychic.

The case involved filing a lawsuit on behalf of Jennifer Campbell, a victim of cerebral palsy. Because of her affliction, she could barely walk or speak. At the trial, as the New York Times put it, Edwards “recreated” her voice. In fact, he acted as a psychic channel for her thoughts and beliefs, telling a jury that she’s “inside me and she’s talking to you.” The emotional ploy worked. The jury awarded $6.5 million.

The United Cerebral Palsy Association says the disorder is associated with the development of the brain, which starts in early pregnancy and continues until about age three. One risk factor, near the end of a long list of risk factors, is prolonged loss of oxygen during the birthing process.

Jill Lawrence of USA Today reported that the Campbell girl suffered from cerebral palsy “as a result of hospital personnel ignoring signs that she was in trouble in the womb?” That’s what Edwards wanted the jury to believe. The implication is that the doctor should have delivered her earlier with a Caesarean operation. But if he had, she probably still would have developed cerebral palsy because the vast majority of cases has nothing to do with what a doctor or hospital does during delivery.

Marc Morano of CNS News cites evidence that Edwards relied on “junk science” in the cerebral palsy suits. Adam Liptak and Michael Moss of the New York Times put it somewhat differently, noting in a story last January that Edwards was accused “of relying on questionable science in his trial work.” They noted that, in response to the legal judgments Edwards and other lawyers have won, doctors and hospitals are increasingly using fetal monitors to detect distress and resorting to Caesarean deliveries.

The Times reporters explained, however, that “?there is a growing medical debate over whether the changes have done more harm than good. Studies have found that the electronic fetal monitors now widely used during delivery often incorrectly signal distress, prompting many needless Caesarean deliveries, which carry the risks of major surgery. The rise in such deliveries, to about 26 percent today from 6 percent in 1970, has failed to decrease the rate of cerebral palsy, scientists say. Studies indicate that in most cases, the disorder is caused by fetal brain injury long before labor begins.”

It can thus be argued that Edwards and other “Learjet lawyers” have been partly responsible for a dangerous increase in Caesarean deliveries. The dangers of this procedure, which is major abdominal surgery, include infertility and bladder injury for women. If he’s truly for women’s rights, as he claims, Edwards should be asked by the media whether his record of dubious lawsuits has put women in more danger.

The “Terrorism Expert”

Edwards’ career as a trial lawyer has raised eyebrows. But Kerry’s pick of Edwards as a running mate was truly shocking to those familiar with his record as a first-term North Carolina Senator with no chance of winning re-election. He did miserably in the Democratic presidential primaries because many saw him as not qualified to be president. When commentators noted that John Kerry himself had raised an alarm during the primary campaign about Edwards’ lack of qualifications, the Washington Post came to the rescue.

On July 9, Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler of the Post wrote a story headlined, “Edwards Sets Self Apart on Foreign Policy,” with the subheadline, “Terrorism Was Top Focus Before Sept. 11 Attacks.” Suddenly, Edwards became a major foreign policy thinker who saw the terrorism problem coming. This story was undoubtedly why fellow Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu later declared on the ABC “This Week” program that Edwards was a “terrorism expert.” 

Wright and Kessler reported, “In the summer of 2001, when much of the Republican and Democratic policy community was obsessed with missile defense, Edwards urged more attention to terrorism. The North Carolina senator had such limited luck pitching an Op Ed article on terrorism to major newspapers that the piece, warning of poor cooperation among federal and local law enforcement, ended up in the weekly Littleton Observer, circulation 2,230?four weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Notice the use of the word “obsessed.” That’s their way of saying that Washington was spending too much time on protecting America’s homeland from missile attack. By contrast, the Post told us that John Edwards was way ahead of the curve on the issue of terrorism, which was to hit America hard on 9/11. The implication was that, if we’d only listened to John Edwards, 9/11 could have been avoided.

Wright and Kessler apparently figured no one would take the time to read that Op Ed, which appeared in the Littleton Observer on August 16, 2001. Yes, Edwards did warn of terrorism, as many had. But his article mostly had to do with security at seaports and attacks on computers, so-called cyber terrorism. There was nothing in the piece about airports or hijackers using planes as weapons. There was a statement about more cooperation among law enforcement agencies, but it also praised the FBI, which not only failed to stop 9/11 but has not solved the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. The piece concluded with a plug for a program at a North Carolina University.

This is the kind of column that members of the Senate and House regularly send out to their local papers.  It carried the banner, “The People’s Senator,” which is how Edwards describes himself. It was designed to make the Senator look good to the home folks. Wright and Kessler were really stretching it when they cited this article as proof of Edward’s national security credentials. If this is all they’ve got, Edwards is in real trouble. 

Whoopi For Kerry-Edwards 

The media’s willingness to overlook the hard questions about the Kerry-Edwards ticket was evident in coverage of their $7 million New York fundraiser with Hollywood celebrities. The Washington Post said some of the entertainers “shocked the audience with raunchy remarks,” but that Kerry said they represented “the heart and soul of America” Raunchy remarks? This is the paper that went out of its way to identify the “F” word that Vice President Dick Cheney used in a private conversation with Senator Patrick Leahy. But the Post was not quick to run editorials demanding that the Kerry-Edwards campaign release a videotape of the “raunchy remarks” so people could judge for themselves.

The liberal media shied away from the shocking details because they knew the story could help sink the Kerry-Edwards ticket. Defending these offensive remarks as “the heart and soul of America” is a gaffe comparable to former President Ford declaring that Eastern Europe was independent when it was under Soviet control.

The New York Post received a lot of criticism for falsely reporting that Kerry had picked Dick Gephardt as his running mate. But it was the New York Post that broke most of the details of the “raunchy” fundraiser, and these facts have turned out to be true in dramatic fashion. This became one of the biggest campaign stories yet because Kerry and Edwards have been traveling around the country claiming they’re in touch with American values.

Reporting on the performance by Whoopi Goldberg, Deborah Orin of the Post said, “Waving a bottle of wine, she fired off a stream of vulgar sexual wordplays on Bush’s name in a riff about female genitalia, and boasted that she’d refused to let Team Kerry clear her material.” That last part didn’t get Kerry off the hook, however, because he proceeded to say that Goldberg and the other performers represented the “heart and soul” of America. It was only later, when a firestorm erupted, that the Kerry campaign offered some mild criticism of the performers.

As Orin noted, “Kerry could be seen laughing uproariously during part of Goldberg’s tirade?and neither he nor Edwards voiced a single objection to its tone when they spoke to the crowd.” Kerry cannot claim he didn’t know what might take place. Goldberg is known as vulgar and crude. She released a 1988 album, distributed by MCA, that included a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner with liberal use of the “F” word. The routine consists of Goldberg sprinkling profanity in the lyrics of the national anthem. It is so disgusting as to make a normal American sick to his or her stomach. But this was her idea of comedy. 

The Kerry-Edwards fundraiser took place in New York, and New York Times reporter Jodi Wilgoren said it featured “off-color jokes” about Bush. We’ll be waiting in vain for the Times and the rest of Big Media to call for the release of the tapes of the event. The media wanted to let the story die, realizing the dramatic impact these tapes could have. In this case, the public doesn’t have a right to know.

SENATE HONORS SOVIET SPY

Under prodding from Senator Jeff Bingaman, the Senate of the United States on June 24 passed a resolution honoring a Soviet spy. You missed that development? We couldn’t find any coverage, either. But it happened when Majority Leader Bill Frist brought to the floor a resolution (S. Res. 321) by Senator Bingaman to recognize the “loyal service” of J. Robert Oppenheimer of America’s Manhattan project that produced the atomic bomb.

But Herbert Romerstein, a former professional staff member of the House Intelligence Committee and co-author of a book on Soviet espionage, The Venona Secrets, says, “There isn’t any question that Oppenheimer was a traitor to the United States and doesn’t deserve any of the honors that these people [in the Senate] want to give him.”

Oppenheimer served as director of the Los Alamos laboratory during the development of the atomic bomb. Romerstein says we know he was a Soviet spy based on two valid sources. One is the American interception of communications by the Soviet intelligence service during World War II. The code name for that interception was Venona. They identify and describe the activities of Soviet agents. The second source is the Soviet spymaster Gen. Pavel Sudoplatov, who, when he fell out of favor with the Soviet establishment, wrote a letter to the then-head of the Soviet Communist Party, Yuri Andropov. Sudoplatov boasted about his achievements, including getting information on the U.S. atom bomb. One of the critical sources of information for the Soviets, Sudoplatov said, was J. Robert Oppenheimer. Sudoplatov had no reason to lie because he knew that Andropov could easily have verified this information. 

Romerstein says there are not enough Venona intercepts to know exactly what Oppenheimer gave the Soviets, “except that they [the Soviets] were not in contact with people for frivolous reasons. They were in contact with members of the American Communist Party such as J. Robert Oppenheimer so those people could give them classified information. That’s what they wanted and that’s what they got.”

So how and why did the Senate honor him? Romerstein, who worked on Capitol Hill for 18 years, notes that the resolution honoring Oppenheimer was passed by unanimous consent when it was likely that few Senators were even on the Senate floor. Out of the 100 Senators, he said, there probably aren’t five of them who know anything about Oppenheimer. But that doesn’t get Senator Bingaman off the hook. He calls Oppenheimer an “atomic patriot” and probably assured Frist that any questions about Oppenheimer had been resolved in his favor. Bingaman’s office refused to return our telephone calls.

One factor may have been a controversial development that occurred during the Clinton administration, when a statement from FBI Director Louis Freeh was released, taking issue with the evidence that Oppenheimer had knowingly supplied classified information to the Soviets. However, this was before the Venona secrets were released, confirming Oppenheimer’s espionage activity.    

The Bingaman resolution doesn’t just honor Oppenheimer’s “loyal service.” It directs the Secretary of Energy to observe the 100th anniversary of his birth “with appropriate ceremonies, activities, or programs at the Department of Energy and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.” So taxpayer dollars are being directed toward an event designed to honor this traitor.

This may not bother Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. He gave a speech last November hailing the “wizardry” of Oppenheimer and others “who shaped the course of World War II and gave us a nuclear deterrent that helped prevent global conflict during the Cold War.”

He neglected to mention, of course, that Oppenheimer was also part of a group that betrayed our secrets to our enemies, making it a far more dangerous world in the decades to come.

Controversy followed Oppenheimer for decades. He lost his security clearance after the war amidst charges he was a communist?charges that he denied. Professor Gregg Herken, formerly of the Smithsonian Institution, says the evidence clearly shows that Oppenheimer lied about his Communist Party membership. But Herken is not convinced Oppenheimer spied for the Soviet Union. Two others, Professor Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird of The Nation magazine, who have written a forthcoming book on Oppenheimer, even dispute that he was a communist.

Romerstein says it is apparent that Herken doesn’t understand the evidence that the Communist Party USA was a totally owned subsidiary of the Soviet Communist Party that received funding every year from KGB channels. The leadership of the party had the job of identifying those party members who would be useful to the Soviets for spying. And no Communist Party member contacted during World War II to spy for the Soviet Union turned them down. They all agreed to do so because “communists were Soviet patriots. They were not American patriots,” he says. 

The Nation magazine, Romerstein points out, is notorious for continuing to believe in the innocence of Alger Hiss, who was convicted of perjury for denying he was a Soviet spy and was the first acting secretary-general of the United Nations.

Efforts to clear the names of other traitors continue.

The Communist Party’s People’s Weekly World recently ran an interview with Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted and executed for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. 

He declared, “I’m going to vote for Kerry”and  that, “?I want Kerry to get as many votes as he possibly can?”   He’s voting for Kerry, he says, because “this cabal of Bush and his cronies are so dangerous?” He fears “right-wing domination” and an “authoritarian government” in the U.S.

Honoring A Convicted Felon

Meanwhile, a group of elected California Democrats, the California Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, honored convicted felon Wen Ho Lee, the former Los Alamos scientist who was accused of, but never charged with, spying on behalf of Communist China. He served nine months in jail.

Lee was eventually indicted on 59 counts of mishandling classified nuclear-weapons data. As former Energy Department intelligence chief Notra Trulock noted in an AIM Report, “The indictment followed the discovery that Lee had been transferring the equivalent of 400,000 pages of classified nuclear weapons information to an unclassified computer network and a set of portable magnetic tapes.” The case was settled through a plea bargain in September 2001. Lee pled to one count of tampering with “restricted data”?nuclear weapons design information.

Former California legislator Howard Kaloogian warned against the liberal politicians passing any resolution in his honor on the floor of the state assembly. His “Move America Forward” organization said it was astonishing that politicians would have “no problems honoring an individual who?copied scores of classified material and U.S. secrets. Evidence still suggests Lee may have been involved with espionage activities to benefit China.” As a result of  the controversy, the liberal politicians decided to honor Lee with their “Profile in Courage” award at a private dinner in a hotel.

Regarding that additional evidence, Trulock points out that a federal prosecutor who reviewed the Clinton administration’s handling of the case concluded there was sufficient “probable cause to believe that Wen Ho Lee was an agent of a foreign power, that is to say, a United States Person currently engaged in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of the PRC which activities might involve violations of the criminal laws of the United States?”

In view of this evidence, why would politicians honor Lee? They probably believe much of the press coverage about the case. Many in the media portrayed Lee as a tragic victim of the government, a victim of racism and ethnic profiling.

In a story defending Lee, L.A. Chung of the San Jose Mercury News brought up another controversial case: “Many years ago, I was assigned to write about Larry Chin, a former CIA analyst who had been convicted of spying. He committed suicide in jail two weeks after his conviction in 1986. I dutifully went to the Peninsula cemetery where his family had gathered?He was proud to be an American, his daughter said, and he thought he was doing some good for U.S.-China relations. In his obituary, he was of course reduced to the first American convicted of spying for China.”

A communist spy who did good for America? That’s what Bingaman seems to be saying about Oppenheimer. This is the kind of doubletalk that diverts attention from the continuing dangers posed by spies and traitors in our midst.

The problem was demonstrated yet again when Los Alamos announced in mid-July that it had lost two classified computer disks, the third time secret material had disappeared from there during the last eight months.

What You Can Do

Send cards and letters to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Mr. Richard Cohen
The Washington Post
1150 15th St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20071

Secretary Spencer Abraham
Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585

Secretary Tom Ridge
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528




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