Accuracy in Media

The New York Times vs. John
McCain controversy is becoming the subject of endless stories and fodder
for the talking heads on television. This story has overtones of sex,
even though the paper offered no hard evidence that McCain was involved
romantically with a female lobbyist.  

The names of four reporters
are on the Times’ McCain story, with two others identified as contributors.
Many hours were obviously devoted to it. But I can find nothing in the
Times analyzing the passage of Senator and presidential candidate Barack
Obama’s $845 billion Global Poverty Act (S. 2433). Why have they not
gotten around to reporting on this? Obama, after all, is a candidate,
too. Have they been too busy trying to track down rumors about McCain?

One of the criticisms of the
Times story about McCain is that it is speculative. There is no question,
however, that McCain is surrounded by and has relationships with lobbyists,
and that is a legitimate issue. By the same token, Obama has been surrounded
by socialists, and, as AIM recently disclosed, was mentored by a known member of
the Communist Party. But this is not an issue for the Times or any other
liberal news organization.

The failure to cover the passage
of the Obama poverty bill demonstrates what is wrong with so much of
the media these days. It can be tedious to research and write about
legislation. It is more exciting to pant after a politician’s sex
life, especially when that politician is a Republican. Plus, the Global
Poverty Act has a noble purpose, and most reporters probably want to
see it passed. They would rather keep the American people in the dark
about what it would actually cost. By keeping the process free of public
scrutiny, the media may ultimately succeed in getting the bill passed
by the full Senate and even signed by President Bush. Then the media
will proclaim it all to be a victory for Obama and it will be too late
to do anything about the horrendous costs and implications of the legislation. 

The passage of the Obama bill
is far more important than McCain’s sex life. Indeed, a Texas State
Senator named Kirk Watson recently made a fool of himself by failing
to come up with any examples of Senator Barack Obama’s legislative
accomplishments when he was on an MSNBC program hosted by Chris Mathews.
It was “Stump the Chump,” Watson later joked. But both Watson and
Matthews seemed not to know that Obama, in fact, had just scored a major
accomplishment. His Global Poverty Act commits the U.S. to fulfilling
the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations through a global
tax if necessary. 

Why the media black-out on
this bill? Is this not something we should begin talking about? After
all, it’s on the verge of passing the full Senate and becoming law. 

Matthews probably doesn’t
know anything about the bill. In fact, it is curious why so few journalists
in the major media have made an issue out of what is in this controversial
legislation. Perhaps it’s just too difficult to understand. I spent
quite a bit of time trying to explain the legislation to Bruce Becker
of the Fox Business Network and he still didn’t get it. I have written a detailed explanation that will hopefully find its way into
his hands.

On February 13, however, Obama
himself issued a press release hailing passage of the bill in the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It must be a priority of American
foreign policy to commit to eliminating extreme poverty and ensuring
every child has food, shelter, and clean drinking water,” Obama said.
His press release said that his bill makes it official U.S. policy to
achieve “the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme global
poverty in half by 2015” and that the president must do this through
the use of “measurable goals,” certain “efforts,” and “benchmarks”
and “timetables.”

An inquiring reporter might
ask: what is the Millennium Development Goal? And what is the cost of
such a gargantuan effort? But we have few inquiring reporters these
days. Rather than explore the nature of a United Nations-backed proposal
that could cost $845 billion, reporters at the New York Times have now
published a story about Republican presidential candidate
John McCain having an alleged relationship with a female lobbyist. Ironically,
the liberal Times had endorsed McCain as the best Republican in the
presidential race. Were they just setting him up for the kill?  

Reporters don’t need any
special inside sources to cover the Global Poverty Act. It involves
analyzing the text and the underlying United Nations documents. This
can be a time-consuming process, especially if reporters are not accustomed
to examining proposals that have their roots in U.N. conferences and
resolutions. But isn’t this what reporters are supposed to do?  

So rather than report on what
actually happens on Capitol Hill, the Times assigned its investigative
reporters to go after rumors of something that may or may not have happened
to McCain years ago.  

This kind of circus is why
the major media are held in such low regard.   

Interestingly, State Senator
Watson has now come up with a list of Obama’s legislative accomplishments.
Presumably, these were supplied by the Obama campaign. They concern
issues like health care and congressional ethics. But the Global Poverty
Act isn’t on his list. Why? Is this something that Obama himself doesn’t
want to defend? Has it become too hot to handle?  

The rationale for the Times
story is that McCain’s alleged relationship with the lobbyist raised
ethical issues. What about the ethics involved in the passage of a costly
bill in the House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by voice
vote without any hearings being held? This is the equivalent of a global
legislative earmark.  

Senator McCain brings more
attention to the Times story by attacking it. He may figure that being
attacked by the Times will rally conservatives to his corner. That may
be true if there is absolutely nothing to the story and that nothing
else of an incriminating nature comes out. Regardless of whether the
story itself is true, conservatives defending McCain will also have
to overlook the fact that he relies on lobbyists to run his presidential

It is also true that McCain
hired an expensive lawyer, Bob Bennett, to deal with the controversy
and hold meetings with the Times about the developing story. This seems
to be going to extraordinary lengths to deal with a story that is supposed
to be full of holes. The fact is that the story looks bad for McCain,
no matter how carefully worded it is. Bennett has been making public
appearances to defend the Senator’s conduct.  

Whatever happens to McCain-and
conservatives have to consider the possibility that he will eventually
be forced out of the race-Obama’s Global Poverty Act will remain
on the public agenda. It is worthy of McCain’s attention because he
may soon have the opportunity to vote on it. Can he stop fretting about
the Times long enough to tell us where he stands? At the same time,
Senator, will you tell us your latest position on the U.N.’s Law of
the Sea Treaty? That is coming up for a full Senate vote, too. 

But these are issues, and they
don’t seem to matter to most of the liberal media. 

If you are interested
in McCain’s position on this bill, you may contact his presidential
campaign press office at 703-650-5550. His Senate office number is 202-224-2235.

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.