Accuracy in Media


The Rupert Murdoch deal for the Wall Street Journal has a fascinating critic: former Journal reporter A. Kent MacDougall, one of the most radical writers ever to grace the news pages of that paper. MacDougall generated some controversy in the late 1980s when he wrote two articles for the socialist Monthly Review about “boring from within” at the Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He declared that Karl Marx was his favorite journalist.

His revelations, ignored by most of the major media, led to renewed scrutiny about left-wing, even pro-socialist, media bias.

MacDougall, a socialist who still rants about the dangers of U.S. imperialism, told AIM editor Cliff Kincaid in a telephone interview from his Berkeley, California home that Murdoch, owner of the parent company of the Fox News Channel, is too much of an “ideologue” to run the paper.

Yet MacDougall had boasted in the Monthly Review about how he was able to get front-page articles in the Journal that favorably portrayed left-wing economists and their ideas. He also said that, for a period of six months while he wrote for the Journal, he was also writing for the left-wing press under three different pen names. He left the Journal in 1972 and also worked for the Los Angeles Times as a “business correspondent.” He had been a secret socialist mole in the press for over 20 years. 

MacDougall told AIM editor Kincaid that current Wall Street Journal editor-at-large Paul Steiger, who also serves as vice-president of parent company Dow Jones, is a “good guy.” MacDougall said that he knew Steiger when they worked together at the Los Angeles Times.

Another of the Journal’s star reporters, Jonathan Kwitny, also achieved notoriety for writing major articles with a left-wing slant. He wrote a story attacking the Reagan Administration’s anti-communist effort in El Salvador using CIA defector and Cuban communist collaborator Philip Agee as a secret source. He wrote a story about an Australian bank being a CIA front, after communists had been peddling the dubious allegations.

Ganging Up On Murdoch

MacDougall’s comments about the deal are in sync with those of the mainstream media, which seem to be recoiling in horror at the thought that Murdoch would take over the paper. In a typical piece, David Sweet has posted an article on the MSNBC website under the headline, “Murdoch Will Tarnish a Journalistic Jewel.”

We at AIM have never been apologists for Murdoch, whose record is not as conservative as many seem to think, but the Journal was tarnished years ago when MacDougall published his sensational allegations. They focused attention on the fact that the Journal’s “pro-business” reputation was a hoax.  

The harsh media reaction, which bordered on the hysterical, to the Murdoch bid for Dow Jones could reflect the possibility that there are other leftist media moles burrowed deep inside the news pages of the Journal who fear exposure.

At the time, the Journal issued a statement calling MacDougall’s revelations “troubling.” It claimed that MacDougall, who had worked at the Journal for 10 years, had pushed his agenda on “unsuspecting editors and readers?” But one of his editors was later quoted as saying that he knew MacDougall was very liberal and there was no announced inquiry into the problem of left-wing bias at the paper.

MacDougall completed his journalistic career in 1987 and became professor emeritus of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

He was writing for Monthly Review as late as 2005, when his article, “Empire?American as Apple Pie,” appeared in the May issue. The piece is about how America’s leaders, including its founders, were imperialists. A more recent issue has an article, “What Maoism Has Contributed,” by Samir Amin. Mao, of course, is considered the greatest mass murderer in history, but that is not the point of this article. 

MacDougall also turned out to be a radical environmentalist. He wrote a series of articles for the Los Angeles Times on deforestation around the world but in 1996 made it plain that he not only loved trees but despised humans. He wrote the article, “Humans As Cancer,” for Wild Earth Journal, insisting that people were destroying the Earth, or Gaia, as he also called the planet. He called humans “a carcinogenic scourge on the world.”

Sounding like Al Gore, he decried “the current orgy of fossil-fuel burning with the potential of overheating Gaia and jeopardizing the existence of all her inhabitants.”

Over The Edge

It appears that he has gotten more radical, not less, over the years. He recently wrote an article for the Berkeley Daily Planet saying that charges that Iran was helping kill American soldiers in Iraq was disinformation designed to justify a U.S. attack on Iran. He called those killing American troops “Iraqi resistance fighters.”

A major academic paper was written about the Kent MacDougall case, noting that Time magazine was the only “mass circulation national publication” which covered his coming out as a socialist and his admissions about manipulating news coverage. The study, by Stephen D. Reese of the University of Texas at Austin, did not come to any conclusions about why papers like the New York Times ignored the scandal but said one of the possibilities could be that “left-liberals in the newsroom are not considered that unusual by the mainstream press or the public.”

His father, Curtis MacDougall, was also a political activist but his politics were more in the “liberal” or “progressive” tradition. His journalism textbook, Interpretive Reporting, was considered a standard text in journalism classes and schools for 50 years. He was working on the ninth edition when he died in 1985.

His book, which AIM editor Cliff Kincaid was assigned in a college communications class, urged students to write “interpretive” articles giving background and context to the news from a liberal perspective. As an example, MacDougall said that anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy had not been treated harshly enough by the press and that reporters spent too much newspaper space simply informing people about what the Senator had to say. MacDougall’s official biography says that he became a target of the FBI for criticizing the agency. 

More Moles?

The all-out attacks being waged on Murdoch buying the paper reflect the fact that it has long been a bastion of liberal and left-wing writers. And people like David Sweet, writing on the MSNBC website, want it desperately to remain this way. “Standards are the lifeblood of WSJ and its related properties,” says Sweet, ignoring the MacDougall case and its ominous implications.

It’s true that the Journal has been known for having a conservative editorial page but its radical commitment to open borders and free trade at any cost has gone beyond what most people would regard as mainstream conservatism.

Robert L. Bartley, the late editor of the Wall Street Journal (who ran the editorial pages, not the news pages) wrote in a July 2, 2001, column that “Reformist Mexican President Vincente [sic] Fox raises eyebrows with his suggestion that over a decade or two Nafta [North American Free Trade Agreement] should evolve into something like the European Union, with open borders for not only goods and investment but also people. He can rest assured that there is one voice north of the Rio Grande that supports his vision. To wit, this newspaper.”

Fox turned out to be a failed reformer but his “vision” is developing today in the form of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) involving the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. However, the plan, which involves “harmonizing” the laws and regulations of the three countries, has never been approved by or submitted to Congress.

A Story For The Journal

In a new legislative development, in a “Dear Colleague” letter to other House members, Rep. Duncan Hunter notes that President Bush is traveling to Montebello, Canada to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada and President Felipe Calder?n of Mexico for a North American Leaders’ Summit on August 20-21, for the purpose of reviewing progress on the SPP.

“Unfortunately,” says Hunter, this “portends further, ominous progress towards the creation of a North American Union (NAU) that threatens to sap American sovereignty and undermine the constitutional character of our government.”

Hunter adds, “The upcoming summit provides Members of Congress an opportunity to serve notice on President Bush that we expect to be consulted and our approval sought for any understandings and accords concerning the SPP.” He concludes by asking fellow House members to sign a letter to the President on this matter.

In remarks on July 20 to a Freedom 21 conference in Dallas, conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly declared that the Chinese communists intend to exploit development of the North American Union in order to bring more cheap goods into the U.S. and destroy more American jobs.

Schlafly, president of Eagle Forum, highlighted the role of Democratic Party foreign policy specialist Robert Pastor in the unfolding plan. Pastor helped lead the campaign to surrender U.S. control of the Panama Canal through the Panama Canal Treaty, a development that has taken on added significance in view of the fact that a Chinese firm, Hutchison Whampoa, now controls not only the ports at both ends of the Panama Canal but ports and terminals in Mexico. The company has close ties to the Chinese regime.

She strongly recommended Jerome Corsi’s new book, The Late Great USA, which argues that a North American Union would provide China another “economic advantage” over the U.S. with ominous national security implications.

The China Connection

Indeed, Corsi comes close to arguing that China is the ultimate power broker behind the scheme, saying that “In order to solidify its economic superiority over North America, Red China is working to restructure the North American transportation infrastructure.”

It also turns out, according to information presented at the conference by Oklahoma activist Amanda Teegarden, as well as Corsi’s book, that a Hutchison Whampoa subsidiary is a major investor in a firm, Savi Networks, that has developed a radio technology to track and manage cargo shipments. Hutchison Whampoa owns 49 percent of the firm, with 51 percent owned by U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

The Wall Street Journal could demonstrate prize-winning journalism by subjecting this scheme to the serious scrutiny it deserves. No other major media organization or personality, except for CNN’s Lou Dobbs, has done so. The story is not so much anti-business as it is pro-sovereignty. It is a legitimate story, no matter how you look at it.

Murdoch’s Moves

In terms of personnel, there are reports that Murdoch has agreed not to make any significant editorial changes at the Journal. But he would do journalism a big favor if he brought some traditional conservatives to the Journal on its news and editorial pages and changed the overall direction of the paper. This would increase media diversity, something the “progressives” always say they favor.

It’s long past time to clean house at this influential publication. But will Murdoch stand up to the liberal media pressure and do it? The answer will determine what kind of “conservative” Murdoch really is.



It is fascinating to watch how our liberal media treat the Bush Administration on foreign policy matters. The bias against its Iraq War policy has been phenomenal. But when the administration moves in the direction of abandoning an assertive U.S. foreign policy and relying more heavily on international institutions and other nations to solve problems, the coverage turns cordial and extremely supportive. Such is the case with the administration’s push for ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

On July 30, Lawrence S. Eagleburger and John Norton Moore wrote a misleading op-ed for the Washington Post endorsing the pact. The piece completely ignored the role of Marxists, world government advocates and the anti-American bloc of nations at the U.N. in devising the measure. Then, USA Today’s diplomatic correspondent Barbara Slavin wrote two articles about the supposed benefits of the treaty. Senator James Inhofe was given one sentence in opposition at the end of one of the articles. He talked about the need to protect American sovereignty.

One problem for treaty proponents is that a top State Department official has now admitted, in a major slip-up, that the U.S. supports the measure because of the steep decline in the number of Navy and Coast Guard ships needed to protect and assert U.S. interests on the high seas. In other words, support for UNCLOS stems from a position of weakness.

In effect, the State Department is saying that a piece of paper is going to substitute for American muscle. The terrible implication is that American muscle has turned mostly into flab and that we are now going to depend on the treaty’s international tribunal with foreign judges to protect our interests.

The Gaffe

The embarrassing gaffe came on July 17 at a panel discussion sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute. Susan Biniaz, an Assistant Legal Adviser in the  U.S. Department of State, said, “I think someone said how few ships there are compared to how many there used to be. We don’t have the capacity to be challenging every maritime claim throughout the world solely through the use of naval power. And [we] certainly can’t use the Navy to meet all the economic interests.” (emphasis added).

These comments, completely ignored by the major media, came in response to a point that AIM editor Cliff Kincaid had made at the event, citing evidence that the number of U.S. Navy ships is down to 276, from a high of 594 under President Reagan. If present trends continue, according to the American Shipbuilding Association, we are heading down to a 180-ship Navy.

Global Approach

The media bias in favor of the U.N. and various treaties is institutional in some cases. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times, said at an annual meeting some years ago that the paper has always maintained an “international” approach to the news. It is not surprising, therefore, that a major component of the U.N. lobby, the United Nations Association (UNA-USA), received over $10,000 in 2005 from the New York Times Company Foundation. But you won’t find this reported in the pages of the Times.

UNA-USA, which gave its Global Leadership Award in 2006 to former President Bill Clinton, not only supports UNCLOS but is putting its weight behind Senate passage of a U.N. feminist rights treaty known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. UNA-USA also promotes acceptance of the International Criminal Court, which would deny Bill of Rights protections to American citizens.

In the same category of giving to UNA-USA, the $10,000-plus range, was Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr., senior vice president of General Electric, parent company of NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC.

More Media Dollars

Other media-oriented donations to UNA-USA came from the Barbara Walters Charitable Trust, and Time Inc. Walters is the longtime ABC News correspondent and co-host of the ABC program “The View.” The 2005 tax return of her foundation showed $2,000 to the UNA-USA, in order to “develop and maintain public support” for the United Nations, and $4,000 to the Council on Foreign Relations for “fostering [the] USA’s understanding of foreign relations.”

The UNA-USA’s most recent posted annual report also lists over $500,000 coming to the group from the taxpayer-funded United States Agency for International Development and over $25,000 coming from the taxpayer-funded U.S. Institute of Peace.

So, in effect, we as taxpayers are underwriting an organization that lobbies for a treaty that many Americans may oppose. Again, don’t look for any news organizations to investigate this improper use of tax money. 

The UNA-USA is probably best known for its “Model U.N.” programs at public schools across the country, in which students are taught about the value of the organization and how to play the role of pretend diplomats solving world problems. It has a spin-off project, Global Classrooms, funded with $7.5 million provided by financial giant Merrill Lynch. The Microsoft Foundation also provides money for the project.

It also receives the enthusiastic support of the U.S. Department of State, which is listed officially as being an operating “partner.” Indeed, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave the opening remarks at the 2005 Global Classrooms Model U.N. Washington D.C. conference. A flier says that you can expect to see Global Classrooms being implemented in public middle schools and high schools in 13 U.S. cities by 2010. We are told that it is already in all 17 Washington, D.C. public high schools.

The official magazine of Global Classrooms is titled Global Citizen. “A subscription to the Global Citizen allows young people to get in touch with important global issues and encourages them to develop into responsible global citizens,” the website says.

Undoubtedly, a “responsible” global citizen will support Senate ratification of UNCLOS. An alternative, such as building more ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, would probably be seen as a form of warmongering.

What You Can Do

Send the enclosed cards or cards and letters of your own choosing to Senator Richard Lugar, Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal, and Rep. Duncan Hunter.

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