Accuracy in Media

CBSNews.com’s editorial director Dick Meyer created a small firestorm with his column last week blasting Newt Gingrich and other Republicans who led the conservative takeover of congress in 1994.

Meyer began by apologizing for not writing his column 12 years ago and said this in the second paragraph of his column.

Really, it’s just a simple thesis: The men who ran the Republican Party in the House of Representatives for the past 12 years were a group of weirdos. Together, they comprised one of the oddest legislative power cliques in our history. And for 12 years, the media didn’t call a duck a duck, because that’s not something we’re supposed to do.

He then went on to attack the character of leaders like Gingrich, DeLay and Dick Armey for any moral or ethical lapses these men may have had, though the real vitriol was aimed at Newt since in Meyer’s words he was “relentlessly attacking Democratic corruption, yet he was hounded from office because of a series of serious ethics questions.” Add that to the fact that Gingrich was twice divorced which made him a hypocrite on moral issues. 

Meyer has a point in that the Republicans who swept into office in 1994 were expected to have high moral and ethical standards and instead were brought down in part by numerous scandals. But he should take off his rose colored glasses when he talks about ethics.

We just evidenced a House leadership race where the new Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to have scandal plagued congressman Jack Murtha elected as the new Majority Leader, only to be routed by Steny Hoyer. Or what about congressman William Jefferson in Louisiana whom the FBI found had $90,0000 stuffed in a freezer in his home? Jefferson will probably face a run off in his election race, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him returned to office. Anyone want to talk about Alcee Hastings?

If Meyer was really interested in writing about scandal and corruption in politics he should have tried to leave the venom for the GOP out of it. He needs to admit that corruption isn’t limited to one party or ideology as much as he might want to convince his readers of that.

In 1994 a group of wide eyed and relatively innocent freshman came in to congress and revolutionized how Congress conducted business and broke down much of the system the Democrats had put in place to protect themselves. Yet, like everything else, many of these newly minted Congressman soon learned that the system forced them to compromise their morals, ethics and core beliefs in order to stay in office and in control. Many succumbed to the lure of power and eventually fell once their acts could no longer be hidden from public view. Others left before the system could control and seduce them completely.

Until the flaws in the system are corrected we will continue to have scandals and corruption no matter who is in power. But I won’t hold my breath for Meyer to treat the Democrats as harshly as he did the Republicans on this matter and that is clearly a case of liberal media bias.




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