Accuracy in Media

We have complained repeatedly about the media’s use of the term “secret prisons.” The phrase was used by Dana Priest in a Pulitzer Prize-winning story to refer to places where suspected terroristS were briefly held. She compared them to the Soviet gulags. But President Bush has never confirmed their existence, and spokesman Tony Snow has made a point of saying that administration officials don’t use that term when talking about the one-time secret CIA program of interrogating al-Qaeda terrorists. I think it’s important to report what people actually say, and what has been confirmed, rather than what the media want you to believe.

On the matter of what words mean, I think it’s also important, with the election campaign behind us, to define what is meant by “conservative.” Whatever it means, it can’t possibly include Andrew Sullivan, who has written a book titled The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How To Get It Back.

People can claim to be anything they want to be, but it defies reality to claim that Sullivan, an HIV-positive homosexual who embraces and celebrates the homosexual lifestyle, is a conservative. Sullivan told Howard Kurtz on the October 15 edition of his Reliable Sources show that he is engaged to be married to another man.

Kurtz told Sullivan: “You are a lifelong conservative who supported George Bush in 2000, and now you’re a fierce critic of the administration and you supported John Kerry in 2004.”

How can a self-described conservative have voted for Kerry in 2004? The answer lies in the fact that Sullivan is consumed by the issue of his own homosexuality. But because Bush opposes homosexual marriage, Sullivan has turned on him. Sullivan has also flip-flopped on the Iraq War, going from a supporter to an opponent.

So on what issue is a Sullivan a conservative? He claims to be opposed to extravagant federal spending. He refers to the “astonishing leap in federal spending under the Bush Republicans.” But I searched through his book and found no complaints about the disproportionate amount of federal money being spent on AIDS. So far, about $200 billion has been spent on HIV/AIDS. The FAIR Foundation exists to highlight the federal favoritism given to AIDS over other more deadly diseases that affect far more people.

In his book, Sullivan makes statements that would strike most conservatives as invalid or looney. He complains, for example, that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth engaged in “character assassination” of Kerry when the organization simply documented his war-time service and statements that assisted the enemy.

A self-proclaimed Christian, he spends some of his book bashing Christian “fundamentalists” who want to protect the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. Once again, this is where Sullivan’s homosexuality consumes him.

On Reliable Sources, as well as in his book, Sullivan also faulted Republicans for coming to the defense of Terri Schiavo, the disabled woman whose life ended when her estranged husband ordered her life-support withdrawn. The case, Sullivan claimed, “showed that they [the Republicans] had no restraint, no moderation, no respect for the states.”

In that case, the conservative proposition was that she had a right to life that should not be taken away on suspicious grounds without the federal courts being given the chance to review her circumstances. Her own wishes on the subject of the end of life were in dispute but some members of her family wanted to continue taking care of her.

Senator Bill Frist was ridiculed for suggesting, based on his viewing of some film footage of her condition, that she was responding to outside stimuli and deserved the chance to live. We have since learned, through research published by the journal Nature, that a brain in a person in a persistent vegetative state can, despite outside appearances, seemingly operate almost normally. The research holds out the hope of such people coming out of their debilitating conditions and achieving real consciousness. 

You can read about this research in an article that appeared in the Washington Post on September 8. Sullivan must have missed it.

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