Accuracy in Media

Fox News Channel (FNC) has hired former CBS News correspondent Marvin Kalb as a Fox News analyst. FNC host Bill O’Reilly was a student of Kalb’s at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School, where he earned a masters degree in public policy. Kalb is now a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Washington Program.

In addition to his regular appearances on FNC, Kalb showed up as the moderator of an ACLU “Town Hall Meeting on NSA Surveillance” on February 20, where he ventured the paranoid “suspicion” that the NSA spying program against al Qaeda is really going after “political opponents” of the Bush Administration. He offered no evidence for this fantastic claim.

And I thought it was the Bush Administration that was trying to scare people.

The event turned into a Democratic Party campaign event, as panelist John Dean, the former Nixon official who has gone way over to the left, said he hoped that a “light bulb goes off” and that the American people “go to the polls and make a decision” to throw out the Republicans in Congress this year.

The only “balance” in the discussion was provided by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, who said he didn’t think that members of the Bush Administration had evil motives. 

This event, broadcast on C-SPAN, was preceded by a C-SPAN interview of Anthony D. Romero, the Executive Director of the ACLU, who was advertised “as the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity.”

On January 15, the ACLU announced that billionaire Peter Lewis, an admitted pothead once arrested on drug charges, would provide $8 million to the organization “to fight Bush Administration policies that trample on civil liberties.”

Picking up where Kalb left off, and showing that the paranoia goes from left to right, the January 30 edition of Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative magazine includes a “Deep Background” article by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer who claims that the “targets” of the NSA program have included “contacts or sources for journalists in the United States who were working on terrorism stories and who were in turn linked to the ostensible targeting of al Qaeda when their numbers came up on telephone logs.” He didn’t name any names.

He later referred to the “presence of a number of American journalists in the investigative pool” and cited this as a reason why “the government chose not to apply to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for authorization for the teltaps in the first place, as it would have raised both First and Fourth Amendment issues.”

Again, he offered no evidence for these sensational claims. Is he just trying to scare people?

An ACLU lawsuit against the NSA includes three journalists as plaintiffs. They are James Bamford, author of a book about the NSA; Christopher Hitchens, a left-wing writer who supports the Iraq War, and left-wing journalist Tara McKelvey.

Another plaintiff is the Council on American Islamic Relations. Nothing more needs to be said about why they might be concerned about the NSA program.

The problem with the suit is that they have no evidence-none-that they were targeted by the NSA. Therefore, they lack standing to sue, and the suit is frivolous.

But it still makes good television to cry wolf, as Kalb demonstrated at the ACLU event.




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