Accuracy in Media

John M. Broder of the New York Times had a long piece in a recent Sunday edition of the paper about how Republicans are supposed to be meaner and “rougher” in their campaign tactics.  He must have missed the dispatch on the Internet site, onlinejournal.com, speculating that President Bush is suffering from a mental disease called “presenile dementia.”  The writer goes on to suggest that John Kerry is the only “sane” choice for voters on November 2nd.  Onlinejournal.com happens to be a place where the writings of Bill Burkett sometimes appear.  He’s now confirmed as a source in the creation or distribution of the forged National Guard document used by CBS News. Reports indicate that Burkett suffered from a mental disorder and once had a nervous breakdown.

Salon.com had mentioned Burkett several times as a credible source.  It ran an interview with him on February 4 by Eric Boehlert.  Its Washington bureau chief, Sidney Blumenthal, is a former senior adviser to President Clinton.

The Times Broder piece was titled, “Republicans Pack Punch.  Democrats Take It.  (For Now).”  He wrote, “Do Republicans play a rougher game of politics than Democrats?  The question has been tossed around since Vice President Dick Cheney, in apparently unscripted remarks, suggested last week that electing the Democratic ticket in November would invite a devastating terrorist attack.  The Democrats cried foul, but of course there’s no referee in politics.  And neither party has a monopoly on ruthless, unscrupulous campaigning.  It just seems that the Republicans are, today at least, more adept at the black art of attack politics, according to historians and flummox Democratic partisans.”

Deep inside the paper, on page 19, there was a Times story by Jodi Wilgoren under the headline, “Kerry Suggests Rivals Might Suppress Black Votes.”  It was about Kerry suggesting that the Bush campaign would somehow try to keep blacks from the polls.  Kerry said that, “We are hearing those things already.”  Kerry wasn’t pressed by the Times or any other media to provide any evidence of racist conduct on the part of Republicans.  Instead, the Times asked the GOP to respond to Kerry’s vague and unsubstantiated charges.

It is highly ironic that this story would appear on a day when the paper would devote so much attention to how the Republicans are supposedly playing a “rougher” game of politics.  The charge of racism is about as mean and nasty as it gets, and it came from a Democrat, not a Republican.  Cheney backed away from his charge that a Kerry win on November 2 would invite a terror strike on America, but Kerry hasn’t backed away from his charge that Republicans want to suppress the black vote.

Reporters can be pretty mean themselves, and Cheney has been a frequent target of their attacks.  On September 19 the Washington Post ran a “Letter from the campaign trail” piece by Lisa Rein claiming that, “Cheney speaks like Darth Vader” and is the “voice of fear” on the Republican ticket.  She declared, “The vice president does not waste time on the stump smiling.”  Well, it looks like Lisa Rein doesn’t spend much time smiling around Republicans, especially Cheney.  She clearly despises him.




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