Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post reported, in a “Style” section piece, that Secretary of State Colin Powell was given a tribute at a U.S. Global Leadership Campaign dinner “by his old pal Ted Koppel.” The audience included CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. So what exactly is the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign? It turns out that the group is mainly preoccupied with spending more taxpayer dollars on foreign aid. And guess what? A corporate member of the group is Halliburton.

That’s not newsworthy or important because Halliburton, in this case, is doing something the liberals want. As long as corporate America lines up behind more spending on foreign aid, including the United Nations, they are spared any critical scrutiny by the press. And that’s why the attendance of media people like Koppel and Blitzer at such an event is so non-controversial and even gets favorable coverage.

Their attendance also helps explain why the U.N. in particular gets good coverage, except for the occasional story about the oil-for-food scandal involving the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. This Campaign for Global Leadership group considers the U.N. a great force for peace. The website of the campaign includes several quotes from media people, including Robert G. Kaiser of the Washington Post. He, in turn, quoted Edward P. Djerejian, assistant secretary of state for the Near East in the administration of George H.W. Bush, as saying that the Foreign Service “has been decimated over the last years because of inadequate funding.”    The solution: more foreign aid.

The group also cites “Foreign Aid in Our Own Defense,” an op-ed byRichard Sokolsky and Joseph McMillan that appeared in the New York Times. They contend that “a program of tightly focused foreign aid” would help “address the economic, political and social conditions that will otherwise continue breeding new terrorists?” And an article by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post, December 26, 2001, contends that, “We need the world as much as they need us.” The group realizes that most Americans don’t want to spend more on foreign aid. So they have come up with a new claim?that foreign aid will buy off the Islamic terrorists, led by multimillionaire Osama bin Laden.

Five years ago it was called the Campaign to Preserve U.S. Global Leadership, and Hillary Clinton was speaking to the group. We went back and read her remarks. She noted the Clinton Administration was proposing $21.3 billion for the international affairs budget for Fiscal Year 2000. Bush is proposing that it rise to $31.5 billion by 2004. Bush may be getting criticized on many matters, but spending on foreign aid is not one of them.

This so-called “global leadership campaign” has gone into high gear, with that dinner honoring Powell, because the House Appropriations Committee announced that spending on the International Affairs Budget was going to be cut $2 billion below the President’s request. Yes, we hear a lot about the deficit. But when it comes to spending on foreign aid, talk of the deficit and the need to cut spending are pushed aside. Don’t expect fair and balanced coverage on this issue, especially on Ted Koppel’s Nightline.

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