Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post has come under fire from its ombudsman for running a dubious Mike Allen story about the turkey President Bush was photographed holding in Baghdad. Allen made much of the fact that it was a decorative turkey. Ombudsman Michael Getler should take a hard look at another recent Post story that accused conservatives of being “divisive” for saying that liberals who obstruct conservative black judicial nominees are engaging in a form of “lynching.” The headline over the Post article was, “Lynching Comparison Furthers Divisiveness.” The story by Darryl Fears attacked Senator Zell Miller and conservative black columnist Thomas Sowell for using the term.

This is the kind of story that makes Bernard Goldberg’s point about liberal media bias. This story reflects liberal or Democratic sensitivity to being accused of lynching black nominees. Reporter Fears said that columnist Sowell “did not return several calls seeking comment.” It’s no wonder: he recognized a hatchet job in the making.

On the other hand, here’s a story you won’t find in the Washington Post. It’s about the issuance of a stamp commemorating the life of Paul Robeson, a communist who was a disciple of the old Soviet Union. Robeson made common cause with the greatest killing machine of the 20th century. Yet the Postal Service has announced that a stamp will be issued with his likeness in connection with African-American History Month this coming February.

When the stamp was announced, MSNBC carried a story referring to Robeson as a “humanist,” as well as “legendary Black actor, singer, athlete, intellectual and civil rights activist.” A story on the public television NewsHour show featured a picture of Robeson on the screen under the term, “Freedom fighter.” But he wasn’t a fighter for freedom; rather, he was an apologist for Communist totalitarianism. A story posted on the CBS News website quoted chief stamp developer Terry McCaffrey as saying that it is believed that Robeson’s pro-Communist activities delayed the issuance of the stamp. He added, “I’m sure there will be that level of negativity because of his political activism, which he was cleared of a few years later.”

Cleared? The People’s Weekly World, the newspaper of the Communist Party, has detailed how the stamp came about because of six years of pressure on the Postal Service. The paper said the announcement was greeted with a news conference at Columbia University where Robeson earned a law degree. It said that present at the event was Jarvis Tyner of he Communist Party, who said, “This is a great victory,” and that Robeson “embraced all of the advanced ideas of the Communist Party USA?”

Some of the pressure for this came from Congress. A resolution supporting the stamp was introduced by Congressman Charlie Rangel, with 18 co-sponsors, most of them members of the Congressional Black Caucus. But to make a reference to this fact in print would apparently constitute unfair criticism of liberals. So it’s a story that never appears, further validating Goldberg’s charge of liberal media bias.

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