Accuracy in Media

The media are shedding crocodile tears over the fact that the FBI has interviewed some left-wing activists about plans to disrupt the Republican national convention.  CNN and MSNBC aired an interview with one protester, Sarah Bardwell, who described how chilling it was to get a visit from the FBI.  We found stories about Bardwell’s encounter with the FBI as far away as Germany and England.

But the liberal media have no sympathy for Dr. Kenneth Berry, who was not only interviewed by the FBI, but had his home raided by federal agents wearing biosuits.  The FBI campaign has now cost Dr. Berry his job at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  The FBI’s highly-publicized raids have been enough to ruin his career.  Berry’s friend, Pastor Richard “Dick” Helms, says, “Hope the folks keep praying for him.”  He has urged the FBI to apologize.

That doesn’t seem likely.  The FBI was trying to make a public relations point, that it was making progress in the investigation of the post-9/11 anthrax letters.  John Anderson, a journalist for a local paper, the Wellsville (New York) Daily Reporter, captured the drama very well: “When agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) rolled into Wellsville, they didn’t come quietly.  Agents in a Winnebago and unmarked cars from three states quickly surrounded the home of Dr. Kenneth Berry on East Pearl Street, then shut the road down to Madison Street.  Meanwhile, a busy section of Maple Avenue was closed about a half-mile down Madison Street where Dr. Berry at one time had an apartment.  And in Chadwick Beach, N.J., the FBI closed off another area to check Dr. Berry’s vacation home.”

Anderson added, “Over two dozen agents were in each location?.Several television stations broke in live with the coverage.  It instantly made national news and reporters from major newspapers in the country were in Wellsville by Friday, Aug. 6.  The FBI left around 13 hours after they started the search in Wellsville.  Now, the public may never know if Dr. Berry is completely exonerated in this case, even though he has never been charged.”

The damage has already been done. Berry’s friend, Pastor Helms, says that, because of the FBI raids, “I fear that the FBI’s actions will deprive America of a real asset in our war on terrorism, if not a national treasure in that area.”  Despite the presumption of innocence in the U.S., Helms knows that Berry’s reputation has been ruined.  “You know how people are,” he says.  Yes, we know that people will talk and gossip.  But we don’t understand why the FBI contributes to such a process.  And why the media aid and abet it. 

Much of what we saw in the Berry case occurred in the case of Dr. Steven Hatfill, a former government scientist who had his home raided by the FBI.  The FBI also raided his girlfriend’s apartment.  Hatfill, however, fought back, filing lawsuits against the Justice Department and the media.  While Berry and Hatfill get no sympathy from the press, the left-wing protesters threatening to disrupt the GOP convention get treated as First Amendment activists in the tradition of our founding fathers.  Does it look like a case of media bias to you?

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