Accuracy in Media

Remember when former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke was running as a Republican? Top Republicans denounced him. President Bush said about him, “His message of bigotry and his racism is bad. It’s bad for the country…” GOP party chairman Rich Bond noted that when Duke ran for the Republican nomination for governor in Louisiana, “the entire party structure campaigned against Duke. No hesitation, no discussion. We went out and helped beat him.” The major media were there to make sure that the Republicans disavowed Duke.

But contrast that to general Democratic Party and media silence over Geoff Fieger running as the Democratic nominee for governor in Michigan. In fact, many Democrats have endorsed and support him. Who is Geoff Fieger? He is best known as the former lawyer for Jack Kevorkian, the well-known advocate of assisted suicide who believes human organs ought to be harvested from suicide victims. In fact, one of Kevorkian’s lawyers, Michael Odette, resigned after Kevorkian harvested organs from one of his suicides, and advertised them for use in a kidney transplant. A medical examiner called the work a “mutilation” after performing an autopsy.

But Geoff Fieger has never disavowed Kevorkian. One of his few critical comments was that Fieger would not appoint him to a position in his administration if he becomes governor. Fieger said about him, “Can you imagine a man with more skeletons in his closet than Jack Kevorkian?” He did not explain if that statement was supposed to be taken literally.

But Fieger has some explaining of his own to do. Fieger has compared orthodox Jewish rabbis to Nazis and has made fun of Christian beliefs. He told the Washington Post that “Jesus is just some goofball that got nailed to the cross.” He said the Pope was “some [blankety-blank] who’s wearing a hat three feet tall.”

Nevertheless, the Post ran a story about Fieger’s entry into the Michigan governor’s race that ran under the headline, “Kevorkian’s Lawyer Enlivens Race.” This millionaire lawyer was not seen as someone who was guilty of uttering hate speech; rather, he was viewed as entertaining and amusing. But can you imagine the Post or any other liberal paper running a story about David Duke under a headline that suggested he was interesting to watch and a good performer? This would be politically incorrect. But the worst that the Post could say about Fieger was that he was a “bombastic mouthpiece” for Kevorkian and a “liberal” politically.

Oddly, Fieger’s ability to make outrageous statements has made him a media favorite. This is, unfortunately, a sign of our times. It also appears that Fieger gets away with it because of the nature of his targets – traditional religious believers. His support from top Democrats, including Michigan Democratic Congressman David Bonior, makes this matter extremely worrisome.

Where is the outrage? President Clinton, Vice President Gore, House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt, Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle and Democratic party chairman Roy Romer should be asked to explain whether they support Geoff Fieger, in the same way that Republicans were asked to disavow David Duke.

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