Accuracy in Media

Can we count on the media to promise adherence to a New Year’s Resolution that they will henceforth publish only that which is true, and that if they make a mistake, they will correct it immediately? Don’t count on it. On Sunday, the Washington Post published a story by Michael Dobbs claiming to correct various alleged misstatements made by the presidential candidates. The story was itself in error, especially in claiming that statements by Rep. Ron Paul and others about a planned “NAFTA superhighway” are “demonstrably false.”

The Post has no credibility in lecturing the candidates on what they can and cannot say. The Post recently published various accounts of how a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo had overcome a wall and attacked three visitors. But the Post couldn’t get the facts straight on a simple story such as this. It said the wall was 20, 18 or 12.5 feet high. If the paper can’t get a basic fact correct about the height of a wall at a zoo, what makes you think it can monitor and correct the statements of presidential candidates? The work of its self-described “fact-checker,” Michael Dobbs, who supposedly runs a “truth squad” at the paper and is committed to “sorting truth from campaign fiction,” is a joke. Arrogant and superficial he is. A fact-checker he is not.

On the matter of the height of the zoo wall, let’s understand how badly the paper botched the essential facts. A December 27 Post story by Marc Kaufman and Sylvia Moreno declared that the Christmas Day attack at the zoo occurred “when the tiger somehow got out of its enclosure?one that included a surrounding moat and a 20-foot-high wall.” Later in the story, the paper said that “zoo officials told reporters that the wall is 18 feet high” and that “Many tiger experts then said it is virtually impossible for a tiger to jump that high, adding to the mystery of how the animal got out.” The paper then added, “The actual size of the 67-year-old wall could change those views.”

One day later, the facts changed again. Kaufman reported in the Post that the wall “is below the minimum height recommended by the nation’s zoo accrediting agency” and that the Zoo Director said it is 12.5 feet high, well below the 16.4-foot recommended minimum height.

Consider that the Post, which can’t get the facts straight on the height of a wall at a zoo, now purports to correct Rep. Ron Paul and others on a claim that a “NAFTA superhighway” is being planned.

He’s Not Lou Dobbs

This self-described Washington Post “fact checker,” Michael Dobbs, has worked for the paper since 1980, has written three books, and has held fellowships at such prestigious places as Harvard and Princeton universities. His “chief researcher,” Alice Crites, “has been the crack researcher for the Post’s investigative department for the better part of the last decade,” a bio says. With this kind of background, you might think they know how to research and write a story.

But based on their work on the NAFTA superhighway controversy, they ought to give it up. It’s too bad because Dobbs’ bio says that he played a role in covering Dan Rather’s use of bogus memos to smear President Bush before the 2004 presidential election. That was a real journalistic scandal. Now, in jumping on Rep. Paul and others about the NAFTA Superhighway controversy, they have gotten themselves in a scandal of their own. Their work was on a par with Rather’s.

Dobbs gives Reps. Paul, Duncan Hunter, and Tom Tancredo four “Pinocchios” for their comments on the matter. A “Pinocchio” is meant to suggest that they have lied. Four of them constitute a “whopper,” or a big lie. However, during the brief time that Dobbs or Crites apparently researched this topic, Dobbs admits that a Google search of the Federal Highway Administration turned up a reference to a “NAFTA Superhighway” running from Minnesota to the Texas-Mexico border. But he dismisses the significance of the term. This is called cognitive dissonance. He seems afraid that there might be something to it.

If he has a fondness for federal websites, he ought to quote from the federal Security & Prosperity Partnership (SPP), which claims that while the U.S. government “is not planning a NAFTA Super Highway,” there are “private and state level interests [which are] planning highway projects which they themselves describe as ‘NAFTA Corridors’?” Down in Texas, one part of it is called the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) highway system. What’s more, a group called NASCO is openly promoting, with federal funding, a “corridor” between and among the three countries. It disavows the term “NAFTA superhighway,” saying it refers only to an existing interstate highway, but the purpose of the NASCO corridor is clearly to expand U.S., Mexican, and Canadian transportation infrastructure as part of a trilateral arrangement.

Whether it is one highway or a series of “corridors,” there is obviously a project underway with federal assistance to facilitate and expand trade between Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. Such a project could run roughshod over private property rights and facilitate illegal activities, such as the trafficking of people and drugs, from Mexico. And that is why it should be a major issue of this political campaign.

Hard to Admit the Truth

It’s hard to believe that Michael Dobbs could have missed this basic truth. He may not want to admit that Rep. Paul and the others are correct on this critical point because to do so would raise the question of why papers like the Post are not covering the growing controversy. Why, for example, haven’t they covered the fact that Judicial Watch, the public interest legal group, has been forced to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to get some of the details about the secretive federal “working groups” that exist under the SPP to facilitate trilateral agreements involving trade matters? Judicial Watch uncovered documents that quote participants in the scheme as saying that an “evolution by stealth” strategy is being used to put the plan into place. Documents also speak of developing a common security perimeter and a common identification card for citizens of the three countries.

Shouldn’t the Post be interested in telling its readers that the SPP has never been approved by Congress? Or is this a case of “secret government” that the paper approves of?

As Dobbs alleged, descriptions of the NAFTA highway vary in size and scope. But that’s because so many details are still being kept hidden from the public, and people have to try to put the pieces of the puzzle together based on information from various sources. In a sense, the NAFTA superhighway is like that wall at the San Francisco Zoo. It exists, and that is the key point. The Post should be interested in getting and publishing the facts and details, not smearing conservative journalists like Jerome Corsi who are doing the appropriate and necessary investigative work. Corsi’s book, The Late Great USA, provides important information about this project and even documents a Chinese connection to it.

As AIM has noted, however, the real issue is not so much the highway or the corridors but the plan to bring the three countries together in a trilateral entity or even union governed by so-called North American institutions. Like the issue of illegal immigration, it affects our survival as a sovereign nation. Our media just don’t seem to get it, perhaps because they employ so many illegals as nannies, housekeepers and gardeners.

A Major Story of Our Lifetimes

As AIM readers know, I covered a February 16, 2007, conference sponsored by the Center for North American Studies at American University (AU) that was devoted to an emerging “North American Community.” This is what conference organizer Robert Pastor, a former Carter Administration official and Clinton adviser, prefers to call it. Academic literature distributed to conference participants discussed a common legal framework for the U.S., Canada and Mexico and proposals for a North American Court of Justice (with the authority to overrule a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court), a North American Trade Tribunal, and a Charter of Fundamental Human Rights for North America. One of Pastor’s students at AU wrote a paper saying that Pastor personally favors a North American Parliament.

Dobbs and his colleagues at the Post chose not to cover this conference or its ramifications. So because they have missed one of the biggest stories of our lifetimes?how powerful political forces are trying to promote a super state for North America like the European Union for Europe?they have decided to depict those who dare to tell the truth or raise questions about this trend away from national sovereignty as liars, cranks, and frauds.

Perhaps our New Year’s resolution ought to be to treat the Washington Post like The Onion, the comedy paper in Washington, D.C. that is printed by the Post. But which one are we supposed to be laughing at? Now you know why we call it the Washington Compost.

But while we laugh at the Post and its “fact-checkers,” we should keep the pressure on the press to correct its errors and cover the facts. As for the politicians, one can fault Rep. Paul for his stands on various issues, but exposing and opposing the NAFTA highway isn’t one of them. Other Republican presidential candidates may have to follow his lead on this and perhaps other sovereignty-related issues. He was way ahead of all the others, for example, on the matter of safeguarding American sovereignty from the United Nations. He calls for a complete U.S. withdrawal from the corrupt world body.

For our part, we have to use the New Year to promote passage of the Broadcaster Freedom Act, in order to protect those in conservative talk radio who talk about the issues that we know in our hearts and our minds are valid and legitimate. It is because of talk radio and the Internet that millions of Americans know that Rep. Paul is right, not wrong, about the NAFTA highway.

However, our new book on The Death of Talk Radio? warns that freedom of speech is in increasing jeopardy in the U.S. We offer an action guide for saving the First Amendment.

We have a lot of work to do. Don’t remain on the sidelines. And don’t let the Washington Post demoralize you. We at AIM have been fighting them for decades. We can use your support.

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.