celebrated Cindy Sheehan, "whose down-the-line dovishness
is more than offset by her standing as the mother of," etc.,
etc. Actually, Sheehan was more or less a summer-long anti-Bush
media construct, kept aloft by withholding the news that she regards
"insurgents" in Iraq as "freedom fighters,"
hates her country (America "is not worth dying for")
and thinks Lynne Stewart, the lawyer convicted of aiding terrorists,
is a real-life Atticus Finch, the heroic attorney of "To
Kill a Mockingbird." She's a loony Michael Moore clone, protected
by the media's "bereaved mom" image.
papers pulled all of our strings with stories, mostly played big
on Page One, about the 2,000th American soldier killed in Iraq.
Every military death is a tragedy, but more than 58,000 died in
Vietnam and almost 7,000 in a single World War II battle, Iwo
Jima, all without front-page anti-war articles posing as compassionate
front-page editorial is easy to find these days. On Nov. 21, The
New York Times felt it had to run four Page One photos of
Bush trying to exit a Beijing meeting though a locked door. What
a doofus! First he doesn't listen to us; now he doesn't even know
how to leave a room!
Bush deserves heavy blame for his current predicament, but it
is impossible to watch network news or read the elite newspapers
and not conclude that anti-Bush and anti-war reporters are pushing
things along. Reporters keep citing the switcheroo argument (that
Bush premised the Iraq invasion on WMDs, then switched to other
reasons when those weapons weren't found) without mentioning that
Bush and the administration cited other reasons many times. The
war resolution that all those Democrats voted on (and apparently
forgot) mentioned seven or eight strong reasons.
are fond of citing Condoleezza Rice's "mushroom cloud"
statement as an example of unwarranted hype about nonexistent
WMDs. Her full sentence, however, was a reasonable one: "There
will always be some uncertainty about how quickly (Saddam) can
acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to
be a mushroom cloud."
press chestnut is Vice President Cheney's statement on "Meet
the Press" that Iraq has reconstituted nuclear weapons. Yes,
he said that, but several other times on that program he talked
more carefully about the possibility of Iraq reconstituting such
weapons. Whether that one "reconstituted" was a verbal
slip, I can't say. But he retracted it on another edition of "Meet
the Press" (alas, six months later). The retraction usually
Bush belatedly responded to his critics, The Washington Post
ran the story as "Bush Spars With Critics of the War; Exchanges
With Democrats Take Campaign-Style Tone." The Power Line
blog got it right: "A non-partisan paper would headline the
story of Bush's defense of the integrity of his administration
by saying something like 'Bush responds to critics' ... But The
Washington Post isn't non-partisan ... So it tries to make
the president sound like he's engaging in partisan quibbling rather
than finally responding to charges which, in their strongest form,
cast him as one of the great villains in American history."
Or take Rep.
Jean Schmidt's "coward" outburst about Rep. John Murtha.
Her statement was well over the top. But it was followed by typical
media overkill. Schmidt, who apologized immediately, was pounded
for days. ("'Mean Jean' Goes to Washington and Invites a
Firestorm," said an alleged news article in The New York
Murtha, who few people had ever heard of, emerged as an astonishingly
important congressman. His call for immediate withdrawal of troops
was spun by Democrats as something more moderate and nuanced,
and the media went along. The resolution for immediate withdrawal,
defeated in a House vote of 403-3, was denounced by Nancy Pelosi
as "a disgrace," though the text of it was almost exactly
the same as Murtha's.
was not played as a defeat for Murtha. In fact, the defeat was
glossed over as somehow irrelevant, buried in some major papers
beneath "uproar in the House" reports. If the vote had
gone Murtha's way, you can bet that the press corps would not
have played the "uproar" angle as more important.
Can it be
that many national reporters are so afflicted by Bush hatred that
they can't let go long enough to report stories straight? Could
be. Consider the entire backward-looking thrust of so much reportage,
focusing sharply on what happened in 2002 and 2003, less on the
stake we have in prevailing in Iraq. If we lose in Iraq, it will
be the first great victory for global jihad, with tremendous consequences
for the United States. Can the media get over their obsession
with Bush and focus on that?