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Friday, April 18, 2003
Sorry to Beat a Dead Horse...
But I've got to take up the topic of media bias again. The impetus this time comes in the form of the increasing slurs against Fox News Channel being made by mainstream media types. Two days ago, for example, Richard Roeper wrote this in his 4/15 column in the Chicago Sun Times:
" With slogans such as 'Fair and balanced,' and, 'We report, you decide,' they're giving the Iraqi information minister a run for his money in the B.S. department. Look, there's nothing inherently wrong with a cable channel tilting so far to the right that you wonder if it's going to fall over; just don't lie about it, OK?"
What's really galling is that inevitably critics of FNC make this same sort of unsupported assertion. No evidence. Just relentless repetition: "Fox is right-wing. Fox is right-wing."
Contrast this, for example, to the approach of the Media Research Center, which has spent years meticulously documenting the left-wing media bias of the major news networks and CNN. People like Roeper are constitutionally incapable of understanding that their perception of Fox as a right-wing network is entirely a function of their acceptance of left-wing bias as the norm.
Consider, for example, how just one network - ABC - has exhibited the grossest sort of bias as relates to the Iraq issue.
- Peter Jennings has spotlighted every conceivable sort of protest against Bush, including 200 people at his ranch, a "virtual" on-line protest, and of course the street protests. He issued a total blackout, though, of pro-war demonstrations, including one in New York City on April 10 with over 15,000 participants, and one the next day in Washington D.C. of about 5,000. The same day as the second protest, a gathering of 40 protestors at the Masters was deemed wothy of coverage, however.
- Jennings has accused the Bush adminstration of "pretending" anti-war protests aren't happening and lamented how little campus unrest there is over the war.
- Jennings has consistently offered what can be charitably called thinly veiled editorializing as "news." Like this on his February 19 broadcast: "It is quite clear in Washington tonight that the administration is prepared to jeopardize its relations with several of its oldest and best friends in order to get its way about Iraq.”
- Most recently, Jennings has taken up the cause of the Hollywood left, fretting over what he is laughably trying to portray as a form of latter-day McCarthyism in the form of the backlash against anti-war Hollywood leftists. Jennings apparently cannot grasp that while these people have their right to speak nonsense, others have the right to organize boycotts and express their opinions as well. Listen to how he introduced the story:
"Finally this evening, what it sometimes costs to be in the minority and say what you think publicly. There is nothing like a war to create tension between some of those who most fervently support it and those who do not. And as we've seen in the case of this war, when those who are opposed happen to be in show business, well, some other people want to make them pay. And for both sides, it is always billed as a matter of free speech. To bring us up to date on this, ABC's Jim Wooten."
This introduced a story bemoaning "blacklists" and the plight of the poor, persecuted Hollywood left. With no representation from the other side of course.
For details on Jennings' anti-war bias see this and this. For details of Jennings advocacy of the beleaguered leftists of Tinseltown, see this.
But to the Richard Roepers of the world, there is no bias at ABC. Just Fox News.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
How to deal with the Gang of Three
John O'Sullivan has written a beautiful column on how the U.S. and its allies should deal with what he has dubbed the "Gang of Three." That would be France, Germany, and Russia. He hits the nail right on the head when detailing how the conventional internationalist wisdom is all wet in its view that we should just let bygones be bygones.
I've thought all along that the divide between the Angloshpere and Old Europe is much deeper than a simple difference of opinion over how to deal with terrorism. Deeper, even, than simple self-interest in the form of a desire to protect national business interests - though an element of that is certainly present.
O'Sullivan explains it wonderfully. Forgive the lengthy quote, but I edited as much as I could bring myself to:
"....(A) consensus is emerging in the foreign policy establishment that there must be neither recriminations nor gloating from Washington and London. We must ignore the fact that the Russians supplied Saddam Hussein with useful intelligence against us; overlook that the French organized a coalition of states against Washington at the United Nations, and not mind that the Germans issued fierce moral condemnations of U.S. militarism for conducting a war that was carefully designed to avoid civilian casualties. And, having closed our eyes to these inconvenient truths, we must set about restoring allied cooperation and 'multilateral' solutions to international problems.
"If the Iraq crisis were simply that--a crisis about Iraq and nothing else--then we might be prepared to let bygones be bygones. To coin a phrase, we might rebuild our unity around the values that all great democracies share. As Chirac knows better than anyone, however, the divisions over the Iraq war were caused by the reality that all the great democracies do not share the same values.
"France, Germany, and Russia united against the United States because they think that America has too much power and that this power is used to advance what the French call 'Anglo-Saxon liberalism' --broadly speaking, the free market in economics, unfettered free speech, vigorous popular democratic debate in politics, and a rooted respect for social and political equality.
"What the 'Gang of Three' favor for their countries is extensive economic and social regulation by government institutions that, though formally democratic, place almost all power in the hands of remote bureaucratic elites. But they know that American freedom is infectious and that it undermines their own more rigid systems--if only because the United States is beating their countries by almost every economic and social test extant. And they fear that Iraq means an extension of this destabilizing freedom to the Middle East.
"Hence they seek in general to subject the United States to control by 'multilateral' institutions that mimic rule by unaccountable elites on an international level. They would prefer Iraq to be run by such elites rather than by the United States. 'Multilateralism' on these terms ceases to be a synonym for international cooperation and becomes nothing better than a diplomatic weapon for frustrating U.S. policy and limiting American influence."
The entire article can be found here.
I watched with great interest yesterday's questions for the Prime Minister of the UK. Tony Blair continues to impress.
Clearly upset with the success of the war, the opponents are quickly turning to anything they can find with which to beat up Blair and the coalition. An object of particular concern among the Laborites this week were rumors about an impending invasion of Syria. Blair dismissed such talk as the fanciful bleating of "conspiracy threorists." FOUR times he said "the are absolutely no plans to invade Syria." FOUR times he explained that the statements vis-a-vis Syria from the U.S. have related to warnings not to harbor any of Saddam's thugs. FOUR times he explained that he talks with President Bush almost daily and that he knows for a fact that there are no plans in Washington for such an invasion.
It appears as if some of the British MP's are as dense as American journalists.
I did learn something, though. A particularly dreadful woman from a place called Halifax asked a question which went essentially like this:
"Didn't the U.S. and the U.K. both PROVE that this war was simply about getting their hands on Iraqi oil by virtue of the fact that some of the first places they secured were the oil fields?!"
Now one reason for this, of course, was to prevent the Saddamites from setting them on fire as they had done in Iraq. And as Blair reminded her, the coalition has repeatedly said the wells also needed to be protected to generate revenue FOR THE IRAQIS.
With regards to the UK, however, Blair brought up one other point, of which I had frankly been unaware. The UK is a net exporter of oil! So the argument that the UK wants its hands on Iraqi oil is triply preposterous.
Also on CSPAN, I saw a segment with Mona Charen, author of Useful Idiots. It was taped on 4/9. A questioner asked her what she thought the leftists would whine about once the war was won and Iraqis welcomed coalition troops as their liberators.
“They’ll start saying things like: ‘The war’s been over for a week. Why haven’t we had elections?!’
Looks like she was pretty on the mark. They’ve been reduced to griping about looting.
George W. Bush has a personality trait that I greatly respect and admire, and that is not fully grasped by many - including many in the U.S.. Bush is a man who believes, perhaps above all else, in loyalty. In marked contrast to his predecessor, one simply doesn't hear stories about people who were formerly close to Bush, but who fell out of favor for reasons they could not understand or identify.
This, I believe, is a trait that used to be much more common than it is in our postmodern world. The idea that a friend is a friend through thick and thin must seem quaint to many in our age of expediency and shifting loyalties. But to understand President Bush, if you understand nothing else, you must understand this aspect of his person.
The flip side is that when Bush feels he has been wronged by a person he felt to be a friend or ally, he doesn't forgive easily...if at all. Look at this article in the Toronto Sun, for example:
“U.S. President George W. Bush will host Australian Prime Minister John Howard for talks on Iraq at the American leader's Texas ranch May 2-3, the White House said yesterday.
“The visit's announcement came a day after Bush and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien put off a planned May 5 meeting in Canada, citing the demands of Iraq and saying tensions over Canada's opposition to the war were not responsible.
‘Australia has stood as a strong ally and close friend on the major security challenges we face today,’ White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters. ‘The president looks forward to extensive consultations and discussions with Prime Minister Howard about how to rebuild a liberated Iraq, ensuring the elimination of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, expanding global trade and advancing peace and stability in Asia and the Pacific region.’ Howard has been a staunch U.S. ally in the war on Iraq, and is one of the few countries to contribute troops.
“On Sunday, when the postponement of Bush's visit to Canada was announced, the Bush administration said the decision was due to Bush's "ongoing obligations" in Iraq....
‘Americans have a memory like an elephant for certain things,’ the U.S. ambassador to NATO-member Belgium, Stephen Brauer, said last week in suggesting Belgium's opposition to war could endanger its claim to NATO's headquarters in Brussels.
“Bush has long had a reputation for being unforgiving to disloyalty or personal slights, going back to his role as an "enforcer" during the presidency of his father, George H.W. Bush.
“A day after the U.S. president and Chrétien put off their planned meeting, the White House said Bush would host the Australian prime minister, a ‘strong ally and close friend.’
‘That's what this administration is really good at. The president is the kind of person who values loyalty highly,’ said Brookings Institution security analyst Ivo Daalder. ‘John Howard gets his special visit at the ranch and people who haven't supported him, they get the cold shoulder.’“