Jewish World Review July 7, 2004 /18 Tamuz, 5764

Joe Scarborough

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Will the media call a cease-fire in its war with America's foreign policy? | During the 2000 presidential election I was a sitting Republican in Congress. That's one of the reasons why I campaigned for George W. Bush in 2000. Because I have a habit of talking straight to you, I told "HARDBALL"'s Chris Matthews back then on air that I thought the political media was much tougher on Al Gore during that election than George W. Bush.

After 9/11, the media took it easier on this White House than any other since the early days of LBJ's administration, back in 1964. But the media's treatment of George W. Bush took a nasty left turn after the war to liberate Iraq was launched in March of 2003. It was then that the same media that had behaved like lapdogs during the Bush administration's first three years turned into rottweilers on a search-and-destroy mission.

"The New York Times" and ABC News led the charge in the early days of the war. But by the summer of 2003, ABC News President David Westin demanded his reporters to do a better job of putting the Iraqi campaign in better perspective. His efforts succeeded in bringing balance to that esteemed outfit's war coverage.

"The New York Times" Howell Raines proved himself to be a brilliant editorial page editor. But when he became editor of the entire "Times" paper, he forgot to keep his opinions off of page one. "The Times"' war coverage was embarrassing, but not because Judith Miller reported that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That was a claim that was also made by the likes of Chirac, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Schroeder, and, yes, even Saddam Hussein.

Bill Keller's elevation to "Times" editor improved the coverage considerably. Note Sunday's even-handed account of the Iraqis responding to the latest regime change. But, unfortunately, Gail Collins' editorial page has proven itself to be little more than a shameless instrument of the Democratic machine, something you could never say about Howell Raines' editorial page.

Now, while Dowd, Safire, Kristof and Brooks are the best starting rotation in the business of op-eds, party hacks like Paul Krugman bring shame to this once great newspaper. With only two of "The New York Times"' 90 or so Iraqi editorials mentioning anything positive about our war of liberation, how can snobs working at the old gray lady ever accuse Bill O'Reilly or Fox News of being biased?

"The New York Times" editorial voice has been more biased than Fox News — I'm sorry, the Fox News's editorial voice has been a lot more even-handed than "The New York Times" editorial page, which reminds me again just how much I miss journalistic giants like Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley.

Now, I don't care if these guys voted a straight Democratic Party ticket their entire life. For the most part, they left those opinions in the voting booth. And instead, they gave it to you straight, or at least they made the effort. That's all we ask for, for fairness and moderation in reporting. And if you're going to give your opinion, as I do every night, let viewers know, it's your op-ed page.

But, even then, be more dedicated to the truth than to a political party. I look forward to the day when I can say that again about the paper I read every day, "The New York Times."

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Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts “Scarborough Country,” 10 p.m. ET, weeknights on MSNBC. Comment by clicking here.

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