Jewish World Review Nov. 20, 2003 / 25 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764
The Media Misses the Point Again
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London
"I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction."
You have probably never heard of him before, but Mayor Livingstone is having quite a jolly good run in the worldwide media. The Independent (of London) newspaper ran a feature story about Livingstone and his comments, which was then linked on websites coast-to-coast here at home. To read the media's coverage of President Bush's visit to Britain, one would think that the majority of Britons agree with Mr. Livingstone, that the President was wading into a sea of anti-Americanism.
"London Braces for Bush Visit," screamed the front-page headline in The Washington Post.
"Londoners Gather to Protest Bush Visit," breathlessly intoned the Associated Press.
The day before the President arrived in London, cable television showed endless footage of the crack-pot woman who scaled the gates of Buckingham Palace, and for a few moments, hung an American flag upside down.
As usual, the media highlights the sideshow and misses the main attraction.
Just as a few thousand scruffy anti-WTO/NAFTA/war/Bush protesters here at home are guaranteed lavish coverage on the evening newscasts, the small minority of Britons making the anti-Bush stink in London this week are garnering media attention far beyond what they merit. From a new poll conducted by The Guardian/ICM, we learn that those disgruntled folks no more speak for most British citizens than the radical anti-war group International ANSWER speaks for most Americans.
The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American. Sixty-two percent of voters believe that the US is "generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world." A plurality of people 43 percent say they welcomed George Bush's arrival in Britain, with only 36 percent saying that they wish he did not come. And the news keeps getting worse for the most virulent anti-war faction in Britain. The poll demonstrates a pro-war surge in England. (Yes, you read that right.) The increasingly brutal attacks on Western targets and troops in Iraq including Italian forces and Iraqi security forces is thought to have contributed to a 9 point jump in British support for the war with 47 percent of the voters now saying it was justified. Meanwhile, opposition to the war has slumped by 12 points since September to only 41% of all voters.
Another interesting point in this survey a majority of young people in their 20s welcomed the President's visit. (Bizarrely, the over-65 crowd is the most anti-Bush age group in Britain.) It's still too early to tell, but this roughly correlates with the results of a study done recently by Harvard's Institute for Politics, which shows that young Americans aged 18 to 30 as more supportive of President Bush than any other age group.
It should be of no surprise to savvy news consumers here at home that the "mainstream press" (time to stop calling them "mainstream") usually overlooks these stories completely. It's not as exciting to report that President Bush, while facing major challenges domestically and internationally, is still quite popular. Oh, and one more thing such reporting would do absolutely nothing to feed the anti-Bush addiction that many of the media outlets in the US suffer from.
Mayor Livingstone is entitled to his opinion about America and President Bush, but his virulent anti-American rhetoric should not obscure the fact that Britain is our friend. In the 1980s, when a vociferous cadre of European "intellectuals" were branding Ronald Reagan a warmonger, Reagan remained unbowed. He refused to cave in to the peaceniks who urged unilateral disarmament and sure enough, the Soviet Union soon collapsed. George Bush is not Ronald Reagan there will never be another Reagan. But like Reagan, he is defying his critics, and if history is any guide, the naysayers in the media will once again be proven wrong.
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JWR contributor Laura Ingraham is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show and the author of the just released "Shut Up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN are Subverting America". Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Laura Ingraham