Jewish World Review Feb. 25, 2002/ 15 Adar 5762


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Consumer Reports

Proof in the funny papers -- LOOK, I'm as tired as anyone of seeing Bernard Goldberg flog his excellent book "Bias" on (mostly) cable-tv talk shows. The guy's not a natural; same jokes, same stories, same vignettes each time out. But the fact that he's a crummy self-promoter doesn't detract one bit from the thesis of Bias; that the New York-DC media elite is so cocooned in its snooty cocktail-party lifestyle that it automatically condescends to its audience. A Washington Post article on Feb. 17, trashing Ralph Reed, offered a microcosm of what Goldberg explained in his bestseller that's aggravated so many See-You-in-the-Hamptons-on-Memorial-Day journalists and executives.

Joe Stephens wrote: "Enlisting Reed's aid would have been in character with Enron's strategy of aligning itself with high-visibility political figures and pundits. Those who have accepted pay from Enron for their advice and other help include Bush economist Lawrence B. Lindsey, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, economist Paul Krugman, CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow, U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and incoming Republican National Committee chairman Marc Racicot."

Funny that Krugman, the one liberal cited, was described merely as an "economist" and not also an op-ed columnist for The New York Times.

This is exactly what Goldberg's book is all about.


Conservatives ought to give Secretary of State Colin Powell a break. You'd think religious groups like the Family Research Council and Eagle Forum might understand that Powell's got a lot more on his mindčlike preparing the military for the inevitable overthrow of Saddam Husseinčthan an insignificant appearance on MTV. Powell's sin? He said, in a question about condom use: "I certainly respect the views of the Holy Father and the Catholic Church. In my own judgment, condoms are a way to prevent infection, and therefore I not only support their use, I encourage their use among people who are sexually active and need to protect themselves... It's the lives of young people that are put at risk by unsafe sex, and therefore protect yourself."

Quoted in the Feb. 16 Washington Times, the Eagle Forum's Lori Waters said: "We're certainly displeased with Mr. Powell's statements. Perhaps Mr. Powell should read studies that show that condoms don't prevent the spread of HIV. Perhaps he should read the Republican platform on abstinence-only education. His remarks undermine the president."

What idiocy. Perhaps Waters, and Powell's other detractors, ought to consider that if this country's war on terrorism goes awry, and there are more attacks on U.S. soil, scores of teenagers won't even be alive to make their own decisions on whether or not to use a condom. In addition, I have a real problem with all these abstinence-only scolds: I wonder, if given truth serum, how many of them could prove they waited until matrimony to have sex. The number would make a Montreal Expos crowd look like a sell-out at Yankee Stadium.

On the other hand, the Boston Globe, in a Feb. 18 editorial, thought Powell didn't go far enough. The paper said: "Powell's appearance on MTV, which also included sensible remarks on race, the role of the United States in the world, and its slowness in dealing with the menace of the Taliban in Afghanistan, made up for lost ground. It would have been even better if he had combined it with an announcement of a major increase in support for the global AIDS fund."

Here's an idea: Why doesn't The New York Times Co. sell the Globe and contribute the proceeds to that global AIDS fund?

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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© 2002, Russ Smith