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Jewish World Review Jan. 3, 2006 / 3 Teves 5766

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The hate Bush syndrome | It's no question that the two big stories this year were Hurricane Katrina and the continuing chaos in Iraq. Both contain lessons. Katrina demonstrated just what can happen when the water hits the dam; no branch of government can save you from disaster. Those who didn't have the smarts or the wherewithal to flee the hurricane got blasted, especially in New Orleans. A metaphor for life: Get smart and depend on yourself. No bureaucracy can protect you from crisis or disaster.

Iraq taught us that well-intentioned theory can be trumped by unpredictable behavior. Before the invasion, the Bush administration was convinced the Iraqi people would be so thrilled by the prospective of a life free from tyranny that they would embrace coalition forces and a chance for democracy. It turns out that some Iraqis are addicted to tyranny and enjoy inflicting terror on anyone who opposes it. Should the USA have known that before it began nation building in a chaotic land? Probably.

The Iraq effort might still be successful, and that would be a huge plus for the world, but believe me when I tell you that America will not be invading another Muslim country any time soon.

There was one important story this year that went largely unreported, and that is the full-blown emergence of the "hate Bush media." This phenomenon is unlike anything the country has seen since the final days of Richard Nixon. Liberals will tell you that Bill Clinton was vilified in the media, but compared to the loathing directed at President Bush, Clinton's press plight was a foot massage.


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Led by the increasingly vitriolic New York Times, the mainstream media spins negative and attempts to undermine just about everything President Bush does. Almost every anti-terror strategy is opposed. The press, in general, doesn't like the Patriot Act, the CIA Rendition program, or phone monitoring by the NSA. The mainstream media is disgusted by coerced interrogation, appalled by military detention for terror suspects, and outraged by the denial of Geneva Convention rights for terrorists captured in civilian clothing. As for the fighting in Iraq, well, don't ask.

So how exactly would the press fight the war on terror? Perhaps by treating all captured foreign terrorists as criminals and providing them with constitutional protections, including civilian lawyers. This, of course, would make the terror fight impossible to win, but hey, that doesn't seem to concern the Bush haters.

The genesis of that hatred is the feeling that President Bush was illegally elected in 2000, and subsequently put forth calculated lies about WMDs in Iraq. Those beliefs are deeply ingrained in the media power centers, and so Mr. Bush has completely lost the benefit of the doubt. To many editors and their acolytes he's bad, dumb, dishonest, a holy roller, a fascist, a human rights violator, a violator of the Constitution and, the final straw, he takes too much vacation.

This loathing of the president is, without a doubt, dangerous for the nation. Any kind of irrationality on the part of the American media impedes the honest flow of information and causes damage to our system of checks and balances. The press is supposed to be an honest watchdog, not a vicious pit bull bent on destruction.

Most importantly, if the mainstream media will not give Mr. Bush a fair shake, the terrorists score a major victory. Chaos at the top aids the enemy. Right now, America desperately needs an honest press. It does not need a vengeful press.

The media absolutely should verify and fully explain what Mr. Bush does wrong, but it also needs to stop vilifying him across the board. The media hatred of the president is the stealth story of 2005, and it shows no sign of improving as we enter 2006.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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