Jewish World Review March 24, 2003 / 20 Adar II, 5763

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reiley
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Consumer Reports

That's the way it isn't, Walter | No surprise, ideologues on both the left and the right are screaming that the media coverage of the Iraq War is slanted away from their beliefs. The sound and fury of partisans is predictable and not very important, because there are so many media outlets that the sheer amount of information Americans can potentially get obliterates any narrow agenda an individual journalist might have.

As far as TV news is concerned, the reportorial flow of information is occasionally tainted by a biased remark, but this is not a serious problem, because, again, there is just so much verbiage. However, there is a philosophical divide among the broadcast anchor people, and this you should know about.

In a speech at Drew University last week, Walter Cronkite harshly criticized the war and the Bush administration saying: "The arrogance of our spokespeople, even the president himself, has been exceptional, and it seems to be me they (other countries) have taken great umbrage at that. We have told them what they must do. It is a pretty dark doctrine."

It seems to me that the 83-year-old former CBS anchor is minimizing the fact that the Bush administration did try to work through the United Nations to disarm Iraq. And while it is true that many in the Bush administration could do with a Dale Carnegie seminar, it is also true that America was royally screwed in the U.N. Security Council by our so-called allies. Ask Colin Powell what he thinks of the way the French have conducted themselves.

But the real problem with Cronkite's analysis is that he looks at the situation from an international point of view, while the president and some other newsmen, including your humble correspondent, look at the Iraq conflict from an American perspective.

Walter Cronkite is an internationalist. That is, he sees other countries in the world as being on an equal footing with America when vital situations arise. A few other national TV anchormen are internationalists as well in varying degrees.

But there are major problems with covering the American war on terror from an internationalist point of view. As a journalist I want to be fair, but I also want President Bush to put the protection of Americans above the economic and political concerns of other countries. Call me a jingoist, but your family's security is more important to me than Gerhard Schroeder's political career. I understand that some countries are angry that Mr. Bush rejected the Kyoto environmental agreement, and, like Bill Clinton, I feel their pain. But not nearly as much as the pain I felt watching 3,000 of my countrymen die on 9-11. So if some egomaniacal leader like Jacques Chirac is going to protect Saddam Hussein because he doesn't like Bush's style, I am going to knock Chirac. Hard.

But Uncle Walter doesn't see it that way. He sees the war on Iraq as "pre-emptive" and unnecessary because it doesn't have worldwide validation. Mr. Cronkite believes that the agendas of other countries should be considered when making decisions about the defense of Americans, even when those agendas are based on greed and petty politics. I strongly disagree.

The truth is that Walter Cronkite stood by and said little while the Vietnam War raged out-of-control in the 1960s. Finally, he confronted the lies and deceit the Johnson administration perpetrated on the American public, but Cronkite's conversion came very late in that deadly game.

When President Clinton bombed Milosevic's Belgrade, circumventing the United Nations and ignoring the objections of France and Russia, Cronkite said nothing publicly. Maybe he didn't notice that the bombing was "pre-emptive" and that many nations disapproved.

So while Mr. Cronkite is an internationalist, he seems to be a selective one. But even if he were consistent in giving equal weight to the policies of other nations vis--vis the security of the USA, he would be wrong.

American journalists commenting about the war on terror are obligated to inform their listeners or readers if they see the world as a level playing field. If Walter Cronkite believes that the French view of the terror threat is just as valid as the American view, than he needs to clearly state that so people like me can challenge him.

Look at it his way. In covering World War II, the young Cronkite would have never given the Spanish view of the war the same weight as the American view. Franco's Spain was sympathetic to Hitler. As a responsible reporter, Cronkite could not have possibly done that.

Yet, in the war on terror, Cronkite and others like him want a "world consensus" on how to deal with villains like Saddam. This is truly misguided and might even be dangerous to the health of Americans. But Francisco Franco would love it.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.


03/17/03: This loyal Catholic believes that, humanistically, the Pope is one of the many Saddam enablers
03/10/03: The new Nazis
03/03/03: Hey, it's personal
02/24/03: A peace of the action
02/18/03: Cash for what?
02/10/03: Runaway train
02/03/03: Dissenting dishonest dissent
01/27/03: The Clooney Factor
01/21/03: Poverty-inducing entertainment
01/13/03: To protect and serve
12/30/02: Global double Crossing
12/30/02: The villains of 2002
12/23/02: Finding offense where none is intended is a form of selfishness
12/16/02: The Houston lesson
12/09/02: Somewhere Santa is weeping
12/02/02: A taxing situation
11/26/02: Talk is expensive when it comes to Bill Moyers
11/18/02: Sanity has left the building
11/11/02: The right stuff
11/04/02: The Attorney General blues
10/28/02: This ain't no game
10/21/02: It's only rock and roll, but it's brutal
10/14/02: The root of all evil
10/07/02: When children murder
09/23/02: The death of outrage
09/17/02: Singing a different tune
09/09/02: Answering my critics about the Roush case
09/03/02: Let's misbehave
08/26/02: Money makes the world go 'round
08/19/02: Long live the King
08/12/02: A friendly reminder
08/05/02: Heaven only knows
07/29/02: Blood money
07/22/02: Suffer the children
07/15/02: Reaching critical mass
07/08/02: Believe it or not
07/01/02: Charity begins at home
06/24/02: Spinning a tale and the case for "Stupid White Men"
06/17/02: Blank those Europeans!
06/10/02: What does Bono want from us?
06/03/02: On fighting evil
05/28/02: A Tale of Two Churches
05/20/02: Crimes against humanity
05/13/02: Silence of the lambs
05/06/02: Hide the children
04/29/02: 'Paul, Paul, Paul!'
04/22/02: Barbarians in the Church
04/15/02: Pray for peace, polish the weapons
03/11/02: Do no harm? Time to spank "Dr. Phil"
03/04/02: Promoting the general welfare
02/25/02: Who's responsible?
02/19/02: Lay it on them
02/11/02: Buy dope, fund terror
02/04/02: Back room deals
01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
12/03/01: How things have changed
11/26/01: Waiting in the Bushes
11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
11/06/01: The fear factor
10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate