Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2004 / 27 Elul, 5764

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Say it ain't so, Ted Turner | So now we find out that CNN commentators James Carville and Paul Begala have signed on with the Kerry campaign as unpaid advisors. Traditionally, that would mean they would have to take a leave of absence from CNN or any news organization that employed them because journalistic ethics (oxymoron?) dictate that news organizations remain totally separate from political campaigns. But since we live in strange times, CNN says it will keep the guys on the air.

In the wake of the vicious attacks on Fox News for allegedly being "GOP TV," I expected the media to brutally dismember CNN and the new boys on John Kerry's bus. But instead it's been the silence of the lambs from the press. Can you say media bias?

A central thesis of the mainstream media is that Fox News caters to conservative Republicans. That thesis has been played out in newspaper articles, books and even in movies. Those right-wing bully boys from Fox, they're just awful, aren't they? How many times have we heard that?

But when it comes to CNN, well, that's another story. That network apparently feels comfortable allowing daily commentary from two Kerry strategists. Shouldn't CNN now be compelled to give equal time to the Bush campaign? How about a new program called "What's Up, George," starring Mary Matalin?

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The CNN decision should come as no surprise since CNN's founder and still involved mogul Ted Turner despises President Bush. Last July, Mr. Turner opined on "The Charlie Rose Show" that "history will look back on this debacle in Iraq as one of the greatest mistakes that any major country has ever made."

Turner went on to say that the USA has no right to the high moral ground in Iraq when "we're terrorizing and sodomizing prisoners of war ..."

Keeping the press and political campaigns apart is what the Founders had in mind when they granted us special First Amendment privileges. Thomas Jefferson and the gang hoped the press would keep an eye on those seeking power — not try to help them obtain it. Editorial endorsements of candidates are fine, and there's nothing wrong with former political operatives being hired to analyze the news. However, there is plenty wrong with CNN's present situation.

The fact that the media is allowing CNN to get away with this tells you all you need to know about how fair the American press is these days. I'll submit to you that if Greta Van Susteren and I signed on with Bush/Cheney 2004, The New York Times would have passed out torches and the media mob would have stormed the Fox News castle. There's a fox in the henhouse all right, it's called the left-wing press allowing their brothers to slide.

Personally, I don't care if Carville and Begala want to help Kerry. And I don't care what they say on CNN. Everybody knows those guys are Kool Aid liberals, they're not going to change many minds.

But I must say that CNN has some gall. It has consistently put itself up as the beacon of broadcast journalism and taken snarky shots at those it considers of lesser quality.

Well, the halcyon days at CNN have now come to an end. The network's ratings have collapsed, and so have its ethical standards.

I don't know what's in your pipe, Ted Turner, but if there's room, put that assessment in there and smoke it.

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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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© 2004 Creators Syndicate