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Jewish World Review Oct. 22, 2004 / 7 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765

Diana West

Diana West
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A vote against the entrenched media | "Absolutely," most reporters want John Kerry to win the election, declares Newsweek's Evan Thomas, commenting on the media bias he says translates into "maybe" five extra points for the Democratic ticket at the polls. That's down from the 15 points Thomas first predicted Fourth Estate favor would bestow on Kerry-Edwards, but even five points could tip a race as close as this one.

Which is a chilling thought — but also a golden opportunity. It means that a vote for Bush-Cheney is not only a vote against Kerry-Edwards, but also a vote against Kerry-Edwards-CBS-CNN-New York Times. Are you incensed over Dan Rather's crude attempt to influence the presidential election with a sheaf of pathetic forgeries? Appalled by "Nightline"'s Ted Koppel for using dictatorship-vetted sources in communist Vietnam to contradict the testimonies of decorated American veterans?

Outraged by ABC's head-office directive to its reporters to go easier on John Kerry than George W. Bush, and not "reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable"? Don't get mad, vote Republican.

The fact is, never before have mainstream media (MSM) organizations — and I mean the hunters and gatherers of news, not its cooks and consumers — sunk so deep in the tank for a Democratic ticket. The election is days away but vital questions about Kerry remain not just unanswered in MSM outlets, but unasked — evidence of the efficiency with which the only-selectively adversarial media have embraced the role of Democratic star-maker, not newsmaker.

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"It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course," ABC News political director Mark Halperin admits in a "1984"-style directive leaked to the Drudge Report. "But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying..." — gee, thanks a lot — "now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right."

And how's that done — by covering for Kerry? Given what we still don't know about the candidate after his practically incessant blathering, including three debates, this becomes the inescapable conclusion. And I don't just mean de-emphasizing such Kerry facts as his inexplicable failure to attend three-quarters of his public Senate Intelligence Committee hearings. Or failing to ponder the coincidence that Kerry cousin C. Stewart Forbes' company won a $900 million contract from Vietnam after Sen. Kerry pushed to normalize relations.

Here we are, on the brink, possibly, of electing a man who, as an American officer, parlayed with the enemy, and there have been no questions, no stories in response. No thoughts, no curiosity. We contemplate a new wartime leader whose political epiphany — the famous Christmas in Cambodia, "seared, seared" into Kerry's memory — never happened. Stories in the MSM? It's tough to find even one.

We consider trusting our very lives to a man who has consistently hewed to the wrong side of history, favoring appeasement and disarmament over democratic principle and strength, but we know nothing of his current thinking on those old positions.

How, for instance, does this American presidential candidate explain his place of honor in a Vietnamese war museum dedicated to an American defeat? Does Kerry believe the anti-war movement in which he figured so prominently bears any moral responsibility for the mass brutality — executions, re-education camps, boat people — that marked Hanoi's victory? Indeed, does Kerry still believe North Vietnam "liberated" South Vietnam, and that the conflict itself was not a front in the Cold War? We saw valedictory comments from Kerry on Ronald Reagan's death, but we have no idea whether he still reviles the Reagan years as a "moral blackness."

We don't know because no one in the MSM has asked him. This glaring failure makes a mockery of the media. It leaves us gasping for facts. It also explains the volcanic eruption of alternative sources of campaign information — Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the newsies of the blogosphere, and a slew of independent ads and documentaries, including "Stolen Honor." Such activity has injected vital blasts of oxygen into otherwise stilted coverage.

But in the land of the free and the free press, we shouldn't have to rely on the unique gumption of, say, a John O'Neill, the Swiftee spokesman who went so far as to write a best-selling book about John Kerry, "Unfit for Command" (Regnery), to publicize crucial information the MSM ignored. I remember well the veritable news blackout on the Swift Boat vets when they first assembled last spring in downtown Washington. The Associated Press didn't even send a correspondent, calling the group's press conference "old news" — before it happened.

Whatever the final tally on Election Day, we, the people need to take a good hard look at the MSM scorecard the day after.

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JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2004, Diana West