Along the Tracks

Friday, July 25, 2003
 

A case study in bias


The New York Times - no longer under Howell Raines’ agenda-driven management - today demonstrates that liberal bias is alive and well in its hallowed halls. One of the top headlines today concerns a Mideast trip planned by House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a Republican whom most liberals consider somewhere between a snake and a worm on life’s grand scale. The story bugles that Delay will offer up a “dissenting message” during his visits, arguing a Palestinian state in the present context of terrorism and violence is not in the interests of peace.

First off, that’s an arguable point, based on regional history and the baby steps taken by the Palestinians (and Israelis) toward the “road map” so far. And the description of his viewpoint as “dissenting” from that of the Bush administration is a stretch as well. In the story, Delay points out time and again that the violence and terrorism and despotism must end before any viable “Palestinian state” can come into existence. That seems obvious, and is in fact the stated position of the Bush administration - even if their policies (and other statements) do not always reflect this. Delay proposes to do an end run around the Palestinian Authority and begin direct American funding for economic rebuilding and investment inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is, in fact, a good idea, and a good way to put teeth into demands by the “Quartet” (US, EU, UN and Russia) that the PA reform its finances, where corruption is king and his name is Arafat. The truth is, only one Quartet member is actually demanding reform - can you guess which?

Anyway, the article itself is a pretty fair overview of Delay’s position, even if it tries to create more tension inside the GOP than actually exists, as far as I can see. The real “bias” is in the story’s placement, as compared with a certain congressional trip last fall. Delay is still stateside, has not said anything explosive, and will be visiting countries and talking about issues as one lawmaker (if a powerful one) who is largely in line with the president.

Last fall, three Democrats, clearly out of line with the president and with most of their party, visited Baghdad on a “fact-finding mission” which found the following “facts” (provided by Saddam, of course): 1) Thousands of Iraqi children sick, deformed and dying due to depleted uranium used in the first Gulf War. These sick children have mysteriously disappeared, post-war, not only from the media’s wandering eye, but from the Democrats’ agenda. 2) Thousands of children dying due to the “harsh” sanctions imposed at the insistence of the United States. Oddly enough, those children all seem to have been buried in the same graveyard, dolls and teddy bears in hand, torn through with bullets - something the sanctions were supposed to keep out of Saddam’s hands. 3) A rock-solid assurance from Saddam that he was obeying all United Nations resolutions. Of course, the UN inspectors themselves said that was a lie. Saddam fired illegal Scuds and al-Samouds at Kuwait during the war. Several pieces of the infrastructure for making illegal weapons, including centrifuge equipment, mobile labs and rocket plants have already been uncovered. The Democrats continue to argue “Bush lied!” but discoveries are whittling away their claims - and (how many times do I have to say it?) the disposition of those weapons, probably including weapons themselves, will be found. Mark my words.

The troublesome part of the New York Times’ role in all this is their decision to give top placement to this Delay story - interesting, yes, but not really a page-one eye-catcher - while those three Democrats were basically given a pass to offer, at a minimum, verbal aid and comfort to an avowed enemy of the United States. It was not until the three went on Sunday morning news shows to tell people they believed Saddam more than their own president that the story finally came to the front page - and even then, with plenty of defensive comments about how the administration was “questioning their patriotism.”

As far as I could see - and even more so as time has moved on through the war to reconstruction of Iraq - there was little there to question.


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