- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

Times change

“The Los Angeles Times and New York Times, on opposite sides of the continent, may also be taking opposite approaches to malfeasance in their midst,” the Media Research Center reports.

“Contrast the hands-off, responsibility-free approach of the New York Times’ Howell Raines and Arthur Sulzberger to that of L.A. Times editor John Carroll as reported [Wednesday] by the Poynter Institute’s Jim Romenesko,” the MRC’s Tim Graham writes.

“Responding the same day to front-page [L.A. Times] reporting on a bill requiring abortion patients be counseled on increased risk of breast cancer, Carroll’s May 22 memo stated: ‘The apparent bias of the writer and/or the desk itself reveals itself in the third paragraph. … It is not until the last three paragraphs of the story that we finally surface a professor of biology and endocrinology who believes the abortion/cancer connection is valid. But do we quote him as to why he believes this? No. We quote his political views. Apparently, the scientific argument for the anti-abortion side is so absurd that we don’t need to waste our readers’ time with it. … The reason I’m sending this note to all section editors is that I want everyone to understand how serious I am about purging all political bias from our coverage. … we are not going to push a liberal agenda in the news pages of the Times.’”

Dowd’s troubles

An editor of a Texas newspaper announced yesterday he is dropping New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd because she cut a portion of a quote from President Bush, changing its meaning in a way that misrepresented Mr. Bush.

“The New York Times’ considerable credibility problem is now our problem, as well,” Marc R. Masferrer wrote yesterday in the Lufkin Daily News in Lufkin, Texas, noting accusations of ethical lapses by two other Times writers, Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg.

“But unlike the Times, which has been engaged in a torturous exercise of navel gazing and self-flagellation, with its accustomed arrogance, since it was revealed that one of its younger reporters had committed all sorts of journalistic sins, we are doing something about it, and fast,” the editor said.

“Until she explains to our satisfaction her own ethical transgression — an apparently deliberate distortion of a comment by President Bush — you will not find the work of Times columnist Maureen Dowd on this page.”

Mr. Masferrer added: “How we can best serve you, the reader, is a daily challenge here at the Lufkin Daily News, for our credibility is the only thing that those of us in the newsroom have to sell. We may not always get it right, and you may not always like what you read, but we will always do our best to make this newspaper, your newspaper, a place where the likes of Jayson Blair, Rick Bragg and Maureen Dowd will never feel at home.”

Moore vs. Borger

Stephen Moore, president of the conservative Club for Growth, takes issue with U.S. News & World Report columnist Gloria Borger, who this week criticized Mr. Moore’s group for what she called its “over the top” ad campaign that targets Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, and several other senators who opposed President Bush’s tax cut.

Miss Borger wrote: “The ads ‘turned the tide’ for Snowe at home, she says. Not only did the public react with disdain; she reacted the same way. Snowe’s support back home skyrocketed.”

The columnist went on to call the ads, which compared the senator to the French leader who opposed the war in Iraq, “sleazy and dumb.”

Mr. Moore, in a letter to Miss Borger obtained by this column, said in part: “You failed to mention that the ads also ran in Ohio and Nebraska, and [George] Voinovich and [Ben] Nelson ended up voting FOR the tax cut, thanks in part to the pressure the Club exerted. We didn’t need Voinovich AND Snowe, we needed one or the other.”

He added: “You failed to mention our poll that showed in Maine and especially Ohio, GOP voters were furious with the votes of Voinovich and Snowe against the tax cut. Of course, Olympia is going to tell you how brave and heroic voters think she is. What else would she tell you? The only objective evidence is our poll, which shows two of three Maine Republicans oppose her position and support the president’s tax plan.

“Can you provide any evidence whatsoever to your claim that her ‘support back home skyrocketed?’ There is none. What is true is that her support among liberals in Maine skyrocketed, but they don’t vote in Republican primaries.”

Margaritaville favorite

Florida Sen. Bob Graham might have a tough time winning Iowa and New Hampshire, but he’s the front-runner in Margaritaville, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Singer Jimmy Buffett plans to make appearances for the Democrat’s presidential campaign, according to spokesmen for Mr. Buffett and the campaign.

Mike Ramos, a Buffett spokesman, told reporters “Jimmy’s going to be helping out,” but campaign officials and the singer have not determined when or where he will perform. It’s likely to be after Mr. Buffett’s summer tour.

Graham campaign spokesman Jamal Simmons said, “It’s just a matter of figuring out when, where and if it will be a solo event or whatever.”

Among the possibilities: campaign events in Iowa or New Hampshire and fund-raisers in other states, reporters Bill Adair and David Adams said.

Abortion bill passes

New Hampshire lawmakers approved a bill yesterday to require notification of a parent or judge before girls under 18 can get abortions, giving the state its only law regulating abortion.

Gov. Craig Benson said he would sign the bill in coming days, the Associated Press reports.

“We ask children to get their parents’ permission to get their ears pierced, to take an aspirin at school,” Mr. Benson said. “I think this law finally puts all parental notification on the same footing.”

The bill, which takes effect Dec. 31, requires minors to notify a parent 48 hours before getting an abortion or, as an alternative, get permission from a judge. It doesn’t give parents or judges veto power.

Role reversal

“I absolutely love what I’m about to tell you,” Jay Nordlinger writes in his Impromptus column at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“You know how, for years, the Left (and others) have teased the Right about the fluoridation of water? Eons ago, apparently, some right-wingers were alarmed about fluoridation, as they believed that it was some socialist plot, or a scheme at brain-washing, or something,” Mr. Nordlinger said.

“Well: One of my best friends is a dentist — a professor of dentistry, in fact, in the Midwest. He was in town (New York) for a conference recently and this question of fluoridated water came up. He said, ‘You know, people are still up in arms about that. They go to court and besiege city councils and all that.’ I said, ‘Really, after all these years? The Right’s still suspicious of that? Left-over John Birchers or something?’ He said, ‘No, no — not at all. These are left-wing groups: know-nothing environmentalists, earthy-crunchy types — the usual crowd.’

“Well, well, well. Who’s laughin’ now, huh? Who’s afraid of fluoride in the water now? And this is 2003!”

Getting it wrong

An item in this column Wednesday, quoting the anonymous Prowler at www.spectator.org, turned out be wrong on more than one count.

U.S. Treasurer Rosario Martin, contrary to the article, has not left her position (although she will do so in a few weeks).

Also, the Prowler was wrong to suggest that the victorious Republicans in the 2002 U.S. Senate races in Minnesota and Missouri were “moderate on social issues, such as abortion.” Both senators are pro-life.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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