- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

The prevalence of mainstream media liberal bias is a truism, but people generally think of it as merely an ideological slant on the reporting. But in this year’s presidential campaign, at least, we’re seeing more than a “coloration” of the news. Distortion is a more accurate term.

I don’t know if all the players fully realize they misrepresent the facts or just uncritically echo them. (For all the self-congratulation indulged in by the media, they often just repeat the tripe their colleagues spew, without serious checking). Either way, their end product is the same, and it’s a bastardization of the factual record.

Let me give you a few examples of the media’s take on who drew first blood, President Bush or Sen. John Kerry. This issue matters, because the media are using the lie that Mr. Bush started the attacks as a foundation for Mr. Kerry to go nuclear against President Bush with impunity — certainly with their full blessing. But Democrats have been personally attacking the president for four years.

On MSNBC’s “Hardball” last Thursday night, Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw and Chris Matthews discussed the Republican Convention attacks on Mr. Kerry and said Mr. Kerry was set to begin an aggressive counteroffensive at midnight.

Mr. Russert said: “John Kerry is taking his gloves off at midnight tonight, basically saying, ‘I’ve had enough when it comes to challenging my patriotism and my military record.’ This campaign is really engaged as of midnight tonight.”

Mr. Matthews asked: “Is this a notch-up in his rhetoric, gentlemen? ‘I’m not going to have my commitment to defend this country … questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation — misled the nation — into Iraq.’ Isn’t that a pickup in his attack?”

Mr. Brokaw said, “Oh, I think it’s more than a notch-up. It’s a seismic shift.”

With all due respect, what planet do these guys live on? They make their living following and reporting the news. And they mean to suggest Mr. Kerry’s impending midnight speech to charge Mr. Bush misled us into Iraq would be a response to the Bush forces — that Mr. Kerry is an innocent victim in this?

It wasn’t just the NBC crew, either. The media echo chamber reverberates. Time’s Joe Klein recently wrote, “After a week of gut-wound assaults on his character, Kerry finally fired back on Thursday night, assailing Bush and Cheney for having avoided service in Vietnam and for having ‘misled’ us into Iraq.” Mr. Klein dutifully couched Kerry’s attack in terms of a response: “Kerry finally fired back.” Finally?

Now, let’s rewind the tape to the scene of the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July. John Kerry declared: “We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if we’re true to our ideals — and that starts by telling the truth to the American people. That is my first pledge to you tonight. As president, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House. I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war.”

Kerry’s aide and former Sen. Max Cleland on July 20 accused President Bush and company of feeding Congress and the American people “a pack of lies” to justify the war in Iraq. “We were flat-out lied to, by the president, by the vice president and by the secretary of defense.”

And it’s not just Mr. Kerry and his aides, and it didn’t just start in July. We all know the whole Democratic shtick for over a year has been “Bush lied, people died. … Bush lied about WMD.” Michael Moore has made a cottage industry out of the charge. But other Democratic politicians have done the same thing.

Former candidate Wesley Clark told CNN’s Judy Woodruff on Feb. 12, “You, we’ve got a president who’s misled us into Iraq.” Former candidates Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and Rev. Al Sharpton also accused Mr. Bush of lying about Iraq’s WMD.

Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, in a guest column for the State newspaper in Columbia, S.C, wrote on Nov. 9, 2003: “Now we have another Vietnam. Just as President Johnson misled us into Vietnam, President Bush has misled us into Iraq.”

There are many, many more examples that, as usual, space will not permit. But just remember in the coming weeks and months when the media try to portray John Kerry as the victim of dirty campaigning, which of the two candidates drew first blood. We have them cold on this one.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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