- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

CBS done in by bias

I am a political conservative but defended the news media for years as I used research from scholars to argue that any bias in the news business did not reflect a deliberate effort to manipulate information, but reflected journalists’ socioeconomic background (“CBS fires 4; Rather stays on,” Page 1, yesterday). (I have been a journalist and have taught undergraduate and graduate journalism for many years.)

As I watched the CBS story about President Bush unfold just before election time, I changed my mind. I was wrong; I came to believe and am convinced, based on the CBS fiasco, that the major news media are driven often by a political and ideological agenda. Specifically, I think they were so afraid President Bush might win re-election and they wanted so much for the CBS story to be true that they finally threw to the wind all semblance of balance and professionalism, stopped pretending to be fair and showed what had percolated beneath the surface of their reporting for a long time: bias.

It seems clear to me that the professional journalists at CBS were on a mission to discredit Mr. Bush, with the goal of influencing the election. I made up my mind as the CBS story unfolded and was doggedly defended by the CBS staff. I stopped watching CBS as a credible source of information and analysis as a result of that story.

I am pleased with the CBS investigation, even though the network undoubtedly was dragged to it by public outcry, but I am disappointed that the report does not acknowledge this bias. There was a systemic problem, but I’m convinced there was more to it than that. I would have a lot more respect for CBS had the network executives come clean and not covered up.

This CBS-gate (or Rathergate, if one prefers) episode will not be forgotten by me or most Americans. It will linger in our memories for a long time. That’s unfortunate for those journalists who pursue the high road of ethical practice. It also is unfortunate for average Americans, who need to be informed to function as good citizens in this republic.

How can the major news operations even wonder why Fox News has taken the viewership from the major news networks so dramatically in recent months? Simply: We the audience, the public who are no longer the silent majority, are looking for a credible source of information.

Although advocacy journalism is important and has its place in American media, it needs to be acknowledged openly and labeled. Traditional journalists have a “contract” with the public, and Dan Rather and CBS failed to live up to that contract with us.

Finally, some of the sad CBS story of dishonest manipulation is public record. Thanks to those citizens and journalists who held CBS accountable.


Professor of Journalism

Biola University

La Mirada, Calif

In all the talk about Dan Rather, CBS and “forged” memos, we need to remember that the memos in question have not yet been proved to be forgeries; they have only not been authenticated. They may be forgeries, but their content is real.

The secretary who says she didn’t type a key memo in question nonetheless confirms the essence of its content: Her boss, George W. Bush’s squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984, felt that Mr. Bush received special consideration to get into the Texas Air National Guard, did not fulfill his service obligations and ignored an order to get a required physical exam.

Does it matter that the “60 Minutes” story was essentially true? Shouldn’t that at least be mentioned from time to time in news reports, if only as an ironic twist?

The main point of all this for me is that Mr. Bush is on the record as having supported the Vietnam War at the time. Why, then, did he join the Alabama National Guard, knowing he more than likely would not be sent to Vietnam?

It seems to me that if he supported the war, he should have been willing to go and help fight it, but he clearly had no intention of doing so. That should be the real question.


Iowa City

Cave-ins all over

I appreciate Stephen Moore’s Monday Commentary column, “Caving in on global warming,” about how executives of Fortune 500 companies “have waved the white flag of surrender to radical environmental groups by signing on to the antigrowth agenda of global climate policy.” Such cave-ins to “radicalenvironmental groups” are going on all over this country, and the cumulative effects are catastrophic to individuals, states and the nation.

State governments are caving in to the transfer of their constitutional authorities to federal bureaucracies by such laws as the Endangered Species Act, the Animal Welfare Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Wilderness Act. The right of individuals to own and control private property is steadily being caved in by the Endangered Species Act’s taking without compensation, the annual purchase of private property by federal agencies using appropriated funds, and the tax-subsidized land purchases of environmental groups.

Schemes and partnerships between U.S. bureaucrats and their U.N. counterparts are progressing toward treaties or conventions on gun control and invasive species that are intended to eliminate (i.e., cave in) the Second Amendment and justify a newly imagined federal invasive-species effort that will dwarf the endangered-species fiasco.

Even The Washington Times coverage of environmental and animal-rights issues has caved in dramatically to the environmental agenda from its comprehensive coverage of the effects and hidden agendas of such matters only a decade ago.

Maybe we need miners to shore up all these cave-ins, or maybe we had better start identifying what is causing all the cave-ins and begin working to minimize the cause rather than merely cataloging the effects from time to time.


Centreville, Va.

A lesson in Korean history

The article “Korean past dotted with power tussles” (World, Dec. 17) eloquently points out Korea’s strategic importance. Asia’s great powers have fought for centuries to control the Korean Peninsula.

Strategists understand that any country hoping to be the major regional power must have influence on the Korean Peninsula because geography and the ambitions of surrounding great powers make it the place where their interests intersect.

This reality has dominated regional international relations for centuries, as the article points out.

The United States acknowledged Korea’s strategic importance in June 1950, when the North Korean invasion of South Korea alarmed Washington about the implications of a hostile power controlling this strategically important land.

Since 1953, the U.S.-Korea alliance has achieved major foreign-policy objectives by deterring external aggression in the region. Forward-based U.S. Forces Korea backs up U.S. declaratory policy and sends another clear signal that the United States is determined to be a major power in Asia and is a trustworthy security partner.

Given that geography and history don’t change, the lesson is as clear for our American friends as it is for us: A strong U.S.-Korea alliance is in the best interest of both countries for however long the United States wishes to remain a great power in Asia.

With respect to history, I draw your attention to a misrepresentation of Korean history. The article erroneously asserts that Korea was “part of the Chinese empire for more than 250 years before it regained independence in 1895” This summary is not correct. To be sure, Korea had a friendly relationship with China, but it never was a “part of” China as the article asserts.


Minister for public affairs

Embassy of the Republic of Korea


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