Speaking at The New Yorker Festival today, Tom Brokaw accused bloggers of attempting to "demonize" CBS and Rather. He said the criticism "goes well beyond any factual information." Is the man senile?
"What I think is highly inappropriate," he said, "is what is going on across the Internet, a kind of political jihad ... that is quite outrageous," the NBC anchor said at a panel on which all three men spoke.
In other words, when we catch the liberal press with its ... er... pants down... it's a jihad. Nevermind if the media perpetrates its own jihad; they can hide behind the First Amendment. One that comes immediately to mind is the intentional demonization of Alexander Haig when President Reagan was shot. Using selective quoting of the actual conversation at the White House, Ted Koppel accused Haig of saying he was "in charge at the White House." Video tapes of the entire context show that he said no such thing, but you can't get the media to admit that.
"I don't think you ever judge a man by only one event in his career," said Jennings, anchor on ABC. Sorry, Mr. Jennings but that wasn't the only "event" in Rather's career. Even after disclosure of his intentional "mistake" concerning the Bush papers, Rather said that the Berger story (Sandy Berger caught stealing documents from the National Archives) "was triggered by a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger..." Nevermind that it is true and that stealing is a felony and that national security was, by the nature of the documents taken, involved.
Just a few little examples of mistakes: Rather got in trouble with CBS when he refused to even report on the Chandra Levy scandal for 78 days. He called the Lewinski affair "a "so-called scandal." He has said that Clinton is "an honest man." In fact, Bill O'Reilly pointed out to him in an interview that Rather had mentioned unsubstantiated allegations of past drug use by George W. Bush more than twice as many times as it mentioned rape charges (substantated by NBC) against Clinton. When he was criticized for speaking at a Democratic fund raiser in Texas, Rather said, "I made an embarrassing and regrettable error in judgment by going to this event. It was a serious mistake, which I acknowledge. No one believes more strongly in CBS News standards than I do, and I have let those standards down." And that's just a small sample of Dan Rather's mistakes.
The American Press has too long been allowed to hide behind the First Amendment when it flagrantly and blatantly lies. The American public is going to have to insist that the media no longer hide behind unnamed sources and phrases like "a White House spokesman." Reporters like Jennings, Rather and Brokaw have too often broken the public's trust.
The First Amendment, by the way, says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It doesn't say the Press can publish anything it wants to accomplish its political ends.
No, it's not a jihad, Mr. Brokaw. It's a loud, persistent demand for the accountability and truth in the media.